Life expectancy would grow by leaps and bounds if green vegetables smelled as good as bacon. Doug Larson
A wise man once said that the only thing better than bacon, is more bacon. The smell of bacon is almost immediately identifiable and let’s be honest, most people would agree that it tastes just as good as it smells. But why do so many of us avoid foods that would be otherwise viewed as healthy and are drawn to other foods that would be widely viewed as unhealthy, like bacon? Our evolutionary past may provide some clues to this.
Our paleo ancestors were subject to the same laws of nature as any other animal found in nature. When it comes to animals in the wild, high fat high calorie foods offer the most advantages. In the endless game of survival of the fittest, death by starvation is an ever looming threat faced by all animals. Foods that are high in calories and fat offer the animal easy energy and a way to possibly replenish fat stores that could be the determining factor for an animal’s survival when famine strikes. Naturally animals will be drawn to high fat high calorie foods and will actively seek them out as they are scarce in nature, in order to maximize their chances of survival. Our senses like any other animal’s senses have become finely tuned to identify and find these particular types of food sources. Anyone who has a dog can tell you how their dog behaves when they are cooking something like bacon.
But humans have a unique problem not faced by most animals found in nature, we have removed ourselves from the survival of the fittest game and famine is seldom seen except in war-torn and impoverished countries. We have learned how to gather our favorite foods in such quantities that we can eat them whenever we desire and not have to settle for low calorie low fat foods. This is where our evolutionary biological processes turn against us. Fat is something animals use to store energy in times of scarcity; but with us not being subject to famine and with a seemingly unlimited source of high calorie high fat foods, our fat stores have become more of a liability than an asset.
We are in a unique position where we are now having to seek out foods that have less calories and less fat so our natural biology can compensate for the overabundance. One issue with these high fat high calorie foods is they tend to not have many of the other vital nutrients that other lower energy yield foods can offer. Leafy greens, although low in fat and calories, are high in the vitamins and minerals that we need in order to stay healthy. There is an alarming trend in the human species where we see people that are very over weight but are also very unhealthy. We evolved to have a balanced diet where our body’s compensated to maximize the resources that were provided to it. Our natural desire to actively seek out these high energy foods and the abundance of them has put our natural biology in a position that it was not set up to deal with.
We need to address how we deal with abundance as our innovation and technology moves faster that our evolutionary biology. We need to realize that we have to limit ourselves and utilize self-control when it comes to our eating habits. So although most people can say bacon is arguably great with just about everything; people need to realize that we didn’t evolve to eat foods like bacon as often as we’d like to. Like with everything else in the world we live in, moderation is key to a healthy lifestyle.