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SCIENTIFIC PSYCHOLOGY

CONTROL OF EATING BEHAVIOR--jk

This paper is the kitchen sink receipt.  Much of this material can be found in jk’s upper division college textbook on human behavior.  Behavior is controlled by the environment in its broadest sense including the mental environment.  JK wrote this in 1984 for a friend, and he has made only minor modifications since then.  Pick out as much as possible and over time add more parts.  Behavior changes bit by bit.  The methods can be applied to other behavior problems. Last updated December 2012.

 

Again Trellix has a problem interfacing with MS worrd.  What is perfect in word, gets screwed  up in Trellix as to size of font, and it doesn't show up until the page is published.  Why certain lines or one size font, and the following line another escapes me. 

Control  of  Eating  Behavior

Control  of  Eating  Behavior

 

Resetting the mental images

 

1.   CONTEMPLATION (a silent verbal process):  Think about positive effects of being slim, and conversely the negative effects about being fat.  Imaging you are conversing with a close friend.  In this imaginary conversation explain how your life has changed since you have become fat.  Describe the limitations that obesity has placed upon what you do, and how carrying that extra weight makes all physical activities more difficult.  Then go on in this imaginary conversation to Plot out a course of action which will result in weight loss.  Repeat to your self various statements as though you are rehearsing a speech.  Practice repeatedly this mental dialogue, for such practice makes future discussions with friends easier.  Resetting the mental image as to the acceptable weight is an essential element in obtaining that weight. 

 

2.  CONVERSATIONS:  Tell everyone about how you are going on a diet.  Describe how important it is and that you are now beginning a new phase of your life.  Talk about how so many important things will be improved, such as your health, ability to work, play sports, sex, and your marriage.  Ask them questions about diet.  Engage your friends in conversation about diet. End with asking them to help you say on your diet.  Then list various things they can do to help, including bringing up the topic of your diet the next time you meet them.

 

3.  VISUALIZATION:  Carry a photo of you when taken when prior to becoming fat and a current unflattering photo.  Put similar photos on your desk.  Have a picture taken of you in a bathing suit, make copies of it, and place them in several places such as the refrigerator, kitchen table, and desk, where they will remind you that you are on a diet.  Imagine yourself thin and having to carry 50 pounds of fat in a backpack wherever you go.  Visualize participating in activities that you would like to do, but don’t (or don’t do well) because you’re fat.  Visualize you with friends playing sports, jogging, cycling, hiking, swimming, etc.  Imagine yourself thin and having a life full of hot love with a special person.  Visualize how much happier your spouse will be when you become physically attractive again. Imagine how much more self-esteem you will have once thin.   

 

4.  READINGS & STUDIES:  Find books on diet and read them.  Find medical articles on metabolism, diet, and medical intervention.  Take notes and discuss the subject matter with friends.  Especially study the negative health consequences (see end of paper for a table on health consequences) such as about arthritis, heart disease, and diabetes.  The moderately obese person lives on an average 5 years less than the person who is not obese, and 8 years less than the fit person.  Many diseases are greatly increased with weight gain including cancer (most carcinogens are fat soluble), arthritis, diabetes, and coronary diseases being the most significant.  Knowledge is one of the cornerstones to success.  Studies are part of becoming more involved in the weight loss process.

 

ACTIVITIES

 

A.   EATING HABITS, QUANTITY AND TYPE OF FOOD, AND SITUATIONS:

1.  Before beginning to eat, discuss your diet with your companions.  Bring up, among other things, what you are doing to limit the amount of food to be consumed.

2.   When eating by yourself, get out the amount you plan to eat and put it in your plate, and then put away the containers of food.  If it helps, have pre-measured portions in baggies.

3.   Don’t leave snacks out or in handy places.  Some people even put a lock on their refrigerator, to make not so easy to open it.  

4.  Avoid large meals, for they stretch the stomach.  If going to a restaurant, chose one with small portions and cheap food.  Avoid making the eating out a special treat.  Making eating more pleasurable means you will look forward to eating again.  Make it more like a necessity, than a fun activity. 

5.  Put off the first meal as long as possible.  Wait till you are good and hungry.

6.  Put off each subsequent meal until you are good and hungry.

7.  Don’t eat three hours before going to bed.

8.  Eat only enough to take away your hunger.

9.  Eat slowly and think about your diet while eating. 

10.  Avoid eating while reading, listening to music, or watching television since this will interfere withy your thinking about your diet. 

