Author Topic: The anecdote in diet  (Read 1832 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline John Albert

  • Stopped Going Outside
  • *******
  • Posts: 5412
Re: The anecdote in diet
« Reply #30 on: December 18, 2018, 03:43:50 PM »
What exactly is the problem with anecdotes, that make them unreliable as evidence?

Online bachfiend

  • Not Any Kind of Moderator
  • Well Established
  • *****
  • Posts: 1429
Re: The anecdote in diet
« Reply #31 on: December 18, 2018, 04:15:09 PM »
What exactly is the problem with anecdotes, that make them unreliable as evidence?

Anecdotes are unreliable as evidence if the improvement is only in subjective symptoms.  They’re also unreliable if the person is doing more than one thing, and ascribes all the improvement, no matter how objective, to just one thing, for example a change in diet, when the level of exercise has also increased.

I ascribe almost all of my maintenance of a healthy body weight to my strategy of intermittent fasting (I take almost all my calories over a 3-4 hour period each day), but I also exercise daily.  Studies of intermittent fasting show that it’s no better nor worse than other diet strategies.  How do I know that intermittent fasting works for me?  If I go off it - for example if I’m travelling and the hotel accommodation includes a ‘free’ breakfast, which I feel obliged to take since I’m actually paying for it - I feel hungry all day, and eat twice as much as normal (and put on weight).  But with intermittent fasting, I don’t feel hungry to 3 or 4 pm or even later.  Nowadays, I just avoid the ‘free’ breakfast, knowing that it’s going to make me unhappy throughout the rest of the day.  And book hotels if possible which offer accommodation exclusive of breakfast.

Intermittent fasting is a recent fad, and it’s not for everyone.  But I’ve been on it for decades, ever since I adopted it as part of my marathon training.  I reasoned that I should train as carbohydrate depleted as possible in order to get myself adapted to running on fat stores.
Gebt ihr ihr ihr Buch zurück?

Offline Ah.hell

  • Poster of Extraordinary Magnitude
  • **********
  • Posts: 12985
Re: The anecdote in diet
« Reply #32 on: December 18, 2018, 04:35:59 PM »
What exactly is the problem with anecdotes, that make them unreliable as evidence?
In general?  People are unreliable, therefore, their anecdotes are also unreliable.  We are prone to all sorts of cognitive biases and misunderstandings that make our observations untrustworthy.  This part of the reason most diet research is so........not very reliable either.  It mostly relies on self reporting.  As Harry noted, at least the data is at least collected consistently. 

With something like diet, as Bachfiend noted, someone may change a number of things in there diet and lifestyle and assume it was the one thing.  Correlation doesn't mean causation, and almost any thing you do that causes you to actually pay attention to what you eat will like result in some weight loss.  You may be on a low carb diet, or low fat or what ever and you've probably also reduced calories a lot.

Online bachfiend

  • Not Any Kind of Moderator
  • Well Established
  • *****
  • Posts: 1429
Re: The anecdote in diet
« Reply #33 on: December 18, 2018, 06:26:02 PM »
What exactly is the problem with anecdotes, that make them unreliable as evidence?
In general?  People are unreliable, therefore, their anecdotes are also unreliable.  We are prone to all sorts of cognitive biases and misunderstandings that make our observations untrustworthy.  This part of the reason most diet research is so........not very reliable either.  It mostly relies on self reporting.  As Harry noted, at least the data is at least collected consistently. 

With something like diet, as Bachfiend noted, someone may change a number of things in there diet and lifestyle and assume it was the one thing.  Correlation doesn't mean causation, and almost any thing you do that causes you to actually pay attention to what you eat will like result in some weight loss.  You may be on a low carb diet, or low fat or what ever and you've probably also reduced calories a lot.

At the risk of flogging a dead horse, correlation doesn’t necessarily mean causation, but it may mean causation.  Sometimes correlation does mean causation.

