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  #1   ^
Old Tue, Jan-02-24, 02:14
Demi's Avatar
Demi Demi is offline
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Default How to break your processed foods addiction

How to break your processed foods addiction using mind control

Leading surgeon Dr Andrew Jenkinson on the ways to finally transform your unhealthy habits

I was basking in the evening sun on a bench outside the main entrance of Ain Al Khaleej Hospital in the United Arab Emirates, with my translator Samer, taking a break from a long clinic.

The hospital had a curious space-age design, like a giant cylindrical UFO had just landed. A flower-bedded roundabout stood next to the entrance, welcoming 4x4s and luxury cars. In and out of the doors wandered Emirati men in white robes and their wives in black burqas.

Since early morning we had been visited by patient after patient – a long line of people who sensed they had lost control of their weight and were becoming sicker and sadder because of it.

For the last 20 years I’ve been performing bariatric surgery at University College London Hospital, and discussing diet with thousands of people struggling with obesity.

Now my weight-loss clinics were becoming popular here too. With the help of Samer, we’d explained the most effective ways to lose weight. Either by changing diet, injection treatment or surgery (like gastric bypass).

Samer took a sip of his strong Turkish coffee and said something astonishing to me. ‘Do you know, Dr Andrew, that I too used to suffer with obesity. I weighed 125kg [around 20 stone].’

He then proceeded to describe exactly how he turned his situation around. How, by understanding how his body, and just as importantly, how his mind worked, he had been able to devise a way to sustain his weight loss for the past 10 years.
The rise of processed foods

Processed foods – made up primarily of sugar, refined carbohydrates (such as wheat), vegetable oils and artificial flavourings and colourings – now dominate the nutritional options available to us. They account for 56 per cent of the total calories consumed per day by the average UK citizen.

It is the amount of processing that goes into making food that seems to matter to our health. There is a whole spectrum of processed food – and it is the fourth group that can be most damaging to us.

Samer now weighed 70kg (11 stone) and looked great – tanned, happy and healthy. He dressed in dapper suits that showed off his tall, slim frame. The basis of his success was very similar to the advice I give patients. But he had worked out how to reset his weight by himself, through years of trying. He achieved the same loss that would be expected after bariatric surgery... but he had never undergone the surgery.

Sensing my enthusiasm for his story, Samer charted his journey in more detail. In his early 20s, back when he lived in Jordan, he would work during the day, then play football in the evening, before coming home at dusk to fill himself up with tasty grilled meats and fish, rice and flatbread, yoghurt and tabbouleh, finishing off with coffee and fresh fruit. At sunrise he would wake up to strong Arabic tea and dates.

Aged 26, he relocated to the UAE, taking a job as a chief operating theatre technician in a hospital, and his whole lifestyle changed. The UAE is hot like a furnace in the summer, so people tend to stay in their air-conditioned apartments. For Samer there was no football, and no home-prepared food.

At first he loved the new treats available – fast foods that he got into the habit of ordering in the evening, sweet snacks that made him feel great and deflected his loneliness. And then the Netflix revolution came about and he spent evenings binge-watching shows while snacking. His weight went from 80kg, to 90kg, to 100kg, to 115kg, settling at 125kg.

Over the next 10 years, he tried the latest fad diets like Keto, starved himself, exercised. His weight yo-yoed by 10–12kg but the excess pounds always returned.

One morning he was listening to a local radio station and they were discussing the health benefits of drinking hot water with fresh lemon juice on waking, and not eating for a full hour. His interest was piqued, as a colleague had told him just that week that this had helped kick-start significant weight loss. He tried it too and some weight came off.

Inspired by this small victory, Samer decided to address his late-night snack habit, switching from sweets and crisps to sliced carrots, cucumbers and finely chopped raw cabbage with a sprinkle of salt. After two months he noticed further weight loss.

Eventually he was able to stop snacking entirely and decided to get early nights. Further weight loss followed, but then he hit a plateau at 105kg. His next move was the most difficult. He correctly reasoned that sugar was not good for his metabolism and avoided it completely. ‘Losing weight is like a war,’ he told me. ‘You will win it with strategy and being clever and understanding the body.

‘When I gave up sugar my friends laughed at me and tempted me with treats – I wanted to hit my head against a wall, but after 40 days the addiction was gone. It became easy.

‘If you stop sugar for 40 days you will never want it again. But it takes a strong mind.’

Samer’s weight hit 90kg but again plateaued. He realised that exercise was not shifting it. ‘Two hours on the treadmill is the same as one Coca-Cola. It’s not for weight loss but [it does] keep the muscles tight.’

