The holidays are upon us, which means one thing: everyone reading this knows someone who is about to start a diet.
Between Thanksgiving and New Years, most people will gain weight. Then come New Year, they will start a diet and FAIL. Going on a restricted diet to ‘improve health’ or ‘lose weight’ seems like a great idea and feels awesome at first, but often ends up disastrous. For many, it’s just a simple misunderstanding, but for others it’s fantasy ideal that pulls your strings with false hopes and fear of punishment. That New Year’s enthusiasm eventually wanes or gives way to anxiety, guilt, shame, body image distortion, compulsive behaviors and hormonal issues for what seems like an eternity in bodymind
–hell. Many of these diet beliefs are false. Most of the diet Gurus are l ying their asses off. Behold the Diet-Haunted World.
The problem is not that diets don’t work, they still don’t. And it’s not just that they can damage your thyroid, they can. And it’s not that corporations are exploiting peoples’ vulnerability and natural instincts, which they are. It’s also not that the solutions are simple lifestyle changes that most everyone overlooks in favor for extremism. And it’s not the lulz from the irony of this fruitless endeavor. No, it’s that the diet ideas themselves are so incredibly stupid, so ludicrous and yet millions of otherwise smart people continue to fall for this grand illusion.
Halos and Devil Horns
When a food is marketed as ‘healthy’ (in whichever of the hundreds of cleverly deceptive ways it is), people think it’s magic. So they end up eating more because of a belief in ‘healthy food magic’. Yeah, America, you got played, but also, you played yourself.
The Biasing Health Halos of Fast-Food Restaurant Health Claims: Lower Calorie Estimates and Higher Side-Dish Consumption Intentions
Journaal of Consumer Reseach
Why is America a land of low-calorie food claims yet high-calorie food intake? Four studies show that people are more likely to underestimate the caloric content of main dishes and to choose higher-calorie side dishes, drinks, or desserts when fast-food restaurants claim to be healthy (e.g., Subway) compared to when they do not (e.g., McDonald’s). We also find that
the effect of these health halos can be eliminated by simply asking people to consider whether the opposite of such health claims may be true. These studies help explain why the success of fast- food restaurants serving lower-calorie foods has not led to the expected reduction in total calorie intake and in obesity rates.
Why is America a land of low-calorie food claims yet high-calorie food intake? Four studies show that people are more likely to underestimate the caloric content of main dishes and to choose higher-calorie side dishes, drinks, or desserts when fast-food restaurants claim to be healthy (e.g., Subway) compared to when they do not (e.g., McDonald’s). (…) These studies help explain why the success of fast- food restaurants serving lower-calorie foods has not led to the expected reduction in total calorie intake and in obesity rates.
Watch this bias in action: Funny Coffee Delusion
Don’t do this. Also, watch out for people who try to do this to you, because everyone will try this
. Truly the most annoying thing in the world. Everyone is an expert on diet. To the degree they believe in these ideas, they will be swayed by a plethora of hidden bias and get more vocal preaching the virtues of their new diet conversion much to your annoyance.
“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.” Charles Darwin
Diet Expert Delusion (DED) is seen when loud mouths act like know-it-alls anytime anything is brought up. He comes around the dinner table offering unsolicited advice. She’s your coworker at lunch who knows everything about the evil of carbs & sugar. Bring up saturated fat & cholesterol, and out comes the expert. Part of this Delusion is people not knowing how ignorant they are while simultaneously acting like an expert.
My opinion for you –
it’s best not engage this person. They try to bait you into a discussion. Save your breath. However, sometimes I like to drop the hammer on these fools. It can be fun (and educational for others) putting The Expert in check, but most often it’s not worth it.
“Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.” Mark Twain
People Lie. Corporations Lie. Authorities Lie.
You probably think you don’t lie, right? You probably don’t do it consciously. These little white lies you tell yourself and your trainer are also why we don’t rely on this type of diet-related information for any decent health studies. People lie, including dietitians, you know, the ‘corporate diet experts’ who churn out the standard corporate American diet.
