Pringles...we're dooooooooomed!


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Welcome to the site! This content is old and may not reflect my current opinions. I keep it up mainly for reference and because I hope at least some of it is still good, but I encourage you to check out more recent posts as well as my Start Here page

I've been badly neglecting both the backend of this website and my writing on it. Someday I'll leave the rat race, but right now I'm in the thick of it.

But in my spare time I have been reading some books. I just started The End of Overeating by David Kessler. Normally I don't post until I finish books (ack, I'm so behind on book reviews!), but between that and the comments on the binge eating post, I have some thoughts.

This brings me back to a book I haven't read in a very long time. Pascal's Pensées:

The mind of this supreme judge of the world is not so independent as to be impervious to whatever din may be going on near by. It does not take a cannon's roar to arrest his thoughts; the noise of a weathercock or a pulley will do. Do not be surprised if his reasoning is not too sound at the moment, there is a fly buzzing around his ears; that is enough to render him incapable of giving good advice. If you want him to be able to find the truth, drive away the creature that is paralyzing his reason and disturbing the mighty intelligence that rules over cities and kingdoms.

What an absurd god he is! Most ridiculous hero!

Pascal perhaps had things other than food in mind, but overall Pensées portrays man as made in the image of God, but unable to live up to his greatness, so still are the mercy of him. When I first read it six years ago, I wrote that passage down in a quotes.doc, which I still reference. I identified with it on so many levels with my ADD, binge eating, and other numerous faults.

But here I am in 2010 and the dins of chocolate covered pretzels and Pringles that once tormented me is suspiciously silent. One commenter suggested that perhaps I had been able to successfully condition revulsion, because such things really are incredible delicious, but I don't think so. These days I honestly can say I do not like Pringles. Their taste is shallow- like salt on cardboard. Hunger and taste are adaptive, but Pringles tricks them, pushing buttons adapted towards the seeking of nourishment, but providing no such thing in return.

Kessler writes of a human species helpless at their onslaught. His view seems to be that if we shipped off a barge of Pringles to Kitava, their mighty warriors would fall to the appeal of crispy crunchy salt flavored salt.

It's true that many traditional cultures have seemed helpless in the face of refined salt, sugar, and flour. Do a search for "traditional" Native American or Southern foods and you will find frybread and biscuits. But they didn't adopt these foods for no reason. Flour was introduced to many communities in the form of government aid, which doesn't get doled out until the population is generally fairly malnourished.

Another theory about why I don't binge eat anymore is that it has to do with my stomach issues. It's pretty true that that's a big deterrent. If I eat a bunch of cake now, I would be doubled over in pain in a few hours. Another major deterrent is that I generally feel good and when I eat badly the difference in energy levels is noticeable. 

But what about the handful of foods I eat that I love, don't make me sick, but that probably would not be good for me in large quantities- stevia coconut milk ice cream, dark chocolate, and cider are a few. Why don't I binge on these? Are they not good enough?

I'd definitely like to explore that more, but my intuition is that

A. I'm better nourished. My body doesn't need to tell me to get more in the hopes that perhaps I'll actually get some nutrients. Stephen's latest post on Whole Health Source about a study showing low micronutrient intake might be tied to increased weight.

B. The food I eat is delicious, but extremely satiating. This tends to eat up being somewhat of a problem for longterm paleo dieters- not being hungry enough! It's why I've had to dial down the consumption of filling things like coconut milk and pork fat. There is nothing like a coconut milk shake in the morning to destroy my appetite for the entire day.

C. I chose food that is complex. Pringles and Hershey's kisses are taste-wise, unlike anything humans have encountered before. They are a shallow melding of salt, fat, and sweet without much in between. I think the bitter aftertastes of things like raw stevia or dark chocolate prevent binging.

D. My blood sugar is more stable, which means I'm unlikely to do a "crash and crave" binge.

But I'm sure there is more! That's why I'm looking forward to getting into the science. Based on my own experience, I'd have to encounter a big shocker to buy into Kessler's idea that it's all about calories and palatability.