This talk, given by Doug Lisle, of True North Health www.healthpromoting.com
was most interesting and opened my eyes to what the food industry is doing to capture my "eating soul" and why it is so hard to resist eating Snickers or whatever "calls your name."
True North Health is a center where people go to get over food additions. Apparently the main treatment is water fasting, for as much as 30 days. The patients are carefully monitored daily. Doug is director of Research at True North and a psychologist there as well as at the McDougall center. You can buy his books and there are a good number of youtube entries showing his talks. One in particular shows much of what he talked about at the Clearwater immersion. www.youtube.com/watch?v=
Here is my summary:
A shark has teeth to eat in order to survive, in order to reproduce. A shark knows when to eat by instinct. Its brain produces the way the animal acts--its nature. General motivational systems have similarities in all animals (Lisle calls this the motivational triad): (1) Pleasure seeking (food, sex), (2) Pain avoidance, and (3) Energy conservation--be efficient in use of its energy expenditure.
Lisle also talked about there being more to life than just those 3 things, and that there are "variables" in our reward system that he called "moods of happiness" which allows for systems of feedback. For example, the "mood of happiness, will keep me cleaning the garage so it looks nice, and then I'm happy. But, the most heavily rewarded thing (sex activity) rewards with dopamine. Further, there are some stimuli that an animal or human will seek out that will give them the greatest pleasure for as little energy expenditure as possible. In extreme cases it is possible for these stimuli to be so great and the relative energy expenditure to be so small that they will be fatal. That is what Lisle calls "The Pleasure Trap." Overeating or eating
"bad" foods, even when we want to avoid doing so, is an example of becoming ensnared in the Pleasure Trap.
Lisle showed us a list of the foods that are the most popular: chocolate, hot dogs, cheese french fries, burgers, chips, pizza, donuts, ice cream, and more chocolate. The common denominator to all these is fats, salt and sugar.
When the machinery of the dietary Pleasure Trap has been tripped, the food becomes far more attractive in some way that will override the thinking process of the eater.
For example, what if we "doctor up" the grass a gazelle eats, so he will be compelled to eat because of the super-normal stimulus of the grass. The stimulus to keep eating the grass will override the normal thinking process of the gazelle for self-protection from predators, and he will forgo his "thinking" about stopping to check to see if lions are near just so he can keep on eating the "super-grass." This is what humans do with certain foods that are "doctored up" to keep us desiring them. Our built-in need for (1) seeking pleasure, (2) avoiding pain (lack of that super-stimulating food) and (3) conserving energy by choosing the most calorie dense, sweet, fatty, salty food, is what drives us into this Pleasure Trap of addition to that Snickers bar.
He discussed the variables in eating choices:
1. How hungry you are
2. The amount of calories per bite
His comment: A caramel apple will be a super-normal stimulus, which our body was not designed to have. Food is becoming as important as sexual activity.
He discussed how to escape from this trap. He also discussed the decreasing rewards from the super-normal foods and how we need to keep eating larger quantities of them to get the same stimulus. So we eat more "junk food." He also showed a chart depicting why escaping the Trap is so hard to do. That is, when you do the right thing (eating fruits and veggies, for example, vs. Snickers bars), it feels wrong, and the wrong thing (eating the Snickers) feels right because we get so much satisfaction from it. The reason it is hard to escape is because we are fighting addiction. Recovery takes about 4 months, he said. He said that drastic measures to escape The Pleasure Trap include (1) fasting for a day or so and then healthy food will taste OK, (2) Go on a juice fast, or (3) "Go to jail" (go to a clinic.
Once we get out of this Trap then we will have the life we deserve.
Check out Doug's Youtube presentation I listed above.
Here is a photo of a plant-stong taco. Actually, this was last summer, and I didn't know to read the label as carefully as I know now. The taco shell actually has too much fat. But the insides are great, starting with a base of black beans and then hummus.