Healthy Lives aims to provide the benefits of a natural diet and exercise regime within the realities of modern life.
But what is a natural diet? A lion would die if it had to live on grass, while a cow eats nothing else. Any species thrives on the foods it evolved to eat. And humans are no different. Unfortunately, most of us have forgotten which foods make up the natural human diet. Lions eat meat, cows eat grass. And humans eat… a Big Mac? Chocolate sprinkled donuts? Tofu patties?
Modern day foods
Many of the foods we eat today were not part of our natural diet. As recently as 5,000 years ago, most humans still lived as hunters and gatherers, foraging for edible plants and hunting and fishing for protein. Our natural diet consisted of just meat, fish, eggs, (root) vegetables, mushrooms, fruit, nuts and seeds.
As our society transitioned to agriculture, we added grains, legumes and dairy to this diet. But we didn’t jump to donuts and tofu all at once. Traditionally, grains and legumes would be soaked and fermented for many hours, making them easier to digest. Similarly, most dairy would be fermented to make yogurt or cheese. Later, as food technology advanced, our foods became more and more processed, giving us things like wheat starch, refined sugar and soybean oil.
Unfortunately for us, evolution has not kept up with these rapid recent developments, and our bodies struggle to handle our modern Western diet. The unnaturally large amounts of sugars and starch in our modern diet disturb our blood sugar balance, while the highly processed seed oils increase the amount of unhealthy trans fats we consume. On top of this, many people suffer from lactose or gluten intolerance and diet-induced allergies.
Eat nutritious foods
The key to a healthy diet is not limiting the amount of calories you eat. Or even limiting the amount of unhealthy foods. Instead, the key is to base every meal on filling portions of nutritious foods like vegetables, mushrooms, eggs, fish and meat. If you feel satisfied after every meal, it’s easier to resist cravings. And if most of the foods you eat are healthy, the occasional cheat will not matter so much.
This may require a rethink of how you approach your diet. For decades, health programs have mainly concerned themselves with all the things you should avoid, and this has ingrained itself in our collective consciousness. The #1 question on anyone’s mind when they are starting a new diet is which foods are not allowed anymore. But it’s time to turn this around now. Instead of focusing on the things you shouldn’t eat, make an effort to make every meal healthy, filling and delicious. That also requires real commitment, but it will leave you happy and satisfied instead of hungry and miserable.
Reduce snacking in between meals as much as possible. It’s natural and perfectly fine to occasionally munch on a walnut or a blackberry, but modern day snacks often consist of substantial portions of quick calories. Don’t make snacking a habit. Don’t carry snacks with you wherever you go and allow yourself to go hungry (it’s a very natural thing to do). If you’re peckish between meals, have a big glass of water to fill up.
Food used to be scarce
There is another big difference between us and our ancestors. For most of human history, food was scarce. Our ancestors had to work hard to put calories on the table. If they wanted food, they had to find, catch or produce it, bring it home and cook it. This took a lot of time every day. Worse than that, nature was unpredictable. Sometimes, our ancestors just wouldn’t find anything and would have to skip a meal. The seasons also had a big impact on food availability. Spring and summer brought fresh fruits, eggs and nuts, while in winter food would be scarce and based mainly on root vegetables and meat (depending on where your ancestors lived, of course).
How different things are now. You can buy food at any street corner. Ready to eat, tasty and cheap. But although this pampered life is pleasant, it is also slowly killing you. Your body is designed to survive. To work hard, go without food, endure heat and cold. But in our modern world, it doesn’t have to do any of these things. And it grows lazy and out of shape.
We reintroduce a natural balance between the effort you make and the foods you eat. Using the Healthy Lives system, you can still have all the foods you crave. As long as you put in the effort to earn them. Our system also encourages the occasional fast, because fasting has been shown to have many health benefits. And skipping a meal is a very natural thing to do.