Americans should resolve to stop the gobbling

A good chunk of Americans are fat, broke and angry – a horrible way to live. But rather than making a handful of half-hearted New Year’s resolutions to amend the horror, folks can concentrate on a single resolution that has the power to soothe the world, or at least their souls.

Illustration Ryn Gargulinski

Illustration Ryn Gargulinski

Stop the gobbling.

This resolution does not only apply to food, although that’s a good place to start.

A hefty 67 percent of Americans are overweight or obese. That’s more than half the population. That’s sick.

That’s also the result of supersize fries, half-pound burgers and dinner plates the size of Memphis that are swimming in butter and heaped to the brim. Portion control seems a foreign concept. When it comes to food, size really does matter.

The gobbling also applies to people’s possessions. Sadly, we are a culture built on material wants. The Joneses want a bigger house, car and pool than the Andersons. The rest of the neighborhood, of course, wants to keep up with the Joneses.

Folks get sucked into the material world and the quick fix of instant credit, amassing a mountain of belongings they cannot even afford.

Things start to control their owners, rather than the other way around.

Gobbling also applies to progress. Folks are eager to gobble up the latest gadget that keeps them connected, only a keypad away from the world.

These gadgets also, in turn, gobble up people’s time. Not many people even take a vacation these days without checking their e-mail, voicemail or whatever gadget feature they need to check at least once a day.

No wonder everyone is so angry.

Overweight folks may also be bitter because their poor bodies are in constant overload.

Broke folks may be irate because they spend their days ducking calls from collection agencies. The multi-tasking mavens may be mad they never have a spare moment to themselves.

If they’d all stop gobbling, they’d all be a lot less angry.

To ensure full success in the gobble-stopping, the underlying reason for gobbling needs to be addressed.

People often gobble because they are trying to fill a void in their soul. They may erroneously think this void can be sated with food, drink, drugs, sex or even material possessions – anything they can gobble up.

The American way of life, where bigger is better and more is best, only adds fodder to the gobbling.

People need to find ways to fill that void without buying into the gobbling culture. They can try to fill that void with love, friendship, quality time, helping others, meditation, spiritual connections or even petting and adoring a dog.

Anything that will help stop the gobbling.

Perhaps psychologist and author Mary Pipher summed it up best. “If we let culture just happen to us, we’ll end up fat, addicted, broke, with a house full of junk and no time.” Add anger into the mix, and we may be already there.

[tnipoll]

Ryn Gargulinski is a poet, artist, performer and TucsonCitizen.com Ryngmaster who is guilty of gobbling at thrift stores. Her column appears every Friday on Rynski’s Blogski and this editorial appears in the Jan. 4 issue of the Arizona Daily Star. Her art, writing and more is at RynRules.com. E-mail rynski@tucsoncitizen.com.

logoWhat do you think?

Are you guilty of gobbling? What do you gobble most often?

Are you going to do anything to change it?

Do you make any new year resolutions?

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About Rynski

Writer, artist, performer who specializes in the weird, wacky and sometimes creepy. Learn more at ryngargulinski.com.
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61 Responses to Americans should resolve to stop the gobbling

  1. azmouse says:

    Happy New Year, Ryn.

    I’m so opposite of this story. I love to purge! I’m a clean freak and can’t stand clutter and ‘stuff’.

    • Rynski says:

      Happy New Year to you, too, AZMouse.
      …and good for you! on your purging. purging feels soooo good and life is much simpler without so much clutter. i’ve gone through purging phases, usually when i got fed up or had to move, but overall i’m a gobbling clutterbug. i think my subsconscious goal is to make my house look like a thrift store (haha).

  2. radmax says:

    Mornin’ and Happy New Year Rynski! Good story to start the post holiday season. 🙂 Over consumption is easy to remedy when you have my problem, CAS.(can’t afford sh…stuff.) 😉

    • Rynski says:

      hahahha! good mornin’ and happy NY to you, too, radmax!
      i, too, am in the CAS category, but i somehow find a way to gobble junk. if you need a gobbling lesson on how to get lots of useless crap at good prices – or even for free! – just let me know (hahahah).

  3. leftfield says:

    Downright subversive of you, Ryn. 

    I have a whole lifetime of comments to make on this subject, a favorite of mine.  I hardly know where to begin or how to edit myself so as not to write a novel.  Sigh…

    See overproduction in capitalist societies and commodity fetishism.  Both subjects were well explored and described by Marx in the 1800’s and directly relate to your comments today.  You see, socialism is not only concerned with the distribution of goods, but also with the alienation of the person and the destruction of the soul.   

    Herbert Marcuse is another writer who delved deeply into the alienation and loss of freedom in advanced industrial societies, particularly the US and the old USSR. 

    Food Inc. is a good movie to watch for a deeper understanding of what is wrong with our food and why it is killing us. 

    • Rynski says:

      hiya leftfield,
      i had a feeling you’d enjoy this subject. the obsession with consumption is downright horrifying. it’s even more horrifying to be sucked into it, as many are (myself not excluded).
      on a happy note, at least some are aware of this obsession/compulsion/addiction? and may actually do something about it, like turning inward for peace, rather than looking outward and grabbing at feathered hats. (it’s on my list of to do’s – haha).
      thanks for reading/watching suggestions. i think the food inc. docu-movie would make me sick.

      • radmax says:

        Rynski, your comment about getting sick over something you watched reminded me of a documentary I watched awhile back.
        Some guy wanted to try and eat McDonald’s food for some ridiculous amount of time exclusively and document the results. Seems like I remember the poor fool almost dying and having problems with his body’s renal system-liver, kidneys etc. shutting down. It that isn’t enough to make one re-evaluate your lifestyle, I wonder what it does take?

      • Rynski says:

        ick. what a horrible experiment!
        and you ask a very good question – what the heck DOES it take for people to change unhealthy habits?
        i remember long ago, when i still ate fast food, that i got on an arby’s chicken sandwich kick for a week or so. ate it every day. ended up with hives.

      • leftfield says:

        The movie is “Supersize Me”.  If you watch “Food Inc.” you will learn how McDonald’s was and is a prime force in distancing us from our food.  It may seem like a simple matter of choice, but the movie also explains how limited our choices really are.  Over 90% of the food supply in this country is controlled by less than a half dozen large corporations.  These corporations are the ones who ultimately decide what the American people will eat and those decisions, you can believe, are not based on what is healthy for you, but what is healthy for them.  What looks like a dizzying array of choices in the supermarket is only a carefully contrived deception. 

      • Rynski says:

        is that why the vegetable section is always full of soggy, limp vegetables, thrown off to the side, and only about 1/3 of the size of the candy/snacks/potato chip aisles that are featured in the middle of the store?
        (i’m thinking of the fry’s on swan/grant.)

      • azmouse says:

        Hi Maxxie,
        I saw a little of that movie too. Yuck…the guy is eating in a parking lot or something, and suddenly starts throwing up out his window. I had to change the channel.

      • radmax says:

        Happy New Year az! I had to watch the show to fruition to see what happened to the guy…morbid fascination and disgust always intrigue me… 😉

      • azmouse says:

        It usually does me too, but for some reason I couldn’t handle it that day…Happy New Year!

      • leftfield says:

        Rather than full, productive and living humans, we become the objects we produce and consume.  Even without a deep self awareness, intuitively we know the emptiness of our lives as mere objects; objects of production and objects of consumption.  In a seemingly infinite universe of consumer choices, we find ourselves to be only the cardboard cut-out of a person – Marcuse’s “One Dimensional Man”.  Commodity fetishism is a reflection of our emptiness of soul and our sad and hopeless substitute for a real human existence.   Since birth, the forces of advertising and the media relentlessly conspire to take away what real freedom we have and replace it with an empty promise. 

