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Why we eat too much sticker on the table.

What To Leave Off Your Table (To Stay Off This Surgeon’s)

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Why we eat too much (and how we can fix that)

This is Dr. Andrew Jenkinson. He’s a Consultant Surgeon specializing in the treatment of obesity, gallstones, hernias, heartburn and abdominal pain. He runs regular clinics in both London and Dubai. What he has to offer us today, though, is insight as to what’s on our table that puts us on his table, and how we can quite easily change that up.

So, why do we eat too much?

First things first: some metabolic calculations. No, we’re not going to require you to grab a calculator here… Your body does it for you!

Our body’s amazing homeostatic system (the system that does its best to keep us in the “Goldilocks Zone” of all our bodily systems; not too hot or too cold, not dehydrated or overhydrated, not hyperglycemic or hypoglycemic, blood pressure not too high or too low, etc, etc) keeps track of our metabolic input and output.

What this means: if we increase or decrease our caloric consumption, our body will do its best to increase or decrease our metabolism accordingly:

  • If we don’t give it enough energy, it will try to conserve energy (first by slowing our activities; eventually by shutting down organs in a last-ditch attempt to save the rest of us)
  • If we give it too much energy, it will try to burn it off, and what it can’t burn, it will store

In short: if we eat 10% or 20% more or less than usual, our body will try to use 10% to 20% more or less than usual, accordingly.

So… How does this get out of balance?

The problem is in how our system does that, and how we inadvertently trick it, to our detriment.

For a system to function, it needs at its most base level two things—a sensor and a switch:

  • A sensor: to know what’s going on
  • A switch: to change what it’s doing accordingly

Now, if we eat the way we’re evolved to—as hunter-gatherers, eating mostly fruit and vegetables, supplemented by animal products when we can get them—then our body knows exactly what it’s eating, and how to respond accordingly.

Furthermore, that kind of food takes some eating! Most fruit these days is mostly water and fiber; in those days it often had denser fiber (before agricultural science made things easier to eat), but either way, our body knows when we are eating fruit and how to handle that. Vegetables, similarly. Unprocessed animal products, again, the gut goes “we know what this is” and responds accordingly.

But modern ultra-processed foods with trans-fatty acids, processed sugar and flour?

These foods zip calories straight into our bloodstream like greased lightning. We get them so quickly so easily and in such great caloric density, that our body doesn’t have the chance to count them on the way in!

What this means is: the body has no idea what it’s just consumed or how much or what to do with it, and doesn’t adjust our metabolism accordingly.

Bottom line:

Evolutionarily speaking, your body has no idea what ultra-processed food is. If you skip it and go for whole foods, you can, within the bounds of reason, eat what you like and your body will handle it by adjusting your metabolism accordingly.

Now, advising you “avoid ultra-processed foods and eat whole foods” was probably not a revelation in and of itself.

But: sometimes knowing a little more about the “why” makes the difference when it comes to motivation.

Want to know more about Dr. Jenkinson’s expert insights on this topic?

If you like, you can check out his website here—he has a book too 🙂

Why We Eat (Too Much) – Dr. Andrew Jenkinson on the Science of Appetite

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