Eating Behavior: The Basics for Weight Stability and Weight Loss
The avalanche of information that has befallen people in recent decades often does not allow them to focus on their problems, calmly and consistently understand them and get the desired result. Suppose you want to grow an apple tree – what are you going to do? Obviously, take a seed, plant it and water it. When a shoot appears and a small apple tree begins to grow stronger and grow, you will inoculate it with a cultivated stalk so that the apples in the future will be varietal, tasty, and you will start looking after it again. And now in 2-3 years the first apples will appear, and then you will be able to harvest a good harvest every year – until the apple tree is old. In nature, everything obeys certain laws, and if they are consistently followed, then the reward will be provided. In this article, we will try to understand what eating behavior is.
Feeling of hunger and eating behavior
In this sense, a person is not much different from an apple tree – he is the same child of nature, and he is destined to go through the same path: birth, the period of growing up and the highest activity, maturity, aging, decrepitude and, finally, death.
Seemingly banal simple things, but they are worth thinking about seriously. Every day a person eats, and the very procedure of satisfying the feeling of hunger (hungry – ate) seems mundane and familiar. However, this seemingly elementary procedure has many indirect influences, both from the outside and from within. The idea that only biological needs dictate to us the choice of food and the determination of its amount is only partially true.
National preferences, fashion, family habits, life circumstances – this is not a complete list of factors that influence our eating behavior. At the same time, during life, we form our own ideas about everything – they make up our inner world (sometimes not fully realized), which also affects the style of eating. These factors are very strong – they were the ones who took a person away from the biological rhythm “hungry – satisfied hunger” into the jungle of overeating, unbalanced nutrition, problems with excess weight, etc.
The lion, having eaten after a successful hunt, is peacefully sleeping, not paying attention to the antelopes grazing nearby; the snake, having swallowed its prey, also poses no threat to living creatures for several days; a bear, feeding abundantly in the fall, loses its weight during hibernation. What do we humans do?
Even when we are full, we do not mind eating for company simply because we are “uncomfortable to refuse,” or for fear that we will not be able to eat later, or for some other reason. Moreover, we also manage to “spoil” our pets: instead of feeding the dog twice a day, we slip tidbits on it during our meal. Thus, we disrupt the normal biological rhythm of eating not only our own, but also our favorites, we use the gift of psychological influence on ourselves and on those around us to the detriment of everyone. Eating disorders are detrimental to everyone.
“I want sweet, starchy foods, meat, etc.” – such desires are perceived as a biological need of the body, as a signal for implementation. While this is just an excuse for laziness, selfishness, inability and unwillingness to see your problems and change something in your life.
Once, back in the 80s, a woman came to a psychotherapist and, in despair, told about the intolerable behavior of her husband. Food was bad at that time, and after several hours spent in queues, this woman brought home fruits (for example, oranges) in order to feed the children with vitamins at least a little. What was going on? Her husband calmly ate these fruits, not at all embarrassed by the fact that they were bought for the children. In response to the indignant exclamations of his wife, he coolly declared: “But I wanted to.” However, similar stories happened in many families, and women, telling about it, were always surprised at the behavior of their husbands. Each of them asked: “Why, when I look at the fruits, which I got with such difficulty and intended for children, I do not have the desire to eat them?”
Different positions and attitudes with the same attitude to a particular product cause differences in eating behavior and internal sensations. One person cannot control his desires, while the other does not even show signs of internal struggle.
Eating behavior is established from the first days of a child’s life. Starting with breastfeeding, meals should be taken in a calm and tidy environment, with a certain regularity (depending on age, the intervals between meals increase). When the child is transferred to regular food, he will gradually get used to a variety of tastes, to the dishes preferred in his family. Then he will learn how to hold a spoon and fork correctly, wait patiently for his plate to be filled, eat carefully, etc. All these basic skills can be opposed to other behavior – greedy grabbing food with his hands, swallowing in large chunks in order to eat more quickly and more, or, on the contrary, the habit of eating with persuasion “for dad, for mom.” In this case, the child swallows, not paying attention to the taste of food, until the mother feels satisfaction from the fact that
The ways in which the biological need for food is satisfied shape the need itself. It’s not just about developing rules of behavior – in fact, at these moments the process of moral education of the child is taking place.
