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Weight loss is the main goal of the Western population. In a study conducted in the U.S., if given the choice between getting their child through high school or personally losing weight, the majority chose weight loss. That’s how urgent the desire is to lose weight is.
The desire to lose weight is so great because weight because it interferes with other areas of our life. It’s a highly sensitive topic and I don’t want to hurt anyone with it. I just want to explain how obesity happens and what you can do about it.
Being overweight has nothing to do with intelligence, lack of discipline, or willpower, as it’s often still assumed. It runs through all social classes because everyone has the same nervous system and everyone is in the pleasure trap.
Money, money, money
The weight-loss market is a billion-dollar business and there are hardly any other topics on which more books have been written. And yet no one seems to have found the solution.
The majority of weight loss programs are not interested in telling you the truth. That’s why there are programs like Weight Watchers, Paleo Diet, etc.
Only two to five percent of people who lose weight can keep it off permanently. The question is not whether we lose weight, which can also be done with a chocolate diet, but whether it is possible to keep the weight permanently off. There is a solution to keep it off permanently, but it is quite unattractive. Very few people are willing to go down this path.
The only solution to keep the weight off
The solution is to eat whole unprocessed foods with a low-calorie density. This includes vegetables, fruits, grains, and legumes. Virtually everything that Mother Nature provides. This corresponds to the calorie density that our ancestors ate. This allows us to reach a naturally healthy weight that we can maintain without worrying (we’re not talking about unrealistic body ideals inspired by social media, though).
People prefer to hear good news about their bad habits. When cigarettes were still in vogue, doctors even advised their patients to smoke. Cigarettes were supposed to refresh the lungs and be healthy for the gums. Needless to say, this message was received with enthusiasm. Keep in mind, this wasn’t that long ago. Doctors don’t learn anything in medical school about a healthy diet and what effects it has on our health. We find ourselves in an information overload of recommendations on this subject.
Image source: JS Design
What did our ancestors eat?
They ate mainly plants and every few weeks hunted meat, which was only roundabout 3-15% fat. The meat today has a fat content of around 30-40% on average. The question of weight problems did not arise with our ancestors, because the food they ate automatically provided a natural weight.
Furthermore, until not so long ago, the main problem of mankind was starvation. Humans spent a large part of their time just on the procurement of food. Nowadays, in industrialized society, it’s the other way around.
Did you know that far more people die from a food surplus than from a food shortage?
Our taste buds – The treasure detectors
Think of your taste buds as a treasure detector. The richer the treasure (food), the more your taste buds like it. But not all that glitters is gold. Because in the case of this treasure, it makes us sick and overweight in the long run.
Our nervous system was created to seek the most calorie-dense, rich food because that’s what helped us to survive for millions of years. Hunger was their daily companion. It was thus much more efficient for the body to demand the most calorically dense food when food was scarce to create a calorie reserve.
Man has not changed, but his environment has. The modern world has created modern food. Rich food is available on every corner, at every celebration, three times a day in the majority of households. Just because there’s rich food 24/7 available doesn’t mean your nervous system is suddenly reversed. We’re kind of walking around with a Stone Age brain in a modern environment.
Your nervous system must fight
If you want to eat healthy in an environment with a surplus of rich food, it’s a lot of work for your Stone Age nervous system to withstand. Your instincts will tell you it’s not the right way strategically, even if your mind tells you otherwise.
Your energy conservation instinct will tell you not to take the healthy way, but rather the easiest way. That would be, for example, driving through the drive-through instead of cooking yourself, chewing as little as possible, reaching for sweets instead of fruit. Anything that is somehow easier and faster to consume is beneficial to survival.
Human motivation always follows three principles: 1. seeking for pleasure; 2. avoiding pain (getting rid of the unpleasant feeling of hunger); 3. saving energy (e.g. fast food). When food no longer corresponds to its origin, this is a permanent stimulus overload of the nerves. This cannot be trained either.
Unhealthy food is available on EVERY corner, for little money, in a short time and as much of it as you want. Our ancestors were never exposed to such a situation, quite the opposite. Getting enough food was the main survival problem of mankind.
Sugar, salt, and oil
Our reward system is created to activate only the sweet, salt or fat receptors. Our conventional diet activates all three of these mechanisms simultaneously. This is a supernormal stimulus to our nervous system.
You are effectively trying to fight your number one survival instinct when you tell it not to eat the bread (salt) with butter (fat) and jam (sugar).
In nature, no food contains all three at the same time. You can be the most conscientious and disciplined person on the planet, your nervous system is immediately activated when it smells the toast aromas as you walk by the pizzeria.
Gorging on vegetables
Obesity is found in all social classes because everyone has the same nervous system and everyone is in the pleasure trap.
