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Welcome to the continuing diary series "Let's Read a WHEE Book Together!" Today, we're continuing with David Kessler's The End of Overeating, with diaries generally appearing on Tuesday mornings and Saturday afternoons. If you're just discovering this diary series, you will find the previous installment by Edward Spurlock here, and he -- very helpfully -- provides links to other previous installments at the bottom of his diary.

Chapter 10, "Cues Activate Brain Circuits That Guide Behavior" returns to the role of dopamine in hooking our attention and energizing our activities. As we learned in Chapter 8, dopamine means motivation.

WHEE (Weight, Health, Eating and Exercise) is a community support diary for Kossacks who are currently or planning to start losing, gaining or maintaining their weight through diet and exercise or fitness. Any supportive comments, suggestions or positive distractions are appreciated. If you are working on your weight or fitness, please -- join us! You can also click the WHEE tag to view all diary posts.

Nature shoots us a shot of dopamine when we get an unexpected reward, such as a surprise squirt of sweet, tasty juice. In the process, our brains learn – both at the conscious level and at the neurological level, as Pavlov’s dogs and rat studies have abundantly shown.

The brain catches on to cues that, next time, signal to it that a reward is coming. These cues, not just the reward itself, can exert tremendous power.

In the lab, a cue is usually a light or a tone. Outside the lab, clicker training for animals is an example.

Food rewards are good for training, but

the reinforcement must happen AS the behavior is occurring, not afterwards. The actual reinforcement can't always be gotten to the animal at that precise instant, however. Trainers needed to find another way of letting the animal know that he was doing the right thing, so they began using a conditioned reinforcer.

That is, a cue. Clicker training is being recommended not only for dogs but for cats and horses. And, reportedly

At least one study has shown that the clicker can reduce training time by 1/3.

In our daily lives, food cues as well as actual foods can similarly motivate our impulses.

And like clicker-trained animals, we learn fast. Kessler describes how test subjects got high sugar, high fat snacks at a particular time each morning for five mornings. The next morning, they automatically experienced a desire for such foods at the same time. The test subjects never needed such snacks at  particular time before, but a habit and a felt need were already established – that easily.

Kessler writes, "Cues ensure that we will work hard to obtain the reward."

An environmental cue that a rewarding food is on its way stimulates dopamine. Dopamine strengthens our motivation.  Related neurons fire like crazy. We feel desire. We are motivated. If we obtain the reward, our brain experiences a delightful shower of pleasure chemicals -- opioids -- and still more dopamine...so we tend to keep eating.

This sequence is not necessarily a problem. Where calorie- and nutrient-dense foods are a rarity, it’s a key survival tool.

And the sequence is not necessarily a problem for everybody even in a milieu packed with cheap, high-fat, high sugar convenience foods.  In spite of this pervasive environment in the U.S., about one-third of U.S. adults are still able to maintain "normal" weight, according to the CDC.

With at least some of us, however, cues signaling a food reward can entrain our behavior even against our conscious will. In the words of Harvard neurobiologist Steven Hyman, "The pursuit of reward tends to proceed to completion despite obstacles and distractions."

The facade of the local pizza restaurant...the bright packaging that signals and conceals our favorite snack food...odor of frying bacon...the buzz of conversation around side tables offering pastries before the opening session of a professional conference...the sensory overload of an amusement park or fair...lights, music, greenery, and the regular social gatherings of the holiday season...

Kent Berridge, at the University of Michigan, has suggested that some people are more vulnerable to the "incentive salience" of food cues – i.e., pick food cues out of the background more quickly, experience them more vividly, and are more highly motivated by them.  

There is indeed some evidence of individual differences in reactivity:

...18 obese and 18 normal weight, otherwise healthy, adult females...participated in an eye-tracking paradigm in combination with a visual probe task...Obese individuals had higher scores than normal weight individuals on self-report measures of responsiveness to external food cues and vulnerability to disruptions in control of eating behavior. Both obese and normal weight individuals demonstrated increased gaze duration for food compared to nonfood images in the fasted condition. In the fed condition however, despite reduced hunger in both groups, obese individuals maintained the increased attention to food images, while normal weight individuals had similar gaze duration for food and nonfood images.