Willett has argued that many diets work mainly because they make the person think about what they’re eating.  I once took part in a study of diet in marathon runners, and for three days I had to weigh and record everything I ate.  It was so onerous that towards the end I was thinking about what I was eating and deciding I didn’t need to eat something.

The problem with diet studies is that in addition to the data being collected consistently, the data is also being homogenised consistently.  It’s a problem with all studies that if there’s a subpopulation within the study population that responds better or worse to the study intervention, its effect will be diluted out, and that applies to anti-hypertensive medications, as well as dietary manipulations and many other interventions.  ‘Anecdotes’ concerning experiences in individuals after the studies would be a way of detecting the sub-populations which respond differently.
Gebt ihr ihr ihr Buch zurück?

Offline daniel1948

  • Hasn't
  • Too Much Spare Time
  • ********
  • Posts: 7913
  • Cat Lovers Against the Bomb
Re: The anecdote in diet
« Reply #34 on: December 19, 2018, 10:45:37 AM »
What exactly is the problem with anecdotes, that make them unreliable as evidence?

Anecdotes are unreliable as evidence if the improvement is only in subjective symptoms.  They’re also unreliable if the person is doing more than one thing, and ascribes all the improvement, no matter how objective, to just one thing, for example a change in diet, when the level of exercise has also increased.

I ascribe almost all of my maintenance of a healthy body weight to my strategy of intermittent fasting (I take almost all my calories over a 3-4 hour period each day), but I also exercise daily.  Studies of intermittent fasting show that it’s no better nor worse than other diet strategies.  How do I know that intermittent fasting works for me?  If I go off it - for example if I’m travelling and the hotel accommodation includes a ‘free’ breakfast, which I feel obliged to take since I’m actually paying for it - I feel hungry all day, and eat twice as much as normal (and put on weight).  But with intermittent fasting, I don’t feel hungry to 3 or 4 pm or even later.  Nowadays, I just avoid the ‘free’ breakfast, knowing that it’s going to make me unhappy throughout the rest of the day.  And book hotels if possible which offer accommodation exclusive of breakfast.

Intermittent fasting is a recent fad, and it’s not for everyone.  But I’ve been on it for decades, ever since I adopted it as part of my marathon training.  I reasoned that I should train as carbohydrate depleted as possible in order to get myself adapted to running on fat stores.

Though I never used the term “intermittent fasting,” my experience echoes yours: If I eat breakfast I’m hungrier all day and eat more. For many years I maintained a healthy weight with a regime of jogging 3 miles most mornings, eating my first meal of the day around mid-day, eating a light meal around 4 p.m., and nothing after that. It makes me angry to hear people repeat the breakfast-cereal advertising slogan “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day” as if it were a scientific fact rather than advertising propaganda. Everybody’s digestion is different and some people need food early in the morning while other people need to abstain from eating early.

I started eating breakfast after I broke my arm and my whole schedule was messed up by my inability to do my normal exercise. I’m just now finally breaking myself of the urge to eat in the morning, thanks to a new exercise regime of paddling early most mornings. And I’m feeling much better for getting back into my old routine of exercise early and no food until later.

But I still cannot resist the “free” breakfast at hotels and resorts. In French Polynesia the resort provided a huge breakfast buffet included in the price of my room, but lunch and supper were way overpriced.
Daniel
----------------
"Anyone who has ever looked into the glazed eyes of a soldier dying on the battlefield will think long and hard before starting a war."
-- Otto von Bismarck

Online bachfiend

  • Not Any Kind of Moderator
  • Well Established
  • *****
  • Posts: 1429
Re: The anecdote in diet
« Reply #35 on: December 19, 2018, 02:44:17 PM »
What exactly is the problem with anecdotes, that make them unreliable as evidence?

Anecdotes are unreliable as evidence if the improvement is only in subjective symptoms.  They’re also unreliable if the person is doing more than one thing, and ascribes all the improvement, no matter how objective, to just one thing, for example a change in diet, when the level of exercise has also increased.

