Why do we like foods that aren’t good for us?

Did Mother Nature make a mistake?

This little guy, whose DNA is almost identical to ours, eats nothing but raw plants.

This little guy, whose DNA is almost identical to ours, eats nothing but raw plants.

Throughout billions of years, all of the creatures in the wild have spent their entire lives eating the foods that nature intended for them to eat. Our human ancestors did the same for millions of years. Just like the animals whose DNA is closest to ours (gorillas and chimps), our ancient ancestors ate only plants.

Their bodies weren’t designed to catch animals, kill them with their bare hands and eat them raw. So why and how did we start eating so much animal foods?

A few questions in our book. If whole, plant-based foods are the most nutritious way for us to eat, why do we crave many foods that we know are not good for us? Did Mother Nature play a trick on us? Why did she let that happen? From Chapter One of Healthy Eating, Healthy World:

Doug Lisle and Alan Goldhamer do a great job of explaining this mystery in “The Pleasure Trap: Mastering the Hidden Force That Undermines Health and Happiness.” They explain that all species have two essential purposes: to survive and reproduce. To aid us in achieving these goals, nature provided all species with what Lisle and Goldhamer call a “motivational triad”—a tendency to seek pleasure, avoid pain, and conserve energy.

In the wild, our ancestors instinctively ate things that looked and tasted good to them, or whatever food that they could gather or kill. They naturally preferred calorically dense nuts, avocados, and meat as they sought pleasure, avoided pain, and conserved energy.

Fast-forward to the twentieth century. Animal foods that were eaten only on rare, festive occasions gradually became more available—so much so that by the end of that century, the typical Western diet provided several forms of animal foods at almost every meal.

So when your child says that he prefers pizza to broccoli, he is just following his natural motivational triad. He doesn’t yet know that cheese-laden pizza is not good for his health; he just knows that he likes it. This is what the “pleasure trap” is all about. We’re following our natural instinct to seek pleasure, but we’re exercising this instinct in an unnatural world—a world full of unhealthy choices everywhere we go.

Lisle and Goldhamer's book which I highly recommend

Lisle and Goldhamer’s book which I highly recommend

Escaping the conundrum. Today’s food producers have become very skilled at providing us with foods that we crave—and those foods are now very inexpensive. Today, most people can afford to have great-tasting animal foods three meals a day. In nature, we would never have the desire to eat foods that were not nourishing for us. But today, we’re not living in nature and the foods that provide most of our calories were not produced by nature. How do we get out of this mess?

By using our cognitive niche, learning what foods we should be eating and why, and making better choices—we’ll not only become much healthier but those better food choices will do some wonderful things for the environment. Ultimately, that entire process will provide for the long-term sustainability of the human species. In this 17-minute 2012 TEDx video, Dr. Lisle explains how that “pleasure trap” works.

Dr. Doug Lisle (co-author of The Pleasure Trap)

After learning all about the “pleasure trap” back in 2004, I suddenly realized that it’s not the individual’s fault—that she is eating a horribly unhealthy diet, becoming obese, sick and dependent on drugs. Food producers are just trying to make a profit for their shareholders. And they’re doing a great job. They’re making foods that we crave and that we can afford—our health is really of no concern to them.

For my 727th consecutive daily blog, I feature the Boeing 727.

For my 727th consecutive daily blog, I feature the Boeing 727, on which I have probably flown hundreds of times.

The Bottom Line. The obvious solution is education. President Obama, President Clinton, Mayor Rahm Emanuel of Chicago and millions of other enlightened Americans already know how to solve our nation’s obesity, health and cost of healthcare dilemma. They also know that people everywhere need to be told the truth about what they should be eating.

And they need to be told frequently. Those of who know the truth must take responsibility for helping others learn the near magical powers of a whole foods, plant-based diet.

Handy 4-piece take-charge-of-your-health kit—from Amazon.com

Want to find out how healthy your family is eating? Take our free 4Leaf Diagnostic Survey. It takes less than five minutes and you can score it yourself. After taking the survey, please give me your feedback as it will be helpful in the development of our future 4Leaf app for smartphones. Send feedback to jmorrishicks@me.com

International. We’re now reaching people in over 100 countries. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter or get daily blog notices by “following” us in the top of the right-hand column. For occasional updates, join our periodic mailing list.

To order more of my favorite books—visit our online BookStore now

J. Morris Hicks, working daily to promote health, hope and harmony on planet Earth.

For help in your own quest to take charge of your health, you might find some useful information at our 4Leaf page or some great recipes at Lisa’s 4Leaf Kitchen.

Got a question? Let me hear from you at jmorrishicks@me.com. Or give me a call on my cell at 917-399-9700.

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Blogging daily at hpjmh.com…from the seaside village of Stonington, Connecticut – Be well and have a great day.

—J. Morris Hicks, board member, T. Colin Campbell Foundation

About J. Morris Hicks

A former strategic management consultant and senior corporate executive with Ralph Lauren in New York, J. Morris Hicks has always focused on the "big picture" when analyzing any issue. In 2002, after becoming curious about our "optimal diet," he began a study of what we eat from a global perspective ---- discovering many startling issues and opportunities along the way. In addition to an MBA and a BS in Industrial Engineering, he holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, where he has also been a member of the board of directors since 2012. Having concluded that our food choices hold the key to the sustainability of our civilization, he has made this his #1 priority---exploring all avenues for influencing humans everywhere to move back to the natural plant-based diet for our species.
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1 Response to Why do we like foods that aren’t good for us?

  1. Jim: I linked your today’s blog:


    I also included links to Dr. McDougall’s Jan. 2013 newsletter that arrived today.

    You, too, could give publicity to “Plant Positive”!

    1) McDougall Newsletter: January 2013 –
    Plant Positive Video Series Speaks Out Against Low-Carb Diet Advocates
    = http://www.drmcdougall.com/misc/2013nl/jan/ppositive.htm
    [ Written by “PlantPositive”. K. ]

    2) McDougall Newsletter: January 2013 – =
    Denis Burkitt, MD Opened McDougall’s Eyes to Diet and Disease

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