Too many people feel that having an overeating struggle means there’s something wrong with them. The shame and guilt that people experience alongside their overeating challenge is massive and paralyzing.
But what if overeating isn’t your fault? What if it’s a primary aspect of your biological programming? Not only would you be off the hook when it comes to feeling shame and guilt, but you’d be empowered to more effectively change your habits.
The theory that links overeating to your survival programming is called Optimal Foraging Theory (OFT). OFT is a mechanism that ensures the greatest survival rates in any species. It says that organisms who are able to find the most energy (food) with the least effort will win the game of natural selection at the highest rates.
One of the chemicals that drives OFT is dopamine, which rewards seeking-behavior. We teach our Academy clients that introducing new foods triggers more reward (dopamine) and eating the same foods you eat all the time triggers less reward. This is a great thing when it comes to eating a variety of fresh, real food. But there’s an exception that complicates things.
The dopamine fall-off that occurs with the consumption of the same whole foods over time does not seem to occur with sugar and processed hyperpalatable foods. In other words, the dopamine response to these foods doesn’t decline. No matter how much sugar and processed food you eat, your brain doesn’t stop seeking them.
This brings us back to a concept I’ve talked about many times in the past called Evolutionary Mismatch. In times of famine, which represents the majority of human history, OFT is what kept your ancestors alive. In our modern world OFT keeps you fat, especially if you don’t know how to deal with the challenges of the new food supply where food is abundant and 80% of it is fake. That’s the mismatch. Your genes haven’t caught up to the fact that you’re not going to starve any time soon.
And this isn’t just about eating. It’s about movement too. The desire to move is driven largely by the need to find more sources of food. But with an abundance of precious calories at your fingertips, is the drive to move turned off? Is this why we are sedentary to the point of being destructive?
The takeaway is this: you’re not bad, wrong, lazy, or undisciplined if you overeat. In terms of biology, you’re a winner. Seriously. You’re a success story. Why self-loathe about behaving the way winners behaved for hundreds of thousands of years? Biological programming can’t make you a bad person.
But this doesn’t mean you’re *still* winning. The game has shifted. OFT is going to create huge challenges in your life if you can’t find a way to pivot. While your genes helped you win in your ancestors’ world, you’re now tasked with learning how to win in the world you actually live in.
Unfortunately, very few programs, coaches, and trainers know what tools are required and how to teach you effectively. When I look around at all the conventional strategies for winning in our modern landscape, all I can manage to do is shake my head. Let me be clear…
You’re never going to beat this challenge with logic. Calorie counting, creating a points system, food tracking, and weighing are all futile strategies. The lizard part of your brain will always override those attempts. These strategies don’t stand a chance when facing off against hundreds of thousands of years of genetic optimization.
You’re never going to beat this challenge with willpower and discipline. Your good intentions are mere pawns facing the queen of millions of years of natural selection.
You’re never going to beat this challenge with “simple swaps!” and other good-sounding strategies like, “choose a smaller plate, you’ll automatically eat less.” Those are cute tries, but anyone who offers these as serious suggestions doesn’t understand the scope of the challenge.
If you want to win, you have to commit to what we teach here at Rebooted Body. We understand the challenge precisely and know what it takes to overcome it. More importantly, we’ve helped thousands of people do just that through our Academy. It’s not a theory, it’s a blueprint.
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