When the need for food becomes an object of bargaining with parents, the ability to manipulate them (“If I have lunch, buy me a toy,” “If I have dinner, give me candy,” etc.), a sharp change in the type of behavior occurs.
In the case when food in the family occupies the highest step in the hierarchy of values, personality formation can proceed disharmoniously, and in the future it can be manipulated, “feeding” for a certain type of behavior.
In our country, children from an early age were forced to eat fast. In the morning, mom hurriedly pushed porridge into the baby’s mouth, some of which he did not even have time to swallow. Then he came to kindergarten, where the children were also urged on so that they ate faster (over those who did not succeed, they were teased, or even punished). At school, the breaks are short, and again you need to have a quick lunch in order to be in time for the lesson, and so on. So the child throughout his life was accustomed to haste to eat.
A Russian person is very noticeable abroad – in a cafe, restaurant, – especially at the buffet. All the mistakes and problems associated with eating behavior are clearly traced here: unconscious anxiety (“I won’t have time”, “I won’t have enough”, etc.), inability to calmly choose a dish; lack of a real idea of the required amount of food, unconscious haste when eating. Such a meal ends with the achievement of a feeling of heaviness in the abdomen and sleepiness from eating. Forgotten “golden” rule: “You need to leave the table a little hungry”, as the feeling of satiety and complete satisfaction comes a little later. The pleasure of eating can only be obtained if the stomach is not full.
A natural question arises: “Can the habits established from childhood be changed?” We will try to answer it. Any human activity consists of several levels. His actions, even those that are carried out automatically, include an act of consciousness. If a person believes that a mistake has been made at a certain level, then by connecting consciousness, he can develop a new skill, which, as it is assimilated, will also be automated and will turn into unconscious, that is, into a habit.
Anyone who is dissatisfied with their habits, including those related to eating behavior, can develop new ones. For example, if he is not accustomed to using a knife and fork from childhood, then he may well learn this wisdom in adulthood. A wide variety of skills can be rearranged in the desired way through deliberate training.
In addition to hereditary predisposition, national characteristics and stereotypes of behavior developed from childhood, other factors can affect our eating behavior.
- Diets. Repeated use of special diets stimulates weight gain. This is due to the fact that most diets are not balanced in the most important food components: proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. After the end of the diet, a person pounces on foods that contain the missing substances, although the essence of the diet is definitely not this.
- “Food Addiction”. Food for many becomes a source of tranquility, and there are physiological reasons for this. After eating, the human brain produces endorphins – a kind of “pleasure hormones” that help relieve stress, but do not relieve the problem itself. Often, a person with anxiety develops a sweet tooth, as sweets are especially helpful in creating a good mood.
- Method of purchasing products. Buying food for future use entails consuming so much food that the body does not need. People begin to take care of “food did not go to waste” and eat much more than they should.
- Cooking method. At this stage, people make two main mistakes: they constantly taste food, while getting a large amount of calories, and in addition, they use a significant amount of fat.
- Stressful situations. It is also interesting to note that in some people, during excitement and anxiety, appetite increases sharply, and they fall into a state of hyperphagia (absorption of more food than usual), while others, in the same circumstances, lose their appetite and hardly eat. At the same time, weight loss is observed. In other words, hyperphagia does not compensate for the energy costs caused by a strong emotional shock.
- “Carbohydrate thirst.” Some people consume a very large amount of starchy foods and sweets, and when they try to reduce this amount, they fall into a real depression. Interestingly, sugar in these cases practically plays the role of a drug. When you refuse it, a painful state develops, turning into depression, and sometimes accompanied by aggressive manifestations. However, as soon as such people get at least a little sugar, these phenomena go away.
- Physiological reasons. Quite often, women experience an increase in appetite in the last 3-4 days of the menstrual cycle. This peculiar malnutrition can be combined with carbohydrate thirst or hyperphagic response to stress, but it can also act in isolation.
Our eating behavior is influenced by many factors – national preferences, fashion, family habits, life circumstances, psychological problems and stressful situations (“seizing” anxiety, the habit of eating for company or because it is “inconvenient to refuse”), etc.
When we want sweet, flour, meat, etc., we call it the biological need of the body, thus justifying the lack of willpower, inability and unwillingness to see our problems and change something in our life.
Anyone who is dissatisfied with their eating behavior can consciously change it, develop new skills that will gradually become habitual.