Monday, June 26, 2006

Oil containers, Tim Beneke, supertasters, and a revealing quote

Since my last post, some very interesting material has surfaced at Seth's forums.

Of oil and bottles

While I lost weight fastest on sugar water in Sep-Nov 05, (and Seth lost his on fructose water), I, Seth, and most of the users at the forums are now using oil. This decision was largely due to fears of negative effects on blood sugar using sugar water, oils just working better for many, and perceived health benefits of oils. (There's quite a debate about which oils are best, but I'll save that for another post.)

One of the decided non-benefits of oils is their inconvenience: inconvenience in travel, dispensing, and everything else one must do with molecules of lipid nature to get them from point A outside your tummy to point B inside. This has driven the folks posting at Seth's forums have come up with a list of several creative "bottle" recommendations.

The recycled (all emptied and washed):
  • tiny metal-lidded jam jars;
  • plastic pediatric medicine bottles: already have ML measurements on the side (my current choice);
  • complimentary hotel toiletry bottles;
  • sports gel bottle with 1-tablespoon measurements marked on with a sharpie marker;
  • Fuji film canister (carries the oil and doubles as a shot glass).
The bought:

  • travel makeup bottle with pull-up spout, from beauty supply store, about $2;
  • "ketchup / mustard"-style squeeze bottles from the dollar store: snap open, squirt into mouth or ML-marked medicine cup, snap closed;
  • these nifty online-purchased food-grade aluminum bottles ($0.70 to $1.30) and plastic squirt bottles (just over $9 for 12)

Wayne Wirs, in recommending the plastic squirt bottle, says to squirt the oil over your tongue and into the back of your mouth. He also recommends putting a bit of water in your mouth first, then squirting the oil onto that.

Tim Beneke reappears

When Seth Roberts did his stint as a guest blogger at Freakonomics in September 2005, pictures and the story of his friend Tim Beneke were featured (here is Seth's archived final Freakonomics post, which links to all of his other Freakonomics potings, and which contains a posting from Tim, AKA "Taste Celibacy"). The pictures of Tim before and after using Shangri-La were startling, showing Tim in very different states: quite obese, and flat-out slim. These pics (anyone have any working links for them?) were the final evidence to send me leaping and jumping through my home, "optimistic" about Seth's methods.

Tim's posted again at Seth's forums. He's now down 97 pounds, and still using oil and his "Beneke method" of taking food cooked into a mush, tastelesly. (This is described in Seth's book.) Tim's posting, with some notes and encouragement, is here.

Supertasters at risk?

Among the progress notes and recipes at Seth's forums, there's often hypotheses on theory and the nature of weight gain and loss.

An interesting thread mulling aspects of this brings up the possibility that supertasters (a certain percentage of the population whose tongues are unusually sensitive to flavors: see here for an "Are you a supertaster?" test at the BBC) are most at risk of becoming overweight, due to tasting food more intensely. In Seth's theory, this would trigger increased set-point raising.

The thread also discusses how foods familiar from even our distant past can trigger rapid weight gain in susceptible people.

Hopefully a survey question will be launched at the forum to see how many are supertasters, normal tasters, and nontasters. I'll follow on this idea, and report any results.

Today's highlighted forum post

To end, I'll quote an amusing and "revealing" post, from Seena, posted at Seth Roberts' forums on June 25th:

My SO and I have been doing SLD for six weeks, or is it seven? We've both lost, but how much we don't know, because I refuse to weight. We both feel great. Anyway, this evening we had a progress demonstration .....

We were working on the front lawn, digging, moving plants etc., when suddenly SO made the strange "wooops" sound. I looked up to see him with his shorts around his ankles. He grabbed them pronto, hauled them up and pretended to be embarrassed while I doubled over ... ROGL!

He announced that those shorts were TIGHT when he bought them a month ago.

Now admit it, that's better than a weigh-in!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Overall introduction, and Wikipedia

I've been following the diet (both in terms of practicing it and watching discussion about it) since it first appeared in the New York Times back in September 2005.

Since then, dozens of people have blogged about their experiences, and hundreds more posted online at my site, at other blogs, at CalorieLab, and more recently, at Seth's Shangri-La Diet forums. (Seth's main page is here, and in my links to the right.)