At the same time, I wonder if a fairly high reactivity to food cues is particularly pathological.

Considering that two-thirds of U.S. adults are now overweight or obese, perhaps in this environment, only those with less-than-normal interest in food are able to maintain a "normal" weight?

Food porn coming right up!  After the housekeeping:

Upcoming diaries: comment to the tip jar to reserve your spot - WHEE depends on your participation to keep going!

September 29
Tues PM - Sychotic1

September 30
Weds AM - Edward Spurlock
Weds PM - ???

October 1
Thurs AM - A DC Wonk
Thurs PM - ???

October 2
Fri AM - ???
Fri PM - ???

October 3
Sat AM - ???
Sat PM - Edward Spurlock (Kessler, Ch. 11)

October 4
Sun AM - louisev - Turtle diary
Sun PM - ???

October 5
Mon AM - NC Dem
Mon PM - ???

October 6
Tues AM - Clio2 (Kessler, Ch. 12)
Tues PM - ???

And here comes the Weekly Parade of Excess: click through for bacon shots and bacon cookies, bacon cake, bacon sculpture.

And just to kill any remaining appetite:

"Method of Making a Bacon-Containing Food Product."

Bacon ends lack natural cohesion when cooked in a pattie or other similar form. The invention involves grinding or chipping the bacon ends, and adding to the bacon end pieces a meat addition which is high in protein content, an edible food substance which is high in albumin content, and a protein filler. Water also is added, and the above are mixed and shaped into a suitable form, while maintained at a temperature in the range of about 10° F. to about 45° F. The amount of meat addition, albumin containing food substance, and filler added to the bacon end pieces is sufficient to prevent disintegration of the food product during cooking.

Whew! At least that particular food cue should never trouble us again!

Originally posted to Clio2 on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 05:15 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  The dopamine-reward story is an old one. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tvrajan

    It also is a story.  There is no scientific evidence that shows that learned cues of the sort he discusses lead to overeating and obesity in people.  Indeed, animals studies that attempted to demonstrate this showed that you could get a rat to eat by pairing an environmental cue with the appearance of a palatable food, but the rats would just reduce their intake of standard diet and not change their overall calorie intake.

    Good stories do not science make.  If they did, then we'd be teaching creationism in science/biology classes instead of evolution.  

    The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. Bertrand Russell

    by accumbens on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 05:27:36 AM PDT

    •  There is more to Kessler's thesis than this (7+ / 0-)

      if you cared to take a look -- particularly concerning what happens when "hyperpalatable" foods are involved, rather than just rat show.

      Summary of Chapter 8 here covers the eating behavior of hungry and not-hungry rats around Choc'n Crisp cereal...other studies (previous chapters) at least purport to show the limits of homeostatis as a mechanism in weight control -- in rats at least.

      I don't pretend to be an expert, however.

      Regular participation in WHEE tends to make me think there are widely different factors in overweight and overeating (not necessarily always the same thing) for different human beings.

      •  Sorry, I meant (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RenMin, cdkipp

        "rat chow."

        After finishing a diary, the copyedit circuits shut right down.

      •  Yes, that's not all that Kessler says. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RenMin

        Here he's trying to provide a mechanism for his central thesis that (hyper)palatable foods drive overeating and obesity.  I've point out before here and here, as well as earlier, that there is no direct scientific evidence for his central claim.  I've asked for citations that show a direct link and none have been forthcoming.  I'd love to see one if there is.

        You are right that there are many different factors that can lead to overeating.  If it was as simple as hyperpalatability, then it wouldn't be a mystery because that hypothesis has been studied for at least 40 years.

