What A Gorilla Can Teach Us About Healthy Eating

April 25, 2013   20 Comments

I was walking down my street when I met my new neighbor in the yard next door. Doesn’t she look friendly?

Gorillas and Healthy Eating

I’m just joshing you.

No, I was at the Bronx zoo with my son over spring break when I took this photo. Before I continue, I know there are people who hate keeping animals in captivity, etc. I happen to like the Bronx zoo because they use the exhibits to talk about habitat conservation and they use their money and influence to make it happen. (if you want to learn more check out: Wildlife Conservation Society.)

Gorillas are close relatives of humans (95% - 99% DNA match) and all you have to do is look at them and you will see the similarities. Can we learn something from how they eat?

Here was one display at the zoo:

This made me giggle, but what is interesting here is fibrous foods. They are vegetarians and up to 25% of their diet is made up of fruits. They eat leaves, too. Their bellies get full on all that fiber that they have to digest.

Another display:

Well, actually, all I have to do is walk about 20 feet from my desk right now and I will have a hot slice of pizza. Foraging for me means that I have to shove some stuff in my grocery cart (or check the back of the fridge to see what I left there).

Most of us don't fill up on fruits and vegetables and spend a very little amount of time finding our food and preparing it. Of course, gorillas don't have to send their kids to college or fight the afternoon commute.

My thesis here is that our stomachs (if you agree that they are related to gorilla stomachs) are built to feel full when we have added fruits and vegetables. And, taking the time to buy them by foraging at the supermarket or farmer's market is important to our health.

I mean look at that beautiful gorilla! Don't we all want to be as buff as she is?

What do you think of my gorilla hypothesis?

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I love this! Makes perfect sense!!! Beautiful gorilla btw. :)

Great observations, Lisa.

My wife and I have adopted this notion to go along with our no-added-oil, vegan diet: "Eat real, whole, healthy food and your body will tell you when to stop. Don’t count calories. Before long, your body will be a perfectly trustworthy guide."

Conversely, the people who make Cheetos (and the like) are giddy with excitement at what they call "vanishing caloric density". Put another way, when "food" you eat just kind of melts away in your mouth, your brain fails to get the "I just ate about X grams' worth of stuff" and you reach for bag #2. That feedback failure doesn't seem to happen with real, whole, healthy plant-based foods.

Most probably don't have to hunt (traveling distances) for their food but instead take the route of the grocery store or farmer's market. But by incorporating a high percentage of fruits & veggies with an exercise program - I would think this would align itself to the gorilla.

Interesting concept!

Hi Snack Girl, I agree with your gorilla hypothesis. I recently took an amazing trip to Rwanda to go gorilla trekking. We spent the entire morning trekking the mountain gorillas and we were able to spend an hour observing them at breakfast time. They not only know how to eat simply and healthy they also know the value of family. Here is a link to my blog post which shows Silverback Charles the family leader eating his breakfast.…

Interesting observation and totally valid! I'm still a may eater but you can't say easy more fruits and veggies too many times!

There once was a show that had a group of people eat only what gorillas eat, raw veggies and fruits, they all lost 20 plus pounds and felt great. Food for thought!

Excellent observation! As a vegan, I often use the world's strongest animals as an example of the power of a plant-based diet; gorillas, elephants, giraffes, they are POWERFUL and 100% powered by plants!

Great zoo! Great pic! I feel a sense of accomplishment when I leave the grocery store and have heaping bags of fruits and veggies.

Although I agree with the overall point that Snack-Girl was making (fruits and veggies are good and healthy), at the end of the day we are not gorillas.

In his studies of peoples all over the world, Weston A. Price did not find even one group of healthy, sustaining societies that was completely plant-based. EVERY society had some form of animal product in their diet (even if a little). A varied diet of real, whole foods has been proven best over and over again.

We may not have to forage for our food like Ms. Gorilla but we can plant our own fruits and veggies. It's really satisfying to grown your own, and it can be a great workout too. Spring is a perfect time to get started!

You are totally right!! Love the contented look on her (the gorilla)!

I love to watch gorillas at the Bronx Zoo ... especially since we are kindred spirits now that I have been vegan for over 2 years ...

Love this time of year when fresh fruits and vegetables are so plentiful.

Snack girl you are too funny :) This is cute....made me laugh......

This makes sense......eating healthy is a chore for me tho.....I'm a junk food junky.....only sometimes I eat healthy, most times no :)

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I have often wondered why the gorilla does not eat meat. So many weight loss gurus are so down on fruit and even strike off a lot of vegetables as "bad".

I don't think that the apple is bad, it's the pie that we put it into. The banana is not bad, it's the whipped cream or Foster that it's immersed in. By the same token, potatoes are not terrible, butter, sour cream, salt and bacon bits have just spoiled our palate.

I'm spoiled. I want all of that crap, but not at the cost of having to have all my clothes shipped mail order because I am a million pounds.

I know Gorillas are close relative with human. but they don't eat healthy food.

I can fill up on food that is fiber-filled...fruits and veggies, whole grains...they all work and you have to be certain to add them to your daily routine...once you've changed your routine it's easy and there are so MANY veggies and fruits if you try them you can easily find many that are healthy and taste great to you.

I too have had the same observation about gorillas but I also realized that eating a largely plant based diet we humans wouldn't have enough energy for things like running, hiking, or playing soccer. I think our bodies need something more substantial either thrum meat or starch, otherwise like the gorilla, we would be eating all day long. We wouldn't have time left to enjoy life. The few times I have seen gorillas they are seditary unless provoked. Just my 2¢

As someone who stopped eating meat I haven't found that I have any less energy as greens and beans have more protein in them then people think and your body has a easier time converting it into energy.

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