Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Slow Food

By Richard P. Holm
Why does food satisfy the appetite? If we could understand what tells us when to stop eating, then maybe we could understand the cause for obesity.

We know that a hormone called ghrelin delivers feelings of hunger to the brain and that two hormones called cholecystokinin and leptin bring feelings of satiation. So far, however, scientists, and especially those of the pharmaceutical industry, have failed in efforts to safely manipulate these natural signals to stimulate or suppress hunger.

Another direction of research comes with understanding how certain foods like oatmeal, boiled potatoes, or fresh fruit fill you up, and others like donuts, French fries, or even dried fruit do not. It is interesting to note that drinks of any kind seem very poor in providing feelings of fullness or satiety. It makes perfect sense then that if one is struggling with obesity, foods that do not satisfy hunger, especially those that are highly caloric, should be avoided.

And what about eating too fast? We know it takes time for the food we eat to stimulate our satiety hormones. We all know it is not very satisfying when we shove fast food into our mouths and swallow it down with a big gulp. No one can argue that the obesity epidemic could be related to oh-so-convenient fast food, which seems to match the fast-paced, unsatisfying rush of modern life.

In contrast, there is the Slow Food movement founded in Italy in the 1980s. Slow Food asks us to preserve regional cuisine and local flavors, and to promote local gardens and local family farmers. Slow Food asks us to shop the farmer’s markets, raise our own gardens, teach our children to cook, take time around the supper table to eat slowly, savor the food, and enjoy the company of family.

Bottom line, and the pun is intended: all the rush, with our busy frenetic modern lives, and especially with all that fast-fast food, has left us weighing more and satisfied less. It is time to slow down and savor our food and our lives. to slow down.

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