Wired to Eat: Turn Off Cravings, Rewire Your Appetite for Weight Loss, and Determine the Foods That Work for You by Robb Wolf
In WIRED TO EAT, Robb Wolf first explains how he got involved with Paleo, or the “ancestral diet.” Many years ago, he was very ill with ulcerative colitis:
“I was facing a bowel resection, statins, blood pressure medications, and antidepressants. . . I thought I was going to die, and the idea was pretty appealing, considering how much my life and health sucked. I was a mess.”
Out of desperation, he tried this “wacky” idea. Convinced (and healthier), he then made the Paleo philosophy an integral part of his life.
The first part of WIRED TO EAT is where we adopt an “Ancestral Health model” of diet. He calls this the “30-Day Reset.” The second part is the “7-Day Carb Test,” where we figure out exactly how certain food options affect us. In the second phase, you eat an exact amount of carbs, and you test your blood sugar level. Between 90 and 115. Here’s the key: You try different foods and see which ones cause an overly large spike. If so, that food is not your best choice.
Throughout the book, Robb emphasizes that everyone is different; thus, “Our individual needs may be profoundly different than those of our neighbor.” The author is brutally honest about the difficulty in making substantive changes to your lifestyle. He admits it will be tough.
Robb explains the scientific basis for a Paleo-type diet. The book is “Wired to Eat” because our genes encourage us to find food to eat. We humans used to be a lot more active, having to walk a long ways to get our food. Now, we don’t have to move at all!
“Hunter-gatherers walked 5 to 10 miles most days. Today, many of us walk less than a half mile every day as we shuffle from house to car.”
Making things worse, we live in a society full of foods that have been “engineered for overeating.” Then, if we try a simple (normal) meal, it tastes terrible! That’s why the first phase is called a “Reset.” The reset interrupts the constant stimulation about eating fast, unhealthy food. This phase “rewires” our appetite.
I thought some of the best sections were not even diet related. For example, one of the best sections is “How to Get Awesome Sleep.” In the section called, “The Puritan Work Ethic,” the author suggests that Americans get 2 ½ hours less sleep than in the 1970’s. This sacrifice is a terrible tradeoff. There are quite a few detailed tips for improving our sleep; here are some of my favorites:
1. Get more daytime sun on your person and in your eyes to establish a normal circadian rhythm.
2. Our evenings need to be darker, cooler, and not the equivalent of a rock concert if we want to get the best sleep possible.
3. Limit evening tech.
4. Sleep in a cool room.
As another example, Robb also explains that there is one thing that hurts us just as much as obesity or smoking. It’s called “social isolation” but it’s just plain loneliness. He gives suggestions on how to incorporate more social interaction into your life. For example, the author takes an exercise class with others. “Humans are social beings, and without adequate social connection our health and longevity can be as negatively impacted as if we had a pack-a-day smoking habit.”
All in all I found WIRED TO EAT to be a well-researched, clearly written book. Some parts were more valuable to me than others. I was already familiar with the “gut” aspects of healthy eating, so that section was not as interesting to me as it might be to others. On the other hand, I especially appreciated the author’s emphasis on social interaction and sleep.
Advance Review Copy courtesy of the publsher.
Photos courtesy of Pexels.