So first thing I saw this morning was another blog post and it was short and sweet, a really good read. It triggered a memory of the next diet type in my cycle. The eat everything in moderation trick, I tried to stay on top of my food by only eating small amounts of anything. The blog Six months to sanity has provided me with key insights into what was driving me so forcefully back then.
The human body is designed to take on board extra calories in times of plenty and indeed lower the need for food when times are scarce, but in our daily lives we have no real scarcity to deal with. The 24/7 availability of food, along with the food production and manufacturing of most of our daily meals, instead of home cooking it is clear to see how I , as well as you have handed over the authority to keep our bodies nourished to any one but us.
So while I was struggling to remain in control over my food addition, the whole of society was feeding in to my primal need to survive. Think of it like this… do you crave soups and stews in winter ? salads and fruits in summer? It is our primitive link to the natural world. The foods would which be abundant in different seasons are hyper linked into our basic nature so we will survive the most brutal environmental conditions. However the marketing of these foods has now also hyper linked into our psyches and uses our own ancient instinctual drives against us. I will look for high fat, high sugar foods if my body feels stressed and eat way past the point of full. Plus the food production takes out most of the essential vitamins minerals our bodies crave, thus making us want to eat more to obtain the essential elements for survival. This works great for the food companies but not so well for our bodies. When my body feels under threat and internalises all threat as scarcity so in order to protect itself it craves foods which will aid in my survival (high fat, high sugar). The body doesn’t know the difference between an imaginary threat and a real one or real sugar and fake (don’t get me started on sweeteners, that a whole other blog post)!
Just like when you are stuck in traffic on the way to work, you know you will be late, you may even lose your job. This is internalised as a threat, the body does not differentiate between this threat or the threat of being chased by a tiger across the savanna. The body does what it is designed to do… FIGHT, FLIGHT OR FREEZE. The body will respond by reading the situation and responding in the best way possible for survival, hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline are released into the system to aid the body in a quick get away, increasing heart rate and muscle use. And what happens if this treat is actually not apocalyptic? Nothing, the body just sits with all these hormones flooding it with no real use or escape. So how does this relate to food? Research suggests that stress also seems to affect food preferences, this research has shown that physical or emotional distress increases the intake of foods high in fat, sugar, or both. High cortisol levels interfere with the bodies ability to crave nutrition over fats. Our bodies, my body has been designed with amazing fail safe systems to override the mind and protect the body at all costs. This is genius, for those religious amongst us it is the design of god, for those atheists it is intelligent design of evolution. Either way the 24/7 societies we now live in are not designed for our primal drives and as such we suffer from all sorts of psychological, emotional and physical issues caused by the conflict between our natural state of being and the society which has opposing needs. Our western society doesn’t encourage moderation it endorses extreme. To do anything right you must do it with excess, work life, goal setting, fitness (look at any gym you will find sufferers of bigorexia), food (just look at the rise in orthorexia, healthy eating to the extreme), any area of life is being pushed to the extreme. Plus the way of life now is far from balanced in the west, we work long hours under artificial lighting, while sitting in front of machines. We no longer toil the land, we no longer work with our bodies, we are not using our natural state of being to survive. So how on earth are we suppose to find balance?
I tried to eat within moderation and well my body is not designed for moderation. It is designed for over eat when times are good and eat a lot less when times are hard. So how do I navigate moderation in a society that provides opulence. Every area of life shows abundance, and worse still perpetrates the notion that you deserve it all. The media bombards us with ideals of “being someone special” who deserves everything their heart desires and quick fixes when you have gone to far! There are no quick fixes which I have had to learn the hard way, the eat in moderation diet just didn’t work for me, my internal programming fought against the regime I was forcing upon it, and eventually the binge won. The dieting mentality caused yet another emotional torment which continued for months and really affected my sensibility. I was pushing against my natural state to become a better consumer for the food industry. They won, I lost and the battle of the bulge continued.