Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Fight or Flight or Chocolates

I was trying to explain to my mother the other day why scanning works to make a person feel better when she is anxious or depressed or angry.  What I said was that it hearkens back to ancient times when there were still predators out and about which could kill and eat us.  Scanning the horizon made us feel in control of our lives; if we could see whether or not a predator was there, we would feel better.

Because we are not in imminent danger from predators anymore (at least not the non-human kind), we don't need to scan the horizon.  But if a person is hyperalert, he has the desire to do so and just because there is no necessity to do so doesn't mean the desire goes away.

Satisfying the desire to scan the horizon, to respond to life or death emergencies, is necessary to feel calm and "happy." But the real crises are not available; one must, therefore, enact response behaviors that quell anxiety through accumulating knowledge about the external threats.

Now, the feeling of anxiety can be satisfied by eating highly fatty or sugar loaded foods, probably because those foods are stimulating, and they are stimulating because they are needed for fight or flight.  The fact you don't need them for fight or flight doesn't diminish their power to make you feel better.

Unfortunately, since you don't burn up calories fighting or fleeing, the fuel you're ingesting just gets stored along with all the other fat stores on your body.

If you can satisfy that craving to respond to the false alarm in some way, then you can avoid eating those fight or flight foods that are only going to be wasted on your body.

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