I ascribe almost all of my maintenance of a healthy body weight to my strategy of intermittent fasting (I take almost all my calories over a 3-4 hour period each day), but I also exercise daily.  Studies of intermittent fasting show that it’s no better nor worse than other diet strategies.  How do I know that intermittent fasting works for me?  If I go off it - for example if I’m travelling and the hotel accommodation includes a ‘free’ breakfast, which I feel obliged to take since I’m actually paying for it - I feel hungry all day, and eat twice as much as normal (and put on weight).  But with intermittent fasting, I don’t feel hungry to 3 or 4 pm or even later.  Nowadays, I just avoid the ‘free’ breakfast, knowing that it’s going to make me unhappy throughout the rest of the day.  And book hotels if possible which offer accommodation exclusive of breakfast.

Intermittent fasting is a recent fad, and it’s not for everyone.  But I’ve been on it for decades, ever since I adopted it as part of my marathon training.  I reasoned that I should train as carbohydrate depleted as possible in order to get myself adapted to running on fat stores.

Though I never used the term “intermittent fasting,” my experience echoes yours: If I eat breakfast I’m hungrier all day and eat more. For many years I maintained a healthy weight with a regime of jogging 3 miles most mornings, eating my first meal of the day around mid-day, eating a light meal around 4 p.m., and nothing after that. It makes me angry to hear people repeat the breakfast-cereal advertising slogan “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day” as if it were a scientific fact rather than advertising propaganda. Everybody’s digestion is different and some people need food early in the morning while other people need to abstain from eating early.

I started eating breakfast after I broke my arm and my whole schedule was messed up by my inability to do my normal exercise. I’m just now finally breaking myself of the urge to eat in the morning, thanks to a new exercise regime of paddling early most mornings. And I’m feeling much better for getting back into my old routine of exercise early and no food until later.

But I still cannot resist the “free” breakfast at hotels and resorts. In French Polynesia the resort provided a huge breakfast buffet included in the price of my room, but lunch and supper were way overpriced.

Penn Jillette lost over 50 kg using intermittent fasting, by just having one meal a day. 

I went to Germany this year, and my trip included a 12 day tour with ‘free’ breakfasts.  I just refused to have them.  I’d join the tour party, but just have coffee.  I’d take some bread rolls and fruit from the buffet to have in the evening when we got to the next hotel.  For the first time, I arrived home without putting on weight from travelling.

I’m doing a one month trip again next year, but I’m not doing any organised tours.  And all the hotel accommodation is exclusive of breakfast, except for one of 3 nights.  I’ll just skip the breakfast.

The important point is that if you’re just relying on trials, you wouldn’t know that intermittent fasting works for you, me and Penn Jillette.  It’s anecdotes that show that it works very well in some people, and might encourage others to give it a try.  Penn Jillette didn’t do his diet without medical supervision.  His blood pressure dropped so much, his doctors were able to cease two of his anti-hypertensives within weeks.
« Last Edit: December 19, 2018, 04:14:44 PM by bachfiend »
Gebt ihr ihr ihr Buch zurück?

Offline daniel1948

  • Hasn't
  • Too Much Spare Time
  • ********
  • Posts: 7913
  • Cat Lovers Against the Bomb
Re: The anecdote in diet
« Reply #36 on: December 19, 2018, 05:47:49 PM »
You’ve got more self control than I have. If someone puts food in front of me, and it’s not meat or something gross like eggplant, I’ll eat it. Especially in a situation where opportunities for the rest of the day are severely limited.

But I didn’t start skipping breakfast because of any anecdotes I’d heard. I did it because I had become addicted to jogging, and I could not jog with food in my stomach. I had to wait until after exercise to eat, and with one thing and another, that left me at around mid-day.
Daniel
----------------
"Anyone who has ever looked into the glazed eyes of a soldier dying on the battlefield will think long and hard before starting a war."
-- Otto von Bismarck

Online bachfiend

  • Not Any Kind of Moderator
  • Well Established
  • *****
  • Posts: 1429
Re: The anecdote in diet
« Reply #37 on: December 19, 2018, 06:33:54 PM »
You’ve got more self control than I have. If someone puts food in front of me, and it’s not meat or something gross like eggplant, I’ll eat it. Especially in a situation where opportunities for the rest of the day are severely limited.

