When we see
fat people we always assume they have been overeating
The simple definition of overeating is that we eat
more food than we need to maintain our weight. Anyone who goes on a
diet tries hard to control their food intake. We
try to eat less food, but we get so hungry and miserable. All we can
think about is food. We finally break down and eat eat eat. The big
question is, why
do we overeat?
Do we lack will power? Are we just plain
weak? Why is it so hard to stay on a diet?
Faulty hunger drive?
We have a powerful hunger drive
that tells us when and how much to eat. It is like other strong drives
that make us breathe, drink water, have sex, and avoid danger.
All of these drives are necessary for the survival of
our species. Without our hunger drive, we might get busy doing other
things and forget to eat for weeks. We could easily starve to
So why would our hunger drive make
After all, overeating harms our health. This affects our
survival in a
negative way. What throws our hunger drive out of whack?
Animals have hunger drives too. But when
we observe other species in the wild, we seldom see fat animals. There
is a natural food (or foods)
that is perfect for every animal. When that food is
available they eat it. And somehow they eat exactly the right number of
calories to keep them lean and healthy.
You have probably seen a fat
squirrel in the park or a fat duck in a pond. Is there a
malfunction in their hunger drive that makes
them overeat? No, these animals are eating
human food, which is not their natural diet.
We often see overweight
dogs and cats. They may be eating human food. But they
exercise. Before they were domesticated, they were out
walking every day, searching for their own food.
The natural diet for people
If every animal has a natural diet, there
must be one for humans. The best way to figure
this out is to look at some people who have never tasted a Big Mac or a
corn dog. It is getting hard to find these people, because the western
diet is spreading rapidly around the world. But if we go back thirty
years or so, we find them:
Throughout Asia, people ate rice,
vegetables, and tofu.
In tribal Africa, they ate millet,
teff, root vegetables, and greens.
In latin America they ate corn,
beans, and squash.
In New Guinea, people ate yams.
Most people ate plants.
could not afford meat,
or it was simply not available.
People had no overeating problem. They ate until they were
satisfied and then they stopped eating.
Life was not perfect for the plant eaters. Some
died in childbirth. Some
died of starvation when food was not available. Many died from
infectious diseases like malaria and dysentary. But they
were slender and active, not fat!
In the far north, plants were hard to
find. Eskimos ate seals and
walruses. These foods were not ideal. The average Eskimo had a short
life span. They got severe osteoporosis from their high protein diets.
But they lived long enough to reproduce and to raise their children to
adulthood. That was the only thing that was necessary for our species
Where did we go wrong?
The traditional human diet was based on whole
unprocessed plant foods. We went off course in two big ways:
We mixed the white flour with sugar
and oil to make delicious foods. But they were foods that contained
very few of the original plant nutrients. We began overeating. It
was easy to eat too much, because the the foods did not satisfy our
They were low in fiber and high
We have moved very far from our original plant food diet. We can not
even recognize any plants in much of the food we eat today.
The China Study
In the best-selling book, The China
Study, we learn that in the 1980's, the
Chinese ate more
calories than Americans, yet the Chinese weighed less.
daily average calorie intakes were:
Americans: 1989 calories
The Chinese in the study were office
workers. They may have walked or ridden bicycles a bit more than
Americans, but not enough to account for a daily 650-calorie
difference. That is like running 6 1/2 miles every day!
The Chinese ate many whole plant foods and few
foods. They were not
overweight. They took in 33 grams of fiber a day, compared to
average of 12 grams.
could they eat so much?
Chinese diet contained only 14.5% of its calories from fat, compared to
the American diet average of 34 - 38%. It is easy for
our bodies to store dietary fat, and the process doesn't burn many
They ate a lot of rice. When we eat complex
we burn off some of the calories in the form of heat. They
are like free calories. Great for weight loss!
The fiber they
ate blocked the absorption of some of their
calories. And they were eating low-fiber white rice. We
can do even better. Read this to learn how to find the best high fiber
foods in a vegan diet.
The Pleasure Trap
The problem we call overeating is really a case of
eating the wrong
foods for our species.
The best book we have ever read on the
subject of overeating is The Pleasure Trap
by Lisle and Goldhamer. When we read it we understood for the first
time why so many people fail at losing weight.