Saturday, February 25, 2012

A Breath of Air

There are multiple reasons why human beings (in America at least) are more corpulent than they have ever been. Most of us don't need to physically exert ourselves the way that our ancestors did. Junk food is plentiful and cheap. Plus it tastes good. But an underrated factor is that it's not cool to smoke anymore.

I'm intellectually aware that it takes the brain a few minutes to realize that the body is full. But in practice, it's been hard for me to shut it down after a satisfying meal. It can be downright depressing to look at an empty plate where a once satisfying entree resided. Since we can't have our cake and eat it, too, we eat it and then look for another slice.

I imagine that it wasn't always like that. Back when it was okay to sit back and light a pipe it was probably easier to shove away an empty plate. And it was probably less of a temptation to snack when one could just "snack" on a cigarette. I've never been a smoker, but I had a smoker friend who once wistfully remarked that although he wasn't proud of being a nicotine addict, he appreciated that his habit always gave him "something to look forward to."

I would guess that most of us make it through life by constantly looking forward to something. I'm convinced that this is actually a bad way to cope with stress and pressure, that even bad times are more tolerable if we aren't mentally dwelling on the desire to be somewhere else doing something different. And if we are ironically looking forward to something that has the potential to kill us, all the worse.

What we need, then, is some kind of healthy alternative to take the place of smoking--some ritual that we can engage that will allow us to give closure to a meal, or to provide a momentary distraction as we transition from one task to another, a non-intrusive socially acceptable practice that does not carry health risks. So I took to the web to see if such an alternative might already exist, just waiting to fill this niche need.

It actually didn't take long. I started with the premise that rather than a product that sucks the life out of lungs, perhaps we could find something to stimulate lungs in a good way. I thought of the recent trend of "oxygen bars," and though there have been no proven physical benefits to concentrated oxygen intake, it just may fill the psychological needs that tobacco used to alleviate. Sure enough, there is such a thing as "bottled oxygen"

Not that I plan to invest in such a thing. But if it does catch on, you heard it here first.


Blogger Nick Karls said...

Oxygen bars may not be as benign as the name suggests. Here's a link to an article I found on a science blog.

9:27 PM  
Blogger Heather T said...

Our view on food consumption definitely differs from that of our ancestors. Our ancestors' ability to hunt food meant the difference between survival and death. If you were fast enough and could catch it, you ate and were satisfied. If you couldn't hunt, you starved. It was a no-brainer. Today we are a spoiled society overrun by consumption. People now order up their groceries on-line and phone in for take-out food and have both delivered to their door-step! After thinking about how indolent we have become, I feel like I need a breath of fresh air! I think I’ll opt for a run rather than oxygen in a can, however.

10:08 AM  

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