Big Change Pillar #1: Menu

Welcome to Lesson #2 of the Big Change Program test drive!

The Big Change Program tackles three Pillars of Lifestyle:

  • Menu
  • Movement
  • Mindset

Today we'll look at the first of the three Pillars we need to optimize in order to achieve our Big Change.

Menu

At our core, we are animals. That may not sound noble, or sexy, or inspiring. But it's true. And actually, embracing the truth of it is one of the noblest, sexiest, and inspiring understandings I've ever achieved.

We're different from other animals (from all of nature, actually) in one very important way, however: 

We get to reject our natural, authentic selves.

Poet David Whyte puts it this way:

I look out
at everything
growing so wild
and faithfully beneath
the sky
and wonder
why we are the one
terrible
part of creation
privileged
to refuse our flowering.

The most fundamental trait of any animal is its diet. Every species has evolved to thrive on a specific diet, and can thrive only to the extent it can acquire its default foods.

Birds eat worms. Whales eat plankton. Squirrels eat nuts (and most of my birdseed!).

And humans eat human food. 

Problem is, we've forgotten what that is. 

When you look around, most people you see are eating foods that never existed in nature. Donuts. Cheeseburgers. Kit Kats. Hot dogs. Pizza.

And they suffer the predictable effects of that unnatural diet: excess weight, chronic inflammation, and metabolic diseases and premature disability and death.

Natural Human Diet

That's why the first pillar of Big Change is getting back to a natural human diet. It's not just about "what's healthy" or "what helps us lose weight" or "what's good for the animals" or "what's good for the environment," although all those are key attributes of the natural human diet. 

Instead, think of the natural human diet as the one that we were built for. Our teeth, our tongues, our eyes, our hands, our stomachs, our small intestines, our gut bacteria, our two-legged posture - all those features testify to the foods we are designed to consume.
Naturally Attainable Quantities

It's not enough to eat the right foods. We also have to beware the huge quantities of foods that are available for almost no effort.

We're talking 3-pound bags of shelled walnuts from Costco. Sure, walnuts are natural, and nuts are associated with longevity in just about every population study ever done.

What's unnatural is not the food itself, but the quantity. Think of it this way: how long and how hard would Grog, your Paleolithic ancestor, have had to labor to amass three pounds of walnuts? 

First, finding a tree full of ripe nuts is a long shot. 

Second, competing with the other species who eat nuts means that Grog would not be able to secure the entire harvest.

Third, Grog would need to assign someone to guard the collected nuts while he was out collected more.

Fourth, Grog would have to find a rock of suitable size and shape and set to work cracking all the nuts. 

But thanks to modern economies of scale powered by fossil fuels rather than muscles, we don't need to spend any time or physical energy at all, once we've driven the nuts home in our fossil-fuel-powered vehicle.

So when we consider the authentic human diet, we're looking at two things:

  1. The right foods
  2. In the right quantities

We're Not Talking About Dieting

When we start talking about quantities, you might think we're advocating voluntary restriction of food. Like Weight Watchers' points, or "protein the size of your palm," or tiny salads made up of three leaves and half a cherry tomato.

Not at all. That type of dieting is totally unsustainable, and will drive you crazy if you try to maintain it.

Instead, we want to eat large quantities of the foods humans were likely to find in large quantities in the natural course of our day. Like, for example, leaves (greens) and tubers (potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, etc.). And other cultivated foods that express similar nutritional profiles.

And nuts are cool, but in the quantities we would have found them in nature back in the day.

This Leads to Movement

In the next lesson, we'll take a look at natural human movement. You see, talking about diet without talking about the effort, time, and energy needed to collect that diet means we're operating out of context. 

And we're likely to get things wrong.

So stay tuned, and you'll see how all this connects.

Ready to Get Started?

If you're ready to dive in and make this your best year ever, go here to read about the WellStart Big Change Program.