Mindful vs Mindless Eating

Reducing Blood Sugar Spikes Day 2

Start your meal with a salad.
Reason: It soaks up starch and sugar.
Soluble fiber from the pulp of plants - such as beans, carrots, apples, and oranges -- swells like a sponge in your intestines and traps starch and sugar in the niches between its molecules.

Soluble means “dissolvable” - and indeed, soluble fiber eventually dissolves, releasing glucose. However, that takes time. The glucose it absorbs seeps into your bloodstream slowly, so your body needs less insulin to handle it. A good way to ensure that you get enough soluble fiber is to have a salad - preferably before, rather than after, you eat a starch.

Can You Think Yourself Thin?

Love yourself thin? Overweight women who were made to feel bad about their body size ate more than 3 times as many calories afterward as a control group, according to a new study in the journal Obesity. So if you want to slim down, be as careful about what's on your mind as you are about what's on the menu.

Feb 2012 Prevention

Eating Choices and Healthy Decisions This Week

Have you caught yourself making healthier choices or decisions this week?

You seem to point out all the things you do wrong to yourself all the time.  How about flipping the script in your head and make a decision to start counting all the things you did right - or good - for yourself this week and keep building on that success.

Two Minutes of Pleasure Bring Hours of Guilt

With one more Holiday under our belts, may I remind you we have a couple more to go - Christmas and New Years! Ugh. If I had a dollar for everyone who said to me this past week that they’ll “start their diets after the Holidays,” I’d be a richer woman but the truth is you hear it all the time. Maybe you have even said it recently.

There is something about the Holiday season in which we throw everything we know about eating properly out the window and food becomes a glorious gift wrapped in rich, sweet and delicious temptations that we love to open, enjoy and divulge in. We convince ourselves that it’s useless to try at “this time of year” and give ourselves permission to lose control all day, every day and then…..the guilt sets in.

Guilt is an intense emotion. One definition of guilt says,

    “a feeling of responsibility or remorse for some offense, crime, wrong, etc.,   whether real or imagined.”

After reading the definition you’re thinking - “yep, that’s me.”

I’m wondering if you can try this today, and in the next couple weeks. I’m wondering if you could start to look at “dieting” as the food you consume (take in) versus something you go on, and then off. Flip the script you have in your head about what a diet is. Just try it.

I’m also wondering if you could start to look at your diet (aka - your daily intake of food) as something you control instead of you feeling out of control. And here is the exciting part, to NOT deprive yourself of foods you want to eat.

That is a very scary thought for some of you but the minute you deprive yourself of some kind of food is the minute you are more likely to partake, and the two minutes of pleasurable eating is followed by hours of guilt.

It’s time to break the chain of bondage that the word “diet” holds over you.

Start by understanding the concept of a thinking thin lifestyle. You can still enjoy the bounty of food that the Season brings but you don’t have to have as much, or all the time. You can consciously tell yourself “no, not right now” or “no, I’m not really hungry” or “no, I don’t need it” and live through it.

The minute you make a conscious choice, not mindless eating, to slowly and deliberately enjoy what you’re eating - the taste, the smell, the texture - you are more likely to be in control. You can start making very deliberate decisions (mindful eating) about something as simple as your portion size, and even whether you want to finish what’s on your plate. Something as simple as leaving food on your plate is a powerful choice.

Think about it, having control is a very powerful thing!

Your focus isn’t on what you can’t have, but whether you’re eating healthy and still being able to include some of those foods that you think have to be off limits the rest of your life.

A thinking thin lifestyle has YOU in control, not the food. As you continue to enjoy the Holiday season, don’t trade in your two minutes of pleasure for hours of guilt. It’s no longer worth it.

Nip Food Cravings – Again!

Losing weight is a mind game and you have to know the rules of the game in order to win the game.

Part of a winning strategy is to have a lot of plays to use until the “game” you’re playing becomes second nature. And trust me, the weight loss mind game does start to get better and change over time, with patience and self-reminders throughout each day.

In my last post I shared Mindset Techniques that can help you with your food cravings. Here are four more techniques for you to try.

If you’re still tempted to eat something you shouldn’t after you’ve done all five mindset techniques, then try as many of the Behavioral Techniques below as you need:

1.  Distance yourself from the food your crave. When you experience a craving because you see or smell food, you might be able to move that food to an inconvenient place (where you can’t see it) or to get rid of it (give it away, throw it away, or put it down the disposal).

