I can’t lie, I have been obsessed with food for as long as I can remember. There’s something about our relationship with food that shapes the life we live. It’s an addiction, in a way, and at times a pleasurable consumption that helps us escape from whatever pain we’re dealing with. Other times, we depend on our cravings to meet our needs – for once. It’s a psychological issue, in reality, because when we feel unable to attain the thing we want – small or large – we resort to the easier things for us to get. This is a major stress factor. Cortisol, the stress hormone, is shown to increase people’s appetite for “comfort foods” such as foods high in fat and sugar, which in turn assures our incessant cravings.
An Overstressed Population…
Interestingly enough, overindulging countries such as the US, struggle the most with stress and anxiety. According to an APA survey, one-fourth of Americans rate their stress levels to be over 8 on a 10-point scale. On top of that, the US also holds the highest population in the world that struggles with overweight and obesity problems. We have to observe the connection here.
There are a multitude of factors inlaid here as to what causes weight gain. But when you analyze the correlation to the US specifically, it’s easy to draw a conjecture as to what goes on in American culture that threatens our dietary stability.
. . . And An Overindulgent Corporate World
For example, the US ranks as the highest consumer rate in the world. Talk about a culture of overindulgence, national corporations have a knack for depleting much-needed resources from around the world to sell to the five-percent that makes up the totality of the global population. This means that, despite living in poverty in this first-world country, you can still easily head to a drugstore to satisfy your hunger with a bag of Pringle’s. Not only do they consume a giant amount of land resources during manufacturing, but once they’re finished and sold to the market they hold ingredients known to be detrimental to the human body.
Acrylamide, for example, is a toxic chemical used in most potato chips as well as french fries and even cheap coffee. The American Cancer Society states it’s potential for causing cancer. So, scarily enough, Acrylamide is also present in Pringle’s kettle chips.
It is not unknown for humans to naturally gravitate towards foods that match their emotional state. But as you can see, for the most part, Americans are heavily influenced by the pressure of stress on a consistent basis. Where does this leave us? To resort towards foods that may satiate the inner craving thanks to our high cortisol levels, which are attracted to those high-fat burgers and sugary pastries.
I’ve Also Lived an Overindulgent Lifestyle
Being a person who has had an ongoing love for all kinds of food since I can remember, I’ve noticed in myself a radical shift within the course of a day. Two days ago, I had a baby-sized dinner – which was unconventionally yogurt with nectarines and chia seeds. The day after, I took an early morning yoga class and ate a late-morning breakfast, which was small in size. I skipped lunch, but snacked on something small. For dinner, it was a medium-sized quinoa meal.
I wasn’t stuffed, not even full, and it felt great. This morning, I feel lean and light on my feet because of the lack of the “normal” amount of food I usually have in my system. On top of that, my body isn’t craving the usual treats and processed foods that I try to force myself to turn away from. Let it be known, it’s now clear to me that my “normal” food consumption level is actually more than enough.
Number One Rule For Physical Wellbeing
This leads me to another topic: listen to your body, first and foremost. It is imperative. Your body knows what it needs and what it doesn’t need. The North American food industry does not do its much-needed job, which is to promote quality ingredients that the human body is designed to consume properly. Most of the food that line up the shelves in our supermarkets are not even fit to feed the average human body. But somehow, we’ve adapted to it, and with great costs.
The kind of chemicals that exist in these foods create addiction to these same foods. It’s actually a clever strategy food corporations have harnessed in order to keep us hooked to their products while they gain more profit off it. But the side effects don’t bid us well. As a result, weight gain, of whatever amount, is inevitable, as well as less noticeable outcomes such as the alteration of brain chemicals, hormonal imbalance and general mood. In the end, it’s an entire chain reaction caused by our culture’s love for processed foods and not only that, but our never-ending addiction to it.
So, this whole issue challenges our perspective of dieting and eating in general to a new degree. I personally tend to fumble around with processing this kind of information when it threatens the food I love. But then there’s the dilemma – some of these foods are so addictive because of two possible reasons: 1) our stress levels are high enough to produce brain chemicals that crave unhealthy diets, or 2) these products might just contain their own embedded chemicals designed to keep you hooked.
Can We Fight Our Innate Gluttony?
The point is, we currently live in a culture that strives to be satiated by something, at all times, for multiple reasons. In most cases, it’s a way to cope. And for most people, food addiction somewhat controls their lives. Mine included. We are gluttonous beings existing in a culture that feeds into our gluttony. Of course, this is why our culture is also obsessed with staying fit and adhering to strict diet programs. A little oxymoronic – that our society is possessed by the idea of “being healthy” while the same population struggles with overeating. And then this begs the question for ourselves – why do I really want to be fit? Do I actually care about my health and how I feel? Or, perhaps just how I look? You decide.