Monika Kuzminskaitė on Food & Eating PsychologyHealth psychologist, with special love for food and eating mattersSome time ago
In the very first year of the studies psychology students are introduced to the common academic mistake of reductionism (1). It happens when we start explaining a complex causality by using a much simpler construct or phenomenon, using a sort of white and black statement. For example, "all children like sweets" (because my two children like them). Or "rocks cannot fall out of the sky because they are not there" (true quote from pre-modern astronomy!). Or "all animals are just biological robots". Similar situation is with belief that when eating fat will lead to more bodily fat. No, it is not as simple. Every bit of bacon that you eat does not travel through blood vessels directly to your belly fat. It is important to understand how everything happens in reality, because our decisions and our actions are based on this knowledge. Once in our body, fats are broken down (long fat chain - triglycerides - are broken into shorter ones - monoglycerides), this happens in our mouth already, also in the stomach and in the intestines. Enzymes from pancreas are also used in this process. Fatty acids are absorbed into the blood through the walls of intestines. Larger part of the fatty acids are transported to the muscles where they are used for the energy production (here cell mitochondria break down the fatty acids). Body also produces multiple kinds of fats itself, because fats are important building material for the walls of the cell walls. For this process to happen, no eating of fats is necessary (2). It is a very much "reduced" picture, but all of the internet is at your service. Breaking down, transporting and storing fat in the fat cells is a process requiring a lot of "effort" (in terms of energy), so it is not started without a really serious reason. Yes, it means that your body will not start this process without a serious reason. This means that body always does what it most efficient for you and for the body, and will not try to store each bit of sugar in the fat store. If this happens, then something in your eating past made it believe that this is necessary. Perhaps some time ago you lived constantly undereating, so body (being "rational" and "planning ahead" - in quotes, of course, because it is not really another person doing, this - if it were so, it would not be a hypothesis anymore, but more like a diagnosis) started running a saving program "What if food will always be scarce?". The most efficient form of saving energy is fat, taking up the least space and providing with most of the energy. In this program nutritional and construction materials are of secondary importance - it is more important to have sufficient energy "to run after the food" and "to gather food". It could have been true lack of food, or a diet, or several diets in a row, or simply a poor quality food for a long time with sufficient amount but insufficient quality of food consumption due to lack of knowledge or other reasons (still leading to lack of actual nutrients). For a clearer picture, imagine that you eat a bowl full of paper. Your stomach is full, but have you eaten something that is valuable nutrient? No. Because paper is not a food item. Every dish that you eat and that is not made by you from the products that you made, but produced in a factory, usually has a certain amount of this "paper" - non-toxic but also non-nutritional materials so the food does not rot, split into layers, keep the color, etc. Read the next label you can get your hands on and try to think whether you add to your dish materials you cannot pronounce without making a pause or two. A constant push to unbalance your hormone system with overload of carbohydrates is also not helpful. So. Body starts storing fat if it is "taught" at some point that there may be a lack of nutrients - and it will stop storing fat when you will prove to it that now food will be sufficient - or that you will eat regularly, will take care of the sleep quality, will not stress over unimportant things and will deal with pressure where needed. "Proving" is not a quick process - just by making a decision you cannot achieve anything regarding you fat stores. Hormone balance changes slowly, but surely. So try to do the best you can and try to not stress about things out of your control. You do not try to control your heart rate, do you? The n do not try to control your digestion either. Just let it do the job it best can. The best help you can provide is eat sufficient amount of high value food, and high value includes all nutrients along with the fats. Here I just reduced a huge amount of research and books into a single post without proper citing. But I will not give up! :) Bon appetit, and long live the fats! My name is Monika, I am psychologist. I help to deal with daily and difficult questions about behavior, thinking, emotions. I write, counsel and teach. Book my talk to know more! ----------------------------------- 1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reductionism 2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lipid#Metabolism Photo: FoodieFactor from Pixabay #spoonfulofreason #psychology #eating #fats