One of the rules that he came to like was his theory that ‘if it tastes too good it will probably harm the body, but if it tastes natural it is good for you’. He became mindful of the tastes of foods and began to crave natural foods and dislike processed food. ‘If a fast-food burger was in front of me and it was the last thing on earth to eat, I would leave it.’

He gave up white rice and exchanged it for bulgur wheat which he found ‘lighter on the stomach’. He started to consume just two meals a day of fresh foods, and would not eat for the two hours before bed.

Though he was aware that vigorous exercise was not a long-term weight-loss solution, he understood the benefits of moderate exercise, which he said ‘wakes up the body and is good for the metabolism – even a walk’.

His weight came down to 80kg and stuck. Then, over a matter of weeks, without any further changes, he lost more weight as his body finally adapted, settling at 70kg. Over the past 10 years he has maintained at 70-75kg.

What intrigued me most was that the changes came about after a shift in his mentality – the way he thought about food and his health. After years of failed diets, Samer had come to understand that the most important battle to win was the one in the mind.

His weight-loss success was not based on an unusually iron will-power (although he had needed some to give up sugar); it was based on a change in his outlook and understanding of food. He did not feel as if he was giving anything up; he craved healthy food now, and was turned off by the taste and the feeling that unhealthy foods gave him. ‘You need to become addicted to healthy foods, just like you were addicted before to junk food.’

It seemed Samer had reached a new way of living; at first it had taken some self-discipline, but eventually it became easy for him.

Once you clearly understand how the toxic food environment surrounding you affects your body and your mind, it becomes much easier to lose weight and keep that weight off for good. And it’s easier still to sustain weight loss if you truly understand how your mind and body react to unhealthy foods: how these addictive foods can influence your metabolism, appetite, behaviour and habits.

Knowledge can promote a new outlook and understanding – a form of identity change that will cause a natural desire for a healthier eating pattern – and give you the tools to create that aversion to modern foods that my friend Samer described, so that no willpower is needed to change.

What ultra processed foods (UPFs) really do to you
In the last 40 years, obesity rates in the UK have increased from around five to 10 per cent of the population to the current level of between a quarter and a third of the population. But UPFs are linked to other health conditions too, as well as modern Western diseases… In other words, they make us die early.

Historically, food processing was for the purpose of making food easier to chew and digest, with the added bonus that sometimes these processes could make the food taste better. But in recent years the rationale for food processing changed: now it’s to prolong shelf life.

The additives often used to do this are not foods. They have individually been linked to numerous conditions that have become more prevalent in the developed world over the last 30-40 years, including neurological conditions such as ADD and Alzheimer’s. They can increase the risk of cancer (in animal tests) and contribute to inflammatory and autoimmune diseases including asthma and arthritis.

The link between individual food additives and these conditions is well known. Government food safety agencies justify not banning them from food because they are deemed acceptable in low doses. However, we are consuming multiple and diverse types of additives within each UPF item. The effect of mixing them is unknown because it is not tested.

Chemicals in UPFs unpacked

Food chemical additives can either be ‘antimicrobial’, limiting the growth of bacteria and fungi, or act as ‘antioxidants’, limiting the oxygenation of the food (in other words, stopping it from turning rancid). Common ‘chemical antimicrobial’ additives in modern foods, include: Calcium propionate (E282) is used in baked products and other processed foods. It works by releasing acid into the food, and the acidic environment means that bacteria cannot grow as easily. The side effects of too much include digestive problems such as bloating and diarrhoea. There is some concern that it can cause ADHD in children and it has been linked to autism in animal studies.

Sodium nitrates are used in fertilisers and to make explosives; they are also added to processed and cured meats, they lead to an increased risk of colon cancer.

Sulphur dioxide (E220) is used on dried fruits, so that the fruit retains its colourful appearance. This and other sulphites (E220– E228) are used as antifungal and antibacterial agents in many foods. It is accepted that the presence of sulphite preservatives on or inside food can cause autoimmune and other reactions, including asthma, rashes, itchy skin, abdominal cramps and diarrhoea. It has also been reported that sulphites adversely affect the sensitive balance of the microbes that live in our guts.

‘Chemical antioxidants’ include butylated hydroxyanisole (also known as E320) and butylated hydroxytoluene (E321) – petrochemicals that are not only food additives, but used in cosmetics and jet fuel. They have been recognised by the US National Institutes of Health as carcinogenic.
Four processed food groups

Group 1:
minimally processed foods

Processing includes removal of inedible/unwanted parts. Does not add substance to the original food. Examples: Fresh, dry or frozen vegetables or fruit; grains and legumes; meat and fish; eggs and milk; nuts and seeds.

Group 2: processed ingredients

Substances derived from Group 1 foods or from nature by processes including pressing, refining, grinding, milling and drying. Examples: Plant oils (olive oil, coconut oil); animal fats (cream, butter, lard); maple syrup, sugar and honey; salt.

