I’m not sure where I heard this term. It was in passing, a cursory phrase to describe something so familiar to us that no one – to my knowledge – has paused to discuss it in depth.
So many of us pre-eat, especially at dinner. Peanuts, crackers and cheese before dinner. The desserty treat when we can’t quite make it to lunchtime. We think we can’t last, we’re that hungry. Or that’s what we tell ourselves.
This is the thing I wonder:
Are we so uncomfortable with the feeling of hunger, that we have to get rid of it before we eat?
I also wonder – actually I strongly suspect – it could have a lot to do with being scared of restraint and lack. Many of us fear that feeling of missing out and the feeling of “emptiness”, for a whole quagmire of really messy reasons.
We shove food down on top of hunger, hoping it will silence all other emptiness or flutteriness we might be feeling.
There’s also this: As I’ve written before, our willpower muscle has limited strength. After being worked all day, it becomes exhausted and by 6pm it falls into lactic collapse. Which is why we tend to pre-eat at this time.
But pre-eating is also a chapter in the big book Why We’re Getting Fat. Which is the companion title to The Story of How We Lost Our Real Appetite.