News By/Courtesy: Gunjan Dayal | 15 Jun 2020 23:11pm IST

Do you eat to live or live to eat? People have a complicated relationship with food, influenced by cost, availability, and even peer pressure. But something which is shared by everyone is appetite – desire to eat. While hunger – its body’s way of making us desire food when it needs feeding – is a part of appetite, it is not the only factor. After all, we often eat when we’re not hungry, or may skip a meal despite pangs of hunger. Appetite isn't fixed either, as we age it changes throughout our lifespan. As Shakespeare might have put it, there are seven ages of appetite, and a better understanding of these phases might help us develop new ways to tackle undernourishment and overconsumption, along with the health effects that follow, such as obesity.

The first decade, 0-10

In early childhood, the body undergoes rapid growth and dietary habits built up in early life may continue into adulthood, leading an obese child to become an overweight adult. Fussiness or fear of specific foods may also contribute to mealtime challenges for parents of young children, but a technique of regular degustation and learning in a supportive environment will help children learn about new ones. Calls for the government are increasing, for young children to be shielded from harmful junk food ads.

The second decade, 10-20

An increase in appetite and stature powered by hormones in the teenage years is signaling the start of puberty. In later years, how a teenager approaches food during this critical period will shape their lifestyle choices. This means that the dietary choices adolescents make are intrinsically linked to the health of future generations to which they later become parents. Unfortunately, teenagers may adopt eating behaviors and food preferences linked to unhealthy consequences without guidance.

The third decade, 20-30

Lifestyle changes as young adults, such as going to college, getting married, or living with a partner, and parenthood will facilitate weight gain. Body fat once accumulated is often hard to lose. The body sends strong appetite signals for eating when we consume less than our energy needs, but the signals to avoid overeating are weaker, which can lead to an over-consumption circle. There are many physiological and psychological factors that, over time, make eating less difficult to maintain. Different foods send out various signals to the brain. Eating an ice cream tub, for instance, is simple because fat doesn't activate triggers in the brain for us to avoid eating. On the other hand, high protein, water, or fiber-rich foods make us feel more full for longer.

The fourth decade, 30-40

Adult working life brings other challenges beyond a rumbling stomach, but also the effects of stress, which has been shown to prompt changes in appetite and eating habits in 80 percent of the population, divided equally between those who gorge and those who lose appetite. These various coping strategies are intriguing: the "food addiction" phenomenon – an irresistible urge to consume specific, often high-calorie foods – is not well understood. Many investigators are even questioning its existence. Employers should work towards subsidizing and promoting healthier eating for a productive and healthy workforce, along with ways to manage stress and stressful conditions.

The fifth decade, 40-50

The word diet comes from the Greek word diaita which means "way of life, way of life," but we are creatures of habit, sometimes unable to change our ways even though we know that it is good for us. We want to eat what we want without sacrificing our lifestyle, and still have a healthy body and mind. Adults should change their behavior between the ages of 40-50 as their health dictates, but signs of illness are often invisible.

The sixth decade, 50-60

We start experiencing a gradual loss of muscle mass after the age of 50, at about 0.5-1 percent per annum. This is called sarcopenia and decreased physical activity, consuming too little protein, and menopause in women will accelerate the decrease in muscle mass. A healthy, varied diet and physical activity are important in reducing the effects of aging, and the need for palatable, cost-effective, higher-protein foods from an aging population is not met.

The seventh decade, 60-70, and beyond

In the face of rising life expectancy, one big challenge today is to sustain the quality of life, or else we will become a community of very old people who are infirm or disabled. Adequate nutrition is necessary because old age brings reduced appetite and lack of food, resulting in unintended weight loss and increased frailty. Reduced appetite, such as the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, may also result from illness. Food is a social experience, but a partner's or family's loss and eating alone affect the sense of enjoyment taken from eating. Many old age symptoms, such as swallowing problems, dental problems, reduced taste, and smell, often interfere with the urge to eat and our incentive to do so.

We should remember that our food is not only fuel but also a social and cultural experience to enjoy throughout life. All of us are food experts-we eat it every day. So, we should try to view any chance of eating as an opportunity to enjoy our food and appreciate the positive impact that eating the right food can have on our wellbeing.

THIS ARTICLE DOES NOT INTEND TO HURT THE SENTIMENTS OF ANY INDIVIDUAL, COMMUNITY, SECT, OR RELIGION ETCETERA. THIS ARTICLE IS BASED PURELY ON THE AUTHOR'S PERSONAL VIEWS AND OPINIONS IN THE EXERCISE OF THE FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT GUARANTEED UNDER ARTICLE 19(1)(A) AND OTHER RELATED LAWS BEING FORCE IN INDIA, FOR THE TIME BEING.

Section Editor: Pushpit Singh | 16 Jun 2020 14:47pm IST


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