Texas Tech University

Why we're so obsessed with rigid diets like keto

NBC News

January 26, 2019

Whether you’re in favor of food rules or totally against any sort of structured plan, it’s pretty hard to deny that we Americans crave them. Proof is in the popularity of programs, like the Whole 30, the ketogenic diet, the carnivore diet, intermittent fasting, and others, which promote eliminating entire food groups and/or following certain (often strict) guidelines. Do we like a good no-sugar, no-grain, no-alcohol challenge or is there something else at play?

Martin Binks, PhD, associate professor and Director of the Nutrition Metabolic Health Initiative (HMI) at Texas Tech department of Nutritional Sciences puts it this way: "It's easier to make a yes or no choice," explaining that it's simpler and less stressful to make binary decisions rather than to get into nuanced ones. Food rules can simplify things. When the waiter drops by with the bread basket, a keto dieter can quickly and easily get to "no thanks" compared to all of the variables a flexible eating style might require: "What other starchy foods am I eating? How hungry am I? Is the bread whole grain?" The more variables there are, the more complicated it is for your brain to make a decision and this, he says, explains part of our obsession with food rules.

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