Update: Dateline NBC recently put together a great introduction to the Paleo lifestyle here (first 6 minutes).
I guess I should disclose from the outset that my wife and I weren’t your usual dieters. In the almost eight years we have married, we have never owned a scale. This means that the only times we have even had a clue about how much we weighed were the times we went to the doctor. Our goal in the diet wasn’t to lose weight. I was interested in something else, and that is the subject of today’s post.
I’ve always been a “meat and potatoes” kind of a guy. Well, actually, more of a “meat and rice” kind of a guy (I’m half Filipino). Throw in something cheesy and I’m set. One Christmas, Melissa and I decided that instead of eating traditional holiday food, we would eat our favorite foods. I had a steak, Jasmine rice, and macaroni and cheese.
It. was. perfect.
I also have quite a sweet tooth. Once when I was in high school, I was over at a friend’s house, and his mom had just made cookies. She put a plate of them on the table and made the mistake of saying, “eat as many as you want.”
I ate the whole plate.
I have more self-awareness these days, but no less of a hunger for cookies.
I’ve also never liked vegetables. My parents once had me sit at the table until I finished my green beans. When they went to the other room, I stuffed the green beans down the floor vents. (My son has inherited my disinclination towards veggies, so I will be watching the vents.)
I always thought I was a healthy eater until I started meeting with a personal trainer. He made me keep a food log, and he would circle all my cheeses, starches and refined sugars and say, “crap. crap. crap.”
I improved my eating habits mainly to get him off my back. But there wasn’t really a desire to change. After all, I wanted to enjoy food. Life is too short, I reasoned, not to eat snicker-doodles. Amen?
So when I decided to go Paleo, the main question in my mind was this: can my appetite be retrained to want what is healthy? Or is it simply about discipline: denying my desires and choosing what is better?
Can hunger be rewired, or is health mainly a matter of self-denial?
Now as a Christian, I believe that human beings are more than just bodies: we are bodies and souls. I further believe that body and soul are inextricably linked. So this question resonates with me on a far deeper level.
Because I find that so many times my problem is not that I can’t do what I want. The problem is: I want things that are bad for me. I have an appetite for selfishness, laziness, and pride.
Can my soul’s appetites be retrained? Or is it mainly about self-denial?
Question: What do you think? Is health – whether physical or spiritual – mainly a matter of retraining the appetite or a matter of self-discipline?