Friday, March 27, 2015

The End of Overeating

A few weeks ago I wrote about a book I was reading called Vitamania.

I finished it the other night and, I have to say, it was a fascinating read.

There was enough science in it to keep the geeky part of me really happy. It's been 18 years since my last university biology class and books like this one remind me how much I loved learning about anything biology-related and how much I miss being immersed in that kind of brain-expanding knowledge.

You might remember that I talked about hearing an interview with the author of Vitamania on NPR during our road trip and that was how I learned about the book. Well, during that interview, the author mentioned another book called The End of Overeating - Taking Control of the Insatiable North American Appetite. The author is Dr. David Kessler.

I downloaded both books onto my iPad and, now that I've finished Vitamania, I'm moving on to The End of Overeating.

I wasn't sure what to expect with the second book but, within the first few pages of reading, I thought "this man is on to something". In fact I had a slightly creeped-out feeling that he has been following me around, hanging out in my head and analyzing how I think about food.

He writes about the challenge that many people in North America (and perhaps elsewhere) face around food. He writes about how people lose the ability to focus during a meeting if there is a plate of cookies or a bowl of M&Ms on the table. About how much time many of us spend every day thinking about food, starting off the day with noble goals of eating healthy, convincing ourselves that we don't need to eat something that's unhealthy (like the office meeting cookie), breaking down and eating it anyway, feeling guilty about it, and then having another. And another. And waking up the next day and doing it all over again.

I'm not too far into the book yet but the author has moved from writing about our relationship with food to writing about how the food industry has learned to develop foods that trigger a response in us that has nothing to do with actual hunger. We no longer eat food because we are hungry. In fact we often continue to eat well beyond the point of being full. Dr. Kessler is arguing that we eat food because of how our body responds to the combination of sugar, salt and fat in the food that we eat.

Having type 1 diabetes already puts me in a difficult position when it comes to food and hunger. Low blood sugars have forced me to eat when I am full more times that I want to count and high blood sugars have prevented me from eating when hungry just as often.

My life is often a matter of eating when I have to or when I can rather than eating when I want to and blood sugar readings often supersede feelings of hunger or fullness.

So I will be very interested to learn what Dr. Kessler has to say about the North American diet in general,
the food industry and the unhealthy relationship between the two.

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