Beyond Nutrition: The Reasons We Eat For
We think ‘excess appetite’, ‘being a foodie’ and ‘yo-yo weight issues’ are normal behaviour but we never wonder if it is unnatural. Why did our ancestors from thousands of years not have these issues as a common phenomenon?
There is so much of food stimulation all around us and with our given mindset, we probably do not even realize when our inner balance is out of whack! When we are connected to our inner selves the most, we won’t be able to even accept some of these habits because our body is so in tune with our mind. I am sure some of you must have experienced this like I do now. There are times when I am not feeling connected to my inner self and I do see my brain communicating with me differently about food.
We need to identify the cues that create the craving that lead to the body’s response, which in turn build these habits.
Here are some cues when we eat even when we aren’t actually hungry:
1. Stress: The number one reason for most people! There is acute stress, such as when we work out, that is good for us - because at that point, the body works with cortisol (stress hormones) to burn fat. However, if the body is in constant stress mode such as meeting deadlines, relationship issues, negative state of mind and so on, what do you think happens? It floods the body with negative emotions and now to combat it and feel good, food becomes the answer. The cue here is the situations in our life that can give us stress. We need to note them down and identify the patterns, so we could work on them through a different response.
2. Fatigue and lack of sleep : I have read several articles where people are proud of the fact that they do not sleep more than 4 hours! Ayurveda, one of the most ancient schools of wisdom in this area, too, states the importance of 7-8 hours of sleep. This is a pattern I have identified in myself too! If I don’t sleep well then I tend to feel tired and think I need food to give me energy. The hunger hormone (ghrelin) shoots up and the appetite control hormone (leptin) goes down. It’s the wrong response which turns into a habit. We sleep less and feel fatigued that makes us go towards food consumption beyond our needs.
3. Peer pressure: Here is an interesting one. Being around good friends makes us really happy! Then how did we develop a habit of eating beyond our requirements while in company? This is because as a part of our growing up process, eating during get-togethers was seen as a joyous moment. We were wired to feel that celebration of any form means celebrating with food! Isn’t that insightful?! Our brain removed this thought process from the pre-frontal cortex and made it an automated decision. The minute we hang out, we do not even reflect if we are actually hungry. We pull out all the stops when it comes to over-eating. The only way to change this is awareness and also having different kind of plans with our friends such as a sport or fun activity or going for a stroll. It starts giving another message to the brain, which will then rewire the response.
4. Alcohol: Booze lowers your inhibitions, and that includes good judgment about when and how much to eat. It also makes you more likely to eat less healthy foods, like ones full of fats and sugar. Studies show that drinking affects the part of your brain that monitors self-control, making it much harder to resist a tasty snack.
5. Pictures of food: There is a reason images on social media do so well and so do television shows around food. While it might be enjoyable, we are unconscious of the fact that it can trigger the desire to eat any junk around. This is another cue to observe and if you see this pattern, then it’s time to make some changes in your digital consumption habits.
The reasons we eat foods that aren’t natural to us is not given as much importance as it should be given to understand ourselves better. It is much deeper and can offer an insight into your bio-individuality and emo-individuality. So do not ignore the cues.
The views and opinions expressed, and assumptions & analysis presented in this content piece are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer or company. The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this website is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.