Anne Arundel Co. author discusses ‘Leaving Large’

A photo of Michelle Petties, author of the book "Leaving Large: The Stories of Food Addiction" and Anne Arundel County resident. (Courtesy Michelle Petties.)
A photo of Michelle Petties, author of the book “Leaving Large: The Stories of Food Addiction” and Anne Arundel County resident.

A photo of Michelle Petties, author of the book "Leaving Large: The Stories of Food Addiction" and Anne Arundel County resident. (Courtesy Michelle Petties.)
A photo of Michelle Petties, author of the book “Leaving Large: The Stories of Food Addiction” and Anne Arundel County resident.

A photo of Michelle Petties, author of the book “Leaving Large: The Stories of Food Addiction” and Anne Arundel County resident.

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A photo of Michelle Petties, author of the book "Leaving Large: The Stories of Food Addiction" and Anne Arundel County resident. (Courtesy Michelle Petties.)
A photo of Michelle Petties, author of the book "Leaving Large: The Stories of Food Addiction" and Anne Arundel County resident. (Courtesy Michelle Petties.)

When you go to grab that second helping of food this Thanksgiving, ask yourself the question — are you eating because you’re still hungry or is it about something else?

Michelle Petties, author of the book “Leaving Large: The Stories of Food Addiction” said, “We have these stories in our consciousness that drive our decisions about food that have nothing to do with hunger.”

The book chronicled her journey through a series of personal essays from “eating too much of the wrong things, for the wrong reasons” to “honoring her body.”

The Anne Arundel County resident said, “I’ve been a size 26, a size 16, and a size 6. A size six is much better.” She has gained and lost over 700 pounds over four decades.

Petties said she spent years eating for reasons other than hunger. She said she’s been through high protein, low fat diets, hypnosis, clinical trials, and liposuction.

She said you can go from a size 22 to a size 14, and gain the weight back, because you haven’t done the mental work to maintain it.

There were three questions Petties said she asked herself that changed her life — questions that she said she still asks herself today to keep the weight off.

“One, why am I eating this particular food, why now?  The second question, am I hungry or am I something else. And, if this food isn’t giving me the body that I want, why am I eating it,” she said.

Petties was part of a grim statistic; studies show that approximately four out of five African American women are either overweight or morbidly obese, putting them more at risk for high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers.

Studies have also shown that obesity worsens the outcome of COVID-19 in African American women. Petties hopes her triumph over obesity can be an inspiration to others.

As she looks back on her journey, Petties said, “If you change your mind, you can change your body. When you change your body, you can change your life, you can change how you show up in the world.”

More information is available at leavinglarge.com.

This is part of WTOP’s continuing coverage of people making a difference in our community authored by Stephanie Gaines-Bryant. Read more of that coverage.

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