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Why We Eat: The Ancient Legacy

Why We Eat: The Ancient Legacy

(p.23) One Why We Eat: The Ancient Legacy
Appetite and Its Discontents
Elizabeth A. Williams
University of Chicago Press

Chapter 1 shows that, in Ancient conceptions of the body, the consumption and processing of food was of primary significance and that appetite was regarded as the surest guide to healthy eating. This chapter examines the place of appetite in the Hippocratic Corpus, the writings of Aristotle, and the work of the Roman physician Galen. It demonstrates that despite tendencies to link the functioning of appetite to physico-moral types defined by age, gender, and level of “civilization,” Ancient authors stressed overall the complexity and individuality of appetite rather than arguing that eating must conform to uniform standards. Moderation was seen as the key to health and was judged in accord with the constitution and inclinations of the individual. Chapter 1 shows that from the mid-eighteenth century onward scientific investigators began challenging Ancient conceptions of appetite and arguing that science could and must establish uniform standards of healthy eating.

Keywords:   Ancients, healthy eating, Hippocratic Corpus, Aristotle, Galen, moderation, uniformity

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