“The Meaning of Eating”

The act of eating is more than just eating.  Eating could mean emotions, instincts and fears.  The process of eating could be healthy or unhealthy, sad or happy and a public or private.  Whereas in a countries of the first world a lot of food is thrown away, in third-world countries  many people die from not being able to get enough food, especially children.  In this essay I will discuss differences between American eating habits and Colombian eating habits.  Colombia is a country in South America with a similar culture of eating as Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner are the principal meals in a day.  For Americans, dinner is usually the most important meal and also the largest meal of the day.  Perhaps this is because of work schedules and the distances from the workplace to the home.  Many people spend at least one hour to get to work and because of this, they lose out on time to eat, or make their lunch or breakfast themselves.  Usually lunch for an American is a sandwich, a slice of pizza, a hot dog, all with combinations of French fries, soda and sauces.

In Colombia, people also have to work but the distance from work to home is smaller.  In Colombia lunch is the most important meal of the day and also the largest.  It includes soup, two carbohydrates (potatoes, rice, plantains or yucca) salad, meat, and juice made with natural fruits. Usually dinner is a small meal.  However, both Americans and Colombians have the same purpose for dinner; it is a time to get in touch with their families or friends.  

Comparing the total calories during the day, usually Americans have eaten more calories than Colombians.  It could be because in the USA, there is a lot of processed food such as fast food, instant food, frozen food, canned food, etc.  Many Americans eat in this way, whereas in Colombia it is common that meals are handmade at home and usually with fresh vegetables.  As a result, fast food has more calories than meals made at home.  Also, it is one of the reasons why the USA has the highest rate of obesity and overweight people in the world.

Making healthy food means having good quality water.  Water is the most important element in life.  Without it, life will be impossible.  In the USA water is potable.  Americans are able to drink it without feeling sick.  An average person needs 30ml x kg of weight in water per day.  In the USA it is possible to drink this quantity.  In Colombia however, and in general in South America, water is not potable. This means that if people drink it, they will likely feel sick.  The common symptoms are diarrhea, vomiting and parasites.  Many children die from lack of good water.  Currently there are some ways to make this water drinkable, like pills, bottled water, filtered water, etc.  But not all people in Colombia can get it.

The meaning of eating must change independent of country.  People must eat a balanced diet with abundant fruit, vegetables, good drinking water, and control their total calories during the day.  As a result people will be able to have a healthy life.  Nowadays it’s harder to choose the healthiest food because there are a lot of choices and the advertising can be confusing, with organic food, genetically modified food, fortified food, etc. The labels are confusing.  It’s common to read on the labels of products “low fat, fat-free, few calories, less sugar, gluten-free”, etc.  The purpose of this marketing is to sell products, because the meaning of advertising is selling, but the meaning of food and eating must be our health.  If you want to make the right selection, ask a professional person in this area.  Nutritionists and dieticians are professionals who have the capacity to teach you how to eat correctly.