- For "eat" or "EAT" as an abbreviation or acronym, see EAT.
In general terms, eating (formally, ingestion) is the process of consuming nutrition, i.e. food, for the purpose of providing for the nutritional needs of an animal, particularly their energy requirements and to grow. All animals must eat other organisms in order to survive: carnivores eat other animals, herbivores eat plants, and omnivores consume a mixture of both.
While the process of eating varies from species to species, in humans eating is performed by placing food in the mouth, chewing and then swallowing it. Eaten food is then digested.
Manners are an important aspect of social eating in almost all human societies.
Many homes have a separate kitchen room or outside (in the tropics) kitchen area devoted to preparation of meals and food, and many also have a dining room or another designated area for eating. Dishware, silverware, drinkware for eating and cookware and other implements for cooking come in an almost infinite array of forms and sizes. Most societies also have restaurants and food vendors, so that people may eat when away from home, lack the time to prepare food, or wish to use eating as a social occasion. Occasionally, such as at potlucks and food festivals, eating is in fact the primary purpose of the social gathering.
Most individuals have fairly regular meals, formally known as daily patterns of eating, and commonly most eating occurs during two to three meals per day, with snacks consisting of smaller amounts of food being consumed in between. The issue of healthy eating has long been an important concern to individuals and cultures. Among other practices, fasting, dieting, and vegetarianism are all techniques employed by individuals and encouraged by societies to increase longevity and health. Some religions promote vegetarianism, considering it wrong to consume animals. Leading nutritionists believe that instead of indulging oneself in three large meals each day, it is much healthier and easier on the metabolism to eat five smaller meals each day (e.g. better digestion, easier on the lower intestine to deposit wastes; whereas larger meals are tougher on the digestive tract and may call for the use of laxatives)(No references cited. Vague anecdotal terms, please rewrite more concisely). However, psychiatrists with Yale Medical School have found that people who suffer from Binge Eating Disorder (BED) and consume three meals per day weigh less than those who have more frequent meals. Eating can also be a way of making money (see competitive eating). Pie and sometimes cheese eating contests are one of these competitions. Sometimes people eat on picnics with family or friends.
It is an urban legend that eating fast will make you fat. Studies has disproved the theory that the body cannot keep up with the pace of the food going into the digestive tract, and thus will store the food that it cannot process as fats or energy stores. This is unscientific, as all food that enters via the mouth must pass through the entire digestive system and be broken down into simpler, usable forms that the body can make use of.
- Main article: Eating disorder
Physiologically, eating is generally triggered by hunger, but there are numerous physical and psychological conditions that can affect appetite and disrupt normal eating patterns. These include depression, food allergies, ingestion of certain chemicals, bulimia, anorexia nervosa, pituitary gland misfunction and other endocrine problems, and numerous other illnesses and eating disorders.
A chronic lack of nutritious food can cause various illnesses, and will eventually lead to starvation. When this happens in a locality on a massive scale it is considered a famine.
If eating and drinking is not possible, as is often the case when recovering from surgery, alternatives are enteral nutrition and parenteral nutrition.
- Competitive eating
- Dietary supplements
- Diets (list)
- Digestive System
- Life extension
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