Diets Don’t Work For Me, It’s Time To Approach Heath Another Way

Let me start by saying that I am well read in the field of nutrition. I feel that I have read every book out there worth reading and good few more not worth anyone’s time. The main reason for my obsession with nutrition is my current obesity.

No I’m not one of those people that want to put the blame of my condition on bad genes, or errant insulin or a carb addiction or other such nonsense. I overeat sometimes, plain and simple. I overeat carbs, fat and protein indiscriminately. Unlike many other overweight/obese people, I have never lost the weight then yo yo-ed up. I hear of people losing hundreds of pounds then regaining it.

That’s never happened to me, the most I ever lost on purpose was on Atkins when I lost about 35 pounds, a feat that was achieved over 3 months on near zero carb (no vegetables, just meat). I felt lousy and tired the whole time. In the 4th month I started including nuts and nut meal products just for some variety and at only 20 g of carbs, my weight cycled back up again. So much for insulin theory!

What conclusions have I come to when it comes to having the perfect diet to lose excess weight?

1. A diet must not purposely lower calories. Counting calories, points etc is a futile process particularly for the very overweight like myself. If I feel physical hunger, will power will desert me and I will eat, end of.

2. A diet is only good if you can stick to it. Any diet will help you lose weight. Yep, all of them work. The problem is that I never found one that I could stick to so for me, none of the work.

diets dont workSo in my case this eliminates 99.9% of all diets out there! What to do, give up and immerse myself into a life filled with jam doughnuts, fried rice, barbecue ribs and roast beef & chicken without thought to the consequences? Or maybe emigrate to Okinawa and beg them to let me live with them until I am lean enough to go back home?

Recently I came across a paper by Seth Roberts called A Pavlovian Theory of Weight Management (pdf). I was doing a search on ‘bland food’ after reading a forum post from an avid follower of Primal Blueprint that he felt released from his food obsessions and started losing weight when he started eating food without much salt, spices or added flavor  That’s to say that his meals were composed of a simply cooked meat, tuber starch and a vegetable, no sauces natural or otherwise.

I was fascinated by this which is when I came across Roberts’ paper. I read it with interest. In it he attempts to explain that it is the flavor-calorie association of foods that makes us become overweight.

For example, I enjoy Burger King meals and eat there probably once per month. When I eat a Whopper meal, the strong flavor in the meat, sauces, and pickles are strongly associated with the instant calories that I get from the burger bun and potatoes (simple carbs) so that strong flavor-calorie association makes me enjoy burger king more, hence eat there more and as a result, get fatter.

He asserts that the first time that you drank a Cola (if you can remember), you probably thought it tasted weird but repeated drinking of the coke made your brain associate the flavor of the drink with the calories hence you came to enjoy the drink more and more. In essence, food is not that fattening the first time you eat it but repeated eating of flavor calorie combinations increases enjoyment and eventually fatness.

By self experimentation, he took this idea further. He stumbled on it during a trip to Paris, going there he thought that he would enjoy the trip immensely by wolfing down French foods. When he got there, he decided to try a French soda that he’d never had before.

When at home he usually had diet drinks but as he was on holiday, he had a drink with sugar. It was a flavor unknown to him and somehow he found that afterwards he had no appetite to eat anything. With his daily drinking of these new beverages, Roberts found that his appetite was nearly nonexistent which led him to try to recreate the idea when he went back home.

He found that either drinking sugar water with no flavor or a mild plain oil, he continued to lose his appetite and he lost and kept off his excess weight. He penned the Shangri La Diet, a book based on his findings which incidentally, I have read too.

I did actually try eating a few tablespoons of oil per day but I only remembered to do it for 3 days before I stopped so not enough time for any real results, not to mention that plain oil is just, well, gross! On reading some of the discussions in Seth Robert’s forums you will find that this method does seem to work but some people require a higher level of flavorless calories for appetite suppression which cannot be achieved with the 500 kcal limit he has imposed.

A solution is to use nose clips while eating a meal. With nose clips, you cannot taste any flavor  it’s like eating when you are bunged up. I couldn’t get the hang of that because my ears would pop when I tried to swallow, very uncomfortable. So there goes that idea.

How It Relates To Me

dieting cycleOne thing that I will say is that this theory of why we become obese makes more sense than any other theory I have come across (we eat too many calories/carbs/fat grams). That’s when it hit me, I NEVER eat bland food and I tend to favor recipes over simple most days. That is to say that our Sunday roast is never just plain meat with plain potatoes and vegetables, it is a cacophony of flavors and textures created to excite the taste buds.

The meat is generally covered in 5-6 different spices. Our potatoes are flavored with a spice blend then doused in lamb fat before baking. I don’t even remember the last time I had just one vegetable accompaniment to a meal, we usually have a mix of vegetables, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, peas, spinach etc. I remember when I was living at home with mum, everyone used to make fun of me that I put ketchup on everything. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

Essentially my every meal is a buffet and we all know that everyone overeats at a buffet!

My Conclusions

I don’t believe that making a study of obesity reduces it’s occurrence  In actual fact I believe that it increases it so I have made a conscious decision not to read up any more on the subject, it is already clear to my why I am at my current weight so I don’t need to know about hormones, body processes or whatever.

If I am to attain weight loss and health it has to be through employing tactics to encourage my body set point to go down without consciously limiting calories. I will also clearly have to move away from recipes and start eating simpler, plainer foods.

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