Why It Is Wise To Stop Eating Before Satisfied
( Originally Published 1936 )
Not many people know that hunger is a state of the blood. It takes some time—several hours—before food digests, assimilates, and enters the blood stream, when the feeling of hunger at once disappears. That is why it is considered wise to stop eating while the appetite is not entirely satisfied.
The difference between hunger and good appetite is only a matter of degree. Both sensations are probably due to fine muscular waves which pass across the stomach. If the continued absence of food induces a state of the blood which provokes reflexly very strong, rapidly recurring waves, the sensation passes from appetite to hunger.
It seems paradoxical that Nature should supply us with a greater appetite than need for food. But this quite possibly dates back to the days of our ancestors, when food was scarce and had to be eaten in sufficient quantities to last until the next meal, which might not prove imminently available. In this day and age, when meals are regularly forthcoming, overeating is a human weakness, and when trouble results we can blame no one except ourselves.
Does good appetite or hunger help the digestion of foods? There are several factors to this.
There seems a prevalent belief that all white meat is easily digested. It happens to be true that breast of chicken and many kinds of fish are quickly digestible, but the size of muscle fiber—the smaller and finer, the better—governs the digestibility of meat and fish. Lobster, though white, is of large, tough fibers and difficult for the stomach to handle. Most fish, however, is highly nutritious and easily digested—though why it has been glorified as a brain food is one of those phenomena of the human imagination.
Children, if supplied with an abundance of milk and other animal food, will not suffer a loss of energy if their diet omits meat, for the reason that meat is a stimulant which any normal child does not require. Too much meat tends to make children excitable and restless at night. A small piece of meat, once a day, on the other hand, is not harmful to any healthy child who has reached the age where meat has been included in his daily rations—about two years.