Hunger has been defined as a severe craving for food. Yet, when I started to work on this little project of mine, I thought that I would go a bit deeper.
Hidden Hunger has been defined as the situation where you consume enough calories to survive but lack certain nutrients.
Starvation is an extreme deficiency in calorific intake, as well as vitamin and nutrient intake.
Malnutrition has been defined as a situation where you take in too many nutrients, the wrong type or the wrong proportion.
So far, most of the definitions confine themselves to the physical aspects of hunger, and often then go on to talk of the economic consequences. Many of the studies focus on poor countries, poor people, mother and child, and then generally stop.
When I started to make the mind map, I stopped where I did only because I realised that if I go deeper, then the map will get very complex.
In India, we talk – our old government talked – of food security. In this, they only spoke of calories, and not nutrition. A Food Security/ Nutrition Security Index was launched, and quickly forgotten. This was more holistic, and spoke of the Availability of Food, Quality, Digestibility and one more.
When you talk of digestibility, this is impacted by our habits, as well as our background. If we have not been used to getting food, we cannot digest a large quantity suddenly. Habits like alcoholism and cigarette smoking also impact the ability to digest. So does the quality, and the quality of water.
However, the issues of hunger can be approached from two angles – too much food, and two little food. To each, you add in the element of the mix of nutrients.
Go deeper, and think of what the cause could be. Is it the availability of too much food? Or lack of availability? Is it the availability of the wrong kind of food?
Add in the element of education. Advertising.
Add in the element of psychology? Do we eat because we have a psychological disorder? Do we stop eating, because we want the impossible size zero figure of some obscure film star?
Throw the changing knowledge / theory landscape of scientific nutritional knowledge into the mix, just to spice things up, and also mix in the whole world of fad diets.
You suddenly find that the issue of hunger suddenly becomes very complex indeed, and can be approached from many different angles.
“Where do I begin?”, sang the bard.
Maybe, I shall start from the perspective of those who are a size large.