Woah! What a difference a week (ending Sun 26th June) makes. Totally impressed with myself this week: lost 2.8kgs (that’s 6.2lbs in old money!). I step off the scales and get on again: same result! Amazed and chuffed.
But even as this fact starts to sink in, I can feel the panic rising. I’m not meant to be any good at this weight-loss stuff. The old thoughts of “Lose weight = good girl; put on weight = bad girl” come rushing back to mind. What happens if I can’t keep it off ‘cos I’ve lost it so quick? How do I feel about losing nearly half a stone in a week? What will people say if they notice a difference? How will I react to their comments?
It is this very thought process and subsequent behaviour around food & weight loss that I’m particularly interested in and fascinated by. I touched on the subject of addiction in my Week 4 blog, and will return to it in next few weeks.
I learnt about food & behaviour psychology when I went to the MRC (Medical Research Council) meeting in Cambridge on Monday 20th June. It was a follow-on from the BBC Horizon programme I was recently featured in: “Why are we getting so fat?” It was great to catch up again with Dr Chris van Tulleken (left), Dr Giles Yeo (below, 2nd left) who researches obesity genetics, and Prof Fiona Gribble (below, far left) who researches obesity and the effect gut hormones have on the disease.
A new introduction was to Prof Paul Fletcher – 2nd on the right. Paul is a psychiatrist and his research uses neuroimaging and pharmacological manipulations in healthy volunteers to study how people feel about food, how they respond to it, and how these responses are affected by genetics and other differences. At the MRC evening, Paul spoke of how the brain makes certain associations with actions & events, and how these trigger habits. These habits CAN be broken though, and new pathways within the brain can be created, which then has an effect on behaviour. I asked Paul the question: “After having formed these new habit pathways in the brain, if you lapse back into old habits, are the new pathways destroyed and it’s therefore back to square one?” Thankfully, he said no. It’s actually quite a positive outcome once the new pathways have been formed, and all is not lost following a lapse. Phew.
I’m currently working my way through some of Paul’s published research papers… will report back soon.
I’ve also got my nose in two books linked with this subject. The first is Overcoming Binge Eating by Dr Christopher Fairburn was a Christmas present last year from my brother and sister-in-law (it was at the top of my Wish List). It looks at why people binge, and then goes on to explain the evidence-based, successful approach to conquering it. I was interested to see that some of Prof Paul Fletcher’s research is quoted.
Refreshingly, Dr Fairburn insists that binge eating behaviour can be permanently changed and does not just have to be ‘coped with’. This goes against how Overeaters Anonymous sees the condition of compulsive eating. They say that you can keep the condition in remission by following the 12-steps, but that this process needs to continue for the rest of your life, as while you are in remission, the illness is still progressing.
The second book is Think and Eat Yourself Smart by Dr Caroline Leaf. I’ve mentioned one of her other books “Who switched off your brain?” in previous blog articles. In her latest book, Dr Leaf looks at brain research in connection with behaviour around food and eating, and how this behaviour can be changed for the better. As she is a scientist, a quarter of the book is given over to extensive listings of the research papers used! Valid and robust research is vital to combat the vast amounts of pseudoscience and psychobabble out there on the subject.
So… for now, I have two weeks left on Dr Michael Mosley’s 8wk Blood Sugar Diet. Head down. Stay focused. Stay active. Stay on the wagon. Committed. Finish strong.
Until next week…