We live in a world that we really aren’t designed for – a world where we are surrounded every minute of every day by far more food than we could ever need, far more than we could ever eat.
But it wasn’t always like that.
In the earliest cave-man days, humans lived in small tribes in a world where food was scarce. Whenever food did appear – if the hunters made a kill, or the gatherers found edible roots or a large stand of berry bushes, it was important to be willing to eat all you could of the roast meat and sliced roots and fresh berries while it was in front of you.
Anything at all sweet, like the berries, was especially attractive because sweet fruits contain vitamin C. Humans don’t make their own vitamin C in the body the way some animals do, so a source of vitamin C was very important. Anyone who didn’t fill up when food was there may not have survived, since there was no telling how long it might be until food and vitamin C might be there again.
The human body became very good at storing extra food as fat against the times when there would once again be a shortage. We might see this now as something we hate, but it was lifesaving back in the days of our earliest ancestors.
Over time, the world changed. Civilization brought many wonderful things, but it also brought endless quantities of cheap food that is available non-stop.
Yet humans are still programmed, deep down, to never pass up a meal. The instinct that says, “You don’t know how long it will be until you eat again, so take all you can!” kicks in hard anytime we’re around food. But now, instead of big meals being available only once every several days (if that,) unlimited meals are in front of us constantly.
And the mild sweetness of fruits that got us to eat our vitamin C has now turned into a monstrous craving for concentrated sugar that is destroying the health of the western world.
So, what can we do?
Simple awareness of these facts can be very helpful in controlling food intake. Your body isn’t trying to betray you by constantly urging you to eat and making you crave sweets; it’s just responding to its own very ancient programming. You understand that it’s okay to say “no” to food because you understand why you feel driven to eat whatever’s in front of you.
Learning to do what some call a “gut check” is very helpful. Our ancestors never asked themselves whether or not they were hungry, because they went through life either very hungry or very full. Their food intake was controlled for them strictly by availability.
Today, though, you can simply ask yourself one question: “Am I really hungry, or do I just want to eat?” In the twenty-first century, there is a difference!
You will learn to recognize whether you actually need food or whether you are just responding to the cues around you. You will not starve yourself; you will still eat healthy food when you are truly hungry. You just won’t eat when you are not hungry.
This simple trick is remarkably effective. No need for bizarre diets, or strong pills, or drastic surgery. It’s certainly worth a try.