Obviously social media changes (Friendster anyone?) and perhaps blogs will be gone soon and only Instagram/Vine will remain, but as for now, I am pleased I have managed to keep this format going to many visitors. This is the third iteration of my blog in the past 15 years(!) and probably the most viewed of all three. Maybe weight issues are that much more exciting to folks than ska music and librarianship.
And what have I learned? Well, even though this blog does have a lot of links to research, it is still my personal journey and it's both freeing and terrifying to talk about oneself online. I worry sometimes that it seems narcissistic, but it really isn't too surprising that I get a of e-mails and posts from folks saying they went through the same thing. I suppose one way we deal with uncertainty is to find answers we feel match our own beliefs and wishes, but the idea that others seek the same can be empowering.
So, it's time get a little more personal and be a little more terrified. It not only marks the 1st anniversary of the blog and the 2nd anniversary of weight maintenance, January 2014 also marks the 13th year since I stopped "partying".
I won't go into huge details, but let's just say my earlier years were not spent in a very healthy way, which probably didn't help my weight either. Just as food was used to feed feelings, so were other items. And while calling food an addiction can be troublesome at best, one can certainly see some similar behaviors from food intake and illicit substances. Ritualized preparation, hiding behavior from others, the obsessive quality of searching for it, the binge events, even withdrawal.
Yes, withdrawal. Years ago I went on an Atkins-like diet, with only about 10g of carb intake a day. This was after eating lots of cakey-candy snacks a few times a day. Naturally, the water weight came off pretty fast and furious. I lost 14 lbs. in the first week. And that first week was AWFUL. When I told people it felt like withdrawal, most people poo-poo'd that, saying, "Oh, Dan, don't be dramatic."
But it did. And I knew it did because I'd been through withdrawal. The aches and shakes. The unstable moods and emotions. The shamble of bodily functions. The signals from your body trying to suck one tiny milligram of that substance back into your system. And this time it was just from sugar.
It made me much more aware of the power of food. So, is sugar addictive? I can't say it from a scientific point, but I certainly saw the connection to other addictions.
And now there's some new research that shows sugar affecting different parts of the brain's reward system, more so than fat. Which means of course that all those Low-Fat/Non-Fat treats which usually have more sugar in them are actually worse for you. But it also shows that the action of sugar can mimic addiction. It rewards us in our pleasure centers. But like any substance, it doesn't mean everyone is affected the same way. Some people can handle it and some have more trouble. However, anything that excites our pleasure zones tends to be more desirable in large amounts.
But I also think this speaks to a lot of the other "special diets" out there, because even though they all have their acolytes, a lot of them can be traced back to less sugar. Paleo? Well, you're probably eating a lot less processed sugar, unless you're one of those cookie baking paleos. Gluten-free? Well, most of those gluten treats are processed baked goods with sugar. So is it really gluten that was causing your self-described health issues or was it something else? (Note: I do understand and appreciate the difference between the actual immuno deficiency disease of celiac disease and those who just claim they "can't eat gluten" until it comes to cupcakes.)
Whatever the idea, how much has sugar played in it?
And don't get me wrong. Sugar can be great. I'm not kicking it out of my kitchen. A pinch in sauce is usually as important as that pinch of salt. And baking with agave syrup is not the same. But I also know need to be vigilant to see when I'm jumping from occasional treat to bingey/addiction behavior.
So now we start a new year and there will be new media pieces on food, new fads and new acolytes. And hopefully there will be continuing blog entries of the Streamlined Ska Librarian. I still have so many things to post about, such as the search for a new trainer, the continuing issues of men's clothes and perceived body image, and the rest of my continuing journey.
So Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to all my readers, lurkers, linkers, friends and family. Thank you all for being part of this.
And Happy Multiple Anniversary to Me! See you next year!
“Food Addiction – Myth or Reality?” Accessed December 22, 2013. http://www.weightwatchers.com/util/art/index_art.aspx?tabnum=1&art_id=217521&sc=808.
Kamal, Ahmad M., and Jacquelyn Burkell. “Addressing Uncertainty: When Information Is Not Enough / Faire Face À L’incertitude : Quand L’information Ne Suffit Pas.” Canadian Journal of Information and Library Science 35, no. 4 (2011): 384–396. doi:10.1353/ils.2011.0030.
Stice, E., Burger, K. S., & Yokum, S. (2013). Relative ability of fat and sugar tastes to activate reward, gustatory, and somatosensory regions. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 98(6), 1377–1384. doi:10.3945/ajcn.113.069443