If you can’t remove the food from your immediate presence, you might be able to remove yourself from the scene. Leave the room, go to another part of the room, go to the restroom, or go outside.

2.  Drink a no- or low-calorie beverage. Thirst can mask as hunger and trigger you to eat. Consider drinking club soda, water with lemon, diluted juice (if your plan allows it), or another low-calorie drink.

3. Relax. You can teach your body how to relax in a variety of ways. Your library or bookstore has tapes and books on relaxation techniques.

One simple relaxation technique involves focusing on your breathing: Breathe in and out of your nose, slowly counting to four as you inhale and again to four as you exhale. Use very shallow breaths; don’t let your chest rise and fall. Set a timer and keep up this technique for a full three minutes. At the end of the three minutes, you should feel calmer and more in control of your cravings.

4.  Distract yourself. Do you remember a time when a natural distraction interrupted your craving and you later were glad you hadn’t eaten? Maybe a friend called, the dog insisted on taking you for a walk, or your boss came to discuss something with you? By the time you finished what you had to do, your craving had weakened or passed. You focused your attention on something else.

Once you stop giving in to cravings and they become much weaker and less frequent, dieting will easier.

(Mindset and Behavioral techniques provided by The Beck Diet Solution)

Did You Know….

Over the past 40 years, American women have increased their daily calorie intake by an average of 199 calories, while men have added 179.

During that same time period, the obesity rate has more than doubled.

Fat Tuesday

Ahh yes, the gluttony before the discipline. Not sure it makes sense but since I am of the mind that you should never deprive yourself of a specific food group (or make something off limits) - for then the body and brain crave it more - you could be entering in to a very dangerous, dreaded EATING ZONE this week.

Fat Tuesday is tomorrow. Mardi Gras means fat Tuesday, the culmination of the season between Christmas and Lent. Fat Tuesday falls on the day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.

During the 40 day Lent period, many Christians forego the eating of meat, either completely or on Fridays. They also traditionally give up a favored food, drink, or habit.

Fat Tuesday is a last chance party excuse before a six-week period of abstinence.

For those of you from a Polish Catholic background, you also know about those deep-fried doughy powdered sugar delights (called paczek or paczki).

Just a little history lesson with the paczki (that I thought was interesting 'cause I didn't know this), traditionally the reason for making paczki was to use up all the lard, sugar, eggs and fruit in the house because they were forbidden to be consumed due to Catholic fasting practices during Lent.

Does any one want to tell me the calories of one paczki - with lard, sugar, eggs and fruit it can’t be good!

Admittedly I didn’t grow up celebrating and observing this particular time of year but I have known many people through the years that said they’re giving up this or that “for Lent” (usually always a food or drink item if I recall).

So what are you partaking in this week, and what are you “giving up” this week?

As with any Holiday, celebration, or social gathering for those of you changing your mindset about eating, food, and dieting, I know this can be a tough week for you.  Know what your limits are on Tuesday, so on Wednesday you won’t feel defeated.

The purpose of Lent is to be a season of fasting, self-denial, growth, penitence, and conversion.  So in this time of reflection may you

Give up complaining and focus on gratitude
Give up harsh judgments and think kindly thoughts
Give up discouragement and be full of hope
Give up gloom and enjoy the beauty that is around you

What Does Thin Feel Like?

Nothing taste as good as thin feels.

I really liked that sentence - if you got a chance to see the four minute video I posted yesterday, you’ll understand what I’m talking about.

It’s so important to have a clear vision (in color please!) and not a fuzzy vision of what you want for yourself. Did that make sense to you as you watch it - it did for me!

The way we think about things truly does affect how we feel, so the question is....what do you want to look like, and feel like?  What do you see yourself doing when you're thinner that you can't do now?

The clearer your vision, the better you are able to work on your weight loss goals.

Knowing the “why” of losing weight will help to motivate you and push you to your end goal.  Never ever give up on YOU.

Diminishing Cravings with Aromatherapy?

Do you think you can use manipulation of smell to really lose weight?  It’s a question worth exploring - or is it just another gimmick?

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, there may be some science that backs up the findings of how aromas help with certain cravings.

