Some people talk a lot about emotional eating, but does it really exist and if so, what is it? My answer to this is yes and no and they are answers to different definitions to the term.
The first is when people set a diet where they do not get enough calories or nutrients. In this case you will get strong cravings. This is not emotional eating, you are just hungry so your body screams out for food. You need to eat according to your caloric demands, but eat the right foods – low-fat, high-carb vegan (preferably raw) and you will not gain weight you are not supposed to gain.
The other answer is that digestion and emotions is two things the body cannot handle simultaneously so when something happens that really sets off the emotion meter, something sad for example, one reaction from us is that we want to get away from it. Food is one way to do it. This is really easy to do as meat-eaters, because all that food is hard to digest. As a vegan, high-carb vegan or high-carb raw vegan this becomes more difficult as we go along the stages, but we can still do it. This can happen even when we eat enough calories, though if we are on the top of our game as food is regarded we are less vulnerable towards emotions. I would consider this emotional eating. It is a good thing to develop emotionally to a level where we do not need to do this, but I do not consider it a problem as long as we eat the right foods, i.e. high-carb vegan or raw vegan.
The last is force of habit. When I watch a movie I want to eat popcorn. I don’t do it any longer, it’s been a REALLY long time since I had it last, but the habit is still there. This I would also consider emotional eating, which can be fixed by replacing with healthier habits. I try to just start watching, usually I don’t care, or I try to have some juice instead. Or sometimes I can make a raw vegan treat.
A big worry that many of us who wants to eat healthy have, especially at the the beginning, is how to deal with cravings. There are a lot of answers given – eat enough calories, eat a high-carb diet (preferably fruit), make sure to get a savory meal like a stew, many different answers to many different cravings, but one that I have noticed recently is actually exercise. As I have continued on this exercise regimen and gained strength I tend to subconsciously evade many of the less than optimal foods that I have eaten before as they will directly interfere with my fitness regimen. Especially fat, there really is something at work behind the scenes making me not buy the nuts, the avocados and many other high-fat foods as they would not work as well as what I’m doing now. Of course I might have a handful of nuts, a little of nut butter or some nut milk every once in a while, but somehow it’s subconsciously kept within the limits in a way that no amount of “willpower” managed to do before. This despite the fact that due to economical reasons as I eat more cooked foods my caloric intake has lowered a bit. I find this extraordinarily inspiring.
A recent discussion I had has prompted me to write this host about what I realize to be one of the biggest problems assailing not only the world of nutritional research, but science at large, the problem is, as the name of the title, survivorship bias. Now, what is survivorship bias? Let’s illustrate with an example. Say you have a certain model that is followed, say a certain way to do stock exchange. And then you poll a number of CEO’s, the actual number is not important, say 100 of them and it shows that 100 of them did use this model. This would then be reported as a 100% chance that by following this model you would become a CEO. That is the survivorship bias, because we are told absolutely nothing about either the CEO’s who did not follow this model or the people who followed the model and did not become CEO’s. We are told about one single variable about the past and are asked to generalize about it to the future. The future is by it’s very design unpredictable and lead to chance. A lot of things happen by randomness, which plays a huge part of our lives. The model is not always the reason for success. Boxers in the past ate a horrible diet, sometimes steak right before the match, abused their bodies without getting sufficient rest or sometimes even hydration. This does not make a good model for a boxer to follow, but by following only the survivors of the program we are led to think so.
If the survivorship bias is used negatively, that is that we know of something here, that could really be a problem. It’s only variable, but we would urge you to be cautious about it and maybe try to remove it from your life I don’t have as much problem with it. My issue is more when it is used in a positive fashion, positive here meaning, using the survivorship to justify continued use of something on the basis that these people did fine while using it, and maybe even improved on something, e.g. disease reversal. As long as we are told only one variable, doing these comparisons are EXTREMELY dangerous and irresponsible.
