Hunger, in our world, is portrayed as a demon that must be slain. We are encouraged to “reduce,” “curb,” and “control” our hunger, without ever considering that it might serve a biological (and psychological) function. An advertisement for Slim-Fast Optima Shakes suggests the product “Controls hunger for up to four hours,” a substantial duration in our crusade. Imagine other products designed to help us gain control over physiological processes: an oxygenated air freshener that helps you avoid breathing for up to a minute, a specially formulated beverage that allows you to delay urination. Why aren’t these products on the market? True, there may be some interest in gaining control over other biological processes, but we would never think we could. We purchase products such as Slim-Fast because we learn from a very young age the falsehood that hunger is controllable and that we need an ally to help us wage the war against our hunger.
In keeping with our fight against hunger, bellicose metaphors abound. We join the ranks of the war on fat as we attempt to combat cravings, to fight the “battle of the bulge,” we enroll in boot camp classes and kick off a diet as if we’re being stationed overseas. Sorry, friends, I won’t be able to join you for pizza this week—I’m being shipped out on Monday. We soldier on, sticking to a diet or fitness regime as if it’s a plan of attack, avoiding the enemy shrapnel of a whiff of cinnamon sugar from a local bakery, the trace of buttered popcorn at the local Cineplex. The helpless frustration here, the irony, is that the enemy camp is forever expanding, a cease fire too distant to imagine, and the only casualties ourselves.