        The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. Bertrand Russell

        by accumbens on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 06:52:51 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I saw your response on one other diary from this (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Clio2, cdkipp

            past week. Please read the first paragraph of
          page 145 of the book Handbook of Pediatric and Adolescents Obesity Treatment. Here is the link.

            I wanted to copy the entire paragraph but since it is a scanned version of the pdf file, I couldn't. It quotes three recent studies that show that food palatability is directly related to overconsumption and the resulting obesity. One study is with rats and the other two are humans.

            The last sentence I'll copy here for others to view. This is more than just a good story. The relationship exists and has several proven studies. Sorry, but the world is no longer flat.

          In the presence of a variety of high-calorie, palatable foods, satiation of the hedonic appetite is prolonged and more calories are generally consumed. (Raynor and Epstein, 2001)

      •  Martha Beck also relates (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Clio2, LibrErica, cdkipp

        something similar in The 4 Day Win. Had to give it back to the library yesterday, need to find a copy to buy or borrow it again. But as I was reading this, it reminded me of what she said about positive reinforcement, and how you need to create your own rewards for changing your behaviors.

    •  Accumbens, Please link your animal study (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DawnG, Sychotic1, RenMin, LibrErica

      rather than make a dismissive assertion. Your post is very ironic in light of the Bertrand Russell quote you end with.

      •  Reference (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Clio2, RenMin

        Weingarten, H.  Conditioned cues elicit feeding in sated rats: a role for learning in meal initiation.  Science 220: 431-433, 1983.

        Abstract:

        Pavlovian conditioning was used to teach rats an association between an arbitrary external cue and food. Presentation of the conditioned cue elicited feeding by sated animals. The meal constituted approximately 20 percent of daily intake, and it was compensated for by a reduction of subsequent intake.

        The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. Bertrand Russell

        by accumbens on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 06:43:41 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thank you (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RenMin, cdkipp

          for the reference.

          Are you in this field professionally? And/or would you care to post a Kessler-rebuttal diary of your own?  

        •  Yes, thanks for the reference, I will try to look (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Clio2, LibrErica

          it up. Do you have a link? I posted 5 study summaries. I could have posted 100.

          Also, earlier this week in another blog you posted:

          "In short, no good evidence that drinking soda is a cause of obesity or even contributes to the incidence."  

          I guess I would like to know where you get your pay check and what you propose as a solution for the current obesity epidemic. Do you dispute the current genetic-obesity link research also.

          This blog is for support. We want the right science, but we are also looking for answers and support.

          •  I'm not an industry plant if that's what you are (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Clio2, cdkipp, Book of Hearts

            asking.  I am a scientist who has worked in the area for a long time at a non-profit organization.

            I understand what you are saying about support and would generally say whatever works for you to keep your weight down - as long as it doesn't hurt you - is a good thing.  I also think that, given what a struggle it is to lose weight and keep it off, that people tend to be less critical about what they hear and read than they would otherwise.  Ultimately, as you indicate, it's important to consider the science.

            The problem is that what reaches the popular press often doesn't reflect the real science, which is usually not so clearcut.  I've been trying to inject some hardnosed science into these diaries about Kessler's book.

            As for Clio2's suggestion above about a Kessler-rebuttal diary, I really don't have the time right now.  I was about to start my own blog a few months ago that would address the subject of appetite and obesity, in part in terms of some of the basics of energy metabolism - sort of a primer - and some critiques of books and papers that make the news (or should), but haven't gotten the time to do that either.  If I do, I'll let the dailykos community know.

            In any case, although I can be a bit snarky at times, I hope people take my comments as they are intended - as critiques of the science, not the people doing the work, writing about it or posting diaries about it.

            The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. Bertrand Russell

            by accumbens on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 07:18:13 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Thank you for that explanation (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              sillia, cdkipp

              My experience of science, as a non-scientist, is that science is rarely clear cut when it comes to things we desperately want to know.

