Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Food Reward and Confirmation Bias - Part 1

Hey, I am first to admit that I am one of the little people.  Despite the fabulous quality of the writing, I don't have too many regular followers or readers.  And I realize that it is partly my fault.  If I was uber-polite instead of snarky, or if I had all the fancy places where I went to school listed on the right, I might attract more readers.  My biggest readership spike days happen when Dr. Kruse or Jimmy Moore links a blog post, either on their own blogs or on Mark's Daily Apple.
This week I checked out Dr. Guyenet's blog to see what is new with food reward, and I found Sarah's N=1 story and followed the link to her blog.  (BTW, I don't post over at Guyenet's blog much anymore - they're pretty hostile to the low-carbers and if you think that has died down, just go into the comments section of his latest post here to see it is still alive and kicking along with the like-clockwork itsthewoo-bashing.)  Sarah mentioned the very high increase in traffic to her blog when it was publicized.  When I first wrote about my N=1 food reward experience, Dr. Guyenet didn't devote a blog post or an additional link to the story like he did for the n=3 folks with results that match his hypothesis more than mine did.  I got a few additional hits, but it wasn't all that special.  If you missed my N=1 post because of the oversight, you can read about it here.
Now I am sure it was just an oversight.  After all, he sure did spend lots of time providing links to studies and anecdotes that appear to buttress his theory.  It would be easy to overlook one or two in the process, especially if it wasn't labeled correctly.  Perhaps with the "food reward" antigen in my title, I'll be able to attract all the antibodies and I'll see an uptick in traffic.  Lets see if we can weed out the cherry-pickers from the legitimate researchers.


  1. I agree, you do exhibit "fabulous quality of the writing." I no longer go to Guyenet's website as it ticks me off how his followers treat other people. Let's just assume he is right, and that eating a bland boring diet is the cure for all our ills in the weight department. How could anyone follow that plan long term? And besides, spices are well known to have health benefits like fighting cancer. Wouldn't we miss out on things like that? And is the strawberry a rewarding food or not? Cutting out foods like strawberries - really? In absence of other rewarding foods (anything that tastes good), I can see myself binging on them. They must be rewarding to me. I feel the whole argument is to tell fatties that they have no willpower and it cannot be the carbs. I don't have to listen as I know in my N=1 that I do not need willpower in the absence of carbs, nor is there a satiety signal for me in the presence of carbs. Jimmy Moore keeps telling us to find "a diet that works and to stick to it for life." I would be trying all the other diets first before a no reward diet. I don't think in reality it is a viable lifestyle option whether it works or not. And the Woo lady - she's very sharp! I learn so much from her.

  2. Hi Johannah!! We found from our experiences on the locavore project that it just takes a couple of weeks to totally reset one's palate to different foods. Though we were allowed salt and local herbs, after awhile I quit seasoning all the food for my family and it seemed normal. Another reason why the reward theory is lacking. "Rewarding" foods, such a moving target.

  3. You bet, Johannah, I never scroll through Woo's posts for too long. Too many gems, though I oftentimes don't have enough time to devote to a careful reading.