Never Sucked Dick For Coke, But Food Addiction Is Real, I Seen It

#Truth

Food addiction is entirely real.  I’ve seen it.  Researchers have found that when consumed, food releases certain chemicals in the pleasure centers of the brain (the same ones people feel all giddy with glee over when they use drugs) that make them feel all warm on the inside.  They have on record, seen that certain reactions are the same as a person with a cocaine or heroin addiction.

Minus the raging anger/talkativeness and purple dragon.  Just can’t seem to catch that fucking dragon.

Anyway, for a long time, the idea of being addicted to food was essentially scoffed at.  People were told they just needed some “self control”, or to “…get off their fat ass and do something else”.  Sound familiar?  But in recent decades, with the rising obesity epidemic, researchers decided to look at the causes of it.

They began to notice more and more people were becoming addicted to food, using it as an escape of sorts to make themselves feel better.  For one, food isn’t illegal, and relatively easy to come by (apparently there are places everywhere that sell it. Don’t even need to “know a guy who know’s a guy” to find it).

So how does food addiction actually happen? Processed junk foods have a powerful effect on the “reward” centers in the brain, involving brain neurotransmitters like dopamine.  The foods that seem to be the most problematic include typical “junk foods,” (like candy) as well as foods that contain either sugar or wheat, or both.  Food addiction is not about a lack of willpower or anything like that.  It is caused by the intense dopamine signal “hijacking” the biochemistry of the brain.  There are many studies that support the fact that food addiction is a real problem.

There are several signs and symptoms that can help to identify if you or someone you know truly has a problem with food.  I won’t go into details, as there are several, but take a look at that link to help spot them.  You may laugh, but it could help save someone you know and care about from serious problems down the line.

And just like with any addiction, there are support groups.  For example foodaddictsanonymous.org is one such site.  These are in most maenters as well.  Like with most problems, the first step is admitting that there is one.

  1. Set Boundaries with Unsafe Foods. Typically, trigger or “unsafe” foods are removed from the diet and boundaries are set so that managing these foods in a healthier way can be relearned. If someone binges on ice cream when he or she is stressed, it’s best not to keep it in the house. Eliminating the temptation until he or she can eat ice cream again in a balanced way is a safe option.
  2. Follow a Structured Meal Plan. A person suffering from an unhealthy relationship with food can get on the right track to recovery by following a meal plan and normal eating pattern. This helps the person set safe boundaries with food, and feel satisfied so that there is not a physiological need to eat. It’s more tempting to be out of control with food when there is physical deprivation.
  3. Learn Healthy Coping Strategies. Address reasons for turning to food to cope. Identify healthier coping mechanisms and strategies so that one can begin learning healthier means of dealing with emotions.
  4. Seek Professional Advice. Beating a food addiction is a process and does not happen overnight; it often needs to involve a registered dietitian and licensed therapist that specialize in the area of disordered eating. These professionals will help a person suffering from food addiction implement appropriate strategies, and provide accountability and sound advice.

Those are some examples from our friends over at myfitnesspal.com of ways to help.  In reality it can be a lot more complicated than that, but as always with our philosophy here, see a doctor.  They can help point you in the right direction to get you or someone you know the help that they need to become a healthier individual.

For those that don’t mind reading and find things like this interesting, the Food Addiction Institute released an interesting research article about food addiction, that I do suggest reading.  It can be sciency, so I do warn you, but it is interesting nonetheless.

The thing they don’t tell you about getting lean

Something that most people don’t tell you about getting really lean: it takes longer and requires losing more weight than you planned, if you’ve never been super lean before.

Getting from fat to not-fat takes about as long as you’d expect, and can generally be planned out within an order of magnitude. The second part takes twice as long as you plan, even if you account for it taking twice as long. Kinda like Hofstadter’s law.

I’m on my journey to sub 10% body fat – looking for those sweet, sweet abs that men always think will get them laid more. Of course, unless you’re on the beach, by the time she sees you without a shirt on, she’s already decided to sleep with you.

Anyways, I was initially expecting to take 4 months to get to 10ish%, with a two month maintenance phase at the end before a big event.

But life doesn’t work like that. I’ve lost weight slower than I planned initially, to keep my mood stable for work so I don’t shank someone.

I was also apparently carrying a fairly significant amount more bodyfat than would be guessed by the eyeball-meter. Which means that I have had to lose a fair bit more weight than I had expected, and will probably end up about 10-15lb lighter than I had planned.

Every time I step on the scale and see the number go down a bit I get a bit of a thrill seeing that what I am doing is working, and a little bit of the thought “Should I stop? I can’t remember the last time I was this light… high school, probably.”

This is a little scary, but that’s the way life goes. And it’s a pretty good problem to have.

