Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What do you think stops you from sticking to a diet and staying away from alcohol or drugs?

"Many people assume that weight is mostly a matter of willpower - that we can learn both to exercise and to avoid muffins and Gatorade. A few of us can, but evolution did not build us to do this for very long. In 2000 the journal Psychological Bulletin published a paper by psychologists Mark Muraven and Roy Baumeister in which they observed that self-control is like a muscle: it weakens each day after you use it. If you force yourself to jog for an hour, your self-regulatory capacity is proportionately enfeebled. Rather than lunching on a salad, you'll be more likely to opt for pizza."

You can ask me anything


  1. How would you suggest that people overcome addictions such as drugs, alcohol and food then?
    Would you consider that you are addicted to food?

  2. I'm not qualified to provide recommendations for overcoming addiction being that I don't consider that I have been addicted to any substance, which is fortunate.

    Certainly I have a difficult relationship with food but I think it would be inaccurate, and an oversimplification to frame that relationship as being one of addiction.

    DSM-IV defines substance dependence as:
    "When an individual persists in use of alcohol or other drugs despite problems related to use of the substance, substance dependence may be diagnosed. Compulsive and repetitive use may result in tolerance to the effect of the drug and withdrawal symptoms when use is reduced or stopped."

    My number one problem with framing food issues as addiction is that you have no choice but persist ingesting food if you are to live. I'm don't believe the rhetoric of addiction has much to add to my current understanding of my relationship with food, exercise or my body.

    There might be many similarities in the way people grapple with addiction and the way people grapple with food issues but I don't think that to say a person is addicted to food is useful - I believe the idea of addiction carries with it an understanding that you will never have a positive or 'normal' relationship with the substance in question. For this reason it seems self defeating to use the word 'addiction' to describe your issues with food if you also happen to want to improve your relationship with food.