For most of women, this question is no different than asking ‘should I go for bandhani saree or ajrakh?’ For the slightly more seasoned ones it could be ‘keto – vegetarian or keto-pescetarian’ ..! Or how about ‘gluten free paleo’? Just like saying, bandhani saree with ajrakh palla! This is like ultimate sophistication .. at least inside our heads. I promise you, there isn’t a hint of sarcasm as I said that. I’m just holding a mirror to the conversations I’ve personally participated in, many many times.
My strong belief about clarity is this – quality of questions will determine the quality of answers. And this means examining those questions and upping the game around them becomes imperative. So what are some good questions you can ask around healthy eating as a topic? Giving you a peek into some insightful questions and answers to inform your own thinking.
Whether you decide to go keto or paleo or gluten free or some other combination, the greatest challenge is to be able to do it long term. And another dampener to most regimes is that persistent preoccupation about food and eating. Frankly, it’s just plain and unmistakable physical feeling of hunger! How to get past that?
A great question in this context would be to ask, how do I diet or eat healthy as if it’s a way of life. This is indeed a wonderful question to go after and I get asked all the time. Some variation of this would be how to eat a certain way like forever, like not even wanting to want those things that aren’t all that good for me?
Can you even diet .. and not feel hungry all the time? Is it possible to have diet and not hungry in the same sentence?
The answer is yes! It is indeed possible to diet and not feel miserably deprived and hungry. But for this, you must match your definition of diet and hunger to how your body thinks of diet and hunger.
Is there something like that, a human diet??
Diet – by your body’s definition would mean, to eat in alignment with with natural history of human species.
So, what’s the diet that is natural to our species? Humans for the most part have survived by eating starchy tubers.
How do we know this? There are scientists that have taken an interdisciplinary approach to study paleontology, anthropology, genetics and evolutionary biology. And they have documented series of evidences that prove the human survival story to be essentially relying on starchy foods. The human body and its processes are also designed for precisely this feature.
Most women immediately say how the early humans were hunters and how it feels hard to reconcile with this idea that we may have survived eating mostly starchy tubers. Why would you accept everything you read or what you were handed down unquestioningly? My suggestion as always is, get curious. Sometimes a great question to ask in a situation would be about the view that you’re opposed to.
How do you support your argument that we humans have been starch eaters historically?
Human brain runs essentially on glucose, and glucose is a byproduct of eating predominantly starchy foods.
Human DNA, be it from the deep forests of Amazon or from the city dwellers of New Delhi, London or New York or any other place on earth – they all contain a gene called Amylase 1 – which is to say we’re genetically programmed to make amylase-rich saliva. The human saliva containing this enzyme called amylase, is key for breaking down the starch into glucose.
But you aren’t saying anything to say why we weren’t hunters, are you?
Like how a lion is designed for predation a human is designed in exactly the opposite way, for foraging – to eat something that doesn’t need to be chased after.
This is also why the lions have an enviable stride length and run at 50 plus km/h speed while humans are designed to have heavy pillar like legs to that is meant for endurance activity like foraging that involved walking across a large area
For the same reason, a human did not necessarily need the forward-deployed feature like pointy claws – we have flat and blunt nails. Neither do we need canine type teeth that is shaped to bite, rip and tear. Ours is a jaw and teeth structure optimized for side-to-side chewing.
A lion for example, goes hunting at night because that’s when it has the best advantage of preying on a weak or sick or sleeping animal because it makes for an easier catch. And herbivores – their prey, do sleep at night. All carnivore animals have a super acute hearing, fantastic night vision that is oriented to perceiving movement more than anything else. Their sense of smell is extraordinary too. This is how they can sense from very great distances if their prey is diseased, infected or infirm in some way.
How else do you think we are different ?
Humans on the other hand are innately drawn to the most luscious, colorful and healthy looking leaf or fruit or other plant part as we recognize this to be nutritious. We would forage during the daytime only which is when we could assess the quality of food best. We are the kind that need to eat small quantities several times in a day and are not built to hoard huge amounts of food inside our body. And by the way, only 95% of the hunts are successful. That is why these carnivore creatures are sedentary and sleep for most part of the day which helps them conserve energy during the long gaps between meals.
When a lion pounces on its prey, the front of the animal is protected – thick furry skin, shoulders are very heavily padded, the heart is deeply set inside the rib cage and the vulnerable body parts like the abdomen and gonads are way in the back. Gonads are another word to say sex organs. We humans have an exposed anatomy – abdomen which is not covered by bones is in the front, as are the gonads. We have relatively hairless skin laden with sweat glands so as to cool our big and heavy brain.
I’ve heard paleo and keto way of eating is very good for women, especially with regards to fertility, hormones and weight loss. What do you say?
You think your women ancestors would be able survive chasing after a prey and hunting for food? During pregnancy??
If you see the pregnant females of our species – which is again entirely front-focused, plus upper body strength is much lesser compared to carnivore females – predation is impractical. And nowhere in nature do you see the females of a species depending on the males of the species for food, for their survival.
The length of gestation is dramatically different for humans compared to carnivores. Carnivores have short gestation and very low birth weight babies – this means that a pregnant lion can go and absolutely would go hunting – with no fear of miscarrying or abortion or losing the baby in some way because of the physically stressful act of hunting.
A heavily pregnant human female is lot less mobile and she has long gestation period which is very typical of large herbivores, and give birth to a single baby – single births are the rule – and babies are born with eyes open at birth for herbivores and humans, alike. The eyes being open is a measure of the extent of brain development. Human embryology suggests that herbivore way of eating is a prerequisite for our brain development.
So, are we all plant eating herbivores then?
No, we are omnivores only. The scientific literature points out we do have a capacity for a wide range of foods, including meats. But this doesn’t mean we get to weave theories about our evolution and change historic facts to make us feel better about our choices. Neither should we be curating diet regimens to somehow include foods that we aren’t willing to let go and sell it as the best diet.
This concludes Part 1 of this post – this post happened thanks to some courageous women that were willing to ask uncomfortable questions and listen. I request you to carry on this spirit and help everyone of us learn better. After all, what you do for yourself, you’re doing for the entire humanity. Please tell us in the comments below, what was the most eye-opening part for you – how did this bring you clarity?