When was the last time you truly felt hungry?
I just recently finished "Outsmart Waste." I wrote about some of the points the author makes in this post. In the book, Szaky writes about our chronic consumption problem. This led me to start thinking about our chronic health problem.
In the same way that waste is due to our chronic consumption, many of life threatening diseases in today's society is also due to our chronic consumption. The problem for many of us is that we never feel hunger. When was the last time you truly felt hungry? Probably never. For many of us living in the western world, food is accessible, regardless of whether it's determined as good or bad, food products are everywhere. This abundance means that our bodies adapt to being constantly fed and full. Think about your daily commute. How many restaurants do you see? How many opportunities to you see to purchase and get food? It's endless!
I've been reading a lot about fasting lately and I'm finding the research for fasting fascinating. Fasting appears to be a necessary component to good health. Long fasts (4-5 days) in humans apparently provide significant advantages. Check out this livestrong article on it as it contains references to a lot of the research that has been done on this subject.
- Fasting increase stem cell production which helps with organ functions
- Fasting increases autophagy and apoptosis which cleans out damaged cells reducing the chances of these cells from becoming cancerous.
- Fasting promotes mitrochondrial growth.
- Fasting helps repair damages to DNA, cells, protein, and mitochondria
This is part of the reason why sleep is important. It is only during sleep when the body fasts for a long period of time. This is how the body repairs itself during the sleep cycle.
Our need to fill ourselves with food constantly and our need to fill our lives with new and shiny things all lead to some form of waste. Whether it's waste within our bodies that need to be shed to reduce life threatening disease or waste within our environment that harm and threaten our own survival, chronic consumption and waste go hand in hand.
I write a lot about Minimalism and Zero Waste and for those that may not be familiar with the concepts, their automatic response is a feeling that they are being deprived of something, that they are being forced to give up things. The core tenet of Minimalism and Zero Waste is to value what you have. Just because something new is on the market, it doesn't mean that it will add value to your life. In fact, it will probably be the opposite. The more you add, the more you consume, the more waste you create. This waste can be in the form of actual objects going unused and being thrown out or in time wasted managing and taking care of these things. Before WWII, chronic consumption didn't really exist. Our ancestors lived with what they had. They made use of what was already available, mending and patching to make it last a long time. Today, It's easy to pick up something brand new and discard something that is still functional. For many, items are bought on credit with money that's not even available.
If we compare this back to our eating habits, it's the same way. When we eat our dinner tonight, we have an endless amount of choices. Whereas years ago, our ancestors may have had to walk and exert labor to get food, today, a few taps on Seamless gets us anything we want. if we don't like it, we can order something else. The amount of food choices also means that we may not pick the very best option for us. We don't face food scarcity and we don't face competition for food. This means that we can never truly appreciate what we have so we waste some of it. We also have the constant opportunity to eat which doesn't allow our body to recover, digest and process what's necessary and needed. Our meal times are dictated and set by an imaginary clock. We don't eat when we are hungry, we eat because someone else told us dinner time should be around this time. We stopped listening to our own bodies. We stopped listening to millions of years of evolutionary progress and this is hurting us. This is killing us!
So what's the solution here. I don't have a full prescription, but I think it's time that we start living a life of moderation. Feel hungry for once. Let your body decide what it needs. Force yourself into scarcity. Trust me, nothing bad will happen to you. And take this metaphor into other parts of your life. Stay hungry. Be hungry for change, for opportunities because we can consume all we want from the comforts of our cell phones, but there's no happiness in that.
There's so much good research out there about fasting. Here's a few to get you started: