Diet is important, and our society as a whole refuses to acknowledge it except in the most cursory way. Over the past 50 years, there’s been an alarming rise in all kinds of illnesses that can be linked directly back to diet. Which health conditions have these rising rates? Autoimmune disorders, asthma, food allergies, eczema, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, and fibromyalgia; just to name a few. These are lifestyle-driven illnesses that could be significantly altered by changing our diets to the type of food human beings are meant to eat: healthy, organic plant-based foods that provide all the nutrients and enzymes we need; keeping our toxicity low.
What we need is a paradigm shift in thinking. “Everything in moderation” is such a disturbing, not to mention annoying mentality. Chronic dieters are constantly “rewarding” themselves with junk. Mental dialogue includes statements like, “It won’t kill me if I have one of these muffins,” or “I’ve done so well the past few days, I can have a few extra chips.” WHY? Wait. As a matter of fact, HOW? How exactly is junk a “reward?” Well, first, we need to educate ourselves.
Ghrelin, also called “the hunger hormone,” increases appetite and makes you perceive food as more appealing, as signaled by a new research published in the Cell Metabolism Journal. MRIs of the brain reveal that ghrelin made reward centers react in a more pronounced manner to food images. Hunger seems to be driven by metabolic and pleasure pathways, and those pleasure pathways are fueled by dopamine, the same feel-good hormone that hooks drug addicts after one use. Foods high in sugar, fat and salt have a tremendous impact on these dopamine levels- the more you consume, the more dopamine you produce; thus the more you need to eat. Lay’s Potato Chips wasn’t kidding when they said you can’t have just one. Bottom line: humans’ appetites are elastic; give us more and we’ll eat more.
Let us stop rewarding ourselves with junk and start labeling donuts, pastries, chips and French fries as punishment. If we continue to perceive salad as punishment and reward ourselves with garbage, how can we possibly expect to achieve optimal health. Why destroy a week’s worth of nutrition with an oily, sugar-laden pastry that will be stored as fat in 48 hours because we are definitely going to the gym…tomorrow. Don’t even get me started on the body’s inability to recognize lab-created flavorings and the taxing efforts to break down and store ultra-strong saturated fats. It’s time to be more mindful about what’s in our food and what makes us want more of it. Americans are malnourished and in major need of a detox- let’s clean up our acts. It’s time to quit treating ourselves with junk and start appreciating the sweetness of real fruit and the crunchy textures of oats and raw cocoa.
Food shouldn’t be about taste, creativity and presentation. Food is fuel for the body. That is its main purpose, yet as a society we give only minimal attention to how well it fuels us. With all of the flavors in our food from added sugar, fat, salt, and chemicals, we have come to crave things that are sweet, salty, fatty and artificially flavored. Many Americans no longer recognize how good healthy food can taste, and just how delicious that fresh, juicy apple can be.