What Past State of the Union Speeches Tell Us About the Future

We cannot escape our bodies. So how do we reconcile them with who we really are?

Sam Anderson, a staff writer, considers this particular conundrum of the human condition by recounting his lifelong struggle to maintain a healthy weight: his teenage triumph over the “legendary snacker” he was in middle school, the slow creep of the pounds in early adulthood, and the pandemic’s expansive effect on his waistline.

While Anderson explains how using a dieting app enabled him to monitor his consumption, which lead to weight loss, he remains steadfastly realistic about the long-term efficacy of warding off weight gain. Instead of dwelling on uncomfortable truths, the article is a paean to the joys of eating; Anderson recalls the years in which he surrendered himself “completely, unreasonably, to the pleasure of consumption.” This is, Anderson writes, “the great subversive joy of a snack: It is meaningless eating, eating purely for eating’s sake, eating detached from nutrition and even, in the end, from appetite itself.”

Anderson considers what it takes to monitor food consumption, the linguistic legacy of 1980s diet culture, the curse of intergenerational weight problems, the natural limitations of weight-loss efforts and the importance of self-acceptance.


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Additional production for The Sunday Read was contributed by Emma Kehlbeck, Parin Behrooz, Anna Diamond, Sarah Diamond, Jack D’Isidoro, Elena Hecht, Desiree Ibekwe, Tanya Pérez, Marion Lozano, Naomi Noury, Krish Seenivasan, Saskia Solomon, Corey Schreppel, Margaret Willison, Kate Winslett and Tiana Young. Special thanks to Mike Benoist, Sam Dolnick, Laura Kim, Julia Simon, Lisa Tobin, Blake Wilson and Ryan Wegner.

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