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Are You a Slave to Hunger?

Updated on May 24, 2011

What ever happened to hunger?

We are fat and getting fatter.

The last hundred years has seen obesity go from being a novelty to the norm. As a significant risk factor, the incidence of many diseases is going throught the roof.

So how did we get here? Bad luck? Bad genes? Bad food?

My mind started ticking over the other day when I was hungry. Really hungry. I was thinking to myself that I hadn't been this starving for ages. And all this just 3 hours after my last meal.

So I thought about our body as it was designed. It is impractical to be eating 24 hours a day. We need to sleep, gather and prepare our food as a bare minimum. Our bodies allow us to do this by maintaining energy levels through the process of storing and releasing. It all sounds good so far.

Hunger is our body saying we haven't eaten in a while and now might be a good time. It is not an emergency call. We do not die 5 minutes after the onset of hunger. That sounds obvious but how have you been living your life?

In today's culture of instant gratification, the mild craving of hunger must be dealt with immediately. Three square meals a day has evolved into 3 meals a day plus 20 -30 snacks.

We no longer have to hunt our food or work particularly hard to prepare it. Convenience is the name of the game. Snack, snack, snack on calorie dense rubbish foods.

So what do we do?

Some may say it is bad to deny our body what it craves. There is in fact evidence to the contrary. The New Scientist has reported on a study from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. When comparing spinal cord injuries in rats, those fed every second day had a lesion 50% of the size of those fed regularly. Other studies have shown that a calorie restricted diet commenced 2 months before injury (such as stroke) can prevent neurons from dying.

Does this sound like a little hunger is doing you harm? It seems the opposite - a lack of hunger is doing us harm by not letting our bodies respond in their normal way.

So what do I suggest?

Well, apart from the usual, completely natural things such as exercise and a balanced diet, I say learn to think of hunger as OK. Embrace your hunger.

It is not a signal to eat immediately. It is normal to be hungry and you should be hungry a little of each day.

If you can't remember the last time you were really hungry then you definitely have a problem and it needs addressing.

That's just my opinion and its how I approach things now.

Good luck.

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More on Obesity

National Geographic on Obesity


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