الخميس، 31 يوليو، 2008

Sweet tooth. Here is some practical advice

One minute on the lips…forever on the hips…
Excerpt from Dr. Max Sawaf’s new book "Anti-Aging Made Simple"
A carbohydrate craving can be described as a compelling hunger, craving or desire for carbohydrate-rich foods; an escalating, recurring need or drive for starches, snack foods, junk food or sweets. In addition, carbohydrate act-alike (sugar substitutes, alcoholic beverages and monosodium glutamate) may trigger intense or recurring carbohydrate cravings and/or weight gain. Bad carbohydrates with a high glycemic index such as refined starch, fizzy drinks, convenience and comfort foods feed the addiction like a drug. They produce correspondingly high blood sugar and insulin levels, which lead to even more cravings. This is what I call the sugar roller coaster. This is also the rational behind the Atkin Diet and the South Beach diet. Bad carbohydrates also produce higher levels of the brain chemical serotonin. In sensitive people, particularly those who may have low serotonin levels to begin with i.e. prone to depression, a carbohydrate binge is the equivalent of self-medicating -- just to get the sugar "high” instead of the runner’s high or treating depression with a serotonin enhancer like Prozac. Carbohydrate cravings are a matter of biology and not just willpower. To help break this cycle, eating regularly is important. If too many hours have passed between meals, your blood sugar will drop. Your body will crave carbohydrates. These are the foods that will provide the quickest supply of energy. However, by the time your sugar has dropped and you are starting to feel symptoms such as weak knees, headache or extreme carbohydrate cravings, it is often difficult to control what you eat. Instead of reaching for your planned snack of low fat cheese and crackers, the candy bar or bag of M & M in the vending machine looks much more appealing. Though many people recommend dealing with cravings by having "just a little" of the food you crave, this is not always a great idea. While it may work for some, this sets up a cascade of biochemical processes in sugar-sensitive people that invariably translates to an overwhelming desire for more of the same. For sugar-sensitive people, one simple bite of a chocolate chip cookie is almost impossible. It's like an alcoholic having just one drink. Notice, by the way, that it's nearly impossible to binge on steak or buttered broccoli but relatively easy to binge on sugar or starch. Biology isn’t the only reason we eat. Food is powerfully connected to our emotions. Some of us eat when we are tense, but tension hurts our weight loss efforts in several ways. Tension not only triggers carbohydrate cravings, it also makes it more difficult for us to lose any additional weight. Cortisol also stimulates insulin, which leads to blood sugar dips and fat storage. It's a vicious cycle that feeds on itself, over and over. The more we try to ignore a feeling, the stronger it grows. It's so much easier to deal with an issue while the emotion is still in a "fixable" stage. But, our denial system is incredibly effective in shielding us from honestly facing ourselves. Here are ten practical to control your craving for sweats: 1. Practice waiting. Postpone your instant gratification when hunger hits. Tell yourself you'll wait 15, or better 30 minutes to eat. Chances are good if your cravings are only stress-related; they'll disappear when you allow yourself to become distracted. 2. Eat small meals or snacks containing some PROTEIN every few hours to keep blood-sugar levels steady. Skipping meals, especially breakfast causes blood sugar levels to drop, which leaves you yearning for processed carbohydrates and sweets for energy. 3. Be selective about the carbohydrates you eat. Avoid nutrient-stripped foods made of white flour, white rice, refined sugar and highly concentrated sweeteners. Look for foods rich in fiber, such as fresh vegetables and fruits, which level off blood sugar. 4. Don't skimp on protein and fat to "make room" for large amounts of carbohydrates. Protein and fat give the body extended energy, help balance blood sugar and keep cravings at bay. Most fat free packaged foods are loaded with bad or refined sugar and calories. 5. Limit your intake of alcohol, fruit juice and caffeinated drinks. These cause abrupt blood-sugar highs followed by troublesome blood-sugar lows, leaving you starved for energy. Freshly squeezed fruit juice is no exception. Dates are commonly served with Arabic coffee in the Middle East and do compound the problem. 6. Eat small portions of seasonal goodies AFTER protein-containing meals or snacks. If you eat sweets on an empty stomach, you'll experience blood-sugar lows that trigger the desire for more sweets. 7. Avoid becoming hungry during shopping trips and while traveling. Carry protein-rich snacks such as nuts, cheese strips or hard-boiled eggs. These high-power foods are great when you feel your energy drop. 8. Get enough sleep. When the body and mind are well-rested, cravings for carbohydrates often vanish. For good sleep avoid late meals and caffeine after two PM. 9. Drink enough water. Most people drink only when thirsty. Drink whenever you can, before, during and after meals. You should drink at least eight glasses of water per day. Avoid having juices and Coke at home even the diet type since your taste buds gets addicted to sweets. 10. Teach your children early on. Good eating habits based on above principles. After all they are what they eat. You cannot afford to lose this battle. Control TV watching and computer games and encourage reading and playing. They learn from the quality of the people they meet and the books they read. Their habits affect their weight and their weight determines their fate. If the above tips do not work for you check with your physician. You may benefit from a drug used in diabetics called Metformin (Glucophage) which can regulate your blood sugar, your insulin resistance, your sugar cravings and your weight.

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