Other than trying too hard (i.e. Biggest Loser) which is thinly veiled self-flagellation, there is also vulnerability for new age novelty and the unforgivable sin: placing celebrities on a pedestal.
Another workout mistake many people make is overestimating how hard their workout was. They think they ‘burned off all those calories’, so they ‘balance it out’ later on. You’ll often hear the phrase ‘this is why I workout’ when eating something the falsely believe in ’sinful’ (they secretly enjoy, but have been led to believe is bad).
Biology: More Important than Opinion.
These issue highlight a critical part of the discussion that most everyone isn’t discussing. That there are compensatory mechanism keeping our energy balanced and trying to manage all the chronic stress we encounter … which means you don’t need to stress so much or try too hard. Think ‘less is more’ and you’ll get better results than the mass hysteria worshipping the false idol of the anorectic body image.
“also known as perceptual blindness, is failure to notice an unexpected stimulus that is in plain sight. This typically happens because humans are overloaded with stimuli.’ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attention_blindness
Sometimes, we get so focused on microscopic issues (calories, carbs, grams of sugar) that we miss real solutions that are right in front of us. Some of your greatest solutions are right in front of your face, but you won’t see them because you have the wrong focus: Ten Easier Ways to Lose Fat
Paleo Bread, Caveman Cookies, Low Carb Bagels.
Whoever came up with this idea…WTF is wrong with you?
Micro-managing food ingredients is not going to make or break your health. So is the gluten-free stuff. This stuff isn’t healthy. Excessive amounts of ingredients, all sorts of anti-nutrients and gut irritants – see what I’m saying? More importantly, I’m talking about paleo cookies, gluten-free muffins and coconut what-nots made with nuts, seeds, almond and coconut flour. This is somewhat of the Halo Effect (food magic), but also a somewhat understandable mistake of rookies.
You’d think coconut, whole grain or nut flours are better than that white Cuban bread I grew up on, right? pffft…
They’re not. Although we think they’re healthier than
Mrs Fields, these alternative flours are high in phytic acid and can irritate the gut. In the name of health, you end up with digestive troubles or mineral imbalance.
The reason these are popular now is due to the growth of low carb Paleo diet in the last few years. Unfortunately, now we’re starting to see more and more people who caused damage to their health by trying to get healthy with this sh*t.
Note –> bias is so strong, that some people will say that I just advocated a processed food diet, which I didn’t, but the diet-haunted mind will see that.
Low Carb Diets
So for those new to the topic, let me clear a few things up for you: Both low carb and vegan diets can have great short term results, but remember this timeless proverb: short term gratification costs, while long term vision pays. Be careful, it’s tempting to want quick results. The problem going low carb is you’ll be craving carbs while restricting carbs (get it yet?) and falsely believe that enjoying food is sinful.
The majority of the world passionately believes that carbs & sugar make you fat and diabetic. And a million people with a passionate belief can’t be wrong, right?
Going low carb has very serious consequences, before you get there though, you’ll live in a demon haunted world of false ideas, craving delicious foods you convinced yourself are fattening and when you do actually eat something you enjoy, you’ll beat yourself up. This war-on-the-self and hatred of sugar is avoidable.
Carbs are delicious for a reason and it’s not that they are put on Earth to tempt you! Sacrificing and denying yourself pleasure is widely embraced as being somehow ‘better’ or more spiritual and carbs/sugar are sinful. That’s a terrible lie. Gong low carb makes some people hi crab. So relax and enjoy the food and keep it simple: Nutrition in Three Words
‘Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.’ Thomas Merton
Conclusion: Diets still suck. Make a few, simple lifestyle changes instead. Learn to cook. Get more sleep. Be patient, enjoy eating, or forever be a sucker for the terrible lie.
PS – for those that don’t know, the title is sort of a play-on-word tribute to one of my favorite people & authors ever who wrote: ‘The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark’ by Carl Sagan