We’ve all heard about diets that don’t work – so what’s different about one that does work? The key is satisfaction. Usually when someone is unable to stay on a diet successfully, it is because he or she is not feeling satisfied on all levels. Either the person is not getting enough calories, or enough of the needed nutrients, or enough volume, or enough taste satisfaction, or even all of the above! We are biologically programmed to need these desires fulfilled, and that’s a good thing, because that programming can guide us to what is healthy and right for us.
Human beings love to eat! So a diet of restricted volume or restricted calories, bland flavors, or missing nutrients, feels like deprivation to most people. Sheer will power is often required in order to stay on such a diet for any length of time. Unhealthful craving and bingeing become common side effects. And for those with enough discipline to stay the course and perhaps even achieve some of the results they were seeking, their success tends to be as short-lived as the ultimately unsustainable diet that brought it about.
What we need is a diet that helps us get the health results we seek, and is truly sustainable in the long run – as in for the rest of our life. As I proposed earlier, this diet needs to satisfy us on all the important levels. It needs to provide enough calories to fuel a healthy level of activity, enough of the right nutrients to satisfy all of our body’s requirements, enough volume (and quantity of delicious bites!) to leave us feeling satisfied, and it needs to satisfy all of our taste buds.
Cooking food concentrates its calories by reducing the food’s volume, since much of the water is cooked away. Cooking also damages many nutrients; the net effect is that cooked food delivers a ratio of high calories to low nutrients, often requiring a person to overeat on calories in order to satisfy their nutrient needs (and volume desire). Uncooked, undamaged fresh plant foods, on the other hand, such as ripe raw fruits and vegetables, deliver a ratio of low calories to high nutrients, allowing us to easily fulfill our nutrient needs without overeating on calories. As long as a sufficient quantity of sweet fruits are eaten (this is the most delightful part!), even the most active person can satisfy his or her caloric needs with fresh uncooked plant foods.
Many people imagine that a diet of all or mostly fresh, raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds could not possibly be a wholly satisfying experience. It’s true that when first adopting such a diet, most people will experience some withdrawal symptoms.
Let’s face it: cooked, salted, spiced, sugared and/or fatty foods are quite stimulating and are actually addicting! You probably know about the coffee withdrawal headache that a heavy coffee drinker will experience temporarily upon quitting the habit?
Well, if you stop eating stimulating cooked foods you will also experience a temporary detoxification reaction from your body. But once the body has eliminated most of the toxic residue, the dedicated health seeker will experience remarkably renewed health and vigor.
At this point, the exquisite natural sensitivity of the taste buds will recover, and the more subtle flavors of unsalted, unspiced fresh natural foods will be fully appreciated. Humans are born with a strong, predominating sweet tooth. In the beginning of life this sweet tooth is satisfied by the abundant lactase in mother’s milk, and after natural weaning it is healthfully satisfied by the sugars in ripe sweet fruit. It is only in the absence of sufficient quantities of sweet fruit that a person will desire or crave refined sugars or complex carbohydrates such as cooked grains and starches.
A diet of fresh uncooked plant foods, including an abundance of ripe sweet fruit, non-sweet fruit, leafy greens, and small amounts of nuts, seeds, and fatty fruits, all eaten in sufficient variety and quantity, can be absolutely satisfying on all levels. These waterrich, nutrient-rich, fiber-rich, exquisitely delicious foods are designed by Mother Nature to satisfy all of our needs. They are in no way addictive, and provide plenty of perfect nutrition with just the right amount of calories. Fresh, ripe sweet fruit is so satisfying in fact, that our appetite signal will shut off before we have overeaten. It’s nature’s perfect plan for us. When we live according to nature’s plan, health is our inevitable result.