Wall Street Journal Article – “Eating to Live or Living to Eat?”

This is a cross posted on WATRD.

On Tuesday, my husband showed me a really interesting article in the Wall Street Journal. It was called “Eating to Live or Living to Eat? Stomach vs. Brain: Discovering Why Some People Can Resist Dessert While Others Can’t” By Melinda Beck.

It was a really interesting article and I wanted to share some quotes with you…

“Scientists have learned much more about how appetite works in the brain and “nowadays, scientists are using sophisticated brain-imaging technology to understand how the lure of delicious food can overwhelm the body’s built-in mechanism to regulate hunger and fullness, what’s called “hedonic” versus “homeostatic” eating.

Two conferences this week on obesity are each examining aspects of how appetite works in the brain and why some people ignore their built-in fullness signals. Scientists hope that breakthroughs will lead to ways to retrain people’s thinking about food or weight-loss drugs that can target certain brain areas.

“If you are of normal weight, your homeostatic mechanisms are functioning and controlling this region of the brain,” says lead investigator Dana Small. “But in the overweight group, there is some sort of dysfunction in the homeostatic signal so that even though they weren’t hungry, they were vulnerable to these external eating cues.”

Studies have found that a diet of sweet, high-fat foods can indeed blunt the body’s built-in fullness signals. Most of them emanate from the digestive tract, which releases chemical messengers including cholecystokinin, glucagon-like peptide and peptide YY when the stomach and intestines are full. Those signals travel up to the brain stem and then the hypothalamus, telling the body to stop eating.

There are plenty of other metabolic mysteries, too: Why are some “foodies” who get intense pleasure from eating able to stop when they’re full and others aren’t? Is the tendency to eat way past fullness genetic or learned behavior, and how much can it be changed?”

Here is what I found most fascinating, as this is what applies to where I’m at right now…

“Some of the most intriguing imaging studies have peered into the brains of people who have lost significant weight and kept it off through diet and exercise alone.

Angelo Del Parigi, a neuroimaging scientist, located 11 “post-obese” subjects who had dieted down to the lean range. In his studies for the National Institutes of Health’s diabetes research center in Phoenix, Dr. Del Parigi found that food still elicited strong responses in the middle insula and the hippocampus, brain areas involving addiction, reward, learning and memory.

This suggests that the temptation to see food as pleasure doesn’t go away. “Post-obese people are extremely prone to regain weight,” says Dr. Del Parigi. “The only way they have to counteract these strong predispositions is by having a very controlled lifestyle, with restrained food intake and exercise.”

He and his colleagues at the NIH have observed that in PET scans, too. In another study, 17 people who had successfully lost weight had more activity in the dorsal lateral prefrontal cortex, a part of the brain involved in impulse-control in response to food than people who were still obese.

In short, successful weight losers seemed to have having second thoughts about eating on impulse, says Dr. Del Parigi. “These people see a piece of pie that is very inviting, but they think, ‘No, I have to diet. Otherwise, I will become obese again. I will suppress that pleasure,’ ” he says.”

A sidebar to the article, was a poll called “The Power of Food Scale”. Now that I have recovered from my compulsive overeating / bingeing, I found that my answers to the questions right now, compared to how I answered them a year ago, were very different. This was a good thing.

However, I guess that is why, even though I’m basically recovered, according to this research, food/eating will always be somewhat of a struggle for me, for the rest of my life.

I kind of expected that to be the case, but now I’ve seen it in black and white.

For some reason I cannot put the link here, so if you want to read the article, please cut and paste this into your browser –

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704288204575363072381955744.html?KEYWORDS=eating+to+live

On another note, did anyone see the Oprah follow-up show with author Geneen Roth? Pretty powerful stuff.

One Day at a Time... Nurture myself... Awareness... Letting Go... Listen to my Body

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Comments

27 Responses, Leave a Reply
  1. Lara
    15 July 2010, 5:40 pm

    I saw that article and found it very interesting and kinda depressing. While I have never been obese (at most 20 lbs above a healthy weight), I definitely have a lot of the same thought patterns when it comes to food. On the quiz I fall somewhere in the middle of the scoring. What scares me is the line about how to prevent gain you need to be very controlled. To me, that can result in restrict/binge cycles.