      • Rynski says:

        hey! that was my in my third paragraph – but i had to cut it out due to space restraints – hahah.
        seriously, though, it IS so sad but true. I even have one of those feel good messages on my fridge that reminds me: “I am a whole human being and not a statistic (or cardboard cutout).”
        empty promise and empty calories go hand in hand.

      • azmouse says:

        This is definitely a good topic for leftfield.

  4. leftfield says:

    Ryn, if you look at the ingredients of the chips and snacks products you will see corn and potatoes (Dan Quayle, where are you?) heavily represented.  These commodities are heavily subsidized and can be sold below the cost of production.  Healthy vegetables become relatively expensive.

    Now that Monsanto has created and been allowed to patent GMOs, they are aiming to control and monopolize the entire world food supply.  It is illegal, and strictly enforced by Monsanto, to save seed or use other seed if you buy their seed, seed which has been modified to make the plant resistant to the herbicide they themselves also sell to the farmer.  Similar methods of control are used by other corporations.  For example, if you agree to sell your chickens to Tyson, you also have to agree to certain standards; standards which are engineered to keep the farmer in poverty/slavery and the chickens in misery.  If you buck the system, you end up unable to sell to anyone; out of business and still heavily in debt. 

    • azmouse says:

      Jeez, food items being controlled like gasoline…or diamonds. I never thought about it, but the food industry is big bucks.

      • leftfield says:

        Control the food supply and you control the people.  In South America, a corporation (whose name I forget, but one which you would immediately recognize) became the controller of a privatized water supply.  This privatization was, of course, demanded by the IMF.  Fortunately, the people organized and rebelled to such an extent that the corporation was forced to withdraw.

        Corporations are, for the most part,  unaccountable to anyone but their shareholders; shareholders which are mostly other large and similarly unaccountable institutions.  The bulk of political and economic power is today in their hands.  Democratic institutions no longer have the power to control them and are largely democratic in form only.

    • Rynski says:

      wow. i am sickened to hear this…it all goes a lot deeper than i realized.
      how very sad.
       
      if it’s any consolation to anyone, i stopped buying tyson chicken several years back when there was a big hair wrapped around a chicken thigh.
       

      • azmouse says:

        (gag)

      • leftfield says:

        When it comes to the meat supply, there are four corporations that control the production and distribution of 95% of the meat in this country.  When you go in the supermarket and see the pictures on the labels and on the store walls; pictures of pastoral peace and the archetypal farm; realize that this is a carefully crafted illusion that no longer exists.  No matter where you buy a commercially produced dead chicken part, it was bred to grow a breast so big that it was unable to walk more than a few steps at just a few weeks of age, it was kept in high density housing and never saw the sunlight or the outside world; never scratched and pecked.

      • Rynski says:

        your chickens are the lucky ones, for sure, lefty.
         

      • leftfield says:

        I love my birds. 

      • azmouse says:

        You’re so cute when you speak of your chickens, leftfield. lol

  5. Marie says:

    There was a time in my life when I volunteered for e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g.   I sat on numerous boards and committees, and thought I was truly helping.   In the end, I wasn’t as focused as I could have been and I ended up resenting the time I gave as I had a million other things I needed to do.   Volunteering was a distraction.   It took several months, but I slowly started to break the pattern. 

    Now, I only volunteer for a 2 entities and enjoy the time I give immensely.   I value the time I give just as much as the time I give myself.  

    • Rynski says:

      yaaay, marie!
      glad to hear you were able to go for quality over quantity. a beautiful thing. i, too, sometimes get trapped into agreeing to many responsibilities that pull me in way too many directions – and, like you mentioned, being resentful of and distracted in all of them.
      thanks for input!

  6. Carolyn Classen says:

    Ryn, you’re absolute right regarding this gluttony and over sized meals. Usually I just eat half a meal when I eat at a restaurant and save the other half for later (dinner maybe).  Obesity is a reflection of a wealthy, capitalistic society, which is not being careful about good nutrition and food consumption.  Food can also be an addiction for some people. As Leftfield mentions above, seeing “Supersize Me” and “Food, Inc.” can be very illuminating about this subject.

