If the United States devolves into a theocracy, Thanksgiving would surely be its central rite.
It’s a few days after the holiday. Reading this morning’s newspapers (I prefer to dribble my coffee and spew muffin crumbs on the papers instead of on my wireless keyboard), I couldn’t help but notice the hand-wringing over two topics that are also part of our national liturgy: overeating and football.
There’s not much I can offer on either of those activities, although I was interested to learn in today’s Wall Street Journal that our digestive systems may be wired to detect sugar, triggering dopamine releases and making us want to eat more. Some unfortunate mice without access to adequate legal representation had a specific gene altered, rendering them incapable of tasting “sweet.” They were offered and rejected some sucralose-laced food: it tasted sweet but was not the real thing. The mice were not excited by this faux cuisine. But they eagerly ate food that contained real sugar, despite being unable to taste “sweetness.” The mice-deceiving scientists suggest that our guts might have more impact than our brains when it comes to overeating food. The presence (not the taste) of real sugar and fat in our guts sends the message to our brains and dopamine is released.
I’m not sure how this plays out with nearly a third of adult Americans and 17% of our spawn being overweight or obese. As Sarah Palin reminded her followers recently, it’s Americans’ God-given right to eat ourselves into Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and out of our plus-sized jeans. Sarah/Evita brought chocolate chip cookies to a Christian school in Pennsylvania, emphasizing that Moms should keep on stuffing their kids with whatever they please. Ignore government health guidelines. Never mind the implications for the kids’ health and bulk.
Have you taken a god look at the people sharing the sidewalks with you? Or crowding you at checkout lines? Can you even see around the double-wides that are standing in front of you in line? The other two-thirds of our country have to look at our zealously overeating compatriots every day. Not eye-candy, folks. And the same two-thirds are having their personal space in economy seats on commercial planes invaded, too. Don’t dare lift that armrest, buddy! Keep your bulk in that defined space that you paid for. Even a Tea Partier might agree that you only have rights (determined by the FAA, not God) to your assigned seat.
Out of respect for my husband, I won’t desecrate the other pillar of our faith: football. Go Cardinal!