Have you ever seen a fat cow….a cow that is obese? Or a lion that is severely overweight? Come to think of it are there any non-domesticated animals that you have seen that are severely limited in their movement because they are so overweight? The only ones that really carry a lot of weight need to, generally because of the severe conditions they live in for instance seals or walrus’ in the freezing waters of the poles.
Overeating and indulgence is very much the province of the human race. Why is that?
An animal left to its own devices, recognises hunger and also when it has had enough food and stops eating. Certainly some animals gorge as they don’t know where or when they might get their next meal, but despite gorging do they get seriously fat?
As babies we demand food when hungry and refuse it when full. Think of the toddler as you try to force in another spoonful of ‘delicious’ food to a mouth firmly closed like a vice. You may be able to persuade the taking of another mouthful or two by playing silly games like the aeroplane swooping, ducking and diving until it lands in to toddlers wide open mouth. More often than not though, the contents are subsequently ‘blown’ back out of said toddlers’ orifice at a fair rate of knots. Yet we persist and many parents get quite upset when the bowl is still half full. We are the same with our domesticated cats and dogs.
Then there is the reward system… if you eat your dinner, you can have chocolate, pudding etc. If you stop crying I will put a sugary sticky dummy in your mouth or give you a bag of sweets. The reward system plays on emotions to such an extent that the association lives forever, such that a person who is really overweight only sees food as a reward, only sees food as pleasure. Undoubtedly there are lot of other issues here but time and again severely overweight people see food as the emotional answer to feeling good. There is another conversation to be had about addictions, blood sugar levels and cravings.
In Japan children are apparently encouraged to eat to ‘sufficiency’ rather than fullness and are not encouraged to eat when they are not hungry. Japan used to be one of slimmest nations on earth, although things are changing now. In France the diet is full fat, proper butter yet in small amounts. It’s thought that eating low fat milk and such we don’t allow the satiety chemical to be quickly released. I heard a story on the radio about a Frenchwoman whose work sent her to the States for twelve months, she put on loads of weight following the American diet, yet after a few weeks back in France she had lost almost all the weight she had gained. Some of the notable differences she outlined were going back to full fat milk rather than skimmed or semi skimmed, and butter rather than low fat spread.
Fat cows don’t exist because they are in tune with their stomachs. They undoubtedly eat a lot of food; they need to, same with lions and tigers. We humans have completely lost touch with our stomachs; at least the overweight humans. We eat when we are not hungry and combine that with eating badly when we do eat and continuing to eat even when we are ‘full’. For seriously overweight people, could be they need to understand where their emotional eating started and realise that it’s not all their fault.
If ignorance is bliss, then knowledge is action. Understanding how emotional eating habits evolve should empower you to get back in touch with your animal instincts.
By Heather Baggaley – © Copyright 2012 for Gloveman Supplies Ltd
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