Saturday, November 26, 2011

Good Habits that Last A Lifetime

In my research with moms through the years, this phrase typically tops the list.

If you develop good eating habits early or late in life, you don't need to rely on willpower or fight visual temtations to the same extent. Using willpower is always a losing battle. While we are hardwired in a way that to be tempted by indulgences, we are also equiped with the ability to program our own wiring by forming habits. Habits take the ambiguity and guesswork away for those things we know we want to do and are good for us.

Eating traditions around the world and from generations past have given us many ways to do this if we tap into them. There is a good chance that the tradition stemmed from a health benefit. We may even remember the tradition but lost the knowledge of why the tradition came about. When we follow these traditions and make them habits we feel better and stronger. Our everyday environment may tempt us the same but we will feel less of a need to surcome to these temptations.

How do we form good habits later in life? One way is based on fear avoidance. The doctor tells us if we don't change our habits we will have short term consequences. Perhaps we are going to a high school reunion and want to look our best. The universe tells us that we can't have the permission slip to indulge.

Another better way is to make it easy and enjoyable to form good habits creating new rituals. A half hour before you will eat a meal consider eating an orange or other citrus fruit, have a cup of your favorite soup, have 3 whole wheat crackers with a favorite spread of your choice. Science tells us that certain foods will be good to preceed a meal. By eating or drinking a small amount ahead of a full meal, we increase our blood sugar slightly and give our brain time to "curb" some of our hunger. It takes the brain up to 20 minutes to realize that we have filled our stomach so we are less hungry. When we sit down to our meal, we have the opportunity to eat it for nourishment and enjoyment without being ravished and can fully appreciate our food.

Stick to adding one small habit at a time. Make it an easy and enjoyable habit to follow.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

How hungry are you?

Eat only when you are hungry or eat every few hours so you are never hungry, let yourself be hungry to burn fat, fasting is great. No wonder you are confused.

With so much access to food and snacks, it's easy to eat often and too much but is it really good for you? Not to mention that most of us aren't eating what is good for our body when we give ourselves permission to eat every two or three hours . So why not wait until you are really hungry? That can be a disaster because we then need to rely on will power over for control when we are ravinous. Our brains are not wired for will power.

There is an answer. Eat when you are starting to get hungry, not before you are hungry and not when you are starving. Foods vary in the time that they take to digest completely before your blood sugar drops and you feel real hunger - up to 5 hours but on average about 3 hours. Be prepared - carry a healthy snack with you so you don't ever have to feel more than a small hunger pain - just learn your body well enough so that you can differentiate between emotional and physical hunger and listen carefully. Your body is extremely intelligent and will tell you what you need as long as it is physical rather than emotional hunger you are paying attention to.

Eat your calories earlier in the day and lighter in the evening when your body is most awake and efficient rather in the evening when your body needs to slow down. Meal digestion needs energy and doesn't do well if it is competing for energy from sports or when your body is tired. Have a cup of tea before bedtime with a very small low calorie snack that is easier to digest in the evening - low in sugar with some protein and relax!

(Two key rules of thumb to remember 1) you will tend to believe anything you read or hear giving you permission to eat often because it often provides you with an excuse to eat what and when you know you shouldn't 2) Our innate senses rule over will power because this is the way we are hard-wired. Ask any brain scientist. Forming good habits is the best way to achieve success. Prepare to phase into your new habits to achieve good habits in the same way you gradually get into an exercise routine for better health - until you work up to a regular routine it might be a drag. You need to strenghthen your default reactions in favor of health so it's an easy path for you or you'll take the easy way out.

Habituate yourself to your new goals and listen to what your body says and what you tell yourself, Beware of the latest to good to be true message out there.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Weight Watchers: One Size Doesn't Fit All

We all have different issues around eating. Some eat too much. Some eat the right amount at the wrong time. Some like sweets, some like it salty and some like it hot.  

Those who have more to lose, lose more faster. Those that have those stubborn few pounds may need to change what they do even if what they did before worked.

Although Weight Watchers has been successful for many, I've personally been a Weight Watchers flunkee since I tried to lose weight on their former plans on three separate occasions to no avail. My body works better with higher protein levels than their point system was designed for. The new Points Plus program is a step in the right direction with a focus on whole foods and recognizing that all calories are not created equal.

Fruits and vegetables are encouraged in the new plan because most of us do not consume enough. While I happily consume my five daily servings, I recognize that many do not. But I contend that eating these alone in unlimited quantities without some additional protein has the potential to spike blood sugar and work against us. Yes, eating fruit and vegetables is better than some other high carb foods but the point is to keep blood sugar in check to avoid metabolic syndrome and other disorders leading to diobesity.

I hope that Weight Watchers guidelines recognize this and advise their "members" accordingly.

But unlimited fruit?


About Me

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First trained as a food chemist and nutritionist, my career began enriching a Twinkie, comparing the nutrition of a Twinkie to an apple and studying the role of sugar in the diet. With an M.B.A. and years in food and pharma understanding consumers and manufacturers, I'm back to where I started - food should taste great and serve to keep us healthy. To do so, there needs to be consumer awareness. Consumers need to vote for what they want by buying what they really want. If they buy impulsively, that's what they will see more of. They need to practice balance and responsible choices. That's when change will come. Please engage me with your conversation so that I can help you make and stick to better food choices that you enjoy. You'll gain a deeper appreciation of food not only from farm to table but farm to health. My vision is to promote solutions for healthful food and food practices you can happily embody and embrace!