Do you ever wonder how much food you need? I do. All the time. And a lot of times I want more than I need.
But how do you really know how much food you need?
I found a compelling answer in a book written in the 19th century. Yes, the 19th century.
The book is called The Science of Being Well by Wallace D. Wattles. It says that we’re in control of four things: our breathing, sleeping, eating, and drinking. It then says, basically, that we manage to screw these up!
The office worker, or the mind worker as the book calls them, needs maybe 1/10 the amount of food as the physical laborer. You should eat, Wattles asserts, only when you have earned hunger. Not out of habit how we typically eat—but because our body has a genuine need for food.
Personally, I think this makes a lot of sense. What do you think? Do you think that an office worker needs as much food as a construction worker?
Check out the book. While you’re at it, check out this CDC obesity map. The reason I pull the map in is because I’ve been reading articles that totally miss the point that Wattles captures in his book.
The article talks about a set point and body composition being determined by genetics and food quality having always been poor in American’s diets.
But Wattles doesn’t talk about the quality of food at all—he talks about the quantity and the idea of food in general. We shovel food down our throats with a sense of entitlement and pleasure and a lack of awareness of the purpose of food in the first place: to build our body.
He argues that we should stop worrying about whether food is healthy and instead concentrate on the quantity we’re eating, how we’re eating, and whether or not we’re eating consciously and not shoveling. You know the placebo effect, right? Think of eating “bad” food and telling yourself it’s bad. Think about taking a sugar pill and deluding yourself into thinking it’s for your heartburn…and your heartburn goes away. So then how much are you altering the effect the “bad” food has on your body?
Let’s go back to the CDC map and our set point and body composition being determined by genetics as the NY Times article states. It’s pretty compelling. It proves that in the last 15 years we must have developed some sort of gene that makes us overweight or something. That’s the only way to explain it. It has nothing to do our eating habits and lack of activity.
Wattles had two recommendations: eat only when you have earned hunger and chew your food until it is liquid. That obesity chart would start going the other direction if everyone participated in that program.
His writing about the other three things we consciously control is equally compelling. Check out his book and let me know what you think.