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Starting an experiment....
I'm going to start, tomorrow, a dieting experiment. Specifically, I'm going to try Seth Roberts's Shangri-La diet.

The basic theory is this: He believe that the body tries to maintain a set weight by regulating hunger: when the body detects that you are below the set weight, you feel hungry. when the body detects that you are above the set weight, you feel satiated quickly and aren't hungry. He also feels that this set weight is not constant, but varies over time, and indeed throughout the day. Specifically, when you aren't eating, it falls (slowly, of course, but it still falls). When you do eat, it rises. So when you are eating for hunger, your set point goes up and down during the day, as does your weight, but it generally balances out and the end result is either just a slow drift or no change in the long run.

Evolutionary wise, this makes sense, since it means that when food is plentiful, you tend to get hungrier faster and eat more, larding up for when food isn't so plentiful. At which time, the set point begins to fall, you are less hungry, and your reserves so carefully stocked up are depleted until food is plentiful again. The trouble is: food is (in this culture, in this age) always plentiful. It is always feast time, never famine time. So we never get to a point where we drain our reserves.

The key, as I understand his theory, is that the rise in the set point is a conditioned response, supposedly triggered by caloric intake, but in reality triggered by the flavor of the food. If Bob has become conditioned to recognize that the flavor of two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun indicates that we are about to get a megaload of calories, then Bob's set weight goes up when he tastes a Big Mac, not when he digests the fat, protein, fat, carbs, and fat that McDonalds sold him.

On the otherhand, when McD's is closed for renovations and Bob decided to check out the new Curry Hut next door, and has a lunch curry heavy on the cream sauce, lamb chunks, and rice, he ends up consuming the same amount of fat, protein, fat, carbs, and fat, but his set weight doesn't rise because he hasn't (yet) learned to associate the flavor of curries with calories. An hour later, he isn't craving another hit, because he's got the calories his body needs, and yet his set point didn't rise.

Dr[*] Roberts' hypothesis is therefore that eating foods you haven't formed strong flavor/calorie associations about will lead to a net lowering of your set weight, and therefore an overall suppression of appetite, and thus weight loss. Two ways to avoid forming flavor/calorie associations are to either (a) consume flavorless calories, or (b) regularly eat foods with different flavors. The second is harder than it appears, since you have to wait a long time between eating foods with the same flavor.

[* Seth Roberts is an associate professor of psychiatry at UC Berkeley, and is on the editorial board of Nutrition. He doesn't claim to be an MD, nutritionist, dietician, etc, nor does his book or web site imply that he has special medical insights.]

So the weight-loss idea is to either (a) regularly consume a large amount (e.g. 500Cal/day) of flavorless food, or (b) never eat the same flavor twice. Most people go with (a) on the list.

The prescription therefore is: At least one hour after eating something flavored, and at least one hour before eating something flavored, consume 500Cal/day of something flavorless, like extra light olive oil, straight-up sugar water (sweet, for some reason, doesn't seem to trigger the flavor/calorie association response), Canola oil, etc. It doesn't have to be all at once, but it has to be flavorless, and it has to be in a 2-hour flavor-free window. You can do half in the morning, half in the evening; take some during breaks at work (assuming you don't nosh on something flavored, like coffee, during work), etc. One thing he reminds people of is that most toothpastes have a flavor, so brushing your teeth during that 2-hour window is also problematic. First thing in the morning or last thing at night has the advantage that you spend half of the 2-hour window asleep.

For most people who've tried this, the appetite suppressant effect happens within a week, usually within a couple of days. You can regulate the amount of flavorless food to control the rate of weight-loss, and even to come in for a soft landing at your target weight.

It is likely that if you stop eating the flavorless calories entirely, the weight will creep back on, so staying on this diet for life is a good thing.

As for me....

Tomorrow I'm going to weigh myself, measure my blood sugars, go to the phlebotomist to get a blood chem panel done, after which I'll down a shot-glass of Canola oil and wait an hour before breakfast. I'll do the same routine (less the phlebotomist visit) daily for about 2 months, unless my blood sugars and/or weight does something screwy. Then I'll go the lab again for another blood chem panel, and then I'll see my doctor about how things are going.

Two questions for the masses:
Poll #1007826 SLD Filter

Should I post about my Shangri-La Diet (SLD) experiences?

It sounds interesting, post away!
Keep it to yourself.
I'm not interested, but it's your journal.

Should I start an SLD filter?

It's not necessary, post here.
It sounds like a good idea, put me on it.
It sounds like a good idea, but keep me off of it.
Filters suck in general, besides your journal is all public, and filters aren't.

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You hardly post at all anymore.
Posting about your diet is better than nothing.

Missing option for filter: 'not necessary, but if you do put me on it.'

I hope your story is successful. I tried SLD and it worked out very well for me.

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