Saturday, 23 May 2015

Traci Mann's Secrets

It's usually worth reading the admirable Traci Mann on diets especially, as she's one of those rarities who has the moxie to just go with the truth about eating and weight. She has a new book out, "Secrets from the Eating Lab", I'd definitely have a look. This article and interview contains some telling details.

A few points first. Diet-as in what you eat-can have "types", weight loss dieting though is purely singular. It is one thing and one thing only-consuming too few calories for your body to sustain its [current] mass. Anyone who says otherwise is pulling your pin.

What we’re told are “types” of [weight loss] diet are mainly about desperate attempts to increase the body's tolerance of diets. For example by manipulating appetite- the ratio of macro and other nutrients you eat.

High-protein [weight loss] diets appeal to those whose appetites favour protein rich foods. High carb diets make use of those whose leanings are towards carbohydrate rich foods and so on. The aim is to increase moral. Dieting is very morale sapping due to it usually being so unpleasant. 

Mann says something amusing “no one has any willpower”. I’m presuming that references dieting’s failure of everybody. Some favoured bull is spread around-that above a certain weight you’re unlikely to lose enough to become slim.
That's misleading, it's equally true of all weights, including thin people repeatedly shedding and re-shedding a few pounds. Obviously, if you're always thin/slim then that failure isn't apparent. The same mechanics in all of us is producing the same outcome, restoration of each size's starting mass or thereabouts.

Willful delusion forces such obvious failure to be cast elsewhere, in this case onto the dieter. That also distracts from questioning the principle of hunger-blocking as weight regulation.

Dieting becomes like god, it can never truly fail, only sinful humans fail it. 

Actually, dieting via its inherent dysfunction demands and uses up tremendous amounts of will power, it's a-lead your horse to water but can’t make it drink-type situation. Merely leading [and holding] the horse, i.e. your body to starvation drains will power to little productive end.

Dieting is broken and pretty much unfixable, certainly as a general technique, its existence doesn't even make sense. If weight is all about conscious decision-making, then stop making that decision-the end. No need for a plan beyond that.

The plan reflects the fact that hunger is not generated in the conscious mind.

It’s worth remembering not to think in terms of [why] the body fails diets, when it’s the other way around. Diets fail the body. The primacy of the body over dieting needs to be reasserted. The body does not have to answer for it's failure.
When you are dieting.......your brain becomes overly responsive to food, and especially to tasty looking food. But you don't just notice it — it actually begins to look more appetizing and tempting.
This is an action of your nervous system-your brain is the primary hub of that of course. People seem to find it hard to grasp that because all this activity operates through your own information superhighway-your nervous system-that the action of dieting, more specifically your body's response to it, can literally change the way you see, perceive and even  seeming to put thoughts in your head.

You may also remember that this feature was identified as one of the problematic eater types in that BBC Horizon doc. And that I had this exact problem as one symptom of a hyperphagic eating disorder. I would be surprised if this wasn’t a facet of Georgia Davis’s metabolic problems-and others like her.

Mann describes this as increasing [eating’s] “reward value”. I disagree; it increases the imperative to eat. In other words, it’s like having the munchies when you smoke a blunt, or the action of an overactive bladder where the urge is overpowering, even when your bladder is empty.

It’s not that eating becomes more enjoyable-it doesn't necessarily at all-it’s that the urge continues to recruit more and more nervous circuits in your brain-in other words the urge takes it over. Your will is literally overpowered and it becomes too uncomfortable to the point of distressing not too go with it.

Relief of such discomfort is hardly about pleasure. It feels way more compelling than normal hunger. Though I get that's a difficult concept for many.

As for the hormones, I’m not hot on them, but that seems more a register of your depleted energy, framing them as cause. Iow, if I jumped out at you-shocking you, your feelings would be expressed by chemical release, that didn’t cause your fright; that’s how your body both signals and registers it.

These hormones don't stop diets working, they're signalling your body's defensive response to deprivation.

Energy conservation-the body adapting to less by using less energy to function-is yet another defense-they are multifarious, showing the body is really designed to resist starvation and why it so often succeeds. This is often put down to saving you from famine, it could just as well be a defense against anorexia too, as that is a build up of a compulsion to starve, which can also takes over a person's brain. 

One of the things stopping anorexics perishing ever more quickly is this energy conservation.

“How could it [work]when you have to fight against all of that?”

Exactly. When we are this designed against proto-anorexia, it is definitely the wrong way, [not the only way]. 

There is absolutely no reason why reversal of weight must only occur through hunger blocking, unless that in itself is the true aim.

She makes a brilliant observation about the experience of dieting in a way that I hope becomes the norm.
Let's say you're in a meeting, and someone brings in a box of doughnuts. If you're dieting, now you need to resist a doughnut. That is going to take many, many acts of self-control. You don't just resist it when it comes into the room — you resist it when you look up and notice it, and that might happen 19 times, or 90 times. But if you eat it on the 20th time, it doesn't matter how good your willpower was. If you end up eating it, you don't get credit for having resisted it all those times. In virtually any other arena, that would be an A+, but in eating that's an F.
Yes! Not only is this an acute representation of dieting’s flawed hypothesis, it helps tells us what anorexia is. You aren't simply saying  no repeatedly, you are repeatedly blocking an impulse-that of hunger. At some point, this repetition becomes varying degrees of compulsive in certain subsets.

Isn't that extraordinary?

Totally unexpected. This is what we want to happen when we are trying to master a skill! Who'd have thought it could ever spontaneously self-trigger toward such a devastating end?

That could explain why many PWA can get to feeling agonies of hunger, but somehow cannot act on that. Continual blocking builds a wall between the feeling and its response.

It’s like resisting the urge to sleep. No one feels it’s purely about self control to miss sleep to do other things. It’s recognized that there’s a trade off in terms of tiredness. The absence of a sense of consequence from thwarting hunger, produces unnecessary misunderstandings.

Nor is it "impossible" to reverse weight, this simply isn't the right channel.The assessment of dieting's efficacy [or lack of it] is probabilistic. The odds of achieving it via calorie restriction dieting is very thin [yea]. If people want better, they'll have to lobby for genuine ways and means which are entirely possible. 

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