Monthly Archives: January 2013

Honesty is the Best Policy

People are extremely good at rationalizing unwanted/bad behaviors. With our food we can easily slip into “tomorrow I will get back on the wagon” thinking that excuses an episode of bad food or an outright binge.

Far better from a psychological point of view to be honest and admit you just are going to give in and eat what you will probably ultimately regret. That act alone may be enough to ward off the temptation to eat foods we know will make us feel awful, and certainly interfere with any hopes of weight loss. 

Yours in getting real,

Nan aka Sugarbaby

Dr. Yudkin, the Cassandra

Like Cassandra of mythology, who could foretell the future but would not be believed, Dr. John Yudkin, a British scientist who  was both PhD and MD, did research that eventually led to his book, Pure, White, and Deadly, published in 1972, claiming that sugar was not just bad, but dangerous. I have remembered since the seventies hearing that some British or Australian doctor had said, in effect, if dangers of sugar was just now discovered it would be a banned substance, but I didn’t know who it was until recently. He states this in the first chapter in a bit different way, but just as damning.  Further, I was able to find a link with the book in pdf format to download (just click the title).

All great movements start as disputed, disparaged, unappreciated ideas that are considered radical, too liberal, against the conventional wisdom;  and,  like many of history who were right but unattended, Dr. Yudkin  along with a few others like Drs. Atkins and Pennington who were bellwethers signaling the dangers that now are finally being recognized via the efforts of Gary Taubes, Dr. Robert Lustig and now many bloggers.

The current of time eventually sweeps away the dross, but we can be plagued by it for a very long time. Sugar (and other feel-good things) is something people do not want to give up, or acknowledge is really seriously bad for them, so they assume the denial position (I envision this as on their bellies, with arms out-stretched and legs spraddled out,  hugging their sacred ground).

While it is hard to understand how people can stay in denial when their bodies are grossly enlarged, their health steadily declining, their medical bills rising, and worse, yet this is exactly what continues to happen.

Still, there are small signs of hope, like the major soda manufacturers trying to fake less terrible options, though in truth they are just as terrible. Grocery markets are also beginning to offer more sugar free options, and happily the food labeling is still our greatest gift.

Today I wanted to lift up how thankful I am for the predecessors in the fight against sugar who helped lead us to what one day will be understood as an inevitable conclusion–despite the agri-business and government attempts to hide, mask, or prevent the truth from getting out (in this they are exactly like the tobacco industry).  Dr. Lustig is reaching parents of small children which may be the biggest achievement in the long run to get sugar out of our diets.

Sometimes one is at the right time in history, I wish some of the now deceased diabetics in my family, like my mother, had been.

Yours in furthering the truth about sugar,

Nan aka Sugarbaby

Stop Mindless Eating

Probably half or more of the excess calories people ingest comes from snacking. Eating while watching television, or at any activity that is not a meal time, has been shown to be insidious in terms of taking in far more calories than we think. I read Cornell professor Brian Winsink’s book Mindless Eating a couple of years ago and determined then to stop eating while watching television, for I knew we did too much snacking this way; but when I read the research Winsink details about how bad this habit really is, I knew we had to make a change, even though it is not easy to change bad habits as we all know.

For the last two plus years, with few exceptions, my spouse and I have not eaten while watching the television. I make sure we have some innocuous beverage like seltzer or tea to drink which satisfies that old urge while not ceding to the mindless eating.

Even if the food is good for you, snacking is not good. Snacking is a sign that either you are not eating good meals, perhaps not eating good food, or it’s a bad habit often stimulated by seeing food advertisements or people eating and drinking on the programs, which triggers that non-thinking limbic brain evolution programmed in us to eat whenever food was available.

I won’t kid you that it takes some effort to break a bad habit, but after 3-4 weeks you cease to feel the need for the food, especially if you can find alternate behaviors like drinking some safe liquids, or doing something calming like knitting which I do, though I knit poorly, still it produces some scarves and easy afghans.

The main point is to realize that snacking is not the way to get your calories. We need to make sure we get good meals, concentrate our food energy in making meals important family or personal time. I admit I sometimes eat a meal with a magazine propped in front of me if I’m on my own, but feel at least I am making the effort to have a sit-down meal.

No one is perfect in this area, but once you know that you can probably lose 10+pounds by simply stopping snacking, then it makes the process a lot easier.

Yours in trying to improve,

Nan aka Sugarbaby

Sugar Addicts: Know Yourself to Help Yourself

Learning to help ourselves is the real work of being free from the addictive high carbohydrate foods that cause us to get overweight and/or make staying at optimum weight a challenge.

The addictive nature of sugar-starch-artificial sweeteners is real, and means we have to avoid the high carbohydrate foods like the plague;  but what is also important to understand is what triggers the urges beyond the well-known effects of the foods themselves.

As Dr. Lance Dodes has pointed out in his books on addictions, most people are not constantly abusing food, drugs, alcohol, pornography, or whatever the focus of the addiction is, and often may be abstinent for days, weeks, months, or even years, then there will be something that sets off the cycle of abuse or a binge. Learning to stop and consider what sorts of issues have triggered the desire in the first place is key to stopping the behavior.

