How Does Food Control Us?

Do you wonder also why you suddenly crave something salty, crunchy or a piece of chocolate? As a nutritional counselor, studying the mind and body is a fascinating profession. Many false beliefs will challenge my patients. Some believe eating right is simply a matter of willpower, but it’s not.

Here are several reasons why we eat:

Reason #1:

The answer literally starts in the mind with the hypothalamus. Our bodies need nutritional balance, which we often don’t select. The hypothalamus acts like a little drill instructor indicating what nutrients you require and what food supplies it.

For example, if you haven’t consumed enough copper, the hypothalamus will torment you until you reach for a food containing it. Kale contains copper – so does chocolate.  Which would you reach for? (Yeah, sure you’d choose the Kale chips.)  Therefore it is important to  eat a well-balanced diet from the beginning or it’ll take enormous effort to overcome unhealthy cravings. You’ll become frustrated and quit, believing it’s your lack of willpower. It isn’t, it’s about physiology.

Reason #2:

Emotions and memory can be your best friend or worst enemy. One example: your childhood affects your eating habits today.

If you were poor or had to compete with eight siblings, you might be a fast eater. You might believe that it’s not going to be there tomorrow, so I better eat as much as I can now! Therefore, you’ll consume food without chewing enough to release enzymes or place more on your plate than you can eat.  Did your mother ever profess, “Your eyes are bigger than your stomach!”

As you age, hopefully you understand that you are neither poor nor have to fight off others for that last cupcake or slice of pizza. But now you can have as much as you want, whenever you want, creating gluttony or closet eating.

Talk yourself into success, recognizing that you are an adult and only answer to God for your eating behaviors. Do you believe God would allow you to starve?  On the contrary, He only wants what is best for His children as He cared for the Israelites when they wandered in the desert:

“At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.”  (Exodus 16:12)

God however, provided enough meat and manna only for one day. God never stuffed His children with more food than they required for energy. Still the Israelites complained, didn’t they? Human nature never changes! “I don’t want salad! I want a big juicy hamburger with greasy French fries and a frosted malt and I want it NOW!”

Reason #3:

Insulin. Have you ever had a hazardous encounter? Driven on ice or thought someone was following you? Under stress your heart raced and your body instinctively went into a “flight or fight” mode. That drew blood away from vital organs into your outer extremities, ready for action. What happened next? When the threat was over, you probably reached for comfort food. Why?

When the body is under stress, it readily prepares for the next crisis. Routine blood insulin is lost quickly.  Therefore, under constant daily stress (work, children, finances) you are always hungry, seemingly “for no reason whatsoever” in your mind. I just need more willpower, you tell yourself. Not true. What you need, is find a way to relax . . . a walk, bubble bath, Bible meditation, soft music or other activity to conquer your stressful life.

Health begins in the mind. Recognize the many reasons your body protects you physiologically and strive to honor it for doing so!

“you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” (1 Corinthians 6:20)


13 thoughts on “How Does Food Control Us?

  1. I also found that as a teacher with usually only 30-40 minutes to eat lunch that I ate in basically the entire meal in 4-5 bites! I literally had to retrain myself to take time eating once away from school! Now I can linger….a two hour brunch is not out of the question! As long as I am not eating the entire time!! Haha. Thanks for the great reminder. Have a great rest of the week!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Really liked your comment because I can definitely relate. For many years I worked in public relations and thought my position was too “important” at work to waste time eating. Therefore I grabbed a fast food burger and wolfed it down to hurry back to a project. Of course no one is indispensable and I almost wrecked my body over pride. I’d recommend consuming mini-meals and healthy snacks if that ever occurs again. Blessings back ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting. However, some people, including me, cannot even think about food or eat it under stress. I never could whether it was a great surprise or bad news, something which I had to do like go for a surgery or before flights, although, I am totally aware that sometimes the next meal will be after a very long time. The newest research shows that flight or fight mode can be overshadowed when somebody has been under stress for a very long time or is under stress all the time. This results in low cortisol and a suppressed HPA axis activity, therefore, the person will not act as somebody whose stress is moderate or on the positive side (we need stress too).
    Family and childhood can affect how one eats, that’s for sure. Not having sweets and chocolates at early age caused us to never crave them. Our family sort of loves salty foods, and rarely goes for sweets. Nobody is overweight regardless of age.
    Very good post!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. So true Inese, you’re exactly right about long term stress! I always appreciate your insight. I am also one of those who can’t eat when stressed. Some people call us lucky – well I don’t because it affects health negatively too. (I was once down to 99 pounds after a particularly stressful public relations position 25 years ago.) That was my turning point when I changed careers – studied physiology, health and nutrition college credits and used my counseling degree to assist family physcians.)

    Of course that’s why I had to “stress” 🙂 only several reasons why in this post or this could become another book, 🙂 The body is about chemistry and how nutrients affect us differently. How wonderful that God created us uniquely. Blessings back my friend, ❤


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