Thursday, November 8, 2007

Confessions of a Cracker Addict

Keeping with this topic of obesity, I was listening to a podcast the other day about a book called Waistland by Deidre Barrett, a Harvard psychologist in their behavioral medicine department. I have not read the book yet, but only listened to an interview of her about the book. The book looks at the obesity problem from an evolutionary standpoint with scientific research. She also talks about how to "reprogram" your body/mind in terms of biologically. I didn't agree with everything she said in the interview. For example, she believes that there is only a grain of truth in genetics and becoming fat and some others that I can't think off the top of my head. However, there were a few interesting things she did say which I think are in fact true.

One thing she mentioned was that people really need to do more of a radical approach in order to stop their "food addiction." This is in the sense of what they are eating in terms of sugary, fattening foods. Her theory is that if you let's say eliminate a certain food that is high in sugar and fat, essentially over time, your body is going to stop craving it. This is completely opposite of what many health professionals tell you, ie. make small changes. Barrett's thinking is that 1) those small changes are not enough to truly make a difference, 2) that by continuing to "feed" your body this way only throws your body off. An example would be glucose levels or cortisol. I think in some ways this can work for some people. The problem is that many people have a hard time with continuance over time which can lead to the yo-yo dieting.

Her approach is more about breaking the pattern and developing good habits. Supposedly, it takes what 21 days to develop a habit. I decided to try to take on this type of approach and see what happens.

See, even though I've had an eating disorder for many years, mostly eat all natural and organic foods, my one "refined" substance is crackers, mainly wheat thins and animal crackers.
They are my addiction. I've always considered them "safe" foods, and I can eat quite a lot of them. I think it's due to never really feeling "full." I also think besides the psychological value of them, I think there is something biologically driven as well. Even when I was in the hospital for non-epileptic seizures (long story), I remember asking my parents to bring me wheat thins. One thing I can say about wheat thins is that by eating so many of them, it probably kept my iron levels at bay since there is some fortification in them.

I know there could be worse things in life to eat, but I don't know, I guess maybe it just feels really "unbalanced" or something. Literally, if I don't eat them, my caloric intake is drastically reduced. In a sense, it's a good challenge for me to try to eat other things.

I've tried many ways to reduce my cracker consumption--putting them in servings, only buying the small bags, always telling myself this was the last time, etc., you get my drift. The last time I completely eliminated wheat things, it was like three weeks without eating them. That was like a record for me. My parents think it is funny how these crackers have basically become another food group to me and often times when they come, they bring me a whole bunch.

Anyway, what I do notice after eating so many is that my blood sugar takes a nosedive, and I'm often tired in the late afternoon. So I'm trying hard not to buy any crackers even though I know Wal-Mart currently has the 14 oz box of reduced fat wheat thins (I really prefer the low sodium ones) for 2/$5 and the 2 lb. bag of animals crackers priced at 2/$3. Since Sunday, I have not eaten any and actually there is a difference in terms of blood sugar level. I still get a little tired but not the same as before. I know I could easily just add a protein source to the crackers, but then that just messes with my head in terms of calories and fat. I'm hoping to make 21 days and see if I have really developed a "habit" from it. I'll keep you posted.

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