Why Do We Eat?
The way to weight gain is through food. The path to weight loss is also through food.
In fact, food is simply non-negotiable - it keeps the body functioning and (hopefully) performing at its' best. There is no such thing as being alive and not eating. But if the only reason people consumed food was for nutrition, there wouldn't be a worldwide obesity epidemic. There are clearly other things besides nutrition that are tied to food.
So, why do we eat?
One reason to eat is purely for the sensation. The smell or look of an appealing food can make your mouth water, because you can imagine the taste and texture in your mouth without even taking a bite.
Taste, of course, is another strong motivator of eating behaviour. We derive so much pleasure from something that tastes good, or a combination of foods that taste good when eaten together. The 'delicious' factor encourages you to eat the food again and again. Advertisers rely on your sensory memory to hook you. This is why you see all those close ups of flame broiled meat, sub sandwiches, and so forth – if you know what I mean, chances are you're already drooling. The 'taste' factor can also lead to many great culinary adventures in the kitchen.
Another food-related sensation is the feeling of fullness and comfort that food can give. Many people use food for this reason, and when it's done in excess, it can become a problem. Deriving comfort from a feeling of fullness is hard-wired in us from birth – most babies eat several times a day.
A full stomach encourages relaxation – just think of how you feel after eating a holiday meal! Social activities often revolve around eating for this very reason – breaking bread is a natural pairing for time spent with friends and family. It only becomes a problem when food is used as a replacement for something that's missing in a person's life.
Food can be used to fill a void that boredom or sadness can create. It can also be used to express anger and more difficult emotions, or it can be part of a negative self-fulfilling prophecy. Eating an entire chocolate bar will only make you feel good in the short term. Those calories will be easily converted into fat, which does not help your weight loss goals!
Being aware of why you eat is key to a successful weight loss strategy. Knowledge is power!