The Human Grazer

Go back into the dim dark past of man as a species, back to when the homosapien had just evolved. What you find is a race of hunter-gatherers, wandering and grazing the land as he goes and occasionally finding and killing an animal for the meat and skins.

Now fast forward to today and what you find is a species that has moved to a largely sedentary lifestyle, eats 3 meals a day and has meat most if not every day. I am generalising a bit, ignoring the vegetarian/vegan types and completely ignoring those with special dietary requirements but are any of us surprised that there is an epidemic of obesity in the western world at the moment?

As a species the physical demands on us are the lowest they have ever been throughout history, food is the most plentiful to us that it’s ever been and our nature is to make the most of this abundance of food by eating and storing the energy as fat.

This would be fine if food wasn’t always available to us, our nature is to over-eat when food is available to “survive” the leaner periods, but as we have an abundance of food this leaner period never comes and as a species we get more and more obese.

If we go back to freshly evolved man for a minute and think about him wandering through the country side, picking berries and fruit as he passes them, essentially grazing the land, while hunting. He wasn’t sitting down to 3 meals a day, he was gathering food and eating it as he became hungry, possibly having a meal of meat once or twice a week.

We on the other hand have those 3 times a day when we load up on food and while it’s a social construct that I happen to like and enjoy it’s actually widely accepted that in order to keep our metabolic rate at it’s most efficient we should all be eating less just more often.

This is something I learned when I was morbidly obese myself and my doctor was trying to help me understand what I needed to do in order to lose the weight. I never got to the point of eating every 4 hours and only at these intervals like he had suggested but I grew to understand that while it’s okay to be a little hungry and to eat a little less, you can also gain weight by over doing this, due to your metabolism slowing down, this is our natural defence against famine kicking in.

The best way to achieve this goal of eating less and remaining healthy that I’ve found is to remove as much processed food as possible from your diet. By cooking your own meals from fresh ingredients you have much better control over what’s in your food and as a general rule fresh ingredients have much higher levels of nutrients and vitamins than processed foods. (High quality frozen and tinned fruit and veg can be the exception to this rule as they’re picked when they are at their best and the process of freezing or tinning them preserves them).

So with fresh ingredients it’s easier to get the nutritional value that your body needs, without overdoing the calorie intake.

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