But, because I’ve allowed myself a two month buffer, there’s a good chance I will be in the shape I want by the big event. And I’m even starting a ten day diet break tomorrow, to help keep my body from getting too unhappy with me.

Where would I be if I hadn’t started when I did? Probably nowhere. Just like you. So get off your ass and start today.

You won’t believe how hard this is! Do you make this mistake?

One day you will read in the news that eating eggs has been linked with cancer and you shouldn’t eat them. Then six months later you will hear that they are a better cure for what ails you than unicorn tears – which makes most people think that scientists have absolutely no idea what they are doing. Is salt worse than cyanide? Or is it a miracle cure? JUST TELL US THE TRUTH!

Well, science is hard. Like, really hard. Designing a study, controlling as many of the variables as you can think of, and ensuring the compliance of the study subjects is hard enough when you are dealing with rats. When you add humans into the mix it gets so hard that I’m surprised that anyone even bothers.

Also, what is even harder than regular science, is statistics. A lot of the studies that are quoted in the media, and even the ones that are published in prestigious journals like Nature and Science, can have glaring statistical errors, omissions, or things that don’t make sense. Many results that are “statistically significant” are in all practical terms, pretty much a waste of time. Conversely, many effects that don’t reach statistical significance might actually be of use. But all of this is really hard to know, even if you have been trained in statistics and study design. If you want to learn more of this kind of thing, Alan Aragon’s Research Review is a really good resource. Also, Statistics Done Wrong is a really good layman’s resource.

What generally happens is a study gets published, some intern getting paid exactly nothing and with the scientific knowledge of pond scum reads the abstract or a press release and says “hey, there’s a story here!” The journalist then reads the summary of the abstract, and writes an article on it. This is how “in elderly untrained subjects (n=17), increasing protein intake above deficiency levels via ingestion of whole eggs increases protein synthesis” turns into “SCIENCE SAYS: EAT EGGS AND PUT ON 10LB OF MUSCLE TODAY!”

Or someone took the data from a huge long term study of like 60,000 people over 20 years, and found out that red meat consumption is correlated with a statistically significant increase of heart disease risk. Well, it also turns out that per capita cheese consumption is almost perfectly correlated (r=0.9471) with the number of people who die by becoming tangled in their bedsheets1. If you dump enough different variables into a big bucket of data, some correlations are going to drop out the bottom. Doesn’t mean that they actually matter.

So what does this mean for you? Well, it means that you can probably trust that anything you read about nutrition or exercise in the mainstream media is complete crap. At best. If you do the exact opposite of what they tell you to, you probably won’t be in any trouble at all.

If someone is telling you that you need to do anything other than eat a diet consisting of mostly whole foods most of the time, and try to not sit on your ass all day, they are selling you something. Just watch what commercials after that segment to see what it is.


Footnotes:
  1. http://www.tylervigen.com/spurious-correlations

Transformation Tuesday, Episode One

Apparently it’s traditional to do these on a day that starts with T. Damned if I know why.

Anyways, I’ve been at this since the beginning of the year now (4 months, a total of about 16 weeks of actual dieting), and I hit my second major weight goal and am on a 4 week diet break, so I guess it’s a good a time as any for an arbitrarily chosen milestone and update. I had both the knowledge and free time (Woo Fort McMurray) to plan and prep so as to be able to make progress that was within shooting distance of optimal, considering my goals.

My goals are/were: maintainable fat loss, minimal muscle loss (I definitely lost more than I would prefer, though it comes back fairly quickly), not cutting calories hard enough that my work or gym performance dropped. I think I managed most of those. I ate real and delicious foods the whole time, never really felt deprived, managed to maintain strength in the gym rather than losing any, and didn’t kill anyone. I’m down about three and a half notches on my belt, the total sum of my three point skinfold test has dropped by about 60%, and I’m down a combined 33 inches (83.5cm) off all of my measurements.

I started the year at 182.9lb. Well, actually a little less than that but that’s what I went back up to a couple of days after re-adding regular creatine supplementation into my life, so I’m calling it my starting weight. I started at around 2000 calories per day, by the end I was on about 1800. Six days per week at the gym, three days of squats, three days of bench, about an hour of cardio on the bike each day. One free meal per week on Sundays.

I’m currently at 150.3 lb. It wasn’t super easy, but it really wasn’t all that hard. I’m not quite where I want to be yet, but I’m a lot closer than I was. And I was frankly shocked when I was putting these pictures together at how much of a difference there was and how depressed I looked in the first set – it’s a lot harder to see the progress when you are in the middle of the day to day. In case you are smart like rock truck, the one on the LEFT is me in the first week of January this year, and the one on the right is May 10th. I started my diet break on the 2nd of May, but waited a week to take pictures because I always look flat and depleted after dieting. A week of regular eating always makes me look a ton better. Why yes, I AM shallow.