But I didn’t start skipping breakfast because of any anecdotes I’d heard. I did it because I had become addicted to jogging, and I could not jog with food in my stomach. I had to wait until after exercise to eat, and with one thing and another, that left me at around mid-day.

Yes, but if you were relying on trials on intermittent fasting to decide whether to skip breakfast or not, you wouldn’t have done so.  And someone else thinking about intermittent fasting wouldn’t do it based on trials, which show no better or worse results than any other strategy.  But favourable anecdotes might encourage someone to give it a try.

I’ve got fairly good willpower.  What I’m not good at is feeling that I’m wasting money.  If I’m paying for something such as ‘free’ breakfasts in hotels, I’m tempted to have them even if they make me feel unwell for the rest of the day.  If I’m not paying for the food, I don’t feel the need to eat it if I don’t want it.
Gebt ihr ihr ihr Buch zurück?

Offline daniel1948

  • Hasn't
  • Too Much Spare Time
  • ********
  • Posts: 7913
  • Cat Lovers Against the Bomb
Re: The anecdote in diet
« Reply #38 on: December 20, 2018, 03:52:12 PM »
... If I’m paying for something such as ‘free’ breakfasts in hotels, I’m tempted to have them even if they make me feel unwell for the rest of the day. 

You and me both!

If I’m not paying for the food, I don’t feel the need to eat it if I don’t want it.

If it’s there, it’s really hard for me to turn it down. I’ve got some level of self control in the grocery store. Not full control, but some. Once it’s in the house, or offered in a hotel, it’s desperately hard for me to say no.

I don’t think that either anecdotes or studies would have gotten me to quit eating breakfast. I had become addicted to jogging, and anything that prevented me from jogging was out. Effectively, my addiction was stronger than my compulsion to over-eat.
Daniel
----------------
"Anyone who has ever looked into the glazed eyes of a soldier dying on the battlefield will think long and hard before starting a war."
-- Otto von Bismarck

Online bachfiend

  • Not Any Kind of Moderator
  • Well Established
  • *****
  • Posts: 1429
Re: The anecdote in diet
« Reply #39 on: December 20, 2018, 06:03:30 PM »
... If I’m paying for something such as ‘free’ breakfasts in hotels, I’m tempted to have them even if they make me feel unwell for the rest of the day. 

You and me both!

If I’m not paying for the food, I don’t feel the need to eat it if I don’t want it.

If it’s there, it’s really hard for me to turn it down. I’ve got some level of self control in the grocery store. Not full control, but some. Once it’s in the house, or offered in a hotel, it’s desperately hard for me to say no.

I don’t think that either anecdotes or studies would have gotten me to quit eating breakfast. I had become addicted to jogging, and anything that prevented me from jogging was out. Effectively, my addiction was stronger than my compulsion to over-eat.

Well trials and anecdotes mightn’t have been enough to get you to try intermittent fasting, but anecdotes might inspire someone else to try it.

I take it you would have failed the marshmallow test?

My diet willpower is strengthened by not eating outside of the period 3 pm to 7 pm.  After reading Penn Jillette’s book ‘Presto’ I’m trying to see whether I can cut down to one meal a day at home (I have the habit of doing a workout in a gym around midday, then have breakfast after 3 pm, take the dog for her walk, and then have dinner, but I’m seeing if it’s possible to drop the late breakfast and just have dinner.  I managed to do it in Germany this year, and my 3 pm breakfast is mainly out of habit and filling in time, not hunger.  When travelling, I was too busy sightseeing to worry about eating).
Gebt ihr ihr ihr Buch zurück?

