I’m going to talk about obesity, and I have no intention of oversimplifying such a complicated issue. What I propose is radically inverting the way we think about it. Instead of focusing so much on overweight people and their habits, we should pay attention to the way thinner people live. Thin people have no idea what it’s like to count calories, think about food before they eat it or check the scales often. Overweight people, on the other hand, mentally play their own game, in which they win or lose according to the amount of calories consumed in a given day or meal. Thin people just aren’t obsessed by what they eat.
This internal game overweight people “play” is a very intense psychological process, that establishes a new kind of pleasure in the brain, similar to the one a runner might gain from breaking their own records. It’s an inner challenge that demands a significant amount of time and mental energy. I have known people to get sad because they lost weight and, therefore, wouldn’t be able to keep their brains busy anymore. Instead of being happy because they reached their goals, they get somewhat depressed because their game ended.
Acquire—or reacquiring—a thin person’s mindset means giving up on this kind of fight against oneself, a fight that is a permanent intrusion of reason in metabolic processes, which probably leads to unwanted results. The real psychological cure to obesity rests in learning to gain a thin person’s mindset. It means renouncing reason as a means of controlling metabolic processes and how they eat. Everyone can eat with the same freedom that thin people have, without the shame or guilt typical of those who believe that, by eating, that are committing a transgression.
No thin person walks into a bakery, buys a pastry and gobbles it up, as if they were afraid of being caught, like an alcoholic hiding their booze. No, they savor the pastry they openly bought, and are in no rush to finish it, so they don’t shove it whole into their mouths. They’ll chew slowly, and only eat as much as they want. There’s no need to overeat, because after all, the bakery isn’t forbidden to them, and if they want more, it will still be there tomorrow.
Thin people are not going on a diet on Monday, so there’s no need to scarf down food on Sunday until they feel sick; they know they can have more anytime they want, so they do not eat compulsively.
Overweight people who try to learn to live with a thin person’s mindset might even gain a few pounds at first, once they stop holding back themselves and their urges. But the impulse to overindulge in their newly found freedom won’t last long. What will happen next is that their relationship with food and their weight will be normalized; they’ll stop weighing themselves all the time, eat without guilt and as much as they need. They won’t, however, be as happy as thought they would, because the pleasure of being thin is fleeting. It’ll soon become clear that life as a thin person also has its share of disappointment and pain.
Tradução: Amanda Morris