Tuesday,18 June, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1129, 3 - 9 January 2013
Tuesday,18 June, 2019
Issue 1129, 3 - 9 January 2013

Ahram Weekly

Magnificent obsession

There may not be much to be jolly about, still, “’tis the season to be jolly “, and ‘jolly’ we try to be.  Normally, this is the season for rejoicing, renewing friendships and family ties; a season of “little nameless and unremembered acts of kindness and of love”.  Now we wonder if “this is the best of times” or, “the worst of times”? Or urge to celebrate is dampened and hampered by the state and level of stress caused by the state and level of stress caused by the sorrowful events in our homeland and around the Arab world.

What is the effect of this stress on our minds and bodies?  To many of us the answer is Food.  We turn our attention to what we eat, every hour of the day. Studies show that 89% of us live under daily stress.  Stress develops into fear and fear brings anxiety, which in turn breeds depression.  Depression is a dangerous condition, causing a host of serious diseases that eventually kill us.  We must relieve our stress, out of necessity and scientists believe that stress drives the majority to smoke, drink, use drugs and overeat, all deadlier than stress itself.

During festive days Food takes centre- stage.  Man turns to glorious food for comfort, for consolation for relief and for pleasure. It is that magic potion that will ‘make us feel all better”.  When a baby is hurt, our first instinct is to hand him his favourite lollipop, and the tears instantly disappear.  From chikdhood we are conditioned to turn to food to heal our wounds.

Food assaults our senses, at moments of joy as well as sorrow, leading us into temptation and few of us are able to resist.  We look, we pick, we sample, we savour, we sip, we taste, we enjoy, we relish, and why not?   After a long and weary year of moans and groans, we deserve a break. Tossing moderation to the wind, by year’s end, we decide to indulge. It is estimated that a typical weight gain at this time, is 2 to 4 kilogrammes.  If that were the only gain, it could be easily dealt with.  The problem is not only what we eat at year’s end, but what we eat all year.

Obesity is considered the no. 1 epidemic worldwide, attacking indiscriminately men, women and children.  The US leads the pack.  As if that were not bad enough, medical science has discovered a new killjoy syndrome to further steal our limited pleasure.  They call it SAD, for Seasonal Affective Disorder.  Even the joys of food cannot erase the SAD effects.  SAD is a common form of depression that occurs during the winter season.  It is directly related to the amount of light when the days become shorter.  Light brings cheer, dark brings gloom.  We have often heard of the winter “blahs”, a period of low energy, fatigue and indifference.  More suicides are recorded in the month of February than any other time.

According to Dr. Augustus Barza of the Brazilian Institute, “Obesity is an epidemic of progress”, the more progressive the society the fatter it seems to be, hence the exceedingly high rate of the US.  We are reminded that the very discovery of America was instigated by the love of food. Columbus discovered the New World only by chance.  His initial intention was to seek a new route to the Spice Islands of the Indies, to further improve the taste of food.

The life expectancy gains made by advanced medical research and technology may be lost by the next generation if we fail to control our increased appetite and our “Carbohydrate Craving”. Food has become a driving force in our lives.  Food consumes us more than we consume it.  There are times when we treat our bodies to food orgies, often to escape the harsh reality of the daily headlines.  Some of us are so passionate about our daily meals, making them the greatest joy of our existence.  Culinary pleasures are drawing us closer to the brink of disaster.

If the picture drawn is as dark and dreary as a long, cold winter night, let me brighten it for some.  If you are over 50, you have reason to be jolly.  1 or 2 extra kilos are not too risky and may actually protect you from the ‘flu and other infections.   With age however we must consume less as muscle mass decreases, so does your energy and activity.  Select your foods from a rainbow of colours, red, orange, green, purple and yellow.  They contain phyto-chemicals which shield us from serious ailments and vicious killers.    

Over I billion people worldwide are considered obese or overweight. The discovery of a natural hormone, PVV3, which was found to curb our appetite has not made a dent in the rising rate of obesity.  Even Asian is now plagued with obesity when not too long ago it was virtually unknown.

There are a few simple rules that might help us control our food intake.  Never eat more than you can burn!  Eat less, move more! “Better lose one supper than gain 100 physicians”

Keep your sipping and sampling to a minimum so your Holiday Season remains a “jolly” one rather than a “roly-poly” one


 Only wise men know the art of eating.

                    Jean Anthelme Brillat Savarin (1755-1826)


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