The Food Addict
By David E. Johnson, Department of Psychology
by Christina Bunker
Hi. My name is Dave.
….and I'm an addict.
Now, I may not be your prototypical image of an addict, but I assure you that I am. I am A Food Addict, of course. I have developed a twisted fascination with food. There was a time when food was nothing more than a means to an end - sustenance for life. But all of that is gone.
How did I get into this pickle, you ask? The ultimate irony - I became a food addict after joining a cult of sorts - a cult called Weight Watchers.
You may think I'm being hyperbolic by comparing this group to a cult. OK, maybe I should soften that a bit. WW is somewhat religionesque or, at the very least, we engage in religious-like behavior at meetings. Sometimes it's formal liturgical practice, other times, more like a freewheeling old-time camp meeting, while other times we resemble something from a pagan Temple.
We have sacred structures and rituals!
We have an alter. To you, it may resemble a scale, but for us it is a place of reckoning; a place that forces us to face the ultimate arbiter of our faithfulness to the program.
Approaching our alter releases a ritualistic striptease that would almost make a temple prostitute blush. We jettison all jewelry, heavy belts and anything else that may burden us and weigh heavy on our bodies.
Salvation? We have that too.
The path to salvation is to become a free-lifetime member, a curious state in which we reach our goal weight and must NOT stray more than 2lbs above that goal. As long as we stay within this 2 pound state of grace we can weigh in for free. If we stray over the 2 pound interval, grace is replaced by LAW. The law that says, cough up eleven bucks. That's our penance for becoming one of those backsliders that I was so often warned about when I was growing up. I guess this is akin to losing your salvation in WW. Does that make us Calvinists or Armenians? I never could keep those two straight.
WW members also pay tribute to a holy trinity - for us it's calories, fat, and fiber, which, combined in a mystical formula, yield a single, ultimate food metric - Points. Each food has a point value and we have a point target for each day. If we stay within our target, we lose weight. Simple as that!
After weighing in, our service begins. It's something like an old time camp meeting. We extol the virtues of the WW program (particularly for the new converts in attendance). We share recipes and discuss how we can slim down that favorite pumpkin pie recipe by using no fat, no cholesterol, no calorie, no nothing substances.
Someone mentions that they love the "I can't believe it's not butter" spray. "Five spritzes - no calories!! …tastes just like butter!" Well, I'm sorry, but I've used it and I CAN believe that it's NOT butter.
Then it's on to the testimony part of our meeting. We get a chance to profess our faithfulness in the last week. "How did you do this week, Mabel?" "I lost ½ a pound!" We all applaud. "That's two sticks of butter!", the leader retorts. "Or two baby pandas," chimes in another member. …..You learn all kinds of metrics for weight at those meetings!
Now you may be wondering how this relates to my food addiction. It's quite simple. Ironically, while I must limit my food consumption, food seems to be constantly on my mind.
The most insidious manifestation of this addiction is that I can't pass up a food show on TV. ANY FOOD SHOW! It can be on the Food Channel, The Travel Channel, BBC America…It doesn't matter. I feel compelled to watch.
For example, I became totally immersed in the lore of the Iron Chef program from Japan - NO, not that cheesy American knockoff. There's nothing better than watching the Iron Chefs going toe-to-toe with a challenger, preparing 5 dishes from a selected ingredient over the course of 60 minutes. It's better than any Razorback game.
I vicariously consume large quantities of food through Adam Richman's exploits on Man vs. Food where he takes on eating challenges such as The Kitchen Sink Challenge -- three sliced bananas, 8 scoops of your choice of up to 8 choices of ice creams, 8 servings of toppings, mounds and mounds of whipped cream, chopped toasted almonds and cherries, served in a little kitchen sink - all must be eaten in 30 minutes in order to get the Kitchen Sink for free (a $40.00 value) and your picture framed so that all may admire your feat in perpetuity. If you happen to "toss" the ingredients making up the kitchen sink back into the kitchen sink, you are disqualified.
Just between you and me….Is Rachel Ray gaining all that weight back that she lost?
Alton Brown, the host of Good Eats on the Food Channel, has become my idol. He taught me how to avoid uni-tasker kitchen tools like garlic presses. Why buy one when you can simply whack cloves of garlic with the side of a knife? And why buy a specialized dehydrating machine when you can do the same thing with a box fan, furnace filters, and bungee cords?
And then there is Andrew Zimmern's Bizarre Foods show on the Travel Channel. Andrew is a bit of a food anthropologist who samples some of the strangest foods as he travels the globe. Stinky tofu in Taiwan, termites in Uganda, Giant Jewel Beetles in the Kalahari, not to mention the genitalia of a wide variety of beasts, fowl, and yes, even marine gastropods. And while I cringe when he pops some poor beast's testicle in his mouth, I just can't look away! I'm transfixed on every morsel of bizarre fare. Recently, I saw his show from Nicaragua where he ate aged cheese that purposely contains maggots. This is how pitiful I've become. Rather than be disgusted by the sight of maggots wiggling on Andrew's knife as he scooped up the cheese, I could only wonder, "How many extra points do the maggots add? Do they contain fiber?"
Well, I'm sorry, but I've got to quit. The Next Food Network Star comes on soon, and I just can't miss it.
by Stephen Neibling, student
Ice cream in a bowl
Rice Crispies poured all over