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Essay on Does Having a Full Belly Equal a Happy Life? 

Updated August 9, 2022

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Essay on Does Having a Full Belly Equal a Happy Life?  essay

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Food triggers and alters people’s brains much more than people realize. Eating has become much more than a way of nourishing one’s body, it has become part of people’s emotional and cultural identity throughout the world. For centuries now, it has gotten to the point where the majority of the things that man did and still does, revolves around putting food inside their bodies. Therefore, it is appropriate to claim that man has become a pleasure-seeking creature. So, how did we humans get here? How do the wide variations of food become so greatly sought after? It is that ordinary something that became an extraordinary something that defines what man is today.

Way back when man began to roam the Earth, when humans were mostly ancient gatherers and hunters, the brain was merely starting to get adapted to properly seek that ‘something’ that was going to be able to sustain their lives for much longer. Food began to take a crucial part in their everyday activities. Their aim was survival in the wild. These people began to realize the importance of eating so that they could nourish themselves and gather enough energy to keep them moving forward day by day. However, pleasure started to be sought by the brain as a mode of survival. For many humans those hungry days have come to an end. It has been pretty evident that food has been multiplied and turned into a wide abundance across most of the Earth. Food has become much more than simply eating, but it has sparked an inner desire to want to feed one’s pleasures with limitless flavor combinations.

In the United States alone, there are over 50,000 fast food restaurants scattered across the country serving millions of people on a daily basis (J. Ransohoff, 2013). What does that tell one about the importance of food? Not simply does it sustain life, but people have somehow managed to turn food as a way of connecting to the rest of the world. That involves always including any type of food in social gatherings, in celebrations, events, while sitting and watching television, there’s even food provided at funerals. It is truly incredible how food has managed to bring society together in many ways. It is evident that even in the hardest and frustrating moments in a person’s life, most manage to eat. Decades ago, it all consisted in survival mode, so, when an early human ate, it would send messages to the brain that he was not in danger, therefore, letting his whole body relax and find pleasure in nourishment. But now today in age, has food become something that defines man? Perhaps, since most of the things he does is so he can have food on his table, and a secure life.

It is valid to say that everyone, at least, knows someone who gets instantly happy when eating, aside from that person being yourself. This is a completely normal feeling, that is because eating causes the brain to undergo a chemical reaction by releasing “happiness” hormones, also known as endorphins (Harmon, Katherine). Emotions and food have developed a tight relationship. Foods, beyond having a nutritional value and serving to satisfy a basic daily need, play an emotional, social and pleasant role. But it has nothing to do with its nutritional composition, each individual according to their culture, habits, tastes and preferences prints their own meaning to food. This can generate taste or disgust and make each person enjoy more food than another. No wonder why many people cannot think well and socialize with other human beings without developing a feeling of anger and distress without a proper meal. With that being said, food is related to happiness and fulfillment. However, feelings most always come from particular events in one’s life. So, food possesses the ability to transport people back and forth in time as well.

In Swan’s Way, written by Marcel Proust during the early 20th century, wrote about a very enlightening experience he went through with a simple dessert that, for him, became an extraordinary thing. “This new sensation having had on me the effect which love has of filling me with a precious essence; or rather this essence was not in me, it was myself. I had ceased now to feel mediocre, accidental, mortal. Whence could it have come to me, this all-powerful joy?” (Swan’s Way, 2nd page 3rd paragraph). He was able to find pleasure in something ordinary and suddenly, he was able to look within himself and realize that life wasn’t bad at all.

These particular flavors are kinds of substances that produce pleasurable sensations such as security, satisfaction, fullness, and of course, happiness. Through Proust’s personal writings, it was evident how foods began to shape human consciousness possibly in the same ways that philosophy has sparked man’s interest for wanting to gain a deeper understanding of ‘why’ and ‘how’. But when does too much of something good become necessarily harmful?

