[Note: This article was originally written in 2010 for my old “Nutritional Health and Lifestyle Medicine” website which originated in the Fall of 2008).]
Most of us have experienced being out in the snow on a bright, sunny day, only to experience relative “darkness” upon returning indoors! Similarly, the ambient temperature of one environment may seem “warm” or “cold” depending on the temperature of the environment we just left. This is true whether we’re talking about a room, a swimming pool, or even a regional weather system! The same thing applies when we begin the switch from the “Standard American Diet” to a predominantly whole-foods, plant-based diet. Fortunately, our bodies adjust fairly rapidly to such transitions and we need not fear the change!
Because we are used to the addictive taste and convenience of prepackaged, highly processed foods, our initial efforts to eat whole, plant-based, foods may be a bit discouraging, depending on our understanding of the issues at stake and the degree of commitment with which we begin the transition. Fortunately, we need not be discouraged for long! The same principle of sensory adjustment that applies to ambient light and temperature, also applies to taste and appetite.
Remember when you used to drink whole milk and then switched to 2%? It tasted watery didn’t it? Later, maybe, you switched to fat-free “skim” milk and, once again, there was a period of adjustment. But then, perhaps, after getting used to the skim milk, you drank some 2% milk and it taste gross to you–much, much too rich! A similar period of transition and adjustment applies to our taste and appetite for whole, plant-based foods. This transition is nicely illustrated in this graphic from The Pleasure Trap, By Douglas Lisle, Ph.D. and Alan Goldhamer , D.C.
Note the different Phases, I -V, across the bottom of the graph which correspond to the type of food being consumed in a particular time-frame. And note, as well, the different “Pleasure Zones” in the left-hand margin of the graph, which correspond to our subjective experience of the food we are eating in a particular time-frame.
Phase I indicates the ordinary experience of someone on a traditional, whole-foods diet–an experience that has become exceedingly rare in the United States! Pleasure Zone: Normal
Phase II indicates “the early introduction of processed foods” which are very high in fat, sugar, & sodium. This would be the experience of someone from a third-world country who moves to the United States and becomes addicted to fast-food! Note the initial rise in subjective pleasure…
Phase III indicates the continued consumption of “junk food” until it becomes our normal subjective experience–this is pretty much where most of us were born and raised in this country!
Phase IV indicates the reintroduction of whole natural foods. Note the initial drop in subjective pleasure! Fortunately, this is short-lived, lasting only a few weeks…
Phase V indicates, how the continued consumption of whole, natural foods results in a new, recalibrated “Normal” such that our pleasure in eating whole natural foods is restored.
Assuming you have grasp the distinction between whole, natural foods and highly refined, highly-processed, “edible food-like substances”; and assuming you have grasp the need for change, in terms of preventing and reversing chronic diseases, including obesity; you need not fear the change! Don’t imagine for a minute that you will no longer enjoy eating–quite the opposite! In just a few weeks, you will be enjoying your food like never before and will be eating it with the added pleasure that you are doing yourself and your family a favor!
To learn more about The Pleasure Trap, check out this article on Dr. Fuhrman’s website:
The Pleasure Trap: Mastering the Hidden Force that Undermines Health and Happiness is by Douglas Lisle, Ph.D. and Alan Goldhamer , D.C.
By Wayne Ferguson
Feb 18, 2010 – 9:37:20 AM