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An Ex-Instincto's Guide to Instinctive Eating

...and crash course for the instinctively perplexed

by Kirt Nieft
Copyright © 1997 by Kirt Nieft. All rights reserved.
Contact author for permission to republish.

W A R N I N G :

The following is NOT the officially sanctioned version
of instincto lore. The author assumes no responsibility for any
mental anguish caused to officially indoctrinated instinctos,
who if present agree they proceed at their own risk.


So just what IS instincto, you may ask?

To begin with, instincto comes from the name of a rare desert plant.... well, not really.

Hmmm... Instincto is an easier way to say "anopsology" and/or "anopsologist." These tongue-twisters were coined to describe the "study of the unprepared" which means, somehow, folks who eat raw foods only, and only if they are unmixed, unjuiced, unspiced, and un-anythinged.

Hmmm... Let me try that again. Instincto can refer to a person (as in, "There goes an instincto walking down the street with a club dragging his woman by the hair"). Or it can refer to the whole dietary scheme of eating only sense-selected raw foods according to pleasure. Instinctos choose their food by smelling a bunch of different foods and eating the most attractive by itself until they don't want any more, at which point they can go sniff out another food to eat if they want. (Sometimes, if nobody is looking, they might taste a little bit of a food if they can't get much of a smell. ;-) )

Instincto is probably the most fringe diet out there, if by fringe we mean weird and alienating to the mainstream. Even other fringe-dieters see instinctos as rowing-with-one-oar-outta-the-water. (And many of them indeed do seem to be doing just that as they try thwapping their own fish for food while simultaneously rowing into the deep waters of instinctive eating all by themselves ;-) .) Some paleo-dieters think instinctos are bizarre eating all that raw stuff; and most other rawists are often of the vegetarian ilk, so they can't... um, swallow the idea of instinctos eating raw animal foods. Some of the fruitarians even have cute little terms of endearment like "instinktos" and "instinktoids" to show how much they appreciate folks who eat cute furry animals, and raw to boot!

Ah, the lonely path of the forward-thinking instincto. Ah, no, I mean the ancient-rooted instincto. I really mean that guy over on the rocks by the shore smashing open crabs and sucking out the innards--that fellow... that fellow is an instincto for sure. Or else he just got out of the loony bin.

Seriously (yes, those were jokes), instinctos eat fruits and veggies and honeys and nuts and seeds and seafood and meat and organs and bone marrow and sometimes even insects. And they eat it all raw and one food at a time. No mixing of foods, no spices, no juicing or grinding. And worst of all, most of them prefer their animal foods "ripe"--as in well-aged and strong-smelling.

And if that little summary of instincto intrigues you, I gotta ask: What is wrong with you that you are here reading about such a lunatic diet as instincto? ;-)

Who "invented" instincto?

Most fringe diets have a founder story which includes a testimonial recovery from illness. Instincto doesn't disappoint in this regard...

More than twenty years ago, Frenchman Guy-Claude Burger was informed by his European physicians that he had an incurable lymphoblastic sarcoma of the larynx. There was no hope for this particular cancer. Subsequently, Burger isolated himself from civilization, which he considered the cause of his disease. He hypothesized that getting back to nature would cure him of cancer. On a farm in Switzerland he lived without the modern aspects of civilization: no heating systems, telephones, electricity or factory food. In less than a year his cancer receded and eventually disappeared.

One does not have to look very far to find similar reports of unexplained remissions of medically incurable diseases based upon such things as fasting, fruitarian or vegetarian diets, mineral waters, or even mud baths. Nor does one have to look very far to find failures of all these methods. Guy-Claude's victory over cancer would simply be heaped upon an already large and confusing pile of cancer remissions--most of which are soundly ignored by the institutionalized medical community. Except in this case, Guy-Claude, a trained physicist and accomplished cellist, continued to study these matters.

When Mr. Burger was on the road playing the cello with a Swiss chamber orchestra, he often carried fresh fruits and vegetables with him. This freed him from a reliance on the prepared foods of restaurants so often eaten by travelers. A fundamental discovery was waiting for him: the alimentary instinct as seen in the "taste-change"--also called the "stop."

(You can read a translation of Mr. Burger's book on Anopsology, Instinctotherapie, Manger Vrai online elsewhere. Translated from the French by Guy-Claude Burger himself.)

What is a "taste-change"?

Mr. Burger noticed that at a particular meal raw cabbage would taste rich and sweet. At another meal the same cabbage would taste unbearably bitter and unpleasant. Moreover, it might again taste sweet at an even later meal. He became fascinated by this "taste-change" phenomenon--a phenomenon many of us have experienced, though probably never paid much attention to.

He was soon experimenting with many foods, paying particular attention to the taste and taste-change characteristics. He discovered something that most anyone can discover for themselves: when foods are in their original unmodified natural condition, the smell and taste are variable--their attractiveness changes with time. Not only cabbage, but any raw fruit or vegetable (indeed, any raw, undenatured meat, organ, shellfish, fish, pollen, honey, or nut) exhibits this curious property. Instincto theory says that any plant or animal, or any part thereof, in its original, undenatured form interacts with our senses of taste and smell in this dynamic manner.

This phenomenon involves more than just the old adage that "hunger is the best sauce." Instinctos experience this taste-change to be at its strongest and most pronounced with wild plants and animals, though it occurs distinctly with most domesticated varieties as well.

