An ordinary person who refrains from eating meat for a period of time, or who accomplishes the much more difficult feat of abstaining from sugar for a week or two, will experience some very strange sensations the first time eating meat or tasting sugar again. From this, a person might derive a message, something the body is trying to say about its real needs and preferences.
When Childhood Obesity News interviewed Sarah Stone of MindStream Academy, she talked about the adjustment period when new residents begin eating food from the school’s own garden, and other local, seasonal foods. After experiencing this, and gaining more knowledge about healthful choices, the kids go on a field trip to a convenience store or fast food restaurant, and are allowed to get whatever they want. Stone wrote:
A couple of kids who made a bad choice at fast food got sick, and then they were done. That’s a pretty amazing thing, that when you’re fueling your body optimally, and then you go back, you kind of feel icky, and don’t really want to do it again.
A patient with a bad flu might be unable to eat for days, because everything tastes contaminated, chemically saturated, poisoned. Somehow, the senses are heightened to a hyper-alert state where even the tiniest smidgen of impurity is enough to trigger a signal of wrongness, inevitable because just about everything has at least one molecule that doesn’t belong.
The same instinct operates in a healthy person to a lesser degree. Theoretically, a child could be raised with such a clean palate and such a developed taste for genuine, nourishing food, that a bite of any junky pseudo-food snack would taste awful and be immediately spat out. Parents of brand-new children have an opportunity that will never come again, the chance to start off on the right foot and keep their children away from junk food as long as possible, while an appreciation of real food is established.
Even when kids are older and freely circulating out in the world, the home environment can be organized optimally. If there must be junk food in the home, at least keep it out of sight. Exploring this idea for NBC News, Maggie Fox defines “hedonic hunger” as the kind that comes from outside the body. It’s not organic hunger spurred by the need for nutrients. It’s artificial hunger, stimulated by the sight or smell of food.
But there is more to this than meets the eye. So says a weight management center director, professor Patrick O’Neil. Nobody is certain yet whether the out-of-sight tactic works to help with weight loss, or whether a person already in the slimming process just naturally loses the desire for recreational eating. The study he was involved in did prove one thing for sure:
People who answered yes to these three questions: ‘I carefully watch the quantity of food which I eat,’ ‘I record the type and quantity of food which I eat,’ ‘I keep one or two raw vegetables available for snacks’ tended to lose more weight.
Keeping a food diary or journal tends to be a very helpful habit, with subjects who do it losing more weight than those who don’t. Maybe writing everything down is enough of a hassle to discourage the occasional snack. Especially for anyone who hasn’t yet fallen seriously into the patterns that add up to what is technically defined as food addiction.
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