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Monika Kuzminskaitė on Food & Eating PsychologyHealth psychologist, with special love for food and eating mattersSome time ago
Question "How eating and psychology are related?" will probably remain on repeat for a long time, but I will not give up :) and I am not alone. Eating decisions are "quick decisions" (here you should think of Kahneman's quick and slow thinking), because people are busy with other things, they are constantly in a rush, and healthy nutrition information is very complex and difficult to process. Besides: 🧠 food advertising very often aims to invoke emotional response (more emotions - less rational decisions) 🧠 try some time reading food label in an easy and fun way. Not a chance. What about simple and intuitive way to understand kilocalories, body mass index, portion size? Nope. 🧠 people usually tend to choose present focused decisions (in a fight of cookie now and health later, cookie always starts and wins) 🧠 people also tend to stick to their habits and maintain status quo, and choose the same things over and over again 🧠 in presence of food, it is almost impossible to not think about food and not to want it. At the same time food is available everywhere, in especially in worst situations, like line at the cashier register (hail self-service!), on the screen or in the street cafes. Insights based on psychology and behavioral economics may help us as society he eat better. Food marketing and advertising should be strictly controlled (for example, celebrity or action hero images should not be used on the packaging), package from should display uniform food content and nutritional value information as well as warnings. Healthy alternatives should become default option (full grain pizza, unless you specifically ask for white flour). Probably portion size control should be implemented as well. Additional taxation for unhealthy foods and beverages should be implemented. ----------------------------------------------------- My name is Monika, I am psychologist. I help to deal with daily and difficult questions about behavior, thinking, emotions. I write, counsel and teach. Book my talk to as more! Article: https://peachlab.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Roberto_Psy-Insights_American-Psychologist-2020.pdf Photo: StockSnap from Pixabay #spoonfulofreason #psychology #food #eating #decisions #policy #behavioraleconomics
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Monika Kuzminskaitė on Food & Eating PsychologyHealth psychologist, with special love for food and eating mattersSome time ago
Very good timing on the topic - on Wednesday I will be giving a speech in Login 2021 conference on the very similar topic: https://login.lt/agenda/?&day=26# 92: Everything is connected: stress, eating and sleep This time I read a thesis from University of South Dakota (1). REad and kept nodding - yes, yes - you are what you eat, you will reap what you sow... Everything is connected to everything else - psychology and behavior, eating and digestion hormones, neuroscience and science of sleep. Let's get straight to the meat of it: - The more stress people feel, the more often they eat not because of hunger, but to relax - Women tend to use food for comfort more often. Also comfort food is a common relaxation method for people who work for more than 40 hours a week and people who lack sleep. - If someone meets physical activity recommendations (at least on the recommended level), they are significantly less likely to eat for comfort - The more someone believes that he or she is experiencing high levels of stress (believes, but not necessarily does experience stress) - the more likely someone is to eat uncontrollably (does not notice eating, does not stop eating when full, eats in a company, etc.) - People who sleep well, but experience high levels of stress, are still likely to eat uncontrollably - People who apply cognitive rules to their eating are more successful at maintaining their low body index as the time passes. - Physical activity, stretching workouts and yoga routines were both successful weight loss programs. But people who chose yoga, were not eating uncontrollably compared to the stretching group. So while physical activity did it's job well in both groups, yoga also helped to deal with emotional eating triggers. Let's tie it all together. Lack of sleep leads tired people to use food as compensation. Lack of physical activity leads to food as relaxation method (also when people are anxious about poor work results which may result from lack of sleep and related fatigue). When tired mind fails to find good reasons to stick to the eating plan, people eat mindlessly, eat more, work slower and work longer - instead of getting more sleep and being more productive. Everything is connected to everything else. WIshing you good night sleep, experiencing true hunger and have a good walk - instead of trying to fix just one corner of this triangle. That should do it :) My name is Monika, I am psychologist. I help to deal with daily and difficult questions about behavior, thinking, emotions. I write, counsel and teach. ------------------------------------------------------------------ 1. Relationship of Stress, Sleep, Physical Activity, and Food Insecurity on Eating Behaviors and Obesity: http://openprairie.sdstate.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2879&context=etd Photo: Andrew Martin from Pixabay #spoonfulofreason #psychology #system #stress #sleep #activity #food