              In decisions about what to do...whether personal behavior, public policy and even medical choices...one looks at a mosaic of available studies and tries to make an educated judgement call.

              Direct evidence on smoking and cancer was late in coming as well as being denied as long as possible. The same with global warming.

              When I was active in environmental work some time ago, I remember getting stalled in something I wanted to push because the available studies were not definitive. An acquaintance at the Congressional Research Service gave me the lecture about recognizing the science almost never being definitive on vital practical matters, and having to make one's best judgement rather than waiting forever to make a move.

              Laboratory scientists, with some of whom I have also worked at times, were more...if the word is fair...fixated on absolute proof. There was always one more ongoing or prospective study that one needed to wait for. In some cases, lives could have been lost while waiting for direct proof of a result that one could have guessed from the pattern of earlier evidence.

              What I don't understand, however, from your previous posts, is why you refuse to even read Kessler's book.

               

    •  obesity dopamine link (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sychotic1, Clio2, RenMin, LibrErica, Ed G

      science and reason          

      •  There are several problems with these studies. (0+ / 0-)

        First, they are looking at people or animals that are already obese so you don't know what is the cause and the effect.  Second, just because the results are consistent with the hypothesis doesn't mean that there is a direct link between changes in brain dopamine and overeating.  Third, they are measuring one thing.  There is no reason to think that is the only thing that is different between obese and lean individuals.

        The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. Bertrand Russell

        by accumbens on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 07:01:49 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I agree it is not the only thing (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Clio2, LibrErica

          but you said there was NO scientific evidence. The abstract you posted does not even reference dopamine.

          •  No direct evidence (0+ / 0-)

            This is all circumstantial.  It's quite a leap from these kinds of studies/data to saying that people overeat because food is palatable.

            The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. Bertrand Russell

            by accumbens on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 07:20:07 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  It's quite a leap to me, frankly, (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              NC Dem, cdkipp

              to say that people eat the same amount of calories whether their food is palatable or not. Based on personal experience.

              •  Think about whether (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Clio2

                you're talking about the short- or long-term.  No doubt if the food is good at a meal or over a weekend, people will eat more than if it's bad, but over weeks and months - a nutritionally signifcant interval - it's a different story.

                The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. Bertrand Russell

                by accumbens on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 07:54:53 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Kessler acknowledges that (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  cdkipp

                  the set-point theory has its adherents, and has a  long footnote on pp. 258 f. summarizing some studies that have called it into question.

                  •  The set-point theory (0+ / 0-)

                    is not a theory - it's a description of data, of a graph.  It's pretty much been discredited, but keeps rearing its head every decade or so.

                    The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. Bertrand Russell

                    by accumbens on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 09:56:33 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                •  What is your explantion (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Clio2

                  for obesity accumbens?

                  •  A variety of endocrine/metabolic disturbances can (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Clio2, cdkipp

                    cause obesity and by "obesity" I specficially mean fat accumulation.  I think overeating is caused by this shift in metabolism toward storage of energy as fat.  Overeating is a response to the "loss" of energy to fat tissue much like you'd be buying lots of heating oil if a good portion of it leaked from your tank instead of making it to your burner.  In other words, you overeat because you're getting fat (which btw is exactly the opposite of the set-point model that says you overeat in order to get fat).  Needless to say, there's lots more to say.

                    The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. Bertrand Russell

                    by accumbens on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 10:07:29 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  So how are these endocrine/metaboilc disturbance (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Clio2

                      caused?  Why are they dramatically on the increase since the 70's?  Why are they so prevalent in the United States as opposed to other countries? Do you agree that continued exposure to certain  patterns of eating such as high glycemic index foods can lead to insulin resistance or other modification to the endocrine system?

                      I did try to follow up on the Weingarten article you suggested. That article is repeatedly cited to support the proposition that learned cues can cause overeating even in sated rats but I do not see it cited to support the notion that these learned cues are of no consequence in the long run since the body will balance things out which is how I read your initial post.

