5 Unintentional Habits That Could Derail Your Healthy Eating

 

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If someone were to ask me what I do to stay healthy, I’d tell them the surface-level things.  I’d say that I exercise a lot and try to eat whole foods whenever possible, and I make conscious efforts to de-stress my life.  But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  There are a lot of things that I’ve learned to do over time that make everything else fall into place a lot easier.

These are a few of the mistakes I used to make that have made a BIG difference since I changed them.

  1. Not getting enough sleep.   If you’re tired, you’re stressed.  And when you’re stressed, you crave carbohydrates.  It’s that simple.  At Weight Watchers, they wrote it out this way:  “Stressed spelled backwards is D-E-S-S-E-R-T-S.”  When you’re tired, you’ll also tend to make poor food decisions, and then be too tired to make a healthy dinner, or maybe too exhausted to exercise.  I recently read about establishing an “Amish hour” before bed, where you turn off all electronics and unplug your mind a little!  Love that idea!  Here’s a link from “Mark Sisson’s Daily Apple”  with tips for getting a better night’s sleep tonight:  http://bit.ly/1jzoaQ5
  2. Over-exercising!  In a cruel twist of fate, over-exercising backfires.  The old mantra of “eat less and move more” is a fallacy that’s worthy of a whole blog in itself.  HOW you move matters.  The body perceives high-intensity exercise as a stressor.  While some stress is good, too much isn’t.  Excessive high-intensity exercise will cause carb cravings, and in the end, you’ll be eating all your profits!  Also, make sure your exercise is fun!  If you’re doing it for pleasure instead of punishment, you’ll be less tempted to use it as an excuse to overeat.  (Been there, done that!)
  3. Not being ready when the sweet tooth hits.  My friends calls her son’s after-dinner snacking  “late night foraging.”  My kids call it “second dinner.”  Whatever you call it, be prepared!  Having healthy, fresh snacks at eye level in the refrigerator will make it more likely to be eaten.  Studies show that you’re more likely to eat food that is visible to you (obvious, right?).  Cut-up fresh fruit works well in these impulsive eating situations.  Hummus with sugar snap peas and carrots are good for mindless munching, too.  I know that when I run out of those snacks in the house, batten down the hatches!
  4. Not drinking enough water.  This is SO easy to do; but it’s also easy NOT to do!  According to Paul Chek, internationally known health and kinesiology expert, the ideal amount of water to drink per day is 1/2 of your body weight in ounces of water per day.  “Water is important since dehydration can cause a drop in blood pressure and blood sugar levels,” leading to … you guessed it …. sugar cravings!  Water helps your organs and even your cells function correctly and makes your stomach feel more full.
  5. Not grocery shopping often enough.  If you can get away with going to the grocery store once a week, you might be undermining your healthy eating efforts.  Why?  Because healthy food rots.  If you can go a whole week without grocery shopping, you might be eating too many processed foods that are full of preservatives.  (Exception:  Frozen whole food is the next best thing.)

    See you at the grocery store!

How To Stop Those Sugar Cravings!


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Do you ever crave sugar, even when you’ve just finished eating?

Do you start foraging the cabinets for just a little something to satisfy a sweet craving, especially after dinner?  Then before you even realize it, you’ve added another 200-400 calories of crap to an otherwise healthy day?  If this happens to you, you are not alone!  And it could be causing you a lot of undesired weight gain and unhealthy side-effects.  In case you didn’t know, this is the exact method that Sumo wrestlers use to put on weight; they eat a lot of empty calories and then go to bed.

According to Dr. Mark Hyman, author of “The 10-Day Detox Diet,” it’s not a matter of having poor self-discipline.  “What happens is that your hormones are out of balance.”   There are a number of hormones that regulate your appetite including insulin, ghrelin, leptin, and peptide YY.  If you can learn to regulate those hormones, then your appetite and cravings for sweets will diminish.  These four hormone levels are all disturbed by eating sugar, flour, and processed foods.  Another important hormone is cortisone, which is your stress hormone.  When you’re stressed, your level of cortisol increases, which raises your blood sugar level and your appetite (for sugar in particular).

So what can you do to regulate those hormones and stop those post-meal sweet cravings, and end the night-time binges on desserts and snacks?  Dr. Hyman suggests the following:

1.  Have protein for breakfast.  I usually eat eggs, but if you’re not a fan of eggs, try a protein shake.  You can put the following in a blender, and it will satisfy you for hours:  a tablespoon of hemp seeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, almond butter, and coconut butter.  Then add some frozen cranberries and blueberries, topped with a little almond or hemp milk (unsweetened).  Blend until smooth.  If you’re not usually hungry for breakfast, I suspect that it’s because you ate a lot after dinner last night.  It’s all tied together.