Have you ever been addicted to fat? No, that was a rhetorical question. Of course we have all been addicted to fat, just as we have been addicted to salt and sugar, because humans are created to seek out salt, fat and sugar- they are the three tastes that we have receptors for at the tip of our tongue. In a natural environment, where we are not interfered with this is no problem we get them in the right amounts within the fibrous contents of other foods and the concentrations will be regulated with the seasons. Unfortunately we no longer live in a natural environment, but are very much interfered with. Some subtle, some not so subtle. This is a great hazard for us, as we like all other lifeforms are designed for two primary functions – survival and reproduction. Many functions aid in our survival, but for now let’s concentrate on food. Food is the most important survival issue and each creature must make sure to always get enough. To this end we are capable of catching the caloric difference of 5 calories/bite between one apple and another. Let’s consider a few interferences and how they relate to this condition:
- Refined foods: Brown sugar lies at 3800 calories/kilo. Olive oil lies at 8840 calories/pound. If we compare this with natural foods, an apple is at 520 calories/kilo, a banana is at 890 calories/kilo, even a fatty fruit like avocado is only at 1600 calories/kilo, so most of the weight in natural foods would be fiber and water. In this situation our survival instances of picking up the caloric content is essential to make sure we get enough to continue to live. But while our modern environment has changed drastically we have not. The reason why so many people are addicted to junk food is because when we take a bite out of that corn chip our survival instincts kick in and tell us “you are doing the right thing”.
- Another form of interference is globalization. Thanks to globalization we can get all kinds of fruit almost all season of the year. This means that our diet can be incredibly varied, we can have mango and avocado in december if we want to, even though those fruits is not in season during that time. While convenient, it is also dangerous. In the natural environment the kinds of foods we would eat is geared so that we eat them all in their proper place. Especially fats are dangerous, because they only come in season during the summer, which would give us that extra caloric bang, maybe putting on a few kilos for the winter and getting a bit extra vitamin-e and vitamin-k that our body need. In the natural environment however the winter never comes, this coupled with the fact of constant availability and the increased caloric content of fats as compared to other foods, makes it extremely easy to become addicted to them. This has many consequences, two of them being that we do not get enough other nutrients and since our cells demand carbohydrate to function, our energy levels will drop significantly. We also will not be able to be as satiated.
How do you fix a fat addiction once you realize you are in one? It’s easier to say than to do as we are geared to get that most calorically dense foods. Also when we increase the intensity of something (e.g. caloric content) our bodies will given a little bit of time get used to it. You can run this experiment, e.g. at your local swim hall. Take a swim in the normal temperature pool, then get in the warm pool. It feels warm, stay in there 5-10 minutes and it will feel like the other pool and when you return to that pool it will feel really cold.
This makes just not eating the fat problematic. You have become used to this increased caloric bang. Dropping straight out is going to go against all your survival instincts (even though we don’t call them such, we call them “cravings” or similar). There are a few ways that one can help however. It takes 3-5 weeks for you to be most the way out of this trap and 6-10 weeks to be all the way out, the first time is the hardest. One way to give yourself a boost is to do juice fasting for 2-3 days, taking your fat and salt receptors TOTALLY out of the equation, even on the amounts in whole, natural plant foods. When you then taste these foods after the fast you will be able to pick up on this a lot easier. More intense way is to do a water-only fasting. You just drink water for the same amount of time and getting your body TOTAL sensory deprivation. After the fast the whole, natural plant foods are going to taste a lot better.
Just back from having a meeting with a friend in town today and for the first time I managed to eat not only vegan, not only low-fat, but low-fat raw vegan. So what did I do? It wasn’t difficult. YOu look up the menu online, see what fresh fruits and vegetables they have you request that and tell them to remove the cooked lentils, hummus and fatty nuts and seeds, which ended up by me getting a really overpriced (13 USD!!!) salad of spinach, tomatoes, cucumbers and bell peppers. But hey, I eat out maybe 5 times/Year at most and it was all organic and now I know how to do it. Eating out raw at mainstream restaurants is not easy, I will not claim it is. But it can be done, especially if you put some planning into it.
