I have started reading through “It Starts with Food” and I’m loving it so far. I’ve always been a nerd when it comes to nutrition (and chemistry and math) so I already know much of what I’m reading but I really enjoy the way the authors break it down for easier understanding and even throw in some humor. I think that many people who are interested in trying the Whole 30 plan will simply read through some of the documents on the website and skip the book feeling that they are ‘equipped enough’ for the journey (as I have done so far) and even more people will skip the book and the meal plan altogether. So, in an attempt to inspire you to really look into it (read the book;)), I’m posting an excerpt that I really liked below. If it peaks your interest, get the book and read more. 🙂
If we were hunting and foraging our food in nature, our bodies would need some way to signal to us that we’d found something useful. For example, bitter tastes signify toxic foods while sweet tastes signify a safer choice. Thanks to nature and our biology, our brains have been hardwired to appreciate three basic tastes: sweet (a safe source of energy), fatty (a dense source of calories), and salty (a means of conserving fluid). When we came across these flavors, neurotransmitters in our brain would help us remember that these foods were good choices by sending us signals of pleasure and reward, reinforcing the experience in our memories. These important signals from nature helped us select the foods best suited to our health.
But there is one very important point to keep in mind with respect to these signals from nature. They weren’t designed to tell us which foods were delicious – they were designed to tell us which foods were nutritious.
In nature, pleasure and reward signals led us to vital nutrition.
The trouble is that in today’s world, the ancient signals persist – but the foods that relay them are anything but good sources of nutrition. And that creates a major disruption in our bodies and in our brains.
Over the last fifty years, the makeup of our foods has dramatically changed. Our grocery stores and health food markets are packed with shelves of processed, refined food-like products – which no longer look anything like the plant or animal from which they were derived.
Food scientists caught on to the fact that our brains respond strongly to specific flavors (such as the aforementioned sweet, fatty, and salty), and armed with this knowledge, they began to modify our whole foods. They sucked out the water, the fiber, and the nutrients, and replaced them with ingredients like corn syrup, MSG, seed oils, and artificial sweeteners, colors, and flavors. All of this with the specific intention of inducing cravings, overconsumption and bigger profits for food manufacturers.
They’ve turned real food into Franken-food.
These foods light up pleasure and reward centers in the brain for a different reason than nature intended – not because they provide vital nutrition but because they are scientifically designed to stimulate our taste buds. The effect is a total disconnection between pleasurable, rewarding tastes (sweet, fatty, and salty) and the nutrition that always accompanies them in nature.
In nature, sweet tastes usually came from seasonal raw fruit, rich in vitamins, minerals, and phytonutritents. Today, sweet flavors come from artificial sweeteners, refined sugars, and high fructose corn syrup. In nature, fatty tastes usually came from meats, especially nutrient-packed organ meats. In modern times, fats come from a deep-fryer or a tub of “spread.” In nature, precious electrolytes like sodium came from sea life, or from the animals we ate. In modern times, salt comes from a shaker.
Do you see the problem with this?
Modern technology has stripped the nutrition from these foods, replacing it with empty calories and synthetic chemicals that fool our bodies into giving us the same powerful biological signals to keep eating.
This means we are eating more calories with less nutrition.
Persistent biological signals lead us to overeat sweet, fatty, salty foods while keeping us malnourished.
These Franken-foods are ridiculously cheap to produce.
They unnaturally electrify our taste buds.
They contain little, if any, nutrition.
And they mess with our brains in a major way.
You may be thinking, “If these foods taste so good that I can’t stop eating them, maybe I should just stop eating foods that taste good.” But that just sounds miserable to us – and flavor restrictions would probably be just as unsuccessful long-term as caloric restriction! Thankfully, this strategy is wholly unnecessary. The problem isn’t that these foods are delicious.
The problem is that these foods are supernormally stimulating in the absence of nutrition and satiety.
They are the essence of empty calories – foods with no brakes.
For additional excerpts, check out the book on Amazon. Ready to read the whole thing? BUY A COPY TODAY!!
I hope this has inspired you a little bit. Leave me a message letting me know what you think. By the way, the Pad Thai that was on the menu for this past Sunday was a hit!! I wasn’t sure how my family would receive it due to all the vegetables in it but everyone ate it. Ok, my five-year old who thinks food only consists of pizza, nutella, and biscuits only ate the meat and eggs but he did eat and everyone else cleaned their plates. The five-year old is a work in progress when it comes to nutrition but we are working on it. 🙂