Dr. Susan Lark wrote an article on the science of smell and weight loss and she contends that:

“specific aromas can deprogram overweight people whose normal response to the smell of rich unhealthy foods like chocolate, doughnuts, and pizza was to become hungry and overeat.

Scientists tested the benefits of food odors to suppress appetite rather than stimulate appetite, and found that there seemed to be certain smells that caused overweight individuals to reduce their cravings, and therefore eat less.

In scientific research, people preferred sweet smells, and strongly sweet scents such as chocolate often triggered feelings of hunger and led to overeating or binge eating, while “neutral" sweet smells actually curbed appetite.

To test this theory, researchers asked 3,193 overweight people (mostly women) aged 18-64 to inhale a variety of “neutral” sweet smells, including banana, green apple, vanilla, and peppermint, three times in each nostril whenever they were hungry.

After 6 months, the participants in this study lost an average of five pounds a month, or 30 pounds in total” (Source: J Neurol, Orthop. Med. Surg., 1995; 16:28-31)

Interesting results - right?

While there are published studies on smell and weight loss, there definitely needs to be more research done in this area, but the idea behind curbing cravings with aroma is an interesting theory.

After all, it makes sense (no pun intended) that once the scent is inhaled, it impacts mood and emotion because our sense of smell is directly related to the part of the brain that controls our emotions.

Smell actually has more impact on the subconscious and emotions than the other senses, and there is little doubt that scent has important roles in human behavior.

If you’ve ever been in the Mall at Christmas time and smell the cinnamon roasting nuts, or, park at a local restaurant and as you’re getting out of the car the smell of grilling meat surrounds you, then you know the power of smell?

I swear you can actually start salivating at the mere smell of some foods!

Our reactions to an aroma largely depend on our experience with it, and what our brain remembers - and what we anticipate the outcome of that smell will be (like a bite of those freshly baked cookies, or the taste of that stuffed Thanksgiving turkey).

The science behind why aromatherapy works meshes your sense of smell with your satiety level. When you inhale through your nose, odor molecules enter your nasal cavity, and eventually reach the olfactory bulb (smell center) located at the top of your nasal cavity (inside your nose).

A separate mechanism within your brain controls satiety, or your “fullness” level.

A portion of the hypothalamus which is called the “satiety center” helps you know whether or not your are full. But how does smell (rather than eating) effect our perception of being “full”?

Airborne odor molecules are filtered through the olfactory bulb, which is connected to the satiety center in your hypothalamus (in your brain).

This satiety center interprets these odor molecules to inform your brain that you have eaten enough and that you are full…and this response is completely separate from responses which are actually driven by eating foods (and which surprisingly take longer).

Additionally, the odor molecule receptors are located in the limbic region of our brain, which is the center of our emotions, and this may help to explain why so many scents can trigger our emotions and memories.

The limbic lobe in turn directly activates the hypothalamus, which houses and controls our satiety center. In other words our nose dictates our hunger level more quickly and more efficiently than our stomach.

I would be interested in hearing from those of you who have tried this, or are willing to try it as part of your weight loss plan.

But please remember this, that weight loss comes down to eating less (consuming less calories) and moving your body (exercise) but if you can find other things that helps YOU on your weight loss journey - let me know how it works for you!

Food Triggers

The other day I walked into my bank (my bank!) and my senses were assaulted with the aroma of freshly baked cookies. Could this be, I thought!

Sure enough, on a beautiful silver plated platter, lined with white doilies, sat a dozen or more cookies - chocolate chip and it looked like some fudgy, peanut butter chip type of cookie. Are you kidding me, I need to make a financial transaction and now I have to decide if I want a “just-out-of -the-oven” cookie (or two).

This was too much to handle I tell you - it’s not right, it’s not fair, and they were there for my pleasure - courtesy of the bank of course. Apparently my bank need’s customers so bad that they are now luring them in fresh baked cookies.

Next thing ya know, they’ll have some Girl Scouts set up at a table on the sidewalk as you approach the door selling their cookies.  Not that there’s anything wrong with Girl Scout cookies - I’m just saying, one less temptation would be nice.

But it got me thinking about temptations, and how it’s all around us. And we have to make very conscious food choices all day long - even at a bank!

