Food is the fuel that animals, such as humans, need to keep their biological functions operating. Without this fuel, and the oxygen we breathe, we do not have the energy to exist. Animals know this instinctively, and consume the precise amount of food they need at any particular time. Unless stressed, it is rare to see any non-human eat in any other than a healthy manner.
Humans of course, are a little more complicated. The well developed frontal lobes unique to the human brain have evolved to give us the ability to form abstract concepts and associations, often at an unconscious level. Food is not just fuel to a human - it's a sensory and sometimes a social experience too. It also can have associations of which we are consciously unaware - such as "comfort" or "reward". These associations have usually been programmed into the unconscious mind during childhood. When a baby cries, it can learn that its needs are to be satisfied by having something placed in its mouth, Whether a bottle, breast or simply a "soother", the result can be that the child begins to associate comfort with something in its mouth. This is not necessarily a problem but can manifest later in life as one of many oral habits, such as thumb-sucking, nail biting, smoking and of course "comfort" eating, if the childish programming persists into adulthood. Beyond the baby stage, children are often rewarded by being given chocolate or other sweet items. This is much more avoidable! Birthdays and special occasions are often associated with food too; parties, cake or even a visit to McDonalds. Once again a connection is being made at an unconscious level; food means I'm a good boy/girl. I am special.
In his book "I can make you thin", Paul McKenna said people with weight problems think about food all the time - that is until they are eating it! Then they proceed to shovel it into their mouths so quickly they sometimes don't even taste it. The result is they have already consumed more food than they need before their brain has even had chance to register the fact that they are not hungry any more. Part of the answer is to eat slowly and consciously. Never eat at the desk or in front of the TV. Take one bite at a time and chew and swallow before picking up the knife and fork (or the food) again. You will end up eating less, but enjoying it just as much, if not more. This is one of the tips I give to people looking to change their attitude to food by using hypnosis and neuro-linguistic programming.
As I write this blog, we are approaching Easter - which has become one of the worst over-eating festivals on the modern calendar. In the coming weeks people will start to think about holidays and losing weight, before eventually putting it back on again by Christmas! If you'd like to break out of the diet cycle and actually change your attitude to food and take back control for yourself, please check my web site for information. There is information there too about more complex eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia.
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