Calories = Survival
Bingeing on rich food is a genetic holdover from the days of hunter-gatherers. Our brains are hardwired to fixate on foods with tons of calories. It’s a survival mechanism. Eating as many calories as possible, whenever possible, allowed our ancestors to store calories for lean times. That approach worked well for 2.4 million years, but today it’s making us diseased and fat.
That’s because our brain related eating behavior has not evolved much over the last 2.5 million years, but our food environment has evolved into a junk and agriculturally unhealthy processed and junk food culture. With the exception of the last 10,000 years, people only ate animals they could hunt and wild-plants they could gather. Imagine if you could only eat what you caught or picked! The variety of foods hunter-gatherers ate paled in comparison to the 40,000 different food items we can buy in the average big-box grocery store today.
And while we have easy access to food 24/7, hunting and gathering was hard work. Early humans exercised enormously when acquiring their food, so they needed to eat high-calorie foods to offset the loss. The average hunter-gatherer got up to 60 percent of his calories from animal foods, such as muscle meat, fat, and organ meat, and the other 40 percent from plants.
That balance between protein and carbohydrates in the diet is where the problem lies, but it’s not what you think. Plant foods that more closely resemble what our ancestors ate are the Only Carbs you can eat in a healthy diet. Hunter-gatherers ate fruit, tubers and seeds and nuts, full of vitamins and minerals, and disease- and weight-busting colorful phytochemicals. Whole foods have all the right information and turn on all the right genes.
During the last 10,000 years we saw the advent of both agriculture and industrialization. And today, 60 percent of our calories come from things that hunter-gatherers wouldn’t even recognize as food. The bulk of those items—cereal grains, fizzy drinks, refined oils and dressings—are simple carbohydrates. The result is an obesity and diabetes.
When you eat simple carbohydrates, within seconds, blood sugar starts to rise. To counter the increase in sugar, the body releases insulin which unlocks the cells and allows sugar to enter. Eventually, from eating too much sugar, the cellular locks get worn down from overuse and insulin loses its ability to easily open the cellular door. And this cycle leads to a dangerous condition called insulin resistance. Insulin resistance—at the root of diabesity—causes you to gain belly fat, raises your blood pressure, causes cholesterol issues, makes you infertile, kills your sex drive, makes you depressed, tired, and demented, and even causes cancer.
Luckily there are ways to rewire the primitive parts of your brain by making good food choices. Here are 3 ways to get started.
1. Eat regular small protein and good fat based healthy meals to balance blood sugar.
Blood sugar highs and lows drive primitive food cravings. If you get famished between meals, that’s a sign that your blood sugar is crashing. When blood sugar is low, you’ll eat anything.
2. Eliminate fizzy drinks and artificial sweeteners.
Try sticking to green tea which contains plant chemicals that are good for your health. And, last but not least, don’t succumb to the artificially sweetened diet drinks. The artificial sweeteners in diet drinks fool the body into thinking it is ingesting sugar, which creates the same insulin spike as regular sugar.
3. Drink a high-quality protein shake at breakfast.
Ideally, you’re eating quality protein at every meal, but, if you need to prioritize one meal, choose breakfast. Studies show that waking up to a healthy protein, such as a protein based smoothie help people lose weight, reduce calories and burn calories.
Ultimately, you may not control your genes, but you do control what and how you eat. Taking control and changing your diet, means your brain will no longer cave into the cravings and urgings.
Transform your health with your fork every single day!