Eat more when you’re stressed? You’re not alone. In fact, all that stress eating can pack on an additional 11 pounds each year! Most of us are quick to turn to sugar and refined carbs the second tension gets high. When we feel overwhelmed, we seek out comforting food, giving it the power to make us feel better…and then worse.
A national survey conducted by NPR, Harvard School of Public Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, found that most changes to diet occurs during stressful times. And these changes aren’t always for the best.
The foods we choose under stress, like chocolate or simple carbohydrates such as bagels or white pasta, often take you on a hormonal roller coaster: surging and crashing hormone and blood sugar levels which leaves you more susceptible to new stresses than when you started. It’s a vicious cycle that must be stopped! (more…)
Americans love fad diets. There is a long history of attaching ourselves to the next fad, dating back to the Vinegar diet in 1820. (No wonder I am constantly being asked to find a quick fix to the growing obesity epidemic in our country.) However, this is not the case in Europe where food culture and traditions hold fast against the deep pockets of the weight loss industry. Europeans have an innate sense to diet sensibly without falling victim to the 40 billion dollar weight loss industry that we Americans buy into year after year.
Luckily, the tide may be turning in the U.S. The Federal Trade Commission recently announced an initiative against deceptive claims made by marketers of fad weight loss products. From food additives to dietary supplements, the government is making a move to intervene and crack down on deceptive and misleading propaganda.
When Ramani Durvasula’s young daughter became ill, she took stock of her life and realized that her daughter’s condition may be out of her control, but her personal health was not. As a licensed clinical psychologist and professor of psychology, Ramani was in tune to why she was overweight, she just needed a new perspective. By adopting some “old school,” habits, Ramani lost 81 pounds.
As the mother of four children, Ramani noticed the creeping-on of weight over the years. She attributed it to less activity, not being mindful of what she ate and the common pitfall, emotional eating. “I used food as a one stop shop – lover, friend, numbing agent, celebration tool, kleenex – just about everything,” she said.
Like many women, Ramani thought she knew what she weighed but after a frustrating night preparing for a date with her husband, she began to wonder. “I knew I had put on a little weight, but figured I should be able to toss on some oversized garments my mom brought me back from India,” she explained. “I put these big tent clothes on and dress after dress ripped. I was mortified, sad and confused. I stepped on a scale – assuming I would weigh in at about 160 pounds. I stepped on and it registered 202 pounds.”
1. a feeling of discomfort or weakness caused by lack of food, coupled with the desire to eat.
2. a severe lack of food
3. a strong desire or craving
Those are the dictionary definitions of hunger. But what does hunger really mean? If you break hunger down to the most basic definition, what is it?
A medical definition states that hunger is “an uneasy sensation occasioned normally by the lack of food and resulting directly from stimulation of the sensory nerves of the stomach by the contraction and churning movement of the empty stomach.”
We’ve determined hunger is the contraction and churning of an empty stomach. Now when was the last time your stomach was truly empty? Claims vary on just how long a healthy, well-nourished person can survive without food; usually it’s somewhere in the area of three to ten weeks. However, the feeling of hunger usually happens after just a few hours of not eating.
Our resident nutrition expert, Mary Hartley, R.D., recommends using the Hunger-Fullness scale to determine how hungry you are. The scale goes from one to ten, with one being extremely hungry and ten being extremely full. “It’s best to train yourself to eat at 2.5-3.0 and stop at 7.5-8.0, and then get hungry again in 4-5 hours.” (more…)
Diets don’t work. It seems like such an obvious, undeniable statement. But if it is true, why does the diet industry continue to thrive? Well, because people always want to lose weight. So when one diet fails to achieve the desired results, it’s off to the next one. In some cases like with major commercial diet brands, they’ve created such a strong brand loyalty that people will often go back to their approach over and over again.
While pondering this simple but important question of why diets fail, I asked two health authors and advocates to chime in.
“In my experience, the key question isn’t ‘Why do diets fail?’, but instead ‘Why do experts keep telling us to eat in ways that we can’t keep up?’,” said Jonathan Bailor, author of The Smarter Science of Slim.
In simplest terms, it’s a matter of supply and demand. It’s just that in this case, the consumer continually goes back to a product that fails them. Could you imagine any other industry this logic would work for?