    • Rynski says:

      hi carolyn,
      i, too, try to do the half-meal thing when dining out. …although if they don’t bring the doggie bag quick enough, i can easily fall prey to eating the whole dang thing.
      obesity is horrific. while i was filling my void with mall shopping the other day, it seemed as if every other pair of pants on the rack had at least a size 40 waist or larger.
      food can DEFINITELY be an addiction. i think ANYTHING can be an addiction for some who are predisposed to become addicted to things. this can run the gamut from gambling to food, sex to drugs and even fall into too much of a good thing, like addiction to exercise.

  7. leftfield says:

    As important as the factual information presented here today is how we perceive the origins and the solutions of the problems.  I think as a society we believe that both the problems and the solutions are matters of choice; that we can cure these ills by making “better choices”.  What I argue is that we really have no choice; just the illusion of one.  Yes, you can make the choice to eat broccoli today rather than a double cheeseburger.  But you are still within the confines of a system that will relentlessly pursue the sale of cheeseburgers knowing full well, and not caring, what it is doing to the people and the planet.  You can run, but you can’t hide. 

    • Carolyn Classen says:

      True Leftfield.  What irritates me is that we all know by now that whole wheat bread is better than white bread, yet the fast food places & restaurants mostly still serve food on white bread (without any whole wheat choice).  And rarely do I see brown rice (instead of white rice) on the menu.  It must be just the corporate profit margin–and it’s not helping the diets of health conscious folks.

    • Rynski says:

      ahhh, the illusion of choice. thanks for bringing that up, something i’ve never really pondered but now can, like carolyn, pinpoint examples of it.
      my orders ALWAYS end up slathered in butter and/or mayo, even though i constantly tell waiter NO butter, no mayo. at least they got the “salad no dressing” down.
      illusion of choice seems like it would go with the illusion of the american dream, no?

      • azmouse says:

        …or trying to ask for whole wheat toast, no butter just dry. The waitress looks at you like an alien. lol

      • Rynski says:

        ha! …try asking for a baked potato with NO SOUR CREAM OR BUTTER with mustard on the side – then you get to be an alien with seven heads and 22 eyeballs – hahah

      • azmouse says:

        LOL! I bet! Mustard, huh? I’ll have to try that. I just like em plain.

  8. tiponeill says:

    But .. but… Americans love being angry. It is one of our favorite things, so much so that we listen to angry people on the radio telling us things to be angry about, we have newspaper writes who make their living telling us about the outrage du jour so that we can spew insults in user comment sections, and on good days we have tea parties.
    Without being angry our economy would collapse and we wouldn’t know how to entertain ourselves.

  9. tiponeill says:

    all we need is love
    So we don’t need TC.com ?  🙂

  10. azmouse says:

    I used to be addicted to exercise. When I’d walk my dogs, I’d wear those ankle weights. Then I progressed to ankle weights and a back pack filled to the brim with heavy books. Then it was the back pack, the ankle weights, and thirty pound weights I’d carry in each hand, pumping as I walked. It was never enough. If I woke up in the middle of the night, I’d start thinking about it and would just have to get up, get dressed and go to the gym (which was open 24 hrs). I was working two jobs back then and still managed to spend hours at the gym every day. Even when I was standing cooking dinner, I’d be working my calves…up on my toes, and down…it was quite consuming.

    Now I’m not so insane about the working out, and I got rid of the gym membership because I’d be there every waking hour if I could.

    The current issue is cleaning. I’m a clean fanatic and my house is never clean enough. But, I’ve been working on my clean-kitchen-counter obsession. Literally, I would wipe down my kitchen counters 30 to 50 times a day. Now, I’m down to maybe 7 to 10 times a day. They can never be clean enough!!!! I’m crazy!

    • Rynski says:

      at least cleanliness it next to godliness they say, haha.
      i realized i, too, was on the addiction to exercise kick when i caught myself exercising BEFORE i went to the gym to go exercise.
      i’ve got it down to once daily workouts – with dog walk in the eves.
      my counters could use a bit more wiping…

  11. Bjay says:

    I’m going to represent some of the non-skinny population.
     
