Sunday, October 17, 2010

How a Fatty changed his diet

You don't get to be 357 pounds by eating like a cow. Well, I guess I consumed as much as a cow but the leafy greens and the those nasty fruits were tantamount to eating cow pie as far as I was concerned. Dinner would often consist of a frozen pizza or a frozen lasagna or perhaps both depending on the night. There was of course always room for desert too, whether it was ice cream or a cake or pudding or cookies, the night wasn't done until something sweet had been consumed. So even though I was aware of that this is how I lived, somehow it never clicked in my head that this was an unhealthy way to live, it was more like a slow way to die.

Sometime last week I stumbled across this news story.
(CBS)  Adding fuel to the idea that junk food is like crack, scientists at Scripps Florida say rats fed high-calorie junk food became addicted to the food and voluntarily starved when given healthy food instead of, say, cupcakes.

Repeat: The rats voluntarily starved instead of eating healthy food.

Scripps Florida scientists Paul Kenny and Paul Johnson tell the South Florida Sun-Sentinel that junk food changed the rats' brain chemistry in the same way that chronic cocaine use alters an addicts brain functions.

In the experiment, one group of rats was given healthy, nutritionally balanced food. A different group was given "unlimited access to the worst stuff Johnson could find at [the supermarket] Publix, including bacon, sausage, cheesecake, pound cake, Ding Dongs and frosting," reports the Sun-Sentinel.

The junk food group gained weight and became less active. "More surprisingly, the fat rats exhibited the sort of self-destructive behavior associated with human junkies. The rats would eat junk food even if they knew doing so would result in a mild but distinctly uncomfortable electrical shock to their feet," reports the Sun-Sentinel.

The scientists then replaced the unhealthy food with the healthy diet of the first gtoup of rats, and the fat rats refused to eat at all.

Junk food alters the brain's chemistry by releasing dopamine that would normally be released when having sex, snorting cocaine or eating a rich dessert, say the scientists. The junk food-addicted rats learned that the easiest way to experience pleasure was by eating high-calorie, high-fat food.

Kenny and Johnson hope the results of the study can help people learn to deal with food addictions.

"Food can be highly addictive," author of "The Maker's Diet" Jordan Rubin tells the Sun-Sentinel. "When people describe overeating and weight loss as a battle, this is why." 

Wow. I finally realized that I had become addicted to fatty, unhealthy food. This revelation created a domino effect in my head. All the pieces started to fall into place.

  • Addicted to fatty food
  • Not exercising at all
  • Literally too fat to be weighed at most doctor offices
  • Eating through my paycheck and consuming enough food for 2 or 3 people at a time
  • DING DING DING You might be a fatty if.... 
It all came together. I was fat. I think a lot of us walk through life completely oblivious to our slowly expanding waistbands, well maybe oblivious is the wrong term, we are definitely aware of it but we choose to ignore it. In this choice we make a potentially fatal flaw. By not living a conscious life and being mindful of what enters our mouth, we instead choose to live a life that supports terrible things. The food most of us eat has been processed beyond recognition of it's original form. Most of us don't even know what's in more than half of what we eat. I started reading food labels and quickly realized that more than 80% of the food around my apartment had HFCS in it. I had just finished reading The Omnivores Dilemma, in which the author describes in chilling detail how middle America has turned into a HFCS production machine and the negative effects of that on both our economy and our waistlines and so everything labeled HFCS went into the trash.

I think that all this knowledge fried some circuitry in my brain or I've just decided that I can be smarter than a rat. Either way now I am really enjoying my new lifestyle, diet and all. The word diet has become kind of a bad word among us fat people, something to be talked about but nobody really wants to do. I try to avoid using it most of the time because my brain does have a negative association with it so I'll just say this.

I've never met a fat vegetarian and I've never met a fat runner.

Now a week or more into this lifestyle, I love it. I love the tangelos, the mangoes, the oranges, the honey crisp apples, the baby carrots, the hard boiled eggs, the sweet potatoes, the cucumbers and of course all the leafy greens. I can eat as much as I can afford without worry that I'll put weight on from it but I've been finding that I am eating less. My stomach is filling fuller faster, I am drinking more water, chewing more thoughtfully and being mindful of the pleasure of eating. It wasn't ever so much about changing my diet as it was about changing my mindset about food and it's purpose. I want to consume foods that give my body the right kinds of energy and vitamins I need to be alert and healthy. I want to eat foods that lead to a healthier planet. I want to eat foods that nature flavored to perfection.

So with that I'll leave you this fascinating video of a study done on humans at a Zoo in the UK. They had a group of folks move into the zoo and eat 11 pounds of raw fruits and veggies a day to see what would happen. Enjoy!!

1 comment:

  1. It's funny that you posted that link because your post reminded me of a book that I read for my Food and Culture class. It's called Catching Fire (How Cooking Made Us Human) and it basically talks about how the control of fire and cooking is what led us to be solely walkers, be taller, be bigger brained, and have smaller teeth/digestive tract. We get more energy from cooked food than we can from raw food for many, many reasons, but primarily because raw food is usually only digested a fraction of the amount by the time it gets to our large intestine than it would have been had it been cooked. By the time food gets to our large intestine, bacteria and what not are getting the energy from the food and we get almost nothing.

    SO. That study was presented as a way to prove this--even though they all ate 2000 calories (or sometimes more), they all lost a staggering amount of weight. I'm not saying that you should go to the raw food diet (there are a lot of problems with it since we biologically can NOT get enough energy from a solely raw diet--50% of women who eat a predominately or solely raw food diet stop menstruating), but incorporating more raw foods instead of cooking all your veggies would definitely help!

    (Also, you should read that book. It's awesome.)