Thursday, August 7, 2008

To Eat, or Not to Eat?

I read somewhere that when eating, you should only eat until you are three quarters full, and when drinking, you should only drink until your thirst is almost sated. (There was another part to it but I can't remember what it was about.) Those two bits of advice stuck, however, and now whenever I eat I wonder fleetingly whether I shouldn't reach for that last chicken wing, even as my stomach rumbles in longing. Is there some merit to the idea that a twinge of hunger or thirst will keep us keen, that overindulgence makes us lethargic and sluggish? Well... Yeah, probably. I feel sleepy after I eat a lot, but it's usually a positive sleepy -- rarely do I eat so much I feel sick -- and yet I doubt that's what the writer of that quote was warning against. It makes sense to me that one should eat until sated, but maybe sometimes less is more, and by eating slightly less we will become accustomed to needing less food and become less wasteful, more conservative? From an evolutionary standpoint, it makes sense that being a touch hungry would sharpen the senses, that a persistent need keeps us alert.

As a child, I was frequently puzzled when my parents told me to eat everything on my plate, followed by the familiar justification, "think of the hungry kids in Africa!" As a sensible youngster, (or so I thought myself at the time,) I didn't see any relation between the food I didn't want to eat and the people oceans away who wanted food but didn't have it. By all means, ship my pizza crusts and string beans over to Africa, I would say, cause I sure don't want them. When it became apparent that my parents were not going to do that, I would ask why it mattered to other people whether I finished my food or not. Would they be happier if I ate more than I needed or wanted just because I could? It took a while for me to understand the principle of not being wasteful, no matter who cared -- though even now, I can't help but see the irony. One person tells us to do what's best for our bodies and eat only as much as we need, and another says we should eat everything put in front of us in deference to those who don't have enough. I wonder which most people follow?

On a slightly discouraging note, after only four days of blogging, I've already managed to fail to meet my goal of a post per day, in forgetting yesterday. Shame -- but at least my birthday is in two days!

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