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        FITNESS TIPS FOR 10/30/2002    

Best Natural Healthy Weight Loss Diet 

by Vicki Palmer

What sort of diet did nature intend for us?  To most of us, the 
thought of eating a natural diet would mean  eating tofu, bean 
sprouts, carrot juice and whole wheat bread.  "Natural" diet fads 
over the last century have included everything from corn flakes, 
wheat germ and Brewer's yeast to yogurt, cabbage soup, and 
blue-green algae.  Yet none of these are natural foods.  

Why do we eat the foods that we do?  Is it because we've learned 
how to eat from our mothers, who learned from their mothers?  
Nowadays, we learn how to eat from advertisements and fast-food 
menus.  Perhaps you've adopted a diet because you read a book 
and the author was so convinced that his method of eating was 
correct that it seemed to work for you as well.  At least it worked for 

Why should anyway need to tell us what to eat?  Our superior 
intelligence shouldn't blind us from learning a thing or two from 
animals.  Aren't we equipped with the same instinctual intelligence 
that urges a lion to kill zebras and the fox to catch rabbits?  How 
do they know which foods to choose?  Perhaps our instincts are 
still there but they've been overwritten by tradition, convenience
and commercials.  

Though our modern lives are far removed from the wild, you can 
still work the problem out on an intellectual basis.  Take yourself 
back on the timeline of diet evolution.  Go earlier than today's 
processed foods, earlier than the traditional foods of our cultures, 
earlier than the agricultural foods of the first civilizations.  Go even 
earlier than the invention of fire.  You are there in a warm climate 
with your two hands and other humans.  Look around and see what 
you would find to eat:  the uncooked plants and animals around

The hunter-gatherers of yore ate the animals they caught and the 
berries, nuts and vegetation they could collect.  They collected 
seafood along the shore and caught the nearby fish.  Before fire 
was invented, all of this was eaten raw.  Raw, unadulterated food 
does not have broad appeal to our modern, sophisticated palettes.  
But to humans who had never tasted today's foods, these foods 
tasted delicious.  It is the eating of highly seasoned, unnatural
foods that dulls one's taste buds and starts him on the 
never-ending search for taste satisfaction.

They certainly did not eat grains, beans or sugar.  Grains such as 
wheat are indigestible when raw.   Grains and beans can only be 
eaten after undergoing thorough cooking.  Traditional cultures 
developed methods to  process grains extensively to make them 
more digestible.  This processing didn't make them any better, it 
just made them "less worse".  Sugar cane could be gnawed on as
a treat when found naturally, but it wouldn't find it's way into every 
dish like it has now, and the difficulty in eating it would keep it an 
occasional treat.  Even honey would only be eaten in quantities 
found in a bee hive by the lucky scavenger.

Early hunter-gatherers, eating only raw food, had such a keen 
sense of taste that they could tell whether something was edible 
and beneficial for them by smelling or tasting just a bit of the item.  
If it tasted good, it was good for them.  When they had eaten 
enough it would stop tasting good.  This signal would naturally 
cause them to stop eating that food.  They could never overeat or 
overwhelm their bodies with too much of a certain vitamin or
natural toxin.  They didn't have to teach their children about 
poisonousberries, mushrooms, and other plants because 
poisonous items wouldn't taste good to them.  The answer to the 
question about how the lion or the fox knows what to kill and eat 
is simple, the zebra or the rabbit taste good to them, really good.

If I'm grossing you out, don't worry.  I'm not going to tell you to go 
out and kill something and eat it fresh.  Bear with me.

Eating foods that have been altered throws off our natural diet 
instincts.  We wind up eating too much of one food and not 
enough of another, causing unnatural deficiencies and surpluses 
of nutrients in our bodies.  Think of how frequently we use 
flavorings, sauces and sweeteners to improve the flavor of foods 
and thus eat more of them.

Though we no longer hunt and gather to fill the table, we each still 
have the innate ability to know the diet that is correct for us.  You 
may have noticed that after eating bland foods for awhile your 
perception of taste actually increases so that plain items taste 
flavorful.  Or perhaps the last time you were sick and didn't eat for 
a few days you may have found that the first thing you ate tasted 
really good.  That ability is still there, underneath it all.

Having said all this, I don't believe it's necessary to go completely 
back to nature and eat everything raw.  You can do that if you 
choose, but it isn't necessary for most people.

You should use this to judge all diets and health food claims for 
yourself. Throw away every piece of diet dogma you've picked up 
and kept because an "authority" said it was true.  Think for 
yourself about what you choose to eat.  

You can start by defining natural foods as those that could have 
been eaten raw by a hunter-gatherer.  You can judge the integrity 
of a given natural food based on this principle: how many steps 
has it been removed from nature.  Farming and breeding practices 
and processes like cooking, refining, drying, mixing, seasoning 
and fermenting are alterations to the natural state of a food.  A 
steak from a grass-fed cow may be cooked, but that makes it only 
one step away from nature.  Beef jerky is less natural because it 
has been seasoned and dried.  Sausage is even less natural 
because it has been ground, mixed, seasoned and cooked.

There are many degrees of "natural".  Once you know what the 
standard is, you can be see that every step away from that is a 
step away from a natural diet.  You can determine for yourself 
how close to a natural diet you would like to keep.

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