Tricks of the Mind

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Our tastes may be thought fixed like magnetic poles but they can be flipped around in an unexpected way – especially when young. “Unusual” things are eaten with gusto by different societies around the world because tastes can be trained and changed with exposure. While it’s possible to restrict calories and yet eat mainly processed food-like substances it’s certain that nutrition – and life in general – is higher quality without them. Is there room in our confined and protected health space for industrially produced “food”; that is most items that need a wrapper to proclaim how nutritious they are?

However there is no magic ingredient X that will transform our health and life. Sheer quantity aside choice of food has limited effects once we’ve avoided industrial type products. Knowledge of these choices is useful only if it doesn’t tip over into fear as a state of alarm will do more harm to health and longevity than anything that’s likely to be consumed. While mild but consistent physical stress may have benefits chronic self-defeating psychological stress conflicts with the basic operation of the body.

Beware also the “Halo effect”, to let mere symbols of perceived healthy eating such as salads, fresh produce and organic ingredients substitute for acts and actually permit the opposite. Just the proximity to presumed healthful actions and not the acts themselves is used as counterfeit currency in an unconscious and absurd tradeoff.

Man is a highly social animal and there is a social license required for overeating; bodies become time-lapse synchronized in a parody of grace, an unacknowledged lockstep. How many social occasions do not ultimately revolve around food?

However a person monitoring their intake can still comfortably participate with the use of careful techniques. One such is to preload shortly before with a small bag of nuts and drink water, tea or coffee at the event itself. With practice abstaining from the offered food at these occasions gets easier and eventually we stop associating them with eating altogether.

Insight as art and science