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Monday, September 23, 2013

THE REASONS WHY WE EAT

Weight control is a tough subject, and a touchy one for those who are carrying a bit (or a lot) of excess fat around with them.  In our society today, that seems to be the majority, at least anecdotally if you look around you on the street.  The big question is WHY has it happened.  People in western society, at least seem to be getting progressively fatter and fatter.  One reason is, of course, the abundance of food.  It is EVERYWHERE!  There are fast food "restaurants" (and I use that term loosely) on nearly every corner.  Grocery stores abound, and "convenience" stores stand ready, 24/7 with salty, sugary snacks and drinks.

If we didn't have this built-in drive to eat, those places wouldn't exist, as we wouldn't have an interest.  Nature has evolved us, over  the millenia, to have drives to survive, fuel ourselves, and reproduce.  It is no surprise that, as society changed and our bodies did not, these drives have become off-kilter, with predictable results.  The food drive is the reason that our hunter-gatherer ancestors became so good at their craft.  Boy, can we gather food!  When we had to climb, run, walk miles, and spend hours to get it, it worked beautifully.  We could sometimes gather up enough food to last us a few days, or even fatten ourselves up when there was abundant fruit and game, in preparation for sometimes bleak winter months, when life was much harder.

Eating is FUN!  Flavors in our mouth are pleasant.  Sweet fruit, good meat, some salt are all enjoyable.  It is that way for a reason.  If eating was an unpleasant task, our ancestors would not have become so good at it.  The problem is that, as our society "evolved" and grew more sophisticated, we, as a group, learned how to gain access to unlimited food supply, and to make it taste SO GOOD, that we want to eat all of the time.  Food has moved from nourishment to entertainment.  It is present at every celebration.  Most of us eat our "three squares" a day, breakfast, lunch and dinner, with snacks in between.   Kids at school have "snack time".  It doesn't matter whether we need to eat at a particular time.  We've all heard "It's dinner time!" since we were little kids.  If a little guy skins his knee, he gets ice cream to make him feel better.   Food is not looked at as nourishment now.  It is recreation.  If you can keep that in mind, you can beat this system.

I like ice cream as much as the next guy.  There's no denying that candy activates the pleasure centers in your brain.  What you have to do is to recognize food for what it is, what it should be, and what it's not.

What it is:  Food is what we take into our body to fuel it, to build it, and to repair it when it's damaged.

What it should be:  You SHOULD take in food in the amounts needed, with the nutrients that you need, in the quantity that you need, when you need it.

What it's not:  Food is not a substance to make you feel better when you are injured, depressed, angry or sad.  It's also not what you should celebrate with when you are happy.   It is NOURISHMENT, NOT ENTERTAINMENT.  You can celebrate some one's birthday without a giant plate full of sugar.  Go to the celebration, sing happy birthday, slap them on the back, give them a present, and politely decline the big slice of chocolate cake with sugar icing and ice cream on top.

Don't make yourself crazy with this.  It's not rocket science, it's pure nature.  If you REALLY want that cake at the time, eat it.  Realize however, that you are eating for recreation, not nourishment.  Don't make a habit of it.  Get yourself into hunter-gatherer mode, and MOST OF THE TIME, eat only what your ancestors, as I have said in the past, ad-nauseum, could PICK, FIND, OR CATCH.  If you do that, you'll gradually get back to normal weight.

Stay away from the "office doughnuts".  Don't grab a bag of chips and plop in front of the TV.  Get up, get outside, move around and eat real food in the amounts, and types that you need.

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