Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Fighting Hunger -- A Sensible Cure

I have been recently working on a posting about obesity and child custody. Concurrently I have received a plea through email to help fight hunger. I have observed that there are common links between hunger and obesity and felt that posting my knowledge about hunger will reduce or eliminate hunger much more than the efforts such as the one sent to me this week. Having lived in various parts of the United States all my life I have never witnessed hunger that is not easily remedied. As I continue the chronological journey to my eventual demise I become more jaded about such pleas because they never seem to attempt to cure hunger. A simple panoramic view of any crowd in the United States clearly indicates that a hunger pandemic or chronic hunger does not exist here.

Quiet to the contrary Americans eat to excess. Caloric production for Americans is now estimated at 3900 kcals per person per day. That is more than 100 years ago when most employment and domestic chores were labour intensive and required a boost in energy consumption which has now been replaced by machines. Even with such caloric consumption hunger can still exist.

We've all seen news reports about people who are starving in countries plagued by war or drought. Unfortunately, many people go hungry because they simply don't take the proactive steps necessary to avoid hunger.

Hunger is the way the body signals that it needs to eat. This need is the result of a dual usage of food. First, to provide energy which is achieved through the consumption of calories. Second, and more important to fighting hunger, is nutrients. Nutrients are the portion of food that is used to maintain body functioning such as hormone production, thinking and cell development. Without a sufficient supply of nutrients the body may still be hungry despite being satiated with bulk and calories. It is therefore critical that people eat nutrient dense foods not processed garbage made to appear as food -- edibles that contain HFCS, hydrogenated oils, artificial colours or artificial flavours -- but which, to the body, are not actually food. If you don't eat foods that provide the right nutrients, vitamins, and minerals then you will be hungry.

A common nutrient deficiency is iron. Good sources of Iron include beans, shell fish and green vegetables. But food processors and poor choices by consumers remove much of the iron from the diet. Thus, hunger will still exist. The manipulation of food requires a keen sense of biofeedback -- that is a consciousness of the bodies needs. I can sense when I need honey to boost my blood sugar, a banana for quick energy or various vegetables with nutrients that promote hormone production and affect mental acuity. Thus, even as I have reduced my body weight by over 10% to date this calendar year I have not felt hunger. I always take the proactive steps of eating what I anticipate that my body will require. That is a trait that humans possess but rarely use.

Alcohol can interfere with nutrient absorption which will keep the dietary needs of the body from being satisfied resulting in hunger. While the intentional deprivation of proper nutrients leads to hunger there are also medical conditions that can contribute to hunger.

Prader-Willi Syndrome is a genetic disorder that causes constant, ravenous hunger that can be a contributor to life-threatening obesity in children, says the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Ironically they need fewer calories due to reduced muscle mass which is an effect of the disease. People with this condition will likely be hungry even after the body is satiated. For them biofeedback recognition is even more important to avoid unnecessary weight gain. A strict exercise or strength building programme would also be beneficial.

Constant hunger is a common symptom of type 1 diabetes. Fortunately for people with this condition there are common medical treatments as well as lifestyle changes that can remedy this.

Von Gierke disease is an inherited disease that causes low blood sugar which can produce feelings of hunger. Treatment focuses on avoiding low blood sugar by eating frequently during the day, and being fed by a tube at night. A nutrient dense diet with measured intake can reduce or eliminate hunger for people with this condition.

Hyperthyroidism is a disorder that causes overproduction of thyroxine, which speeds up the metabolic rate and causes weight loss. The higher than typical metabolic rate of people with this condition can leave them feeling hungry even after consuming the same amount of food as others around them.

Not all hunger is a direct result of lack of calories or nutrients. Hunger can also be a psychological condition. In my many years of coaching people through divorce and separation I have seen people who experienced weight gain during the marital breakdown or while going through the dissolution process. I have had to craft not only dietary programmes for these people but more importantly developing plans to emotionally enrich their lives. Hunger can be the result of psychological deficiencies such as a breakdown in meaningful and connected interpersonal relationships, the feelings of abandonment or the pervasive worry about an unknown future. You have likely noticed weight gain among friends or relatives when they go through this process.