11.  When quite hungry, eat a small snack rather than having a large meal.  A few almonds go a long way. 

12.  Eat less than your normal portion. 

13.  Choose filling, low-fat, low sugar, high protein meals and snacks. 

14.  Avoid foods that improve your appetite and things that are not filling such as fruits and chocolates. 

B.  WHAT TO EAT:

1.  Avoid foods which you are likely to eat too much of.   The best way is to not buy them in the supermarket. 

2.  Drink water or diet soda.  Many people consume over a 1,000 calories per day in fluids. 

3.  Avoid foods with more than 10% fat content.  Fats contribute 3 times as many calories per gram as carbohydrates.

4.  Avoid foods that aren’t filling such as fruits and sherbet, and other foods that increase your appetite or reduce the amount of time after a meal that it will take before you are again hungry.

5.  Don’t use calories as a guide,[i] rather the percentage of fat and of simple carbohydrates.  Cellulose calories are not an accurate measurement of the energy derived from foods. 

6.  Eat foods that are high in protein or cellulose. 

C.  RECORD KEEPING:

1.   Set up a journal in a stenographer’s table and take it with you.  Records are much better than recollections.   

2.  Log time you spent in conversation, visualization, contemplation, and studies.

3. Track daily what you have eaten, how much, when, and where.

4.  Record any causal observations, such as an association between eating and being bored.

5.  Review your log and think about how you can improve your eating patterns.

6.  Purchase a copy of the USDA handbook on foods, Composition of Foods, from the Government Printing Office.  Type out a table of the foods you commonly eat, their percentage water, carbohydrate, protein, and fat grams. 

7.  Purchase and read a university nutrition book and take notes. 

8.  For online information http://www.wikipedia.org/, http://www.fda.gov/Food/default.htm , and http://www.mayoclinic.org/  are good sources for formation about drugs and health.  For a well-researched site that has a prudent skepticism about the pharmaceutical industry’s manipulation of the medical field, go to http://healthfully.org/.    http://worstpills.org/ a good, though limited resource.   

C.  SOCIAL/PSYCHOLOGICAL ASPECTS OF EATING:

1.  From your log you will learn what occurred prior to you over eating.  Avoid those situations.   

2.   Avoid social situations conducive to over indulgence, such a spot lucks, dining out, and drinking parties. 

3.  Avoid friends who have eating problems, they will reinforce behavior inconsistent with weight loss.

4.  The more ritualized your meals; the easier it is to control your consumption.  Thus by eating at the same time and same location, it is easier to establish a pattern of good choice of foods and amount of foods, and repeat that pattern.

5.  Try not to make the meal something looked forward to.  Limit its social setting; choose bland foods, find other activities that you prefer, so that eating is taking you away from those enjoyed activities.  In other words, try to turn eating into an activity like refueling the car, a necessity rather than a pleasure.

6.  Avoid cooking for others (and thus the social reinforcement), rather do the dishes and clean up. 

7.  Tell your beloved that he/she is not to make preparing a meal an expression of love, rather to k eep it simple, nutritional, and low in fats and sugars.

D.  ACTIVITIES AND DIET

1.  Increase your metabolism by engaging in more physical activities:  walk more, climb stairs, mow the lawn, and such.  Take up active sports such as running, cycling, tennis, roller-skating, and swimming. 

2.  Increase your muscle tone, and thus increase your metabolism.  Join a gym and take up weight training.  Do isometrics and isotonics (tightening your muscles) frequently throughout the day.   

3.  Get your family and friends involved with you in sports and weight training.  Set a schedule for sports and weight training. 

E.  DRUGS:

1.  Avoid drugs that make you relax or make you make you dopey, such as tranquillizers.  Many drugs have this effect such as statins, muscle relaxants, and anti-nauseous drugs.  If the drug package warns of drowsiness it is probably a tranquillizer.  The drug industry is very good at finding new indications for their tranquilizers, which only have to be slightly better than a placebo for to receive FDA approval—and side effects are seldom a reason to deny approval.  You need all your energy and wits so that you can exercise, so you can work harder, and so you will have the sharpness of mind and drive to stick to your diet.

2. Avoid alcohol; it contains empty calories (7/gram of alcohol) and will reduce your activity level.

3.  If you must take a recreational drug, choose amphetamines or LSD; both suppress your appetite and increase your activity level.  Warning, amphetamines have very high abuse potential. 

