Why we eat even if we are not hungry and what the world eats

Two utterly, utterly fascinating photo essays on the Time Website.

The first looks at what makes us eat. The second, on what different people in different cultures eat.

And both make me think.

Hungry? Or not?
In What Makes You Eat More Food, we are given seven ways we are prompted to eat, even though we are not hungry.

For example, simply sticking to a schedule (always eating dinner at seven, for example) prompts us to eat. And craving variety. This prompts us to eat dessert, for example, because we want the variety of a sweet, even if we are not hungry. And, obviously, both smell and sight can prompt interest.

Erm, so shall we all lock ourselves into a room to avoid temptation? Naaah. But do avoid those television food commercials, at the very least. And occasionally, ask yourself if you are, indeed, hungry. It can't hurt.

Food around the world
In What the World Eats, we are taken on a pictorial journey through sixteen homes in countries as diverse as Turkey and China. And, in each picture, we see a family and all the food they eat in a week.

The Japanese family eats pretty much what you would expect: Fish and rice and some fruit and vegetables. The Sicilian family eats an enormous amount of bread and fruit and, oh, is that Pepsi I see? The British family do love their sweets. And so on.

How did Americans fare? Outside of tomatoes and grapes, the family from North Carolina eats nothing but junk and processed foods. And with everything from corn dogs to Raisin Bran, the family from California also relies heavily on processed foods.

But what struck me in almost every picture was the processed food. In fact, all the pictures that were not taken in more remote places had soda and other processed food items.

Scary stuff.