‘Your brain is a pig: How evolution has primed us to gorge ourselves on fattening foods’; this is the title of an article published on Canadian news site CBC.ca. It was written by Professor Gordon Orians, a professor emeritus of evolutionary biology at the University of Washington in Seattle.
The pig statement may be alarming, but it really does help to explain why following a healthy eating pattern can be so difficult to sustain. It also explains how, despite good intentions, our brains will often guide us to make food choices that are high in energy (kilojoules), fat and sugar.
Origins of our food cravings
As humans, we evolved under conditions of food scarcity where our principal occupation was finding and consuming enough energy to stay alive. We are genetically engineered to prefer or seek out high-fat foods because fats are more energy dense – fat contains three times more energy per gram compared to carbohydrate-rich foods.
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