                    •  Well, anytime you wish to enlighten us (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      NC Dem, cdkipp

                      further.

                      It would obviously be very helpful to people have a greater understanding of why 67% of U.S. adults between 20 anf 74 were fat in 2005-6, compared with 45% in 1960, per CDC.

                      Especially for those of us individuals who have lived through and participated in the trend, in which "overweight is the new normal."

                      Do you think it might be a virus?

            •  That's not really what he's saying anyway (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Clio2, cdkipp

              he's saying that there's a subset of the population in which the combination of genetic, biochemical and environmental factors disregulate the mechanisms that in others prevent overeating and/or obesity and that overeating tends to be a self-reinforcing cycle.

              (it's not that amazing of a thing to not overeat if you have no desire to, is it? same way it's not amazing that I don't have a gambling problem given my lack of interest in gambling. same way it's not amazing that I don't eat chocolate even when I'm around it all day every day because I don't like chocolate.  If I liked it and had to be exposed to it all the time and wanted to eat it but never ate it, that would be remarkable)

              He's saying that people can make a concerted effort to reject/refuse some of the environmental factors, can exercise to improve some of the biochemical factors so that a person can learn to resist the urge to overeat, and can resist becoming obese.

              The chapter on the observation of disregulation in younger and younger children was particularly interesting.

              Strong Media, Strong Democracy - Corporate Media, Corporate Democracy

              by LibrErica on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 08:59:01 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  I'm not a scientist (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sychotic1, Clio2, cdkipp

      But I just heard a guy on the radio (not an infomercial) this weekend who had conducted a study with monkeys and supported the dopamine reward theory.  I wish I could provide more information, but I was just listening to the radio in the car.  Did anyone else hear this?  At any rate, he was an actual scientist and didn't seem to have any axe to grind -- he wasn't selling a diet book or anything like that.  (The show also featured a woman who became a compulsive gamble when the dopamine she was taking for Parkinson's messed up her brain chemistry, if that helps anyone identify it.)

      "[W]e shall see the reign of witches pass over . . . and the people, recovering their true spirit, restore their government to its true principles." Jefferson

      by RenMin on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 06:42:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  You can be free of these triggers (6+ / 0-)

    if you retrain your tastebuds and your ideas about food.

    Again, I AM working on my diary about my ayurvedic life change and weight loss, but for now I will just say that once you clean out your body and eat good food, you will not want the junk that is so tempting now.

    Last week, huge cookie/truffle box arrived at work. I walked by it every day, never touched it and NOT because I white-nuckled it, but I just didn't even see it really.

    I did take a bite of a brownie, and I spit it out it tasted so sugary icky.

    I now prefer room temp water, PREFER, after finally quitting diet coke and seltzer and COLD water. My integrative medicine friend always wanted me to drink room temp water and I never thought it would happen.

    We can BE FREE!!!

    •  Yes, (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sychotic1, RenMin, LibrErica, Ed G, cdkipp

      once you clean out your body and eat good food, you will not want the junk that is so tempting now

      That is one of the conclusions from Kessler's thesis...we learn to overeat, and can unlearn it.

      •  Kessler does say that education is the key... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cdkipp

        ...we learn to overeat

        to overcoming what we have been taught by the food industry. I'm not sure I learned as much as I was tricked by the allure of sugar.

          As karenc13 said above, once we can lower our insulin levels (clean out your system), you don't have the dopomine kick in to make you reach for that brownie. For some people it takes just a few days to lower the insulin and kick the habits... for others it takes weeks and months.

          I was reading a book today that really set me to thinking. Most of us think about our eating (or diet) on a daily basis and calculate calories in versus calories expended. Our bodies don't wait until the end of the day to make these decisions. It happens within just a few minutes after we begin to consume some food. Within 10 minutes if it is a highly refined carb. If your glycogen level in your liver, blood, and muscles is at capacity, the decision is made right then to send that glucose into those dirty white fat cells. It doesn't wait until the end of the day. And that is the reason for eating 5-6 small 250-350 calorie meals per day rather than 3 squares of 500-750-1000 calories in the three main mealtimes.

