Introducing Homo nutritiocus: The Perfect Eater

by | May 4, 2015

Photo by Kaptain Kobold

Since the discovery of the vitamin, scientists have hypothesized the existence of a previously undiscovered species, Homo nutritiocus. Homo nutritiocus or Nutricons, as I like to call them, eat for one reason and one reason alone: optimal health and nutrition.

Nutricons are completely rational about their food decisions, which is why they are so insanely healthy. They eat three balanced meals every day and always include five to seven (depending on the current health recommendations) servings of fruits and vegetables.

Green leafy vegetables and lean protein are their favorite foods, of course. They never add extra salt to their food, because flavor is irrelevant. They do treat themselves to dessert every now and then, but only in moderation.

For Nutricons, deciding what to eat is easy. They simply eat the healthiest food available, while factoring in the other foods they have eaten and the ones they plan to eat so as to achieve balanced nutrition according to the rate at which their bodies utilize different nutrients. They eat these healthy foods when hungry, and stop when they are full.

Nutricons have really good memories and know how much nutrition is in all the foods they are offered. They are also very good at math. Since most biological processes are non-linear and depend on a large number of variable factors, the ability to do complex calculations while perusing a menu, or shopping at the grocery store, is an essential skill. Nutricons don’t mind the extra work though, nutrition is their top priority and extra math homework is just a bonus.

As you can imagine Nutricons are excellent at estimating portion sizes, but are sure to carry a portable food scale and measuring utensils in case there is ever any doubt. They are never too tired to cook a healthy meal, or too distracted to pack healthy snacks for unexpected emergencies. Nutricons always have time and energy for good nutrition.

Naturally the spouses and children of Nutricons are also Nutricons, so they too love to eat for optimal nutrition and never complain about a meal that is healthy (unless it contains too many calories for their body size––Nutricon children are frequently offered too much food by normal humans, so simply ask to be served less or leave what they do not desire).

When feeding a Nutricon, humans often try to sneak sugar, processed flour, and extra salt into salads and roasted vegetables, since they cannot understand how Nutricons survive on so little calories and flavor. Nutricons find this amusing, but are not offended by the silly, flabby Homo sapiens. Nutricons know that humans are driven by primitive desires for pleasure, ease and satisfaction, and therefore forgive their irrational habits.

Nutricons almost never become overweight. However if such an unlikely event occurs, they simply eat less and exercise more until their optimal weight is achieved. Once there, maintaining their ideal weight is as easy as low-carb carrot cake.

Homo nutritiocus is closely related to cousin Homo economicus, the rational consumer who thrives in a free market by weighing the objective value of every spending decision to achieve his financial goals. Homo economicus, or Econs, have their eyes on the long-term prize of retirement, just like Nutricons have their eyes on a long, disease-free life. Similarly they have no trouble with maintaining a budget, properly allocating their investment portfolios, and never, ever buy anything impulsively.

You’ve probably never met either a Nutricon or an Econ in real life, since they don’t actually exist. In fact, they are nothing like the temperamental, impulsive, lazy, and easily influenced Homo sapiens we all know and love.

So why is virtually all health and diet advice directed at Nutricons and not real humans?

Why are we treated as if we are even capable of eating solely for fuel or optimal health, when getting dinner on the table at all is a challenge for most of us?

Nutrition knowledge is meaningless unless we can actually implement it in our daily lives.

The good news is that you don’t need to be a Nutricon to be happy and healthy, but you do need to stop pretending that you are one. Unless you acknowledge that your actions will never be driven by nutrition knowledge, you’ll continue to spin your wheels and blame yourself––instead of the bad advice––each time nature shows you that you’re a human and not a robot.

To get healthy you need to understand what really drives you to eat, because hoping that you will one day be motivated enough to make salad instead of ordering pizza isn’t very rational.

I really hope health professionals figure this out one day too.

Have you ever secretly hoped you were a Nutricon?

Originally published June 18, 2014.

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11 Responses to “Introducing Homo nutritiocus: The Perfect Eater”

  1. Genevieve says:

    You reinforce your status as my favorite health blogger. I do love nonlinear dynamics, but I also love pizza.

    • stephen pignato says:

      I’m a NUTRICON and very happy to be one. Been one for going on 25 years. Love my food and it loves me back. I won’t judge the undisciplined. Have a great day. Stephen

  2. Kate says:

    I, for one, bow down to the Nutricon overlords who are better than us in every possible way.

    By the way, I finally got a Mercado bag yesterday, it looks great and I can’t wait to take it out for a spin at my Saturday farmer’s market!

  3. Chris L says:

    I’ve been enjoying this blog for some time now, but this post compels me to comment. Simply said, awesome. I say that as someone who used to be lost in the Nutricon mindset. Now it’s like I’ve devolved back from homo nutritiocus to something more closely resembling a healthy homo sapiens, and couldn’t be happier for my devolution.

  4. Patti says:

    Nutricons may also suffer from orthorexia nervosa, which is not good.

    I like being a foodist because I can still focus on honoring myself instead of only worrying about nutrition or losing weight.

    BTW, I found you because I was got an IT job in biochemistry and I was trying to learn more about the field. I consider your blog a bonus to learning about my job!

  5. Dee says:

    🙂 creative piece.
    .. I wish I was a nutricon …. – real devotion and talent.

    Like god is perfect, so we humans can be….
    To me perfection is eating with ease without pressure and guilt
    Like Eve in the garden of Eden I used to find myself distracted easily by the apple (food)
    I practice like Like Jesus in the wilderness, every temptation eventually left him when he sent them away
    Once one understands the nature of man and the living things from which we get our foods we would get there

  6. El says:

    This is great – I read the article and laughed at the part where you wrote “You’ve probably never met a Nutricon” – because I have!! They do exist! For me though, being a Nutricon and actively going out of my way to eat like a robot every moment takes so much energy that it’s really not worth it. Rather spend my time with friends, pursuing academic interests, and other stuff in life.

  7. Elaine Ryan says:

    I met a nutricon, or came close, when my son was into bodybuilding and was “eating clean”. He lived on grilled chicken and brown rice for every meal. Now he’s married with three kids and much more relaxed about food,and much more fun to be around!

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