4.  Some people take diet drugs to help with diet.  Though the drug industry and their doctors want these drugs to be used long term; however, best results are obtained short term.  The most effective are in the amphetamine family.  They are very safe in small doses.  The best routine should be to take 5 or if necessary 10 mgs of amphetamine (a small dose) in the morning, for it will reduce the appetite all day and increase the drive to work and exercise. They are a mood elevator, and thus have very significant abuse potential.  Do this for about 2 weeks, so as to establish good-diet habits.  Discontinuation is important because tolerance to appetite suppression and mood elevation occurs rapidly; it becomes significant within 2 weeks.  Fortunately amphetamine effectiveness gets reset gradually.  Thus in 3 month, usage for a couple of days is effective at the low original dosage of 5 to 10 mgs.  They are cross tolerant with cocaine and other drugs that affect the catecholamine receptors.  Amphetamines also very significantly reduce boredom and are a powerful aphrodisiac.   Because of their mood elevation and reduction of boredom, and a lack of unpleasant side effects, amphetamine type drugs have the highest abuse potential.  In large doses there are some unpleasant side effects, and repeated recreational usage has significant disadvantageous behavioral consequences.  People who are prone to drug abuse should not try amphetamine type drugs, even if obtained by from doctor. 

 

FOOD AS A DRUG

Why it is so difficult for humans to follow the dictates of reason and do the very obviously prudent things?  Why don’t they behave prudently?  It is one thing to set down the techniques of weight reduction (as I have done in the previous sections); it's another to be prudent and implement them.  There is a complex set of reinforcers that cause over eating; more than the afore-mentioned reinforcers associated with taste of food, peer conditioning, and social setting. The short answer to why not is that the animal side of the brain has more input into behavior than the rational side.  There are answers deeper than mind-based, deeper than: “The obese person eats too much”, “has bad eating habits”, and “he is weak willed”.  Behavior is shaped through reinforcer. The account of Tom’s behavior sets out those reinforcers, and is an example of how to look behind the curtain of mind to the basic causes.  Lacking a reinforcer analysis, popular explanations fall short. 

The pattern of reinforcers that create the behavior problem is far from obvious.  Many of the reinforcers are mild.  Think of vectors forces (as in vector algebra) deciding the direction of an action. It is a process going on in the inter-connected inner regions of the brain, which is connected to and influenced by the cerebral cortex.  (For an explanation of the illusion of free will and conscious choice the American Scientist article of 2004 is on point.  A simply experiment proves that thoughts are a epiphenomena.)  Thoughts (a type of verbal behavior, that Skinner calls silent whispers) are only one vector in a complex decision process occurring in a deep region of the brain, just like it does in other primates.  And like primates the types, and intensity of forces are hidden in the complex and long history (compared to the laboratory, young pigeon).  Further complexity is added by the biological inheritance that establishes the proclivities to respond in certain ways to stimuli.  However, a listing of the events that reinforce (for the following example) Tom’s problem behavior is instructive, and it is available, unlike the complex history and the inner processes. 

Tom, who is 42, and is 110 pound overweight, last night drinks a pint of milk and eats the last third of a Maria Callander cherry pie for an evening snack, 90 minutes after completing a large dinner, while watching a boring TV show with his wife.  Tom will, being lactose intolerant, have a gas attack, later energy from the sugar in the pie.  The gas gives him a full feeling until about mid-night (a mild reinforcer), prevent the negative reinforcer of hunger, and deprive others of the pie (an anti-social reinforcer).  He likes the kidding he gets about his great appetite.  This evening there is nothing interesting going on, so he agreed to watch on television a movie with his wife.  Adding the desert to his large meal insures that he will feel tired during the film while he digests his large meal, and thus be less bored (another reinforcer).  Moreover, about the time the movie is over, the sugar from the pie will take effect, and he will have energy to work on several business correspondences, an activity he will find more enjoyable than to continue to watch television.  By depriving others of the pie, he is expressing hostility in a subtle way, which is mildly enjoyable.  A similar pleasure is derived from the foul odor caused by his lactose (milk sugar) intolerance.  His wife becomes annoyed and calls him a “rude bastard”.  The exchange between them will break up the monotony of the movie.  Tom likes the taste of cherry pie, and the milk to wash it down.  The list of reinforcers goes on:  the activity of eating the pie and milk during the beginning of the movie is a mildly reinforcing distraction from a film that bores him.  He will sleep sounder this night following a second snack.  These are the principle reinforcers that occur that evening.

