There is another opiate that most of us consume on a daily basis that may be just as addicting, and that is sugar.” ~Kevin Cann via robbwolf.com
Below is an excerpt out of two of my books MIRA!: The Latina’s Guide to Finally Losing Weight and Getting Healthy and The Complete Guide to Primitive Eating. I wrote it for MIRA! but then realized it needed to go into an updated version of The Complete Guide to Primitive Eating. Since nobody is reading MIRA!, even though I am trying to give it away here, I decided to make this a blog post.
I don’t cover the negative affects of sugar here. I do in my books. Specifically, under the diabetes section. This is just a look at how and why we respond to sugar the way we do.
How much sugar do you think our ancestors had access too?
Every living creature has one goal and that is to produce a surviving offspring. This includes plants. Some plants protect the seed of their offspring by covering it with and indigestible coating, such as wheat. Others protect it with biotoxins, such as potatoes and tomatoes. Some use the flavor of bitterness as a warning not to eat them. In the case of fruit like berries, it’s the opposite. They want to be eaten so they can be passed through the digestive system a dropped at another location to sprout and grow. This is why berries are bright in color and sweet.
When it comes to foraging for food out in the wild, if something is bitter, it is a good indication not to eat it. However, if something is sweet, your body instinctively gives the green light to eat it. You see, sugar is not easily found in nature. Your body knows this so, when you introduce something sweet into your body it goes nuts. Your body says, eat as much of this while you can.
This point was really made clear to me when I watched Out of the Wild — Venezuela. In this show, 9 strangers were dropped in the middle of nowhere Venezuela and had to walk out, over 70 miles, with limited supplies and no food. After just a couple days, they were starving. But unlike other survival shows, they didn’t just have to survive for a few days and wait to be rescued, they had to walk out. A few quit but the rest pressed on, killing and foraging whatever they could to eat. The scene I remember the most, like I was there myself, was the one where they were walking one day and stumbled across a patch of wild blueberries. Like animals, they dropped to their knees and went wild picking and eating the berries.
I can’t think of a better example of our human survival instincts kicking in. Their body told them to “eat as much as you can.” Why? 1) They were mobile. They needed the energy to continue to walk. Also, because they were walking to safety, this meant they had to eventually leave. They had to fill up and go. The same would go if you came across a clean source of water in this situation. 2) The berries were a rare find. They had gone days without seeing any. Who knows when they would see another patch. 3) The berries were sweet. This let them know they were safe to eat. This isn’t a theory on how our ancestors reacted to sugar. This is a real life accounting of how humans reacted to sugar in 2010.
Now, imagine this instinctive reaction to sugar when you are at a restaurant, your home, or the grocery store! Sugar is not so hard to find now. The grocery store is full of isle upon isle of it. Your cupboards are full of it too. It is so available that you don’t even have to chew to get it. You can just pour it into your body in the form of juices, soda, and caramel lattes. How are you supposed to turn off this instinct to “eat as much as you can?” In the wild, you didn’t have to. You would either leave where the sugar was available or you would simply run out. But, in this day and age, these two scenarios are nearly impossible.