Front Compare EOD 1 Side Compare EOD 1

If I can do it, anyone can. Going from fat to not-fat isn’t and shouldn’t be hard, if you do it with your brain in gear. We’ve given you everything you really need to know to get on that path. So start today.

Does You Body Hate You?

It’s A Thought I’ve Often Wondered

 

The short answer is yes, it really does. Well, not entirely, but mostly.  Your perception of yourself is not what you might think, and that is completely normal.  I have this new guy that’s working for me in one of the kitchens I am currently running.  Small crew, and we have some slower days, so we hang out a lot and chat about a lot of varying things.

On one of these occasions, the dishie was chatting with my 2nd cook, and was telling him little random tricks about the body, and about perception.  One was that the length of your arm, from your elbow to your hand/wrist, was the same length as the size of your foot.  He was stunned and would not believe it.

He said we were all liars and just trying to mess with him, as he was from another country.  I took my shoe off and squatted down (yes Lincoln, and I didn’t even hurt myself.  Ass.), and showed him that it was true.  Dishie did the same, and his jaw dropped.  He ripped off his shoe and tried it.  He nearly fainted.  I can’t make this shit up, and am not.  I’ll also wait while you test this theory out.

Neat, huh?  Anyways, all of us see ourselves in a completely different way.  This is why, for the most part when transitioning from an unhealthy weight (ie. Fat) to less unfit state, you won’t notice much of a difference.  You see yourself in the mirror everyday.  You are along for the transition, and don’t notice most of the change.  You eventually do, but for the first bit, it truly is disheartening.

That mirror that you stare into everyday, lies.  More accurately, your eyes lie to your brain about what it sees.  We each perceive things differently when we stare at ourselves, and judge sizes.  Kind of like that foot/arm trick.  You want to see results?  Cover your mirrors in your home for two weeks.  When you go to the gym, try not to workout in front of a mirror.  Do the best you can to avoid a mirror that shows your body as much as possible.  After two weeks, uncover them.  It’s a nice little confidence boost, and you will see that you actually are making progress.  It’s just a time thing.  Rome wasn’t built in a day.

But there are other times where this isn’t the case.  This is a far more serious issue than people admit, or know about for that matter.  It’s called Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD from here on out).  We all have parts of ourselves we dislike.  Whether it be our toes, big ears, weird noses, or being “Hefty with style”.  BDD is the extreme version of this.  It’s essentially a mental disorder in which you don’t perceive yourself in any normal fashion of any kind.  It leads to excessive dieting and exercise, that can segue into other issues like anorexia and bulimia, and other forms of excessive starvation.

It can also cause a person to form habits of extreme fitness and workout regimens.

When I say excessive, I mean working out for three to five hours a day, way more cardio and weight training than you need, and can cause a person to collapse from exhaustion.  In extreme cases, people have died from the lack of rest and proper dieting.

So far, researchers aren’t 100% certain what causes it, but they have some ideas.  BDD can also cause another issue called Othorexia Nervosa, and no that is not a Harry Potter spell.  It is translated and defined as “a fixation on righteous eating”.  That means that there are people out there that have snapped completely.  They become obsessed with eating healthy, to a point where it is all they can do.  They watch calorie intakes, fats, etc.  Any slip up and they lose it.  They punish themselves, usually with stricter meals, and foods.  It ironically ends up harming them because they become so restrictive, they are not consuming a properly balanced diet.

In some cases, they can become psychologically unbalanced towards themselves. Not in the “time to off myself” category, but with their mental perception on themselves.  Their self esteem becomes really low, and they think less of themselves.  It can lead to social issues with themselves and their peers.  They become isolated, as they don’t want to risk their diets at dinner parties and social gatherings.

If you’re wondering about the difference between anorexia or bulimia , and orhorexia, its not so much an obsession about calories and weight with anorexia and bulimia.  With orthorexics, they obsess about healthy eating, not about being “thin” and losing weight.  I won’t go into symptoms and such, as you can find that in the provided link, but I will say it is more of a serious issue than people think.  Mostly because a lot of people have never heard of it, so they don’t even think it’s an issue.

One thing to remember is that all of the above issues are usually done to the extreme for everything.  Caring about eating healthy and balanced does not mean you are orthorexic, or have another eating disorder.  Wanting to be healthier, and working hard to do it, does not mean you have BDD.  These are all in the extremes, and if you ever notice that you are going to the extremes in terms of weight loss, you need to take a step back and reevaluate what you are doing.

I know I feel like I go to the extreme on occasion, but I also know where to draw the line.  Always keep that thought in your head, and you will be fine.