It seems a sad comment on Western Society’s gross consumption when you hear the latest figures on obesity in North America, doesn’t it? Well, that’s what the media would have you believe, at least. I’ll be honest and state first off that I bought into it too. But wait – I know plenty of people who don’t consume gross amounts of food and fat, yet are still larger than what the health professionals state is a normal size. How can this be? If we are all fat-consuming pigs like the media says we are then should those who practice normal moderation not be overweight?
Then you need to factor in people like myself – I eat the same as anyone else, and have been actually referred to as a “bottomless pit” when it comes to eating. (Not to mention questions along the line of “where do you put it all?”) Yet, at 6 feet tall I only weigh in at about 150 pounds – less than the experts would say is ideal.
That’s strange, isn’t it? Now we can say it’s just a difference in metabolism (which it is) and that would explain my lankiness. That would explain why someone who eats in moderation still is over what is supposedly ideal. But does that mean that a few of us are exceptions to the rule and 50% to 60% of North Americans are just gluttons? I refuse to believe that.
The human genome has changed relatively little in the last 200,000 years. However, the dawn of agricultural practices such as we have today where only developed 10,000 to 12,000 years ago. Prior to that the consumption of cereal grains, legumes and tubers (ie. wheat, beans, potatoes) was not realistically possible. The net nutritional gain verses anti-nutrients in such foods as well as the work involved in processing them was just not economical for our hunter-gatherer way of life.
Instead we ate large amounts of meat – experts say more than 60% of our diets, as well as fruits vegetables and nuts. The meat we would have been eating would have been lean wild animals and fish, not fat domesticated beef. Most of our days would have been consumed with finding such food. So we ate differently and where more active.
Contrast that with today’s consumption of grains and other carbs and a relative sedentary lifestyle and you’ve got nature working against us. Agriculture allowed us to stay in one spot and put our energies towards other pursuits, but it’s costing us our health. Modern diseases such as heart disease and cancer were not a factor for our ancestors because they ate what their (and our) bodies where designed for.
Now all that’s been said, it seems that over-consumption isn’t to blame for wide-spread obesity as the media would have you believe – it’s that what we are eating, and what the food marketing boards tell us to eat to be healthy is wrong! We aren’t designed to process dairy, saturated fats, refined sugars, and boat-loads of carbs. Sure, we get nutrients from these foods but we’re living well below our potentials with them. Since we left our hunter-gatherer ancestors behind we’ve lost four to six inches of height and 8% of our brains due to sub-optimal nutrition.
The genome hasn’t changed – we could have both back at any time – if we change what we eat. Well, more importantly, if we change what our children eat. If you’re an adult and reached the end of your growth cycle, obviously don’t hold your breath on growing a few inches.
As any good rant goes, I’ve strayed from what I was originally going to talk about, but at least it was for some background information. All of this begs some questions : What the heck are we supposed to be eating – and more importantly – how can we do this without going back to living off the land? I’ve got a job, a wife and a life to live. Ideally it would be great to be living naked in the woods, but realistically it’s not going to happen.
I don’t have those answers – yet. There’s only so much information available on the internet on this subject (there is a lot however, look up “Paleolithic diet” on Google) so I’m going to be taking a trip to the library and reading some books on the subject.
Sadly, a trip to the local Chapters resulted in the sight of hundreds of books on losing weight and relatively little on nutrition in terms of how the body is designed and health. Very sad indeed. I weigh 150 pounds! If I lose any more weight I’ll be dead!
Which brings me to the end of this rant – The Greener Grass. People tell me they wish they could eat nearly anything and not gain weight like I do. Personally, I wish my metabolism was a little slower so that I didn’t need to eat constantly and sleep more that average. If I skip a meal I run a very good risk of passing out. Not fun. This is what got me looking into this subject. Whatever our ancestors ate that kept them fit and active all day is something that might help me kick-start my energy levels to the point that I don’t feel on the edge of famine even when I do eat.
If you’re a little over weight, be happy. A change in diet to something with less carbs and fat and more nutrients will take the pounds right off. Don’t forget to exercise, of course. I’m stuck with being skinny and tired all the time and it’s not as much fun as it looks.
Well, that’s it for now… Off to the library to see if I can find out how to eat like we where designed to…
[three hours pass]
… And I’ve found out some good information. I truly recommend “The Paleo Diet”, it’s a good and interesting read. See the related link section (above, right) for more info on this book. I’ll make a new rant with regards to my findings soon.