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Why do we eat?

09/08/2010

About 2 thirds of the UK population are overweight or obese.  This is because we eat/drink too much and don’t exercise enough.  We all know this, but we still continue overeating.  Why?

Off the top of my head, I can think of 3 major reasons why we eat/drink:

  • Biological reasons
  • Psychological reasons
  • Social/cultural reasons.

Examples of the biological reasons include:

  • To get the energy we need to live and be active.
  • To get the raw materials we need to grow and repair our bodies after injury.
  • To get all the tiny micronutrients that are essential for the chemical reactions in our body.

Examples of the psychological reasons include:

  • Comfort eating – we often eat to make ourselves feel better/happier etc.
  • Boredom – this can be when you are doing a monotonous job, or if you simply don’t have anything to do.  So we reach for the biscuits/crisps or simply raid the fridge.
  • Habit – If we have always eaten a certain thing at a certain time, then we can get into the habit of doing it even if we don’t want/need it.
  • “Want” – This is when we smell/taste something and we just really want it now!  eg smelling fresh bread, or seeing an advert on TV and our mouths start to water.

Examples of social/cultural reasons include:

  • Humans are social animals and when we are together, we often eat/drink.  This is a major bonding activity for us all.
  • Every culture has a celebration/holiday where feasting is usually a major activity.  Here in the UK, Christmas is the obvious example.
  • Peer pressure – this is very similar to social eating/drinking, but the person feels they have to do it to “fit in”.

As you can see, I can think of many more psychological/social reasons, than biological ones.  And this is a major reason why so many “diets” fail in the long term, and why so many people end up being “yo-yo” dieters.  Because these diets don’t touch the psychological/social reasons that we overeat.

If you want a healthy body/diet for the rest of your life, and you want to avoid weeks/months of misery, starvation and cravings, then it is vital you deal with these psychological and social/cultural reasons you overeat.

This has nothing to do with forbidden foods, or diet sheets etc.  It is to do with adapting/changing your habits and behaviours of a lifetime.

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