Food consciousness

Having a spare stomach for cake, dessert etc is actually quite common. How does this work?

What I reveal today is a truth that can change lives and even make life much longer and more enjoyable for many. Even if you don’t need it, bookmark this or save it, print it, and share it with a friend. Or better yet, understand it so deeply that you can tell them in your own words. But if not, printing is OK. In fact, I explicitly allow you to copy this to your own website.

Science tells us that only about 5% of those who lose weight through diets, actually keep the weight off. I hope these numbers are adjusted for those who in the meantime have taken up smoking, or got some chronic illness to their digestion, or changed to a physically demanding job. Because if not, the number would be around 0%.

Another scientific fact is as least as puzzling: Different diets give roughly the same results, even opposite diets. So if you pick a high-fat, low-carbs diet and your identical twin picks a low-fat high-carbs diet, you are likely to lose weight at around the same rate.

It gets better. One of the most effective “diets” has actually nothing to do with what you eat. Eating in front of a mirror is one of the surest ways to return to a healthy weight for those who are prone to overeating. A more time consuming but less insane looking alternative is a food diary, as detailed as possible, including all meals and all snacks. There is no need to restrain yourself, just make sure to never eat anything without writing it down.

A final piece of this puzzle: Studies show that people who eat in front of the computer or the TV (if it is on) eat about twice as much as if eating in the kitchen or dining room.

I actually had the privilege of seeing this in action when visiting a highly intelligent friend once. He devoured a bag of chips on front of the TV, and later that night accused his daughter of having taken it. Needless to say, this man lived a constant “battle of the bulge” over his belt.

But I have seen a much worse case. I worked for over a year at an institution for alcoholics. One of the patients had for some reason drunk methanol instead of ethanol some years earlier, and blown his long-term memory. He could hold a reasonably sane conversation, as he could remember the last minute or so. But what happened and hour ago was left to his imagination. This included any meals he had eaten and not just recently finished. So he would eat them again. Any attempts to convince him otherwise were ignored.

We imagine that the feeling of being fed comes from the physical pressure or weight of the food in our stomach, but this is only for the first minutes after a large meal. Pretty soon the contentment actually comes from the brain. The level of blood sugar does signal a recent meal, but that does not last long, and may soon turn worse than nothing. At that point, your subconscious uses your memory to determine how fed you are. This fact completes the puzzle. The picture is now clear.

The higher your “food consciousness”, the more precise your appetite.

In the past, food was a scarce resource. Eating was not something you did to while away the time, or because you had your hands free. Filling your stomach was an occasion of joy, and surrounded by ritual. Thanks were given to the spirits, all of the family was together (and in earlier times often the whole clan or village in case of a large feast). Everyone knew that eating your fill was not a basic human condition like breathing. It was something worthy of notice.

The human operation system still works the same way as in that not so distant past. But these days, food is often beneath notice. It is eaten alone while we read through the latest report from management. And so, like in the unfortunate alcoholic I mentioned, the meal never quite enters long-term memory.

When you start a new diet, you pay a lot of attention to your eating. By chance, you somewhat duplicate the conditions of the past, and your body and mind become aligned. But after a while the awareness fades, and your brain goes “What food? I don’t remember any food” and so you eat again.

Yes, there are certain illnesses that severely warp the metabolism and make a person prone to obesity (or the opposite). But they do not count in the tens of millions in one country alone! These things are more like people being born with fur or an unusual number of fingers. Diets are unlikely to have much influence in such a case, I fear. But for the normal human, raising food consciousness to its natural level is definitely worth a try. √ā¬†Especially when the alternative so often is to live hungry or die early.

As a final note, I feel obliged to mention that the body is in any case a temporary dwelling, and we would be well advised to raise other forms of consciousness to a higher level than that of our food. But those who want to hear that can hear about it another day, or somewhere else. Take this for today.