    [Reply]

    love2eatinpa Reply:

    you know, i’m not sure what qualifies for being obese. i am 5’3″ and my highest weight was 172. is that considered obese? anyone?

    as far as them talking about needing to be very controlled, i can definitely see how that could be interpreted in many ways – one is the way you read it, lara, as being restricting, which could lead to bingeing – not good! i read it with my rose-colored glasses, to be more like making wise choices and not giving into the impulses to eat a lot when you clearly have already had enough to eat.

    [Reply]

  2. Jody - Fit at 52
    15 July 2010, 7:42 pm

    Really interesting post! I have to agree with this:

    This suggests that the temptation to see food as pleasure doesn’t go away. “Post-obese people are extremely prone to regain weight,” says Dr. Del Parigi. “The only way they have to counteract these strong predispositions is by having a very controlled lifestyle, with restrained food intake and exercise.”

    Now I don’t eat too little BUT I watch my food choices very carefully! I would say that I do have a very controlled lifestyle in terms of my food & exercise. I don’t ever want to go back & I like the muscles I have built too & want to keep them! AND, yes, after all these years, I still long for my sweets & cinnamon buns! 🙂

    I did see the Oprah show. I don’t buy into the whole thing that Geneen Roth writes & talks about BUT I do admit that it definitely fits the bill for many & many of her points are great ones. I can see how she is helping many. I just don’t agree with all of it.

    For me, the intuitive eating does not work…. If I ate whatever I wanted until I was full, it just would not work… I know myself too well. For me, watching my portions/portion control has been a better way fro me.

    I know many find the whole portion control & counting calories burdensome & more a prob for them, I still find it best for me.

    I have written about the portions & how people may not even know how much they are eating… they may be stopping long past what I consider mindful eating to me. I don’t think the two are the same, alhtough similar.

    It just goes to prove that we all have to find our own way. Again, great thought process from Geneen but even Oprah said it is not for everybody.
    Jody – Fit at 52´s last blog post ..Team Sarcoma 2010 – Work Out &amp Help Fight Cancer!

    [Reply]

    love2eatinpa Reply:

    i think anyone who loses a lot of weight and maintains that loss for a long period of time has to have some form of control so that they don’t slip back into their old ways. i would have liked it better if the article said something more like – make good choices when it comes to food and exercise =).

    as far as ms. roth, i don’t i agree with everything she wrote either, but i do think she is on target for a lot of it. personally, i couldn’t eat something until i was full either, that would mean i was out of control and apt to go back to the ‘dark side.’ i may have this wrong, but i think a lot of who she writes for is for people who have been on and off diets and are struggling with their weight, so the way SHE got through that phase, and the way she advocates it to others, is just to eat all you want and get it out of your system. she says that you might gain weight, but that it will eventually level out to where your body should be.

    for me, and i’m sorry to be shallow, but i worked too darn hard to be binge-free and maintain my weight loss that i don’t want to do the eat till your full thing either. i do however, find that responding to my body’s hunger cues is working for me. that is a big part of my recovery.

    i agree with you that we all have to do what works for us as unique individuals and that there is no “one size fits all” eating program. the hardest part is finding out what works best for you and keeping it as your lifestyle.

    whew! that was long!

    [Reply]

  3. Jody - Fit at 52
    15 July 2010, 7:43 pm

    OOPS! I had no idea it would be that long.. SORRY!!!!
    Jody – Fit at 52´s last blog post ..Team Sarcoma 2010 – Work Out &amp Help Fight Cancer!

    [Reply]

    love2eatinpa Reply:

    lol! i followed up with a long response, so we are even. =)

    [Reply]

    Jody - Fit at 52 Reply:

    BIG 🙂 and I agree with you!
    Jody – Fit at 52´s last blog post ..Team Sarcoma 2010 – Work Out &amp Help Fight Cancer!

    [Reply]

  4. amanda
    15 July 2010, 9:27 pm

    So would this apply to anyone who was overweight in the lives? Because sometimes people go to college pack on the pounds and then lose it. However, this doesn’t apply to me I was pretty much overweight from the day I was born until 2005. I know I constantly struggle when I see food and really do have to resist the temptation to eat it all. That reward system is killer!
    amanda´s last blog post ..My most favorite exercise

    [Reply]

    love2eatinpa Reply:

    so you have always just been into the food, huh? kudos to you for your achievement in 2005!!!
    hmmm… it sort of does apply to you in that there is a part of your brain that is hard-wired to have that reaction to food. it would be great if these scientists could use this research and figure out how to change that part of our brains!!!

