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Why Do We Ever Stop Eating? Taste, Reward, and Hyperpalatability (Why Are We Hungry? Part VII)
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October 21, 2011
3:24 pm
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Halifax, UK
Gnoll
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June 5, 2011
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Diane - Take a big step back.

The way you are now is as a result of your life so far. To rectify that will take some time. There are no shortcuts, and any shortcuts will not last.

The formula is simple - eat real food, that's nothing from a packet, box or jar. Make up your food from meat and vegetables. Eat a lot of eggs and get some fish and shellfish into your weekly intake.

Avoid ALL grains, sugars and and processed food. Limit carb-rich foods like potatoes. You need to eat a LOT of green veg to tip the carb scales towards gaining weight - so, eat as much green veg and meat as you like, basically.

To avoid hunger, tiredness and glumness, eat fat! Don't shy away from fatty meat, add real fats like lard, butter, tallow, bacon grease and so on with your meat, veggies and to fry eggs. To keep the food interesting, flavour it heavily ... initially ... and enjoy the real flavours thereafter. Jars of Tabasco are useful.

Your body runs on fat - feed it. Meat gives protein, vegetables give fibre and short chain fats, and limited carbs. Too little fat and you'll eat your own muscle! Seriously. Don't think this is a good thing! Don't think ketosis is a good thing. You WILL lose flab by eating right.

Eat like that for a month ... give it a month and you'll see the blueprint for the rest of your long, healthy and vibrant life.

Don't worry about the details - just eat real food: meat, fish, shellfish, eggs and veggies. Once you're down to a healthy fat level, work in some carby starches - potatoes and rice, essentially, but don't do this instead of eating good, nutrient-rich food.

Weigh? Measure? Chill out! Don't! You'll lose fat, change shape and maybe gain weight - but it will be strong, good weight.

Here's the important bit! You MUST couple this with activity - don't bother with the gym. That will make you want to eat more. Walk at a strong, fast pace and get your heart rate up. Do a couple of miles a day, more if you like or less, but more intense uphills if you can find them. Practice balancing on one leg for minutes at a time before walking to improve all those little muscles and give your brain/muscle connectivity a real work-out.

Your body is meant to be lean, ready and healthy. Paleo will give you this - food, play, activity and rest.

It will take time - again, you've taken a lifetime to get this bad ... it won't take another lifetime to come back to normal. Proper normal.

Living in the Ice Age
http://livingintheiceage.pjgh.co.uk

October 21, 2011
4:16 pm
Larry Clapp
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J,

Great article! (As usual! 🙂

I had a thought recently and here seems as good a place as any to mention it. It was this: we all know that correlation is not causation. But your body doesn't know that. Evolution doesn't know that. And so I wonder how often evolution has "inadvertently" selected for things that, in the wild, are always correlated, but in captivity (i.e. "civilized" living) frequently aren't.

So in captivity, I can eat M&Ms till the cows come home and not feel satiated or sated. But if I try that with cows instead ... a half pound or so is fine. 🙂

Dunno if that makes any sense. 🙂

October 21, 2011
4:28 pm
Sam Knox
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@Diane

If you're in ketosis, then you are burning fat and ketones for fuel but, because you are not yet keto-adapted, you're not burning them very efficiently. That's what causes fatigue and other symptoms popularly known as the "Atkins flu", and they are especially bad when combined with exercise.

My main point was that you seem to be trying to restrict total calories and carbohydrate at the same time. This is going to have the opposite effect that you intend. In order to lose weight on a carbohydrate-restricted diet, it's essential that you eat whenever you are hungry. You shouldn't resist breakfast or any other meal. Your body will react to starvation in a low-carb diet the same way it reacts at any other time, by holding on to every ounce of fat that it can.

October 21, 2011
4:52 pm
Txomin
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@Fmgd

It is a rule of thumb, sort of thing. Soups and creams can't be chewed. Fruit, in general, will become pulp (even dissolve) before the flavor is gone.

And it is more useful and practical than the classic "chew 25 times" which we have all tried at one point or another and given up on. I find that this is the easiest advice that children can make sense of and follow.

October 21, 2011
5:04 pm
Fmgd
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@Txomin

Yup, and it's particularly applicable to meat. Although I see it more as an upper limit, as in, there's no point to keep chewing after that (unless of course you've still got to cut it down a bit more).

