Tuesday, March 5, 2024

An experiment with variety and portion...

 Variety keeps us from getting bored on a diet, and therefor helps to maintain it.  However it also serves to entice us to overeat foods because of the hedonic aspect or deliciousness of the new food.  

I'm currently doing an experiment with meal delivery of keto foods.  The food is professionally prepared, and the menu and variety are relatively large.  Simultaneously though, the food is provided in controlled 550 calorie portions.   Assuming one doesn't binge on the delivered food by eating more than 2 or 3 portions per day, the portion size remains reasonably controlled.  (Also, as an aside, I usually consume the meal with a large salad or serving of veggies in an effort to trigger stretch receptors in the gut that wouldn't normally be triggered by the volume of the meal delivery.)

My hypothesis is that this combination of hedonic low-carb, high-fat food, and portion control might be a useful tool in maintaining a low-carb diet.  This hypothesis centers on the concept of hedonic satiety which I have written about before.  Essentially, most people can't maintain a diet that they are extremely bored of.  Most people can't maintain a diet that doesn't at least have some aspect of providing pleasure.  However when people entertain this hedonic drive, they go way overboard, often for months or years on end.

If provided a large tray of the professionally prepared foods that come in this meal delivery, rather than the smaller portions, I don't know that I could intrinsically, or intuitively regulate my intake of these foods.  They are just too tasty.  The extrinsic portion control is actual (despite what I have written elsewhere) pretty useful.

It is also worth focusing on the fact that the macronutrient composition of these meals is still keto.  I am decidedly not still hungry after I consume the meal.  If it were in front of me, I might eat more because it is delicious, but after consuming the portion, I don't feel ravenous.  These meals are not hedonic beyond just being well spiced and well prepared. In contrast, for example, to highly processed food in which the constituent chemicals are A/B tested to determine what formulation causes the most drive to consume or to foods that are engineered to a 'bliss point'.    

So the point of the portion control isn't the starvation that comes with continuing to eat junk food and simultaneously trying to reduce calories.  The point of the portion control is to balance the hedonic nature of this very tasty, but otherwise filling ("high satiety") food.  If this experiment turns out to be beneficial (as chiefly measured by the endpoint of body weight and satiety), it might argue for both paying attention to the culinary effort that goes into our keto meals, as well as perhaps serving the food on a plate rather than from a large tray or bowl.

Having someone in the family that has the skills to both prepare tasty keto food, and portion in reasonable amounts (flexibly, depending on the consumer, their activity level for the day...etc), would be incredibly useful.  I unfortunately am neither a good cook, or a good judge of portions.  I also live alone, so any benefit that might come from extrinsic portion control has to come from the food vendor.  Put simply, my eyes are classically "bigger than my stomach", and I don't have anyone here to portion my food for me.