Information and support for low carb and gluten free eating.

Psychology

Michael's picture

Cutting calories can make you crazy

Here's an interesting series of articles by Emily Deans, M.D. (Dr. Deans also blogs at Evolutionary Psychiatry -- see our Educational Resources Links, below).

She describes the strong similarities between the restricted calorie diets recommended for weight loss today, and the Minnesota Starvation Experiment carried out during World War II on a group of conscientious objectors.

Among the symptoms experienced by the Minnesota Starvation Experiment subjects:

  • Lethargy
  • Dizziness
  • Cold intolerance
  • Muscle soreness
  • Hair loss
  • Reduced coordination
  • Edema
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Food obsession

Four of the original 36 subjects dropped out of the experiment. Failures included: eating scrapings from garbage cans, stealing raw rutabagas, and eating clandestine sundaes at the local soda shop. One man became suicidal, and another cut off three of his fingers. (These two men ended up in a psychiatric hospital.)

Some of those symptoms may sound disturbingly familiar to you if you've ever been on an extended low-calorie weight loss diet. Food obsession is just one.

Dr. Deans points out the similarities between the study diet and the standard weight-loss recommendations of today:

What strikes me the most about this study is how close it is to the standard recommendations for weight loss today (500-1000 calorie deficit daily for goal of 1-2 pounds lost a week, plus moderate exercise). The difference is by degree (1700 calorie deficit daily for goal of 2.5 pounds lost a week), and the fact that the men were normal weight when they began the study. But this strict diet sent 6% of the participants to the psychiatric hospital - and these were highly motivated, healthy young men!

Cutting calories can result in weight loss. But at what cost? Are starvation diets a recipe for failure? I think so. Teri's experience with the standard diets supports my conclusion.

Read more at:

Dieting Can Make You Lose Your Mind

Part two of the article describes similar problems with the Biosphere 2 experiment, in which 8 humans lived in a 3 acre, hermetically-sealed ecosystem in Arizona from 1991-1993. The subjects had no choice but to eat a calorie-restricted, mostly vegan diet. The results: "hunger, fatigue, mental fog, licking each plate rather obsessively and elaborate food rituals, and depression". The door to the 'banana room' (where the bananas were kept) was the only locked room in the structure–the succulent bananas were too tempting, it seems.

Dieting Can Make You Lose Your Mind Part 2

Michael's picture

Why do we "go off" our plans? Brain chemistry!

Why do we go off-program when we know better?

Why do we allow temptation to derail us?

Jonah Lehrer, author of How We Decide, describes the battles in our brains, in an experiment that may help us understand why we choose things that aren't always best for us. Click here to continue reading, or leave a comment »

LowCarbForLife's picture

12.27.09, Low Carb Diet Journal

Saturday, 12.26.09

Menu
CM: 2 cups of black coffee
CM: Diced ham and scrambled eggs
RM: Salad of romaine w/bacon, celery, cheddar cheese, sauteed shrimp, & ranch, and chocolate chip cookies

Water
96 oz.

Option #1
GTF Chromium

Option #2
Day Off!

LowCarbForLife's picture

Why I eat chocolate while staying 'on plan'

Why I eat chocolate as part of my lifestyle change

I'm a chocolate addict. I've been a slave to chocolate most of my life.

Cravings for chocolate cake, cookies, ice cream, and candy have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. And I was mostly unable to control them. Until recently, that is.

My desire for sweet chocolate goodies contributed to my steady weight gain over the years. Why? Because once I gave in to my cravings, it triggered a vicious circle of sugar highs and crashing lows, followed by intense cravings for more sweets or other high-carbohydrate foods.

Why include chocolate in my new lifestyle?

I believe any diet that prohibits your favorite foods will fail. Click here to continue reading, or leave a comment »

LowCarbForLife's picture

5.26.09, Low Carb Diet Journal

Tuesday, 5.26.09

Menu
CM: 2 cups of black coffee

CM: Pork chops and green beans w/vinaigrette

RM: Salad of romaine w/avocado, cheddar cheese, sauteed shrimp, & ranch, and a BLT on wheat bread w/mustard & mayo

Water
Minimum of 80 oz.

Exercise
Leslie Sansone, Walk at Home, Walk Slim, Fast & Firm! 4 Really Big Miles w/toning band.
Mile 1: Get Started with a 15 minute mile
Mile 2: Faster pace - a 12 minute mile
Mile 3: BOOSTED walking - a 10 minute mile
Mile 4: Add the firm Band for a big muscle BOOST - 15 minute mile
I completed all 4 miles with the firm band!

Michael's picture

Diet Food Packaging, Marketing, and the Halo Effect

People are irrational.

I've observed over the years that many people assume that the term LOW FAT means NON-FATTENING or HEALTHY. That they can eat as much of that stuff as they want, and it will only make them healthier. I blame the simplistic "fat bad, carbs good" education campaign for much of this bizarre behavior.

The overwhelming evidence shows that the best way to improved health and longevity is through overall caloric reduction (note that I'm not advocating a simplistic low-fat or low-carb lifestyle, only that reducing overall caloric intake seems to be the key component of improving fitness.)

I can't tell you how many times I've heard someone say "It's fat free! and proceed to eat an economy-sized helping. Reading the ingredients label usually shows sugar or high fructose corn syrup as the second or third ingredient.

I'm not the only one who has concluded that people are just plain nuts when it comes to food packaging and labeling. Check out the following stories: Click here to continue reading, or leave a comment »

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