All you can eat: Our genes


All you can eat
Our culture is a 24-hour buffet of supersize fries and 2-for-1 pizzas. No wonder it’s so hard to pass on seconds. Here’s how you can take control and avoid the fat traps

By Diane Peters
First published in Chatelaine’s May 2003 issue.
© Rogers Publishing Ltd.

Our genes

And you felt guilty for preferring Oreos to alfalfa sprouts. But the fact is, we’re genetically programmed to crave sweet, salty and fatty foods. It all started back when we began to walk upright, according to Dr. David L. Katz, an associate clinical professor at the Yale University School of Medicine and author of The Way to Eat (Sourcebooks). We hunted and gathered all day and had the abs to prove it. Food was scarce, so our bodies adjusted by storing excess calories as fat to get us through droughts and long winters. To ensure we had enough energy, our taste buds learned to crave fat, salt and sugar, which meant more calories and a longer life. But while this evolutionary survival mechanism kept us alive in the ancient savannah, it’s killing us in our modern land of luxury.

Fight back
Eat lean While you can’t change your genes, according to Dr. Katz, you can actually reprogram your body to stop craving fat by eating less of it. So, try leaner cuts of meat and lighten up on your sauces and high-fat dairy–you’ll see your cravings subside.
Eat simply The plainer the meal, the less you’ll eat. We have four different flavour centres controlling our appetite that are stimulated by sweet, sour, salty and bitter flavours. But the more of these flavour centres you stimulate, the hungrier you’ll be. Go easy on the sweet ketchup and sauces.

  • Intro
  Our genes
  • Our homes
  • Our work
  • Our supermarkets
  • Our restaurants
  • Big fat lies
  • Big ideas
  • The great health resolution
  • The joy of eating
  • Quiz: What kind of eater are you
  • Lower fat meal plan
  • Daily eating log
  • Guide to serving sizes
  • Healthy meals in our Recipe File
  • Talk fat in our Nutrition + diet forum

Get Chatelaine in your inbox!

Our very best stories, recipes, style and shopping tips, horoscopes and special offers. Delivered a couple of times a week.