Offline daniel1948

  • Hasn't
  • Too Much Spare Time
  • ********
  • Posts: 7913
  • Cat Lovers Against the Bomb
Re: The anecdote in diet
« Reply #40 on: December 20, 2018, 06:49:13 PM »
I think I would have passed the marshmallow test because I was a very logical kid. My mother used to say that before I could read, if she didn’t understand the instructions for something, she’d read them to me and I’d explain them to her. I don’t remember this, and my mother was inclined to exaggerate my intelligence. But I think I’d have understood the benefit of waiting for the second marshmallow. OTOH it was fruitless to tell me not to eat from a stash of candy.
Daniel
----------------
"Anyone who has ever looked into the glazed eyes of a soldier dying on the battlefield will think long and hard before starting a war."
-- Otto von Bismarck

Online jt512

  • Frequent Poster
  • ******
  • Posts: 2288
    • jt512
Re: The anecdote in diet
« Reply #41 on: December 20, 2018, 06:51:24 PM »
... If I’m paying for something such as ‘free’ breakfasts in hotels, I’m tempted to have them even if they make me feel unwell for the rest of the day. 

You and me both!

If I’m not paying for the food, I don’t feel the need to eat it if I don’t want it.

If it’s there, it’s really hard for me to turn it down. I’ve got some level of self control in the grocery store. Not full control, but some. Once it’s in the house, or offered in a hotel, it’s desperately hard for me to say no.

I don’t think that either anecdotes or studies would have gotten me to quit eating breakfast. I had become addicted to jogging, and anything that prevented me from jogging was out. Effectively, my addiction was stronger than my compulsion to over-eat.

Well trials and anecdotes mightn’t have been enough to get you to try intermittent fasting, but anecdotes might inspire someone else to try it.

I take it you would have failed the marshmallow test?

My diet willpower is strengthened by not eating outside of the period 3 pm to 7 pm.  After reading Penn Jillette’s book ‘Presto’ I’m trying to see whether I can cut down to one meal a day at home (I have the habit of doing a workout in a gym around midday, then have breakfast after 3 pm, take the dog for her walk, and then have dinner, but I’m seeing if it’s possible to drop the late breakfast and just have dinner.  I managed to do it in Germany this year, and my 3 pm breakfast is mainly out of habit and filling in time, not hunger.  When travelling, I was too busy sightseeing to worry about eating).

They say, "Feed a fever; starve a cold."  But they don't say what to do with an eating disorder.  I guess you're on your own.
Ich verstehe nur Bahnhof.

Online bachfiend

  • Not Any Kind of Moderator
  • Well Established
  • *****
  • Posts: 1429
Re: The anecdote in diet
« Reply #42 on: December 20, 2018, 07:27:47 PM »
... If I’m paying for something such as ‘free’ breakfasts in hotels, I’m tempted to have them even if they make me feel unwell for the rest of the day. 

You and me both!

If I’m not paying for the food, I don’t feel the need to eat it if I don’t want it.

If it’s there, it’s really hard for me to turn it down. I’ve got some level of self control in the grocery store. Not full control, but some. Once it’s in the house, or offered in a hotel, it’s desperately hard for me to say no.

I don’t think that either anecdotes or studies would have gotten me to quit eating breakfast. I had become addicted to jogging, and anything that prevented me from jogging was out. Effectively, my addiction was stronger than my compulsion to over-eat.

Well trials and anecdotes mightn’t have been enough to get you to try intermittent fasting, but anecdotes might inspire someone else to try it.

I take it you would have failed the marshmallow test?

My diet willpower is strengthened by not eating outside of the period 3 pm to 7 pm.  After reading Penn Jillette’s book ‘Presto’ I’m trying to see whether I can cut down to one meal a day at home (I have the habit of doing a workout in a gym around midday, then have breakfast after 3 pm, take the dog for her walk, and then have dinner, but I’m seeing if it’s possible to drop the late breakfast and just have dinner.  I managed to do it in Germany this year, and my 3 pm breakfast is mainly out of habit and filling in time, not hunger.  When travelling, I was too busy sightseeing to worry about eating).

