Tuesday, April 3, 2007
The Pleasure Trap
The Pleasure Trap (by Lisle and Goldhamer) is a book I'm reading. So far (I'm not finished yet) it's been very thought-provoking. It says that people are programmed to seek pleasure, avoid pain, and conserve energy as much as possible. This is supposed to give us our best shot at surviving and reproducing.
The "pleasure trap" is that we have means available to achieve pleasure that end up damaging our health and cutting our lifespan short. A few examples are fast food and cocaine. McDonald's is so successful because it allows people to sit in their cars and exert the minimum effort to obtain a high calorie meal. The meal may please the taste buds, but we all know the consequences of surviving on fast food. Likewise, cocaine delivers an intense feeling of pleasure but has majorly bad health/survival consequences. It's helped me to understand why I crave foods that are bad for me. Hey, it's not my fault!
A second great point concerns the body's mechanism for letting you know you've eaten enough. Apparently we have a very sophisticated system in our stomachs that calculates the carbs, protein, and fat of everything we eat. When we've eaten enough, it sends a message to stop. But why are people overweight, then? Well, the book says, this system only works on foods that our ancestors ate. The mechanism can't accurately count the calories/fat of modern processed foods or high-fat foods. (The fattiest thing our ancestors ate was wild game, which has about 15% fat. Cherry Garcia ice cream has 52% fat.) When our internal calorie counting system fails, we keep eating and get fat.
The book suggests that a surefire way to lose weight is to eat only veggies, fruits, beans, whole grains, and other foods that have been around for thousands of years. If you do this for a few weeks, you'll rapidly lose the taste for fatty, processed, or sweet foods. It recommends consuming no animal protein/products for reasons I'll cover in another post.
I've been trying to eat this way for a few days (except for some stuffed pizza in Chicago which I don't regret one bit). I've been amazed at how few cravings I've had. We'll see if it lasts.