Have you struggled with an uncontrollable desire to eat and asked yourself, “Why? Why can’t I stop doing this to myself?” Don’t blame yourself. As Robb Wolf states in his book, Wired To Eat: IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT!
If you live in a modern Westernized society of relative leisure and abundance but are not fat, sick, and diabetic, you are, from a biological perspective, “screwing up.” Really. Our species is here today because our genes are wired to eat damn near everything that is not nailed down….we are genetically wired to eat simple, unprocessed foods, and to expend a fair amount of energy in that process…But modern life affords us the opportunity to move hardly at all, while finding ourselves surrounded by the most varied assortment of delectable food imaginable.”
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What an interesting and logical concept. We are no longer in an era where we have to actively forage for our survival. All we have to do is connect online for someone to knock on our door and deliver food for us. In fact, I recently saw a billboard ad of McDonald’s now available on Ubereats!
Before I further dive in to details of why processed foods are hard to resist, I’d like to briefly share Robb Wolf’s health transformation story.
Robb Wolf’s Lifestyle Change that Saved Him
Robb Wolf’s passion for transforming the health of thousands of people stemmed from his own personal transformation. His health issues started early during his childhood years. In his twenties, he was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. If you’re not familiar with what ulcerative colitis is (because I wasn’t), it’s an inflammatory bowel disease that causes inflammation and sores in the digestive tract. With his health in decline, he was in the midst of depression and he mentioned in the book,
“I thought I was going to die, and the idea was pretty appealing, considering how much my life and health sucked.”
Robb Wolf’s mother also had a host of health issues and a test revealed she was allergic to grains, legumes, and dairy. Robb thought about the types of food before grains, legumes, and dairy were produced. And it led him to the path of discovering the Paleo way of eating. Once he tried it, his health significantly improved where his issues disappeared. The Paleo diet essentially saved his life. This started his journey of transforming others through the Crossfit affiliate gyms he opened, published posts on his blog, The Paleo Solution podcast and his first book and New York Times bestseller, The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet.
Our Environment has Evolved but our Genes are still Catching Up
Let’s look at how our ancestors lived back in the pre-historic times compared to how we are living today. Before technological advances, our bodies were doing exactly what they were designed for – whole foods for nourishment, plenty of physical activity, the right amount and quality of sleep, enough time spent under the sun and love from a strong, supportive community. Our lifestyle today is the OPPOSITE! And our genes haven’t adjusted.
…Our bodies haven’t caught up to these changes. Ten thousand years might seem like a very long time, but in the context of our genes, it’s more like a meteoric environmental change than that slow-moving bulldozer. – Wired to Eat
Our lifestyle today, in disagreement with the design of our bodies, have resulted to a gamut of Western degenerative diseases. Obesity, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, and a number of other conditions have been on the rise for the past decades.
“Bet You Can’t Just Eat One”
The popular slogan from Lay’s Potato Chips holds true. For me, it’s tortilla chips. Put a bag in front of me and game on. It’s why you won’t find a bag of tortilla chips in our cupboard. There’s a term used in the book to describe the type of food difficult for us to refuse – hyperpalatability. Palatable is defined as something tasty and flavorful. The term hyperpalatibility is referred to the types of food combining sugar, salt, and fat to stimulate your taste buds and activates the reward centers of our brain.
Robb Wolf pointed out an interesting connection between food and sex (mainly pornography) and its effect on the brain. Both impact the reward centers of the brain otherwise known as the hedonic system where pleasure is derived. Dopamine plays a main role as a pleasure-seeking neurotransmitter. “Stimulating the dopamine centers of the brain creates a positive feedback loop in which one desires more of the substance or activity that elicited the initial good feelings.”
The bad news is whether it’s porn or food, the amount of exposure that made us feel good before doesn’t have the same effect the next time. We tend to want more or something a little different to have the same effect. Therefore, it explains why tortilla chips with my favorite salsa is even more enticing!
The problem today is that we have a near infinite variety of foods that completely bypass our neuroregulation of appetite. These foods produce a degree of stimulation in the brain that leaves normal food looking (and tasting) awful.
Rewire your Brain to Restore your Health
This book is divided into two sections. The first part was to understand how we are wired to eat and the second is an action plan to rewire and reset for weight loss and health.
Phase one is a 30-Day Reset to find out where you’re at on the ‘insulin resistance spectrum’. Robb Wolf makes a case that in addition to diet, we also have to consider improvements to sleep, stress, and exercise for proper neuroregulation of appetite.
Phase two is a 7-Day Carb Test plan. It’s purpose is to build a personalized nutrition plan for the type and quantity of carbs a person can tolerate. This was based on a paper published in the journal Cell titled “Personalized Nutrition by Prediction of Glycemic Response”. It’s an interesting study that showed every individual has a different response to the types of food consumed. Some did better on lower-carb, higher-fat diets, while others responded well on quite the opposite, higher-carbs and lower-fat. You can make great strides with your health by simply being aware of the type of foods that mesh well with your body.
For Sustainable Change, have a Strong ‘WHY’
How do we keep going, when the going gets tough? Usually, a definitive why pushes us to reach our goals. Robb Wolf’s advice to strengthen your motivation calls for a strong WHY.
You need a reason to make these changes and just keep doing them, even when your motivation is in the toilet. That may sound daunting, but it’s not. We are talking about one meal at at time, one day at a time. Instead of fixating on your whole life, just focus on getting the next meal right. You don’t need a motivational speech to take your next breath, because it’s automatic. If you make this new way of eating and living automatic, it will be as effortless as taking your next breath.
What’s your take on the approach of personalized nutrition? Does your appetite need rewiring?
Check out Robb Wolf’s Wired to Eat from your local library, bookstore or click the link to take you to Amazon –
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