Throughout almost all of history, humans (like all other animals) have evolved to be great at finding and consuming calories. Calories are the most important thing people get from food. Not protein, fat, carbohydrate, calcium, vitamin C or anything else. In hunter-gatherer times, we simply needed as many calories as possible in order to build up our fat stores so that we could survive droughts and other periods of scarcity. The people who were the best at finding and consuming calories and storing them as fat had a survival advantage that would be honed over future generations.
Imagine someone like me wandering through the African Savannah and coming across an ancient doughnut tree. I would’ve been great at stuffing a massive amount of doughnuts into my face and the calories would’ve gone straight to my already ample belly, ready to coast through the approaching dry spell with ease. My super instinct for chasing calories would’ve seen me more motivated than most to remember exactly where I found this tree and what time of year it was in season so I could take advantage of it next year. I might’ve even figured out how to plant more of them so that next year’s calorie haul would be even bigger.
In hunter-gatherer times, the imaginary doughnut tree would’ve been the healthiest tree around because it provided the most calories for the least effort. It wouldn’t have done us any long term damage because it was only in season for a short time and for the rest of the year we would’ve relied mostly on fruits and vegetables.
These days the doughnut tree is always in season. It’s everywhere we look, everywhere we go and for many of us, including my former self, it totally dominates our thoughts.
The point of writing this is to let you know that if you are a food addict, you are not broken. On the contrary, you are the epitome of the perfect human survival machine.
Tomorrow we’ll talk about what this all means for us in today’s world.