Why Do We Eat?

Gretchen Becker Health Guide
  • In my previous post, I commented on the fact that my cravings seem to have changed since my diabetes diagnosis 18 years ago. Several people said they haven't seen the changes I've seen, so I've been thinking more about this, and I think that for me, at least, there are different motives for eating.

     

    One motive is taste. To satisfy this, quantity is not as important as quality and taste. Think of gourmet and upscale restaurants with small portions artistically arranged on the plate. I don't bother with the artistic arrangements, but I'm satisfied with small portions. And eating slowly and paying attention to what I am eating intensifies the experience. If there's more on my plate than I need, I leave it for another meal.

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    Another motive is hunger. In this case, quantity is more important than quality. Think of restaurants that serve meals with huge piles of fries or rice or potatoes or other starches. On my low-carb diet, I'm never as hungry as I used to be. But in the past, if I was really hungry, the taste didn't matter as much, and I ate quickly and ate a lot. The point was to fill the stomach, and because it takes 10 minutes or so for hunger sensations to abate with eating, I often ate more than I needed. If there was more on my plate than I needed, I ate it anyway because I'd been raised to clean my plate.

     

    Another motive is food addiction. Think potato chips. I had this experience with cookies once long ago, before the diabetes diagnosis. I was trying to lose weight, and in those days my naive idea of a diet was to give up desserts. I passed a bakery, but nothing in it looked very good. Out of curiosity, I went in and bought a bag of cookies to see if they would taste good. When I got home, I ate one cookie, and I couldn't stop. I ate the whole bag in one sitting, even though they didn't taste all that good after the first one.

     

     

    Another motive is not hurting the feelings of people who offer you food. I've learned to ignore the "Oh come on, one bite won't kill you" comments. But in some cases, where the offered food isn't something that would trigger cravings, I've found that most people are satisfied if you do take just one bite.

     

    Another motive is emotional upset. If I get some really bad news, or some really good news, my first tendency is to head for the fridge and eat mindlessly. As long as I don't keep the really forbidden food in the house, this is not a big problem.

     

    Habit is another motive. If we work somewhere with a set lunch hour, we'll eat then even if we're not hungry because we know we can't eat later. Even at home, if I usually eat lunch at noon, I tend to eat then even if I'm not ravenous.

     

    I'm sure that others have other motives for eating. But it may be a combination of different motives for eating that explains why different diets work best for different people. Low carb works the best for me.

     

Published On: October 04, 2014