Thursday Thoughts # 14

"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.


  1. Good points all. Another study has demonstrated that sugar especially sugar found in soda creates an addiction in the brain craving more sugar. Diet sugar substitutes don't have the calories, but they still feed the addiction and that is why they will not help you lose weight. THis study claims the reason most weight loss programs don't work is they are based on "a calory is a calory" reduce calories and you lose weight. This is not exactly true as a calory of sugar makes one feel hungry when in fact as you say they are not.

    LIMIT SUGAR!! Ban soda.

  2. Given the size of the average meal, it's a good thing the stomach can stretch.

  3. I need to work on this. Real food tastes better too. And I need to limit my portion size too. I really, really don't need to stretch my stomach to (or beyond) its capacity.

  4. joeh; the sugars in diet sodas are the worst. I know a young woman who drinks only diet sodas and she has now weighs twice as much as she did 10 years ago. Too large portions are also at fault.

    Delores; the size of the average meal is far larger than it used to be. We should all start serving our meals on side plates I think, so the smaller portion still looks like a full plate, then eat slower.

    Elephant's Child; real food does taste so much better. For instance home made cakes and biscuits without all the preservatives (and they use artificial sugars and egg substitutes). I noticed several years ago that I felt better when I switched from margarine back to butter. It's a far more natural food. I've been able to decrease the amount of sugar I use in recipes with no discernible difference in taste. I'm serving smaller portions too. I haven't lost any weight, but my waist is smaller by 2cm.

    mm; the general public needs to think more about what they are consuming as "food" and how much.

  5. Nothing here to disagree with.
    I lost seventy pounds a long time ago, and that's where I am today. I came to many of these conclusions, and the most important were portion size, real food and minimal sugar.
    Mankind, on the whole, was not in danger of sinking the planet until after World War II, when life got easy. Men and women were slim then. Look at old films of people walking the city streets. Only some elderly were overweight. They ate real food in reasonable amounts, because food was harder to come by. Sugar was an occasional treat then. I think it is the root cause of obesity and much more. Refined sugar did not even exist just a few hundred years ago.

  6. Finally!!! Someone on the same wavelength as me...
    I've been saying for years that it all begins with our tastebuds.
    They trigger sensors/receptors in our brains.
    As an example, when I crave comfort food - my brain alerts my mouth to seek foods for my tastebuds that will in turn satisfy my brain.
    These foods need not be junk food, but wholesome, real, slow cooked meals.
    Just the aromas of well prepared food, simmering away, will begin the digestive process before it even enters the stomach - by activating the salivary glands in our mouths which have necessary enzymes to aid in proper digestion when it does enter the stomach.

    Lately, my menopausal hormones have been playing merry hell, and my brain has been demanding chocolate. When I eat it, my tastebuds tell my brain the natural amphetamine, Theobromine, is on it's way...

  7. You make a WHOLE lot of sense. Retrain the mouth. Of course! x

  8. Very good work and of course I agree. Chewing food is so important to be satisfied by a meal. You should chew until there is only mush to swallow. I go with the theory that fat is not so bad for you if you don't overdo it, but sugar is pure evil.

    Funnily, R and I were recently discussing his childhood and teenage years diet in England. While not especially healthy, the quantities were small. One sausage, half a dozen chips, a large spoonful of baked beans was an adequate meal, and it was served on a much smaller plate than what we now use.

  9. Joanne; I love old movies where everyone looks slim and energetic and skin problems were fewer too because the diet was healthier. another problem is the prepared packaged foods available. There's no effort expended in preparation and cooking. It's too easy to just reheat and eat.

    Vicki; it just doesn't make sense for all those weight loss programs to focus on stomach hunger in our world of plenty. The tastebuds are the ones we need to focus on. I love the smell of good foods cooking in my kitchen, the anticipation of dinner. Lately I've been waiting until my stomach actually signals hunger before I start cooking or eating. No weight lost, but 2cm gone from around my waist.

    Being Me; I'm a very sensible person.

    Andrew; see? portion size! It's so important. When taken as part of an overall diet fats aren't bad as long as you don't go slicing and eating a block of lard for instance. There are various vitamins which are necessary for good health but are only fat soluble, so minute amounts of fat are needed to release these vitamins for our health. I agree sugar is bad, but again, only in the huge quantities we all consume daily. If we prepare our own food instead of buying canned or ready-made we can more easily control the sugar we eat.

  10. ... great post River... I definitely have 'Mouth hunger' and not true hunger...
    Hugs... Barb xxx

  11. All of which you say is very true but another reason for obesity in the modern age is lack of exercise. Many years ago people ate a lot of fat and sugar but many did not have cars so they walked a lot and there was much more labouring type work done as well.
    What we need to do now is to eat what the body requires to keep it healthy in keeping with the amount of exercise we do.
    That is just in support of what you say but also I feel an important issue in today's world.

  12. I agree with what you've said, River. Very good - and very true.

  13. Re vitamins and fat, I take vitamin D capsules and they must be taken with a meal containing some fat for them to work.


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