Friday, February 06, 2004

There is something really disturbing to me about people who eat a great deal faster than I do, and especially if they eat a significant-sized meal and are hungry again within an hour, hungry enough to eat another meal.

I'm a wolverine, I have to take care to avoid inhaling my food, because I have learned that inhaling my food means I don't notice eating it and have no feeling of having enjoyed it...Therefore I want MORE food so I can enjoy that instead. It also takes a while for the stomach to realize it's' getting filled, so if you eat fast you're very likely to eat more than you need because you feel full well after you've eaten a filling quantity.

I spent the weekend with a friend who I remember as being pretty much perpetually "hungry", but I hadn't been up close and personal with his eating habits since I've learned a little restraint and appreciation of food for myself. The day that got me onto this rant involved getting up at 10am, breakfast was two (count 'em) chicken burgers and an order of fries a little after noon. By 4pm he said "I'm getting hungry, is there a place we can go get food soon?", so we swung by a Greek place about half an hour later and he got a gyro. I must add that this was after four hours of sitting in the computer room at my work, browsing the web and making phone calls, not four hours of walking around town or anything else involving significant exertion. Less than 45 minutes later he said "so are we going to go to that McDonald's you mentioned then?" and here I had been thinking the gyro had been in place of McDonald's...Silly me...The greasy beef sandwich had just been a SNACK!

We weren't, as it happened, near to a Ms Donald's at this point, but we were near an In'N'Out, so through the drive-through we went. As soon as we got home he chomped through the double-double, fries and strawberry milkshake in less than 5 minutes and started nursing his bucket of coca-cola. When I exclaimed at the speed with which he demolished the burger his explanation was that he didn't pay good money for food only to have it go cold before he'd finished it.

In case you are wondering, this guy is not obviously obese, he doesn't look like he eats this way. He looks like a slightly chunky man of 5'9" or so, with a bowling ball for a gut, but not so much of a bowling ball that a button down shirt is incapable of minimizing it. I cannot speak for the state of his arteries or attest to how his insulin system is holding up, I do know that his father has had adult onset diabetes for several years and has not altered his eating habits accordingly.

The day before the burgerama there was a large Chipotle burrito for lunch, which didn't fill him up, he "should have had two of them really". He supplemented the inadequate lunch with lots of chips. These burritos are dense, I have trouble finishing one, and I've got a pretty high capacity. Then 1/3 of a pizza that evening left him longing for a chocolate binge. The local 7/11 allowed him to fill his need with a dove ice cream bar and 3 bars of chocolate.

I was seriously freaked out by all this. I felt I had a binge-eater as a houseguest, that by transporting him to get his dinner I was enabling his self-damaging behavior, an accessory to his destruction of his own health. I worried about the state of his mind that he didn't see (or care) how healthy he's making himself.

His joyless gobbling bothers me because it's how I gained about 40lb over my last 6 months of university. I sought solace in comfort food and ate it all so fast that I could barely taste any of it, so I kept taking more and more. I already had some worrying health complications showing up from that by the time I graduated, I was lucky I nipped it in the bud before I did permanent damage. I've been there, I've eaten ridiculous amounts of junk, not quite so meat and grease heavy, but ice-cream and Belgian waffles in excess are still every bit as silly.

It bothers me because he's my friend and I can't see how such eating habits can ever be healthy, or indicate a healthy mental state. I don't want him to give himself diabetes, because if he can't curb his habits now, he certainly won't be able to curb them if he's diagnosed with something that requires a restricted diet. I don't want him to DIE. He's living like this guy [>] did as an experiment... And look what happened to him in just a month!

I'm not yet sure how much of my freakout is caused by concern for his health, and how much by the fear that if I'd spent much more time around those eating habits I might have gone back to them myself. I was disgusted because it reminded me of myself at my least happy and most self-destructive. I was afraid for him that he was hurting himself so much, but I was also mildly envious that he didn't spend parts of his day trying to map out intelligent food choices. He felt hungry and ate what he wanted, when he wanted. I can't do that, I choose not to. It doesn't mean that I don't sometimes I wish I could.

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