I understand that chewing is important, but I'm not sure how necessary it is to do it that much. I guess it does make digestion easier tho.

October 21, 2011
11:42 pm
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John:

That's a good idea: I've been eating that way for quite a while, I just hadn't added it to the manifesto.

Uncephalized:

Much appreciated!  Slick new avatar, too.

Joe Brancaleone:

News media often gives the impression that riding a mountain bike is all about twenty-something daredevils chugging Mountain Dew and hucking off jumps.  No: it's how many of us enjoy seeing the outdoors, and it lets us see beautiful places without burning an entire day, or requiring an overnight trip, to do it! 

Plus, as anyone who actually builds trails can tell you, bicyclists and hikers have about the same impact on trail surfaces.  Horses are what does all the damage: 1000+ pounds balanced on four small metal shovels.  (Let's not even mention the dung…when's the last time you saw a cyclist squatting in the middle of the trail, taking a dump?) And even that is rounding error next to erosion caused by water, which is proportional to trail tread and exacerbated by poor design…so a couple hundred feet of your average steep, badly eroded logging skid road (now called a "fire road" by the Forest Service) has more impact than a mile of your average singletrack.

Today a friend and I were checking out the aspens, which are peaking right now.  Maybe I'll post some pictures.  They're stunning.

Beth:

Yes, I'd love to address disordered eating…but since it's such a touchy subject, I want to make sure I'm doing so with respect and care.

Joe:

I'm glad it's helped you! 

Frankly, I've been surprised that previous presentations of these issues failed to separate these provably distinct phenomena.  No wonder everyone has been so confused…

Daniel:

Yes, steak and eggs are nearly a panacea.  Myself, I add some potatoes (sweet or regular, your choice) and a salad.  But they're most definitely supporting actors in the drama.

"you've pretty much beasted the whole food reward thing."  Thank you for noticing!  I don't write articles unless I'm familiar enough with the subject to be confident in what I write.

Re: dopamine.  These are huge subjects, and I've had to limit these articles to a very small subset of the issues.  Furthermore, they're areas of active research.  But you're absolutely correct that some people have much greater sensitivity to reward signaling than others — sometimes only around very specific issues.  It's a fascinating area of research.

snakeojakeo:

It's not a synthesis: it's a re-examination.  I backed up and started over with a combination of basic principles and observed reality, read the relevant literature, and followed it where it led. 

This is why it's coherent and easily understandable: I'm not trying to make the evidence fit into a conclusion I started with.

Also, I've tried to stay out of the bickering matches and flame wars: I'd rather investigate at my own pace instead of being goaded into arguing in the comment section.

Thank you for the support!

tess:

Sincere thanks are never redundant.

chris:

Nothing's stopping you from trying it…but I think you'll find that by the time you ingest all the supplements AND all the fats, protein powders, etc. that you'd need, the volume and complexity of preparation will approach that of real food.  I think it's simpler to eat an egg than try to mix the combination of fat, protein, cholesterol, lutein, choline, biotin, and the myriad other nutrients required to simulate the nutrition in an egg.

Franco:

Yes, real chocolate mousse is absolutely delicious!

As far as relative satiating capacity of PRO/FAT/CHO singly or in combination, there are hundreds of studies out there — and you can prove whatever you want simply by choosing the ones you like.  I started to write an article on that subject once, and quickly realized that most of the papers are cleverly designed to produce the desired conclusion.

 

More to come…thank you for your support! 

October 23, 2011
6:29 am
Perfect Health Diet
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[...] Stanton has another blockbuster exposition on food reward, which contains a challenge to Stephan’s recommendations for weight loss: eating food you like [...]

October 23, 2011
6:53 am
Beth@WeightMaven
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In re-reading this, I got stuck a bit on this sentence re incentive salience:

"It also explains common observations like “There’s always room for dessert” … because dessert, being nutritionally incomplete, is not satiating"

I get the connection between incentive salience and the idea that folks believe there's room for dessert, but I am not getting the connection between this and dessert being nutritionally incomplete.

Seems to me that having "room for dessert" has more to do with wanting, liking and especially variety ... and not downstream satiety.

