Last week, I went over some basic information on the history of nutrition and the importance of understanding how we ended up where we are today with the current nutrition guidelines. There were critical moments in scientific research over the past 50+ years that missed the mark and started a tidal wave of nutrition misinformation. A few highly influential figures played a big part in the promotion of a vegetarian/vegan diet that was based on religion, not science, and those recommendations have spread far and wide in the medical field and beyond. Society began to consume more grains, refined carbs, processed foods, and sugar leading to an insatiable appetite and negative health consequences.
How Did We Get Here?
Overconsumption is a major problem in today’s society. The constant stream of advertising in the media, influences from social media, and the infamous “FOMO” (fear of missing out) have created an environment where people feel the need to always have more of everything, including food. All of these negative influences on society have caused major problems for many people, including body image, mental health, eating disorders, obesity and metabolic syndrome (diabetes and heart disease). In addition, the normalization of overconsumption has lead to a detrimental way of viewing the consumption of food and drinks that I like to refer to as – The Indulgent Mindset.
Since the introduction of processed foods over the past 100 years, our experience with the act of eating has dramatically changed. For the majority of human history, food was scarce and required a lot of physical and mental effort to obtain. Because humans evolved as hunter-gatherers, our biological make up is optimized for dealing with times of food scarcity, yet we are living in a time of food abundance. When you look at the amount of time that Homo sapiens had been eating a natural human diet free of processed foods (about 2 million years), and compare it to the amount of time that we’ve been eating processed foods (about 100 years), you can see that the current food environment is just a blip in time. What this means is that society as we know it is eating the least human diet of all time. It sounds crazy to say it because you would like to think that we are the most advanced/evolved we’ve ever been and that it should equate to being the healthiest we’ve ever been, but unfortunately that is not the case.
What this means is that society as we know it is eating the least human diet of all time.
With the advent of processed foods came fast food “restaurants” that served highly palatable meals you could get in just a few minutes, which made eating on-the-go an increasingly common occurrence. Processed food was touted as convenient and healthy for the modern family, while marketing was geared toward highlighting boxed and canned foods as healthy, convenient, and fortified with essential vitamins and minerals. All of these factors combined made buying processed and fast foods an easy choice for busy parents. These “futuristic foods” appealed to families and individuals who were living their lives on-the-go and didn’t have the time to think about obtaining food or preparing meals in a traditional way. A major turning point for processed foods began with the creation of something called the “Bliss Point,” which is basically when foods are engineered to optimize tastiness by combining salt, sugar and fat, without concern for nutritional value. This makes the food hyper-palatable and deceives the consumer by looking (bright colors) and tasting (heightened flavors) nutrient dense, yet in actuality, these Franken-foods are devoid of healthy and naturally-occurring nutrients.
The Psychology of “More”
Now that you know why processed and fast foods look and taste amazing, it’s important to acknowledge how they have affected society’s outlook on eating everything and anything that seems appetizing. Once we eat foods that were created to satisfy our tastebuds to the max, it signals to our brains that we’re receiving energy-dense foods which then causes our brains to release dopamine so that we have a positive association with those foods in the future, increasing our likelihood of consuming them again. That, my friends, is how cravings work. It’s the process of your brain associating certain foods as being high energy/high reward, and then signaling to your body to consume them again by releasing dopamine which causes you to get excited and salivate. Food is literally information for our bodies. When we provide ourselves with the right information by eating nutrient-dense foods, everything works the way it’s supposed to. On the flip side, when we send the wrong information by consuming inadequate, nutrient-poor foods, our bodies don’t function the way they were designed to. This delicate, fine-tuned system becomes disrupted and causes our hunger and satiety signals to misfire and our cravings to work against our nutrient needs.
You may think you want something, but in reality, there’s a whole host of things working against you that cause you to buy and eat processed/junk foods.