We talk a lot about raw food diets about the “knowledge” why we should eat raw – anthropology, food combining, current research into high fat diets, shedding body weight, etc… and I’ve felt that that has been why we eat raw all along. I’ve started to change my opinion of that tho’. As I’m still finding strategies for all situations I do get a few days every now and then that I have to eat cooked (still high-carb, low-fat) while I’m waiting to get ripe fruit and I’m noticing so many things about it. Whatever it is that I eat – potatoes, rice, beans, corn the same things happen. The first is that I’m finding it more difficult to get all the carbs in, getting 3000 calories, or even 2500 calories on a cooked vegan diet is difficult. I knew that though, recently however I’m easily noticing firstly how tasteless these things really are, and I’m including some moderate use of spices here and also that I immediately notice that my body doesn’t like it. I had a corn-bean stew last night. I hadn’t had any cooked food for months, but I started having that so I said when I first had it, “ok, if I still feel this way after I’ve carbed up and been training for a couple of days I can have it” and even with this it’s the same thing. I didn’t like the taste of cooked corn (even organic) or rather it’s pretty tasteless, so were the beans, after only a bowl I started feeling it in my stomach that this was not something my body wanted. For the first time I didn’t finnish the entire thing and I’m a pretty big eater. I’ve been feeling this with potatoes and rice before, but thought this was ok (actually one of the reasons I did indulge was to find out if it was this way). It used to at least taste good, even though I didn’t get the same results as before. It still tasted ok to some degree, but not the way it used to, but I just felt it wasn’t worth it.
So I should probably make a point about this blog post shouldn’t I. The point is that “information” may get us to start eating raw, but information alone will not get us to keep eating raw, without making exceptions, no matter how much of it we have. To really want to stay 100% raw and plan accordingly we need to feel that we don’t even want to taste this cooked food because we know in a way that we only can if our body tells us that cooked food doesn’t work.
Chris Kendall asked me to write a testimonial for his page. Since he was the #1 influence of me being the healthy, happy and RAW individual that you see before you today I was more than happy to do it. I was excited by the very fact that Chris actually wanted ME to write this piece. As my own journey from the standard western diet to 811LFRV is an important part of me I think I would share it with all of you.
I have for a large part of my 24 years been overweight. The exception was a brief period in my second year of high-school when I had done a lot of running during the summer (which I couldn’t keep up in the winter and rebounded). The situation has been the same, sometimes better, sometimes worse, but never hitting my correct weight.
After I returned from a visit to my sister in NY last june I started reading a book called “the tao of health, sex and longevity”. It, together with positive influences I got during my visit got me to want to try out to improve my diet. I started with red meat and did some reading, eliminating more foods as I went. Then I came into contact with Chris Kendall’s ebook “101 simply delicious raw recipes” and the results were AMAZING. Easily going from 0%-100% raw overnight I went from a weight of 100-105 kg at 189 cm (very overweight) to quickly dropping 5-10 kg without doing anything consciously. After 6-9 months on the diet I was down at 85 kg (ideal weight according to BMI) and feeling amazing. A weight I hadn’t had since high school, a shirt size I haven’t had since puberty and an energy and well-being I haven’t ever had.
I had originally only planned to take raw as an experiment, maybe incorporate a bit into my diet, but never did I think that I could be munching up 3000-5000 calories/day in bananas and dates. And SALADS. I who never in my life had liked salads, in any form!!! Sure I munched on A LOT of apples, but didn’t like bananas much (probably at least in part due to never eating a ripe one before going raw) or many vegetables really cooked or raw – it wasn’t for me. But he had recipes for everything, a good berry-orange dressing sorted out my salad phobia just fine. As I said, I never though I would go to 100%, but the recipes were just so amazingly easy and delicious that it wasn’t a conscious choice really, I mean maybe I had some roasted nuts, but in general not a choice I had to think about.
Almost a year later I feel invigorated with energy. I, who suffered from having so few friends in Uppsala have now a gigantic community spread over the world. The subject of health has interested me so I have read up a lot on the subject so I am now an authority to many people in forums and em giving THEM health advise and helping (and convincing) them to transition to a plant-based diet, some raw some not. Going raw have had effects on so many levels I cannot put it into words, thank you Chris for existing and being one of the greatest influence upon my life and getting me to health and friendships.
Eternal love and gratitude,