As a nutritionist, I do my best to practice what I preach and exercise all the tools I have learned in my studies. Of course, like everyone else, I have days where I eat things that I know I shouldn’t be eating, but for the most part I make my best effort to be as healthy as I can be. People often make comments about how “good” I am or they say things like “you have so much willpower, I could never do that.” The truth is I haven’t always been this way… In fact I started out on the opposite end of the spectrum… it was not an uncommon practice for me to eat ice-cream for breakfast. It took years of learning about nutrition, the body, and lifestyle choices to get this far and I still have a ways to go. I went from a junk-foodoholic, to what some people would describe as a health nut. Day to day it appeared as if nothing was changing, but as I look back everything is different. I would like to share 5 of the simplest ideas that largely changed the way I eat.
These 5 ideas will be spread out over 5 separate posts. If any of it resonates with you, then I encourage you to try each one as we go along. And of course your feedback is always appreciated.
#1. SAY NO TO CRACK
What incredibly addictive substance is hard, white, crystal like structure; rots your teeth; and according to Psychology Today, gets you hooked through invoking a feeling of euphoria triggered by dopamine, the pleasure-inducing chemical in our brain? Well if you guessed CRACK, you’d be wrong, cause I was talking about SUGAR.
I know what you are thinking, in my title it said “simple ideas” and we all know cutting sugar from your diet is as simple as shoving a pencil through your own eye.
Morning coffee with sugar and a low-fat muffin with extra sugar.
Healthy mid-day veggie snack, dipped in a sugary salad dressing.
Lunch: a cup of liquid sugar (Pop or juice) to wash down two slices of bread (baked with sugar) stuffed with some kind of luncheon meat containing sugar.
Dinner: something sprinkled, dipped, coated or marinated in sugar, with a side of something else sprinkled, dipped, coated or marinated in sugar… and don’t forget your pop.
Dessert: I think it’s safe to assume there is going to be some sugar.
There are a ton of variables that lead to the craving of sugar, but one of the most common and maybe easiest to manage is low-blood sugar. When your blood sugar gets low, your brain sends some very powerful and impossible to resist signals for you to quickly eat something. So, we do exactly that.. we tend to choose from the above meals, or something likened to them. This is too much of a good thing, your blood doesn’t need all that much. In fact, your blood only needs a very small amount at a time, even a tablespoon of extra sugar in your bloodstream can cause you to go into a diabetic coma. After eating a sugary meal, we now have excessive, toxic amount of sugar in our blood stream. Once your body senses this extremely dangerous level of sugar in the blood, what happens next is–insulin (also known as the fat storing hormone…super awesome for us ladies! NOT!) comes to the rescue and saves you from what you just ate. Our bodies are really freaking cool this way. They respond very quickly in this emergency state, buuuuuut, there’s always a but…Insulin rushes in and takes the toxic dose of sugar from your blood and stores it, mainly in the abdominal region, as you guessed it.. BELLY FAT! What’s even more exciting is, when all that insulin is released, it can take with it from your blood, ALL the sugar you just ate. Hey look, that takes you right back to where we started–low blood sugar again! Don’t worry, it wasn’t a complete loss, you did gain all that super sexy abdominal fat. By now the low blood sugar has got your brain sending those oh so familiar signals, inducing cravings that seem near impossible to refrain… Good thing you packed that sugary mid-day snack.
If you start your day with a huge hit of crack, chances are you’ll be hitting that crack-pipe all the live long day.
The sugar train works much the same.
Try a half-cup of fresh fruit (ex. grapefruit) or berries before you eat any meals of the day. This will help bring your blood sugar to a safe level, which may reduce cravings and can quite possibly help you make better food choices for the duration of your day.
Unrefined, whole foods, like fruits and vegetables, are high in fibre, which slows down the release of glucose into your bloodstream. Processed or refined foods (white sugar, sweeteners, white breads, pastas, packaged foods etc) are striped of their fibre, causing rapid spikes to your body glucose level, invariably leading to insulin release.
It is very important to refrain from baked goods, and heavy starchy or refined carbs, especially at breakfast. Sure, you’re more likely to burn off these early-morning calories, but you’re also now highly likely to ride the sugar-coaster all day.
Vegetables all always a safe bet.
Physical exercise is an excellent way to help balance blood sugar levels, this is why we tend to have less food cravings when we are physically active.