I noticed a small blip in the mass last week, about a kilogram or a bit more than 0.01 over my recent mean. I say recent because my general physician wants me to lose some mass (as of our last but one clinical conversation) to get my BMI down. We have not yet agreed on which side of the fat slob boundary to seek. He wants me to be on greatest lower bound (or lower even) side while I have been promoting the least upper bound side. My side of the discussion is largely rooted in some work published last year in SCIENCE (which physicians do not read, in the main – and I cannot blame them!) that indicates people on that side of the boundary enjoy better general health than people on the other side of the boundary (and away from the boundary for that matter) – sort of a sweet spot of existence.
My approach to getting to this least upper bound has been to alter my eating practices to lose about 2-3 kilograms over a couple of weeks and then stabilize for a couple of months to make sure I don’t regress. For me this seems to work since I have shaved off about 10 kg in this journey. But then, I have always held that diet is what you eat and not a passing regime.
Anyway, I noted a TIME article on holiday gorging [Link] and despite the article being both shallow and sketchy, it set me to thinking about the subject despite, or perhaps because of, the absence of any real discussion of the matter. One more example of the cancer that is contemporary journalism and of which TIME is often the epitome.
The article relates some research by business academics, marketing, I believe, on how they have determined how people ‘bracket” their eating. I have not yet conferred with my anthropologist and historian colleagues but I suspect they will either be sore from laughing or I shall get to learn several interesting new curse phrases in unlearned languages.
What got ignored, at least so far as I understand the matter, is that humans have been on a gorge-starve cyclic (but not necessarily periodic) of eating since sometime before we sapiens came on the scene. The scenario is simplicity: if you happen on a big chunk of road kill, or even kill it yourself, lacking refrigeration or having learned to smoke or salt, you eat as much as you can before it rots so bad eating the rot will kill you. And then you make do with what’s available until you get another kill. (I have been told this is why one of my undergraduate college roommates always ate his meat first, then his desert, and then his vegetables and salad.)
This got continued when we humans adopted sedentaryness about the end of the last cold phase and then agriculture about halfway between then and now. If the crop yield was good and you have just harvested you have lots of food and again, what can’t be preserved needs to be eaten right away. Otherwise food may be in short supply. And as civilization kicked in this boom-bust cycle got picked up by the religion organizations who made sure the boom times were observed as holy days – the deity is happy with your behavior and rewards you with heartburn – and the bust times were observed as repentance days – the deity is unhappy with your behavior and makes you hunger and feel puny.
Which brings us to the on-going holiday season – Chanukah, Christmas, Festivus, Kwanzaa, Newtonmass, New year’s – all Winter Solstice related. And Winter Solstice being the shortest day of the year was the coldest, darkest time but that it occurred signified that things had turned around. The days would get longer and warmer and brighter and shortly food would be more abundant and hence a time for celebration, a somewhat artificial boom time. Knowing that we had gotten to as bad as things would get and hope had returned and maybe we could spare a bit of food to party with.
So not marketing, guys, not business, but human nature, the product of Nature with the capital “N”. So don’t blame those pounds gained on evil Capitalist oligarchs, even though they sold you the not-good-for-you food, or on evil Religionist fanatics, even though they told you the deity wants you to be fat and logy right now. No, blame it on reality and then get past the whole irrelevant human emo blame thing. Just recognize you endured a gorge time and now you need to enjoy a starve time.