"Just curious about this idea. As a zoology major, what do you think about the tendency of all animals to 'prefer' high-calorie foods as a survival instinct? To clarify: sugar, starches and fats taste 'good' because it is more advantageous to the body than low-calorie food sources like grains or veggies. You know, bigger bang for your dietary buck. Any thoughts?"I do have thoughts (and rare moments to quietly think them through in a tangible flow). I'm certainly no expert on animal behavior, but I enjoyed mulling over your question. Although I recall reading about this subject, I have no references before me, and I don't know if this tendency applies to "all" animals -- it may, but I can't make that claim. (Continues below picture).
What we're talking about:
Therefore, if given a choice between a sweet, high-energy food or a possibly bitter, lower-energy food, the natural tendency is to choose the sweet one, just like Anonymous pointed out.
Our modern lifestyle doesn't require as many fatty/starchy/sugary foods because we move less.
At the risk of over-simplifying, for much of the modern population, we've moved from an active-because-you-have-to environment to a sit-because-you-can civilization. BUT, we still have the high-caloric-desiring tendencies. Bummer.
For instance, would you run a mile for a hamburger that may or may not be there, or conserve energy and go for positively-available greens, roots, berries and nuts?
But we have many choices at our fingertips. And many of them are poor, inferior choices. They are "convenient" alternatives to the real thing, resulting in not only conserving energy but packing on more "energy stores" a.k.a. "fat" in the process. Thanks to our taste buds, food chemists, food giants and marketing schemes, we learn to prefer fruit snacks to fruit because they are more convenient to eat (it's easier to pop a fruit snack than to deal with sticky fruit, peels and seeds).
At this point you may be thinking I'm ready to chuck my kids' snack boxes and force them to only eat nutrient and power-dense foods.
If we go on mindlessly succumbing to convenient play food and a sedentary lifestyle, our health will pay the toll.
We gravitate towards easy energy disguised as food. Now we need to educate ourselves of the differences, but we still want them! We didn't used to have to learn about the difference between play food and real food. You ate what was available, and what was available was real, and you had to work somehow to get it.
Education will help us stop being mindless/ignorant to what's happening.
It takes work/effort/desire to educate ourselves and family to make better choices.
It takes work to provide vegetables and grains in a pleasing way especially if my family isn't used to it. It's so much easier to grab a "convenience" food. When I'm especially hungry, I don't feel like washing and chopping and preparing. I just want to eat. It takes work to plan ahead. And it takes work to educate ourselves that those convenience foods aren't so convenient to our health if they are the main source of our nutrition.
Educate ourselves and our family. But who do you believe?
We need to educate ourselves, and it may take trial and error to find what is right you. Now, who do you believe to provide you with accurate information in an ever-changing, multi-million dollar diet industry? Who's expert advice do you believe?
The body, untainted, is an expert. It's amazing. It will tell you when it is hungry and full. It will tell you it didn't like what you just ate. It will tell you what it needs. It has evolved to do that. And in the last 60 or so years, we've managed to mess with its perfect system by ignoring the body's signals.
|I'm amazed I found this photo.|
I love how "I have a voice" is in front of the
body and stomach area.
Cravings are signals from the body. When we go on fad diets and eliminate food groups, the body tells you it needs it. The signal is ignored because it doesn't fit into the diet designed by "experts." The body proceeds to scream for it in the form of cravings. Then you grab a cheap, junky version of what it's really asking for and blame yourself for not having willpower.
I love this quote (don't know the source), "Obesity is a symptom of starvation."
Like I said earlier, the body is the expert. It sends us signals. We grab sub par versions of what it is asking for (we follow only our taste buds), and our bodies never really get fed and sends more signals. There may be something in the stomach, and our taste buds approve, but our bodies are not happy or satisfied -- it's starving for real nutrition.
What to do?
Do I pull the snack stash boxes? No, not yet. I want all of us to be conscious of what is out there and why it is out there and make choices.
I'm not going to be around forever to tell them (my kids), "No, you can't have that (play food)." I want them to learn they can have it but then choose not to most of the time. (Besides, how much more do you want something that you are told you can't have?)
I'm learning how to cook real foods and am teaching my kids how to cook so they are not at the mercy of fast-food chains, packaged foods, and restaurants. The art of cooking in everyday households is disappearing - zap a tray, open a box, dump a can. When all else fails, drive to a drive-thru.
(Interesting, after cooking real foods with real flavors, fast food chains have become unappealing for the most part).
Looks like I've written a lot (Anonymous, are you sorry you asked?).
Other things on my mind but won't get into:
-I wonder if we are the only species that binges. I'm sure there's some rat-study somewhere.
-Emotions, what kind of affect they have on our energy and desire to grab sugar
-Artificial ways of receiving energy
-Thinking you are healthy because you are skinny