Monday, June 25, 2007

How to curb your appetite

One more post on Time magazine's cover story on appetite. One section lists 4 ways to stop cravings:

  • Eat fiber: Unrefined foods stimulate appetite-suppressing hormones and make you feel full. They show a picture of fresh oranges.
  • Brush your teeth: The flavor change helps you resist eating more. I think just getting up from the table also helps. And we all know how bad certain foods (like orange juice!) taste after brushing your teeth.
  • Be consistent: Eat at regularly scheduled times to keep hormone levels steady and "quash" hunger pangs.
  • Slow down: It takes time for the brain to realize that the stomach is stretching. So if you eat slowly, that gives the brain time to catch on. Well, if you're a compulsive eater, this one is hard, but worth the try. Here's a technique: put down your fork between every mouthful.

I've never understood this idea that the brain takes time to realize the stomach is full. If I put my attention on my stomach, I immediately know how full it is. I think that people just aren't used to paying attention to their stomach.

An excellent technique is simply to feel your stomach (with your mind, your attention) every 5 minutes while you eat. You'll soon get acquainted with it. Eating while reading or watching TV is especially harmful in this regard.

What makes you eat?

Time magazine's cover article on appetite included a little piece, "What Makes Us Eat More." Here are the points:

  • Time of day: Routine conditions us to get hungry at the same time each day. Solution: regular eating habits help! It's OK to be hungry at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. But if you eat at odd times, you may find yourself hungry at odd times. Routine, routine, routine.
  • Sight: The sight of food that you like affects the brain. Your mouth starts watering. That's why avoiding food is so effective. (Avoiding food is one of my solutions to compulsive eating.)
  • Variety: Even when you're full, you make room for dessert. This might be a "sight" issue, too, but you can help curb the craving for variety, by adding variety to your main meal. They suggest a bit of fruit in a salad, for example. Ayurveda, India's traditional medicine, suggests that each meal should contain all 6 tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent, and astringent. A variety of colors is also nice.
  • Smell: Smell also is a cue to eat. Smell can trigger the insulin secretion that makes you think you're hungry.
  • Alcohol: There's no scientific proof that it stimulates appetite, but it impairs judgment.
  • Temperature: Colder temperatures stimulate you to eat more. Guess what? Restaurants keep the thermostat low for this reason.
  • Refined carbs: After spaghetti, you may want to eat again in a couple of hours. That's because refined carbohydrates cause the blood sugar to drop, so you think you're hungry.
Here's a technique to try with a friend: After a meal, when you know you're not hungry, have your friend present you with a sweet treat, with the understanding that you won't eat it. Look at the food and pay attention to what you experience in your body. Do you suddenly feel the urge to eat? Probably. Where in your body is that urge? Close your eyes and see if it subsides. Open them again and feel the change as the sight of the food stimulates your desire. Learn to be aware of these signs and whether they're real or not. Notice that your stomach hasn't gotten any emptier, even when you wanted to eat the treat.

Time magazine's article on appetite

Time's cover article (June 11) on "The Science of Appetite" included a series of articles on appetite, diet, weight-loss, how people eat around the world, and more.

For me, the most interesting article was, "A New Diet Equation." This article talked about how different diets work differently for different people, specifically people who are high-insulin secreters and those that aren't. It fits in well with my idea that a solution to being overweight needs to be customized.

Here are some main points:
  • People who quickly spike insulin after eating a little bit of sugar tend to be apple-shaped, that is, they put their fat around their middle
  • People who don't tend to be pear-shaped; they put their fat around their hips.

In other words, some people (apples) have problems digesting sugar. Although this wasn't completely clear from the research, the suggestion was that pears probably have more difficulty with fats.

Apples lost 13 pounds over 6 months on a low-glycemic diet (low on sugar and processed carbohydrates that convert quickly to sugar in the body), but just 5 pounds on a low-fat diet.

Pears lost about 10 pounds either way.

But here's the interesting part. After 18 months, pears gained back half of the weight they lost on either diet. But while apples gained back 3 of the 5 (measly) pounds they lost of the low-fat diet, they kept off all the weight they lost on the low-glycemic diet!

Wow! Who has heard such a success story? This appears to be a real solution for apples. If you're an apple, cut down on the sugar and white flour. It's also good for your health, since if you have problems processing sugar, you're at risk for diabetes. And cutting fats won't do very much for you. That's not the reason that you're overweight. You can check with your doctor to get a blood test to evaluate insulin levels. This can help you decide.

Unfortunately, no one really knows the mechanism that relates insulin levels and body shape. In fact, scientists don't know very much about why certain digestion problems occur and how they manifest in the body. How do the fat cells know where to appear on your body?

But now we have some simple guidelines. If you're an apple, check with your doctor. If you're a high-insulin secretor, try a low-sugar diet. Good luck!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A vacation without gaining weight!

I just returned from 8 days vacation in New York, visiting my parents and attending a reunion of my husband's college buddies -- Saturday night party in Manhattan and all.

And I didn't gain any weight!

I'm neurotic about this, because once I went on vacation, gained 5 pounds, and wasn't able to lose it for a very long time.

At the party, I kept a raspberry seltzer in one hand and my camera in the other -- that helped a lot! When I ate, I kept to 2 stuffed grape leaves and fruit.

At my parents' house, I didn't eat everything they served, especially for dinner, and avoided snacks when they snacked. Sometimes it was hard, but most of the time, it was OK.


Friday, June 8, 2007

A very basic guide to overcoming overeating

I've been talking about how to deal with a compulsion to overeat. Here's a basic guide from WebMD.

I say basic, because, although the advice is all good, it's probably not enough for most people. But, a good place to start.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

50 Weight Loss Tips

Chris Pirillo, whom wrote the Foreword for my book, Syndicating Web Sites with RSS Feeds For Dummies, has a great post, 50 Weight Loss Tips, that you might find useful. He repeats much of what I've been saying about permanent weight loss.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

I'm going on vacation

I'm going on vacation, and won't have regular access to the Internet, so I've pre-posted some posts. Unfortunately, that doesn't work very well; I'd hoped they'd appear on the publish date I chose, but they appeared right away. So, if you read them, you're looking into the future!

While on vacation, I'll be focused on not gaining any weight. (Forget about trying to lose any!) For example, what will I do at that big Saturday night party I'm going to with my husband's college buddies? Right now, I'm planning to stick to veggie sticks, if any, and a big seltzer with a slice of lime.

We'll see how it works!

Should you lose weight, or not?

You'll find a lot of opinions out there about losing weight and health. Contradictory opinions. Here is a series of articles that should give you quite a range. Before making a decision based on an article or book that you've read, I strongly suggest that you actively seek out opposing opinions, and then judge.

Overweight Boomers Risk Early Death
This article is a pretty standard run down of the risks of being overweight

Lower Your Risk, Improve Your Health
This article is written by the National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health.

Focus on Fitness, Not Fatness
This article come in somewhere in between 2 commonly opposing sides.

The Case Against Weight Loss Dieting
This article goes against most opinions, and quotes lots of research doing so.

The issue can become very emotional. Sometimes you wonder about the weight of the people writing these articles.