          It takes a full 12 hours for the glycogen levels in the liver to be completely emptied overnight. That is the reason our bodies start by 6:00-7:00 AM to tear down your muscles and convert the proteins to glucose. If it takes 12 hours to completely deplete the stored glycogen, we will overfill the bodies need with large 600+ calorie meals and fat is added right then.

    •  P.S. Let us know (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sychotic1, RenMin, cdkipp

      when you're ready to schedule your diary...

    •  Agree (5+ / 0-)

      See my comment below -- the key is to stick with the changed diet for a period of time, don't give up after a couple of weeks.  It takes several months, in my experience, to retrain your body/tastebuds, but it does happen.  I hardly ever want sweets at all -- I don't even want desert when I go out to eat -- and I used to have a huge sweet tooth.

      "[W]e shall see the reign of witches pass over . . . and the people, recovering their true spirit, restore their government to its true principles." Jefferson

      by RenMin on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 06:46:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  karen either now or in your (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Clio2

      diary would you please address the benefit of room temperature water. I read once it is good to drink cold water because it forces your body to expend the energy to warm it up. This was just something I read in passing in a magazine, not a study or anything so I am interested in learning more.

  •  Bacon cake? One word: BARF! 8^) nt (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sychotic1, Clio2, RenMin, LibrErica

    The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me' MT 25:40

    by Ed G on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 06:26:02 AM PDT

  •  Bacon's a wonderful food and fits perfectly in my (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    varro, Clio2, LibrErica, cdkipp

    diet. My cholesterol's dropped, blood pressure is down, I've dropped 65lbs and feeling better than every.

    I love me some Atkins diet.

    On a more on topic note: I know exactly what you're talking about with the food cues. It's a very hard habit to break when you're used to having food at specific times.

    Abolish gun control, marriage, and helmet laws. -7.00, -3.79

    by KVoimakas on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 06:31:11 AM PDT

    •  Bacon Is Pretty Good (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      varro

      Pancetta, guanciale, lardo, Canadian bacon ...

      I won't tell anyone that Reagan was a turd.

      by bink on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 06:37:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Sorry, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sychotic1, RenMin

      for me, not doing Atkins, bacon's the reverse of a good thing! For Atkinsites, I guess, it's the carb part that would be problematical?

    •  Not conventional bacon! (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sychotic1, NC Dem, 1864 House, Clio2, Ed G

      If you want to indulge in organic bacon, fine, but the conventional grocery store bacon is cured with sodium nitrite and sodium nitrate, two of the worst carcinogens known.  They are absolutely terrible for you.

      "[W]e shall see the reign of witches pass over . . . and the people, recovering their true spirit, restore their government to its true principles." Jefferson

      by RenMin on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 06:48:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Oh...I dont' know. (0+ / 0-)

        I'm sure there are worse carcinigens out there.  Just few that are legal to put in food.

        But keep in mind that nitrates = saltpeter.  I don't know if sodium nitrate and potassium nitrate are both saltpeter in the same way that sodium hydroxide and potassium hydroxide are both Lye.

        But I actually saw an episode of "Good Eats" for making corned beef that required using saltpeter in the recipe.  Ick!

        You are entitled to express your opinion. But you are NOT entitled to agreement.

        by DawnG on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 04:49:02 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Bacon is extremely satisfying. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      KVoimakas

      Perhaps the problem isn't "hyperpalatable" food, but unsatisfying food that encourages people to eat more.

      My own anecdotal experience is that steak, bacon, or other rich meats satisfy me, and I eat less compared to other types of food.