There are masses of posts at Seth's forums (nearly 6000 right now) and lots of other discussions of the diet. Here I'll just provide some running commentary of some of the more interesting stuff I find as I follow it. My faith and natural leanings strongly align me to the independent investigation of truth, so I've always had the mindset that I'll try to unbiasedly observe how much this diet succeeds. I'll thus be posting anything substantial, whether it seems to support or disprove the diet.

Several people have posted that the diet did not seem to be working for them, or that it was working very slowly (there is a "Why am I not losing weight?" thread).

However, the vast majority have indeed reported successful weight loss, at varying rates. (I'll not pull any instances of this for you, as a quick glance at Seth's forums shows this very clearly.) The current "champion" loser, Stephen M or Ethesis, started last year and is currently at -62 pounds. He posts updates here. I'm currently still at -20 pounds, but sure I can lose more, and will post more on my experience at this blog and here on Seth's forum. Folks posting at Seth's forums are in all stages of weight loss, from nada to having lost more weight than I have.

Very interestingly, posters regularly report identical "symptoms" as I and others experienced and documented in this blog back into 2005:
  • dramatic, sudden, and new (for us) "control" over what and when to eat
  • dramatic reduction or "taming" of appetite
  • greatly diminished cravings
  • a change in "taste" away from junk, salty, overly-spiced, or other typical "bad" foods
The diet seems to regularly increase people's sense of "detachment"; especially from food, but also from other intakes it seems.

A few people have enthusiastically reported that their attemps to give up smoking ("Quitting smoking with SLD" thread) and alcohol ("Drinking less, too" thread) have been greatly assisted by the diet.

A few people struggling against eating disorders have also reported that they feel the diet has helped them greatly. I've quoted one post that particularly struck me: it's at the bottom of this post.

I haven't included in that reference to eating disorders all of the folks like me who obviously have been eating too much, and folks who know they have overeating eating disorders. Testimony on these matters is abundant and immediately obvious at the forums.

So regardless of how the diet works and doesn't work, it clearly does something. Something very significant, I think. Simply the assistance in dealing with stopping smoking, reducing drinking, and fighting eating disorders is phenomenal. Many of us are very interested to find out what exactly is going on and why and how it works the way it does, but we'll have to wait until the diet has been thoroughly studied in medical settings for those answers. I'll post when I hear about any such studies happening.

Last in this post: the diet is now on Wikipedia! This link will take you there, though the article has been flagged for "cleanup".

srlygrl's post about an eating disorder and the diet (from here):
I can attest to the fact that this works even at a very low weight. I have been battling an eating disorder for quite some time, and was stuck in a starvation/binge/exercise cycle that I just couldn't get out of. Seth's theory really rang true with me, because I always felt as though I had a set point that was well above my body weight, and that my body was always trying to add another 5-7 pounds (or even more). I was constantly thinking about food, and even though I have pretty great willpower, the food thoughts always won out in the end to some degree. I'm 5'1" and 100 pounds, which is a normal BMI and where I'd like to stay, but I really did have to starve to keep myself there. I didn't start SL to lose weight, rather to see if I could maintain my weight while eating like a "normal" person, and it has worked beautifully for me. While I do still think about food (that's par for the course when you've got an ED), I get ridiculously full so quickly that it's difficult to take in more than a normal portion size at any given sitting (no more bingeing!). I've also become more rigorous about eating non-processed, whole, low-glycemic foods, and the combination of those changes and the oil has been very powerful. The upshot is, I'm eating the healthiest diet in the world, and not gaining weight. It's truly amazing: this has achieved in a few weeks what years of shrinks and medication could not--go figure!

New blog contents: The Shangri-La Diet Watcher

After a bit of a hiatus, hello, all!

This blog was initially created back in 2005 to fill a gap when there was no place for Shangi-La Diet "experimenters" to share their experiences and ideas. Nine months on, Seth's forums are up and very active and a Yahoo! group is in the works. This blog can now be turned to new uses.

