In recent months I have struggled with my weight. I’m only talking about gaining 5 pounds or so, but that can mean that clothes are uncomfortably snug or don’t fit at all. And I don’t want to fall into patterns of eating that continue to cause weight gain.
Some of the weight gain has been hormonal. I’m sure of that, but some of it has been due to consuming more carbs and sugar than I should. By sugar I mean any type of sugar, including what naturally occurs in fruit. It’s just hard to limit fruit consumption in the summer when there is so much fresh, delicious fruit available!
The whole struggle got me thinking about food and the role it plays in our lives. Specifically, why we love food so much (I know I’m not alone in that). Being consciously aware of some of these reasons can help me have self-control when it comes to eating. Maybe it helps you too.
Food keeps us alive
We can certainly go without food longer than we can go without water, but in the end, food is necessary for life. I would guess that anyone reading this is not faced with starvation and probably never has been, but we know that we’re dependent on food just like babies are dependent on their mothers. We get a little hungry and we cry, “Feed me!” because food is so readily available to us.
And maybe we instinctively fear that being hungry will lead to starvation. I’m sure there are experts who could tell us more, but I’m pretty certain that our basic need for food plays a role in our love of food.
Eating is social
The majority of social events involve food. There is something about eating that helps to bring people together. It’s a shared experience. The problem is when we attend social events and the food is not gluten free. There are ways to cope with those situations, but they can still make us feel like we’re missing out. That in turn can cause us to want food all the more.
Have you ever gone home from a social event where there was nothing or very little that was safe for you to eat and then gone on an eating binge? I have.
Food makes us feel good.
There is something very satisfying about having a full belly, and in addition, certain foods comfort us. In the winter, food can make us feel warm and cozy, and in the summer it can make us feel cool and refreshed.
Food can be addictive
Unfortunately, some food can also make us feel good in an addictive way. This is especially true with processed foods, particularly those high in refined fat and/or sugar. They have a way of unnaturally getting you addicted to their taste.
I know I’ve had a sugar addiction since I was a kid. That’s part of the reason I avoid sugar – it always makes me want more. But it also affects my blood sugar levels and my weight.
The good news about addictive food is that you can break the habit. The key is getting your taste buds back to the point where they truly appreciate real food. If you’re addicted to junk food, try going on a real food diet where you don’t eat processed foods. The cravings may get worse at first, but they will go away.
A great way to reset your sugar taste buds is to eliminate all sweeteners (even natural ones) for a while (like a month). You’ll find that you become aware of the natural sweetness of many foods and won’t need to add other sweeteners.
Eating is a habit
Like a baby sucking on a pacifier or thumb, eating can be a habit. It’s true that babies do have a need to suck, but for many it becomes a habit, often a comfort, that lasts well beyond that need. We can turn to food for comfort, or out of habit, or as a comforting habit, and it can be difficult to break that habit.
One way to break the habit of eating when you don’t need to is to only eat when you are hungry and to stop eating when you are full. And if you think you’re hungry but it’s not meal time, try drinking a glass of water. Sometimes that takes care of the hunger.
Food tastes good!
We love food because it is delicious, and I’m thankful for that. Clearly, some foods taste better than others and people have different opinions on what tastes good and what doesn’t, but everyone enjoys eating certain foods.
I find it interesting that people’s taste buds can vary so much. Thankfully, there is a huge variety of foods to choose from so that everyone has plenty of options. And I’m talking about real food, not processed food. Just think about the variety of fruits and vegetables. There are so many different colors, shapes, sizes, textures, flavors, and aromas.
Why do you love food?
I’ve listed six reasons why we love food so much, but I’m sure there are more. What reasons do you have for loving food? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.