View Full Version : Why do we eat?

2nd Dec 2006, 07:17
Basically for sustainment I know, but if that were the complete story we would by now be popping those pills 'invented' in the mid 20th Century for Astronauts, and there would be no restaurants where guests make appointments days, weeks or even months in advance for the 'pleasure' of eating there. Of course there are some humans that eat simply for survival, but many choose to arrange their menu to include special ingredients that bear little or nothing towards nutrition.
We are adjudged to be an intelligent (and inventive) specie, yet, given the pace of modern life (and the creative facilities at our command), we have failed to develop the ideal convenience food (providing the essentials whilst avoiding the undesirables, yet combining variety and flavour of our most sought-after dishes).

Where else in the animal kingdom do the participants dress-up and then meet at pre-arranged locations to feast on dishes that are entirely traditional? OK, birds will flock to strip cherry-trees, and bears will abandon their aggressive solitude to capture the harvest of salmon, and I suppose these events can also be driven by taste rather than pure need, so maybe there ARE some parallels with our behaviour, but, back to the question - why do we eat in the manner that we do?

Is it because we is intelligent?

CarltonBrowne the FO
2nd Dec 2006, 07:23
The late Douglas Adams answered this question rather well.
Civilisation goes through three distinct phases; Survival, Enquiry and Sophistication.
Survival: how can I eat?
Enquiry: why do we eat?
Sophistication: where shall we have lunch?
Similarly, warfare goes through the three phases; Retribution, Anticipation and Diplomacy.
Retribution: I'm going to kill you because you killed my brother.
Anticipation: I'm going to kill you because I killed your brother.
Diplomacy: I'm going to kill my brother, then kill you on the pretext that your brother did it.

Loose rivets
2nd Dec 2006, 07:50
I suppose it's to stop the wine sloshing around in our tummies :ooh:

2nd Dec 2006, 09:38
Because it's far more socially acceptable than meeting up in a nice location to mull over what is coming out the other end!

although I understand the Romans were quite into that!

2nd Dec 2006, 10:44
Interesing question. I did a degree in Applied Animal Biology which included animal behaviour, and didn't know so I looked it up. This is quite a good summary of reasons we enjoy eating. Presumably animals rarely have the opportunity to "enjoy" it, they are much more keyed up to stuff their faces at every available opportunity with anything vaguely edible, then leg it to safety. Anyway here it is.

First, they encompass a variety of components: In the stimulus domain, the foods, features of the physical environment, and social factors; in the domain of the organism a specific somato-psychic state and an attitude towards hedonism; in the domain of responses preparatory activities, specific characteristics of eating behavior, and positive sensations and emotions. Second, pleasures of eating depend on a variety of external and internal conditions. External conditions go far beyond the food itself: Physical features of the environment and social factors amplify food-induced positive affective reactions and embed them in an individually unique setting. Internal conditions include motivational, cognitive and behavioral factors: People who enjoy eating have the explicit intention to enjoy, they eat slowly and focus upon salient features of foods and environments, and they often engage in social activities before, during and after the meal.

And credit for this excerpt, see http://www.springerlink.com/content/gv8q305326457n4m/

2nd Dec 2006, 11:50
I find (raw) cashew nuts irresistible. As a youngster they were an expensive (and almost unavailable) luxury, but recently they have become more within my budget (when bought in bulk, not silly individual portions). I'm currently paying 5.50 per kilo.
I find it impossible to avoid picking out nice, large, whole nuts and devouring them with satisfaction.
Probably an animal response.

PS, I also eat the smaller, broken ones too. I'm not THAT picky.

Standard Noise
2nd Dec 2006, 11:57
A wee visit to the local Julian Graves is a joy to behold. Cashews without oil and salt :yuk: , brazil nuts sans shells:) and all manner of dried fruit (mmm, cranberries) at reasonable prices, can't beat it.

As for the original question, it's cos I have two hands and one mouth. Those hands need something to do.

tony draper
2nd Dec 2006, 14:59
Tiz that brain thing inside our head bones,it controls us by reward and punishment,if there is something we need to do but have neglected the organism releases chemical that make us feel uncomfortable,ie if we are dehydrated we feel discomfort untill we take in fluid,likewise the necessity to emtpy our bladders is made painfull until we take action to aliviate the situation,likewise the taking on of fuel,it is made pleasurable, thus we like to extent the pleasure by ritual and anticipation to make the euphoria last longer,need one speak of the necessity to pass on our genes? one understand some prooners claim they can extend this act so it sometimes lasts as long as 45 seconds.

Loose rivets
2nd Dec 2006, 15:55
It is 09.00 and I'm having me tea and toast. I always have tea and toast...even if the house catches fire, I need me tea and toast before putting out the flames. And there's the clue to what's going on. Anticipation...right on the bell.

As a result of this timing thing, I try not to eat again until tea-time, when, all things being equal, I will have a tea cake with me tea. If I lunch one day, I'll want to lunch the next...right on the bell. There is no way that I can lunch these days...200lbs becomes 230 in about a week if I do.

So, having mowed lawns, tiled bathrooms, painted things and cleaned the car, and generally keeping busy, Huh, that includes looking after two rumbustious grand kids for 3 hours a day...having done the school run. Mustn't forget that. Anyway, after all this, I have no need of food until the little something at 4pm. However, at dinner time...oh, ****. Homer Simpson has nothing on me.:eek:

Once started I'm unstoppable. Last night 10 shrimp with a little fried fish, followed by steak and baked potato...oh, and with both courses I have a salad with the entire product of Hellman's weekly output blobbed on top...of both. It's okay, don't fear for me, I use the "Light".:}

I have resorted to a bottle of wine with the above cos it makes the serious bits of life go away. Being so genteeeeeeeeeel, I get the colour of the wine right by keeping several bottles on the go. Well usually. Towards the end of the evening, I can get some pretty hues by mixing for refractive index rather than taste.:ooh:

Then, since I'm on a diet, I just graze on fruit. About a pound of grapes and anything else I can find in the fridge. If I have pudding, I'll want it tomorrow, so I don't. Abstemious Me-ee.

Healthy living I say. Where's me cimetidine?:oh:

5th Dec 2006, 01:42
Just bite the ends of a TimTam biscuit, suck some milo through... and you've got your answer right there mate :ok:

thats why we eat! :E

5th Dec 2006, 02:56
...we have failed to develop the ideal convenience food (providing the essentials whilst avoiding the undesirables, yet combining variety and flavour of our most sought-after dishesYou've never encountered a rolled up banana leaf full of Nasi Lemak with the usual trimmings, obviously...

Eating? Its a social thing. Reinforces the kinship, social standing (pecking order) and so on. Most primates do it by grooming each other but we don't have enough body hair for that, so we do it with food.

There's no greater pleasure than being hand fed with tasty tid-bits by one's chosen partner and reciprocating - well there is of course, but that's a later part of the same proceedings, as it were.

45 seconds tony? :confused: