Editor's Note

Editor's Note

Eating To Live, Not Living To Eat

By Rich Simon

January/February 2011

The old maxim "You should eat to live, not live to eat" may sound wise, but it's based on a profound misreading of the fundamental facts of human biology. Throughout the ages, you could argue, our species has always lived to eat. For thousands of years, most people spent most of their waking hours finding, hunting, growing, harvesting, preparing, cooking, and consuming food. We're born hungry, and our first, essential experiences of love, nurture, and connection often happen in conjunction with being fed.

Even as adults, there are few, if any, activities more central to our physical satisfaction, emotional pleasure, psychological comfort, and social connection than eating. How many occasions aren't improved by noshing—whether it's the huge Thanksgiving Day blowout or sharing a handful of nuts on the trail with a hiking buddy or walking down a street alone, contentedly licking an ice-cream cone?

Yet, at the same time that food has never been so plentiful, so cheap, so easily obtained (in our society, at any rate), the primordial act of eating has never been so freighted with inner conflict as it is today for many of us. Apparently, as the writers in this issue have good reason to know, actual physical hunger is often the last reason we eat (many of us no longer really know what bodily hunger feels like). More often than not, loneliness, boredom, suppressed anger, anxiety, depression, sheer emotional neediness—cravings for…

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