Tuesday night I saw a movie called “Forks Over Knives”. I am not one to blindly accept what I see on TV, but if the facts being presented in this movie are true, (I will research more to determine my thoughts on that), then my family and I need to examine our intake of animal protein and processed foods.
My husband likes to point out that humans are omnivores. We are meant to eat both plants and animals, but the actual definition of the word is more than that.
Omnivores (from Latin: omni, meaning “all, everything”; vorare, “to devour”) are species that eat both plants and animal material as their primary food source. They often are opportunistic, general feeders not specifically adapted to eating and digesting either meat or plant material primarily. Many depend on a suitable mix of animal and plant food for long-term good health and reproduction.
Opportunistic is a word I like here. To me that means variety. We are not meant to eat either plants or animals primarily. Now let’s look at the definition of whole foods:
Whole foods are foods that are unprocessed and unrefined, or processed and refined as little as possible, before being consumed. Whole foods typically do not contain added ingredients, such as salt, carbohydrates, or fat. Examples of whole foods include unpolished grains, beans, fruits, vegetables and non-homogenized dairy products. Originally all human food was whole food.
If you ask our collective common sense, and seek the wisdom of our ancestors, the answer will surely be that the current Western diet has way too much processed food and way too many animal products. So, if you want to link our current health problems to this highly processed, high animal protein diet, I can’t imagine too many people would disagree.
But we are really talking about too much. Do we need to eliminate animal products completely, if their consumption provides a sense of joy and happiness? Or should we limit the total quantity?
Should we eliminate all processed food? (I personally think yes), but that is not realistic either. It is not possible for the most wonderful tasting French croissant to be made without a great deal of high fat content butter and refined flour. Occasionally, a warm bakery treat is pure joy.
So why do we collectively find it so difficult to limit ourselves? In the movie, Dr. Douglas Lisle’s research and conclusions were presented:
The Motivational Triad: the pursuit of pleasure; the avoidance of pain; and the conservation of energy. Unfortunately, in present day America’s convenience-centric, excess-oriented culture where fast food, recreational drugs, and sedentary shopping have become the norm, these basic instincts that once successfully insured the survival and reproduction of man many millennia ago, no longer serve us well. In fact, it’s our unknowing enslavement to this internal, biological force embedded in the collective memory of our species that is undermining our health and happiness today.
The movie explains this hard-wired concept further by showing pictures of a human stomach and the receptors that tell our brain “I am full”.
- With a large, (volume) meal of plant-based whole food that is say 900 calories, the stomach is full and all the receptors communicate that to the brain.
- But if you change the meal to be more than half of the calories to be animal protein, (a typical meal) the stomach will not be full and the signal will be a feeling of dissatisfaction.
- If you consumed 900 calories of pure fat, the stomach would be so empty it would feel like you only drank a glass of water. (We all know how drinking a glass of water does very little to make us feel full, despite what our mothers told us.)
The solution then, is amazingly simple. Go back to the Canada Food Guide if you need a reminder. For women aged 19 to 50 it recommends servings per day:
- Vegetables & Fruit – 7 to 8
- Grain – 6 to 7
- Milk and alternatives – 2
- Meat and alternatives – 2, (a serving of meat is considered 2.5 ounces or 125 ml)
- 30 – 45 mL (2 to 3 Tbsp) of unsaturated oils and fats
If you eat one restaurant meal per day, you would be eating far more than your allowable meat and fat content for the whole day, in one sitting. It is safe to say that most of us are eating too much of the stuff we should be limiting and not nearly enough of the good stuff.
It helps every now and then to say these things out loud.