Remember a few weeks ago, when I told you that GB and I are embarking on an eating-better challenge?
Remember the ‘Why?’ It’s because GB and I are both almost 40. Also because I regularly get crippling headaches that are caused by what I eat, GB’s ballooning weight is spiralling out of our control.
Remember the eating consultant, the South Sudanese chap, the spiritual and self-aware man who was barrelling towards lifestyle diseases before he pulled himself out, now he guides others to safe ground?
Remember how I told you that under his guidance, GB and I would cut out all the delicious food from our diet, food that is gradually killing us?
We would cut out wheat, red meat, vegetable oil, normal salt, sugar, margarine, processed food like sausages and burgers. We would replace it with sorghum, millet, white meat, ghee, sea salt, honey, moringa and a host of other super foods.
The plan was for us to eat better for the next 30 days then take stock after – my crippling headaches should have gone away, GB’s ballooning weight should be under control.
After that, we would go back to eating food from our old diet.
However – and this is important – we would quite likely find ourselves eating small regulated portions, sometimes we would even ignore certain foods because our cleansed bodies would reject anything that’s not wholesome and healthy.
That was the plan.
Heavens, it was the plan!
Well, I am here to tell you that we are two weeks in to our challenge and that GB and I are failing.
We’re not just failing, dear reader, we’re failing spectacularly.
We’re still eating as we used to, although now the food has been seasoned with guilt and shame. A lot of it. It makes the food hard to swallow.
The only thing that has changed in our diet is that we’re drinking the concoction our eating consultant recommended, we drink it before bed. It’s a super food powder whose main ingredient is sorghum.
We mix the powder with warm water and a teaspoon of cayenne pepper. It’s quite spicy and unpleasant but it makes us feel less bad about how spectacularly we’re failing.
The concoction is supposed to do… something to our bodies, I don’t know, we can’t see the change because it’s undone by our regular diet.
There are many excuses why GB and I are failing spectacularly at this, there is only one real reason: it’s because we have not rewired our brains and adjusted our mind-sets, it’s like putting new wine into old wineskins then getting surprised when it starts to spill.
Let me take you back to our initial conversation with our eating consultant: we had a lengthy conversation, which he complemented with slides. A show and tell affair. We even had sorghum uji while he spoke. It was the equivalent of test driving the car you intend to buy.
There was a part where he said that if we really want to nail this, this eating-better challenge, that we must change our daily habits.
“You must install the software!” he said. “Update your programming! Hack into your primal brain!”
Smart urbanite like you, I’m sure you already know, our brain is made up of three brains. We have our outer brain, middle brain and inner brain.
Our inner brain is the reptilian brain. (It’s also called the lizard brain.)
Our reptilian brain is the smallest and most primitive of our three brains, it’s a primal and animalistic brain that perceives the world in black and white – there are only two states of being to it. Good or bad. Pain or pleasure. Light or darkness. Love or hate. Fight or flight. Easy or difficult.
If you want to take control of your life and change your habits – no matter if you want to lose weight or run a marathon, quit smoking or abstain from sex, earn more money or improve your self-esteem – you must appeal to your reptilian brain, you must learn how to trigger it.
Your reptilian brain is where you install the updated software that will set you on the path to taking control of your life. It’s where the magic happens.
“How do we install the updated software?” GB and I asked desperately between mouthfuls of uji. “How do we hack into our primal reptilian brain?”
Our eating consultant shared three tips.
Tip #one: We must express gratitude by repeating this mantra 200 times a day. ‘I am eating healthy. Thank you, Jesus. I am eating healthy.’
Tip #two: We must spend at least an hour every day gathering knowledge on eating healthy. We must read books and websites on the Internet, watch the right YouTube channels, listen to the right podcasts.
He said, “Gather so much knowledge that you become an eating-healthy expert.”
Tip #three: We must make small active steps of progress every day. For me, for example, today is Wednesday, it’s the day we have chapos in our house for supper.
Instead of eating four chapos, I should show my reptilian brain that wheat causes my crippling headaches then only eat one chapati. OK, maybe just two then. Next week, I should promise to eat none then see my word through.
Those are the three tips.
They are easy to put to work, right? Easy peasy… lemon squeezy.
It’s embarrassing that GB and I crashed our test car before we had even returned from the test drive.
I think feel a headache coming.
An edited version of this story first ran in the Saturday Nation on June 17, 2023 . It ran under my ‘Culture’ column.2