Group 3: processed foods

Processing of foods from Group 1 or 2 with the addition of oil, salt or sugar, by means of canning, pickling, smoking, curing or fermentation. Examples: Canned/pickled vegetables, meat, fish or fruit; artisanal bread; certain cheese and salted meats; wine, beer and cider.

Group 4: ultra-processed foods (UPFs)

Formulations made from a series of processes including extraction and chemical modification. Includes very little intact Group 1 foods. Often they look colourful and have pleasant combinations of flavours and ‘mouthfeel’.

Examples: Pre-prepared frozen meals; canned/instant soups; breakfast cereals and bars; packaged breads; chicken nuggets, fish fingers, burgers and hot dogs; mass-produced biscuits and cakes; margarines and spreads; instant noodles and powdered soups; sweetened yoghurts; sweetened juices and carbonated soft drinks; ice cream

These UPFs tend to be mass-produced in factories, marketed aggressively and packaged colourfully. They are addictive to humans and highly profitable for the food industry. They appear, over the short term, to be safe – and they are cheap, they make us feel good. But they can cause major dysfunction in how our bodies work.

Junk food hijacks the brain

Processed foods not only affect our bodies: they also hijack our brains’ reward pathways. Scientists have made great strides in understanding how reward pathways are etched permanently into our brains and how these pathways lead to habitual behaviours.

An example of this is our use of smartphones, designed to trigger a dopamine hit whenever a message or a funny video comes up. Hence many (probably most) people are constantly checking their phones.

Processed foods can trigger those same pleasure-centres, and can cause unhealthy habits to form. These habit loops are exploited by the food industry for its profit. The global processed food market generates revenues of $2.3 trillion per year, according to a 2021 report, and food companies not only invest in making foods that act like drugs, giving us a temporary high, but also in creating the trigger (or trap) in the first place, through adverts and clever marketing.

By understanding these traps for what they are, and our own habit loops, we will be much better prepared to cope with the constant bombardment of temptation.

Why habit loops form

Our brains are constantly on the lookout for a dopamine reward. The start of the process is the cue or trigger – something in the environment, or a particular place or time of day, that makes our brain start to crave a reward, as it works out what to do: cue craving response reward.

How to break the habit loop

When our environment changes (such as during the pandemic lockdowns), our habits change too. To go about habit change, you first need to be able to identify the habit loop that causes the habit. The awareness of the cue and the response to it is crucial.

If the habit is brushing your teeth in the morning, the cue to start might be the sight of the toothbrush next to the bathroom mirror. If the habit is eating fast food on the way home from work, the cue could come simply from the sign on the restaurant as you pass it by.

A habit will never be forgotten by our brains. If you stop performing a habit, the neural pathways may become overgrown and weaker as time goes by, but they will never disappear. So, the most successful way of overcoming a bad habit is to substitute a good one, rather than trying to cut it out altogether.

To do this, you need to make the bad habit less obvious and make it more difficult to gain the reward. For example, to stop that habit of eating fast food on the way home, you might alter your journey or assuage your hunger by eating a healthy snack half an hour before. Or if the bad habit is wasting time watching Netflix and your trigger is getting home from work and turning on the television, then you might try unplugging the TV and cable box so that it needs resetting. This increases the friction of the process.

There also has to be a reward in completing the action, or the habit loop will not be activated. Perhaps when you come home from work, you make it so that interesting books are handily placed for you to pick up instead of the remote control. Maybe you put out a selection of herbal teas to tempt you, the cup already waiting by the kettle. With this simple change, you have made a new and positive habit (drinking tea while reading) to replace the old one.

Shifting your mindset

Cutting out processed foods is admittedly easier said than done. Typically, when we want to change things, we tend to focus on the goal, the ultimate achievement. We might say we want to run a marathon or lose two stone (13kg). But this goal-first mentality postpones happiness to a future time. And we are trying to achieve the goal through willpower.

It’s much easier to achieve goals by a shift in mentality away from the particular achievement that you are aiming for and towards a change in your identity. Instead of a goal of wanting to run a marathon, you become a person who is likely to run a marathon. You become a runner. Once your outlook has shifted, it’s easy to go for your daily run because this is who you really are.

The more times that you do this, the more aligned your actions (or habits) and your identity become. Eventually, you take on the body and fitness of a runner to match your identity.

In the same way, instead of a goal of losing two stone, you concentrate on striving to be the person who could easily lose this weight: someone who only cooks their own food, doesn’t snack and avoids processed foods. You do not particularly crave bad food or have it in the house, because that’s not you.

Focusing on the goal (what you want to achieve) rather than your identity (who you are) means that the process (what you do) relies on motivation and willpower. By embracing the identity of the type of person who would achieve the outcome, the whole process becomes easier, more enjoyable and more sustainable.

