A few days ago I wrote about the differences between how dogs and cats eat.

Dogs eat voraciously, as if there’s no tomorrow, stopping only when there’s no food left. It may well be that as pack animals, dogs long-ago learned that the dependence on someone else for your next meal was never a sure thing and that you might as well bulk-up when you could. Of course, it’s also this pack mentality that made it possible for dogs to want/need to belong to a group, and that when that group became Man, it led to the most amazing relationship in the annals of human/animal symbiosis. Many people don’t know for example, that the dog is the only species to ever voluntarily associate itself with Man, as opposed to being captured in the wild and domesticated (e.g. horses, cattle, cats, etc.). Nevertheless, this tendency to eat non-stop seems to be hard-wired into dogs, regardless of how readily and predictably food is available. Sounds like me!

Cats on the other had have a reputation for being “finicky”. Cats are among the very few species that have been known to actually starve themselves to death rather than eat something they don’t like. We may speculate that as “lonely hunters” cats developed a self-reliance or high internal Locus-of-Control (LOC) around their eating, i.e. a cat knows it will find food and that it’s largely in control of that process, so that it doesn’t need to stuff itself at any given meal. Wild speculation? Jumping to conclusions? Maybe.

What if Man is actually genetically hard-wired to eat like a dog? Very depressing thought for us fatties. On the other hand, there appear to be many humans, the majority perhaps, who eat like cats…..they eat when they’re hungry, and only what they like, stopping when they’re full. Oh to have that exquisite LOC!!!!

I’m inclined to believe that we’re not as “fixed” in our programming as cats and dogs, and that we can ultimately override even genetic tendencies through higher-cortex activity. Hey we do it all the time. We’ve learned to not kill each other except under the guise of war or self-defense.  We’ve learned to share and cooperate some of the time. So why not learn to eat like a cat?

I’ve come to a major conclusion in my 57 years of struggle with food and fitness: If you can’t bring the control internally, no amount of outside-influence (short of being thrown in a prison cell in Guatemala) will result in sustainable change. When we externalize LOC, the moment the intervention is gone, the problems return.

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