Eating, long held to be an essential act of replenishment energy we spend at work, is now emerging as the major killer of urban India fueling the epidemics of obesity, diabetes and heart disease and fatty liver.
Sounds paradoxical, but true: it is no longer lack of food or starvation, but consumption of amounts in excess of what we need that is killing us.
Scientists have identified patterns of eating behavior that could explain the present phenomenon.
“Homeostatic” eating is when we consume food to fulfill the calorie and protein requirements of the body. After a hard day’s labor, we eat to satisfy our hunger, consuming cereals, pulses, regional seasonal veggies or what-ever come our way. We are not fussy about the taste of food, but eat to regenerate energy and prepare ourselves for another day’s work. Most such eaters do not suffer from obesity, diabetes, hypertension, coronary artery disease or fatty liver.
It is ”Hedonic or “pleasure” eating is what is in vogue now. As many of us prospered, we started relishing “good” food; preparations that would attract us and satisfy our taste buds. There came “fast foods” and pastries that were carefully crafted and prepared to tickle not just one type of taste buds ( sweet or salt) at a time , but several types (salt, sweet, hot, sour) at one go. No wonder once we put a tasty “masala” potato wafer, “khatta meetha” namkeen or chocolates (sweet, salt, bitter) in our mouths, we cannot stop ourselves from reaching out for more!
Hedonic eating has become so pervasive that we fail to realize how difficult it has become to say “NO” when offered an attractive pastry or cookie or salted nuts. And though we leave home after a heavy breakfast, we are unable to restrain when the bowl of salted cashews is passed around the office table!
The easy access, availability in abundance of “Pleasure foods”, even in small towns, coupled with sedentary life style have joined hands and fueling the present surge in metabolic syndrome (overweight, diabetes, hypertension, increased cholesterol in blood, propensity for heart disease) and fatty liver disease.
And the food industry is discovering more innovative ways to lure us on!