Monthly Archives: May 2011

Sleepy and Hungry

We’ve been hearing about sleep deprivation and weight gain. According to Marie-Pierre St-Onge, PhD and her colleagues at the New York Obesity Research Center, when you’re sleepy and hungry, you don’t make wise food choices and tend to overeat. Woman are especially susceptible, eating more calories than men and more likely to choose fatty foods. If you had a sleepless night, start your next day with a breakfast of protein, whole grains and fruit , prepare pre-measured healthy snacks and plan a healthy lunch and dinner. What healthy snacks do you pack?

Pet Stress Relief

Who do you turn to when you need support and comfort in a stressful situation? If you answered your spouse or best friend, and you’re a pet-owner, you might want to try your dog or cat instead. In a study done by Karen Allen PhD, SUNY Buffalo and James Blascovich PhD, University of California, Santa Barbara, pets can decrease stress better than a spouse or friend. Heart rate and blood pressure significantly decreased during a stressful event in the presence of their pets. Interestingly, for non-pet owners, there was no difference in response between support conditions (friend, spouse, friend and spouse). If you are a pet-owner, does your pet help calm and relax you? (Photo courtesy of http://realdealondogs.wordpress.com/)

Make Mealtime Special

To have a healthy relationship with food, you can begin to gradually eat mindfully- that process of deliberately paying attention to what you are eating and begin to fully enjoy each bite-slowly. Making a special place for meals is one step. Change you pattern of eating on the run or in the living room while watching TV. Do you eat at the dining room table with your good dishes? For every meal?

Am I Full Yet?

How do you know when you’ve had enough to eat? Do you rely on feeling full? If that’s the case, you may be eating more calories than your body requires. Most of us rely on size – volume – of the food to tell us when we are full. We are used to eating the same amount of food each day. Since it takes 20 minutes for our brain to register satiety (fullness) and most of us finish eating in less than 20 minutes, if we use visual cues for the amount of food we consume, the portion size is important. From many studies, the stomach seems to have three main settings: starving, full but could eat more and stuffed. That middle zone is where we run into trouble with overeating. Our portion size has gotten larger and larger, especially when dining out. Even dinner plates are bigger than our previous generations. All this has contributed to making it more difficult to know when to stop eating. The French women don’t seem to get fat, even though they eat cheese, pastries and wine – they stop eating as soon as they no longer feel hungry. The Okinawan cultural habit of hara hachi bu, which means eating until you are only 80% full, is a good strategy to avoid obesity and get in touch with the internal cue of satiety. An alternative is to pre-plate all the food you plan to eat, before each meal, taking in to account appropriate portion size. Include salad, soup and main course and do not go back for any extra. Listening to internal cues is the best strategy, but it may take some time before you truly are in touch with those cues. In the meantime, structure your eating environment to be successful. And as always, be present when you eat. No TV, no distractions…savor each bite.

Triggers to Eat

Sometimes triggers to eat unhealthy foods or overeat are brought on by a cue from something we’ve learned to associate with pleasure in the past. These associations can be unconscious and very strong. The smell or sight of crumb buns sent my cravings soaring for years (when I was stressed) because I associated it with being little and my dad taking me into a bakery to buy crumb buns. I had pleasant memories of holding his hand in the bakery and then sitting with him and sharing the crumb buns. Can you think of a food that is associated with good times in the past? Does it cause you to overeat or perhaps it’s not the healthiest choice?

Journal Away Stress

The benefits of journaling for stress management have been researched and well-documented. When you’ve had a rough day filled with external stressors enough to send you running to the fridge for solace or deep under the covers for sleep, grab your journal and a pen instead. Or you may prefer your computer. Write about your thoughts and feelings, no censoring. Don’t worry about grammar, spelling or neatness; this is just for you. Remember to add things that you are grateful for too! If you are worried about someone reading your private thoughts, buy a journal with a lock or password protect your computer entries. It may only be one sentence…5 minutes, but such relief.

Tumeric and Pain Relief

Spicy food can temporarily boost your metabolism and increase your feelings of fullness. Tumeric, the yellow spice used in curry and mustard, has also been found to fight the pain of arthritis due to the anti-inflammatory action of curcumin, the anti-oxidant in tumeric. There are many tasty recipes using tumeric. What recipes have you tried?