Food is plentiful—at least in most developed nations. And for the most part, it’s cheap and easy to acquire. Yet we often are left feeling unsatisfied and wanting more. As a society, we’ve developed some serious misconceptions about what it means to “dine well.”

Why do we eat?

We like to party—to eat for fun and celebration. Some of us eat when we’re bored or stressed out. We might even admit to having a secret addiction to certain kinds of food or drink. And then there’s the real reason to eat—because we need to nourish our body.

Modern Dietary Pitfalls

Many of the items we stock in our refrigerators and pantries—the things we’ve been led to believe will nourish our bodies—aren’t really even food. Just because something edible passes our lips doesn’t necessarily qualify it as nourishment. Few ingredients in these highly processed poser foods are close to recognizable, and most of the additives—such as coloring, flavorings, and artificial sweeteners—are ultimately toxic. Junk food is deficient and devoid of nutritional value; it’s just empty calories that will leave you overfed and undernourished.

And because your body needs the right nutrients to survive, it will keep signaling you to eat. You will experience increased cravings, prompting you to eat more and more.

Dr. Ray Strand, physician and author, has also tackled the topic of food cravings in his book Healthy for Life. He describes a food scenario many have personally experienced:

Think back to a large party or picnic you’ve recently attended. At one end of the table, the hostess sets a moderately sized bowl of apples, bananas, and oranges (no more than two or three of each). On the other end of the table—in bowls the size of kiddie pools—she pours mounds of chips. She can hardly force those few pieces of fruit on her guests, but she’ll definitely have to refill the chips.

We’ve come to expect it. It’s fun to munch chips. The salty crunch factor offers just the right experience.
“Have you ever tried to eat five bananas in a row?” Dr. Strand asks. “I love them, but I can only get one down. On the other hand, have you tried to eat just one potato chip?”

This situation illustrates the difference between what happens when you eat real food compared to junk food. Good foods satisfy. High-quality foods that are nutritionally dense make us feel full so we don’t feel the need to overeat. All the others keep us coming back for more. Food manufacturers know it—they count on it. Huge warehouse-sized box stores are a testament to it.

We naïvely fail to question the rapid spread of giant food stores or their far-reaching effects. We see people pushing carts the size of small cars down rows and rows of processed foods. It’s little wonder we have to go to the grocery store only once a month.

We have a growing disconnect when it comes to providing nutrition for our bodies. And if it isn’t nutrition we’re accomplishing, then what is it? We may need to rethink both quantity and quality of food.

Marketing Genius

A healthy dose of skepticism will serve us well when shopping for food. We’ll find a number of claims that sell the “health-promoting” aspects of a given product, even if the claims are unsubstantiated or if the product inflicts just as many negative effects on our bodies.

For instance, marketers love phrases such as “all natural.” But did you know that there’s no FDA definition, no legislated standards for using the term? Just about anything can claim to be “all natural.”

How about “less fat.”
Less fat than what? Whale blubber?
Foods can have as much fat in them as the manufacturers want—they just have to have less than at least one other version of the product they are selling. One of my
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