  There are other long-term ones.  Given Tom’s dislike of physical exertion, being obese permits him to avoid such exertion.  Given their less-than-loving marriage, being physically unattractive yields subtle reinforcements.  Man by instinct will strike out against the source of both adversive stimuli and the cause for the blocking of the obtainment of pleasures.[ii]  In this case being physically unattractive and poor in bed are two subtle ways of disappointing his wife, and thus they add to the vector algebra of his obesity.  By far the greatest long-term reinforcer is the effect of weight upon his physical energy level.  A large percentage of our society uses substance (alcohol, plaxil,  valium, marijuana, etc.) that reduce their energy level; food in quantity does the same, as also does obesity that puts a load on the heart and thereby cause less oxygenated blood to go to the brain.  It is these long-term and the prior mentioned short-term reinforcers from his large meal and snacks that are stronger than the prudent rational reinforcement that is associated with being fit.  Most people end up in the middle state of out of being out of shape, but not obese. 

Many small, some long term, others like breaking wind, short-term contribute to the total of reinforcement Tom gets from eating more than he burns off.  While Tom could easily, if challenged cease from any of the weak reinforcers such as the silent but chocking farts he makes near his wife, or the consumption of the last slice of cherry pie.  He cannot overcome at the same time the collection of these reinforcers.  They result in Tom eating more than he burns.  Changing the pattern of reinforcers, so that he would obtain those associated with a person of normal weight is like climbing over a mountain to get out of a valley.  Tom is in the valley of obesity and he can’t escape.  A major change in his environment would make the exit more likely.  Major changes are often associated with permanent weight loss.  By listing the reinforcers, and working out a program to remove them, then new behavior will evolve.   

 



[i]   Carbohydrates are inaccurate for several reasons.  It is a simple measure of food energy:  one calorie is defined as the amount of heat necessary to raise one gram of water one degree centigrade.  The dried food is burnt in a closed container with water.  However, not all things that burns in a calorimeter or sources of energy in the body.  Normally protein, for example, is not used to convert ATP molecule to ADP, the principle source of biological energy in our body.  Another is cellulose a complex carbohydrate for which we lack the enzyme to break it into simple carbohydrates that can be absorb into the body.  Cellulose doesn’t count for us, though it does in a calorimeter.  

 

[ii]   The use of adversive stimuli is the way a baby manipulates its parents to attend to its needs and to entertain the baby.  When hungry, she cries.  Much of social training indirectly deals with suspension of this behavior.  Adults do the same but in lesser degrees.  Being bored by a conversation, we say something inflammatory, argumentative, changes the topic, or simple ignore the speaker.

AFTERWORD

The collection of behavioral changes presented in this article is designed to get the Toms out of their valley.  One problem with people is that among reinforcers, cold-logical reasoning is not sufficiently strong to overcome the pattern of short-term reinforcers.  In our society the frequency of problem behavior centering upon food, gambling, tobacco and alcohol addictions are proof of how the short-term dominate over the long-term reinforcers, and continue to dominate over reason.  Liberal education and association with people given to the combination of studies and prudent behavior is how to increase the force of those reinforcers that are associated with the logical process.  Studies that improve reasoning have a reward much greater than the immediate ones associated with the subject matter.  There are in my website many posted articles that are exercises in reasoning and two that are on logic itself.   Develop a program of studies and you will slowly strengthen reason as a guide for actions.    

This article appears at http://www.skeptically.org/scpsy/id5.html and http://healthfully.org/health/id16.html

Food energy: Theoretically, food energy could be measured in different ways, such as Gibbs free energy of combustion, or the amount of ATP generated by metabolizing the food. But the conventional food energy is based on heats of combustion in a bomb calorimeter and corrections that take into consideration the efficiency of digestion and absorption and the production of urea and other substances in the urine. Unfortunately in most studies on humans, losses in secretions and gases are ignored. These were worked out in the late 19th century by the American chemist Wilbur Atwater.[2] See Atwater system for more detail (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_energy).  A truly accurate system would be to measure the amount of ATP generated from metabolism and then subtract the amount of ATP used in the process of generation.  (ATP is the energy source used by the body for muscle contraction, transport, and synthesis.) Adjustments would be made for varing in body uses of the sources.  For example only a small percentage of protein, broken down into amino acids, is converted to ATP.  Most of those amino acids are used to build enzymes, proteins, etc.  Secondly, not all carbohydrates are available for energy.  Cellulose and some disaccharides whose can’t be split, and other disaccharides have components which cannot be metabolized, such as rutinose which consists of rhamnose (not metabolized) and glucose.  At best measurement of energy through ATP is only an approximation.  Absorption of nutrients varies with what is being eaten, the genetics of the person which affect digestion, condition during the day such as exercise, etc.  Some people for example lack in varying degrees lactase which is needed for the absorption of the milk sugar lactose.  Similarly genetics and circumstance can affect metabolism.  An averaging of ATP production would produce a more accurate calculation of food energy of foods.  To end run these limitations, deduct from the total calories 4/gram of protein, and for carbohydrates from vegetable deduct 2 calories per gram—jk.

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<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[i]<!--[endif]-->   Carbohydrates are inaccurate for several reasons.  It is a simple measure of food energy:  one calorie is defined as the amount of heat necessary to raise one gram of water one degree centigrade.  The dried food is burnt in a closed container with water.  However, not all things that burns in a calorimeter or sources of energy in the body.  Normally protein, for example, is not used to convert ATP molecule to ADP, the principle source of biological energy in our body.  Another is cellulose a complex carbohydrate for which we lack the enzyme to break it into simple carbohydrates that can be absorb into the body.  Cellulose doesn’t count for us, though it does in a calorimeter.  

<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[ii]<!--[endif]-->   The use of adversive stimuli is the way a baby manipulates its parents to attend to its needs and to entertain the baby.  When hungry, she cries.  Much of social training indirectly deals with suspension of this behavior.  Adults do the same but in lesser degrees.  Being bored by a conversation, we say something inflammatory, argumentative, changes the topic, or simple ignore the speaker.




[ii]   Weighing the Risks 

Percentage increase in risk by levels of obesity

BM (body mass index)            26    27    28    29    30    31    32     33     35    

Death/all causes                                                   60%             110%             120%

  (versus BMI < 19)***                             _________  ______________  __________

Death/heart disease                                   210%            360%           480%

  (versus BMI < 19)                                      _________  _____________   __________

Death/cancer                                                                            60%                        110%

  (versus BMI < 19)                                       ________________________  __________

Type II diabetes                                             1,480%         2,600%   3,930%   5,300%

  (versus BMI 22-23)                                        __________  ________  ­­­________  _______

High blood pressure                           180%        260%                 350%

  (versus BMI 22-23)                                ________          _________            ____________

Degenerative arthritis                                                                                  400%

  (versus BMI < 25)                                                                      _____________________

Gallstone                                                                     150%                270%

  (versus BMI < 24)                                        __________       _______________________

Natural birth defects                                                                                      90%

   (versus BMI 19-27)                                                           _________________________

Published in Scientific American article, Gaining on Fat, August 1996, p. 91.

[iii]    Large meals stretch your stomach, thus requiring more food in subsequent day to create the full feeling.

[iv]   Carbohydrates are inaccurate for several reasons.  It is a simple measure of food energy:  one calorie is defined as the amount of heat necessary to raise one gram of water one degree centigrade.  The dried food is burnt in a closed container and the increase in the temperature of water determine the food’s calorie rating.  However, not all things that burns in a calorimeter or sources of energy in the body.  Normally protein, for example, is not used to convert ATP molecule to ADP, the principle source of biological energy in our body.  Moreover, cellulose is a complex carbohydrate for which we lack the enzyme to break it into simple carbohydrates that can be absorb into the body.  Cellulose doesn’t count for us, though it does in the calorie measurement.  

[v]    This small dose in the morning will not effect sleep or adversely affect behavior.  For decades amphetamines were the diet pill of choice, and would still be if it weren’t for federal regulations.

[vi]    A positive reinforcer is operational defined as a thing that will increase the frequency of the behavior that follows it (the converse for a negative reinforcer).  Operant conditioning (the production of new behavior) is the result of reinforcers.  For example, “adult social reinforcement has been used to condition smiling at four months, vocalization at three months, and milk has conditioned head turning at four months.”  In The Analysis of Human Operant Behavior, Ellen P. Reese, p. 13.  Reinforcers and the process of operant conditioning are the building blocks of complex behavior.

[vii]   The use of adversive stimuli is the way a baby manipulates its parents to attend to its needs and to entertain the baby.  When hungry, she cries.  Much of social training indirectly deals with suspension of this behavior.  Adults do the same but in lesser degrees.  Being bored by a conversation, we say something inflammatory, argumentative, changes the topic, or simple ignore the speaker.

#35/19 Scientific American on Diet

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