Therefore, it is essential that emotional needs are met in the daily lives of people. It takes some effort. It may be necessary to discard long-time acquaintances that while possibly well-intentioned are only contributing to the emotional drain. This is another effective means of combating hunger which few people ever consider. Yet, more often than not government and other profiteers seek to toss more money at the situation.

Indiana's SNAP program should receive a major overhaul as it doesn't provide nutrients like WIC does. Many recipients are part of the affluent class living opulent lifestyles including fashionable pleasures such as tobacco smoking, alcohol consumption, gambling and hired food handlers preparing and serving meals to them. Wealth is not measured in income but the way money is spent.

There is also the federally funded school lunch program ostensibly for the purpose of alleviating hunger. In reality it is nothing more than a give away program that shifts parental responsibility away from parents and places the burden on society instead. Again, the recipients most often use the savings from having to provide food to ingratiating themselves with luxuries. The proof is in the numbers.

In 2010, according to Feeding America, 20.6 million low-income children received free or reduced-price meals through the National School Lunch Program, but just 2.3 million participated in summer feeding. Yet, these children return after summer and, although not receiving the give-away or reduced priced meals, are still alive.

Often times these programs do little to alleviate hunger. Providers and participants often choose potato chips, white bread or pizzas which often cost four to ten times as much as fresh fruits and vegetables to achieve satiation.

Research studies indicate that consuming a low-energy dense diet -- one that is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and low-fat dairy products -- helps people lower their calorie intake. At the same time, eating low-energy-dense foods helps people control their hunger and maintain feelings of satiety, or the feeling of fullness and satisfaction experienced at the end of a meal. Satiety and hunger control are important for long-term satisfaction and compliance with an eating plan.

Fat (9 kcal/g) is the most energy dense component of food, providing more than twice as many calories per gram as carbohydrates or protein (4 kcal/g). Yet fat is nearly void of nutrients. Fat does not alleviate hunger but clearly can be a contributor to obesity.

Numerous studies have shown that people eat a rather consistent amount of food, by weight, on a daily basis. In some studies participants reported feeling just as satisfied on the days that meals were preceded by a low-energy dense soup or salad as those days without. Thus, calorie intake was reduce but feelings of hunger did not develop.

The importance of maintaining a healthy weight cannot be overemphasized. Excessive size and obesity can also be a contributor to hunger. Oversized people require significantly more calories for their bodies to function -- it is simple physics. Interestingly though many of the people who receive food assistance under the guise of fighting hunger are, in fact, creating the problem themselves by creating a higher caloric demand for themselves.

Effective means of fighting hunger are readily available without the assistance of government, hand-outs or coddling to people's irresponsibility. Hunger is rarely the result of a lack of food. The true cure for hunger can be found in personal responsibility -- establishing proper financial priorities, making proper food choices, fulfilling emotional needs with meaningful relationships and activities, and by taking the time to learn about and understand one's biological needs.

If you would like to do your part to actually fight hunger stop contributing to the problem and instead demand that the so-called hungry take on some personal responsibility first. Require that they prioritize by purchasing nutrient dense foods before wasting money on an extravagant lifestyle or paying others to prepare and serve the food for them. Demand that people get to a sensible weight instead of being an oversized glutton. Most important, never miss an opportunity to shame and scold those who neglect the nutritional needs of their children.

If you need assistance with a dietary matter or any lifestyle change then please visit my website and contact my scheduler to make an appointment to meet with me.

If you would like to follow my activities more closely then send a friend request to my Political FaceBook page.

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More information about child custody rights and procedures may be found on the Indiana Custodial Rights Advocates website.

©2012 Stuart Showalter, LLC. Permission is granted to all non-commercial entities to reproduce this article in it's entirety with credit given.

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