Bringing Wellness Full Circle

Posts tagged ‘Eating’

Got Fiber?

I know we talk about fiber a lot, but our need for fiber will never go away… But what is it really, and what does it do for us?

By definition, fiber is the indigestible part of fruits, seeds, vegetables, whole grains and other edible plants. And here are four basic benefits of eating enough fiber:

  1. Reduces Inflammation: A recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical a Nutrition found that c-reactive protein (CRP) – a marker of inflammation and a predictor of future heart disease and diabetes – was inversely related to dietary fiber. As fiber consumption goes up, harmful inflammation goes down.
  2. Promotes a Healthy Weight: Not only does soluble fiber prevent the absorption of fat, but it also helps you to feel full longer. Less hunger means fewer calories… and therefore fewer pounds. Researchers have calculated that if Americans doubled their fiber intake, they could cut 100 calories from their diet a day – which equates to 10 pounds of yearly weight gain!
  3. Improves Gastrointestinal Health: Soluble fiber is the favorite “food” of the healthy bacteria that live in your digestive tract. And a healthy tummy is a happy tummy! Soluble fiber can help improve digestion, enhance nutrient absorption and provide significant relief of IBS symptoms.
  4. Improves Blood Sugar Balance: Soluble fiber traps carbohydrates, slowing their digestion and absorption and aiding in blood sugar balance. In fact, a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that a high-sugar, low-fiber diet more than doubles women’s risk of Type II (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes.

Let’s talk about the healthy weight benefit. How do fiber and fiber-rich foods control hunger and increase the  feeling of fullness?  Well, this happens partly because fiber-rich foods take up a large volume in the stomach, and partly because they promote and prolong CCK (cholecystokinin) to make you feel full longer–appetite is reduced directly by the bulk of the fiber and indirectly through the delayed emptying of the stomach and the release of brain and gastrointestinal-tract hormones which signal satiety. Pretty cool, isn’t it? Also, fiber is a natural way to reduce the body’s absorption of fat and sugar, as it slows down the conversion of carbohydrates to sugar, allowing glucose to be burned more efficiently instead of being stored quickly as fat. The higher the fiber content of a single food or a meal in total, the harder and longer the body has to work to digest it, which is a weight loss advantage in three ways: (1) the body burns more calories just digesting your food, (2) you stay full longer, and (3) your appetite is reduced because as the absorption slows down, so does the rate at which the blood sugar rises and falls.

So fiber helps you lose weight and/or maintain your ideal weight, but there is so many more benefits of fiber! It also helps you maintain  healthy cholesterol levels, reduce the risk of heart attack and developing diabetes, promotes bowel regularity and fecal energy excretion: calories are removed with the bowel movement (fiber flush effect) and improves immunity.

How much fiber should you eat?  You know it!  Shoot for 35 g daily! So eat those fresh vegetables and yummy fruits and beans and grains!


Intelligent Programming

Whether you believe you come from apes or you have a Creator, you have to admit that the human body is absolutely amazing.

If we have a cut, we clot.

If a cell dies in our body, our white blood cells eat them to clear the debris.

When we are exhausted, we fall asleep.

If we break a bone, we somehow grow it back together.

And we do all of this without even being aware of it. We don’t even think about the processes happening in our bodies. Actually, we probably would mess it up if we did.

Think about circadian rhythms… when left in the dark without any clocks, humans quickly go back to dividing their days in 8 hours blocks: sleep, work and relaxation.

It is as though our bodies have brains and know how to heal themselves, how to regulate themselves, how to protect themselves, how to nurture themselves. Our bodies are simply brilliant. 

So why is it that when it comes to food, the very thing that feeds this amazing body, we think it doesn’t know what it needs and we should take control of it all?  Why do we feel the need to micromanage everything that has to do with our eating in view of what everybody says? Hmmm…

What if we would go back to recognizing hunger pangs and eating only when the body tells us to eat?

Remember the movie Home alone? I don’t remember the little kid’s name (the one who was left home alone), but didn’t he start by eating all the junk food he could? He loved eating the stuff  that he normally was not allowed to eat. But eventually, the junk food made him feel horrible, and his body started to crave healthy stuff. He wound up eating nutritious foods–down to veggies! Instinctively, he realized his need for good food and he want for it. Hmmm…


Interesting, isn’t it?

Could your body be smarter than all the advertisers, researchers and marketers put together? Could your body be smarter than your brain?

What if we started a revolution by paying attention to our bodily signals and eating what we really crave? My bet is that after a trial and error phase, we would settle into eating what we need. And we would be so much healthier for it.

So, what’s your inner voice telling you?

Frustrated about not losing weight or inches?

You’re eating the right kinds of fats and carbs and exercising more than you used to. And you are just getting frustrated because the number on the scale just won’t bulge. Man, do I know how that feels… Here are some things that may be derailing you… and you may not like them all, but you know me–I’ll tell it like it is.

