Hey Super Stars! It’s Friday!!!
Hope you have some awesome plans for this weekend!
We are continuing on Doug’s guest post yesterday about a whole foods plant based. Let’s get started!
I am a starchivore. You might not know it, but you are too.
Really, humans are scavengers. Herbivores only eat plants. Carnivores only eat meat. Omnivores, like bears, need food from both plants and animals. We can survive on just fruit, or just potatoes, or just whale blubber. We are so adaptable. Like rats, we are scavengers.
Scavengers that can eat just about anything and most of us would live long enough to have kids who survive to adulthood. Human civilization, however, was built on starches. Especially whole grains like corn, rice, oats, and wheat. Sweet potatoes, potatoes, squashes, and beans. People today are often told these things are unhealthy and cause weight gain.
But is it just possible that they are in fact what humans thrive on, are very healthy, and actually, it’s what we now slather on top of them or eat with them that causes problems? Is it possible? Are there any entire societies of lean, healthy people today or in recent history that have thrived on starch-centered diets?
I’m going to say something that sounds controversial. For people who struggle with weight, it is not their fault.
Now, that doesn’t sound right.
If it’s not up to me what my weight is, why am I overweight? Do I just lack the inborn ability to stop eating when I should? Is it just in my genes?
There are no chronically overweight animals in the wild. Not even the wild pigs.
None. Think about that. And most populations of animals have far more genetic variation than the entire human population does.
Why aren’t there some regular animals, and some fat animals too, like there are humans? Yes, many animals bulk up and store fat before winter etc., but at the same time next summer, they’re right where they were the last year, just right. They’re not putting on pounds as the years go by.
Even when they have far more food available to them than they could ever eat, they are right on target. Not just close to on target, right on target. What is going on?
So how is it possible that humans and their pets are the only animals in the world that are overweight? Do all animals except humans, dogs, and cats naturally have some kind of amazing willpower that we don’t?
Or could it just maybe be the food, and how we have manipulated it in a way that our bodies and minds are not capable of measuring and dealing with? Psychologist Doug Lisle discusses this in his excellent talk, How to Lose Weight Without Losing Your Mind. He also goes over why some people are more vulnerable to our unnatural, super calorie-dense food than those who can somehow, oddly, do fine with it. Watch it. Now. Come finish this later. Or at least write down a reminder to watch it.
Their day was based on survival, not long-term health.
It was about not starving. It was about getting enough calories from whatever was palatable. We live in a time when enough food isn’t even a question for most of us.
They just had to live long enough to pass on their genes! And that usually is over and done with well before heart disease and cancer sets in, or any other chronic disease develops to a lethal level. We on the other hand have all the food we want, and a choice of what food to eat. We should eat in an enjoyable way that will let us climb mountains until the age we hope to.
The truth is this diet or way of life isn’t extreme.
It’s normal food.
I don’t care if you eat some meat or sugar now and then. But don’t make every day begin with Christmas for breakfast, Thanksgiving for lunch and dinner, and end the day with a birthday party.
Have cake on your birthday if you want. Have some turkey on Thanksgiving if you want. But if you want to celebrate with these celebratory foods, have them during actual celebrations! “Kill the fatted calf” to celebrate when your son returns home, but don’t visit the butcher every Saturday! The typical American diet is extreme.
Even the version that we call responsible. Refined oil? Where on earth would any animal naturally get refined oil? Our bodies have no idea how to measure it.
Totally unfair to the body – to coat our salads in oil and expect the stomach and nervous system to accurately gauge how many calories you have eaten. The vast majority of us just don’t have “sensors” that go that high, to signal the brain that we have consumed the actual calories per weight found in oils.
And we can thrive on starches. They are clean fuel. And delicious. Comfort food. Modern science has shown that the less animal products, the better.
The less added oil, the better. The less refined sugar, the better. We have knowledge, we have a choice, and the change does not take a herculean effort.
Eating only plants, maybe with exceptions on occasion, and filling up on starches every day isn’t radical. Not compared to the alternative that millions of Americans have to go through. Consider how radical it is to saw someone’s chest open and replace a blocked heart artery with one taken from their leg.
That is radical. If eating only plants is radical, I’ll take that to mean awesome. How awesome would it be to know that you will never have a heart attack or stroke due to artery disease?
That would be radical!
So why would I go 100% whole-food plants? Certainly a small and occasional amount of meat, dairy, oil, or refined sugar is alright, health-wise.
It’s because 100% is easier for me, personally. That’s it. Why remind my brain’s pleasure centers once a day, once a week, or once a month what refined sugar tastes like? Why would a smoking addict smoke once a month? Why would an alcoholic decide to try a drink just once a week? Risk overdoing it, for the enjoyment? Only perhaps to remind themselves of the addiction that they are keeping just fresh enough to taunt them.
