Sunday, 16 March 2008

self control

One of the things that seems to be a tricky area in fat acceptance is that, although studies seem to show that, generally speaking, fat people do not eat more than thin people, some of us have very problematic eating behaviours which make us fatter than, perhaps, we would be if we were eating in a properly intuitive way.

By "some of us", I do mean me. I eat too much, on a regular basis, because I have compulsive eating disorder. The funny thing is that if I had the reverse of this disorder, people would pity me. If I compulsively refused to eat, they would hospitalise me and feel bad for me. As it is, they think I just have no self control and should be berated for that. They're partly right - very often, when it comes to food, I have no self control. But they're entirely wrong about what this means, and how I feel about it.

I always get the feeling when people talk about "lack of self control" that they're angry with with those of us who don't appear to have it. They certainly seem angry - if they weren't, why would they need to make such a big deal out of it? Why would the questioning of my eating behaviour be so rude and dismissive? Why would they need to make me feel ashamed, of a mental illness that, as yet, I've found no way to overcome?

I can only assume that this is because I "get" to eat like a person with no self control, that somehow this is an experientially superior position (as opposed to the supposedly morally superior position that is controlling your appetite. So because I get the supposed benefit of being able to eat without restriction (which is supposed to be all pleasurable), I have to get the supposed punishment of being fat, with all the social scorn that entails.

The bad news is, it doesn't work like that. Eating is rarely a pleasure to me. It is something I often do with compulsion, almost always with loathing of myself for being so weak and pathetic, always with guilt. I don't pay much attention to what I eat, though there's a definite bias towards things that come under the social heading of "forbidden". You can't have a carrot binge, it wouldn't soothe whatever urge it is that makes me want to eat until I puke. I hate myself when I eat too much, and yet I can't seem to stop it. I find it unbearably hard to just sit down and eat with no distractions. I hate myself for succumbing to the seduction of chocolate because I'm bored or unhappy, usually both, and I punish myself for it, both by ignoring the chocolate even as it's in my mouth, and by calling myself names for hours afterwards. So where's the benefit in my eating anything, when I never enjoy it and always feel guilty about it?

I have a plan this year, and it's pretty simple: learn to love myself. I think that will involve learning to properly appreciate food, as well as appreciating what my body is right now, regardless of any weight gain or loss which the future might hold.

You wouldn't believe how hard this is.

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