The Pleasure Trap of Food – Or Why Saying No Doesn't Work

  1. What is it about food that makes us want to over-consume, gain weight, develop Diabetes, and shorten our lives? I thought eating was supposed to help us live, not die! It’s time to get to the core issue of what is really going on to save our lives.

    The Pleasure Trap of Food – Or Why Saying No Doesn't Work

    Having just watched the Webinar How the Brain Blocks Weight Loss by Susan Pierce Thompson, PhD and author of Bright line Eating: The Science of Living Happy, Thin and Free, it is clear to me now that all the diets in the world are not going to help our quest to regain our health when we have eaten our way into disease. In fact, I know you know this - DIETS DON'T WORK! And so the rise in obesity continues.Here are some startling facts to consider gleened from a study reported in the New England Journal of Medicine NEJM - Error

    • Obesity is a global pandemic - not just in the U.S.
    • 700,000 million people are overweight
    • 108,000 million children are overweight
    • Since 1980, obesity has doubled in 73 countries around the world

    So what is the real cause of obesity that we are not addressing? It's called food addiction. When we eat highly processed foods that are laden with sugar it affects the addiction center of the brain and causes the brain to release feel good hormones. Food Addiction Research Education >> How does food addiction affect the brain?

    And that makes you want more of what you just ate. And since about 75% of all processed foods have sugar in them, and we over-consume processed foods most of the time, we become addicted to those foods and to the good feelings we derive from our brains when we eat them.So what do the diets tell us to do? Just say NO to those foods. Easier said than done. This is how your brain blocks weight loss when you try to use WILLPOWER.

    Willpower (or self-control) is a measurable brain function located in the pre-frontal cortex of the brain. Glucose is our body's fuel for energy and the brain requires it for thinking, learning and memory. When you exert your willpower to follow a diet of no sugar and processed foods, this action uses a considerable amount of glucose, leaving your brain in a state of alert trying to get back to normal blood sugar levels.This drop in blood sugar will normally leave you feeling cranky, moody and more prone to driving to the local bakery to get a sugar fix. The Psychology of Willpower: Training the Brain for Better Decisions You have over-taxed the willpower center of your brain, drained it of the glucose it needs to function properly, leaving you unable to do the following:
    • Resist the temptation to eat more junk foods
    • Make sensible decisions about eating healthy So all the willpower in the world is not going to help you lose weight. So what is a body to do? Here are some tips to rewire your thinking.

    Step 1: Create a habit of eating healthy foods so it becomes automatic and without thought.

    Stop letting your prefrontal cortex make a decision when your low blood sugar is causing cravings. Switch your food focus to the basal ganglia where habits are formed. A Critical Review of Habit Learning and the Basal Ganglia
    That means eating will become automatic based on those habits and won't require any other invading thought that might want you to eat junk food instead.

    My personal example of a healthy snack when I get a sugar craving is sliced apples and cashews. I now am so "addicted" to that food that it has become an automatic response which replaces my previous addiction to a snicker bar. So creating healthy habits that are an automatic response can work!

    Step 2: Remove temptations by creating an environment that supports healthy eating.

    Since the Standard American Diet is unhealthy and leads to food addiction, dispose of all the junk food from your house and restock with whole, natural, organic, grass fed, free range, farm-to-table foods so you won't be tempted. Just like a recovering alcoholic is at risk by going into a bar, stay away from food locations that don't support your healthy eating efforts. And that includes staying away from all the junk food that is peddled in the break room at work!

    Step 3: Plan your meals and snacks ahead

    Don't get caught off guard and try to make healthy decisions when you are hungry. Your willpower is non-existent at that time. Prepare for the week by scheduling a day (like Sunday afternoon) for food shopping, menu planning and cutting up food for the week. Also pick another day in mid-week to do the same thing. Prepare lunches and snacks at home that you can take to work so you won't be sabotaged when you get there.

    These are solid solutions to retrain your brain into eating for health and life. For more details, please check out this youtube video.

    The Psychology and Neuroscience of Sustainable Weight Loss with Susan Pierce Thompson, PhD


    Please share how you are retraining your brain to manage today's eating challenges.
    Last edit by Joe V on Jun 14
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  3. by   elkpark
    You could have made your (good) points about healthy diet habits without lapsing into discredited junk science.