To make it easier, answer the following:

1. What outcome do you want to achieve?

2. What type of person would be able to achieve that outcome easily?

Then list five small changes that this person would put in place. My hope is that by understanding the dangers of processed foods in causing weight gain and illness, you will notice that your food preferences are changing. Next it is a case of reframing your identity. You must feel the change from the inside first – when you act and think like a healthier person, your body catches up.

This change in mindset should be empowering. Habits play such an important role in how we go about our daily lives – with repetition, those good habits will become an integral part of who we are. As it did for Samer, it will become something we perform automatically without the need for willpower.

[i]Abridged extract from How to Eat (and Still Lose Weight): A Science-Backed Guide to Nutrition and Health, by Dr Andrew Jenkinson (Penguin Life); out 18 January[/l]

How to Eat (And Still Lose Weight): A Science-backed Guide to Nutrition and Health

Most diets fail because they rely on willpower alone. In this book surgeon and expert on metabolism Dr Andrew Jenkinson shows you how to unlock the secret to lasting weight loss through a better understanding of your brain, body and environment, allowing you to eat well and lose weight, forever.

Using a combination of cutting-edge metabolic science, together with strategies like aversion, habit creation and mental reprogramming, expert in the science of appetite Dr Andrew Jenkinson will show you how your body and brain work when it comes to what you eat, and how to arm yourself against the malicious presence of food marketing, junk food and the harmful effects of the Western diet.

You will learn:
· Why exercise is of secondary importance to energy balance
· How we can learn to 'crave surf', being more mindful of hunger cravings when they arise
· How junk foods affect our brains, influencing our behaviour and creating bad habits
· How to maintain a good metabolic rate when losing weight
· The science behind popular weight loss techniques and why they work, including hot water and lemon; raw foods; time restricted eating; keto diets and high intensity training

Filled with science-backed tips and techniques, this book will help you implement lasting changes, eat well and feel good.

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  #2   ^
Old Wed, Jan-03-24, 07:33
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WereBear WereBear is offline
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The UK has been leading the way on this issue. Of course, the US is currently exploring absurdist comedy in current affairs. And I do see people being honest about losing weight in so many different ways, and this can help people try different things.

This was the big problem with my previous attempts, which CICO was the only way. I didn't know the science as a teen, and was unaware of how it could be twisted.

But of course I used my calories for processed foods with high taste and calorie load, I was a growing teen. And I did get real food enough of the time that my eating disorder cleared itself up considerably when I went to a lower stress environment. Now that Frankenfood is regarded as the addictive form it is, so much about my past is clarified for me.

Many people, who had no idea of food energy or nutrition, can improve their lives with CICO. I'm one of those people it would never work for: I was lowering my carbs to dangerous levels to get satiety working!

They were serious, some of them! Or, paid to say so.
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Old Wed, Jan-03-24, 11:05
Demi's Avatar
Demi Demi is offline
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The real reason diets fail, by a leading bariatric surgeon

In the second exclusive extract from his book, Dr Andrew Jenkinson examines the reason so many of us are obese – it’s not what you think

Mr Johnson weighed around 150kg (23 and a half stone). He had always been on the big side but just could not lose weight, even when he carried out the instructions of numerous dieticians, nutritionists and fitness instructors. He had recently developed diabetes and had sought a referral to my bariatric surgery unit at University College London Hospital.

His semi-naked body was now being prepared for surgery. Every muscle had been paralysed by an injection of curare and he was connected to a breathing machine via a throat tube. Wint, our anaesthetist, had administered a form of hypnotic so that all memory of this event would be erased. She had topped him up with a shot of morphine.

He was lying flat on the operating table, arms outstretched and legs apart, as if mid-star jump. I was reminded of Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man sketch, but with a very large modern-day individual.

I stood between Mr Johnson’s legs, then sliced a 12mm cut through his skin with a blade and placed a thin surgical telescope (an instrument relaying the images of the surgery, via a digital camera, to the TV monitor) into a plastic tube and aimed it in Mr Johnson’s abdomen, so that each layer of his abdominal wall – fat-fascia-muscle-fat – was visible on the screen as I carefully pushed the tube into his abdomen.

The sleeve gastrectomy procedure I was about to perform would be life-changing. A year from this day, after I surgically removed 70 per cent of his stomach, he would weigh around 90kg (just over 14 stone), his diabetes would have disappeared, he would not crave bad food, and his quality of life would be immeasurably improved.

We had an audience that day – two young medical students watching the process. I wanted to make sure they learned from their experience, and started by pointing the camera at Mr Johnson’s engorged liver. “Twenty per cent of obese people have this type of liver. It’s due to too much fat and sugar storage and can cause inflammation, and liver cirrhosis in the future.”

