We’re not in Kansas anymore Toto: the Standard American Diet


Our bodies can’t recognize the caloric value of refined wheat.

Disclaimer: I am by no means “skinny”, and I’m by no means claiming to know what I’m talking about. I just found this interesting, and you can choose if you look into it further. I wish the best health for everyone. 

Yesterday morning I came across the story of this young man. Weighing over 700 pounds, Robert Gibbs made a plea on youtube to get help in losing weight. I felt terrible for this guy, who is clearly on a vicious, addictive path with food. It reminded me of a book I read called “The Pleasure Trap” by Douglas Lisle and Alan Goldhamer. I got it from my book shelf and started reading the sections I recall most clearly.

In a nutshell, the book proposes that human beings are becoming morbidly obese because we’ve broken the natural rules of energy consumption with the Standard American Diet (SAD). It’s not that we’re just making piglets of ourselves, but that the foods within SAD simply cannot be accurately calculated by our body’s satiation mechanisms. This diet is spreading like wild-fire across the planet, with France of all places announcing a new fat tax. The foods we consume nowadays can hardly be considered as such, and it’s obvious worldwide that we’re becoming a very sick species from the food industry. Below is a brief summary of what this book entails. It was a big ah-ha moment for me, and I hope this summary helps someone out there. I would encourage anyone with a food addiction to pick this book up ASAP.

Law of satiation
Within a natural setting of caloric abundance, animals will consume the correct amount of food needed for optimal function. This correction process can be attributed to three inhibiting factors in response to hunger: stretch satiation, nutrient sensation and “yowel circuits”.

When we eat, gastrointestinal juices stimulate nerves called stretch receptors to tell us when we’re full, whereas nutrient sensation tells us how much nutrition is in the food. Nutrient sensors differ depending on the type of macronutrients: proteins, carbs, and fat. A pound of vegetables is roughly 100 calories, fruit 300, and meat a whopping 1,200 calories per pound.

All species have satiation and nutrient sensation in working order. While on a day-to-day basis it may not get a perfect balance, overall the body will regulate itself through yowel circuits, which kick in when an animal is consistently under- or overeating. For example, if an animal is consistently getting 100 calories under what it needs, these circuits will tell the animal it’s starving. Conversely, an animal consistently overeating will get the message that it needs to slow down, storing fat in the body.

So if all is in order with animals’ ‘calorie-counting machinery’, why are human beings the only species suffering from obesity? Studies have shown that obese human beings have perfectly functioning yowel circuits, so there must be another issue causing this problem.

That’s not the food nature designed…
One problem is in the the high-fat, refined food that can be found in the middle isles of the grocery store. Firstly, these products contain an artificial concentration of fat that cannot be read properly by our body’s satiation mechanisms.

“Our ancestors rarely got more than 20% of calories from fat; the fattiest foods being wild game, which only contain about 15% fat”. In our modern diets, food is artificially pumped full of fat, in the range of 35-80% fat. “Because fat is calorically concentrated, a high-fat diet has an unnatural degree of caloric density. This concentration causes mistakes by our innate calorie-counting machinery.”

In other words, these fatty foods are above our radar.

Apparently genetics do play a role in the ability to assess the caloric density of foods above the ancestral norm of fat percentage (anything above 20%), but while some people’s bodies are able to assess this higher fat content, most can’t. It’s just too calorically concentrated for the body to properly assess. What the body senses to be a 500 calorie meal might actually be 600 calories or more.

Fiber: missing in action
Our bodies are designed to get most of our calories from plants. The second fatal error in our modern diet is the removal of fiber from vegetable and fruit matter, making it more calorie-dense because again, our bodies are not registering the calories without the essential fiber. “Fiber increases the amount of stretch receptor activity in the gastrointestinal system and thus helps the system to achieve an accurate calorie count.” Removing fiber disrupts the sensitive system, leaving our bodies to underestimate calories consumed. For example, whole rice (with fiber intact) contains about 500 calories per pound, but refined has a heavier caloric load of 550 calories per pound. “The standard American diet (SAD) is extraordinarily fiber-deficient, containing perhaps only 10% of the intake that would be found in our natural diet.”

“The motivational triad”
All species have physical and mental systems that help us survive. In fight or flight mode, our body goes through a series of physiological processes that allow for a blast of physical endurance and strength. We also have a motivational mental mechanism that has three parts: seek pleasure, avoid pain and conserve energy.
I think we’ve got the whole triad thing down pat, but you can learn more about it in this short video.

Hold the chemicals, please.
Ok so modern society is eating food that our bodies can’t read properly, we’re using the motivation triad like old pros, and then there is the third major whammy that many modern “foods” are chemically addictive. Refined sugar is engineered so that the body wants it oh so badly (I should know as I’ve had my own battles). In this sense, food becomes a drug. I could go on and on about this, but I would just encourage you to look up the drug-like effects of sugar alone. Studies have recently shown it to be as addictive as cocaine. That’s not to mention corn syrup, which can be found in virtually all sweetened, processed products. We can’t forget to acknowledge all of the other unpronounceable additives, flavour enhancers, colouring, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, and preservatives.

And we wonder why we are so f#cked up.

In conclusion: while we’re getting plenty of calories and fat, we are starving ourselves of fiber and nutrients in this modern age. The above content may be obvious to some, but when I go back to the United States and I see the amount of obesity I do, I’m in a State of Utter Shock. I have struggled with food addiction for the majority of my adult life, so I’m not preaching from a soapbox. I’ve done my research though, and I’ve seen the light. I’ve made some huge changes in my life over the past 6 or so years.

If we really want to lift our species up (and stop EFFING up the planet by eating so much meat), we should firstly take care of ourselves by finding economical ways to access high quality fruits and vegetables that do a body good. Heal ourselves, heal the world.

Treat your body as a temple. It’s your sacred vessel to live what could be a wonderful life!!!

I think I will blog soon on why the heck whole, organic foods are considered unaffordable for the standard American family, and also why organic food is not as nutrient-dense as it was even a few generations ago…


  1. Hi admin of this blog, do you allow guest posting ?

    Please let me know, i am interested .

  2. Pingback: Day 3-15 – helping a friend change her diet | The Vessel

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