2.  Don’t drink your calories.  Avoid any sweetened drinks like soda, iced tea, sports drinks, juices, lattes, or what I call “crappucinos.”  Many people don’t think of these drinks as sugar-laden, but they are, and they spike your blood sugar levels and increase your appetite.  Try to avoid adding artificial sugars to everything – even Stevia.  You want to stop whetting your appetite for the flavor of sugar all the time.

3.  Eat at regular times.  Have your breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner at regular intervals.  This will help keep your appetite and blood sugar levels regulated, and keep your body in a good biological rhythm.

4.  Eat a combination of protein and healthy fat every time you eat.   Have some combination of nuts, seeds, avocado, coconut oil, or olive oil, together with chicken, fish, or  grass-fed beef every time you eat.  Add lots of green leafy vegetables.  This will go a long way towards regulating your appetite and blood sugar levels.

5.  Manage your stress levels.  Have you ever heard that “Stressed spelled backwards is desserts?”  It’s true!  When you’re anxious or stressed, your appetite increases, and you will crave sweet food.  Try yoga, meditation, or exercise to help you balance your hormones again and reset your brain chemistry.

6.  GO TO BED!   Get a good night’s rest.  If you don’t get adequate, high-quality sleep, your hormones will be out of whack. The hormone that signals hunger (ghrelin) will increase, and the hormone that signals you to feel full (PYY) goes down.  So you will be hungry AND crave all the wrong things:  carbs and sugar.   The whole spectrum of health professionals recommend this consistently, but most people either don’t prioritize it, or vastly underestimate how much it affects their weight and health.

7.  Address your food allergies.  Most people don’t realize that a common sign of an allergy is that you crave the very food that you’re allergic or sensitive to.  And the two most common food sensitivities are dairy and gluten.   Try eliminating those two foods (dairy, flour and sugar) from your diet for a few weeks and see if your cravings stop.

8.  Supplements.  Fish oil, omega 3, and vitamin D3 tablets all help to regulate hormones and balance insulin levels.  Dr. Hyman also recommends what he refers to as a “Super Fiber” supplement called PGX.  If taken 10-15 minutes before meals and again after dinner, PGX will help to cut cravings, make you feel satisfied, and slow down insulin spiking.  NOTE:  You might be tempted to immediately order PGX on Amazon.com and then skip the rest of Dr. Hyman’s suggestions.  However, you can’t just supplement your way out of unhealthy eating habits.  To get off on to a running start, sure, this might be one way to get going.  But you need to COMMIT TO YOURSELF to a healthier way of eating, not just buy your way out of it or fix it with a pill.  (Takes one to know one – I myself felt like ordering a case of PGX when I heard his video).

As always, I suggest that you adopt ONE of these habits at a time, and then let me know how your night-time or after-dinner cravings go!  Good luck!

 

 

Photo from FitDay.com

Is Your Exercise Stressing You Out?

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 Maybe there’s a reason it’s called “Insanity!”

One of my favorite things is taking a group cardio class, and catching everyone in the mirror in perfect synch with the music.  I love that!  I get a rush when there’s a great bass line thumping away, pumping everyone up.  I still get a rush out of high-intensity cardio like kickboxing.   I love a good cardio workout.  I’m one of those chicks who whoops and hollers when it all gets flowing.

However, rather than relieving stress levels, as most people think, those types of high-intensity workouts might be increasing your stress levels.

According to Holistic Health Practitioner Paul Chek, the body perceives high-intensity aerobic exercise as a stressor.  To a certain extent, that’s a very good thing.  That’s how you get stronger.  But if that’s the only kind of exercise you get, then you’re actually putting your body into a chronic state of stress, activating the sympathetic nervous system, or the fight-or-flight response.  That, in turn, increases the body’s cravings for starchy carbohydrates, sugar in particular!  Furthermore, that exercise could be slowing down your metabolism because of all the increased stress.   (It’s a cruel world, isn’t it?)

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What can you do?

Chek says that we need to balance our work OUTs with work INs! 

Working IN would be something like deep breathing, massage, yoga, Pilates, or his favorite, Tai Chi.   Those types of exercise help the body slow down, relax, and activate the parasympathetic nervous system.  That speeds up metabolism.  (For example, did you ever hear your stomach growl when you’re getting a massage, but you know you just ate?  That’s why.)  You’re finally calm enough for your body to start digesting normally again.

So be sure to mix up your exercise.  If you like to spin until the wheels burn off the bike, try out yoga and see what happens.  If you’re the type of person who says,”Yoga would drive me CRAZY,” then you’d benefit the most.  Really.

So try out a work IN this week, and let me know what happens!  You might like it!  Mikey did!