I’m developing a theory about food and obesity. there’s already a theory out there regarding the body’s ability to identify which nutrients it lacks and develop a craving for the food stuffs that will satisfy that nutritional need.
the difficulty comes when all the foods you eat are ‘nutritionally balanced’ or ‘vitamin packed’. your body can subconsciously take note of what need was satisfied when you ate a particular food, and later on when you need that particular nutrient you will crave that food stuff. this is explanation that is given for why, as a stereotypical example, pregnant women are claimed to crave ice cream and pickles. over time, when you are a child and trying new foods, you develop a library of physical sensations that you use as an adult to drive how you behave. if you ate a wide variety of foods as a child, you can identify the reactions that you had, and when your body feels like it’s lacking something, it can go back through the physical memories to find the food that satisfied it’s current need.
anecdotally, there was a day not too long ago where I had an uncontrollable urge for spinach. this is unusual for me, I’m not particularly fond of spinach, but I answered the craving and I felt better. turned out I was iron deficient. now assume I had never had spinach as a child, but had a lot of pop-tarts or similar, and now as an adult have a tendency towards a low iron diet. my body is low on iron, associates pop-tarts with some (though not much) iron. so my body develops a craving for pop-tarts, which I then eat until my iron deficiency is sated. I also get all the baggage along with it.
now… I like pop tarts. this variety especially, but if I have to eat these to get my RDA of iron, thats 10 tarts and a 2000 calorie diet right there.
what’s worse, if you have so little food experience, when your body craves something to satisfy a need, but it doesn’t know what it should be craving, you just eat until you’re lucky enough to hit something that has what you need in it.
and people get fat.
to be sure, this is just a guess, I only have anecdotal evidence, and I’m not a biologist or behavioral scientist. but it doesn’t seem too far-fetched to believe. I also think it might be contributing towards people leaning towards the faddish ‘raw food’ diets and the like. and in the other direction towards things like soylent. neither of these is a bad idea. the good part of the raw food idea is to eat enough of the simple ingredients in isolation for you to develop a ‘craving library’ as it were, and with soylent it is to figure out what is actually necessary ahead of time and only eat the bare minimum, pre-mixed. myself, I’ve taken a look at my diet and started taking vitamin supplements directly to bring me up to the RDA of most of the known nutrients and proteins. oddly, I still get massive cravings. the difficult part is sometimes I can’t identify the craving. so once a week or so, I’ll try to have something I’ve never had before, in some volume, to see what happens. then one of these days I’ll start skipping one of the supplements and see if I develop a craving for the particular food I know is high in that nutrient. possible experiments abound…