    I have some genetic problems I take meds for.  I often hear, this will probably make you gain at least 10 pounds.  And usually they are right.  I recently had to take some steroids for asthma and got to gain a couple pounds the past month.  Yay.  I totally believe I got diabetes from steroids when I was younger to treat big problems I was having with full-body hives.
     
    A couple years ago I did a 30-day juice fast and then went all raw.  I lost 30 pounds (still not skinny).  I had gone off my diabetes medications but I had to eat a LOT of vegetables to get all my calories – both expensive and a lot of either chewing or blending which is pretty time consuming.  Plus I started to lose a lot of hair from the calorie restriction.
     
    So I decided, fine, I’ll do “mostly” raw which meant that ya I would have to add in a diabetes medication again to cover when I ate a non-vegetable.  This included fruit because I couldn’t have the sugar in fruit either.  I had asked for insulin so I could give myself just what I needed when I ate certain things.  My doc said no and gave me an oral medication.
     
    This oral med caused carb cravings like you wouldn’t believe.  This med – meant for a diabetic – caused carb cravings.  Which would mean what?  I would need more meds.  So he gave me another med with the “this may make you gain about 10 pounds” thing.  Crazy.
     
    For this new year, I’m going to increase my raw food more and try to get off those drugs.  Yes I am overweight, but I am not a glutton.  Not in all cases does it mean that.
     
    Diabetes can be a catch-22 not only with the meds, but when you have insulin resistance it means you have more of the hormone insulin in your body than the average person(but for some reason your body can’t use it).  Insulin sends signals to the brain to tell it 1) do not release fat and 2) eat more carbs.  It’s like as if you were given a drug for those things to happen.  Many experts are feeling this happens to diabetics before they gain weight and before they are diagnosed.  I’ve also been told by some docs that I have to do at least 2-3x or more exercise as a “normal” person.
     
    So it’s hard to be “good” and eat healthy as it is but when you have diabetes you have your hormonal system and brain working against you.  It’s not just cause you sit and eat for no reason.
     
    Also, Native Americans, Mexicans, many indigenous cultures still have the “starvation gene” where our bodies are built to make do with less and to deal with regular seasons of famine.  In this area, Tucson, long ago, May was always a month of famine.  Known as “the month of hunger.”  They also ate low-fat foods and gathered a lot from the desert.
     
    I personally don’t have time to go gather food from the desert often (although I do sometimes).  I don’t know anyone who would like to fast for a month, but since we have food all year around now (and on almost every corner with a value menu), it makes for problems.  I have also seen the Food, Inc.  And it’s insane.
     
    Anyway,  it’s no coincidence that, wow, the indigenous cultures here are experiencing an epidemic of diabetes.
     
    Anyway, wanted to throw my two cents in.  🙂  The problem can be more complicated than just gluttony.  And I personally don’t need to deal with that stereotype on top of what I already have to deal with.
    But I do agree, we do have to move away from being a society of consumption.  The bad economy might be saving us in some ways.  I had a neighbor trade in their hummer for a tiny little gas-efficient thing.
     
    As far as the Food Inc, thing.  There was a man with diabetes and his family in there.  It was cheaper for them to by McDonalds than to eat fruits and veggies – but what I hope they see eventually and a lot of Americans see is that even a small amount of fruits and veggies pack a serious amount of nutrients if they make sure and pick the superfood ones and/or organic.  And once you get those nutrients, cravings aren’t as bad.
     
    Okay off my ramble lol.
     
     
     
     
     
     

    • Rynski says:

      hiya bjay – and wow, thanks for your input. it sounds like you have been through a whole roller coaster of incidents. geesh.
      i am glad you pointed out how MUCH more complicated the problem can be and some of the health issues that folks can be struggling with. thank you.
      you are also very knowledgeable about diabetes – and sounds like you are doing your best to stay healthy through all the roller-coaster-ness.
      good for you!
      the price of fresh vegetables is a joke, esp. here in arizona. just one example: i remember nyc markets where zuccini was 29 cents/pound. here it’s more like $1.29/pound and the things are about the size of a cigar.
      sigh. it IS expensive to eat healthy. and yes, time consuming.
       