      9-11 changed everything? Well, Katrina changed it back.

      by varro on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 08:51:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Actually, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        NC Dem

        food that, instead of satisfying, encourages people to eat more...is the definition of "hyperpalatable" food!  

      •  BTW (0+ / 0-)

        According to Aggie, one 8-gram slice of plain bacon, cooked, has 43 calories, 3.34 fat grams and 185 mg of sodium.

        So...depending on your fat/sodium/calorie target for the day, if you can eat a couple or three slices and feel satisfied...obviously, that won't kill anyone.

        My problem is that I want more of it. And then I want it again tomorrow.

  •  Panic-Eating (7+ / 0-)

    I suppose the pleasure that comes from eating helps tame the sense of panic that Americans have about everything from jobs to money to relationships to family life.

    I sometimes wonder if the body is not sensing this panic and storing up the calories for the End Times that it assumes will follow.

    I won't tell anyone that Reagan was a turd.

    by bink on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 06:31:52 AM PDT

    •  You know, (4+ / 0-)

      that is a very interesting thought. It's true that a lot of us tend to eat more when we're nervous...

      •  Yes (5+ / 0-)

        I would say that the average American is not "nervous," but "completely and totally freaked out" but the standards of the rest of the world.

        I won't tell anyone that Reagan was a turd.

        by bink on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 06:39:52 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I know this has been true for me (5+ / 0-)

          and it makes intuitive sense.

          What happens when you feel anxious or frightened?
          Your stomach feels like it's tied up knots (well mine does).
          What can make that feeling go away?
          Give your stomach something to do - work on digesting this food.

          OK, so what ELSE can make that feeling go away?

          Meditation
          Yoga
          Prayer
          Jogging, swimming, etc.
          Pretty much anything that takes up your focus and effort and gives your body/mind something else to do.

          That does work. Just as temporarily as food works.

          So to solve the problem, the root cause of the anxiety must be addressed.  Obesity is a symptom of some other problem.

          I just finished reading that book.
          It's good for people who want to understand the science behind compulsive behaviors.
          But you know what? The advice he provides for changing the habit/behavior is pretty much the same advice that you'll get at Overeaters Anonymous, just without the jargon.

          Strong Media, Strong Democracy - Corporate Media, Corporate Democracy

          by LibrErica on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 06:57:30 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  What worked for me (7+ / 0-)

    Full disclaimer -- I've never had a weight problem, in fact for most of my life I've been slim.  I was (note the past tense) blessed with a fast metabolism and when younger could eat anything I wanted without gaining weight.

    But as I got into middle age, that all changed.  I found myself putting on pounds, even though I wasn't eating any more.  And as I put on pounds, I found I actually had a bigger appetite, so it was a vicious circle.

    I never got overweight, by objective standards, but I didn't like gaining and I could see that, if it kept up, I would become overweight in a few years.  My mother served as an example -- she had been quite thin when young, but had gotten very heavy when she got older.

    So here's what I did:

    1.  Stepped up exercise -- I had always exercised, running or biking 3 or 4 times a week, but I increased both the time (from a half hour or 45 minutes to an hour or more) and frequency (virtually every day -- only take a day off every 10 days or so).
    1.  I stopped eating lunch -- I exercised during my lunch hour.  I know this is controversial and don't necessarily recommend it, but it works for me. The exercise kills my appetite so I don't usually get too hungry in the afternoon.
    1.  I stopped eating ice cream, cookies, and candy.  Period.  I just don't do it.  I missed it for a while, but after a couple of months I don't even want it.  In fact, it sort of makes me feel queasy to think of eating ice cream now.  
    1.  Three or 4 nights a week, I just have salad for dinner.  A good salad, with dressing and parmesan cheese, and often a little shredded chicken, but still a salad.  The roughage fills me up so I don't eat as much.
    1.  I try not to eat too much meat; I'll eat fish or chicken instead of beef, usually, though I'm not fanatic about it.
    1.  No fast food, ever, period.  But I never ate fast food anyway.  Lots of complex carbs like brown rice, whole grain bread, and beans.  No white bread or processed foods.