    [Reply]

  5. Patsy
    16 July 2010, 8:17 am

    Thank you for sharing – interesting stuff! 🙂 I *know* I live to eat a lot of the time, much to my shame… 🙁
    Patsy´s last blog post ..Excited!

    [Reply]

    love2eatinpa Reply:

    i did that for over 30 years, so i totally know where you are coming from, patsy.
    i’m so happy to say that for the past few months, after therapy and a lot of work, that i can say that i eat to live.

    [Reply]

  6. Karen @ Waisting Time
    17 July 2010, 10:31 pm

    How funny – not only do WE think alike, but so do our husbands! Mine saved the article for me too:)
    Karen @ Waisting Time´s last blog post ..Hasta La Vista- Baby

    [Reply]

    love2eatinpa Reply:

    lol! that is too funny, karen!!!

    [Reply]

  7. karen@fitnessjourney
    20 July 2010, 9:11 am

    This is very interesting. If we could fast forward 20 years, I wonder what type of research we would see on the brain and obesity. In some respects, this could be very discouraging for some people to think they are hardwired to overeat.
    karen@fitnessjourney´s last blog post ..Laughter is the Best Medicine

    [Reply]

    love2eatinpa Reply:

    i agree, karen. it is a bit discouraging to know that i am seemingly hardwired to overeat, but it doesn’t mean that i can’t still stay in recovery from this ED, i just need to stay that much more on top of it and use all the tools i have in my arsenal to keep the ED at bay.

    [Reply]

  8. Lisa
    20 July 2010, 10:32 am

    That is so interesting. I guess that helps me understand why I have regained so much weight….

    I believe that this will be a struggle the rest of my life…I just hope one day it becomes easier…

    [Reply]

    love2eatinpa Reply:

    yup, lisa, seeing it in black and white does kinda suck. i too believe/know that this will be a struggle for the rest of my life, but i’m pretty much recovered now and i know that i can keep the ED under control and not let it control me. if i can do it, so can you!!!

    [Reply]

  9. LizLivingVegan
    20 July 2010, 11:49 am

    I thought this article was so cool! I was glad they published it, even though I wasn’t expecting it in the WSJ. I think it’s really interesting though to learn about.

    [Reply]

    love2eatinpa Reply:

    i know, not the type of article you’d expect in the WSJ, huh? =)
    thanks for stopping by, liz!

    [Reply]

  10. Food Addict
    20 July 2010, 12:15 pm

    I awarded you the Versatile Blogger award!
    http://foodmydrugofchoice.blogspot.com/2010/07/versatile-award.html
    Food Addict´s last blog post ..One Week Down- 7 To Go

    [Reply]

    love2eatinpa Reply:

    oh wow, thanks! i’m gonna check it out!

    [Reply]

  11. Mental Disorders 101
    20 July 2010, 11:11 pm

    Wall Street Journal Article – "Eating to Live or Living to Eat ……

    I found your entry interesting do I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)…

  12. Sagan
    21 July 2010, 7:58 am

    Fascinating! Thanks so much for posting the link to the article; I’m meeting with my nutritionist tonight about the book we’re writing and this article will be a great resource. Very timely 🙂

    Sometimes it terrifies me how much we can be controlled by food.
    Sagan´s last blog post ..Product Review- Align Digestive Care Probiotic Supplement

    [Reply]

    love2eatinpa Reply:

    you’re so welcome, sagan! i’m glad the timing worked out well for you. =)

    and yes, it is scary how we can be hard-wired to have these responses to food!!!

    [Reply]

  13. Jesica
    31 December 2010, 3:09 pm

    During the last diet I did: Atkins diet I came to the conclusion that it is the brain that gives the order “EAT EAT EAT”. For some that do not know, The diet Atkins is a low carb diet which reduces greatly the intake of glucose.

    Now I quit the diet because I am in my regular weight, I found out that the brain is the one that is ADDICTED to sugar. So this is a matter of will.
    Jesica´s last blog post ..Kitchen drawer organizers

    [Reply]

    love2eatinpa Reply:

    i agree, it is in the brain, which makes it really difficult to overcome the addiction. but it is do-able!!!

    [Reply]

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