So recognizing that food “triggers” are all around us helps us to navigate throughout our day and lowers the probability that we’ll turn to mush when a trigger happens to you.  Let me give you an example of some triggers:

1. Seeing or Smelling Food
My bank experience is a great example of how I could have been caught off-guard. I wasn’t expecting to have a delightful dessert presented to me at my banking institution and when I walked in the smell of the cookies first hit me. Then the sight of them.

I could have thought, I’ll just have one - after all, what would it hurt. And it wouldn’t have hurt anything except the bottom line, it just wouldn’t have been a fiscally sound investment.  Okay, I’m trying to speak bank-ease but you get my point.

It affects my bottom line all right (my rear-end), and I wouldn’t be investing in a healthy future for myself.  But the point is, is that the cookies were there and I could have sabotaged my weight loss efforts that I’ve been working so hard on, and just told myself that one was okay, or I’ll work it off later, but having a cookie just wasn’t necessary and it wasn’t worth it to me.

Making a conscious decision to walk away without a cookie was more rewarding then having one and regretting it within minutes.

2. Biological Factors
Believe it or not, hunger pains, our hormones, or even thirst can trigger our thoughts to eat.

Have you ever been sitting next to someone and their stomach growls, and they quickly grab their mid-section, maybe even rub it, as they’re usually apologizing for the sound their stomach made or they quickly give you a run-down about why it could be possibly rumbling right then and there.

Well I say, don’t apologize - EMBRACE THAT RUMBLING STOMACH! Not literally, but know that hunger pains are not a bad thing and you don’t have to “feed the beast” as soon as you hear rumbling going on.

Now I realize that some of you may get headaches or have other physical aliments that are greatly affected if you don’t eat, and female monthly cycles can swing wildly in one direction or another causing us to think we need to “settle things” with food, but recognize that sometimes you don’t have to give in to that biological trigger.

Also, sometimes being thirsty can mimic hunger and your body may just be depleted of liquid so make sure that you are feeding your body plenty of liquids throughout the day.

I was one of those people who thought I always drank a lot of water, until I documented it for 5 days and realized I actually didn’t.  I now purposely move through my day counting off how many water bottles I went through - it’s just easier for me that way. What would work for you?

3. Emotional Eating
This can go along with the hormonal trigger too but you can also be triggered to eat because you’re sad, mad, bored, happy, tense, stressed, joyful, wishful, anxious, tired, or any other emotion that you can fill-in-the-blank-with (depending on what‘s going on in your life at that moment).

The emotion itself can be so draining that when you add on top of that the over-eating that takes place because of it, you really have to do all you can to protect your mind from going to a very sabotaging thoughts and make it “okay” for you to eat.

Eating food will never make an emotion go away or you feel different long-term. It never will.

Food is like a drug, it soothes for a moment, it takes you mentally and emotional away for a time, but you always have to come down off that high and deal with the after-math of over-eating.

The most important thing you can do is recognize when you’re using food to soothe or help a powerful emotion, and look for other ways to do that instead.

You can use positive self-talk and remind yourself, “I’m just feeling bored, I’m not hungry, and I can busy myself with ________ instead.”

4. Social Expectations
I recently went to a social gathering and because I wasn’t feeling good, my focus was just on visiting with my friends and not filling my plate.  Eating wasn’t even on my radar and I was perfectly content without munching on something.

Now any other time (when I’m feeling well) I can easily get caught up with nibbling and eating because A. food is around, and B. other people are doing it.  There have been times I know I’m not even hungry and I found myself hanging around the food and eating. Don’t you just hate that!

I have gotten much better with this and one of the things that helps me a lot is to eat a little something before I go to the gathering so I’m not overindulging.

Another thing I do frequently throughout the evening is just recognizing when I’m getting caught up in that anxious feeling to look like I should be doing something with my hands or mouth (like everyone else is). So sipping slowly on a drink (non-alcoholic of course) throughout the evening is helpful.

I have found people to be respectful about food choices you make (for dietary or health reasons) but if you do happen to have a food-pusher in your life, recognize that this journey is about you and not making someone else happy about whether or not YOU are going to indulge in a food choice that YOU DON’T WANT.

Recognizing what your food triggers are helps you to minimize your exposure to them and be successful about the choices your make.

As for me, I’ll be using the drive-up window at the bank from now on.