It’s Eating Disorder Awareness week. In honor of that I wanted to write a blog a day. Which I have. I haven’t had a chance to post them all, but don’t worry, they’re coming.
I’ve been reading a book. Intuitive Eating. We all read it here, and I have really enjoyed it. My favorite part about intuitive eating is the not dieting part. How great does that sound?? I enjoyed this part of the book, and I wanted to share it with you.
”A dieting body is a starving body. Drastic comparison? No. While a dieting body may not look like a starving person in Ethiopia or Somalia, the “symptoms” from dieting exhibit a striking resemblance to the starvation state. The body does not know that there is a McDonald’s on every corner as you embark on a diet. As far as the body is concerned, it is living in a famine state and needs to adapt. Our need for food (energy) is so essential and primal that if we are not getting enough energy, our bodies naturally compensate with powerful biological and psychological mechanisms.
The power of food deprivation was keenly demonstrated in a land-mark study conducted by Dr. Ancel Keys during WWII, designed to help family sufferers. The subjects of the study were thirty-two healthy men who were selected because they had superior “ psycho-biological stamina”—superior mental and physical health.
During the first three months of the study the men ate as they pleased, averaging 3,492 calories per day. The next six months was the semi-starvation period. The men were required to lose 19-28 percent of their weight depending on their body composition. Calories were cut nearly in half, to an average of 1,570 per day. The effects of the semi-starvation were startling, and strikingly mirror the symptoms of chronic DIETING.
· <!--[endif]-->Metabolic rates decreased by 40 percent.
· <!--[endif]-->The men were obsessed with food. They had heightened food cravings and talked about food and collecting recipes. (sound familiar??)
· <!--[endif]-->Eating style changed—vacillating from ravenous gulping to stalling out the eating experience. Some men played with their food and dawdled over a meal for two hours.
· <!--[endif]-->The researchers noted that, “Several men failed to adhere to their diets and reported episodes of bulimia.” One man was reported to have suffered a complete loss of “willpower” and ate several cookies, a sack of popcorn, and two bananas. Another subject “flagrantly broke the dietary rules” and ate several sundaes and malted milks, and even stole penny candy.”
· <!--[endif]-->Some men exercised deliberately to obtain increased food rations.
· <!--[endif]-->Personalities changed, and in many cases there was the onset of apathy, irritability, moodiness, and depression.
During the re-feeding period when the men were once again allowed to eat at will, hunger became insatiable. The men found it difficult to stop eating. Weekend splurges added up to 8,000-10,000 calories. It took the majority of men an average of 5 months to normalize their eating.
It’s important to remember that during the era of this classic study, there were no Arnold Schwarzeneggers or fitness and food divas. Nutrition research was just in its infancy. Yet these men experienced a primal obsession with food that was not media-driven or society-driven; rather it was triggered by a biological survival mechanism. Such behaviors had never been observed in these men prior to their food-deprivation encounter! Although this is a classic starvation study, the caloric level is representative of a modern weight-loss diet for men of 1,500 calories. These men were eating. Imagine if the same study were held under today’s pressures to be thin.”
-- Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, Intuitive Eating, pp. 59-60
I hope you all can see how insane this is. The diet industry didn’t really start until the 1970’s, and did it make America thinner? Nope. The opposite.
I’m just saying.