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Monika Kuzminskaitė on Food & Eating PsychologyHealth psychologist, with special love for food and eating mattersSome time ago
73: Barriers to the healthy nutrition As I am back to the city, I am also back in the flow of messages encouraging me to "let yourself go", "to treat myself", "to go for the sweet sin"... Without too much effort it is easy to see that healthy eating is seen as trouble while almost-non-food items that are also lots-of-pleasure products are shown as a guaranteed benefit. Almost like cocaine, but it is not popular to be advertised and definitely not legal to be distributed. How have we come to this - things that are good are difficult, and not a pleasure? I have looked at some qualitative research hoping to find what are the reasons as told by the people themselves. Men in United Kingdom say they avoid to choose healthy food because they have a cynical attitude towards government's messages on healthy eating, besides, healthy food does not taste well and is not satisfying. Authors believe this is related to the need of men to be independent and strong (which may mean they do not agree with government and to avoid deprivation (1) Australian children and their parents state that the primary barrier to the healthy nutrition is contradicting messages sent to the children - what advertising says and what parents say are two different things, you need to void fats, and fats are necessary, salt is both harmful and beneficial, TV has both useful and harmful shows (2) Adolescents in Ireland say that they do not choose healthy food, because they do not get the expected physical and psychological reward when eating healthy food, (mis)understanding of what is food and what is healthy eating, contradicting social pressures regarding food, and basic misunderstanding of what healthy nutrition is. Interestingly enough, healthy eating concept is masked behind pressure to eat unhealthy food and pressure to be thinner (3) UK adolescents say that they do not choose healthy food because of poor food quality in the school, also very accessible, relatively cheap and personally more tasty fast food. Supporting factors are family support, accessible healthy food, wish to care about the body image and a power of will (4) Speaking about the healthy elementary school children nutrition, their parents say that among barriers they see food provided in school, opinion of the peers (some foods are not "cool"), poor example shown by brothers and sisters, also parents and grandparents that are not living together. Parents did not see their own example as important. Parents believe that children have unchangeable tastes which shape the diet of their children. Finally, parents believe (researchers say - incorrectly) that healthy food must be prepared at home, fresh, organic, and because of all that - hardly accessible (5) Older British men say that they do not follow healthy diet because they lack skills to cook and they lack wish to change their life habits (6) There are many more research papers. But conclusion for me is quite sad. We are used to cook and eat in certain way, and unhealthy one, we have a habit of thinking that we must get the food quickly, and that time spent on cooking is time wasted (even if we are learning to cook healthy food - this is still considered the waste). We simply ignore any long term healthy eating consequences and keep luring ourselves with an instant pleasure, even if we will blame ourselves afterwards, daily. What is your reason to "treat yourself" with unhealthy food? ----------------------------------------------------------------------- 1. Barriers to healthy eating amongst men: A qualitative analysis: http://www.660607.co.za/.../Course.../Mens%20eating.pdf 2. Healthy eating, activity and obesity prevention: a qualitative study of parent and child perceptions in Australia: https://academic.oup.com/.../Healthy-eating-activity-and... 3. Adolescents' views of food and eating: Identifying barriers to healthy eating: http://bura.brunel.ac.uk/bitstream/2438/6577/2/Fulltext.pdf? 4. Young people and healthy eating: a systematic review of research on barriers and facilitators: https://academic.oup.com/her/article/21/2/239/671343 5. Promoting healthy diet and exercise patterns amongst primary school children: a qualitative investigation of parental perspectives: http://s3.amazonaws.com/.../Promoting_healthy_diet_and... 6. Old and alone: barriers to healthy eating in older men living on their own: https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/.../HughesBennettetal2004.pdf Photo: andreas160578 from Pixabay My name is Monika, I am psychologist. I help to deal with daily and difficult questions about behavior, thinking, emotions. I write, counsel and teach. #spoonfulofreason #psychology #food #barriers #nutrition #eating
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