eating

What with the ribena and the energy food posts I may as well go all the way in the food chain and dig in on more matters related to food.
Mainly, there is one that I have no answer to but really, really want to find a simple explanation for it.
And that is, why infants eat when they’re hungry and stop when they’re full, while adults (with stress on average and on western) can’t and don’t?

Have you ever seen an average, well-taken care of toddler binge on chocolate biscuits after midnight?
Or live on cabbage for a week (again, that average, well-taken care of toddler)?
Or count his calorie intake? “Two-hundwed and twee calowies, mommy. no mowe”.
There was a question somewhere there.
The answer is no.
An average, well-taken care of toddler eats when he’s hungry and stops when he’s full.
Simple.
Babies – we, human beings, at some point in our lives – rely on our bodies’  inner signals – not some philosopher’s voice, but hunger twinges in our stomach – when hunger strikes.
In response to these signals we give our bodies food.
Once the body takes in enough food, we stop eating.
At least the toddler does.

Why, then, when we grow up, we don’t follow that same inner signal, non-philosophical voice, and eat only enough to fulfil our hunger?
Instead of eating to satisfy hunger, we eat (or refuse to eat) to satisfy all sorts of, unrelated to hunger, ‘inner voices’.
The inner voice of insecurity.
Of emptiness.
Of boredom.
Of apathy.
Of gluttony.
When we feel betrayed, unloved, or pressured by the pretty top models.
The feelings, moods, and conditions due to which a person is prone to resolve to eating – and from there, to an eating ‘disorder’ – are just overwhelming.
But why do we resolve to eating and not…to knitting, for example?
Or, to playing an instrument?
These two activities could be equally pleasurable, if that’s what food gives us – temporary pleasure.

And then, the toddler-adult eating habits thought took me further.
I thought about western societies’  eating habits and the growing issues with eating disorders, specifically.

I thought about this for two reasons:

  • first, for the fact that, the more food there is for a society, the more it fusses over it. The more food we have, the more we fuss over how much of it to eat. The less food there is, the more the population starves. Ergo. People just die, instead of fussing.
  • and second, for the fact that parents [like me] have a role to play in developing their children’s relationship with food.

I also thought about media – besides media portrayals of and influence on our understanding of body image. Media, in general, covers so many stories on eating problems.
BBC news had a story on anorexia this morning.
Last week’s issue of UK’s Times carried out a story on ‘thinspo’ and the sites that promote anorexia.
Marie Claire also discussed the rising anorexia disorder among Japanese women in one of its last issues. These are just examples I came across in the past two weeks.

I wondered if there are statistics on whether western media (TV, newspapers, glossy magazines) combined, discuss issues on eating disorders more than on malnutrition and starvation across the globe.
While there is so much to say about and so many to save from eating disorders there are so many more who die from pure starvation.

It’s all mind-boggling.
On one hand, nearly 2.5 million children, under the age of 5, die of malnutrition.
Because they don’t have food.
On the other, as many as 10 million females and 1 million males (in the US alone) suffer from an eating disorder. i.e. they refuse to eat the food, or they eat much beyond what their body needs.
A third group purges it.
And to eating disorders I also wanted to add the amount of food we waste annually.
Wasted by throwing it away, not throwing it up.
For example, as of 2011, 1.3 billion tons, or one third of the global food production, are lost or wasted annually.

How can there be dying toddlers, as I type right now, right this second, dying of hunger?

I wish there was more awareness of this ridiculous discrepancy.
[My] kids must never, ever fuss over food.
It’s blasphemous.

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