This problem, to which we are exposed every day, is not natural. The problem of making food tastier and tastier has not existed for so long in the history of mankind.
We reward with our western diet, drugs, alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine our pleasure centers, which are actually for survival or reproduction.
Unfortunately, overweight people are often portrayed as undisciplined and self-indulgent. But that is not the problem. Nor is it a difficult childhood, emotional problems, or anything like that. The problem is our unnatural diet. This is a dilemma. You try to change the person and their nervous system (neither of which works) instead of the food itself, what’s on the plate.
No one reaches for a bag of carrots in a crisis or when they are stressed. It’s always high calorie-dense food. I’d like to meet the person who stuffs themselves with broccoli, kale, and carrots while crying in bed in these situations. If that were the case, we would look like carrots ourselves after every crisis.
Why some people are slim with the conventional, western diet, you will find out in the article “What genes reveal about your weight – The solution to weight loss.”
Every living being carries this nervous system within itself. Even animals become overweight and sick if they are exposed to supernormal nutrition, such as treats. Also, their nervous system is not able to keep moderation. There is no gazelle in nature that considers whether to consume one or two blades of grass. If it were faced with deep-fried blades of grass, it would be exposed to a problem that did not exist until now.
A magic pill – The solution to the problem
I wish there was a magic pill or a more charming solution. My work colleague at the time and I dreamed about how you could eat everything by each having 8 pounds of food per day. Everything would have the same amount of calories and you would only gain weight if you eat beyond that.
In fact, with whole unprocessed foods from nature, you can eat several pounds without gaining weight. No portion control is necessary. The feeling of hunger and satiety works without interference. It’s like peeing. Everyone has a satiety mechanism, but it only works optimally with food designed for people.
No positive self-affirmations, meditation, looking in the mirror and saying, “I can do this!”; in other words, no new age pop-psychology will help you achieve a healthy weight. It takes work and not everyone is born with naturally slim genes.
You cant do it
If you are alarmed, motivated, and smart enough, and fortunately have heard about this encouraging message and know which direction you want to go, then you are on the right path.
But why does this path – doing the right thing – feel so hard? When you do the wrong thing, it feels good, and when you do the right thing, it feels wrong. Because with healthy eating, your instinct does a 180-degree turn. Don’t think that it has anything to do with your willpower or that anything else is wrong with you or something is “broken” in your psychology. The reason why a diet of natural origin (i.e. whole, unprocessed foods) is difficult to implement is that it requires us to go directly against instinct. It’s sort of like learning to drive the car backward. Can you do it? Yes. But driving backward up a hill is a nightmare! Choosing not to eat the modern Western diet, in this case, is driving backward up a hill for your nervous system.
In one experiment, rats were given junk food. After a few weeks, they were given their natural food again. How did the rats respond? They didn’t touch it for two weeks, drank only water, and gave the feeding hand a withering look.
Progression of happiness from highly calorically dense food to whole foods
In relation to our modern-day processed diet, neuroadaptation (which describes the activity of our nerves as well as an adaptation performance) runs largely just like drug addiction. Tolerance occurs. The difference with drugs is that they irreversibly destroy the regulatory circuit of our pleasure production. Food cannot do that. However, to re-sensitize to whole natural food requires 30-90 days of abstinence from processed foods. This requires more self-discipline than most are willing to muster. However, most are also unaware that this only takes a few weeks/months.
People oftentimes assume that food is as addictive as alcohol or drugs. In reality, it’s not.
Alcohol can take a year or more to get stable, and other drugs often longer. The lure of processed foods is not in that league. It’s much more like getting away from coffee. It usually takes several weeks of determination, but in a month or two most people are in pretty good shape.
The most effective approaches to taste addiction
The knowledge that the taste buds adapt to whole natural foods within a few weeks is the most important point. To maintaining health, one must accept only a minimal period of taste loss.
2) Starvation for a short period of time
We are used to eating before we feel hungry. If natural foods don’t appeal to you, then wait until you feel hungry. Our ancestors were used to being hungry regularly. That little bit of hunger does not harm but ensures that even the last carrot in the corner becomes more attractive. Because, as we all know, if you’re hungry, everything tastes good.
3) Mono diet
Drink a mix of vegetable and fruit juice, e.g. carrot and apple, for two or three days. An alternative is to eat only one food, such as watermelon, for two to three days. This removes the salt and fat and activates only the sugar receptors. This helps the taste buds perceive natural food as tasty again.
This ladies and gentlemen is the only solution to weight management and healthy eating. Very few are willing to go down this path.
If you are, feel free to contact me.
Note: Parts of the text are a summary of a lecture by Dr. Lisle and the chapter “Magic Food” from his book “The Pleasure Trap”.