Obesity: A Lack of Spiritual Food? - Official Kabbalah Publication of the Bnei Baruch Kabbalah Education & Research Institute
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Obesity: A Lack of Spiritual Food?

Everyone today is counting their calories—but the obesity problem only keeps growing. Kabbalah explains that this epidemic is yet another symptom that the modern human being is not getting his “spiritual food”

It’s no secret that obesity and overweight are increasing every year. According to The National Center for Health Statistics, during the past 20 years there has been a dramatic increase in obesity in the United States, and in 2003, 66% of U.S. adults were either overweight or obese.

"Even children have gained weight," reports Live Science Staff. "The average weight for a 10-year-old boy in 1963 was 74.2 pounds; by 2002 the average weight was nearly 85 pounds. Among girls, that figure went from 77.4 to 88 pounds." The World Health Organization estimates that by 2015, approximately 2.3 billion adults will be overweight, and more than 700 million will be obese.

This epidemic is not only costing people their self-esteem, well-being and health, but also loads of money. According to The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent and Decrease Overweight and Obesity, the cost of obesity in the United States in 2000 was over $117 billion. The money is spent on everything from diet methods to the treatment of diseases linked to obesity, not to mention the billions of dollars businesses are losing due to their employees’ obesity-related illnesses.

In fact, the effects of obesity are felt everywhere. A CNN special on November 14th revealed that airlines are planning to charge a controversial “fat tax,” because overweight people mean greater fuel expenditures for the airlines and less seating space for slimmer customers. Some surgeons are refusing to operate on overweight people because of the increased risks involved, and even Disneyland has been affected—it has closed down and "renovated" some of its rides because too many oversized customers are causing them to malfunction—according to an article in Wired Network.

But perhaps worse of all are the health concerns involved. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that the more overweight a person is, the more likely he or she is to have health problems. Australian nutritionist John Tickell states that diabetes II—a disease associated with obesity, is the fastest growing disease in the world. Other obesity-related diseases include hypertension, coronary heart disease, strokes, and cancer.

The Real Hunger Within

Undeniably, some people are overweight because of inherited, genetic factors. But this accounts for only 20% of the overweight people, according to nutritionist John Tickell. The other 80% are obese or overweight simply because they overeat—a trend that has been on a dramatic rise for the past 20 years.

Why? Tickell thinks that “It's all in the attitude; it's all in the human brain.” This is what determines whether a person will be fat or slim, and will eat healthy or not.

EMedicine Health voiced a similar opinion, stating that some of the reasons for overeating may be: "Depression, hopelessness, anger, boredom, and many other reasons that have nothing to do with hunger." In other words, "People's feelings influence their eating habits, causing them to overeat."

Kabbalah narrows the culprit down even further—it's the feeling of inner emptiness arising from our inability to fulfill our growing egoism. We are compelled to compensate for that inner void, the lack of fulfillment and the feeling of emptiness, by any means possible—one of them being food.

In other words, the obesity epidemic, spreading worldwide today, is yet another symptom of the emptiness felt by the modern human being.

Fulfillment—Not Compensation

The rise of human egoism makes many of us today feel unsatisfied, no matter what we do. We always keep “wanting something,” and no matter how many possessions we acquire, we still feel empty inside. That constant emptiness makes us look for compensation, and for some of us, that compensation is to constantly keep eating.

But no matter how much food we consume, our inner void remains unfulfilled, and Kabbalah explains that it’s simply because what we are yearning for is, in fact, non-physical. Unknowingly, a spiritual desire is evolving within all people, and in the 21st century, this desire is greater (and hungrier) than ever before, demanding its fulfillment. That fulfillment can only be spiritual, or if you will, “spiritual food.”

So the wisdom of Kabbalah doesn’t tell a person to start a diet. Instead, it treats the root of the problem, showing us how to fulfill that spiritual desire—our deepest and most profound deficiency. When we finally address the real lack, thoughts like, “I want something… but I don’t know exactly what—maybe a pint of Ben and Jerry’s,” will simply disappear. As a result of engaging spiritually, a person starts thinking on a completely different level. One starts to experience life as an ongoing adventure, and at every moment of life, one feels energized and fulfilled from within.

Today’s accelerating rates of obesity and overweight are but a sign that people are yearning for a fulfillment they’re not getting—spiritual fulfillment. If we realize this, and learn how to fulfill ourselves, we will no longer need anything “extra” on the outside.