How “The Seaweed Diet” May Work
I was on my way in this morning, running my son to a day of outdoor camp, when I got an urgent call.
It was the top local morning radio show, Lewis & Floorwax on 103.5 Fox in Denver. I’m on the show a few times a year and the guys have come to rely on me for straight, no BS answers to everything health and fitness. So when they’ve got a question they ring me up.
This morning’s LIVE, on the spot question was on the Seaweed Diet. Yes, the Seaweed diet… a guy who called in had told the duo that he’d lost 22 pounds in 4 weeks (maybe 6, not sure) by eating 2 ounces of seaweed a day! Wait! That’s not all. His claim continued with, “…and I’ve lost the weight without changing anything I’m eating or adding exercise. I’m still eating all the cheeseburgers, soda pop and candy I want.”
Here’s what I had to say about this so-called “seaweed diet”:
First of all, as far as I know there really is not “Seaweed Diet,” yet. I think that was just how he’s referring to this wackiness as but then again, he had to get this somewhere. Lord help us if there is because it is just the sort of obtuse, extreme, weirdness that the human mind likes to grab and hold on to. Thus, if it’s not out there, expect it to be soon.
Hence, you can consider this advance warning.
The first BS Alarm in any diet, pill or miracle cure is the line, “and I can eat anything I want still.” First off, short of a stick of TNT in rear, eating anything you want, doing exactly what you’ve been doing will get you exactly the results you’ve been getting. Thus, on hearing this I get an instant red flag.
The red flag gets me to pondering what this guys intention is. Is he just setting up some viral marketing? Does he have some intent to benefit from this story? To this I have no answer but it’s a question that can be helpful to reflect on.
Now, I don’t believe for a moment that seaweed has some miracle weight loss powers and that some overweight guy in Denver just discovered. Nope, nor working.
But, let’s say for a moment that this guy actually believes–I mean 100% believes–what he’s saying and he has no ulterior motive, why might he be experiencing this weight loss? The answer is in the question: He believes.
If he believes that seaweed works, if it gives him hope then it can have an impact. That impact may be that he’s having to pay attention to eating something, the same thing, every day. And that thing he’s eating is not a normal food and thus it focused his attention and in some way wakes him up to eating, to his experience, to life. The wake up to eating, the sense of having done something good for myself, the awareness in itself could easily all come together to effect the way he’s showing up in life.
If he’s got more hope, he will behave differently–without effort. This likely includes making subtle choices that are better for him, eating less without the sense of sacrifice or diet. With belief, hope and awareness on his side he’s already a stronger, more empowered man.
So, from his perspective he’s not changed a thing because he’s not taken the usual path of suffering and sacrifice. Still, he’s eating better and who knows, maybe even moving more, doing more. The changes are subtle and no off major effort so he feels like the thing he believes in, the seaweed, is the source of it all. Technically, that’s a case of projection–he’s unknowingly projecting his own power and Strength on to the seaweed. Sounds sort of funny but that’s the way it works for most of us. Well, not with seaweed but we are all inclined to find an object or person that we can project out power on to so we can deal with it.
For, and I quote, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us most.” ~ Maryanne Williamson.
Okay, enough psychology for now.
What we have here, once again, assuming the absolute best for this guys story, is a case of The Placebo Effect. The the power of belief is very real and should you ever doubt it, consider that the placebo, which is used as a standard control in pharmaceutical studies, outperforms that drug in study better than 50% of the time. That makes the placebo the most tested, proven and wildly successful “drug” available anywhere to anyone.
Other possibilities for this weight loss anomaly may be that the seaweed is acting like bulk and fiber. Once again, making a slight shift in his digestion and appetite. Let’s face it, 22 lbs off a nearly 330 lbs man, while a great start could easily be achieved through some very moderate shifts in eating habits and lifestyle.
And one last possibility is that seaweed, which is likely a type of kelp, is rich in iodine. One of the causes of hypothyroidism (low thyroid) is a deficiency of iodine. Iodine is essential for the thyroid gland to produce thyroxin, the thyroid hormone.
If the gentlemen in question were suffering, unknowingly, from hypothyroidism as the result of iodine deficiency and started eating seaweed… well, yeah, you got it. Hello Houdini!
Even if this were the case and he accidentally resolved a nutrient deficiency by eating seaweed wouldn’t it better nice to know it? Personally, I’d much rather know how change was affected and how to control it then wind up spend years of my life building a tribute to the seaweed God.
There’s my take on this story. There are a number of ways to explain the declared weight loss. All possible but I’m still leaning towards the first response. B.S!
Here’s to your LIFE @ Full Strength!
P.S. Want a more honest, effective and authentic way to lose weight? Check out these: The 8 Universal Keys to Weight Loss.