Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Mindless eating

Mindless eating is about outside cues controlling our eating habits. Things like, clearing your plate, judging what you should eat by manufacturers portioning, size of containers or serving and so forth.

This reminds of the old axiom about eating, that our eyes are bigger than our stomachs. Brian Wansink has formulated this into a theory, using experiments such as the bottomless soup bowl

This might tell us that when we are socialised to pay attention to these outer cues, they can start to dominate our inner needs.

The answer to this then is to restore those inner needs to the fore and liberate ourselves from the outer ones.

As usual though the answer is put in terms that of introducing another layer of vigilant second guessing of what might be alright to eat and in what amounts. It couldn't possibly be that we should jettison it all for going with our inner cues.

Even though relying mindlessly on outer cues is correctly identified as the problem. You are 'mindless' because if you are really thinking, what do you need your mind for? Nature abhors waste.

What is interesting though is how far does this imbalance between inner and outer instructions go?

How symbolic is it of other areas of our lives?

Are people who keep their own needs and dictates to the fore, more likely to do so with their eating, and vice versa? Because being in tune with a strong inner voice, protects you from loud stridency from outside, it is a refuge from it and a defense against it.

Staying true to ourselves enables our bodies to settle at their best place, and probably empowers us most healthwise, whatever that means for any one of us.

We aren't taught that though, we are taught to mistrust ourselves and our instincts. We are repeatedly told that our inner needs will destroy us if we follow them; see eating what you want= death by eating as an example of this.

The cure for mindless eating is not more mindless following of some other form of diktats, whether it's the food producers, retailers or healthy eating experts, they're all in the same game, to divorce us from our natural needs and desires; to replace them with whatever they want.

That would defeat a lot of the purpose behind the obesity crisis, which is to increase our sense of mistrust again after movements where we began to try and cast aside our shackles.

If we don't nurture, cultivate, read and follow our own inner maps, we must look outside ourselves for direction.

This is where the experts come in, ready and waiting to tell us what to do, if something goes wrong, it's inevitably because we didn't follow instructions or didn't follow them enough, no matter how much we did. As fat people are finding to their cost.

Eventually the pain of this surrender and the dysfunction that goes with it, becomes more intolerable than the fear of letting it go.

That's when things get really interesting

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