This abusive and uncontrollable behavior can be seen in the Journey to The West, the Chinese emperor invited Xuanzang and his disciples to feast with him as a method of celebration and gratitude for their good deeds. However, Xuanzang found himself apologizing to the Chinese emperor for the disciple’s inappropriate mannerisms while eating. “…they do not understand the etiquette of the sacred court of China. I beg you to forgive them for any offences, Your Majesty.” (Journey to The West, page 2, paragraph 2) Said Xuanzang. The emperor clearly understood where their behavior came from since they had arrived from the mountains and wilderness. That extravagant banquet that was served to them definitely sparked a sense of security and fulfillment, that at first, they weren’t capable of containing their joy and passion for it anymore. This passage demonstrates how the art of eating food can vary from person to person, but one must be careful to not overdo that of which possibly might end up in physical and emotional pain. However, food does spark other kinds of emotions as well.

Eating food has allowed people to develop an immense emotional connection and associate it with events in the past which transports them into past experiences. However, through seeking pleasure and comfort in foods, some may have easily fallen into a loop where they feel the urge to try and recreate those same feelings that once rose with certain types of foods. This can usually happen when a person uncontrollably continues to overeat still after those first pleasure bites disappear. “I drink a second mouthful, in which I find nothing more than in the first, a third, which gives me rather less than the second. It is time to stop; the potion is losing its magic” (Swan’s Way, bottom of 2nd page). This demonstrates how abusing a particular pleasure can lead towards a dangerous road emotionally and physically. In many cases, that pleasure-invoking food, as mentioned previously, provokes the brain to release dopamine, or “happy” chemicals in our body, motivating the body to continue seeking that feeling often. This behavior does sound like a possible addiction, which probably is.

But pleasure does not lead to positive consequences when dealt when abusing too much of it. Research published by Scientific American a few years ago that demonstrated how intense are the effects of consuming pleasure foods. It consisted of placing rats in a scientific laboratory where they were fed typical human foods such as chocolate, and some high-fat foods. Researchers noticed that the rats quickly became dependent on large amounts of those foods in order to feel physically good. These strong emotional and physical reliability is one of the same ones that occur when there are substance and drug abuse increases the urge to elevate dosage each time (K. Harmon, 2010). These experiments suggested that people become mindful of how to feed themselves. It does not necessarily mean that one should never find pleasure in heavy food, but to rather encourages the finding of the perfect balance of food and pleasure. This avoidance of gluttony or excess eating not only allow people to avoid health diseases, but self-control will teach people to control and promote healthier relationships with other people and with the food itself.

Hippocrates, a well-known figure in the history of medicine, was some of the first ones to suggest that bodily diseases can be caused by nature and what people feed their bodies. “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” He said. Meaning that one can meet one’s required nutrients in a delicious way without ever feeling sick or even ashamed. Perhaps, everything in life has become a matter of balance, or some might pay the price either physically, emotionally, or spiritually.

In the Epic of Gilgamesh, Enkidu came from the wilderness as someone who behaved like an animal; someone who lived among animals. It wasn’t until he has offered food by a woman who said, “eat the food, Enkidu, it is the way one lives.” (Epic of Gilgamesh, Page 2, Line 10). He was encouraged not to stuff his face at that moment, but he was taught to let go of his bodily impulses and allow himself to truly experience the magic of food. Perhaps feeding one’s self requires the ability to balance quantity over quality. That is because if one is well fed, emotionally and physically will he be able to make better decisions with a positive mentality. Being well fed and nourished allows people to function properly, and if one does it well, maybe be able to experiment with a variety of flavors and textures. People have always been a very curious creature since day one, it wouldn’t be surprising if he would be easily drawn towards discovering more of what makes himself tick.

Being able to fully experience different tastes does have to deal with the ability to train one’s palate to know what is good for the body. All of that what makes a person feel pure joy and excitement is what has brought people together. This is the way that nations have been built, and cultures have continued to exist throughout the world. That, which captures a man’s heart, eventually becomes a part of him, that of which defines him in many ways.

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