October 23, 2011
7:57 am
Roger Elliott
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"Conclusion: in order to keep incentive salience (“wanting”) under control, make sure that hedonic impact (“liking”) is always accompanied by nutrition. Eat delicious but nutritionally dense foods, containing complete protein, healthy fats, and ample nutrients. Otherwise you’re eating food with no brakes."

Lovely. I'm memorizing this. 🙂

October 23, 2011
10:42 am
Aaron Blaisdell
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JS, your posts in this series are highly rewarding. I like them a lot and want more. I'll be back! And it's not just the fat-binging that made me say this.

October 23, 2011
11:23 am
California
Gnoll
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J. Stanton said:

 

chris:

Nothing's stopping you from trying it...but I think you'll find that by the time you ingest all the supplements AND all the fats, protein powders, etc. that you'd need, the volume and complexity of preparation will approach that of real food.  I think it's simpler to eat an egg than try to mix the combination of fat, protein, cholesterol, lutein, choline, biotin, and the myriad other nutrients required to simulate the nutrition in an egg.

 

 

 

I totally agree. I imagine it's almost like eating the goop in The Martix. Nasty. I'll go back to my prime rib.

October 23, 2011
3:15 pm
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February 22, 2010
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My apologies: I replied to a whole bunch of you, but lost the reply due to a broken mouse.

How does that happen?

Imagine a mouse button that sometimes magically presses the center button (the "wheel" button) when you press the left button (the main button).  So instead of switching to a tab, it closes the tab...not incidentally deleting anything you might have written.

FFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUU-

I fixed it.  Turns out the mouse wasn't actually broken: it just had a bunch of grit built up in the mechanism.  I disassembled it, cleaned it out, and now everything is fine...except for the hour of work I just lost. 

Anyway, I need to go outside, ride my bike, and clear my head.  I'll be back in a while.

JS

 

October 23, 2011
5:43 pm
Jean
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An article on food variety would be very welcome. I find myself eating the same foods over and over, primarily because they cause the least number of problems gastronomically, and also because I eat GFCF, due to issues with those foods. I am a carnivore, however, and I hope that will save me! It's the green veg that trip me up, I'm finally reduced to making a pesto with kale and/or chard and some fresh basil, and then adding it to my starches and other veg.

October 23, 2011
8:44 pm
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Fmgd:

"It all sounds natural, and it's great to back up intuition with research."

If what I write about hunger doesn't have relevance to our daily experience, it doesn't matter how many citations I make.

"I haven't really looked much into it, but I don't get the fixation on food reward as a cause for making people fat."

That's entirely due to one blogger, who's spent the last six months pushing that particular hypothesis.  I believe I've shown here that hunger is clearly much more than just the hedonic value of food — and that its incentive salience is the product of other factors, not a magical property of food that causes us to overeat.  Like I said, food didn't suddenly become tasty in 1978.

"If you stay hungry because you can't really absorb or use the nutrients on food, it's not very clear to me that simply eating less wouldn't be equally harmful."

Absolutely true.  And that's the first problem with most diets.

Franco:

I agree.  Presenting a theory of "food reward" over several months and a 40-minute presentation without mentioning Kent Berridge, or his separable concepts of hedonic reward and incentive salience, is like presenting a unified field theory without mentioning Maxwell's equations. 

And even though Round 2 of explanations, six months later, has finally started to cite Berridge and use the accepted scientific terminology (though only after I've done so for months…see Part I, Part II, and Part VI, all of which predate Round 2), I agree that the concepts are still being conflated. 

That's why it's best to read the existing literature, and familiarize ourselves with the terminology, before making a big public splash (in which we claim to have discovered concepts understood for many years) and telling everyone else what to do: otherwise we just end up confusing people.

Scotlyn:

I agree, and I've said it before: a "set point" is just a homeostasis we don't understand yet.  If you go on a diet, and then gain all the weight back when you go off it, that's to be expected: your previous bodyfat "set point" is the result of your diet, life(style), and genetics — and if you return to that same diet and lifestyle, it's very likely that you'll return to the same body composition! 

Also, most diets depend on willpower: they don't actually nourish us better.  In fact, they nourish us less, because they still stress nutrient-poor foods like whole grains and fat-free dairy.  If we want to permanently change our "set point", we're going to have to permanently change our eating and activity patterns.

