Aamodt is a neuroscientist, book author and former editor of a leading brain research journal. She also has become a prominent evangelist of the message that traditional diets just don't work and often leave the dieter worse off than before. And she's an enthusiastic proponent of mindful eating.
"I define it as eating with attention and joy, without judgment," Aamodt said in an interview. "That includes attention to hunger and fullness, to the experience of eating and to its effects on our bodies."
Look folks, there are people who have a mental disorder when it comes to food. I accept this, because it is trivially shown to be true. But the vast majority of people who are overweight are not sick in the head or suffering from some psychosis -- they've been actively misled as to what's going on and the media spurs this with its crap "reporting" such as this article.
Likewise, the "energy balance" folks (all of whom like to wag their finger and scold) are correct but intentionally misleading. That is, it is absolutely true that since a pound of body mass is roughly 3000-3500 calories (there is some debate on exactly what the number is but this is close enough; within 20%) if you wish to lose weight you must consume fewer calories than your body burns.
There's no escaping that; it's math. Isn't it funny, however, that these people never bother to continue their mathematical exercise? We'll get to why not in a minute, so hold that thought.
There is, unfortunately, also no escaping the fact that running, one of the highest calorie-consuming exercises, only burns about 100-120 calories a mile -- more if you're very heavy (it takes more energy to move your fat ass) and less if you're not, but again, we're talking about a 20% tolerance here and for the most part the figure is about the same irrespective of other factors.
This, by the way, means that you must run approximately a marathon to lose a pound!
No Mildred, you cannot outrun your fork and anyone who tells you otherwise is completely full of crap.
Yes, we have an obesity epidemic; fully 40% of US women are obese along with 35% of men -- and even worse, one in five adolescents! This is a ridiculous percentage and what's really awful is that those who are in this position are setting themselves up for utterly horrible, slow and painful ways to die -- first through amputations, then blindness and kidney disease, and finally heart attack and stroke, all after decades of avoidable suffering and restricted physical capability.
It seems that every couple of years someone else comes along with yet another crackpot theory on why it is that people get and stay fat -- and then both get sick and die as a result. They all keep trying to make the case that it's not your fault in some form or fashion, using words like "easy" to describe their particular prescriptive answer, knowing full well that this sells books.
After all, if you told people it was their fault or would be hard how many of them would pay you for the book -- the speech -- or the "counseling"?
But all these theories are just that -- theories, and IMHO they're all full of crap when it comes to long-term success.
Here are some facts for you and they are trivially proved through nothing more than casual observation of the world around you and arithmetic you learned in the first and second grades:
- Every organism in the animal kingdom has a regulatory mechanism in its body that is autonomous for controlling how much food said organism takes in. Absent that since "food" generally tastes good to said organism all animals would continually fill their stomachs to their maximum capacity as often as possible, eschewing virtually anything else other than sex, until they all died of obesity-related disease. Clearly this does not happen "in the wild" but it sure does when a creature's "natural" diet is disrupted. Witness all the "fat cats" that eat packaged kibble, then compare the nutrients in said kibble with that in a mouse or bird. The prosecution rests, your (dis)Honor.
- Since it requires 3,300 calories to gain or lose a pound as a human and there are 365 days in a year in order to regulate your body size within one pound per year over time you must manage to control your caloric intake and expenditure within 10 calories per day. For some perspective that is less than 1/10th of an ounce of potato chips! If you wish to count them accurately use Pringles (all chips the same size and mass) and you will find that to control your body mass that accurately through voluntary action would require that you keep your consumption accurate to within one potato chip daily. Certainly you cannot do this irrespective of the form and type of food you consume through "mindful", that is, volitional conduct. The accuracy required simply cannot be met.
- Remember, however, that there are a lot of things that go on in your body that require maintenance at this sort of accuracy and none of them are voluntary. Your blood pressure, glucose level, blood pH, uric acid, water content, potassium level, dissolved CO2 and oxygen saturation are just a few examples of literally hundreds. Any of these parameters that go materially out of "normal" range will cause serious disease and in many cases instant death. Yet your body knows how to regulate all of them, as does every other animal's body on the planet, and all of that regulation in every organism that is alive happens without a scintilla of conscious thought.