What seems presently needed is someone "watching" the Shangri-La experience as reflected on Seth's forums (and the Yahoo! group, once it starts) and summarizing overall trends and interesting findings. I'll try using this blog for that for a while. If that starts being done well somewhere else, then I'll re-adapt this blog.

I'm going to keep these community sections open just in case anyone would rather post here than in Seth's forums or the Yahoo! group. The current community section will be kept under my running blog entries summarizing my "diet-watching". If it becomes apparent that this is no longer needed, then I'll move the community space into an archive section.

I'll definitely not be deleting any of the wonderful content everyone has contributed, or stopping this blog (unless Blogger makes me do that for some reason :) ). We are a small but important part of history. Hooray!

See you in this same space, somewhat different content.


Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Common Posting Area & Introduction: mid-April - July 2006

Common posting area

The comments below this post are a "common area" where people can post on all things related to the diet. Comments from Jan-mid-April 2006 and from 2005 are in separate archive postings further down on this page.


This blog blogged into existence as a temporary home for discussion of how I and others are faring on Seth Roberts' Shangri-La Diet. A summary of his methods can be found at Calorie Lab at

Roberts' book, The Shangri-La Diet: The No Hunger, Eat Anything Weight Loss Plan is available at (and other book-buying venues). A review by one blogger who has followed Seth's methods since September, and lost (at last count) 44 pounds, is at .

All who are interested can just post their progress and notes or follow mine as we try out our interpretations of Seth Roberts' unusual weight loss techniques. This blog is not affiliated with Seth Roberts: it was simply created by an interested dieter, who had previously followed the Freakonomics blogs and posted there as Masa'il and American Mom in Malaysia. (I'll go by Annie now.)


Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Archive: Jan-MidApril 2006

Common posting area

The comments below this post are a "common area" where people can post on all things related to the diet. If you wish to have your "own space", see the related posting above. Comments from 2005 are in a separate archive posting further down on this page.


This blog blogged into existence as a temporary home for discussion of how I and others are faring on Seth Roberts' Shangri-La Diet. A summary of his methods can be found at Calorie Lab at

All who are interested can just post their progress and notes or follow mine as we try out our interpretation of Seth Roberts' unusual weight loss techniques. (I say "interpretation" as his book is not yet out, so our practices are gleaned from what he's posted online.)

This blog is not affiliated with Seth Roberts: it was simply created by an interested dieter, who had previously followed the Freakonomics blogs and posted there as Masa'il and American Mom in Malaysia. (I'll go by Annie now.)


Tuesday, November 15, 2005

How to "do" Seth Roberts' diet

This post very basically summarizes how most of us are following Seth Roberts' methods. Read his book when it comes out for the whole scoop! A summary of his methods, and more folks' comments, can be found at Calorie Lab at

At least one hour away (both ways) from "tasting" something (specifically eating a meal), either:
-drink sugar water--most folks use between 3-4 Tablespoons of either sucrose (table sugar) or fructose, dissolved in between 1/2 liter and 1 liter of water, or

-sip an unflavored or lightly-flavored oil--most use between 1 and 4 Tablespoons of canola or extra-light olive oil.

If you use a strong enough "dose" of these for you (you'll need to experiment a bit) you'll find that you won't need to eat for at least an hour afterwards, and likely longer. Try to use the lowest dose that works for you.

You may try this up to two or three times a day, though some people use it only once. Use his method between the times when you have decided you will eat. Some people have only a light breakfast, then use the methods during the day, and then have dinner. I eat breakfast and lunch (though both "late") then use his method to stop eating after that. Experiment and see what suits you.

Roberts' methods allow people to reduce what they eat without throwing their bodies into "fasting" mode or making them too terribly hungry. According to his theory, it helps trick their "set points" to help them reduce the size your body is trying to maintain. (Learn about all this in his book when it's out, or in other places on the web.)

His methods have definitely helped all the long-term users on this blog to lose weight, though we have often hit "plateaus" for some reason, and then moved beyond them.

If you try this, be sure that you don't "abuse" his methods. Get enough nutrition and calories for your body's needs, by eating well in the meals that you do eat, etc. You alone are responsible for your body and your health!