(Note that this is NOT to say that these patterns change instantly with diet, nor that metabolic damage cannot prevent us from returning to a diet on which we were once skinny and healthy.)

Asclepius:

The rhythm of the seasons is deep and unfathomably ancient…though I'm not a pure locavore, it's both delicious and much cheaper to eat food and do activities in season.  In the summer I sweat a lot, in the winter I spend a lot of time being chilly, because I'm outdoors.  That's fine!  I get tired of doing the same thing all year anyway.

tess:

"if i hear another 20-something male tell me you just have to eat less and exercise more, i fear i might commit a violence! ;-)"

Exactly.  People aren't overweight because they want to be fat: they're overweight because they're hungry all the time!  That's part of why I'm writing this series of articles.

Paul:

Thank you for your continued support and contributions!

I believe that Kurt Harris has perhaps become too liberal with his recommendations: just because an always-skinny person can tolerate certain variations from optimal doesn't mean the rest of us can, or should.  I think the Jaminets have a good handle on the high end of carb consumption: going lower is a matter of individual response.  Some achieve great weight loss, some don't.  Some do well on it indefinitely, some don't.

Daniel:

Thanks for the heads-up: I'll probably try to find a copy at the library.

Txomin:

My approach is to chew until I'm no longer enjoying it.  If I tried to chew my grass-finished, 28-day dry-aged steak until the flavor disappeared, I'd still be eating right now!

Fmgd:

Yes, chuck steak is the same cut in America.  It's delicious, but as you say, most of it contains a lot of connective tissue.  (Though it's possible to get an excellent flatiron.)

Franco:

I agree about resistance exercise and HIIT.

Diane:

First, you're most definitely not eating enough protein for breakfast.  Eat meat, or at least eggs, and not so much pure fat.  (Think omelet with ham or chicken, or eat some meat with your yogurt and ditch the creme/coconut milk.)  The point is not to add fat to everything; the point is to eat whole, nutritious foods, which contain fat as part of their complement.  Protein is especially important for weight loss, as it's the most satiating nutrient.

Also, I recommend some resistance exercise (lifting heavy weights) and some HIIT (high-intensity, low-duration interval training).  If hiking the PCT didn't make you lose weight, no amount of hiking will!  Not that you should stop hiking — but you should only hike because you enjoy it, not because you think you'll lose weight.  You can't keep doing the same thing and expecting a different result.

Finally, I gave you a few possible dietary experiments a while ago.  Try those.

JS

 

 

I'm catching up…more to come.

October 23, 2011
9:19 pm
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Fmgd:

I agree: the idea that we need to eat "breakfast foods" makes breakfast much more difficult.  Real food is good anytime.  I sometimes have eggs, bacon, and hash browns for dinner!

Sam:

You're talking about the difference between keto-adaptation and regaining met flex, which I talk about here.  I'm not sure Diane needs to be in ketosis — although if she wants to, she needs to commit to it fully.  Bouncing in and out of ketosis just means you never adapt.

eddie:

Absolutely women need to do strength training.  Nia Shanks benches 145 and deadlifts 300.  Does she look "too muscular"?  No, she looks great!

Diane:

Chorizo and eggs is a great breakfast…that's more like it!

kobayashi:

"A meal in front of the tv, the computer, a book may be nutritionally well-balanced and healthy but lacks sensory-specific satiety, which makes me wanting more food."

I don't think it's a coincidence that cultures which view eating as an important experience to be savored are thinner than Americans, who seem to view eating as an inconvenient obstacle.

Paul:

"The way you are now is as a result of your life so far. To rectify that will take some time. There are no shortcuts, and any shortcuts will not last."

Exactly. 

Recall, however, that Diane has hiked the PCT, and hikes frequently in some very steep mountains.  She doesn't need to be told to walk more…she needs to lift heavy weights and do some intervals.

Larry:

You're absolutely correct: many modern processed foods do indeed break the association found in evolutionary time between taste and nutrition.  I discussed the issue at length in this article.

JS

 

Almost there…more soon!

October 23, 2011
10:15 pm
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Txomin, Fmgd:

Chewing your food thoroughly will make it digest more quickly.  This may or may not be desirable.

I'm more concerned about the sensory exposure, which affects satiation.  Eating more slowly, all other things being equal, causes us to eat less.  So we should chew until we're not enjoying whatever we're chewing anymore.