So what's actually going on?
"Numerous foundations, industries, professional societies, and governmental agencies have provided hundreds of millions of dollars in funding to support basic science research in obesity, clinical trials and observational studies, development of new drugs and devices, and hospital and community programs to help stem the tide of the obesity epidemic," the journal's editors, Dr. Jody Zylke and Dr. Howard Bauchner, wrote in a commentary.
"The obesity epidemic in the United States is now 3 decades old, and huge investments have been made in research, clinical care, and development of various programs to counteract obesity. However, few data suggest the epidemic is diminishing," they added.
Did you all flunk basic organic chem, then biochem and simply ignore the monstrous body of evidence that has been accumulated on this problem?
There is one basic fact that has to be dealt with by anyone propounding on our obesity epidemic:
Your body knows how to regulate its caloric intake in light of highly-variable energy expenditure and do so within 10 calories a day. If it did not the species Homo Sapiens would have gone extinct centuries ago just as would any other species that could not regulate its caloric intake.
Therefore the question must be this and only this:
Why is that regulatory system not working, can a fat person restore it to normal function, and if so how?
I believe we know the answer to that question but admitting it means admitting that the medical and "nutrition" folks have been lying to overweight people for decades and, in fact, they know damn well they've been lying which means they should all be in prison for the outrageous harms they have inflicted on millions of Americans.
Let's start with history. Homo Sapiens (that is, our specific species) has been on this planet for about 200,000 years. Our direct lineage in that regard is the matter of some dispute, but what is not in dispute is that until about 12,000 years ago we had no industrial mode of food production whatsoever. That is, for better than 90% of the species' time on this planet we ate only that which we could obtain without processing, other than perhaps rudimentary cooking.
The epidemic of heart disease, obesity and diabetes is a 20th century+ phenomena. It therefore must be traced to something (or a group of somethings) that happened in that time frame. Ancel Keys claimed it was dietary saturated fat that led to heart attacks and strokes. He cherry-picked his data, however, which made his advocacy not a mistake but a lie, and a fairly easy one to prove too.
So would anyone care to guess where it began?
I'll help you. It began right here with a dramatic increase in use of a very dangerous substance.
About 20-30 years following that ramp in cigarette consumption, guess what happened? Lots of heart attacks and strokes. Do you think this was a function of "fat in the diet" or do you think this had something to do with per-capita cigarette consumption going from ~200 in 1912 to twenty times that rate by 1959? When you go from an average of less than one cigarette a day per-person to close to a full pack a day what do you think is going to happen to heart disease and stroke rates, with about a 20 year lag?
That's exactly what did happen. Duh.
Then there's Crisco and other related trans-fats. They came on the market in the early 1900s too and were in fact sold as healthier than animal fats. But we now know that transfats greatly increase the risk of heart disease, while the association with saturated animal fats in fact runs the other way -- among European diets the highest in saturated fat (the Mediterranean nations) have the lowest cardiovascular disease rates.
Between smoking and transfats is the causal chain clear yet or do I need a bigger clue-by-4?
Now let's look at obesity, which began to spike in the 1980s.
Again, what changed?
Simple: The US Government played hell with its "war on fat" predicated on the lie told by Keys (among others) and told people to cut it out of their diets. But there are only three foods at a macro level -- fats, carbohydrates and proteins. If you remove fat from the diet you must increase one or both of the others.
What got increased? Carbohydrates -- specifically, cheap, fast and highly-processed carbohydrates.
And what do we know about carbohydrates, especially fast, processed carbohydrates such as grains (e.g. breads, pastas, etc), sugars and similar? They all produce a large insulin response in the body.
