Here we are glad to introduce you series of chapters from the book Are you good enough? by Bill McFarlan and Dr Alex Yellowless. The reading is supplied with exercises after each chapter. This material was chosen as it gives an insight in thorny issues of today's society in simple, straightforward and witty manner basing on medical knowledge.
People today have more choices then ever befor...but are they any happier?...There’s evidence to suggest that many are drowning under the weight of their responsibilities and losing conﬁ dence in their ability to juggle more and more tasks. Steve and Lynn Clark are one such couple. Married with a ﬁve-year-old child, they are successful and happy. On the surface. But their relationship is beginning to stagnate and their conﬁdence in their life together – and each other – is starting to crumble.
Chapter 1 Are you hungry for love?
Tuesday 27 September, early evening
Lynn opened a packet of smoky bacon crisps as she ﬂopped on to the couch in front of the television. With her right hand, she dipped into the bag and with her left, lifted a full glass of Chardonnay to her lips.
Her high cheekbones were the focus of a pretty, friendly face. With dark, wavy, shoulder-length hair and striking hazel eyes, she continued to turn heads at 36 – and looked as if she would for some years to come.
But right now, an unwitting frown disturbed her forehead. Something was niggling her. Nicky, her ﬁve-year-old, was amusing himself with his PlayStation. He was a bright, enthusiastic boy. His blond hair and blue eyes often softened the hearts of shoppers who had initially stared in disapproval at his occasional supermarket tantrums. Tonight, he was quiet and absorbed.
The peace was broken by the phone ringing. It was Steve, Lynn’s husband of ﬁve years and partner for twice as long. ‘Hi, Gorgeous!’ he began. ‘It’s motorway mayhem. I’ll try to be home by eight.’
‘OK, Steve,’ replied Lynn. ‘Supper’s on.’
Settling back on the couch, remote control in her hand, she spent the next 40 minutes hopping between soaps and reality TV.
A ﬁght was breaking out in EastEnders. An affair was smouldering in Emmerdale. A D-list celebrity was having a makeover. Britain’s Worst Mum was screaming at her teenage daughter. Desperate women queued up on the screen of Lynn’s television to proclaim their increasing dissatisfaction with their ﬁgures.
Lynn opened another packet of crisps as her frown deepened.
In Big Brother Revisited, Emilie showed off the infected stud wound on her belly button and 20-year-old Karina talked about getting implants to enlarge her breasts.
Nicky had by now lost any interest in his PlayStation and was seeking attention – but Lynn was tired. She knew it was time to bath him and get him ready for bed, but instead she hung on for a few minutes to watch the start of Extreme Makeovers, as she opened a packet of biscuits.
The pounds gained when Nicky was born had proved hard to shift. And recently, a carbohydrate ﬁx won against another diet every time.
The diets she’d tried had worked – for a while. And then life would get in the way.
Lynn’s mobile sounded from within her handbag with a message. Perhaps a text from Steve?
As she studied the screen, a puzzled look crossed her face. A text message read:
ARE YOU HUNGRY FOR LOVE?
‘Oh well, deﬁnitely not Steve.’ She smiled. He used to send sexy texts, but not recently. They tended to be matter-of-fact arrangements, often enquiring what was for supper.
‘So who’s winding me up?’ she mused.
The mobile was giving no clues as the text refused to reveal the sender. ‘Must be a scam,’ Lynn decided, as her attention wandered from the phone to the TV screen in front of her. An advert for a new reality show began: ‘Are you hungry for love? You could be one of ten contestants seeking the perfect partner on your very own Love Island …’ Lynn sat rooted to the TV screen – and glanced again at the text message.
‘ARE YOU HUNGRY FOR LOVE?’ it conﬁrmed.
Her puzzled thoughts were interrupted by the sound of Steve’s key in the door.
‘Hi, Gorgeous!’ said Steve, pecking Lynn on the cheek.
‘How’s my boy?’ he enquired, rufﬂing Nicky’s already tousled hair.
Steve reached for the remote and ﬂ icked to the Champions League football.
He was youthful for his age. With his milestone 40th fast ap- proaching, only a little grey hair around the temples betrayed any real sign of ageing.
He’d always had smile lines around his eyes – one of the clues to his character that had attracted Lynn to him a decade ago. Now, however, more worry lines below his mop of fair hair suggested his troubled thoughts at times outnumbered his carefree moments. His blue eyes were always searching the room, normally seeking out the next one-liner. His lack of opportunity to play ﬁve-a-side football remained a constant irk and an explanation for the paunch now protruding above his belt.
‘Steve, did you send me a text?’ asked Lynn.
‘No, I phoned to say it was mayhem on the motorway,’ he replied, somewhat defensively.
‘No, I don’t mean that. I got this strange message a few minutes ago,’ she retorted.
Steve’s mildly surprised expression barely disguised his greater interest in the football than in his wife’s puzzling experience.
‘It just read: "ARE YOU HUNGRY FOR LOVE?”’ she persisted.
‘It’ll be some kind of advertising or a scam,’ offered Steve, his eyes ﬁxed to the TV screen. ‘Well I thought so,’ said Lynn, ‘but then an advert began on TV with exactly the same words.’ ARE YOU HUNGRY FOR LOVE?
A sharp intake of breath from Steve caused Lynn to look back to her husband. But he was reacting to a header whistling past the keeper’s unguarded left post. ‘Steve, are you listening?’ she asked. ‘Of course,’ he replied. ‘You got a text about a TV show.’