The most important piece of the puzzle is to be informed and understand how these things work so that you can have more control over your cravings/feelings about eating these hyper-palatable foods. The “Bliss Point” was not created with health in mind, it was designed to maximize pleasure for the benefit of profit. You may think you want something, but in reality, there’s a whole host of things working against you that cause you to buy and eat processed/junk foods. My goal is to provide you with information that will give you the tools you need to be in control and make the best decisions possible. I’m not here to say you should never enjoy a treat again, I know I will, what I want is for you to be in the drivers’ seat the next time you make that choice. Take a moment to stop and think, “Do I really want this? Is it just a craving? How will I feel after eating this?” Start to practice mindfulness around your eating habits, and take notice of “what” and “when” you crave certain foods. Make indulging a rare occasion rather than a common occurrence. Just because we have unlimited access to over-the-top indulgent and cheap foods, doesn’t mean that is what we should be eating nor what our bodies need. It’s time to start thinking about food as what our bodies need to thrive, not just what will give us a dopamine high in the moment. It’s a mindset shift to long term happiness instead of temporary bliss.
Experts & Resources for Research
Believe it or not, my research into nutrition began with YouTube videos on Ayurveda and vegan diets for healing and optimal health. The arguments for eating food that is “alive” were convincing, at first. Then I came across Tom Bilyeu’s “Impact Theory” videos and was introduced to various health and nutrition experts like, Dr. Ken Berry, Dr. Daniel Amen, Shawn Stevenson, and more. These led me to discovering the “What I’ve Learned” channel on YouTube where I started learning about saturated fat, cholesterol, OMAD (one meal a day), fasting, sugar addiction, etc. As I continued my learning, things started to become clearer and the nutrition path I’m currently on began to reveal itself. I started listening to podcasts, the first one being “The Model Health Show” by Shawn Stevenson, where I learned incredible information about breast cancer, sleep health, the calorie myth, fat loss, exercise, Qigong, and more. Shawn’s show was eye-opening and I learned a ton, but I was left wanting to dive deeper into nutrition, health, and lifestyle.
I came across the IG account @food.lies, and saw that they were working on a documentary about debunking long-standing nutrition myths and misinformation. I was curious to learn more and saw that he had a podcast called “Peak Human,” so I switched over and started listening. I was hooked after the first episode when the host, Brian Sanders, had a debate with his childhood vegetarian friend and her husband about which foods are the healthiest to eat. Just in that one episode he provided a wealth of information and supported his arguments with facts and research. What I liked most was that his goal was to share correct information rather than argue in an attempt to be right. I went back to the beginning of the podcast and started from there because I wanted to learn everything this guy was offering with his guests. The Peak Human podcast interviews the leading experts in health and nutrition and provides cutting-edge information that we all need to know if we want to save our health. The reason Brian even started the podcast is because he has firsthand experience with seeing how a poor diet and lifestyle caused his parents to suffer with neurodegenerative diseases.
I’m such a huge fan because he approaches the podcast and documentary from a non-biased perspective with the intention of getting critical information out to the masses, so that we can all be better informed and change the state of our health from surviving to thriving. Sure, along the way he has learned things that have changed his views, diet and lifestyle, but it’s all for the better and has been based on facts and evidence. I cannot recommend checking out the Peak Human podcast more. It will open your eyes and mind in ways you never imagined, and the best part is that what you learn will only help you live better, longer, and happier.
Who to Follow…
Instagram Accounts – @westonaprice, @food.lies, @tednaiman, @doctortro, @nutritionwithjudy, @slowdownfarmstead, @sustainabledish, @paulsaladinomd, @kendberry.md, @ryanplowery, @krististors, @sknorton, @davefeldmanketo, @healthcoachkait, @thepaleopharmacist….I’ll leave it there for now!
If you haven’t yet looked into the Weston A. Price Foundation, I highly recommend checking it out. They share a ton of helpful information about eating a nutrient dense diet and how to improve your, and your family’s, health through dietary and lifestyle changes. Stats don’t lie – 95% of cancer is caused by environmental or lifestyle factors, and only 5% is genetic. I love this quote to put it into perspective, “Your genes may load the gun, but your environment determines whether it fires.”
There you have it. Since I ended up having a lot to say about overconsumption, I’m going to leave the discussion on spring water for another time. This is just scratching the surface of nutrition talk, but it’s a good start to begin your journey of researching on your own and finding what inspires you to take your health into your own hands and not leave it up to chance and bad advice. Caring about health is not inconvenient or tedious, it’s a luxury and a privilege to know that you can feel good and support your body so that it functions properly. The better it works, the better you feel, the more you will enjoy everyday life!
Until next time…stay curious, friends 🙂