I swung the camera to point out the omentum – the inflamed yellow fat hanging like an apron from the large bowel – as well his vast pink stomach, indicating the part that was going to be removed. “The stomach will be reduced in capacity from the size of a Galia melon to the size of a banana, going from a 2-litre capacity to around 200 to 300cc… but the question I want to ask you is why is this man having this surgery? Why can’t he just go on a diet?”

“Maybe he tried but lacked the willpower,” one replied. “Could it be that he has a food addiction?” the other answered.

“Haven’t they taught you anything about leptin in medical school yet?” I enquired. After a long pause, one student replied, “Oh yes, we had a lecture, which mentioned it. I think it comes from fat cells and influences appetite, but that’s all we were told.”

I silently shook my head – medical schools were still not explaining obesity to students.

I started to dissect the outer edge of Mr Johnson’s stomach away from its fat and blood vessels using an instrument called a harmonic coagulator. “Leptin is the master controller of our weight, and when it stops working properly people lose control of their weight.

“It’s a hormone that comes from fat, and the more fat someone has, the higher the leptin level in the blood. [So] this man will have a lot of leptin in his system.” I grasped Mr Johnson’s abdominal belly fat between my finger and thumb to demonstrate. “Leptin acts as a signal to the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that controls how hungry or full we feel…

“When things are working normally, your hypothalamus will be able to sense if you have put some weight on. It will sense the increase in the leptin level in the blood and will respond by increasing feelings of fullness, and decrease your appetite. The response is that you naturally eat less… until your leptin level returns to normal.

“So, what has happened to this signal in Mr Johnson? His leptin level would be very high if we measured it.” I looked up. The students seemed to be stumped by this question… then one suggested that the leptin signal might somehow be being blocked.

“Yes! Mr Johnson has a condition called leptin resistance. He has lots of leptin in his blood but it is not being seen by his brain. It’s being hidden. And the culprit is the hormone insulin. Leptin and insulin have a common signalling pathway within the hypothalamus. If insulin levels are high, then the insulin will block the receptor that leptin is supposed to activate.

“Mr Johnson has a typical Western diet that includes lots of sugar and refined carbohydrates. In addition, he will be much more likely to snack between meals. This leads to lots of insulin being produced, and that blocks the leptin signal from getting through.”

I pointed to the TV monitor, and focused on the gleaming fat hanging off Mr Johnson’s stomach. “You see this fat looks abnormal – it’s too moist, it’s inflamed, and the inflammation is caused by his obesity. All this fatty inflammation sends a chemical called TNF-alpha into the blood, which causes inflammation directly to the hypothalamus in the brain, again blocking the leptin signal.”

I had finished the dissection; the stomach was now mobilised enough for its division to begin. “Most people suffering with obesity are getting signals to eat more. Their appetite is high all the time. It’s embarrassing for them to eat too much in public, so often they binge-eat in private.

“Mr Johnson weighs over 23 stone, has an unhealthy appetite and is tired all the time,” I said to the students. “Our conventional understanding of obesity would point to his supposed greed and laziness as being character flaws. This is the problem with obesity – people blame those things for causing it but it is a condition that causes this behaviour. These are its symptoms, not its cause. Just like the symptoms of a cold might be a cough and a fever.”

It was time to staple Mr Johnson’s stomach into two – the small tube-like new stomach that would remain, and the bulk of the old stomach that was to be removed. Without its blood supply, this part was already turning blue.

I continued: “The problem with Mr Johnson and all people who suffer with obesity is that the weight that they are, is what their brain thinks is a healthy weight. This is called their weight set-point.”

What determines your weight set-point

Your family

Genetics plays a big role of where someone’s set-point will be. There are lots of studies on identical twins who are brought up in different households. Once they were adults, their weights were compared and studies found that their genes contributed around 70 per cent to their weight.

Modern food
Obesity rates are very high in countries that consume the so-called Western diet.

This increases the hormone cortisol, which causes a survival stress reaction, increasing appetite and blood sugar. In response, more insulin is produced; that insulin blocks the leptin-signalling pathway in the brain; and the resulting leptin resistance causes the set-point to increase and subsequent weight gain.

Deficiency of darkness
Melatonin is the hormone produced in response to decreased light; it has a secondary effect of decreasing stress and cortisol. If melatonin is deficient (because of a lack of darkness if you, say, live in a modern city), cortisol levels rise, insulin increases, and again you see a blockage of the leptin hormone in the brain, disrupting the person’s weight set-point.

The problem comes, I explained, if your weight set-point is in the overweight or obese category. “If this happens, then every effort to force your weight down by simple calorie restriction and exercise will ultimately fail.”