    The tide is turning against the notion of willpower as depletable in other ways, too. A meta-analysis published in July in the journal Psychological Science examined the question of whether glucose limits willpower. Queen Mary University of London's Osman and her colleagues used a new statistical method called p-curve analysis to re-examine studies in the field. In statistics, a p-value is the likelihood that a finding occurred by chance. Most of the time, psychologists consider findings to be significant if the p-value is less than 0.05, meaning there's a 95 percent chance the finding is real and a 5 percent chance it's a fluke.

    Osman and her team plotted out the p-values of several previous studies of glucose and willpower, and found that the distribution of these values was flat, rather than skewed toward smaller p-values, as they would be if the effect was real. In other words, the published findings linking glucose to strength of will were likely just showing things that happened by chance.


    The New Science of Willpower: Can Self-Control Really Get Used Up?



    One of the reigning theories of willpower is what's called the energy model of self-control. According to this model, the brain is like a muscle, with a limited supply of strength, which can be depleted through exertion. Nobody is disciplined all the time; we all have lapses. And according to the energy model, these lapses occur when one act of self-control weakens our resolve, leaving us "fatigued" as we face another challenge. Many studies have demonstrated that an act of mental exertion can compromise subsequent acts of discipline. What's more, proponents of this theory have reported evidence that the brain - again like a muscle - is fueled primarily by simple carbohydrates, like sugar, and that depleted willpower can be replenished simply by refueling.

    This model of self-control has been tremendously influential, but not all scientists are convinced it's the whole story. Northwestern University's Daniel Molden is among the skeptics. He and a team of colleagues have been using new laboratory methods and novel experimental designs to reexamine the role of carbohydrate metabolism in self-discipline - and to offer a competing theory of how willpower plays out in the brain.


    The Physiology of Willpower: Where Does Discipline Come From? | HuffPost



    In short, the idea that more sugar is consumed when exerting "self control" is wrong. Actually, Hockey (2011) would say that the emphasis on glucose as the fuel for self control is not just wrong, but destructive of progress, writing:

    Remarkably, given that fatigue has been studied formally for well over 100 years, there is still no scientifically mature theory of its origins and functions.

    One part of the reason for this lack of progress, he suggests, is that there is an "irresistible tendency to think of it in terms of a loss of energy resources," but that there is "no evidence" for the claim that "fatigue is the result of glucose depletion." Hockey concludes that "there is little doubt that the energy-depletion perspective has been a source of distraction in the search for a theory of fatigue" (p. 167). Van den Berg (1986) pointed this out more than a quarter of a century ago.


    Glucose Is Not Willpower Fuel | Psychology Today



    A psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania refutes the claim that the brain consumes extra glucose, a simple sugar, when people exert self control ...
    Brain's willpower not fueled by glucose - Futurity


    Moreover, brain experts have known for quite some time that the brain does not consume more blood sugar when working on difficult tasks. The brain is an organ, not a muscle, and thus does not consume extra energy the way a muscle would. Your brain uses the same number of calories per waking minute whether you're working on calculus equations or watching cat videos.

    Have We Been Thinking About Willpower the Wrong Way for 3 Years?

    And more:

    Bad Request

    Stanford scholars say willpower is in your mind, not in the sugar
  4. by   sasera
    "700,000 million people are overweight
    108,000 million children are overweight"


    Seven hundred thousand million people?

    I don't think these numbers are correct...
  5. by   Emergent
    I'm doing Keto now. Eliminating carbs is key. It gets rid of all cravings. You only need to eat once or twice a day. Your blood sugar stays even and low all the time since your body has adapted to burning fat as fuel.
  6. by   Oldmahubbard
    I have been a life long problem eater, apparently, because I was slightly over weight as a teen and young adult, although I exercised intensely on a daily basis.

    I did everything I could think of to lose or even maintain my weight. I wanted to be sexy and attractive so desperately, I ate almost nothing for 6 weeks at the age of 14.

    Yes, I lost 20 pounds.

    I resumed eating so very cautiously, and tried to work off calories.

    Before long, exercise consumed a minimum of 2 hours a day.

    Over many years, in many different situations, it became clear to me that most women who maintain a healthy body weight eat very little.

    Practically nothing, in fact. I have repeatedly observed it over many years.

    There is no pleasure trap of stuffing my face, which I find offensive.

    I must respond to physical hunger by eating small amounts of food throughout the day.

    I have arthritis, and can't run 5 or 10 miles a day anymore.

    People's metabolic rate varies widely, and many people cannot maintain the weight they lose over time.

