“The greater the ignorance the greater the dogmatism.”
– Sir William Osler
An opportunity missed
…or, yet another instance of damn, I wish I’d had my camera.
Meesus TTP and I had to travel down to Georgia over the July 4th weekend to tend to a few remaining loose ends as a consequence of B’s recent accident. We’ve both had better 4th of July holidays, I have to say — and yet, we were able to salvage some moments of renewal and rebirth (the stunningly beautiful Victoria Bryant State Park, for one example, where a new butterfly park is being planned in Brittani’s honor) and even a few instances of serendipitous joy. (Serendipity seems a common theme in my life — possibly something I need to further explore?) At any rate, one of those “serendipitous moments” came while Meesus TTP was tending to some business at Emmanuel College. I remained outside of the on-campus, Student Life center for some fresh air, sun, and a bit of quiet reflection when a sign I’d seen countless times prior — Jones Garden — suddenly hit me anew. While contemplating the alternative/contemporary meaning of “Jones”, I enjoyed one of those laugh-outloud-with-no-one-else-around moments. I’m sure any onlooker to this scene would have mistaken me for one of the drifting, poverty-stricken and psychologically-burdened casualty cases of the modern American healthcare system.
Then I saw the sign for Jones Church, and I just about lost it.
Those two pictures would have made for a great intro here, but alas, you’ll have to suffice with your own mental snapshot. And while the Jones connotations above are funny (admittedly, possibly only to me and my quirky sense of humor), a serious Jones of any kind is no laughing matter. Especially, and in the face of attempting to clean up your act on the diet front, the dreaded carbohydrate variety of Jones.
And to that end, low carb podcast maestro Jimmy Moore recently scored an interesting interview with psychologist Julia Ross, author of The Diet Cure. Lots of good information to be had here. And I know what your thinking. No, this isn’t low-carb 101 for the Opera-watching masses — Ms. Ross actually hits on some very important and advanced issues concerning addictions; addictions of all kinds, really, but in particular here, carbohydrate addictions, and how to curb, and ultimately, overcome them. One point that Ms. Ross makes — and one in which I totally agree with — is that an addiction of any sort has less to do with lack of willpower and more to do with altered brain chemistry. Correct the chemistry and, for the most part, the physical addiction will have been eliminated. The psychological and situational issues will remain, of course — and this is where willpower will have to prevail — so, like most issues, overcoming the carbohydrate Jones requires more than just focusing in on one underlying cause. I’ve written about the carb Jones, previously, here, and you might want to check that particular post out again for some other thoughts and associated links.
Proper use of amino acid supplementation will go a long way toward negating the underlying brain/chemical cause for the carb Jones, as will increasing the amount of good fats in one’s overall diet. My favorite trick for curbing a sweet-tooth pang (a pang that will in time, and with the maintenance of proper diet, become a thing of the past) is to horse-down a tablespoon or three of olive, fish, or other such oil. Good, quality nut butters work well for this, too. Of course now we have the luxury of partaking in an even more palatable option for this purpose — Artisana’s raw coconut butter — though I must warn you here of the dangers of trading one addiction for another; that raw coconut butter is seriously good stuff.
Channeling obsessions, and the quest for control
Alex, over at a Paleo Journey to Health, brings up an excellent point for contemplation in this post. Another aspect to the whole carb Jones phenomena may just be the sense of “out-of-controlness” one feels in the initial stages of withdraw. That is to say, (and this is my take on the issue, take it for what it’s worth) that what we’re dealing with here is another dimension of the psychological issue. People will do things, and ultimately and eventually (though, unintentionally, in many cases) form habits of those actions, as a means of having some control over their lives. Now, in some instances, this works out for the greater good. My initial love of, and remaining immersed in, physical culture (writ large) was born, early on, from a deep-rooted desire to have total control over something — anything — in my life. Lance Armstrong has famously stated that, in his opinion, the compulsive drive of a professional athlete (he was speaking specifically of TdF cyclists, however, in my opinion, this is true of all compulsive athletes), stems from that athlete’s either running from, or chasing down, some personal demon. Of course, it can be argued that this kind of compulsion is as damaging to the mind and/or body (in a cumulative trauma and/or free-radical sense) as any other compulsion — and, in a manner os speaking, I agree. That’s a topic, though, for another time.
Back, though, to known destructive habits. Some will get on quite readily with actions they acknowledge at the onset are bad for them — even actions that they know (logically) and at the onset of initially partaking, are highly addictive. Ironic, isn’t it? The insidiousness of carbohydrate addiction though, is that it’s so very sneaky. We were brought up to believe (and the masses still cling tightly to the notion) that (1) all carbs are created equal, (2) that refined carbohydrates, while maybe not “good” for you per se, are certainly much better for you than fat of any kind, and (3) addiction? are you kidding me? This concept of “carb addiction” is still considered the stuff of the lunatic fringe. Ah, but you and I know it’s real — very real — and for some, the addiction to carbohydrates is overwhelming. So overwhelming, in fact, that many folks will walk away from a Paleo-like diet because of an inability to shake the carb Jones, even while fully acknowledging and buying into the Paleo concept on an intellectual level. This carb Jones is no puny opponent. It can be soundly defeated, though, with a little applied knowledge, and a little effort in the form of willpower.
So check out Jimmy’s interview and Julia’s website. There’s some good information be be had in both. I can say that The Diet Cure is now on my “books to read list”, as I believe Ms. Ross has the addiction thing — the physical/chemical aspect, at least — pretty much nailed. And as any of us who’ve made the switch from a western diet to a more Paleo diet can attest, overcoming the carb cravings and the social alienation are the two big storms one must clear to get to the smooth and easy Paleo waters.