shangri lalala

February 28, 2009
So for a few days now I've been trying the Shangri-La Diet. I've lost a few pounds, though that's nothing special for the first days of any diet.

On its face, it certainly sounds like a gimmick diet: you consume a couple hundred calories of flavorless oil or unflavored sugar water (I think the latter is deprecated for blood sugar reasons) in a window of at least two hours of not having any flavors. (Not even toothpaste or gum.) And that's it: the thought is that this alone will lead to hunger suppression.

The rough idea is that your body uses the combination of flavors and easily digested calories to say "hey! This is a time of plenty... I should bulk up my weight for the lean times that's sure to follow!" I'm less clear on why then getting a chunk of calories in a flavorless way would lower that "set point" weight that your body "wants" to be at, but empirically, there seems to be something to it. Psychologically, I feel much less involved with food than usual. I still have the problems of socially-derived eating and portions I've always had (never being very hungry in the evening, but that being everyone's favorite time for fun restaurant meals.) but I don't find myself eating out of angst or boredom, and forego things I used to go for (like, just get get a small or medium iced coffee at DD rather than a large plus a flatbread sandwich.)

I lost some weight in 2006 (gaining about 1/2 or 2/3 back) on the Hacker's Diet, which really was nothing but calorie counting, a daily weigh-in, and some exercise. Because of this new scheme, I've been thinking about the Hacker's Diet hypothetic gadget the Eat Watch:
You strap it on your wrist, set it for the weight you want to be, then rely on it to tell you when to eat and when to stop. Whenever it says EAT, just chow down on anything you like until EAT goes out. Obviously the EAT indicator will stay on longer if you're munchin' cabbage instead of chugging München's finest beer.
But of course, I think most people do have an internalized Eat Watch -- The Hacker's Diet page says "Some people are born with a natural, built-in eat watch. You and I either don't have one, or else it's busted." but I think many people will eat at a certain level, consistently -- and for many of us, that level is geared to gain weight at a moderate pace. Some years it might only be 2-8 pounds, but it adds up. So what Shangri-La consists of then is utilizing that watch for eating, rather than enforcing discipline against acting on feeling hungry.

This news report/promo seems to do a reasonable job of presenting it...

The book is kind of cool when it goes into explaining why some other plans (like low-carb, or low-glycemic-index) work, as well as an assortment of otherwise mysterious lab results, like how rats fed bread gain more weight than rats fed the equivalent calorie amount of bread ingredients, or get fatter on the same food mixed with water (the old diet standby of lots of water - making food easier to digest - is not without its problems in this view) -- according to Shangri-La, it's all about your body associating delicious flavors and easy to digest calories with Good Times.

Well, wish me luck. Quaffing tablespoons of oil is not without its degree of gross! (Note: since I wrote this I've been floating the oil on cold water. Much easier to deal with!)

Saw Slumdog Millionaire. Man- either the poverty/roughness was over the top, or people live like that... either way, troubling. Fav word: "chaiwalla"!