Think you’ve tried every trick to squash food cravings? Try this new strategy:
Muscle through it: Next time a craving hits, make a fist or firm those biceps for a surge in willpower – then walk away. This technique helped people choose a healthier snack in an April 2011 study in the Journal of Consumer Research. Why does it work? When we’re determined to do something, like eke out the last difficult rep while lifting weights, we instinctively clench our muscles. In the same way, intentionally flexing a muscle can help us tap into that willpower, says study co-author Aparna Labroo, Ph.D.
To most, the word “diet” equals weight loss. But diet soda may not be holding up its end of the bargain. Researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center Center at San Antonio recently found that people who drank two or more diet sodas daily had a six-times-greater increase in waist circumference at the end of the 10-year study than those who didn’t drink diet soda at all.
Those bigger waists sizes may be due to the “I saved here, I can splurge there” theory of dieting, says researcher Sharon Fowler, M.P.H. Or perhaps the artificial sweeteners in diet soda stoked diet-soda drinkers’ appetite, as other research suggests.
Eat sweets for dessert only Reason: All of the above (see Days 1 – 6)
If you eat sweets on an empty stomach, there’s nothing to impede the sugar from racing directly into your blood stream – no fat, no soluble fiber, no protein, no vinegar. But if you confine sweets to the end of the meal, you have all of the built-in protection the preceding rules provide.
If you want to keep blood sugar on an even keel, avoid between-meal sweets at all costs – and when you do indulge, don’t eat more than you can hold in the cup of you hand. But a few bites of candy after a meal will have little effect on your blood sugar and insulin – and can be quite satisfying.
(Thanks to Dr. Rob Thompson, MD and March 2012 Prevention for providing information)
Have a glass of wine with dinner. Reason: Your liver won’t produce as much glucose.
Alcohol has unique sugar-blocking properties. Your liver normally converts some of the fat and protein in your blood to glucose, which adds to the glucose from the carbs you eat. But alcohol consumed with a meal temporarily halts your liver’s glucose production. A serving of any alcohol – beer, red or white wine, or a shot of hard liquor – will reduce the blood sugar load of a typical service of starch by approximately 25%.
That doesn’t mean you should have several drinks (especially if you have diabetes, as multiple drinks can cause hypoglycemia). Not only does alcohol contain calories, but it also delays the sensation of fullness, so you tend to overeat and pile on calories. Be especially mindful about avoiding cocktails that are made with sweetened mixers – yet another source of sugar.
Eat lightly cooked vegetables. Reason: You digest them more slowly.
Both fruits and vegetables contain soluble fiber. As a rule, though, vegetables make better sugar blockers, because they have more fiber and less sugar.
But don’t cook your vegetables to mush. Boiling vegetables until they’re limp and soggy saturates the soluble fiber, filling it with water so it can’t absorb the sugar and starch you want it to. Also, crisp vegetables are chunkier when they reach your stomach, and larger food particles take longer to digest, so you’ll feel full longer. Another tip: Roasted vegetables like cauliflower can often serves as a delicious starch substitute.
Include protein with your meal. Reason: You won’t secrete as much insulin.
Here’s a paradox: You want to blunt insulin spikes – but to do that, you need to start secreting insulin sooner rather than later. It’s like a fire department responding to a fire. The quicker the alarm goes off, the fewer firefighters will be needed to put out the blaze.
Even though protein contains no glucose, it triggers a ‘first-phase insulin response” that occurs so fast, it keeps your blood sugar from rising as high later – and reduces the total amount of insulin you need to handle a meal. So have meatballs with your spaghetti.