by Dr Gina Shaw, MA
There are many reasons why people eat, but not many are related to true hunger. Many people say that they have a large appetite, but this rarely equates to true hunger. In this article, we shall examine some of the reasons why people eat, when true hunger has not arisen.
Diabetics are told to eat frequently to avoid going into a diabetic coma. Every two hours many diabetics force down a concoction of usually wrongly-combined, nutritionally-deficient foods in an effort to avoid this dreaded coma. They are not told what types of foods to avoid e.g. meat and animal products, or that they should be eating nutritionally-sufficient foods (whole, raw fruit and vegetables as an optimum). These people are continuing to keep themselves in a diabetic condition, and are not helping themselves. Here in Britain, the British Diabetic Association (BDA) now agree that diabetics don't have to avoid fruit, even sweet fruit as previously thought (however, the condition of the diabetic may be such that they should withhold from sweet fruit for a while and gradually increase their intake in the diet when health improves. It is now becoming common practice amongst orthodox dietetic associations to encourage diabetics and those with heart disease to eat more fruit and vegetables. Giving reference to the Glycaemic Index, however, the BDA do advise that items high on the GI should be taken less frequently. Fruit, with all its fibre, is a fine food for people with Diabetes although in some situations it is best to consume it with raw greens such as celery, cucumber or a little lettuce to slow down the blood sugar rush. Of course, fruit should only ever be eaten on an empty stomach and left to digest before other foods are taken.
However, non-diabetics continue to make all sorts of excuses for eating and over-eating in their everyday lives. Some blame it on boredom, some on worry about food going off, some eat 'to be sociable' but when we are more honest with ourselves we realise it is usually due to other reasons. Many people eat when they are not hungry due to lack of love in their lives either from internal sources (self-love, self-approval, etc.) or a a perceived lack of love from others. It is important to be aware of our feelings and emotions when we do eat without true hunger. When changing to a healthier diet, for instance an avoidance of meat, dairy products, etc., although it is more beneficial physically to change quickly; psychologically and emotionally it is often better to change over a little more slowly. Sometimes it is better to go vegetarian to start with, then to cut out animal products afterwards. A transition period is sometimes better, for instance, coming off the worst offenders first like animal flesh, unless chronic illness is present. It is also important to have strong motivations for switching over to a healthier diet and not just second-order desires.
What I want to emphasise is that the only reason that we should ever be eating is to satiate a true need for food by the body. When one does not follow this rule, excess food will be treated as poison and will need to be eliminated, or it may ferment or putrefy due to the delay in the digestive process, and cause toxins in the bloodstream. Either way, our body will be poisoned to some degree and drained of vital energy. Toxaemia (a saturation of body tissues with poisons) arises from the taking of excess food, poor food combinations, unsuitable foodstuffs and this, in turn, gives rise to a more over-eating and eating without the presence of true hunger. We must gain control of our emotions and our eating habits.
When we have toxins circulating around in our bloodstream, our thinking becomes clouded and we are unable to deal with outside stress and negative feelings which may arise, and this leads to further poor food/poor food quantity choices. When we abide by the essentials of health and provide our bodies with pure raw fruits and vegetables, organically-grown and in proper food combinations and proper quantities, we find ourselves more disciplined as our heads are clearer and our bodies freer from toxins. Excuses like 'It'll have to be eaten or it will go off' and comfort eating will disappear as we learn to confront our feelings and frustrations and challenge them more effectively due to a cleaner bloodstream and a clearer mind.
I believe that eating when there is no real hunger is usually a love substitute, although it can be a form of self-punishment. Be honest with yourself: Do you need food or do you need love? Filling the emotional gap by feeding our stomachs only abuses our gastrointestinal tract and will not solve our problems. Treating our stomach as an organ of pleasure rather than as nature intended, leads to more displeasure in the long-run. When we need love, we must work out how to find it; either within ourselves or from external sources. But we should love ourselves first and foremost and then everything else will fall into place. So learn to love yourself unconditionally and you will find the solution to over-eating!