This hunting-and-gathering-based card game uses the wisdom of the ancients to create an irresistible new fad diet!


For the vast majority of human history, a top survival concern was obtaining food.

The Issue:

It easy to become fat, and difficult to lose weight: “overabundance of food” is an unusual situation that was not frequently encountered in evolutionary history. However, it’s unclear how (in modern society) a person could replicate the food-acquisition strategies of our ancestors.


Let’s create a healthy “ancestral human” diet plan by leveraging the ancient ways of hunting and gathering. Ideally, without the constant threat of starvation.

Specifically, we will make a card game out of the process of obtaining food (Figure 1).

Fig. 1: These hunting-and-gathering “diet cards” have an action on one side (“hunt,” “gather,” “go fishing,” etc…) and a result on the other side (“you caught a tiny fish”).

This game is a two-step process:

STEP 1: The dieting individual selects three cards and places them face-down on their cell phone (Figure 2). The phone’s timer is then set to ONE HOUR. (The dieter may not use their phone for that hour.)

STEP 2: After the hour elapses, the dieter may flip the cards over and see what delicious foods they obtained (Figure 3)—perhaps none at all!

Fig. 2: Here, the user has decided to put two cards onto their phone: one GATHER card and one FISH card. (Note that the timer reads 58 minutes and 11 seconds remaining.)
Fig. 3: After the timer expires, the user can flip the cards over and see what food they are allowed to eat. In this case, the answer is one “standard unit” of vegetables (the broccoli icon) and one “standard unit” of fruit (the apple icon). The go-fishing card did not provide any food at all.

Card details:

Instead of listing a specific food, cards use icons to represent a “standard unit” (of meat, fruit, vegetables, etc.). In general, a “unit” would represent a few hundred calories worth of a type of food. A “standard unit” of trail mix is shown in in Figure 4.

Fig. 4: A hypothetical “standard unit” of trail mix. This might be represented by a peanut emoji (🥜).

The different card types could have different risk / reward elements (Figure 5).

Fig. 5: Five different types of cards. These might have different chances of success and provide different food types. For example, going bow hunting might provide a huge payoff, but there’s also a high chance of coming back from a hunt empty-handed. The “resort to cannibalism” card has a special purpose: it lets the dieter know that this diet plan just isn’t working out, and they should pick a different untested fad diet.

Some sample card results are shown in Figure 6.

Fig. 6: Some different results for each card type. The top (red) row is for hunting, the center row is for fishing, and the bottom row is for gathering.
Fig. 7: An assortment of “gather” cards. The public domain silhouettes in the cards above are from


This “gameified” diet seems like it could maybe actually work (although human testing thus far has not been especially promising: see Figure 8). The key problem is that the user must 1) not snack while waiting for their phone timer to go off and 2) must actually stick to the portions listed on the card backs. This could be difficult to enforce.

Fig. 8: An assortment of “gather” cards. The public domain silhouettes in the cards above are from

PROS: Brings the ancient & venerable ancestral ways into the modern era.

CONS: Might result in starvation if a user is extremely unlucky with their card draws (and also extremely diligent in following the rules of this system).