Why I Unpublished My Book

For those who do not know, I use to run a nutrition and health website called Scientific Nutrition. While running this site, I came across intermittent fasting and in reviewing the literature, I thought it was a potentially useful behavioral trick for weight loss. However, I also found a variety of people making entirely nonsensical claims about intermittent fasting. They believed it cured cancer, diabetes, and overall was the solution to greater health. I wrote a book called The Optimized Guide to Intermittent Fasting that was meant to look at a healthy framework for using intermittent fasting for weight loss, combined with scientifically rooted myth busting surrounding claims others had made. I recently chose to unpublish this book and I would like to publicly discuss the reasons.

I always had a fear surrounding intermittent fasting that it looked a lot like disordered eating, but convinced myself that this is true for many diets, and allowed myself to go forward writing about it. However, as I have spent more time reviewing recent literature, and reflecting on my own eating patterns I felt compelled to remove it.

First, let’s address some of the recent literature that has been published and how that factored into my thought process. A recent five year prospective study on Bulimia Nervosa identified intermittent fasting as a strong risk factor for the development of bulimia. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2850570/) Furthermore, it suggested that intermittent fasting is a much better predictor of development than assignment to a weight loss diet. There is also generally a pattern in the pscyhology research that suggests that using any unhealthy or excessively strained eating pattern can correlate with later development of bulimia and binge eating disorder. This is consistent with my own experience.

I have for much of my life struggled with a nearly compulsive need to eat, and have often felt out of control while I am eating. Starting about a year and a half ago I shared this fact with my primary care provider, and have started receiving treatment for it. However, in the past it has been a problem that has repeatedly dogged me. It was always a source of great shame, and as such I was an expert in hiding my eating. If you occasionally grab some things out of the pantry, and eat less at the meals, then people might not notice. If you grab a Wendy’s Dave’s Double combo and eat it before you get home then no one has to know. If you eat this candy bar from the grocery store before you get back then no one will see it. These narratives had always been present in my head, and had influenced my relationship with my body, my weight, and my confidence.

There were periods where these feelings of shame surrounding my eating were nearly overwhelming. I remember several times in college where I would be kneeling over the toilet bowl, hoping I would be able to purge, because if I did then maybe I would not feel so wrong. I never did, and I am grateful for that fact, but in considering my own behaviors and the things I have written I have come to the conclusion that I can no longer endorse my own work.

The fundamental problem with intermittent fasting is that it represents the same thought pattern as certain types of disordered eating. Namely, that you can eat and consume and do all of that to your limit, so long as you follow this other procedure. It seems to serve much of the same purpose for many people as purging does.

Eating disorders are some of the mostly deadly mental illnesses, and lead to badly damaged health across a variety of measures, not to mention the difficulty inherent in living with them. As such, I have unpublished my book, will be removing any older podcast episodes discussing intermittent fasting, and adding a disclaimer to any older articles that will link back to this article. This may take me some time, so please be patient, but it is happening.

I am writing this article, because I have strongly publicly advocated for some of these techniques, and as such now that I no longer believe them I feel that you deserve to know that. I do still believe that intermittent fasting can be effective for some people, but I worry that the people advocating it for broadly or as a panacea may be unintentionally contributing to health problems, and I regret strongly that I did the same.

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Cancer Fasting: Could Fasting Prevent Cancer

Cancer Fasting

Cancer Fasting

UPDATE: I NO LONGER ENDORSE INTERMITTENT FASTING AS A WEIGHT LOSS TECHNIQUE.  PLEASE SEE HERE.

Introduction to Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent Fasting and Weight Loss

Intermittent Fasting and Diabetes

Intermittent Fasting and Cardiovascular Health

Intermittent Fasting and the Brain

We have already done a good job of analyzing many of the potential health and physiological effects of intermittent fasting, but what we have yet to address is whether or not it may have any effect on what may be the scariest disease of them all, cancer.  Even with the advancements in care, cancer is still a terrifying and often confusing disease, however it is possible that intermittent fasting may have beneficial effects. Continue reading “Cancer Fasting: Could Fasting Prevent Cancer”

The Intermittent Fasting Brain

Intermittent fasting brain
Could intermittent fasting benefit the brain?

UPDATE: I NO LONGER ENDORSE INTERMITTENT FASTING AS A WEIGHT LOSS TECHNIQUE.  PLEASE SEE HERE.

An Introduction to Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent Fasting and Weight Loss

Intermittent Fasting and Diabetes

Intermittent Fasting and Cardiovascular Health

We have already shown some of the interesting features of intermittent fasting.  However, we are now trying to assess whether or not it may be beneficial for the long term health of your brain.  Whether or not there may be a special fasting brain.  With the incredible prevalence and destructive ability of neurodegenerative diseases it is important to look for methods and techniques that can promise an improved long term mental health deserves consideration.  The problem with any potential fasting brain is that it is hard to test in humans due to the length of study that would be necessary.  So we are going to need to look at studies done on other mammals, always remember these are not a perfect analogue, but still could give us a useful view into the fasting brain. Continue reading “The Intermittent Fasting Brain”

The Futility of Dieting

 

File:Healthy Diet.jpg
Image Courtesy of A2zdiet-plan

I’m sure this title is catching some of you off guard.  It certainly appears if you look around my site that I run a diet website.  But that misses the purpose of this website.  The tagline for this site is:

Eating for health, happiness, and longevity

That is what I study, and what I am trying to understand how to accomplish.  Oftentimes a diet is counterproductive to one or many of these goals. Continue reading “The Futility of Dieting”

Self Control and The Marshmallow Test

I was reading an interesting book recently called The Marshmallow Test by Walter Mischel.  In this book he discusses the famous marshmallow test that was performed on preschoolers.  The preschoolers could either accept a single treat like a marshmallow or wait and get two treats.  Whether or not they waited correlated with their future life success, however that is not the interesting part of this book.  Especially for us.  What is interesting is some of the tactics that he points out to increase self-control. Continue reading “Self Control and The Marshmallow Test”