Archive for November, 2010

All About Emotional Eating

This week, my diet challenge focused around developing strategies to cope with and overcome what is known as emotional eating. I think that this problem is something that we have all dealt with at one time or another – I know that I have had my own fair share of struggle with emotional eating because of stress, boredom or anxiety. Now that we have reached the holiday seasons, I wanted to take the opportunity to go over some of the strategies to talk about eating habits and share some basic rules that have helped me in the past. To summarize:

  • Eat when you start to feel a little bit hungry. Don’t wait until you are starving – when you are famished you run the risk of overeating and eating too quickly.
  • Take your time eating and enjoying every bite of your food.
  • Eat smaller portions. With the holidays around the corner, the challenge will be about portion size control, so if you are unsure about what “small portion” means for you, I will be posting articles describing them. When you finish eating you should feel light and satisfied. If you feel heavy, too full or tired then you have most likely eaten too much.

             If you give your body too much food, it will start to store it as extra weight.

  • Listen to your body. This expert may tell you this and this diet book may tell you that, but what helped me was getting back in tune with what my body was trying to tell me. I get a little call from my brain every 2-3 hours that I need to eat something because I’m a little bit hungry. If I’m not paying attention I can miss it, so it’s important to develop this basic body awareness. I believe that my body is more than capable of telling me when and how much I should be eating – the trick is learning to listen.

Next we spent some time together talking about how we distract ourselves in other ways, when we feel like dealing with our feelings by turning to food. Some of the most common ones included watching tv, reading a favorite glossy magazine or even going out shopping. All of these things can work of course, and I’ve done them a million times to distract myself from emotional eating. We have all gone through something, and we each have our own stories full of life’s various hurts and disappointments – some of which still may haunt us. I have gone through some profoundly negative experiences, and I dramatically changed the overall direction of my life for the positive. What I discovered throughout this long journey was that once I started to focus my life around my dreams and what I was passionate about (health, fitness, travel etc) it became possible to dramatically enrich my life. Instead of moving from one empty distraction to another, I started to focus down of building, creating, and learning. The great thing about focusing down is that it is wide open to whatever areas that you feel passionate about in your own life. Once your focus is on developing yourself, you can make much better decisions in every area of your life – including your diet and lifestyle.

The last thing I want to cover is the importance of treating yourself well. If your best friend came to you upset that they were having a tough time dealing with emotional eating you would not beat them up even more with harsh words and judgmental attitude. Instead, you would be supportive and kind, yet how many times have we stood in front of the mirror berating ourselves angrily for slipping with our diets? We have to learn to treat ourselves as if we were our own best friends – with love and kindness. Nothing is gained when we add our own self criticisms – often playing like a broken record on repeat in our heads. This is a difficult habit to break, but perhaps the most important one.

 Treat yourself well and affirm something positive. If you slip, then resolve to be stronger the next time.  Refocus on your goals and move forward. You may repeat this  process hundreds of times, but each time that you get back up on your feet you will be a  little bit stronger. Eventually new healthier habits will form and you will reach a   breakthrough. Remember: don’t quit!!!

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Whole Wheat or Wheat?

The importance of eating whole grains is becoming increasingly apparent as studies continue to uncover the health benefits associated with whole grains. Whole grains have been shown to reduce the risk of stroke, heart disease, diabetes, eye degeneration, obesity, and cancer. But which grains are really whole? Some food manufacturers are out to trick you! This article will help you to identify which foods are good sources of whole grains, and which are only posing as whole grains.

A whole grain contains 3 parts: the  bran, the germ and the endosperm. A refined grain (such as white bread and white rice) has the bran and the germ removed, leaving only the starchy endosperm. Unfortunately, the bran and the germ contain the majority of the fiber, vitamins and minerals. So when you eat a refined grain, you’re missing out on these nutrients!

How can you identify the real whole grains?

Safe sources: Brown rice, oatmeal, popcorn, quinoa, 100% whole wheat flour, wild rice, bulgur

These whole grain foods likely are not out to trick you. It doesn’t matter if they are quick-cooking, instant, or regular; they are still a whole grain! This is surprising to many people who think they must have slow-cooking brown rice or oatmeal for it to be healthy. Not so! Instant rice is “parboiled” meaning it’s partially cooked already. Quick-cooking oatmeal is just smaller than regular oatmeal, so it cooks faster.

Tricky sources: Bread, cereal, crackers, granola bars, tortillas, barley, pasta

These may NOT be a good source of whole grains!

These products may be out to trick you. Here are some tips that can help you find good sources of whole grains:

  • Bread: Should have 100% whole wheat or 100% whole grain on the label.  Bread that looks brown and is called “wheat” or “multigrain” may NOT be a whole grain. Bread manufacturers often color white bread brown with molasses  and call it “wheat.”
  • Cereal: The first ingredient listed should have the word “whole” in it, like “whole wheat,” “whole oats,” or “whole grain corn.” Ideally, it contains no refined or “enriched” grains in the label, and it also is low in sugar. Post Shredded Wheat and Quaker Oatmeal  are some of my favorite whole grain cereals.
  • Pasta: Most pasta is made from “durum wheat” which is not a whole grain.  However, whole grain pastas are being offered more frequently in grocery stores. Barilla Whole Grain Pasta and Rozoni Healthy Harvest are blends of whole wheat and regular durum wheat. Other less common brands offer 100% whole wheat pasta: keep your eyes open!
  • Crackers, granola bars, tortillas and other products: For these products, use the first ingredient method: make sure the first ingredient listed is a “whole grain,” and ideally the product contains no “enriched” grains in the label is low in sugar. Sometimes, these products will have a whole grain stamp that tells you how many grams of whole grains it contains. Compare this number to the total number of carbohydrates. The closer the 2 numbers are, the better; that means the product is mostly made of whole grains.

I hope this post will help you to identify some good sources of whole grains.

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