I'd like to do a little informal poll. Here is a statement: "Food is just fuel for your body. I don't eat for pleasure; if I want pleasure I get it from other sources." Before you read on, please think about your reaction to the statement (and post it in the comments, if you're willing -- on this one, I actually invite people who are anti-fat and stumbled onto this post for some reason to please chime in). Does it apply to you? If not, do you aspire to it? Do you think it is a mainstream view?
OK, now the context. This statement is something that my trainer at the gym told me. He used to be fat (he was 300 lbs., and I think he's about 5'7") -- now he is more like 200 lbs. and very lean. He doesn't lecture me about losing weight (if he did, I'd tell him off and/or quit working with him), so this kind of indirect parable-type thing is the only way I've ever heard his philosophy on the subject. He said he hasn't eaten any cheese in probably 3 or 4 months. I'm not really asking if he is "right," since I don't think there is one right way to think about such things (it is surely obvious to my regular readers how I feel about it, but I'm not arguing for my own view here). So I'm not asking whether a person "should" eat for pleasure. But I do wonder how common a view it is, and whether people who are fat-haters would agree with it or not. I actually have conflicting expectations about this. On the one hand, I can imagine that it's a common view among bodybuilders, and a lot of fat-haters are bodybuilders (or claim to be bodybuilders, when they're posting nasty comments on people's blogs). On the other hand, a common uncharitable claim about fat people is that we do not know how to really eat for pleasure, we just cram as much cheap, low-quality food as possible down the gullet in as short a period as possible. So this would lead me to expect that the fat-haters would argue that you "should" try to get pleasure out of eating.
On another note, I have an update on the last post. I got a very nice response from the person I emailed. It still seems like we disagree about some things, but she seems open to talking about it. Also, it turns out that some of the materials they are using in class are about the physical and psychological damage that can be caused by dieting. I am not sure how she is reconciling these things with the CDC slideshow that, as I pointed out, feeds into the "obesity panic" which in turn puts more pressure on people to diet. But I was happy at least to know that the students are getting some materials that challenge the pro-diet view.
One last thing. The Admiral sent a link to this article on why Sanjay Gupta should not be Surgeon General. I agree, not only because of Gupta's views on single-payer health care, but for these additional reasons.