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Radio-Active

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I was listening to a commentary about obesity on our local radio station. The commentator said one of the usual criticisms about people who are obese: “Why can’t they simply stop overeating?!” It made me upset enough to send in my own commentary, which was read aloud by one of the radio hosts the next day. Another person called in, voicing a kind comment too, so I’ve added my thoughts about her words here as well.

This is what I said:
I have never been 200 or 300 pounds (90 or 135 kg) in my body size, but I have been 600 pounds (270 kg) in my mind, so I can easily relate to the person whom society cruelly calls “obese.” I was glad to hear the local author’s commentary, too, on this issue. She hit the nail on the head when she talked about discrimination toward the overweight person. I have to agree it is discrimination without question. Would you bat an eye at a “skinny” person eating a donut? No, not at all! But you would if that person were 300 pounds, and if you were really mean you’d say out loud to your friends, “I know he or she needs that now!” This and many other cruel things are said as if the person is invisible, is hard of hearing, and even presumed, it seems, to lack intelligence.

Most of the time, I am a few pounds away from my ideal weight, but I struggle daily with my disordered thinking about food. That is why I have been a member of Overeaters Anonymous for over thirty-five years. This program follows the same Twelve Step ideas as Alcoholics Anonymous. The difference is we replace the word “alcohol” with “food and compulsive food behaviors” and the word “alcoholic” with “compulsive eater.” My friends who are recovering alcoholics say, “I don’t need to drink to live, but I need to eat. I don’t envy you your addiction.” Like the alcoholic, we compulsive eaters feel we have an addiction, an allergy, or a “different reaction to food.” Obesity is one end of the spectrum, and the other is anorexia and bulimia.

I believe that one day at a time and because of my involvement in Overeaters Anonymous, I have a daily reprieve from compulsive overeating. I hope the person who was making the derogatory remarks over the radio about people who fight this battle every day never has to walk in a compulsive eater’s shoes.

— Lori S

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