The more time passed by and the more we transitioned from a life in nature, to the life in big cities, the more human nutrition changed. Needless to say, when you make changes to what you do multiple times per day (eating), there are physiological changes that occur.
The “western diet” is one of the things that made the biggest impact on human health.
Characteristics Of The Western Diet
The western diet is characterized by the high intake of red meats, pre-packaged food, fizzy drinks, butter, candy, sweets, fried foods and even high-fructose corn syrup. As you can guess, most of these foods (besides meats), are products that focus on satisfying your desire for taste, rather than keep you satiated. Needless to say, the majority of foods on the list of the western diet, are poor in nutrients, thus being suboptimal for your health.
The structure, balance and composition of some of the most essential nutrients for the body have been fundamentally altered, as more foods and food-processing methods were implemented during the neolithic and industrial periods.
Researchers found that consuming a typical western diet for just one week, can impair brain function and lead to overeating and binging. And guess what, those effects were observed in otherwise healthy people that have no bad habits whatsoever and a tight, healthy body composition overall!. Again, in just 7 days the high processed fat & sugar western diet, had substantial impact on memory. Furthermore, the volunteers, all of which were in their 20s, reported that they started preferring the junk food-based diet, over whole foods.
The conclusion of the scientists involved in this study, was that the western diet makes it harder for people to regulate their appetite. This is perhaps because of the diet’s effect on the hippocampus - The part of your brain that regulates memory and is involved in the utilization of hunger signals.
Richard Stevenson, a psychology professor from Sydney, states the following:
“After just a short period of eating a western-based diet, the ‘tastier’ junk foods become the preferred option, even after you already had a meal. This makes it harder to resist those foods, making you eat more and inevitably creating a vicious cycle of overeating and excessive calorie consumption.”
How To Regulate Your Appetite
Throughout human existence, our bodies have seen long periods of scarcity. This made the body create certain mechanisms, which allow us to slow down the metabolism and survive with less food. These are the so-called “metabolic adaptations”, which the body knows very well how to utilize, because it knows that the lack of food is possible. However, the opposite isn’t valid - Throughout human history, we’ve never had such an abundance of foods as we do now. It has only been a couple of decades since we’ve had easy access to any food and many, newly introduced, processed foods. Because it has only been a couple of decades, the body has not yet had the chance to adapt to this and create weight-gain regulation mechanisms, like it did with the weight loss regulation mechanisms (metabolic adaptations). This is why, many people gain excess weight and this is also the exact reason why the majority of people in the USA are obese. However, there are two things you can do to mitigate the effects on appetite that are manifested with the typical, processed food, western diet.
Both of these things are linked to making nutritional choices, so let’s see what you can actually do!
#1 Eat MEAT & Organs!
Though nowadays food is a type of recreation and something to enjoy, for most of human existence, food meant survival. As we did not have such an abundance of products at easy access, we were naturally looking for the most satiating foods that can make us full for the longest period of time. And guess which those foods are… That’s right, animal foods!
Generally, if you want to minimize the chance of overeating and binging on crap food, you are best off focusing on nutrient-dense foods. With protein & fat being the two most satiating nutrients, we can easily conclude that meats, organs and other animal products are the most satiating foods one can eat.
The reason why you overeat processed, junk food, is because you did not give the body enough quality food, for it to feel satiated! Try placing animal products at the core of your nutrition and see if you’re still going to have the same desire for junk foods. In doing so however, you will need to pick quality meats - Resort to grass-fed animals, which are well-grown. To find such products, you would need to reach out to small and medium-scale farming businesses, which do not mass-produce meat.
#2 Eat Fruits & Veggies
Though fruits & veggies don’t provide a lot of protein and fats, they contain fiber and are usually high in volume (take up a lot of space in the stomach). Including good amounts of fruits and veggies in your nutrition will make you feel fuller, for longer. On top of that, replacing processed sugar foods with fruit is one of the best choices. The more you do this, the sweeter the taste of fruits will become and at one point, you’d prefer a mango or a pineapple, rather than nutella or chocolate.
Last but not least, you can also make use of potatoes!
Though they do not contain substantial amounts of proteins and fats, potatoes are the food that has the highest satiety index.
Have a steak with potato mash and some veggies and see how that affects your satiety! Granted, you won’t even think about binging on junk food. The typical western diet contains a lot of processed foods, sugars, processed fats, fizzy drinks, deep fried foods, etc.
All of these foods are poor in nutrients, unable to provide the essential nutrients your body needs and thus, having a poor effect on satiety. The bad thing is that the brain gets hooked on those foods, making them a priority choice because of their addictive taste. What you can do however, is focus on nutrient-dense, satiating foods and placing them at the core of your nutrition plan. This doesn’t really mean you should totally exclude your favorite junk foods, it only means you should have the balance in favor of nutrient-dense foods that will make you feel satiated.
Eat foods that keep you satiated and your body will thank you!
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