Wild vs. Domesticated Taste-Change
A graph comparing the taste-changes of wild and domesticated fruit. Wild fruits have a sharper, more pronounced taste-change than the domesticated fruits we find in the modern markets. This is true for other classes of food as well. Meat from wild animals is stronger, with a clearer taste-change than meat from farm animals. Wild seafoods are notorious among Instinctos for quick taste-changes once the organism has had its fill.
For whatever reason, cooking, fermenting, seasoning, and other methods of denaturing food destroy the strongest taste-change properties. Even mixing raw foods, as in salads, results in "faking out" sensory responses to the individual taste-changes of the component foods. Shredded foods like carrots or hamburger have a significantly reduced taste-change intensity, as do freshly juiced fruits, such as orange juice. By the time orange juice is condensed (usually by heat), frozen, and reconstituted with water, there is little taste-change property left to interact with our smell and taste. Though we may get bored with the taste of cooked and denatured foods, they do not usually exhibit a taste-change comparable to that found in original foods.

What is this taste-change phenomenon? Are instinctos making much ado about nothing here? The question regarding to what extent humans can or should rely on such signals alone in choosing the foods and/or quantities of food they eat is very open to debate, but among instincto purists the answer is clear (and ya better not disagree with 'em ;-) ): foods should only be selected by smell (and maybe a little by taste) and eaten alone until the taste becomes unpleasant.

You're kidding about this taste-change thing, right?

I know, I know, some of y'all out there will be mighty apt to think this taste-change phenomenon is just malarkey. Well, don't worry, you're by no means alone. But remember, as the famous saying of the "Borg" has it (anybody here ever watch Star Trek?): "Resistance is fu-tile!" ;-) Meaning, we're gonna make a believer outta ya yet, because you can find out for yourself if it's for real or not by trying a little experiment.

Most people are already aware that certain denatured foods like ice cream, pizza, and the various junk foods almost always taste good. Very few people are aware of the taste-change characteristics of raw foods eaten alone in their original state. Instinctos, in general, probably make much too much of the taste-change. But that it occurs with most raw foods is a surprise for most people. (Then again, in my almost nine years of eating avocados "instinctively" I can tell you that they rarely stopped for me--seriously. Most everything else would give a stop, but I could, and can, overeat avocados any day of the week....)

Anyway, you can do your experiment with any raw food, but it's easiest to secure a supply of a particular fresh fruit or vegetable. Veggies usually stop faster than fruit (which are infamous for being too easy to eat--does anybody actually like vegetables better than fruit? ;-) ), so using a veggie might be cheaper, while using a fruit might be... well, tastier. You could buy a supply of one particular fruit or vegetable in a produce section of a grocery store, or obtain them from a tree or garden. And, heck, you may as well pick a fruit or vegetable that is attractive to you (hey, really, this is not an experiment in masochism ;-) ), but your experiment can include any single undenatured food. Pineapples, oranges, grapes, bananas, strawberries, peaches, nectarines, apples, plums, or berries are all possibilities.

And, of course, you want to enjoy at least the first few bites before you get entirely sick of eating just one thing at a time. ;-) So if they're fruits, get 'em ripe with an attractive smell. If they're veggies, get 'em fresh. (Can't smell your veggies yet? Just you wait...) If it's flesh, make sure you get it nice and... (ahem, well, we can hold off on the raw meat for now if you want). Celery, cabbage, beets, tomatoes, cucumbers, cauliflower, mushrooms, spinach, or asparagus are all possibilities too.

Do your experiment with fresh food, not frozen, canned, dried, irradiated, or otherwise denatured. Obtain more than you think you would ever eat. (After all, you wouldn't want to run out in the middle of pigging out, now, would you? ;-) ) Do not use salt, sugar, or any other spice, sauce, or dip. Do not concoct a fruit salad or mix different foods. Your experiment will take place with one kind of fruit or vegetable. (How does that potato chip slogan go--"Nobody can eat just one"? Well... yes you can, and you will. :-) )

Plan to do your experiment when you have an empty stomach. One way to make sure your stomach is empty is to do this experiment in the morning before eating or drinking anything else. After a light dinner, you could wait until the following morning, putting breakfast off until after the experiment.

So now, with that thoroughly empty stomach (a little hunger will be sure to bring out the instinct for food ;-) ), bring yourself and your supply of a particular fresh food to someplace where you won't be disturbed, where you can eat in peace. (Think positive: you will enjoy this ONE food to the max!)

Slowly eat the food, paying particular attention to its taste. Keep eating and carefully notice the flavor. Eat as long as the food tastes good. When it starts to become only "okay-tasting" you will probably want to stop. But don't wimp out now after you've come this far: Be a trooper and keep right on eating until it becomes unpleasant. If you do, the food's taste and/or texture will eventually become thoroughly unbearable. (Scout's honor.) You may experience the taste-change or "get the stop" (see, now you're talkin' the lingo) after only a few mouthfuls or after several servings--say one and a half pineapples, a dozen plums, or 65 bananas or even more. (You think I'm kidding?) Try not to worry intellectually that you are eating "too much" if a food is particularly attractive in a relatively large quantity.

If you dislike the taste from the first mouthful, you might wait a day or two, or find a fresh food that tastes more attractive to you at that particular moment.

If you become full, of course you should stop (if you barf, you'll know you've gone too far ;-) ), but pay particular attention to the taste of the food as you do so--you will likely find it does not taste as pleasant as your first mouthful.

If you become full and the food still tastes delicious, you might continue eating it later. (Did we say always go only by the taste-stop? Sorry, but we're only trying to confuse you. ;-) ) Fruit, in particular, will usually pass through the stomach within an hour.


(Signs of the "Taste Change" in Instinctive Eating)

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