Ancel Keys Study Result =
Healthy Men Became Binge Eaters
This is a really interesting study which has never been repeated as at an interview years later, the study leader Dr Keys stated it wouldn’t be allowed, in fact the American Psychological Association would forbid it as being “unethical, inhumane treatment of subjects” as it would be seen as too cruel and potentially life threatening.
You will be surprised as you read on and hopefully be open to be kinder to yourself as this was just one attempt at calorie restriction with healthy men being the subjects and not one diet after another.
It altered how the men saw themselves and they become very self critical. It changed them to be almost unrecognisable in many ways, losing the healthy character traits they had at the start.
Chinese water torture comes to mind. Anyway on with telling you more about the study which wasn’t even about dieting, yet there are many useful lessons we can learn from it…
Dr Ancel Keys
Dr Ancel Keys was contacted by the War department just after Word War 2 who commissioned him to do a scientific study of calorie restriction to establish the minimum amount of rations needed to rehabilitate and nourish War caused famine sufferers in Europe.
At his Minnesota University laboratory he recruited four hundred healthy male college students who went through rigorous tests to prove sane ness of mind. Through these thorough physiological and psychological Dr led examinations, only the very best, most healthiest and well balanced were chosen to participate.
Thirty Six Healthiest Men Chosen
Thirty six socially well adjusted, active, good humoured, motivated men were hand picked after three months of pre experiment screening to ensure they had the most healthiest group.
Wait for it…The diet they were told to follow was called a “Semi -starvation diet” of around 1600 calories.
Any regular dieter wouldn’t call that semi starvation would they?
Ok taking in allowances for men being able to have more calories per day than women ( never got my head around that one “snot fair” comes to mind)
This is typical of what a regular dieter does with a calorie restricted diet although the amount they aim for per day usually can be much, much less.
Food Obsession Starts
The results started to come in, suddenly the men became obsessed with food. Thinking about it all the time. One even collected over a hundred cookbooks through the course of the study. They would talk about food, daydream about it and their daily lives became preoccupied with food!
Sound familiar anyone?
One was desperate for the study to be over as food obsession was the most important thing in his life and he couldn’t get it out of his mind.
Do you recognise this way of thinking ?
Some began to develop rules and rituals around meal times. Many complained of feeling cold, dizzy, tired and having difficulty concentrating as well as headaches and feeling hungry all the time.
After a few weeks the psychological changes became more disturbing with strange behaviour patterns developing amongst some of the men. One bought doughnuts and would give them out to kids and watch them eating them whilst not allowing himself any.
Feelings of inadequacy were common.
Losing interest in their studies, feeling anxious and withdrawn unwilling to socialise and losing their sense of humour.
Reports of depression, lack of sex drive and hypochondria with two of them ending up in mental institutions for a short while, one for self harming, their emotional distress was so debilitating.
Several men rebelled and began binge eating. One reported he’d eaten many ice cream sundaes and chocolate malts in a short period of time.
Some of the men admitting they had stolen food, even from the trash. Openly they critiqued themselves harshly in front of others. After all it seems so ridiculous that they couldn’t stick to the rules.
Chinese Water Torture
Drip drip drip Men were changing …
Another couldn’t cope with exposure to unlimited food that he would eat and eat and then be sick and start again cycle after cycle. Some quit the study as they couldn’t stick to the restricted plan as a new pattern of starving / bingeing took over. They also would verbally beat themselves up for their behaviours as if they were weak and had no self control.
Self-Image Becoming Distorted
Some reported feeling overweight and unhappy with their bodies and appeared to develop distorted views of their bodies, seeing them as fat, leaving them feeling moody and emotional.
Sound familiar anyone ?
Interestingly in the film supersize me, Morgan Spurlock who lived on processed McDonalds super sized food for one month also noted many of the emotions of the men in the Ancel Keys study and it took months after he stopped to return his body ( and mind) back to normal.
This was with the help of his vegan nutritionist girlfriend putting him on healing foods close to nature and allowing him to detox from the cravings for fat, salt and sugar that Big Mac is full of ( and most processed foods as the food scientists work on mouth feel, taste and creating a need for more very soon after they’ve eaten as more sales =more profits) Nice !
After the Semi starvation experiment ended in around 1940 ( not so much processed crap around then ) many of the participants had lost control of their previously healthy normal appetites and still continued to binge.
All this triggered by being on 1600 hundred calories
Ready to forgive yourself for any self reproach and see it’s not your fault?
There has to be a better way… And there is but back to the study for now.
Now free of the study one man would continue to overeat six thousand calorie meals another ate so much at one time that he actually threw up on the bus with the motion of the movement triggering retching.
No amount of food seemed to be enough to satisfy this empty feeling. Another of the men went on as he described it, a year long binge and put on loads of weight. No amount of food could satisfy this un-repentant hunger.
Ever felt like that? This study goes a long way to help us understand dieting’s abysmal long term failure rate and destroyer of “you”. Dieting heightens your focus on food.
How To Stop Binge Eating
Here Debbie talk about what you can do to stop binge eating.
Hypnosis Weight Loss Club
Despite the name being ‘Hypnosis Weight Loss Club” we totally focus on mastering strategies of how naturally lean, healthy happy people think, feel and behave around food.
We use hypnosis and NLP and other effective techniques to free you from the dieting mentality. Read more about The Hypnosis Weight Loss Club here.