Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Lean Eating: Rewiring our Instincts for Sure Fire Fat Loss, Guarenteed

IF we all know that to lose fat we need to eat less (fewer calories in than energy needed out equals fat loss), then why aren't all of us lean?

Some really cool recent thinking suggests that we are wired at a pretty basic level to respond to an environment that no longer really exists: an environment when food was way way less available - even as recently as 20 years ago (you know, the late 80's?) we were leaner people. We are raising the first generation in a hundred years where parents are predicted to start out living their children in increasing numbers.

What's happened?

If you accept that we're wired to ensure we have the fuel we need to survive, going after food is pretty natural. We have tons of chemical signals telling us we need food. There's one that tells us we're hungry and need carbs; one that tells us we need fat.

The cool thing is, these homeostatic signals can be trained, especially by hedonic controls. And in fact the most important part of getting lean seems to be getting habits around eating practices that plug into these Hedonic responses like what some have called instincts. Hunger in this framework is instinctual: our stomach grumbles, we go looking for food.
Likewise, when given a choice, going for the calorically rich foods (pizza vs salad), as is going for the familiar (pizza rather than some strange concoction we've never seen or smelled before), as is going for variety (if there are three types of cheese pizza, we go for a slice of each - eating more - in a response to get in a variety of food types).

So you can see that if we have instinctual behaviours saying EAT, EAT HIGH CAL FOODS, EAT FAMILIAR HIGH CAL FOODS, EAT MANY KINDS OF FAMILIAR HIGH CAL FOODS, if food is abundant, we're going to Obey Our Thirst (or hunger).

So, if we accept these ideas (and i'll find the sources - they're currently locked in a cargo hold) about our Hedonic Responses to Food, then staying lean means working with our instincts and training them, largely to relax - to know that we're safe, there's loads of food close by, we don't HAVE to eat right now for fear of starvation (personally i think there is a Starving Student/Starving Musician gene, and some of us have both - such that even now, when i see a buffet at an event i have to consciously remind myself that those days have passed - i do know, pretty much where my next meal is coming from and when; i do not have to find a way not only to eat lots but horde stuff to take home/back to the bus/to the dorm)

The super cool thing is, there are many many many approaches to working with our let's call them "instincts" - as a metaphor if nothing else - to be able to learn to control our very real, our very "looking out for us" wiring that is only thinking of the best for us and our survival.

So over at iamgeekfit, the blog i have for grad student geeks who largely do not move or eat well, i've proposed "mc's Change Only One Thing Sure Fire Diet"

Let me know what you think. And heh, especially if it works for you - it will take time - habits take time to develop - just like getting a swing down takes time to move from conscious effort to reflex (mine's still not "owned" to that degree), it takes time. BUT another cool thing? we start to make progress the SECOND we bring our attention to our practice. And as long as we continue to bring our attention to our practice, where our goal is to achieve the perfect rep, in diet as in swings, then guaranteed we will arrive.

If you have a loved one who needs to lose weight, i'd be delighted to know if you think the proposed approach might help make it safe to move to fat freedom and what Beck calls "thinner peace"

1 comment:

Georgie Fear, RD, CPT said...

Excellent!! You have stumbled upon a favorite tactic of mine. Behavior change (including dietary change) works best in small steps, so I am all for "change one thing".

One thing you didn't hit much upon, is that we all have reserved a few things that we won't try and change without prodding. I.e. giving up the extra soda might be okay, but we can't part with beer, or I can try and include more veggies, but I won't give up cookies, even though I eat 20 a day. In essence, some dietary improvements are HARDER than others, and some are more influential than others (switching from 2% to 1% fat milk for example, isn't terribly influential on weight, but committing to only eat when actually hungry- very influential. And much harder!)

Thus we might want to start with a small achievable, and relatively easy improvement, build up some self-efficacy, and them move on to the big issues, such as emotional eating etc. Alternately, tackling the big issues first can pay off with hastened results, so its equally valid to start with the BIG issues, then prioritize accordingly, once the big picture is in place, you can tweak the details. So choose your ONE thing with a priority/plan in mind, not randomly.

Either way, great info on planning and mental tricks to ensure success. Kudos mc!


Related Posts with Thumbnails