Annie (Masa'il)

Friday, September 30, 2005

2005 archive

This is the archive of comments from 2005: Sep-Dec.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Useful gleaned tidbits

Here are some useful bits of information related to Roberts' diet from posts in the Freakonomics blogs. Thanks to all those who posted these there! The link to the Freakonomics blog is at the bottom of this post. Again, Calorie Lab has a useful summary of his methods at

On how much sugar to mix, posted by Seth Roberts:

As for kitchen measurments, it was pointed out in the
comments that 15 ml = 1 tablespoon. Molly has exactly the right idea.


-This seems to be 1 Tbs dissolved in about 1/2 to 1 cup water. I've been mixing it to about soft-drink-sweetness strength and then just taking about 1/2 cup and waiting before I drink more water: it seems letting the high-sugar-molarity solution "hit my tummy" first makes a difference for me. Others have been using different dilutions to see what works for them: 1-2 tablespoons in one liter of water is also popular.

-Based on Roberts' theory, only calorie-providing, less-flavorful sugars (refined fructose, table sugar, etc.) would work. Using a diet sweetener or honey/brown sugar etc instead may not work and has been un-recommended.

-There is indeed concern among posters about tooth health and drinking sugar water. Be careful and take extra-good care of your teeth. (However, some of us have wondered how long we need to wait after the sugar to brush our teeth...)

On non-sugar alternatives:

Several posters have said they've found success with oil. In one instance, a successful-weight-loss poster is very happy taking his mixed with rice bran to a peanut-buttery consistency and "chased" by grapefruit juice. Dosages range from 1/2 Tbs to 3 Tbs at a time: posters have been adjusting the dosage to quell their hunger.

Useful tips regarding the oil include: use only low-flavored oils (such as extra light olive oil), refrigerate it can help it go down better if desired, and working up from small sips may help if sucking down oil is tough for you.

On Roberts' meals, posted by Molly:

I found another site online ( that
interviewed Roberts and here's what he eats per day on "maintenance":One normal
meal (about 900 calories) Two pieces of fruit (about 75 calories apiece) Sugar
water (150 calories)He drank more sugar water when he was actively losing
weight. Sounds like he fasts all day, controlling his hunger pangs with sugar
water, and then eats a satisfying dinner.

Of course all of us are wondering: can we do that? Is it safe? Can we get enough nutrients that way? It's true that reduced-calorie diets have shown greater longevity in research, down to a certain point. However, there seem to be no definite interpretations regarding nutrition and calories relative to Roberts' diet. Many people are already on calorie restrictions advocated by their doctors, and are following that advice within the diet.

On supplements:

At least one poster has recommended vitamin and mineral supplementation. I personally still supplement with the nutrients likely low in my diet relative to my needs. Wisdom seems to strongly indicate using high-nutrition foods for the allocated meals in the diet, and posters seem to be doing that.

On success or not:

Several people have posted at Freakonomics saying the diet has worked fairly well so far for them (averaging about 3-7 pounds weight loss over a week or so). A few have posted saying it has not worked for them, reporting no change or actually an increase in weight.

I feel nervous about pasting their personal accounts here without there permission, so if you want to read more, go to the Freakonomics blogs at and the other linked (at the sidebar) Seth Roberts blogs. You can scroll down and read all the reader comments.

Some of the posters here have now been on the diet for 2-3 weeks, and are reporting still significant and steady weight loss, combined with a universal sense of new "detachment" from food: easier to control overeating and eating/drinking no-nos (a loss of cravings).

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

What does "Masa'il" mean, anyway?

I am a Baha'i (member of the Baha'i Faith). Masa'il is the name of one of the 19 months in the Baha'i Calendar.

Each month is named in Arabic after an attribute of God: Mercy (Rahmat); Knowledge ('Ilm); Beauty (Jamal); and 16 others, including Questions (Masa'il). I always thought it was pretty cool to have a month named Questions. Not usually thought of as an attribute of God...

I took "Masa'il" as my original handle to post in the Freakonomics column because it seemed the most appropriate--I had lots of questions about Roberts' methods!

For those of you interested in religious calendars, click here. If you just want to know "What's a Baha'i?", the official U.S. Baha'i site and official International Baha'i site are good choices.