There is no other way to describe it. People want to jump through all sorts of mental hoops, finding increasingly complex minutia to pin the obesity epidemic on but the fact is that people don’t know what they are eating and obese people really don’t know what they’re eating. I’m being kind with that statement. The reality is this:
People lie about how much they eat, to themselves and to any coach who may be trying to help them.
- Dr. Dietz found that, through the use of doubly labeled water, people were inaccurately reporting their food intake, with obese subjects under-reporting by 35-50%. 35-50%!
- In another study involving Dr. Dietz, obese and nonobese adolescents all underreport their intake, with the obese subjects under-reporting by a far larger margin on average.
- In perhaps my favorite study of all, a post-obese man (I love that phrase) reports inability to lose weight consuming 1914 calories per day. When stuck in a lab and fed 1900 calories per day, he loses weight!
So I could just call it a day at this point: people are liars trying to save face with their own gluttonous behavior. They really don’t want to be lean bad enough to actually do what is required to be lean. Welcome to fatness forever.
Upon further review…
It’s not that simple. It’s really just a sign that people aren’t willing to count calories their entire life. Partly because they’re not good at it, partly because the OCD required would make most people faint (save for pro bodybuilders). Who can blame them? Counting is a giant pain in the ass.
Rather than attempt to control every ounce of food, every input, perhaps we should start moving toward improving our habits, our decisions. This is partly why an ancestral/paleo/primal/real food paradigm works: you’ve shaped the path for better decision making. While plenty of people take the schtick too far, I think it’s a good framework to at least jump off into the seas of healthier eating habits (note: not healthier eating). Ditto for food reward, density-focused paradigms (volumetrics, for example), and nourishing traditions. You no longer choose to choose; it either fits the model or it doesn’t. The path is set.
A great example of shaping the path (as they call environmental changes that nudge toward better results in Switch ) is the Halloween party we had last night. Sarah and I are at least 90% primal with our eating habits and not because of willpower. Simply we don’t buy shit that tempt us to overeat it. For our party, however, we have a primal-leaning assortment of goodies (cinnamon pecan brittle) combined with some not-so-friendly goodies (Real Ale Coffee Porter). Because these items were there, they were consumed. Every time I walked by the dish with chocolate covered almonds, a few went down my neck. Coffee porter? Why the hell not! Triple cream brie? Oh hell yeah!
I feel less than stellar this morning. Not bad, just not 100%. The good news is that most of the food isn’t hanging around, so I won’t be tempted to eat it. I’ll have my usual (12pm) breakfast of bacon and eggs with some MCT-enriched coffee. Back on the horse, have experienced consequences without guilt.
In conclusion: keep a clean kitchen and you won’t have to count calories. The elephant only takes the path you give it.