    Eating mostly salad for lunch is somewhat effective for some people, but it doesn't carry me through the afternoon.

    I end up feeling weak and dizzy.

    Rant over.
  7. by   Carol Ebert
    Quote from sasera
    "700,000 million people are overweight
    108,000 million children are overweight"


    Seven hundred thousand million people?

    I don't think these numbers are correct...
    Clearly I did not proof read those numbers carefully as there are certainly more zeros than there should be. Those numbers were from the notes I took listening to the Webinar. Here is the latest data from WHO to clear it all up. Thanks for noticing that.

    WHO | Obesity and overweight

    Key facts
    Worldwide obesity has nearly tripled since 1975.
    In 2016, more than 1.9 billion adults, 18 years and older, were overweight. Of these over 650 million were obese.
    39% of adults aged 18 years and over were overweight in 2016, and 13% were obese.
    Most of the world's population live in countries where overweight and obesity kills more people than underweight.
    41 million children under the age of 5 were overweight or obese in 2016.
    Over 340 million children and adolescents aged 5-19 were overweight or obese in 2016.
    Obesity is preventable.
  8. by   Carol Ebert
    Quote from Oldmahubbard
    I have been a life long problem eater, apparently, because I was slightly over weight as a teen and young adult, although I exercised intensely on a daily basis.

    I did everything I could think of to lose or even maintain my weight. I wanted to be sexy and attractive so desperately, I ate almost nothing for 6 weeks at the age of 14.

    Yes, I lost 20 pounds.

    I resumed eating so very cautiously, and tried to work off calories.

    Before long, exercise consumed a minimum of 2 hours a day.

    Over many years, in many different situations, it became clear to me that most women who maintain a healthy body weight eat very little.

    Practically nothing, in fact. I have repeatedly observed it over many years.

    There is no pleasure trap of stuffing my face, which I find offensive.

    I must respond to physical hunger by eating small amounts of food throughout the day.

    I have arthritis, and can't run 5 or 10 miles a day anymore.

    People's metabolic rate varies widely, and many people cannot maintain the weight they lose over time.

    Eating mostly salad for lunch is somewhat effective for some people, but it doesn't carry me through the afternoon.

    I end up feeling weak and dizzy.

    Rant over.
    Thanks for sharing.
  9. by   Oldmahubbard
    I heartily disagree that obesity is entirely preventable.
  10. by   Carol Ebert
    Quote from Oldmahubbard
    I heartily disagree that obesity is entirely preventable.
    That is the opinion of the World Health Organization not mine. I agree that it is a very complex issue and there is more to be learned in the future. But right now there is alot we can do ourselves to stay as healthy as we can.
  11. by   Emergent
    Quote from Oldmahubbard
    I heartily disagree that obesity is entirely preventable.
    In Western societies, with the constant supply of pre-made, high carbohydrate food, obesity is a natural outcome. The car culture and labor saving devices also are strong factors.
  12. by   NurseCard
    I have been overweight or obese my entire life. Sadly, so has my daughter.

    You are correct that diets do not work, due to the fact that people go on diets,
    lose the weight, then go back to eating just the way they did before. I know
    from my own experience that the weight piles back on almost literally
    before you know it.

    I am on a diet right now, however I have come to realize that I have to
    treat my obesity like a disease, and from now on I have to EACH and
    EVERY DAY, monitor what I eat. Just like for instance, a diabetic must
    monitor their blood sugar throughout the day.

    I keep a food journal, and I make wise choices. It is something that
    I'm going to have to do for the rest of my life.
  13. by   Carol Ebert
    Quote from NurseCard
    I have been overweight or obese my entire life. Sadly, so has my daughter.

    You are correct that diets do not work, due to the fact that people go on diets,
    lose the weight, then go back to eating just the way they did before. I know
    from my own experience that the weight piles back on almost literally
    before you know it.

    I am on a diet right now, however I have come to realize that I have to
    treat my obesity like a disease, and from now on I have to EACH and
    EVERY DAY, monitor what I eat. Just like for instance, a diabetic must
    monitor their blood sugar throughout the day.

    I keep a food journal, and I make wise choices. It is something that
    I'm going to have to do for the rest of my life.
    That is a great approach because it gives you more control over your condition.
  14. by   Carol Ebert
    Quote from Emergent
    In Western societies, with the constant supply of pre-made, high carbohydrate food, obesity is a natural outcome. The car culture and labor saving devices also are strong factors.
    Agree.

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