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  1. Here is something I found fascinating in the CR Survey data about people's way of practicing CR, and how it varies with how long they've been practicing. First, I divided the population into three groups, relatively short-term (<= 5 years, n=8), medium-term (6-10 years, n=7) and long-term (12+ years, n=15) practitioners based on data collected from both the Forum and Facebook responders. Then I looked at people's "Calorie Tracking Strategy" as a function of how long they'd be practicing CR, based on this question from the survey "Which statement best characterizes your CR practice?". The question had these response options: I eat when I'm hungry and don't try to control my calories I generally try to eat less but don't think too much about it I'm usually pretty careful about how much I eat, but don't track calories per se I eat different foods every day and am pretty diligent about tracking calories I eat the same thing nearly every day to make sure I'm getting nearly the same calories None of the 30 respondents included in the analysis (who had complete enough data) chose answer #1, so I eliminated that option from the analysis. Then I combined #2 and #3 into a "Don't Track" group, resulting in three categories (rearranged for clarity): I eat different foods every day and diligently track calories (labelled "Track" in graph) I'm careful to try to eat less but I don't track calories (labelled "Don't Track" in graph) I eat nearly the same thing every day to ensure nearly constant calories (labelled "Eat Same" in graph) While the number in each of the "duration of CR" categories is relatively small (7, 6, and 12 for short, medium and long-term practitioners) so the results must be taken with a few grains of salt, the results are nevertheless really interesting and at least suggestive. Here is the graph (click to enlarge): As you can see from the graph, the style of calorie tracking varies dramatically based on duration of CR practice. CR "novices" (<= 5 years), tend to be diligent about tracking their calories, while the "medium term" practitioners (6-10 years) prefer to carefully eat less but not track calories, and the "long-term" practitioners (12+ years) tend towards eating nearly the same thing every day. Here is my (hypothesized) explanation for this trend across the three duration categories of CRers. The gung-ho but relatively inexperienced short-term practitioners feel they need to track calories diligently to ensure they stick with the program and may even get a kick out of careful tracking, as a hobby. With more years of CR under their belt, the medium-term CR practitioners (6-10 years) shift to a more casual style of CR and stop diligently tracking calories, perhaps because the novelty of careful tracking wears off or becomes too much of a pain, or perhaps they get into a "CR groove" and feel they don't need to track calories carefully anymore. The really long-term CR practitioners might tend towards eating nearly the same thing every day for several, related reasons, based on my personal experience (being one of them): Perhaps after a while the more casual "eat a low-calorie, varied diet but don't track calories" style of the medium-term practitioners gets too casual, to the point where they fall off the CR wagon. In other words, it is too tempting to cheat when eating a varied diet, and so it is only those medium-term practitioners who adopt a pattern of eating nearly the same thing nearly every day that can stick with the rigors of CR to become long-term practitioners. Perhaps it becomes too cognitively/psychologically taxing to estimate/control (even casually) one's calorie intake on a varied diet, and so the most successful long-term strategy is to eat a nearly constant diet day-to-day to reduce cognitive load and/or psychological stress. Analogous to Steve Jobs, President Obama and Albert Einstein, who all wore the same outfit every day to reduce the number of mundane choices they had to make so they could focus on other things. As my previous analysis showed, the really long-term practitioners tend to be the most hardcore practitioners as well, with the lowest BMI and greatest weight loss. Perhaps to maintain a more severe degree of calorie restriction (not just sticking with a moderate program for a long time) requires a more controlled, consistent style of eating, i.e. eating nearly the same thing every day. Perhaps to stick with CR for the very long term necessitates an indifference to food/taste to the point that only people who naturally find it tolerable/satisfying/enjoyable to eat the same thing every day can stick with the program. In other words, the long-term practitioners may have a different, more 'utilitarian', "food as fuel" attitude that enables them to succeed where 'gourmet-types' fail. Alternatively, perhaps eating CR for a long time changes one's test preferences, or heightens the pleasure one receives from eating a seemingly monotonous diet, making it more enjoyable. Or maybe its not as enjoyable to eat the same foods every day, and so its easier to eat less of them and stick to a CR program long-term. Perhaps practicing CR very long-term eventually triggers or evolves into a form of orthorexia, obsession with eating optimally, and to accomplish such optimality CRers eventually gravitate towards eating the same set of foods everyday which they consider most healthy. Perhaps CR doesn't trigger orthorexia, but instead only those already obsessed enough with healthy eating to consume the same thing every day can also have the discipline to stick with CR for so many years. Obviously these explanations aren't mutually exclusive or even completely non-overlapping. But whatever the reason(s), I think it's cool that we can gain new insights, and evidence regarding existing intuitions about CR practitioners and their habits "in the wild". I don't think anyone has investigated this sort of thing before. It's what citizen science is all about! This kind of information can potentially help new CRers know what to expect over time, and how to structure their CR practice to maximize chances of success based on the experience of others who've been doing it for a long time. Or alternatively it might scare some people away, contemplating what it apparently takes to succeed on CR in the very long term... I'd love to hear what others think about the cause of these different eating patterns between difference lengths of CR practice, especially based on your personal experience. Stay tuned for a new survey I'm putting together to explore other areas of how we practice CR... --Dean
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