The operation was finished. Faisal, my assistant surgeon, closed the skin and I had my students’ attention again. “I mentioned that tug of war that goes on when someone tries to lose weight by dieting… But when you speak to patients in the clinic, they commonly say that not only do they put all their lost weight back on, but they end up being heavier than before.

“This happens because the brain senses that the environment has become hostile. It senses the calorie restriction that occurred due to the diet and has calculated that this might happen again. So, low-calorie dieting is counterproductive as far as weight loss is concerned.”

“What’s the best way for someone to lose weight if low-calorie dieting doesn’t work?” Wint asked.

I told them to imagine that a person’s weight set-point is a ship’s anchor. “The ship can try to sail away from the anchor, but it’s always eventually stopped… This is what happens if you try to diet and exercise your way to a new weight. The more effort you put in, the more forcefully you will eventually be pulled back.”

“But,” I continued, “if you understand how the brain calculates where it wants your body’s weight to be – its weight set-point – then you don’t have to fight against the anchor by forcibly sailing away from it, ie, dieting and exercise.”

One way the weight anchor can be moved is through dietary choices. “Rather than cutting calories, if you change the types of food you eat away from those that block the leptin signal, you will shift the position of your set-point anchor. We know that stopping sugar or going on an ultra-low-carb diet means people no longer need to produce so much insulin.”

“So, if all our patients gave up sugar and went low-carb, would they no longer need bariatric surgery?” Wint was playing devil’s advocate. Asking the difficult questions for our students’ benefit.

“That’s a very good point. They would certainly lose some weight. But because they are usually very obese, they also have a great deal of inflammation, which can block leptin signalling, so there will still be leptin resistance present even after lifestyle changes. Also, we have to consider the addictive nature of foods once someone has struggled with obesity for many years…

“So, yes, in answer to your question, if someone obese cleans up their eating behaviour they will lose some weight, but they will still have a degree of leptin resistance caused by the inflammation, and this will signal for them to continue eating. Combine these strong hormonal appetite signals with deeply ingrained reward pathways, habits and food addictions, and it’s going to be very difficult to continue only eating healthy foods.”

What most obese people tell me is that their problems really started when they began their first diet. They may have only been in the overweight category, but it led to that weight-loss tug of war and eventually becoming heavier than before the diet. Because most doctors, dieticians and nutritionists don’t fully understand obesity, they will still advise calorie restriction to lose weight.

I was concluding the teaching session now. Our students were nodding enthusiastically. I hoped that their newfound knowledge of obesity would make them more compassionate when treating people struggling with it in their future careers.

I turned to Wint, who was waking Mr Johnson up. He had now been transferred to his extra-large hospital bed and was coughing out his breathing tube.

“Operation is over, Mr Johnson, everything went OK, just relax.” It was time for coffee.

Abridged extract from How to Eat (and Still Lose Weight): A Science-Backed Guide to Nutrition and Health, Andrew Jenkinson (Penguin Life)
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Old Sun, Jan-14-24, 01:57
Demi's Avatar
Demi Demi is offline
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The obesity surgeon’s guide to weight loss

Shedding pounds can still be delicious, Dr Andrew Jenkinson tells Fiona MacRae. If you follow the science

You overindulged at Christmas but you’re counting calories now and getting back into exercise, so all is well, right? It seems not. Counting calories may work in the short term but eventually you’ll put all the weight you lost back on and more. Exercise, meanwhile, won’t do much for your waistline unless you can fit in between five and seven hours a week. Do the recommended 150 minutes a week and you can expect to lose just 4½lb — and that’s after a year.

So says Dr Andrew Jenkinson, a consultant bariatric surgeon at University College London Hospital who is on the front line of the obesity epidemic. “In January, when you are trying to lose weight, it’s all about the type of food you eat and how that affects your body, rather than how many calories you are expending or how much you are eating,” he says.

In Jenkinson’s new book, How to Eat (and Still Lose Weight), he explains how some of our favourite foods play havoc with hormones involved in regulating appetite and metabolism. Some of his advice to get these hormones back on track will be familiar (avoid processed food; leafy green vegetables are good for you). Other tips (a glass of fruit juice is worse than a glass of Coke; throw away your vegetable oils — “they are not food”) less so.

If you understand how the food you eat affects your body and your brain, you’ll find that you naturally want to eat healthier food, Jenkinson says. As a result you won’t just lose weight, you’ll keep it off — and with little or no willpower.

It is quite a promise, but Jenkinson should know: he has carried out studies on the role of appetite hormones and devoured others’ research. He has also listened to his patients: over the past 20 years he has carried out about 5,000 sleeve gastrectomies — weight-loss operations in which most of the stomach is removed. “I was really stimulated by the science of why someone chooses to have such a drastic operation,” he says. “Why does someone want me to remove three quarters of their stomach rather than go to the gym or go on a diet? I learnt from my patients that maybe it wasn’t that simple.”