Interestingly, I find that I eat foods like sashimi more slowly than foods like potatoes.  If I'm eating something absolutely delicious, I'll take the time to savor each bite.  If a food is just "good", I have no problem shoveling it down as quickly as I can.  And, of course, if a food is gross, I'll eat it slowly or not at all.

Beth:

"I get the connection between incentive salience and the idea that folks believe there's room for dessert, but I am not getting the connection between this and dessert being nutritionally incomplete.  Seems to me that having "room for dessert" has more to do with wanting, liking and especially variety … and not downstream satiety."

The key concept is that incentive salience, or "wanting", which is our drive to consume something, is primarily a product of the other drives, not a property of the food itself. 

As I said in the article when asking "Why do we ever stop eating?" -- "The Oreo didn't change...we did."  Hedonic reward ("liking") combines with our current degree of satiation and satiety to produce our drive to actually consume more food -- incentive salience, or "wanting". 

For example, we can "like" prime rib more than any other food...but if we've just eaten 20 ounces of it and are stuffed full, we don't "want" any more -- because the hedonic impact of the delicious taste of prime rib is pre-empted by our satiation.

That's why the first bite of prime rib leads to the second, but the twenty-fifth doesn't necessarily lead to the twenty-sixth: our "wanting" for more decreases, because our satiation increases.

To return to the dessert example: let's say you just finished your prime rib, and someone offers you another of your favorite whole foods.  (In my case, I'll pick bacon.)  Sure, I can eat a bite or two of bacon: but again, my satiation will quickly reduce the bacon's incentive salience to zero and stop me from eating more. 

However, dessert has little power to satiate.  So I can eat that bite of candy or ice cream, and since I'm no less satiated than before, the dessert's incentive salience remains the same, and I can probably finish it off.

Is that more clear?

Roger:

That's great!  I'm glad I've been able to distill all this science into a simple takeaway that you can use to improve their life and health.

Aaron:

"I'll be back! And it's not just the fat-binging that made me say this."

I'm absolutely honored.  The research I'm citing overlaps with your field of expertise, and it means a lot to have a highly regarded professional, such as yourself, tell me that my work is legitimate and valuable.

Chris:

The one advantage of that approach is that the ingredients aren't usually perishable.  So if we're talking about a cache of survival food, it's actually a legitimate approach.  I may write an article about this someday.

Jean:

Some of us have noticed that the more nutritionally dense the food we eat is, the less variety we crave.  But there's a lot more to say about its impact on eating.

 

 

Wow!  I think I've finally replied to everyone.  Thank you all for your continued support -- and don't forget to share my articles with others! 

Live in freedom, live in beauty.

JS

October 24, 2011
6:44 am
Beth@WeightMaven
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JS, thanks, that explanation is really helpful. I had parsed "there's always room for dessert" to mean deciding whether or not to eat dessert after a meal despite (likely) feeling full. But your version works too!

October 24, 2011
11:59 am
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Beth:

The complicating factor is learning.  Because we've eaten dessert before, we know that dessert won't be satiating, and that we can probably finish it -- without necessarily having to eat a bite first.

Imagine yourself at a buffet, making decisions on what to eat next, and you'll understand.

As for myself, there are definitely desserts that are "heavier" than others.  For instance, cheesecake is a "heavy" dessert, because it has some satiating power due to being made of cheese, not just sugar and flour.  I've definitely been too full to eat cheesecake before.  Regular cake is a bit lighter because it's just sweet bread and frosting.  And then you have things like fruit topped with whipped cream, which are basically 100% sugar with a bit of fat, are quite "light", and can always be packed down somewhere.  Or, even better, those little cups of sherbet sometimes used as a palate cleanser.

JS

October 24, 2011
4:07 pm
Aaron Blaisdell
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@JS. I'm the one who should be honored. I'm humbled that someone outside of some of these complicated fields of learning theory could convey the general principles and their nuances in such an easily accessible manner! I couldn't have imagined writing these posts, despite being relatively familiar with much of the territory.

October 25, 2011
1:57 am
Franco
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JS/Beth,

re: dessert

Exactly my thoughts, JS. To come back to real(home made) chocolate mousse, try to eat it after the huge prime rib as compared to a store bought(low fat) version! Worlds apart! Their's always room for the later.

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