Thirst vs hunger


By John DiTraglia - Contributing Columnist



So we poo-pooed the idea that there is an insidious epidemic of dehydration plaguing our children and the nation. We suggested that God’s wonderful gift of thirst is all we really need to avert disaster. But what about hunger? The elephant in the room would seem to be telling us that hunger must be terribly broke, and that hunger is the Manichean power of the devil at work.

There is a lot of hunger in the world and even in the U.S. there are children who have to go to school hungry and that makes it hard for them to learn. The snickers commercial says that guys are not themselves when they’re hungry. Even in rich countries, even for girls, nobody can argue with the fact that hunger hurts and it is almost impossible to be productive or nice when we’re hungry. The power of hunger is the reason that weight loss diets of any kind are doomed as a way of fighting obesity as soon as they deliver the slightest amount of weight loss. It is abundantly manifest that obese people also get terribly hungry when they lose weight. We have talked a lot about that curse of hunger.

Like the sports trainers who say you should be drinking water before you get thirsty to stay your best, some pundits advise us to eat before we are ravenous to try to prevent overdoing it. It used to be advised, including by me, that grazing was better than starving and then gorging. Now we are being lectured, including by me, about the miraculous benefits of prolonged fasting. It is reasonable to think that at least waiting until you are really hungry might be a better way to fight with overweight problems. Just saying.

What about salt craving and sugar and iron and those freaky cravings that some pregnant women have? They all are pertinent parallels to hunger in general and fruitful ways to understand the physiology of the maintenance and feedback protections of the body’s milieu intérieur, first famously proposed by Claude Bernard. They might help us, in turn, understand the evil of hunger’s relationship to obesity. We have touched on those subjects before as well as the closely related subjects of bulimia and anorexia nervosa. The best is still to come.

Then there is the notion of food addiction. Forgive me if I don’t spend any more time on that subject. I have better things to do.

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By John DiTraglia

Contributing Columnist

This writer’s opinion is their own and not the opinion of this newspaper

John DiTraglia M.D. is a Pediatrician in Portsmouth. He can be reached by e-mail- jditrag@zoomnet.net or phone-354-6605

This writer’s opinion is their own and not the opinion of this newspaper

John DiTraglia M.D. is a Pediatrician in Portsmouth. He can be reached by e-mail- jditrag@zoomnet.net or phone-354-6605