    All this worked -- I dropped about 20 pounds, I'm keeping the weight off (a couple of years) and I don't feel deprived, because I can eat anything I want on any given day.  Yes, from time to time I'll indulge and eat spaghetti or a steak or barbecue or tacos or brie.  But I don't do it very often, and when I do it's a big treat.

    Like I said, this probably wouldn't work for everyone, but it works for me.  I think the exercise is a key.  Vigorous exercise depresses the appetite and releases endorphins that you would otherwise eat to trigger.

    "[W]e shall see the reign of witches pass over . . . and the people, recovering their true spirit, restore their government to its true principles." Jefferson

    by RenMin on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 06:36:48 AM PDT

    •  This sounds great (5+ / 0-)

      You found a life long workable solution rather than a one time diet.

    •  All that sounds pretty healthy (7+ / 0-)

      and very much in line with Kessler. On skipping meals...some people seem to thrive on a lot of really small meals, some need three squares...Myself, despite all advice, I can't stand to eat at breakfast time and prefer to have a substantial, early lunch.

      This

      I stopped eating ice cream, cookies, and candy.  Period.  I just don't do it.  I missed it for a while, but after a couple of months I don't even want it.

      and this from karenc13 above

      Last week, huge cookie/truffle box arrived at work. I walked by it every day, never touched it and NOT because I white-nuckled it, but I just didn't even see it really.

      both show beautifully how we can retrain our brains so that, as Kessler might put it, former cues lose their personal salience.

  •  My problem with Kessler (7+ / 0-)

    is understanding what he means by "salience." I found this term very confusing and could not get straight in my mind what he means by this. Salient to what?

    If I said I didn't like this book because of the cover design, you could argue that is not a salient point. That is, it's not very relevant to the meaning of the book. That is what I understand 'salience' to mean. But what does he mean by this? This bugs me to the point that I have a mental block about it, lol. I wish he had used some better term.

    Another book that talks about the dopamine effect, as I recall, is Dr. Neal Barnard's "The Food Seduction." I do think that certain foods can cause a kind of addiction--I was certainly addicted to sugar until recently.

    "We did not come here to fear the future, we came to shape it." --BHO

    by sillia on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 06:48:05 AM PDT

    •  I think it is (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RunawayRose, Sychotic1, sillia, cdkipp

      this:

      The salience (also called saliency) of an item – be it an object, a person, a pixel, etc. – is its state or quality of standing out relative to neighboring items.

      Our visual field, for instance, is generally a cluttered chaos really -- but the attentional mechanism of our brain picks out the things it considers important and brings them to our attention. The things that are salient to us are the things we notice (and focus on).

      For instance, the car speeding toward us is more salient than the litter scattered by the roadside. The figure of a friend is more salient than (stands out from) the crowd of nearby strangers. It almost "pops out" of the visual field. The voice of her own lamb is more salient to the mother than thousands of others bleating, and she goes to it unerringly.

      If pastries are salient to us, the plate of pastries on the conference room table may for instance tend to distract our attention from the subject of the meeting.

      And marketing people, including food marketers, work hard to make their products more salient to most people than the competition -- or other things on which we might spend our money.

      I agree that sometimes Kessler is confusing. I seem to go through a very confused phase in preparing every Kessler diary.

    •  one of the definitions for "Salient" (0+ / 0-)

      is "prominent or conspicuous".

      which almost makes your example to seem to be a misuse of the word since "important" or "relevant" don't appear to be part of the definition of that word.

      You are entitled to express your opinion. But you are NOT entitled to agreement.

      by DawnG on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 04:52:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Great diary Clio2 (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NC Dem, anotherdemocrat, Clio2, Ed G, cdkipp

    I have purchased a hard copy of the book and find it very informative.

    I am off to catch the carpool. Thanks to all the

    WHEEttle people.

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