‘Well I don’t think it was connected,’ she insisted.
‘Probably a new way of marketing TV,’ Steve replied. ‘It’s very sophisticated these days, you know.’
‘But how did that text arrive seconds before it came up on the telly?’ she persisted.
‘I’ve no idea, Lynn. Anyway, what’s for supper? I’m starving,’ insisted Steve.
Now it was her turn to be distracted. She looked forward to Steve coming home each night, but her conversation these days seemed of less interest to him than the big football matches. Cor- rection – any football match!
‘What are we having?’ asked Steve again.
‘Spaghetti Bolognese. But I’m not particularly hungry,’ replied Lynn.
‘You’ve been at these crisps again,’ was Steve’s insightful response; he lifted the near-empty family pack wrapper accusingly.
‘Well I never know when you’ll be home,’ hit back Lynn. ‘And I’m hungry long before you sit down to eat.’
‘No point complaining about piling on the pounds, then,’ Steve replied, less than helpfully.
If anything bothered Lynn it was her weight. From being a size 10 before Nicky’s birth, she was now a 12. Hard to imagine that at one time she’d been an 8. Most of her clothes were too tight for her and every time she stood in front of the mirror, she felt depressed and disgusted. She knew this wasn’t the ‘puppy fat’ her mother had so often teased her about in her teenage years. This seemed determined to stay and scream at her, every time she looked at her reﬂection.
The love-hate food relationship
Lynn’s in conﬂict with food
And she constantly worries over what she’s eating. Sometimes it’s simply at the back of her mind as she negotiates her way through another busy day … but often it dominates the forefront of her attention, to the extent of being an intense and distressing preoccupation. There are just so many questions and concerns buzzing around in her head all the time: ‘What to eat – how much – and how often?’ ‘What size of helping should I have – how many calories does that contain – just how "fattening” is this?’ ‘What will be the result of eating this – and how will I feel after- wards if I do?’ ‘If I eat this now, will it go straight to my waist, hips, thighs or my bum – and can I ﬁ nd the time to "work it off” tomorrow?’
‘Will the cellulite on my thighs make them look like orange peel?’ And so on. And on. And on it goes! These are just some of the myriad worries at the back of Lynn’s mind, sapping her energy and taking the edge off her pleasure in eating. Robbing her of some of the joy in life itself.
To eat or not to eat?
Make no mistake about it – Lynn loves food! And she really enjoys preparing meals for others. For her, it is an expression of her love for her family, for Steve and Nicky.
However, since she was a teenager, Lynn has become increasingly wary of food. She’s become fearful of eating too much during a meal – even unsure what ‘too much’ really is. She’s also concerned about eating the ‘wrong things’ and at the ‘wrong time’ of day.
Every TV programme she watches seems to be sending her messages that she should lose weight or that she needs to change her body in one way or another. Glossy magazines propounding the crazy world of the ‘Eating Secrets of the Supermodels’ have virtually taken up residence in her doctor’s surgery waiting room, somehow lending a degree of credibility to their confusing and conﬂicting dieting claims.
On occasions it all becomes ‘too much’ to take in. Unable to reach a decision about what to eat, she often decides to eat nothing at all and skips lunch instead. To her disgust, by evening she is sometimes so hungry she ends up overeating while watching TV.
Lynn sometimes wonders if the world has gone diet-crazy. But then she reminds herself that all her friends are dieting too. So it ‘must be OK … mustn’t it’? Steve’s already joked that new diets were being created deep un- derground during the night, only to emerge at daybreak in the morning newspaper, in order to give Lynn the magic answer to all her weight worries: the quick, easy and hassle-free way to lose weight. Lynn tends to feel ‘at her fattest’ just before going on holiday with Steve. She’d love to be able to ﬁ t into the new red bikini she’s bought, and wants to look good on the beach and by the pool.
Lynn snacks on crisps and packets of biscuits when she feels tired and fed up. She’s comfort eating by using food as a way of trying to change the way she feels at a particular moment.
It’s an understandable attempt to boost her ﬂ agging energy after an exhausting day at work, further depleted by looking after de- manding Nicky. It also helps to lift her mood. However, Lynn’s unhappy not only about her weight and shape, but also about the current state of her relationship with Steve. Comfort eating provides her with a way of feeling better – quickly. And it works! But here’s the catch – only for a while. Soon after overeating, Lynn feels annoyed and even disgusted with herself and within a few days or weeks she goes on yet another diet.
Lynn’s pattern of spells of comfort eating, followed by the adoption of the next dieting fad she comes across in a glossy magazine, is her way of trying to feel better and happier about herself in general.
In fact, Lynn’s comfort eating is an attempt to ﬁll an inner emptiness or vacuum – to satisfy a form of emotional hunger. This sense of emotional emptiness is being created by the absence of real self-love and a more loving and satisfying relationship with Steve.
Lynn took a copy of Zest magazine to bed with her while Steve watched the late night Champions League highlights – despite his impending early-morning monthly sales meeting.
Restlessly, she ﬂicked through a piece about comfort eating, but quickly put it down.
‘Are you hungry for love?’ she considered again. Was it a secret admirer? Chance would be a ﬁne thing!
She felt less attractive than ever. And Steve’s obvious lack of inter est only conﬁrmed her feelings.
She was sure he still loved her, but it would be nice if he would show it just once in a while. Still, she wasn’t one of those women who comfort ate, Lynn told herself. She just snacked because she was hungry.
She was hungry for food, not hungry for love.
Or so she thought.