Pancakes Are Controlling Your Brain and Making You Eat More Pancakes

Illustration for article titled Pancakes Are Controlling Your Brain and Making You Eat More Pancakes

I KNEW IT. I knew you flat fluffy dicks were up to zero good. New research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that refined carbohydrates (like white sugar, white flour, corn syrup, and your dirty mistress PANCAKES) trigger intense cravings in the brain not unlike those that drug addicts experience. Awesome. Great. Thanks again, food.


So, basically, you eat the delicious garbage-carbs, you get an awesome party spike (woooooooooooo!!!!! San Dimas High School football rulz!), and then a few hours later you crash into a ravenous pancake-shaped hunger-hole that shan't be sated by anything save MORE DOUGH. Or as I like to call it, Tuesday, amirite!!!??!!? #prettyhotandtempting #likepancakes

Here's WaPo:

Ludwig and his colleagues gave 12 overweight and obese young men two drinks. One contained cornstarch, which has a low glycemic index, meaning it causes only a gradual rise in blood sugar. The other drink contained corn syrup, which has a high glycemic index. The researchers used artificial, zero-calorie sweeteners to make the two drinks taste identical.

The men who received the high-glycemic-index drink showed a dramatic spike in blood sugar after consuming the drink. Four hours later, their blood sugar levels crashed, and they reported being very hungry.

At the same time, brain scans of those who drank the corn syrup drink showed increased activation in the nucleus accumbens, a region of the brain that has been tied to reward and cravings in past research, compared with the men who drank the low-glycemic-index drink.

If this relatively small study can be replicated in larger populations, researchers hope that it can help people lose weight and avoid gaining weight and all of America's other thigh-related national pastimes. Cool, whatever, sounds good, go nuts.

I totally understand why it's important to have conventional wisdom backed up by science, but this "carbs are bad" thing doesn't exactly seem like news. For as long as I can remember people have been yelling about cutting carbs and eating six almonds and wearing anti-corn-syrup amulets. (BTW, please buy my new diet book: EAT SIX ALMONDS: THE EATING SIX ALMONDS STORY: A LIFE (OF CARRYING SIX ALMONDS AROUND IN A ZIPLOC BAGGY AND BEING SUPER THIN NOW).)

But whether or not you're surprised by the evils of refined carbohydrates, I think we can all agree that this data is sinister. Our system of food production perpetuates and profits from fomenting lifelong chemical addiction to processed sugars that they derive from heavily subsidized crops. It's fucking gross, but also a killer business plan—kudos, y'all. (Literally!!! #fat) We should all be paying attention to this shit.

Now, as a fat person who's incessantly confronted by strangers who presume they know exactly what I eat (they don't), I have a visceral, personal reaction to studies like this. Generally, I find them to be equal parts heartening and infantilizing. I certainly don't feel "addicted" to food—at least, not any more than any of us are "addicted" to a thing that we literally need to ingest every day to survive. On the one hand, anything that chips away at the "fat people are lazy sacks of shit who choose to be oppressed and therefore can't complain" paradigm is a boon for size acceptance and, hopefully, the quality of life of fat people. But on the other hand, addiction is deeply stigmatized in our culture (another problem that needs attention), and I don't appreciate having to choose between being either a whiny, bacon-slick glutton or a helpless, out-of-control cake junkie. Can't I just be a person? Please? Like, one time? ...No? Okay, then.


I guess here's where I come down: Scientific inquiry is important—the truth is the truth. But, for the sake of actual human lives, we have to be careful with how we spin that truth.

Image via Lisovskaya Natalia /Shutterstock.



RE: Six almonds.

I...::sigh:: I started doing this recently. I actually started prepping all of my snacks and portioning them out. I use these, because I have a crazy amount at my disposal, since I make a lot of jello shots. FANCY ALMOST THIRTYSOMETHING Jello shots.

What is weird is, if I do an apple and a 6 almond cup at 11 AM, I am totally happy eating a salad for lunch. And then I have hummus or almond butter (in another solo cup) and fruit or veg at 4, and I'm not hungry, at all, all day. I know, I rolled my eyes at it, too. But it's kind of.... working?

ETA: by kind of working, I mean, I'm eating better. Which was my goal — to stop binging due to hunger when I went home for lunch or at the end of the day. Has it made me skinny? Let me let my fat ass answer for me. Did you hear that? It just said HAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAHAHAH.