Small-screen lessons on weight obsessions

shape of thin womanI know I’ve warned you many times before about the hazards of sitting too much…especially vegged out mindlessly in front of the TV with an endless supply of junk food within arm’s reach. But I admit that I watch my share of TV. It’s my way of unwinding at the end of a long day seeing patients, poring over research, and doing all this writing.

But sometimes TV isn’t the mindless escape it’s often made out to be. In fact, so many things in American culture—good and bad (mostly bad)—are reflected on the small screen. For example, I was recently watching a show called Red Band Society. It took place in a hospital and featured children with serious illnesses.  Yes, it does sound a bit macabre, but the underlying story—of the trials kids face while growing up—is one I think resonates with everyone.

Anyway, there was one scene in particular that I found thought provoking to say the least. A sweet, likeable anorexic girl attends a prom.  While she’s there, two other girls come up to her and one says, “I’ve never seen a size triple zero in the flesh before. What’s your secret?” The girl replies, “I’m in a hospital with anorexia.”  The reply? “Oh, that’s so committed. Pictures. You will be instafamous.”

Now, I’m a big fan of clever, well-written humor, and I admit I found this line funny. But that didn’t prevent me from noting the sad, disturbing commentary it highlighted. It’s a true reflection of our society’s obsession with weight.

People are literally dying to be skinny.  We idolize super thinness.  We’ve gone so far, dare I say it, as to “supersize” thin.  And yet we live in a world of abundance.

Which begs the question—by making the “ideal” so unattainable, have we given ourselves the license to just give up?

Could this be the reason why so many people just don’t know what to do anymore? And why 70 percent of Americans are overweight or obese?

I’m certain this is part of the psychology behind the epidemic. But if we’re ever going to put an end to it, we have to shed the “all or nothing” mentality that has become the norm in this country.

It’s not about eating less, it’s about eating smarter. It’s not about being as skinny as possible, it’s about being healthy.

And believe it or not, reaching and maintaining a healthy weight can be simple. You don’t have to starve yourself to do it. Quite the opposite, in fact.

Foods our society has branded as “bad” or “fattening”—like creamy avocado, rich butter, juicy steak, and even chocolate (YES, CHOCOLATE) can all be a part of a healthy weight loss (and maintenance) plan. I’ve seen it work in countless patients. And I know it can work for you too. For complete details on how to banish extremes and finally reach your own, personal healthy ideal, I encourage you to read my book, The Hamptons Diet.

In the meantime, don’t let unattainable “ideals” splashed across magazines, billboards, and TV screens keep you from making the best choices. After all, the true ideal is to stay naturally healthy and vibrant well into your golden years.