Oh, and if that's not enough carbohydrate consumption also increases systemic inflammation and "bad" cholesterol, which prompts cholesterol in the body, a necessary component of our metabolic system, to perform the job it is present to do -- that is, to encapsulate and attempt to repair said inflammation. Blaming cholesterol for heart attacks (and trying to reduce it through chemicals) is like blaming it for the inflamed finger you have after sticking yourself with a thorn -- rather than removing the thorn!
Finally, with few exceptions these "foods" have only existed in our diet for the last few hundred to few thousand years -- an inconsequential period of time on the evolutionary time scale.
In other words there is no evidence that our bodies know how to process these carbohydrates without harm because we did not evolve in their presence and thus our genetic coding was not selected through evolution to favor said energy sources. The same is true for vegetable-based oils (PUFAs), none of which have been ingested in material quantity by humans for more than 100 years.
You would have to eat a full bushel of corn to get a tablespoon of corn oil and utterly nobody would (ever) eat a bowl of cotton seeds!
Now let's look at what we know to be fact in the context of body mass regulation.
Hunger (the desire to eat) is largely mediated by leptin and the hypothalamus, a small structure in the brain. This structure is responsible for regulating not only hunger but also body temperature, sleep, and thirst. In short some of the most-essential regulatory functions are directly controlled by this part of the brain and still more are via other structures that it interacts with, mostly via and through hormones. This has been known since modern medicine has existed.
Now here's the nasty piece of the puzzle nobody wants to talk about, but which I believe is key to the entire obesity issue:
Insulin is a leptin antagonist.
That is, quite simply:
The higher your insulin level the less active leptin is in signaling satiety.
Therefore insulin resistance is in fact a severe problem, even when it occurs at a level that is sub-clinical and does not result in an increased blood glucose level as long the body is able to produce enough insulin, and your cells are still able to respond, to hold blood glucose within normal limits.
The harm is due to the fact that irrespective of your ability to maintain a normal blood sugar that elevated insulin level still results, in every case, in a desire to eat more food.
That is the condition of an elevated insulin level tips the balance of the body's signalling and thus makes unconscious control of caloric intake within the required tolerance, given access to food in excess of metabolic requirements, virtually impossible.
This then leaves you with only voluntary caloric restriction (e.g. "dieting") as an option which we know you cannot maintain over the long term as the precision required cannot be met through conscious control.
Worse, the divergence between needs and desires is all in one direction -- overeating and if your "diet" is a low-fat one where the substitution is made with carbohydrates you make your desire to overeat worse.
This is why when you cease dieting you almost-invariably gain all the weight back plus more -- your "dieting" has in fact done more damage to the metabolic systems that control your desire to eat!
Again, that insulin is a leptin antagonist is not a theory it is a biochemical fact.
The only means by which one can resolve the problem at a biochemical level is to remove the leptin antagonist.
Achieving that requires lowering insulin levels, and that can only be safely done (without skyrocketing your blood glucose) by restricting carbohydrate intake, especially rapid-acting carbs such as sugars, grains and starches.
It is not a coincidence that this is a corrective action in that it coincides with removing "foods" from your diet that your body was never designed to process and in fact at no time in our evolutionary history did such "foods" exist. Those who make claims to the contrary that the intake of such "foods" in any quantity whatsoever are "safe" have the burden of proof to show how the body can handle such intake without any of the normal biochemical processes going out of the normal range.
The body of evidence found in the form of rampant obesity and insulin resistance, all of which exactly correlates with the "war on fat" by medical "authorities" and substitution of fast-acting carbohydrates in its place, strongly suggests that these foods are not safe and cannot be made safe; they can only be avoided or the consequences of consuming them accepted exactly as the correlation with smoking and transfasts correlated exactly with the rise in heart disease with the expected 20-30 year lag!
"Mindful eating" will not change your insulin levels nor improve your body's leptin signalling.
Getting the pasta, potatoes, rice, sugars and grains out of your diet, on the other hand, will. If you want the full list read this article.
As a "side effect" of following same, if you actually do it, I predict that your pants will fall off.