Understanding Food: Why Do We Eat?

Understanding Food: Why Do We Eat?

Why Do We Eat?  It depends. The most obvious answer is because we’re hungry.   But statistics show that this answer, while appearing obvious, is not entirely accurate.   In fact, a combination of factors, not the least of which is the overabundance of food availability in our society today, has conditioned today’s Americans to eat when we’re happy, sad, stressed, relaxed, bored, busy or just because we’re walking by the ice cream stand and it sure looks good! 

One of the many benefits of being a modern human is we derive great pleasure from eating. It’s fun, socially acceptable and emotionally rewarding. However, the primary driver for most of our eating should come not from our appetite, but from our internal driver, hunger. One could argue that eating for reasons other than being truly hungry has contributed mightily to the epidemic-like numbers of overweight and obese children and adults in western society today.  

OK, so we’ve decided that we’re going to let hunger be our guide to when we eat.  How do we know when we’re hungry? Typical signs of hunger are; stomach gurgling or rumbling,  stomach feels empty, dizziness or even nausea, feeling irritable, lightheadedness or inability to concentrate.  But wait! You could experience one or more of these signs of hunger and still not be needing to refuel. A significant number of us confuse being thirsty with being hungry because our body can sometimes send us a signal that we’re dehydrated disguised as a hunger pang.  The simple solution to that, however, is to drink a large glass of water and then wait about 15 minutes. If your pangs dissipate, it’s a false alarm on hunger and we were merely in need of some fluids. If the pangs persist, it’s time to eat.