Physical Factors

1. You don’t have enough muscle.
The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn. Fat and muscle tissues consume calories all day long whether you’re running, reading or sleeping. No matter what you’re doing, muscle rips through more calories than fat.  That’s why men burn calories a lot faster than women; they have more muscle.  Start lifting weights. You don’t have to get huge, but building and maintaining muscle week after week, year after year makes a difference in the long run.

2. Genetics: The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
s does play a part in how we look.  If for example both parents are obese, you are much more likely to be obese.  BUT you are still not doomed!  It’s just going to be tougher by 10% to 50%; and you may never be a size 2; but who needs to be a size 2?

3. You’re getting older.
A sluggish metabolism is a common aging problem. And it doesn’t help that we sit in traffic, sit at work for hours in front of a computer and lay on the couch when we get home.  With all this inactivity, we gradually lose muscle and increase body fat, resulting in a metabolic slump. Not unbeatable, though! Lift weights!  But don’t underestimate the power of just moving. maybe you faithfully walk on your treadmill for an hour each day or go to your yoga class, but what are you doing the other 23 hours?  It’s a no-brainer: Folding laundry, walking to a co-worker’s desk and cooking dinner burn more calories than watching TV, emailing your co-worker or driving to the pizza place. Actually, research shows that thin people fidget and move (called non-exercise activity) more than overweight people. Antsy behavior might actually burn as much as 350 more calories per day – the equivalent of two small doughnuts; so get up to change the channel!

4. The problem is in your medicine cabinet.
A host of drugs that treat diabetes, depression, high blood pressure, inflammatory disease and more affect weight regulation. Some will make you hungrier and others stimulate your body to store fat. And if a drug affects the brain, there’s a good chance it affects weight.  Ask your health care provider if there’s an alternate drug or a lower dose that could work, but don’t change your medications without discussing it first.




Self Sabotage

1. You underestimate your portions and calories.

Yep, I do that a lot.  But don’t feel bad: even dietitians underestimate calories – and by huge amounts!  It’s interesting that one study found that women and overweight people miscalculate more than others. Other studies suggest that the greatest underestimating occurs when the meals are the largest, and that it really doesn’t have anything to do with how fat someone is.  it might be smart to go back to measuring your food for a few days. Then plug in your food choices in a nutritional tracker software program, like Fitday or Lose it! And don’t forget to read food labels for serving size and calories.

2. You eat mindlessly or when distracted.
Do you eat dinner in front of the TV? Do you stop eating when you’re full or are you done when the show is over? For most of us, distractions lead to more and more mouthfuls of pasta or potatoes. If you’re munching from a bag of pretzels or a box of crackers, you realistically don’t keep track of how much you’ve eaten.  Make it a house rule to eat from a dish. Always. No bags, cartons or fistfuls. Put it in a dish, sit down and savor the taste as you eat – without distraction. That means that if you’re going to grab the crust of your daughter’s grilled cheese sandwich, you have to put it on a plate first… Yikes!

3. You deprive yourself.
Your list of can’t-have foods is so long that you feel frustrated all the time. In fact, you’ve been so strict with yourself, you can’t remember the last time you ate something you liked! You will wind up giving in, scarfing down real bad stuff and you will regret it and be mad at yourself, which will make you eat even more bad stuff! Sounds familiar? I’ve been there. Do me a favor and don’t set yourself up for feeling deprived. Take the focus away from that list of bad foods and emphasize those that are good for you.

4. You’re usually good, but…
You always watch your portions and you start each day with a healthful breakfast, and you eat only baked chicken, not fried. Always that is, unless you’re on vacation or dining out. Unless you’re  celebrating a birthday. Unless you’re sharing an anniversary. Unless you’re honoring your son’s first home run. One of those might be ok, but when they add up… yep, you know what I mean! Consistency is key to dropping pounds. Researchers involved with the National Weight Control Registry found that those who eat similarly day after day are more likely to maintain weight loss than others.  Start making small changes you can live with. Find ways to celebrate that don’t involve high-calorie eating (like a manicure) or take half of that restaurant meal home to celebrate again tomorrow.


5. You overestimate your calorie burn.
Gym machines are notorious for overestimating the calories burned by exercisers, and we can so  easily out-eat our workouts. Your 30-minute power walk might burn 200 calories, but that won’t make up for your after-exercise power smoothie.  Exercise is an important tool in controlling your weight and maintaining good health, but stop rewarding your good work with food.  A large bagel with cream cheese has about 430 calories—you need to do aerobic dancing for 63 minutes to cover that!

And when all is said and done, if you do everything right and the weight still hangs on, you might have a hormonal issue that should be looked at. Or maybe, just maybe, you are just right just the way you are… it might be your body telling you that.

