We humans have evolved into a species that is pre-programmed to adore sugar. This particular trait, the pleasure-inducing taste of sweet is actually a result of evolution. When primal humans foraged for their food, the ones who were able to find the sweet foods had a better chance of survival. I’m no biologist, but let me break it down…
The fruit’s natural sugar means it contains more calories which means more energy. If you were a primal girl hunting in the forest, you quickly learned you’d get more energy out of the fruit versus a whole lot of greens.
You were also guaranteed you wouldn’t die. Why? The sweet taste signaled the food was safe to eat. And, since that piece of fruit gave you more energy , your foraging became much more efficient. Less time and less energy burned to get your nutrients. In turn, if you scored more fruit than your primal neighbors, you flourished and passed that strong taste for sweet onto your offspring (survival of the fittest) while those with less of an acute sweet tooth didn’t fare as well.Some of us may have a more addictive nature for this very reason. Somewhere in our DNA, sweet equals survival.
It’s doubtful our primal ancestors had a weight problem. First off, fruit was harder to come by, often requiring some climbing up trees, with a limited supply. But as we humans got smarter and learned agriculture, we learned to cultivate the foods we liked. We also learned to refine some of them, which is where the obesity story begins.
We now know the human body wasn’t really set up to handle highly refined foods, those super concentrated items like sugar, flour, or fruit juices. These foods break down much faster in a refined state than eating them whole, which spikes a rise in insulin, and also floods the gates of dopamine receptors (the brain’s pleasure center).
Unlike a Keto diet, when you’re rocking The Luminous plan, you still get some sweet things in the form of whole fruit which the body breaks down slowly, and that means no insulin spike which means you are keeping your metabolism at high efficiency.
There is another component to this sugar thing, which is how for some of us, it is a huge trigger, a gateway to wanting more and more, because of what happens in our brain. This is where refined sugar and flour really get nasty, because just like heroin, cocaine, tobacco or alcohol, some of us are more easily hooked.
We all know the skinny girl who can eat what she wants, and doesn’t go down the rabbit hole of eating an entire cake AKA big binges. This girl might even look at a cupcake with the same level of interest as celery. The same type of behavior goes for other substances like alcohol or tobacco. Some people can have one glass of wine and stop there, while others can’t have a drop without it triggering a binge. One person can be the occasional smoker, while another quickly ramps up to a pack or more a day. Some of us are more easily hooked. The brain chemistry is different.
We are raised in a culture infused with sugar. Cake is a must-have for birthdays, the kids trick or treat, and the food industry knows the secret to getting people to buy more…add sugar. I do think for some of us, we need to reconsider our relationship to the powder (sugar/flour). That’s been a hard pill to swallow for me, until I recognize how much better I feel without the stuff. It’s challenging to reset those long-engrained habits, beliefs and behaviors without a solid plan and support.
With more awareness of the dangers of refined sugar and flour, going Paleo has become popular. Plant-based as well. Personally, I think it’s OK to have variety, so I put myself in the category of Omnivore – I eat some meat, poultry, and fish as well as whole grains, fruits and legumes.
The good news is your tastebuds really DO change. The taste of an apple with peanut butter now is heavenly. Those sugar and flour free banana pancakes I’ve been raving about are a delight. I rarely have cravings when I’m eating this way. If I slip, I get right back to it.
If you’re not yet ready to jump on this bandwagon, consider leaning into it by remembering one rule:
Eat food that remembers where it came from.
In other words, less processed. And be grateful you don’t have to climb a tree for lunch!