Why Can’t We Be Good When We Know What’s Bad?

I’ve been reading about how our western diet is spreading around the world and bringing obesity, diabetes, hypertension and a host of other non-infectious degenerative diseases to people who used to eat differently, and lived healthier.  It’s quite obvious that our high fat, high sugar, high salt, high calorie diets are bad, so why don’t we eat better?  Why can’t we be good when we know what’s bad?

We just can’t seem to resist sweet, salty and fatty foods when they are in abundance.  Generally, where humans are thinner, more active, with little diabetes and hypertension its because they didn’t have a whole lot of food choices to begin with.  The western diet is really one of abundance and variety, and people around the world if given the opportunity to eat like us, become pigs like us.

My question is:  Why can’t we say no?

I have no answer.  I weigh 240 pounds.  I certainly can’t say no.

Actually, that’s not completely true.  I’ve given up many favorite foods over the years, and I still gained weight.  I do eat healthier, but I don’t eat less.  I am driven by hunger.  I can’t say yes to being hungry.

I keep eating more than I should knowing that I will suffer degenerative diseases in the future.  That’s insane.

I find this philosophically fascinating.  Obviously the rational mind has little influence over the physical body and the hormones that regulate it.

What if science could create a pill that makes us shun desserts, fatty foods, fried foods, salty foods, etc., and made us crave just the right amount of healthy foods, would you take that pill?  What if this pill made food a non-issue, so you just ate exactly what your body needed to be healthy.  Would you take that pill?  It might kill off gourmet eating, fast food, candy, pastries, soft drinks, and all the other stuff we so love.

Yeah I know, you’re thinking, “Why can’t what’s bad be good?”  See that opens up another philosophical question.  What if bad food is what we want.  What if bad food is what makes life good?   That’s easy to believe, but remember the heart disease and diabetes?  Remember all the obese children and young adults?  Brownies and Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream are evil.

What if our current stage of humanity is a paradigm shift like going from hunter and gatherers to an agricultural society?  Humans have always pretty much eaten anything they could put in our mouths that didn’t kill us.  That’s why we’re called omnivores.  But what if we’re moving into a new phase of existence where we must become healthyvores?  Can our species make the transition?  If I had a time machine and could jump ahead a hundred years, or five hundred years, would I find homo sapiens 2.0 living a much longer and healthier life?

I don’t know.  It’s something to think about.  I’m not sure we can always change, to always evolve.

JWH – 2/18/13

One Response

  1. Hi James. Here’s a great article from the New York Times Magazine. It should be required reading for all Americans.

    The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/24/magazine/the-extraordinary-science-of-junk-food.html?adxnnl=1&pagewanted=all&adxnnlx=1361534728-NnO4pez/gybWbk9t5FtF/Q&_r=0

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