Read this recent post on my “Thin From Within” blog at Psychology Today!
I reprint here my latest Thin From Within blog from Psychology Today:
Those of us concerned with diet, health, weight, eating disorders, and addiction follow what I call “Sugar News” with great interest. Starting, perhaps, in 2011, with the New York Times story “Is Sugar Toxic?”, followed by a 60-Minutes segment with the same name, the public has had increasing exposure to what Overeaters Anonymous has known for years: some people just can’t stop. We’ve learned that sugar lights up addicts’ brains as clearly as drugs do. Further, we’ve learned that it may be sugar, and not fat, fueling diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and other diseases on the rise.
National Geographic now steps forward as the latest major magazine headlining Sugar News. “Sugar Love: A Not So Sweet Story”, by Rich Cohen, recounts our species’ historical love affair, and its significant struggles, with the substance that was once used sparingly, as a rare spice. (We now consume, on average, 78 lbs. per person, per year—some spice!) Cohen not only reviews sugar’s health tolls but provides deep perspective on why and how it spurs such rampant problems.
Other recent news, however, jars in contrast. For the latest review of our nation’s eating trends, well summarized by the New York Times’ Jane Brody last week, shows little change in our sweet consumption. That 78 lbs. per person remains stable, even if it is down somewhat from its all-time high. It’s still way too high, about 22 teaspoons per day. “….Cut back, many of the ill effects disappear…..”, one prominent medical researcher admonishes. But it seems the increasingly frequent headlines—calling sugar a toxin, a poison, a drug—haven’t nudged our behavior all that much, at least not yet.
Realistically speaking, however, mass changes can take a long time. It might take decades for these relatively recent findings to affect individual habits. It might in fact require changes in public health policy (think here of tobacco research). In the shorter run, though, Sugar News most certainly bolsters a group that sometimes does, and sometimes does not, overlap with the obesity stats: the binge eaters, or self-identified food addicts. Many in these groups benefit immediately from Sugar News. Indeed, new and affirming paths for healing open as a result. (more…)
I reprint here the most recent post from my Psychology Today “Thin From Within” blog:
In a true sign of our times, binge eaters have shown up significantly in the pages of several novels I’ve read this year. In one fine example, The Middlesteins, by Jami Attenberg, the powerful, overeating protagonist affects the lives of family and friends in far-reaching ways. In the end, one character comprehends how “….food is a wonderful place to hide.”
For many, starting in childhood or beyond, food becomes a source of solace and a companion–not only in hard times, but at the end of even normally stressful days. It’s something to look forward to, something that’s reliably there. This powerful emotional bond may be fully conscious, or not. When it exists, as it does for many who overeat, it’s no wonder that the diet of the moment won’t work, or that new regimes don’t last. In the lists of which foods to eat and avoid, dealing with the loss of this sanctuary gets missed, and the cycle of dieting and overeating resumes. (more…)
My recent post at Psychology Today looks at helpful new releases–books, articles, columns–for those aiming to eat more sanely. If weight loss or food addiction concerns you, check these out:
I’m reprinting here a recent post from my Psychology Today “Thin From Within” column. Food addiction concerns many overeaters and dieters these days. Here, some ideas for change….
By now the scientific verdict is clear: some foods can spark cravings that rival those of any abused drug. Binge eaters have long suspected this. We now know that for many, the brain calls out for more of certain foods—typically sugar or other simple starches—and stopping feels impossible. Food binges may not wreak as much havoc–at first, anyway–as daily drunkenness or party drugging. They do kick-start diabetes, cardiac, and other problems, though. And they trap people in cycles of struggle and shame just as surely as other drugs do.
