Monkeys Don't Sit Under Banana Trees Eating Bananas All Day

The Seattle Times reports on a new weight-loss plan, entitled "The Flavor Point Diet." The idea behind it is to outwit the chemicals, especially in processed foods, that make us want to eat more:

Fast food and packaged snacks push all kinds of flavor buttons, some of them almost secretly. Katz observes that we might reach for our favorite breakfast cereal because it's sweet, not realizing it's also loaded with salt. Ditto for the salty corn crisps that are nearly as sweet as the cereal. We might not detect it, but our brains do. As a result, we tend to eat more of these foods…

…He defuses this dietary bomb by narrowing each day's flavor options and providing variety over time, not all in one mouthful.

The menu for each day of a six-week program centers on a specific taste theme. For example, there is "peach day," with a fresh peach on whole-grain cereal for breakfast, a peach jam (all-fruit) and peanut butter (natural) sandwich on whole-grain bread for lunch and peach-coriander turkey with oven-roasted potatoes and turnips for dinner. (The recipes are in the book.) There is also walnut day, tomato day, lemon day, bell-pepper day, thyme day and other flavor-theme days.

Dr. Fuhrman addresses appetite satiety in a different way. As he explains in Disease Proof Your Child:

All primates, including humans, are driven to consume food from a variety of categories. Contrary to popular belief, a monkey does not sit under a banana tree eating bananas all day. He eats bananas and then may travel half a mile away to find a different type of food. He has an innate drive to consume variety; just satisfying the caloric drive is not enough. Likewise, children [or humans] will not be satisfied with eating only one or two foods; they will want to eat a portion of one food and want another type of food. As a higher-order animal with a bigger brain, we search for a variety of nutrient sources, and this variety assures that we get the broad assortment of nutrients that increases our immune function and longevity potential. I call this desire for different foods our variety driver.

The sense of taste is very important factor triggering the release of digestive juices and initiating the process of proper digestion. Taste can also be a guide for the body to judge the correct amount of food to consume, providing one is eating natural food. To satisfy true hunger, natural food tastes great. As the appetite is satiated, the thrill of eating diminishes and we feel we have had enough. Yet when we are exposed to processed foods, the body's natural signals to stop eating are disturbed. We offer tasty treats and desserts to stimulate and already-full appetite further and entice all to eat more. Then the unhealthier the diet becomes, the more food addition plays a role in governing appetite. We feel the need to imbibe when we get accustomed to consuming unhealthful foods. Unhealthful foods are addicting; healthy foods are not, and do not induce overeating.

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Comments (4) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Robin K - February 21, 2006 10:18 AM

First, loved the title of the article. It's kept me smiling all morning.
Second, Dr. Fuhrman's observations are TRUE, TRUE, TRUE. My picture could be next to this article.
I recently fell off the Eat-to-Live bandwagon for a few weeks. It all started just as is observed in the article: I ate some processed foods and restaurant meals. My signals to stop eating were surely disturbed and food addictions kicked in. I just ate and ate lousy food like candy, sweets, chips. These food addictions governed my eating for nearly three weeks. I finally stopped somehow. But the damage was done. We gain weight faster than we lose it, and I regained about 8 weeks of losses!
In following the Eat-to-Live plan, natural foods tasted so good. My cravings and binges were completely controlled. For months I didn't overeat or binge following the plan, just as this article implies. It's good to be back to healthy eating.

I'd sure love a tip for getting back on track faster though. A tip which you've seen effective in practice. That's the last piece of the puzzle many struggle with. Having the knowledge to do better and having willpower is not enough at these times. Neither is the usual advice like "distract oneself, take a walk, etc." How do we correct a deviation faster?

kerry - September 20, 2006 11:45 AM

what else do monkeys eat besides bananas?

Ilan Stern - December 5, 2006 2:29 PM

Xioalan thinks monkeys eat peaches, is she correct??

kaitlyn - September 6, 2007 4:27 PM

sure they do ....if they havent eaten in days they will be hungry and waiting for a bannana. LoL (laugh out loud)

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