Childhood Eating: The Pack Mentality

Have you ever watched the Discovery Channel and seen those nature shows with hungry hyenas frenzying over a fallen gazelle? That’s exactly what this next report reminded me of, except, it involves children and not blood thirsty predators of the Serengeti. Although some of you might be able to relate to that comparison. According to new research when young children are part of a large group they eat more. Eric Nagourney of The New York Times explains:
The researchers, who report their findings online in The Archives of Disease in Childhood, say it has often been observed in animals and adults that consumption goes up as the number eating increases. People will even keep eating past the point when their appetite has been satisfied…

…The tools of the study were simple: hungry children, a snack area and that mainstay of childhood, graham crackers. The researchers looked at how children ate when they were in groups of three or nine. They found that in the larger groups, the children ate 30 percent more.
Here’s what troubled me about this study. The researchers used graham crackers—in other words—junk food. Now, if you’re familiar with Dr. Fuhrman’s concept of toxic hunger, you know that sugary refined flour treats like graham crackers contribute to it. Now before I continue, here’s a refresher on toxic hunger. From Disease-Proof Your Child:
A few hours after eating, feeling weak, headachy, tired, mentally dull, and stomach cramping or discomfort is not true hunger! These symptoms of stomach cramping and fluttering, headaches and fatigue that begin when digestion is completed I call “toxic hunger” because these symptoms only occur in those who have been eating a toxic diet. These are withdrawal symptoms from an unhealthful diet, and this discomfort is mistakenly interpreted as the need to eat more frequently and take in more calories. Continual eating stops the discomfort, just like frequent coffee drinking stops the headaches from caffeine withdrawal.
So this brings me to this question. By feeding participants graham crackers, wouldn’t that by default increase their risk of overeating? After all, graham crackers are nothing more than standard American snack food. It seems to me that it would have made more sense to conduct this study using natural or “real” food. That way you avoid the risk of toxic hunger, which obviously would taint the results.

Now, you’re probably saying to yourself, “What would have been a good food to use?” How about green vegetables? According to Dr. Fuhrman green veggies do a great job of filling you up, provide lots of essential nutrients, and don’t contain a lot of calories. Check out Foods That Make You Thin for more that:
Green vegetables are so incredibly low in calories and rich in nutrients and fiber that the more you eat of them, the more weight you will lose. One of my secrets of nutritional excellence and superior healing is the one pound-one pound rule. That is, try to eat at least one pound of raw green vegetables a day and one pound of cooked/steamed or frozen green vegetables a day as well. One pound raw and one pound cooked--keep this goal in mind as you design and eat every meal. This may be too ambitious a goal for some of us to reach, but by working toward it, you will ensure the dietary balance and results you want. The more greens you eat, the more weight you will lose. The high volume of greens not only will be your secret to a thin waistline but will simultaneously protect you against life threatening illnesses.
But you know what? I’m sure a lot of people succumb to social influence and kids are probably no different. Take me for example, I come from an Italian family and if you don’t eat—or in most cases overeat—there’s automatically something from with you. So I wouldn’t be surprised if the findings of this study were the same, even if they ditched the graham crackers in favor of something healthier. Although, what do you think about this? If children are raised around good food and people who don’t overeat, might they be able to resist the social feeding frenzy? I’ll leave that one to speculation.
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JoeGreco - December 2, 2007 10:00 PM

Thanksgiving comes to mind with so many people sitting over a meal we all seem to eat so much. I am curious as to compare us to our species so long ago who would hunt in packs and what that would have been like to frenzy feed off a carcass making sure we ate what we could and comparing that almost savage type to who we are today gathered around a big holiday table ready to feast. It maybe instinctive of us to over eat as our ancient ancestors in lew of our next meal (kill) which may not have for some time.

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