Calories and Zoo Animals

Recently I started to buy a box of peanut butter Girl Scout cookies. So I flipped over the box and looked at the label. There are 150 calories per cookie. I handed the box back and instead gave a donation. I know me.

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I could not eat just one and get much enjoyment out of it. I would need to sit down with a glass of milk, dip each cookie in the milk and quickly eat it. And in very little time I would have eaten the majority of the box, which would have been several thousand calories. Clearly not smart.

I think of calories like money.

Money is just a piece of paper with symbols on it that varies in its purchas- ing power. We should be thinking in terms of what it can buy today and how much value that it would give us. We know the problem is not the expensive things we buy that give us great value. It’s the pennies we spend on short term satisfaction and very little long term value. It’s the expensive super- duper everything in it drive-through coffee.

Calories are important and we should have a guess of how many calories we need and spend those with value. And we should be thinking in terms of long term benefits versus short term satisfaction.

So how do we know what we should eat and how much? We should use the method proven by the test of time. That is, learning from our mistakes. I am going to tell you how to do that, but first I would like to back up to our talk on zoo animals and now talk about our ancestors that were hunters and gatherers.

Zoo animals’ diets are arrived at by looking at their environment and be- havior in the wild, not in a zoo. Then trying the best they can to simulate that, trying it and see how it works, learning from what does not work and changing.

Our genetics that control the bio-chemical pathways in our bodies have evolved over time, but there is no evidence they have significantly changed since the dawn of agriculture.

I think it is important to look back at ancient times and ask what did early man eat to survive? There may be some argument as to exactly what that was, but it is simple to think of ancient man as having to hunt for meat and gather food.

It most likely consisted of lean meats, leafy greens, fruits and berries. The majority of their energy went into hunting and gathering food. Their survival depended on it. Food was scarce and difficult to obtain.

I believe their genetic bio-chemical pathways told their bodies that some- thing was very wrong when food was not available and would shut down the burning calorie metabolism.

They would eat when food was available – most likely until they were full. It is my belief that fullness, not over fullness, tells our brains to burn calories.

Starvation or low calorie diets tell our brains to shut down our metabolism and store calories.

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