They say, "Feed a fever; starve a cold."  But they don't say what to do with an eating disorder.  I guess you're on your own.

Well, an eating disorder is a mental disorder with abnormal eating habits that negatively impact a person’s health.  Most Americans, Australians and people in developed countries have eating disorders as shown from the fact that they’re overweight or obese.

The way to overcome an eating disorder is to get rid of the abnormal eating habits and replace them with normal eating habits.  The concept as to what is ‘normal’ with regard to eating habits have been corrupted by advertising and marketing.  Eating anywhere and at any time.  Eating food high in fat, salt and sugar.

Intermittent fasting is one very good way of getting rid of the bad eating habits and replacing them with good eating habits.
Gebt ihr ihr ihr Buch zurück?

Offline daniel1948

  • Hasn't
  • Too Much Spare Time
  • ********
  • Posts: 7913
  • Cat Lovers Against the Bomb
Re: The anecdote in diet
« Reply #43 on: December 21, 2018, 10:35:55 AM »
... If I’m paying for something such as ‘free’ breakfasts in hotels, I’m tempted to have them even if they make me feel unwell for the rest of the day. 

You and me both!

If I’m not paying for the food, I don’t feel the need to eat it if I don’t want it.

If it’s there, it’s really hard for me to turn it down. I’ve got some level of self control in the grocery store. Not full control, but some. Once it’s in the house, or offered in a hotel, it’s desperately hard for me to say no.

I don’t think that either anecdotes or studies would have gotten me to quit eating breakfast. I had become addicted to jogging, and anything that prevented me from jogging was out. Effectively, my addiction was stronger than my compulsion to over-eat.

Well trials and anecdotes mightn’t have been enough to get you to try intermittent fasting, but anecdotes might inspire someone else to try it.

I take it you would have failed the marshmallow test?

My diet willpower is strengthened by not eating outside of the period 3 pm to 7 pm.  After reading Penn Jillette’s book ‘Presto’ I’m trying to see whether I can cut down to one meal a day at home (I have the habit of doing a workout in a gym around midday, then have breakfast after 3 pm, take the dog for her walk, and then have dinner, but I’m seeing if it’s possible to drop the late breakfast and just have dinner.  I managed to do it in Germany this year, and my 3 pm breakfast is mainly out of habit and filling in time, not hunger.  When travelling, I was too busy sightseeing to worry about eating).

They say, "Feed a fever; starve a cold."  But they don't say what to do with an eating disorder.  I guess you're on your own.


The saying is actually “Stuff a cold, starve a fever,” but it’s twice wrong. First because it’s bad medical advice: you should maintain a healthy diet for either, neither starving nor over-eating; and second because the saying actually got completely twisted as the meaning of the verb “to starve” changed with the evolution of English. In Middle English “to starve” meant to die. It did not refer to going without food. The saying in its original form was “Stuff a cold, starve of a fever.” In other words, if you over-eat when you have a cold, you will die of a fever.”

The old-timey folks got this one at least partly right: don’t over-eat, but the modern purveyors of “folk wisdom” got it wrong.

Always a bad idea to get your medical advice from old sayings. Much better to rely on evidence.
Daniel
----------------
"Anyone who has ever looked into the glazed eyes of a soldier dying on the battlefield will think long and hard before starting a war."
-- Otto von Bismarck

Offline lonely moa

  • A rather tough old bird.
  • Stopped Going Outside
  • *******
  • Posts: 4744
Re: The anecdote in diet
« Reply #44 on: December 21, 2018, 12:45:54 PM »


Just eat it at 1300, job done.

Mind you, when cycling in Italy, breakfast at the hotels is too good to pass up...  they know breakfast.
"Pull the goalie", Malcolm Gladwell.