Thursday, 9 April 2015

Hunger is the Impulse, Eating the Response

Certain things immediately spike your attention, then fade to the back of your mind. They're so ubiquitous that though you keep tripping over them, you get into the habit of pressing on past them.

Going through a list of psychologists, one was quoted as expressing a widely held view-that eating is a behaviour. It's a sensibility straight from calorie/weight hypothesis: Weight as a direct product of your calorie intake minus your calorie output.

This comes from assuming hunger is some kind thought because we become aware of it via our conscious minds. This is an error of perception, as they say. A bit like assuming pain is a thought because you become aware of it in your head also.

Hunger is a collation of sensory data coming from all areas of your body, through its nervous circuits. That is what ends up in your brain. There's when you become aware of it. Hunger is an impulse, and I don't mean as in "impulse buy," I mean electrical activity transmitted through your nerves.

You know the music you hear from the radio doesn't come from inside the radio, don't you! That would be like the error we make with hunger, assuming its inside the box, when its mainly picking it up what is sent there.

Saying eating is a behaviour is not wholly inaccurate by strict definition, but it's misleading. It makes more sense to think of eating as a response [to hunger]. We can't feed ourselves through our own bodies. We are designed to run on energy extracted from food therefore our response to hunger has to be acted out. But that cannot be read completely as if its independent of that impulse. It is not useful and actually quite disruptive at times to cast eating as a personal decision apropos of emeaushun.

There might be a slight tangle in the difference between professional and layman's use of the term behaviour. "Manner of conducting oneself" is how we generally think of it. That fits in with the calories in/out which posits eating as acting out a whim. The psychological definition is more technical;
  1. the aggregate of all the responses made by an organism in any situation
  2. a specific response of a certain organism to a specific stimulus or group of stimuli
That's more like it, a bit different in emphasis to our notion of behaviour as some acting out of conscious will. It could apply just as easily to going to sleep, but no one thinks sleep is simply a conscious decision just because we have some angles for conscious regulation of it.

With something like breathing, you  respond to inhaling by exhaling, automatically. If you had to somehow act out exhalation part, would it make sense for you to see that as disconnected from inhaling?

Yes, it would be a behaviour in terms of response to stimuli, but you could not disconnect it from being a response triggered by inhalation. Whatever triggers or stems that. Could be the rhythm of your breathing, or in the case of those with certain allergies, pollen /some other nasal irritant, could be shock, anxiety, concentration, awe, pleasure, etc.,

Vital, inbuilt, anatomically generated impulses cannot be controlled in the way having abstract thoughts can. We attempt to regulate or should I say, re-regulate them. Because they are already regulating themselves. They have their own rhythm and self-sustaining momentum. Unless we're aiming to re-establish/reboot that, what we end up seeking to do is interrupt often disrupt this regulation trying to alter the outcome of it more to our liking.

Is important to grasp that with restrictive eating, we are disrupting something that's already designed to regulate itself.

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