       

      • azmouse says:

        And that is why people always seem to notice the chunky people in line to get free food with the attitude that they shouldn’t be there, because they are overweight. The reality is there are probably more overweight  people with low incomes, because the cheap food is crappy for you yet affordable. Fresh fruits and veggies are sooo pricey.

      • Bjay says:

        Ya a few months ago I grabbed a bunch of small yellow crookneck zucchini without thinking .  Got to the register and discovered it was 1.95 PER zucchini.
         
        I’m big on dark leafy greens and they are pricey (especially organic).  I try to buy them at the nurseries and put them in pots out back.  Last time I got 6 baby kale and collards for $2.50 – the same price as one bunch in the store.  My goal is to work up to having 30 of them out there.  Have a lot more pots, soil, and plant food to buy lol.  But in the end will be a lot cheaper and I’ve had some of them live a few years.
         
        It’s funny the zucchini gets so expensive because when people grow it themselves, they usually beg people to take some cause it’s so prolific.

      • Rynski says:

        those yellow zucchini prices are right up there with the red or yellow bell peppers at $2/each. they can kiss my foot (although the frozen version can never compare…)

      • azmouse says:

        I grow my own herbs, but if I had a garden, I think my dog Tibet would figure out how to get in and destroy it.

    • azmouse says:

      Hello Bjay,
      What you say is important. Genetics plays a big part in the weight issues. Most of my life, I couldn’t have gained a pound if my life depended on it. I was always tall and super skinny. I’ve always envied women who have big butts. How boring life would be without the variety of people of all sizes.
      Hopefully most people realize that not everyone with a few extra pounds is a glutton and we are all just different and I for one, relish that difference.

      • Bjay says:

        Your right genetics plays a big part.  Another big part is ignorance.  Some people just don’t know how to eat right.  In this day and age where fast food restaurants are such a big part of our lives, what are the kids learning?
        When I lost that 30 pounds, I lost a good chunk of my butt and chest.  Why!?!??! haha.  Would have been nicer to have lost it from my tummy instead of those areas and my legs.  Hopefully the tummy goes down with the next (and hopefully final)  30.

      • azmouse says:

        Well, you just love yourself the way you are, because I think you’re fabulous and beautiful!!

  12. Thomas Hruska says:

    “What are you guilty of gobbling?”  Video games.  I even have a blog here on the site dedicated to the addiction enjoyment of the activity of collecting and playing video games.

    • azmouse says:

      I have to get my son to talk to you, Thomas. I read your blog, and pass the info to him! lol

      • Thomas Hruska says:

        Please do!  My blog gets lonely without comments.  Then again, I don’t write many articles that people can make comments on (very few conversation starters).

      • azmouse says:

        But you always put the great deals on there, and he’ll read it over my shoulder. I’ll just have to get him hooked on TC.com like I am.

  13. I think gobbling too much on material things is  a problem of most people not only in America. This is glutony.. a problem which all of us should face.. I like this topic..  thanks for your interesting post 🙂
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  14. Carolyn Classen says:

    Not surprising that 50% of the 22 voters (so far) say they gobble food.  It’s instant gratification and easy to consume.

    • Rynski says:

      so true, carolyn.
      i AM surprised, tho, there are not more gobblers of clothes and shoes. i thought for sure i’d have more company in that category!

      • Marie says:

        But surely the gobbling of clothes and shoes can’t be bad, can it?   I hurt at the thought of parting with my vintage frocks.    One need only read the current ‘Retroflections’ section to know what I mean.  

      • Rynski says:

        oh, you gotta keep the vintage! vintage is exempt from gobbling.
        clothes and shoes are healthier gobbling, at least, than drink and drugs or big macs.
        retroflections is such a fun blog.

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