wow.....this pissed me off


Well-Known Member
Jun 4, 2016

I have had food noise my whole life. I cut my body apart and got the DS to conquer the food noise and it barely worked.

I read this in the NY Times opinion section. And here is the letter I wrote to the editor.

The Opinion piece by Kate Manne. Dr. Manne is an associate professor of philosophy at Cornell and the author of a forthcoming book on fatphobia.

Before 2022, there was barely a whisper about it. Now the concept of “food noise” is ubiquitous on social media; a quick TikTok search, for instance, finds that videos related to “food noise explained” attracted 1.8 billion views as of this summer. Coined to name the experience of thinking about food, longing for food, planning our next meal and so on, “food noise” is a slick rebrand of some of the most basic human drives: hunger, appetite, craving. But now these are being framed as bugs, rather than features. We should resist this reframing.

References to “food noise” invariably appear in connection with the new, much-hyped class of drugs that often induce weight loss, such as Ozempic and Wegovy. To be critical of the concept of food noise isn’t to doubt that some people have come to experience their former relationship with hunger this way while taking these drugs, with their powerful appetite-suppressive effects. But to call something noise is to go beyond describing it: It’s to invoke the normative claim that simply loving food, letting food occupy our thoughts and responding to our hunger is suspect. It isn’t.

It’s one thing to argue that the end of weight loss justifies the means of appetite suppression for some patients (alongside, of course, these drugs’ important role in treating type 2 diabetes), though there’s room to disagree with even that; as a critic of fatphobia and the relentless pressure to shrink yourself, I would stress the science showing that weight loss is not the magic bullet it’s made out to be. But regardless of how you come down on this issue, making the implicit argument — through the term “food noise” — that appetite itself is a problem to be solved should be a bridge too far for all of us.

The idea that we should not be ignoring our hunger cues is familiar from critiques of diet culture; the idea that we should not be silencing our hunger either is, to my mind, equally compelling. As someone with a long history of trying to tamp down my hunger with appetite suppressants — from over-the-counter “supplements” to prescription Adderall — what ultimately got to me was not just the side effects: It was the way trying to override my hunger was an exercise in self-alienation. When we are hungry, our bodies tell us to eat, almost literally, issuing cries and calls and pleas that constitute bodily imperatives. We silence or ignore that inner voice of need at the expense of accepting our animal nature — and with it, our humanness.

The pleasure we take from food is an important human good. Having recently enjoyed a food-centric holiday season, we should look back on its comforts and delights — the crisp, glistening latkes, the marzipan-studded stollen, the jam-bellied butter cookies — with fondness and relish, not guilt, shame, or self-hatred. Food connects us to ourselves, and with each other, and there are real harms in teaching people to reframe the pleasure they take from such fare as a problem to be treated with medication. Given that 81 percent of the people taking Wegovy in the United States last year were female, according to data from its manufacturer, Novo Nordisk, we can see this trend as part of a perpetual devaluing of female pleasure and the shaming of women’s visceral appetites. A tweet from the famed — and famously sensuous — English food writer Nigella Lawson earlier this year lamented that she “couldn’t bear to live without the food noise.” One commenter responded in agreement: “I believe it is called ‘food music.’”

You don’t have to be a professional foodie to experience food music — or to rue its silence. A researcher whose work contributed to the development of what are called GLP-1 receptor agonists, like Ozempic, believes that the loss of food joy while on these drugs is not only a genuine loss but also a major reason patients tend to stop taking them. “What happens is that you lose your appetite and also the pleasure of eating,” and “there’s a price to be paid when you do that,” said Jens Juul Holst, a professor of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Copenhagen. For some people, “once you’ve been on this for a year or two,” he said, “life is so miserably boring that you can’t stand it any longer and you have to go back to your old life.” Or as a patient, Aishah Simone Smith, put it: “My life needs more pleasures, not fewer. Eating adds drama, fun, energy, to my otherwise listless and dysthymic experience. When I lost my longing for food, my life lost meaning.”

To be sure, some people who identify with the term “food noise” experience genuinely obsessive food thoughts, as well as engage in harmful behaviors such as bingeing. But according to experts such as nutritionists and psychologists, these problems are often rooted in restriction. In other words, food noise is what may happen when you’re not eating enough to satisfy your appetite, often under the pressures of diet culture — a culture to which drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy contribute, by normalizing restrictive eating and pathologizing hunger. (Of course, we can recognize the cultural pressures and practices as problematic while sympathizing with the individuals in the grip of them.)

There are implications for the wider culture in derogating our appetites. We are effectively telling people — again, especially women — not to trust their bodies in ways that smack of gaslighting. Imagine a world where we could override our need to sleep with a medication far more powerful and long-lasting than caffeine: a new class of amphetamines, say, that could suppress the need to sleep for days if not weeks. And so we come to pronounce ourselves afflicted with “sleep noise,” rather than simple human tiredness — thereby depicting normal bodily need as weakness and the drugs to treat such weariness as a solution to this non-problem. The idea of billing our body’s pleas for rest as mere noise — and hence as something that ought not be listened to — borders on dystopian. The case of hunger is no different.

In the media-driven maelstrom around drugs containing semaglutide, like Ozempic and Wegovy — again, taken purely for weight loss, rather than treating diabetes or other health conditions — little attention has been paid to the plight of people who have long been accustomed to ignoring our voice of hunger, inasmuch as we exhibit disordered eating or even suffer from full-blown eating disorders. Despite the high prevalence of such problems — including in children and adolescents, with disordered eating affecting more than one in five worldwide — the potential of these drugs to push people into dangerous territory is rarely confronted soberly. Even apart from the drugs themselves, the giddy discourse surrounding them — hailing a future beyond food and appetite — is fraught for those who have struggled not to make an enemy of our hunger. And for any of us, the joy and pleasure and comfort of food should not be discounted either. We need to eat to live, of course, but it goes beyond that; to live to eat has long given many of us meaning and community as well as sheer sustenance. Food noise should not be treated as pathological and medicated away. Rather, we might call it “food music,” and dance to it.

Here is my letter

"Dr. Kate Manne's opinion piece 'What if ‘Food Noise’ Is Just … Hunger?' in the New York Times overlooks critical scientific insights into weight loss. While Dr. Manne holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy, her expertise does not extend to scientific disciplines directly relevant to this topic. Her assertion that 'food noise' is merely a rebranded term for hunger lacks scientific backing. The mechanics of hunger are intricate, involving over 400 hormones among other factors, and are further complicated by today’s challenging food environment.

The concept of 'food noise' gained traction last year due in part to the advent of new medications like Wegovy, which effectively reduce this noise. This medical breakthrough has helped delineate the definition of 'food noise' more clearly.

Research indicates a significant difference in how individuals with and without weight struggles think about food. Those who face weight challenges tend to think about food more frequently.

I would encourage Dr. Manne to delve deeper into the scientific literature surrounding hunger, weight loss, and the notion of food noise before forming opinions that may lack a comprehensive understanding of these complex issues."

(Now what I really wanted to write. What a load of garbage and full of philosophic babble)
Very well written! And great that you avoided the temptation to tell them what you really thought. We would have loved it, but the editors would have seen it as inflammatory and filed it in the proverbial round file (i.e. trash can).
Thanks. I wrote a draft and then told Chat GPT to make it sound better. It did a nice job, I wish I wrote that well.

I'm still shocked the NY Times published the opinion piece. To be honest, it felt a lot like gaslighting.

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