"I was looking forward to the day ahead. Then it arrived."
from 'Personal', by Lee Child.
Why do they sell hotdogs in packs of eight, but hotdog buns in packs of six?
On Today Tonight (I think, could have been A Current Affair), recently, there was yet another article about helping people lose weight.
(we are fast becoming the most obese country on the planet)
It mentioned a new method of retraining the brain to not want fatty or sweet, sugary foods and drinks. Or whatever, I was drying dishes and not really paying attention. But my scepticism button switched itself on.
Other methods in the past (and present) all focused on hunger, on reducing hunger, minimising hunger etc. Hunger lives in the stomach and Australian stomachs are rarely hungry.
Or calorie intake.
Which flies in the face of all those ads constantly telling us to snack to keep those "hunger pangs" at bay. Hunger pangs which I'd venture to say most of us have rarely felt.
Some fast food places now have smaller sized portions of their regular foods "for those hungry moments between lunch and dinner."
I'm not sure if I'm getting this right, but most weight loss programs seem to focus on the stomach and the "hunger".
In my opinion, they're getting it wrong. All of them.
99% of people in the western world don't get hungry. Maybe they don't even know what hunger is.
We seem to be "feeding our faces" all day long. And right there is a clue to the problem.
Feeding our faces.
When we are truly hungry, our stomachs will let us know. That empty, growling stomach, the hollowness under the ribs that says "I haven't had food in six or eight hours, feed me!"
Most of us, I'd dare to say, never get that feeling. Because we've been eating, then snacking, then eating, then snacking,and so on.
So what is it that keeps us doing this? Not our over-full, never having time to rest, stomachs.
It's our mouths.
Where the tastebuds live.
It's your mouth that wants more, more, more.
Stomachs don't have tastebuds! Stomachs can't feel textures!
It's our mouths that need to be retrained.
Soft foods that slip down easily with minimal or no chewing, don't satisfy the need to chew, don't satisfy the texture component we need, to crunch, to work. So we (our mouths) want more. And more and more.
More chewing equals more satisfaction. This is why lightly steamed vegetables are more satisfying than boiled to mush vegetables. They need to be chewed. Which takes a little more time. The tastebuds have time to register their satisfaction of different tastes and textures in a meal.
Low fat foods don't satisfy the texture component either. (The exception being vegetables and fruit.)
A rich creamy full fat icecream, for instance, has a far nicer "mouthfeel" than a low fat or no fat option.
A person might take a little longer to savour that rich creaminess, which gives those tastebuds the time they need to feel satisfied.
When your mouth is satisfied, you won't (or shouldn't) feel the need to keep filling it with more! more! more!
It makes sense to me (and maybe only me) that regular foods, not diet foods, are the way to satisfy your mouth.
Give your tastebuds a feast of textures and flavours and eat slowly enough for them to gather the full experience.
A cup of "diet broth" with a cracker or two for lunch will have you reaching for fatty snacks in mid afternoon. (doughnut time) A ham and salad roll won't.
Take a moment and make a fist with one of your hands. This is roughly the size of your empty stomach. Eat a full meal and it expands, of course. But as it digests it contracts back again, then it has time to rest, while all those nutrients are travelling around your body, doing what they are supposed to.
In time your stomach will indicate the need for another meal and if you haven't been snacking you'll recognise this for what it is. Dinnertime. Or lunch. Whatever.
If you have been used to eating far more than your stomach can comfortably hold, (large portions, constant snacking), cutting down is not going to be easy.
Your mouth has become used to gulping down anything shovelled in.
Bite, chew (barely), swallow, repeat, repeat, repeat.
Some people eat so fast they don't taste anything at all.
The retraining here comes in the form of slowing down, chewing and savouring the foods, giving your stomach time to register that it has enough and by having tasted and savoured, your mouth will be satisfied too and you can stop eating instead of hoovering up every crumb.
There are people out there who need specific diets, specific food exclusions, and this post is not for them.
But many, many people out there deny themselves tastes and textures, the "mouthfeel" of good food, real food, unnecessarily.
11 hours ago