Think hormones, not calories

It’s not calories that are making us fat, Jenkinson says, but something called leptin resistance. The hormone leptin is the “master controller” of weight. It tells the brain how much fat you have stored. If you’ve put on weight, your brain will “sense the leptin level in the blood and respond by increasing feelings of fullness and decrease your appetite. You naturally eat less and you seamlessly lose the weight you’d gained, until your leptin level returns to normal.”

Eat the wrong foods, however, and levels of another hormone, insulin, rise, throwing a spanner in the works. Large amounts of insulin prevent the brain from gauging leptin levels. Thinking they are low, it tells you to eat more. “Insulin is increased by consuming too much sugar, too many foods containing refined carbohydrates such as wheat and too much vegetable oil,” Jenkinson says. “These foods do not cause weight gain because they contain too many calories, but because of the confusion they cause to your normal weight-control signalling.”

The wrong kind of food

The food Jenkinson is referring to includes cakes, chocolate, sweet drinks, pasta, bread and polyunsaturated vegetable oils such as sunflower, canola and rapeseed oil. He advises cooking in butter or olive oil when frying and counsels against processed food.

It may surprise you to learn that fruit juice can be worse than a glass of Coke. Fruit juice contains a lot of the sugar fructose, which is more harmful than the sucrose (which is half fructose, half glucose) found in many fizzy drinks. According to Jenkinson, fructose drains the cells that process it of their energy stores. This sends a starvation signal to the brain, which leads to an increase in appetite and weight gain. (If you’re not watching your weight, then fruit juice is OK.)

Why our body stores fat

We all have a “weight set-point” — the weight your brain wants you to be. If you do lose weight, your brain will fight to get the weight back up, Jenkinson says. Your metabolism will slow and your appetite will increase. You may even end up heavier than before, thanks to your brain instructing your body to store extra fat as an insurance policy against future food shortages (otherwise known as diets).

Your weight set-point is largely determined by your genes. But stress and lack of sleep can push it up, Jenkinson says, as can a western diet full of sugar, refined carbs, fructose and vegetable oil. A better diet — leafy greens and colourful vegetables, fish (not farmed), red meat (beef and pork), pulses, beans and berries — can lower your set-point and help keep any weight you lose off. Buckwheat and quinoa are good alternatives to traditional carbs.

How to “surf” a craving

All food triggers the release of the feelgood brain chemical dopamine, but food high in sugar and fat sparks particularly high amounts. When the brain is reminded of these foods, by adverts for example, we crave the pleasure they give us and eventually feast on them habitually, without thinking.

Habits can be changed, says Jenkinson. It takes 66 days, on average, to form a new one and 30 to 60 days for the temptation to perform a bad habit to wane. Cravings can be overcome by “surfing” them — riding them out until they fade away. “Concentrate on your breathing and be mindful of how the craving feels,” he says. “Observe the intensity of the craving as it gets bigger, like a wave, until it peaks and then crashes.”

What about Jenkinson’s own bad habits? He says he eats fast food occasionally (he last had a McDonald’s about three months ago) “but then it takes me six months before I can do it again.”
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Old Sun, Jan-14-24, 05:50
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JEY100 JEY100 is online now
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Helpful The Times is printing large chunks of this book, but I could have done without the details of a bariatic surgery.

Interesting he advises to "surf a craving"..not too different from Hunger Training. If I get a craving, but my blood glucose is still higher than my personal BG trigger, I know there is no need for energy. Train your appetite until you recognize a craving without an "tool" and do not eat until you actually need fuel/energy…. or surf the craving.

Last edited by JEY100 : Mon, Jan-15-24 at 04:19.
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Old Sat, Jan-20-24, 04:47
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WereBear WereBear is offline
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“So, yes, in answer to your question, if someone obese cleans up their eating behaviour they will lose some weight, but they will still have a degree of leptin resistance caused by the inflammation, and this will signal for them to continue eating. Combine these strong hormonal appetite signals with deeply ingrained reward pathways, habits and food addictions, and it’s going to be very difficult to continue only eating healthy foods.”

This is amazing from the point of view of someone with autoimmune: an inflammatory condition.

To prep for my stab at carnivore, in the midst of the toughest flare yet, I fasted on green tea and coconut oil -- EASILY -- and it tamped down the flare before I started eating again. No food works in the short term. But adding animal foods worked even better

Autoimmune disorders should, more openly, include diabetes. Recently medical advice is to no longer neglect "mild forms" of autoimmune like chronic hives, UTIs, and psoriasis, to name a few. While that's a step forward, it still won't be treated properly.