Why keep sugar, animal products, or anything that isn’t purely healthful in the house? Why not just eliminate it as a food? Forget about it. Temptations? What temptations? I eat all I want of what I consider to be food.
You can’t go wrong or eat too much with Jeff Novick’s favorite simple recipes.
I’ve discovered that I have no more willpower than anyone else. Less probably, in fact. For that reason, I’ve just eliminated some things as food. They just aren’t food to me. Surprisingly, there are no temptations. I guess I’ve made the decision so clearly, that it’s not even a choice any more. Big life lesson for me. For me personally, why spend time planning on how to make certain to limit meat, milk, refined flours, oils, and sugars to under 5% of my calories, and hope I actually do so? I certainly don’t want to have to monitor myself so carefully.
So I decide what is food and what is not food. And then I eat the food! And the body naturally knows just how to accurately measure and use it. And be just as satisfied as ever. No tricks. Done! Couldn’t be simpler.
I know that moderation in all things rings true to many people these days. But moderation isn’t working for at least 70% of Americans today, given the type of unfairly calorie-rich food they have to attempt to moderate.
What would be difficult for me is if I kept things in the house that I should only eat rarely, and to just have a little every so often. Constant reminders of what I “can’t have now but maybe on the weekend” or whatever. Talk about torture. And I’d be kidding myself. You might like it that way though. You might even do wonderfully. Not most of us though. I like what John Mcdougall has to say on moderation:
Have you ever met a smoker who quit by cutting down?—I haven’t. Have you ever heard of an alcoholic who sobered up by switching to beer?—neither have I. These moderate approaches keep the addicting agent within easy reach. The only effective means to overcome these destructive habits is to remove the powerful substance from a person’s life—repeated teasing with small fixes of the drugs (tobacco and alcohol) means unending torture and a quick return to the usual levels of use to avoid the pain. Cutting down on the portion size of fried chicken, gravy biscuits, and ice cream is slow torture and is one of the primary reasons diets fail. Simply put, these high-fat, high-salt, high-sugar foods are just too attractive for most mortals to resist—especially for those of us with a passionate (compulsive, lustful, obsessive, enthusiastic, etc.) nature.
Instead, try changing what is “food” to you instead. As an experiment.
Enjoy starches, fruits, and vegetables, without added fats and sugars. Eat them as you like. Enjoy a natural bounty without hidden excess. Give your stomach and mind something more like what we’re wired for — what humans would have collected and prepared from the wild most of the time: minimally processed whole plant foods. Maybe an occasional rabbit you catch, if you’re good.
I’d prefer to go out and hunt some corn though. It runs more slowly. If you give your body what it’s built to understand, you — just like the wild animals — will be right on target with your “wild” food. Animals always hit their ideal weight, given their natural food. Given the food that your human body is primarily wired for and understands, you can eat all you want, because you will want the perfect amount.
Regardless of the amount of exercise you get.
My wife Stephanie lost 20 pounds, and all she did was eat more food! Ask her about it! Eating all she wanted of the right food — and not cucumbers mind you, but unlimited meals of whole-food starches with fruits and vegetables, but no animal products, oil, or sugar — made her lose all excess weight and keep it off without even trying.
But hey, if you’re unusual, actually good at moderation, and prefer to manage a morsel of meat, oil, or dairy now and then, more power to you. Some people are good at it. You might be. So far 70% of Americans have shown they aren’t.
And you don’t have to be overweight to be unhealthy, either, as you know. Cancer and autoimmune disease have no problem attacking skinny people. See the previous post and click on some of the links or watch some of the videos — casein, the protein in milk, should be called a human carcinogen. Some foods will only hurt you, because despite any good they contain, they’re a package deal.
Sure, you can get milk without the fat, but can you get milk without the protein? Without the cow hormones? Without the pus? Let me know. These foods will help if they’re keeping you alive from literal starvation. But not much else. Consider all you have to gain. There is so much.
Consider which lifetime diet can reverse the nation’s number-one killer.
Let that be the diet of choice until something beats it in that regard. Give it a try. You might, like me, finally allow your mind to understand how sweet a piece of fruit is, and once you’ve eliminated refined sugar for awhile, you bite into a new type of apple you bought at the grocery store for a treat, and after that bite, you look up and a genuinely surprised “WOW!” bursts from your lips. “This is amazing!” Maybe you’ll see what it’s like.
Maybe you’ll try it for a month. Or maybe you won’t. Or maybe you will.
Does moderation really work for you?
Have you been avoiding starches due to fear of weight gain? (Shoot, honestly I had been)
What if it was true–a plant based diet could really reverse heart disease (and much more)? Would you change anything?