This blog has been in preparation for a long time. Now that my stress is over (or just beginning) I can do more fun things, like blogging :)
What prompted me to finally write this entry was the current topic on my new favorite blog, http://ouroboros.wordpress.com/ CALERIE! The study I am participating in published the results from the pilot study from one of the centers. You can read it here Its publication has initiated a few questions which I wanted to address on Ouroboros, but I thought my opinions would be better published here. I will try to relate most of these comments to the feasibility of this diet for the majority of the American population.
1) Calorie restriction while pregnant. Ouroboros sites research that mice and rats that are restricted while pregnant have offspring that are anxious and have increased DNA damage. The CALERIE study does not accept women wanting to have children during the 2 year enrollment. Regular use of birth control is assessed.
2) Through the duration of the pilot study no harmful mood changes were noted. There was also no increase in eating disorder behaviors. TE would say that I was a royal snot* for the first month of the study (*he would have selected a worse adjective). You are given all of your food and are not allowed to eat any additional food containing calories. The pilot study participants were given food for 6 months. This fact alone would have severely depressed me- I love making my own food, I love having the freedom of choice. In retrospect, I think I felt extremely restricted in that first month. I am sure I would have found a way to be more optimistic if I was in that situation, but I can not imagine how they did it. I would say that I did benefit from that black and white period, though. Everything was off limits. It gave me time to not think about food and draw the line between my pre-CR habits (eating out/drinking too much, eating large portions, and simply not thinking about what I am eating) and helped me create new ones. I would agree that my mood has improved slightly and I do not show any ED behaviors. I attribute my mood change to the new found passion I have for learning about the growing world of CR (academically and socially), cooking new healthy foods, and the fact that I can dry my jeans and they still fit!
3) CALERIE participants are screened so critically that we do not reflect the general population. True! This study requires people to record every minor detail of food/drink they consume for 2 years. Not many people want to do that. The remaining volunteers who are not deterred can not smoke or drink excessively, take medications, have fluctuations in weight, want to have children in that time period (females only), or have psychological conditions. The remaining volunteers then must also have a flexible work schedule that permits them to take sporadic half days off, full days off, and be local for food pick up 3x/week and available weekly for individual and group counseling sessions throughout the duration of the study. That does not leave many willing/able people (lucky for my graduate student schedule!). But I feel that having a control group that is not calorie restricted from the same pool of volunteers is a sufficient control for this skewed selection bias.
4) Will the results of this study be relevant to the majority of the population? Maybe. If these results provide enough motivation for someone to start their own CR diet that would be great! There are so many diets out there right now- I am always amazed at the diet book section of book stores… If this diet can become a lifestyle (not just for weight loss but for health and aging benefits) people can maintain- the more realistic it will be for CR to be increasingly relevant.
OK I am going to cut myself off there. I would like to go on about another topic-- CR vs. CRON (CR with Optimum Nutrition- eating all your vitamins and minerals in your food, maximizing calorie efficiency). While I agree that ON is ideal and something anyone eating any number of calories “should” do, I just don’t know how realistic that diet is for the majority of America. I think once you start labeling foods as “bad” and “off-limits” you become fixated on them (at least I do!) so nothing for me is off limits. I eat a normal, balanced diet. I may not get 100% of each and every vitamin and mineral in my foods every day, but I feel very satisfied with my food choices. I think that alone will keep me successful with this diet. I feel like I can go out to eat, drink wine and beer, and eat candy or anything that I want really and as long as I account for the calories. I still have my life with CR.
The next human study I would like to see: CR vs. CRON. I do wonder if ON would enhance the results seen with CR. Maybe that would be the motivation I need :)