Girth control: something to be thankful for, or not |

Girth control: something to be thankful for, or not

Did you enjoy stuffing your Thanksgiving turkey? We hope so, because right about now, you’re probably regretting where you stuffed it.

Our ancestors would have been thankful. They spent their brief lives scrounging to fend off starvation. But once our species developed the technology to feed itself, our taste for fat and our talent for storing it turned against us. We fumbled with elixirs, corsets and quack diets. Science made diets more effective, but we still hate them.

If only we could manage food the way we’ve managed sex. If food and sex weren’t fun, you wouldn’t be here. But in the age of abundance, these appetites are out of sync.

The point of birth control is to have fun without consequences. Nature put the fun and the consequences together, but for reasons that no longer apply. Nature has produced a creature clever enough to take nature apart. We get the orgasms without the organisms.

Why not try the same with food? We invented birth control; why not girth control?

In fact, we’re already working on it. Food abstinence, like sexual abstinence, was the original option. Then came the rhythm method: no snacking between meals. Randy teen-agers fortify their resolve at True Love Waits; hungry adults do it at Weight Watchers. To relieve the hots, there’s safe sex; to relieve the munchies, there’s SlimFast.

The girth control debate, like the birth control debate, pits chastity against practicality. The weak link is willpower, and the focus of current research is how to get around it.

The most obvious answer, as we learned with birth control, is surgery, but the ideal solution would be to find the same benefits in a pill. And two studies released this month suggest that a compound called resveratrol neutralizes the harmful effects of a high-fat diet in mice. “Guilt-free gluttony might not be a fantasy,” scientists concluded in Nature.

Think about that as you try to sweat off this year’s turkey. Maybe next year, you won’t need an ounce of self-discipline. Something to give thanks for. Or not.

– William Saletan, The Washington Post