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Illusion Chasers

Illusion Chasers


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Fat Tuesday: Does Jet-Lag Make You Chronobese?

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cooked_crayfish_with_dill.jpg

This is a postprandial post from Lund, Sweden, where I have just returned to my hotel after my very first Swedish Crayfish Party. Two days ago, I knew nothing about this traditional summertime celebration. Today, I can tell you that it involves eating boiled crayfish with your fingers, while sucking the hard-to-reach parts out the shells (as a Galician native  of Spain, I had no trouble with either technique, and neither did the Japanese guests, although some of the Americans in attendance were properly horrified). The shellfish was accompanied with hard cheese and cold cuts, and generous amounts of schnapps (imbibed at specific points of customary drinking songs, which the hosts of the party translated to English for the benefit of non-Swedes).  Oh, and I shouldn’t forget the crazy custom-made hats — it turns out that proper attire at a crayfish party  includes hand-making a ridiculous hat that you’ll wear during dinner. Arts-and-crafts supplies were abundantly provided, and the Swedes were dead serious (and even a bit competitive) about making the silliest, most elaborately original hats. I realized, too late, that my paltry hat-making efforts were making me look lazy and unworthy, so I tried to pass on my run-of-the-mill, looks-like-a-1-year-old-made-it  hat to my 1-year old daughter, also in attendance. She refused to don it, even for the group picture.

Afterwards in my hotel room I ate a chocolate bar and a fair amount of macadamia nuts, even though I wasn’t hungry. I’m currently considering what to eat next, once I finish this post. Why do I feel this way?

I blame jetlag. The 9-hour time difference between Phoenix, Arizona–my home–and Lund, Sweden is messing with my circadian rhythms and making me susceptible to metabolic disturbances and so called “chronobesity”, says a recent  report of the Annals of the New York Academy of Science. Chronic jetlag, habitual night shifts, and rotating shift work, can have deleterious consequences on circadian organization and metabolic health, explain the authors. The reason may be the significant crosstalk between the circadian system and the metabolic system. The report concludes with the recommendation that dieting approaches to weight loss take into account, and aim to, synchronization of eating practices to local time. In other words, eat during the day, and don’t blog, but go to sleep, when it’s dark outside.

Susana Martinez-Conde About the Author: Susana Martinez-Conde and Stephen L. Macknik are laboratory directors at the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix. Follow on Twitter @illusionchasers.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





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