The overeater may hear “Just don’t eat it, then!” more often than the drug addict. Somehow, we understand that drugs exert a pull. Those who eat without struggle often can’t understand how someone simply can’t “each just one”. These days, understanding and supports have solidified for the binger, though, and clearer paths to freedom can emerge. These paths often include six predictable points along the way. (more…)
My New Year’s blogpost at Psychology Today helps us consider how to Leave the Kingdom of Sweets behind, post-holidays. It also proposes that we integrate some of this Click here to read the entire post.“leaving behind” into the New Year in whatever way works best for us.
Best wishes for
a healthy happy New Year!
You’re working hard to lose weight, or to stop that chronic grazing. Frustration sets in. You’re not losing, or not very fast. You’re at the ice cream carton again. First signs of failure? Not necessarily—that is, unless you’re aiming for fast-change results. And a growing body of research reinforces the idea that when it comes to long-term diet and weight change, slow-and-steady wins the race.
First, on the diet front, Dr. Carson Chow, a mathematician who’s analyzed obesity and weight loss data in the U.S. explains, “It actually takes about three years for a dieter to reach their new “steady state.” In other words, it takes time for your body to adjust to the new reality of “fewer calories in”, to adjust and start metabolizing like a somewhat lower-weight person. Carson’s analyses conclude that “Weight change, up or down, takes a very, very long time. All diets work. But the reaction time is really slow: on the order of a year.” Sticking with a new regime, then, through ups and downs, lapses and all, still adds up to change.
When it comes to exercise, too, slow and steady promises results. Fitness journalist Gretchen Reynolds recently reviewed several large-scale exercise studies. It was “slow or average” paced jogging, moderate exercise like walking or cycling, that proved most beneficial. These regimes, and not high-intensity running, for example, improved health factors most consistently. So here, sticking with what’s manageable, and not necessarily pressing yourself for more and more, may serve you well in the long run. (more…)
“Your Brain on Food” warns one caption. “Can Some
Foods Hijack the Brain?” asks another. Now that science
finds similar pathways lighting the brain whether it’s on sugar or cocaine, many overeaters feel validated. They’ve known this “hijacking” for years. Others, puzzled by all the fuss, wonder “Why not just have one?”
When it comes to binging, many of the prime suspects emerge as addictive agents: sugar, sugar-fat combinations, and maybe certain flavor enhancers. Many—overeaters included—resist calling themselves “addicts”, however. They can’t imagine life with no sweets at all, and recoil at the ideas of “abstinence” or 12-step groups.
The addiction lens helps many indeed to find freedom and health. However, there’s truth in what holds others from embracing that approach: it’s nearly impossible to completely avoid sugar in our world. And problems can and do arise in making a whole range of foods taboo. Loss of control and binging itself among them. (more…)
We’re hit with more and more bitter news—our favorite sweets are toxic and addictive. Sugar proves to be these and worse as science explores obesity, metabolic syndrome, and related disease. The news can overwhelm us—for eliminating sugar from the diet can seem impossible. It’s added to all kinds of foods. We love it. And it’s hard to stop eating.
Recently, I’ve blogged about abstinence vs. moderation. In other words, do you try to cut down, learn to “eat just one”, or is cutting completely the ideal response? For most of us, reducing sugar’s presence in our households and on our plates makes a sensible and solid first step.
by Terese Weinstein Katz, Ph.D.
As the bad news on sugar grows ever more grim, we may find ourselves overwhelmed—worried, yes, but not sure just what to do. Solid science now labels sugar a toxin, an addictive agent, and the key culprit in metabolic syndrome (high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood sugar), obesity and related disease. So, what to do with this worrisome news? Are we really to stop eating sugar completely?
The reports may well scare you into trying to do so. It almost goes without saying, though, that this is easier said than done. Sugar flavor-boosts many grocery and take-out items, even those that don’t taste sweet. Also, there’s that “addictive agent” part—and this prevents many people from stopping, despite their best efforts. The flavor-boosters work to make us crave more and more, and some among us are particularly susceptible. Few foods challenge us more than sweets when it comes to choosing and shopping well. And few foods challenge us more when it comes to “eating just one”. (more…)
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