The Hungry Years: Confessions of a Food Addict

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9780786283736: The Hungry Years: Confessions of a Food Addict

“Hunger is the loudest voice in my head. I’m hungry most of the time.”

William Leith began the eighties slim; by the end of that decade he had packed on an uncomfortable amount of weight. In the early nineties, he was slim again, but his weight began to creep up once more. On January 20th, 2003, he woke up on the fattest day of his life. That same day he left London for New York to interview controversial diet guru Dr. Robert Atkins. But what was meant to be a routine journalistic assignment set Leith on an intensely personal and illuminating journey into the mysteries of hunger and addiction.

From his many years as a journalist, Leith knows that being fat is something people find more difficult to talk about than nearly anything else. But in The Hungry Years he does precisely that. Leith uses his own pathological relationship with food as a starting point and reveals himself, driven to the kitchen first thing in the morning to inhale slice after slice of buttered toast, wracked by a physical and emotional need that only food can satisfy. He travels through fast food-scented airports and coffee shops as he explores the all-encompassing power of advertising and the unattainable notions of physical perfection that feed the multibillion dollar diet industry.

Fat has been called a feminist issue: William Leith’s unblinking look at the physical consequences and psychological pain of being an overweight man charts fascinating new territory for everyone who has ever had a craving or counted a calorie. The Hungry Years is a story of food, fat, and addiction that is both funny and heartwrenching.

I was sitting in a café on the corner of 3rd Avenue and 24th Street in Manhattan, holding a menu. I was overweight. In fact, I was fat. Like millions of other people, I had entered into a pathological relationship with food, and with my own body. For years I had desperately wanted to write about why this had happened — not just to me, but to all those other people as well. I knew it had a lot to do with food. But I also knew it was connected to all sorts of outside forces. If I could understand what had happened to me, I could tell people what had happened to them, too. Right there and then, I decided that I would do everything to discover why I had got fat. I would look at every angle. And then I would lose weight, and report back from the slim world.
—Excerpt from The Hungry Years


From the Hardcover edition.

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Product Description:

Combining the revealing cultural commentary of Fast Food Nation with the visceral insights of A Million Little Pieces, this is the story of a journalist’s struggle with weight, and an unflinching look at our own culture of fat and thin.

"I thought: if I can understand the despair, my own and everybody’s else’s, I could write the story—of why we hate fat, of why we are fat, of why, in some perverse way, we want to be fat. And, most importantly, what we can do to stop being so fat. Obesity is the essential human problem in a nutshell—we try to make life easy by giving ourselves access to resources, and then we make life difficult by overconsuming those resources. We have more of everything than we’ve ever had, and yet we feel emptier."

While on assignment to interview Dr. Robert Atkins, journalist William Leith realized that he could not report on diet alone; he wanted desperately to develop a deeper understanding of his relationship with food and the pathological cravings that led him (and millions of others) to become dangerously overweight.

His Atkins interview led him to probe not only the link between carbohydrates and addiction, but also how our relationship with food has changed over the last few decades in light of economic, technological, and cultural changes in the world, as well as our cultural obsession with our bodies. Combining the science of food addiction with memoir, humor, and sociological insights, The Hungry Years is a book that will force us to look at our culture of consumption in a new way.

From the Back Cover:

" The Hungry Years is a confessional, satirical, wise, tragic, truly original book about addiction, food and what's really inside a fat man that's trying to get out. The Hungry Years defies categorization - it's part memoir, part diet book, part comedy, and part sugar rush. It's the first real book about body image for men, and it breaks taboos, breaks new ground, and breaks your heart. William Leith has finally fulfilled his always huge potential. I loved it."
-Tim Lott, cultural critic and author of White City Blue

"This hilarious, self-lacerating memoir of a compulsive eater is a superb book. I feel about The Hungry Years the way William Leith feels about buttered toast: I couldn't get enough and I panicked when I was reaching the end. William Leith has always been one of our best nonfiction writers and this is his crowning achievement."
-Jon Ronson, author of Them: Adventures with Extremists and The Men Who Stare At Goats

"A personal journey of discovery, written as a feverish addict's memoir: waist size, sex life, repressed childhood bullying, it's all laid bare in painful details. It's wired, often desperate but, finally, hopeful. Its striking design and well-connected author will ensure plenty of exposure and unlike most books about diets, you don't have to feel guilty about devouring it."
- Bookseller(UK)

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