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Intuitive Eating

This blog is my summary and comments on the book, Intuitive Eating, by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch

I love the way these two ladies think! In this world where many of us obsess about how much we eat, what we eat, how many calories we burned, or ate, or did not burn or did not eat, this book challenges us to a healthy way of thinking about food.  I personally believe that good nutrition (NEWAY of course!) should be part of your life before you embark on this challenging new way of doing things, or it might backfire on you.  … The Intuitive Eater marches to his/her inner hunger signals and eats whatever he chooses without experiencing guilt or ethical dilemma.  Interestingly enough, studies show that if you let toddlers eat spontaneously, they will eat what they need when given free access to food.

Here are 3 main keys for eating intuitively:

  1. Understand your own hunger signals
  2. Know that food is always available
  3. Trust yourself

10 Principles of Intuitive Eating:

Learn to reject diet mentality

Diets deprive you of certain foods and therefore cause you to be preoccupied with food, afraid that you won’t have enough, and make you prone to overeat when you get a chance à last supper before a diet, because you really think it’s the last time you will ever eat that food, or binges that don’t stop because you really think that tomorrow you will be “good” again and you have to pack it all in right now.

Diets actually increase binge eating, decrease metabolic rate, increase your preoccupation with food, your feelings of depravation and your sense of failure, and decrease your sense of willpower.

Undereating usually triggers overeating!  So get rid of the diet books and articles that offer you false hope of losing weight quickly, easily and permanently.  Get angry at the lies that have led you to feel as if you were a failure every time a new diet stopped working and you gained back all the weight! Protect your food boundaries by refusing to allow others to tell you what to eat, when to eat or how much to eat!

~Learn to honor your hunger

Lowering body weight by food restriction and dieting makes no sense metabolically or to our brain chemistry.  It is actually counter-productive.  The biological chemicals that regulate appetite also directly affect moods and state or mind.  The more you deny your true hunger and fight your natural biology, the stronger and more intense food cravings and obsessions are.  The body needs to know that it will always have access to food.  It is much easier for your body to stop eating if (1) it is not starving, and (2) it knows it can eat again when it is hungry again. So, keep your body biologically fed with adequate energy and carbohydrates, otherwise you might trigger a primal drive to overeat. You have to learn to honor the biological signals so that you can rebuild trust with yourself and food.  Listen for your hunger and do not deny it!

~Make peace with food

Depriving yourself of something you want actually heightens your desire for it.  The mere perception that food might become banned can trigger overeating.  Give yourself permission to eat what you really want without guilt, and you will find yourself not overeating any longer ~ within the NEWAY guidelines, because we don’t want to poison ourselves.  Your % will probably come back to normal within a few days.

 ~Challenge the food police

We are a nation filled with guilt about how we eat, and food is often described in moralistic terms with the food police taking you on a guilt trip with each “bad” bite of food.  Learn to identify your distorted food, dieting and eating thoughts and myths.  Challenge their power, throw them out and replace them with truth! Watch out for negative self-talk.

  ~Feel your fullness

When you diet, you can only eat so much and at certain times, so that sets you up for “cleaning your plate.”  When we learn to respect our fullness level, calories wouldn’t be an issue.  Big point to remember: food is always available later!  Don’t go on autopilot, but become mindful of your eating experience.

Pay attention to your fullness signals, be sure to honor your hunger, discard the notion that you must finish everything on your plate, increase your consciousness in order to help you identify satiety.

~Discover the satisfaction factor

When you promote pleasure as part of your eating, you find that it takes less food to decide that you have had enough.  Overeating often happens because satisfaction has been denied, so we keep eating, chasing phantom food, trying to fill a void creating by denying the satisfaction of the food we really want.  Give yourself permission to seek pleasure in your eating!  Don’t settle—eliminate the unenjoyable.

 ~Cope with your emotions without using food

Each difficult emotion has its own trigger and appeasement; food won’t fix any of these feelings, even though it might comfort and distract for a short while; if anything, it makes you feel worse in the long run.

 ~Respect your body

Accept your genetic blueprint.  Just as a person with a shoe size of 8 would not expect to realistically squeeze into a size 6, it is equally as futile to have the same expectation for body size.  Respect your body so you can feel better about who you are.  Work against being unrealistic and overly critical about your body shape.

Appreciate the parts of your body you like, quit comparing you to everybody else, stop body bashing, buy clothes that fit…

~Exercise—feel the difference

Get active and enjoy! Shift your focus to how it feels to move your body!  Get active in daily living and make exercise fun while making it a nonnegotiable priority.

~Honor your health—gentle nutrition

Variety, moderation and balance!  Feed your metabolism, concentrate on fiber, and lots of water!  Eat good fats, spread your protein throughout your day…

Sounds like NEWAY, doesn’t it?

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