I’ve been thinking about something I heard on the radio a few weeks back (It was April 14 and I’m still thinking about it). It was the prologue to “Own Worst Enemy” produced on “This American Life” (org. aired April 13). To listen, go here and click on the prologue link (it’s the first tiny square).
It started out kinda funny, actually. Ira Glass talked about a coworker who came into work with his face all puffy, like crazy puffy. “His ears were like cauliflower.” Worried, they asked him about it. Turns out he ate some crab the night before. He knew he’d have the reaction and he ate it anyway.
It happens only 1 out of 3 times for the guy.
“It was a calculated risk. 1 out of 3 times he turns into the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.”
He does it frequently and the medicine head he gets from the allergy medicine is more annoying than a swollen face.
“The poisoning of myself is not that bad.”
It was kinda funny to think about, and if you were listening, funny to hear it rationalized.
But then, Glass talked to more people who knowingly ate foods they were allergic to. It wasn’t uncommon.
They laughed about it even, this need to eat the food that makes them sick. One woman is lactose intolerant said whenever she eats pizza, she gets severe stomach cramps and always has to rush to the bathroom afterward. She has will-power, she insists, but not when it comes to pizza. She loves pizza. It’s her and her fiance’s go-to take out choice when they couldn’t think of what else to eat. So, Glass asked her how often she ate it. “A couple times a week.”
I was expecting her to say “A few times a year” or something like that.
It got me thinking, this woman. Why are people doing that to themselves?
Another woman said, “You know it’s not going to kill me … it’s just throwing up.”
The eight-minute prologue ended with Glass talking to an ER doctor who has seen countless people for severe allergic reactions to food. She sees people every day for it, people who knew about their allergies or their situations and ate anyway. She sees the same people, too, people who avoid eye contact when they land back in the ER. “Bad choices and, some of them, decades of bad choices.”
I still can’t wrap my mind around this food addiction, purposely eating something that will make you sick. My husband points out that I don’t have an addictive personality, so maybe that is why I can’t understand. What do you think about it?