More often than not it relates at the root level to frustration, a sense of helplessness, which promotes inner anger or rage leading to the desire for some control–all this is usually subconscious. While abusing food is not what we want to do, when we are under too much inner stress or turmoil, it feels like doing something, having some little bit of control, to eat a bunch of sugary-starchy food even though we will regret it in minutes.

The point then is to stop and think about what’s bothering you, and then consider an alternative action like writing in a journal or a blog, taking a walk, doing some artwork, cleaning a closet, etc. Or, if you go through to the binge, to try and look back at what was going on that may have set you off.

The main thing is to refocus that inner frustration away from the thing you don’t really want to do like eating a dozen cookies, and instead do something you will be glad you did afterwards. This is very helpful to me, and it can be very freeing to know you don’t really have to eat a pint of ice cream or worse. I have dozens of alternatives now all lined up. I will be so happy to get all my closets reorganized, and my cabinets cleaned!

The biggest plus, the bonus, is getting to know ourselves better and know what sorts of things are likely to set us off. Whether it is a bad work situation, or unhappy relationship, or fear about something you are afraid you might fail at, the root can come from anything, but at least you will soon learn to recognize the source and divert the urge to something less damaging, or even helpful.

Socrates said that the greatest lesson in life is to “know thyself”; this is surely true about controlling our unhealthy habits or addictions.

Yours in the learning,

Nan aka Sugarbaby

Eat Lots of Sugar-Starch and it Loses its Pleasure Effects

I just came across this 2010 over-eating study which showed that wide access to sugar-starch created less pleasure as rats ate ever more, and also binged more:
 
The most recent study to examine the addictive quality of fattening foods was published online March 28 by the journal Nature Neuroscience. For the paper, researchers at the Scripps Research Institute in Jupiter, Fla., examined three groups of lab rats that were fed various diets for 40 days. One group was given typical rat chow only; a second group was offered rat chow, plus a buffet of bacon, sausage, cheesecake, chocolate frosting and other delectable goodies for one hour a day; and a third group was allowed extended access to the fatty buffet for up to 23 hours a day.
 
The extended-access group began consuming twice as many calories as the other rats, and, not surprisingly, became obese. The limited-access rats, meanwhile, developed a binge pattern of eating, consuming most of their daily calories during the single hour they were allowed in the junk food “cafeteria.”
 
But what shocked the researchers was that extended-access rats also showed deficits in their “reward threshold.” That is, unrestricted exposure to large quantities of high-sugar, high-fat foods changed the functioning of the rats’ brain circuitry, making it harder and harder for them to register pleasure — in other words, they developed a type of tolerance often seen in addiction — an effect that got progressively worse as the rats gained more weight. “It was quite profound,” says study author Paul Kenny, an associate professor of neuroscience at the Scripps Research Institute. The reward-response effects seen in the fatty-food-eating mice were “very similar to what we see with animals that use cocaine and heroin,” he says.
 
Kenny’s study did not include rats exposed to drugs, making direct comparison tricky, but other studies have found that chronic cocaine or heroin exposure leads to reductions in reward thresholds of 40% to 50%.
 
The extended-access rats also showed a lowered level of a certain type of dopamine receptor in the brain, which is thought to contribute to pleasure-seeking behavior in humans. “Human cocaine addicts, people who are obese, alcoholics and heroin addicts also show a down-regulation of this dopamine D2 receptor,” says David Shertleff, director of the division of basic neuroscience and behavioral research at the National Institute on Drug Abuse. “This system is geared toward motivating behavior normally, but what’s happening here is, with chronic exposure to highly fatty and sweet manufactured food, you’re actually getting to a pathological state.”
 
That is, the down-regulation of D2 receptors seems to turn normal desire into compulsion. In Kenny’s study, the rats that had been given extended access to junk food for 40 days were later willing to continue seeking fatty foods at the risk of getting a painful electric shock to the feet. Limited-access and chow-only rats, however, were significantly put off by the threat of shock, and stayed away from the junk-food buffet.
 

Food Industry Does Not Like this Doctor

Really worth the watch, and a reminder of why we have such a hard time controlling weight in this era of mega food corporations.  Dr. Yoni Freedhoff of http://www.weightymatters.ca/ blog, and a physician in Canada on the faculty of medicine at the University of Ottawa, Canada.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=-BdFkK-HufU

More Ideas for Help with Sweet Cravings

A couple of interesting posts from Food Renegade:

On how L-glutamine supplements might help cravings for sweets:http://www.foodrenegade.com/how-beat-sugar-cravings-glutamine/

On using fermented foods to help sweet cravings: http://www.foodrenegade.com/zapping-sugar-cravings-with-fermented-food/

There are several more sugar-related posts from FoodRenegade, but a warning that the site is heavy on commercials.

Yours in exploring,

Nan aka Sugarbaby