From the beginning this complex of diseases was never properly understood. As soon as they discovered expensive organ rejection drugs suppressed the symptoms, they acted like they had hit a home run when they haven't gotten to first base yet.

What if Atkins worked so well for my autoimmune because of the way I was losing the weight? By eating foods which weren't inflammatory? It looks like low carb/keto works on excess body fat and inflammation. Connected.

Autoimmune with doctor intervention always seems to involve a high risk of weight gain, at least in my exploration of other's experiences. In a move to reduce the patient's stress, they often wind up on SRIs or the like. Further deranging the metabolism, I have no doubt. I have personal experience with how horrible getting off one of those psychiatric drugs, I got for nerve pain. It was supposed to help with anxiety, too, but not for me.

After the pain was gone, trying to cut down created the worst depression I've ever felt. Fortunately, I discovered that gabapentin withdrawal can be fixed with supplemental magnesium. I was off it in record time. I told my doctor about it, and he was a savvy practitioner. He didn't know.

I think I also have not gotten anywhere near diabetes in all this time, which bodes well for my future now. Like autoimmune just might be as simple as keeping it in remission (which is how I refer to it) by eating an appropriate keto diet.

My current rung of the carb ladder is adding fruit to Induction

Should I become an official autoimmune patient, if my constellation of reactions stops being "atypical" and is recognized in the new, more attentive ways, I think it would still skew the medical system into a situation where they can blame this mysterious, chronic, "only can be managed" disease for anything they are slow about recognizing.

LOTS of steroids are key to autoimmune management. Which makes a person so very hungry. Rip the fridge door off the hinges hungry.
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Old Sat, Jan-20-24, 05:26
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cotonpal cotonpal is online now
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Many years ago, when I decided to give up smoking, I read that cravings will go away if you ride them out. There was a specific amount of time mentioned which I have forgotten but it was just a few minutes I believe. I used this information to help me quit smoking and it worked. No reason it wouldn’t work for hunger as well. I guess I was surfing the craving.
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Old Sun, Jan-21-24, 02:28
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WereBear WereBear is offline
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Originally Posted by cotonpal
Many years ago, when I decided to give up smoking, I read that cravings will go away if you ride them out. There was a specific amount of time mentioned which I have forgotten but it was just a few minutes I believe. I used this information to help me quit smoking and it worked. No reason it wouldn’t work for hunger as well. I guess I was surfing the craving.

One of Dr. Atkins best sentences in his whole book was, "If you are hungry, eat." This was an amazing power and I didn't have to go to bed hungry. The ability to get busy and see if the "hunger" went away had never been available before, because the hunger knew all that awaited it was chicken broth and saltines This only increased the anxiety.

Fat-positive movement Influencers state they can't "starve themselves" any more, and while I understand, a lot of that is blood sugar. They describe their hunger as "overwhelming" so they try "the diet" all day, battling hunger and obsessing with the feelings, and binge when they get home. They all have unaddressed trauma -- mostly because they refuse to face it with any coping strategy except bingeable carbs. (Former sufferer, here. I managed it for years, then Atkins FIXED it.)

But when people are trapped in this descending spiral of fighting with themselves, they can't figure that out. Beware inadequate feelings management!

But there's also the quick and easy access to a reliable way to feel good that is societally accepted, relatively inexpensive, and won't get one arrested.

We're down to Little Debbies and cigarettes. So I feel for the people struggling with food the same way I regard those who still smoke on their breaks. Because there's literally nothing else they could do that would pay off in that much alertness and motivation. That's a need always there, but their jobs don't let them manage themselves any other way, especially shift work.

Which is how those giant coffee drinks were inevitable. Sugar and caffeine and fat might be another one of those irresistible combinations.
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Old Sun, Jan-21-24, 02:42
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WereBear WereBear is offline
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The obesity surgeon’s guide to weight loss

Some of the best insights into how addicting the junk food is comes from people who are sorting through all this in the reboot the surgery created. People will do anything except stop eating more and more UPF.

The misconception that any of this is FOOD is starting to sink in. Now, weight loss channels on Youtube almost universally acknowledge that keto works. Then it's just about the excuses why someone "can't." Or someone not knowing they are climbing up and down the carb ladder.

But that is amazing acknowledgement from a population who knows the most about it. And it is the fault of "experts" who don't know what they are talking about. From belief system to discreet sources of money, that actual experience is now common knowledge in many public minds.

If they were sure that eating keto could be just as pleasurable, it would be different. But in the grip: they don't believe it.

Me? I love the fact that if I don't want a burger, then I know I'm not really hungry. If I'm not hungry enough, food is a chore. When I am hungry, it's fantastic. Which really is a sign my body is properly working these signals.
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