Are you wanting to lose weight as you have noticed the scale creeping up lately?

As we age and life becomes more stressful, we can find ourselves moving less due to time constraints and other commitments. This situation may lead to the weight scale creeping up. Getting more exercise to combat both our stress and the natural decrease in our metabolizm as we age, becomes ever more important.

 

Suggestions to deal with weight gain

  1. Keep a diary of what you are eating for a couple of weeks to a month. It is very hard to make changes until you notice what is not working. At this point, do not change anything about your eating, just noticing what are your current habits with food by recording everything that goes into your mouth. Note every snack and drink you are now ingesting.   Write it in a journal.
  1. Sit down with your notes and highlight each item you have eaten that has additional sugar, fat or salt added. Especially notice manufactured foods, such as ice cream, chips, pop, baked goods, lattes’, burgers in a restaurant, etc.
  1. Notice how often you are eating out and what you are eating, again, highlight the processed foods at your favorite restaurant.
  1. Look at habits that can be changed slowly – such as when eating out, choose dishes that are less processed and “home-made” such as salmon, rice and salad.
  1. Consider cooking at home more, if possible. Make larger serviings for two meals, take the left-overs for lunch the next day or freeze left-overs.
  1. When making changes, notice if cravings for certain foods come up. If so, make a note of what you are craving. You may be addicted to a certain group of foods.

 

Addiction to manufactured foods (aka. Franken-foods) – Who knew?

Foods that are processed have had the natural moisture, fibre and nutrition stripped and replaced with sugars (or sugar substitutes), fat, salt, preservatives, artificial falvors and colors and a variety of other additives.

These foods have been chemically altered to change your mood and, therefore, become addictive, create food cravings, bad habits and compulsions. When eaten long enough there is a negative chain reaction that occurs in the body and brain. This is not our fault – but is our responsibility to change if we want to regain our health and vitality. These so-called foods are designed to create changes in the brain (addiction) and cravings which leads to a cycle of bad habits and compulsions. They are extremely difficult to give – especially if we are not aware of what is going on.

happy couple running on the beach

“Food craving can be defined as “an intense desire to consume a particular food ( or type of food) that is difficult to resist”. Cravings aren’t merely about your behavior related to the food in question – they’re about y

our emotional motivationand the conditioning (habit) that is created with repeated satisfaction. You don’t even have to be hungry to experience cravings – in fact, they are more closely related to moods like anger, sadness, or frustration than to hunger. In addition, your capacity to visualize the food and imagine its taste are strongly correlated with craving strength – so the more you fantasize about indulging, the less likely you are to resist.

Specific food cravings can turn into poor eating habits in just a few days, leaving us stuck in a cycle of relentless urges, short-term satisfaction, and long-term guilt, shame, anxiety, and weight gain. To effectively change our relationship with food (and maintain new, healthy habits forever), we need to understand what is behind our cravings, habits and patterns.

It all starts with biology and nature. ( Hartwig, 2012, p. 29-30).

How did we come to this? Negative Effects on our Bodies

  1. The first effect is that our brain’s pleasure and reward center lights up when we eat foods that are scientifically designed to stimulate our taste buds. These (Franken-) foods lift our moods temporarily . In ancient times, nature wired the taste of sweet, salty and fatty in our brains to help us gravitate towards foods that were most healthy and vital to survival. At this present time, these tastes are greatly enhanced by food scientists, but have been stripped of nutritional value – essentially, they have no “off switch” which often results in over-consumption. Foods that are “super-stimulating” to our taste buds can result in a preference for it, instead of whole foods found in nature – which can taste bland in comparison. Biologically, we are wired to eat foods that are sweet, fatty and salty – however we become malnourished eating foods with high calories, no nurtition and our bodies do not get the sense of satiety.   These foods have been described as “foods with no brakes”. Our body does not get the signal that we are full and it is easy to overeat without this signal.
  1. The second deleterious effect is the development of cravings when eaten regularly –   our brains are literally being rewired by regular consumption of these foods. “After a few trips ot the bakery, your memory circuits tell your reward circuits that the cookie will bring you joy.. Dopamine promises satisfaction, if only you give in to your urge. You can’t resist, so you eat the cookie(s) and your endorphines help you feel good ( for a while). And so the vicious cycle serves only to reinforce itself until you have developed a habitual response – the automatic craving for a specific food in response to certain triggers” (Hartwig, 2012, p. 35).
  1. Stress exacerbates and reinforces these unhealthy patterns making it even more difficult to deal with cravings. It is actually true that eating fatty, salty and sugary foods makes you feel less stressed temporarily, but this habit creates many down-stream negative effects on your health, your wasteline and your self-esteem. It also reinforces the habit of dealing with stress by eating.
  1. High fat, high sugar and high salt foods create imbalances with our hormones with many, many side effects such as insulin resistance, reactive hypoglycemia, feeling cranky, foggy and due to appetite dysregulation- hungry, which becomes a vicious cycle. Insulin resistance can eventually lead to type 2 diabetes with another vast array of health problems, both long and short-term.
  1. Our gut plays a critical role in our immune system and our good health. Ideally, our intestinal system absorbs nutrients vital to our survival and filters all that is not needed by the body. There is a delicate balance of good and bad bacteria which is vital to digestion and immune function.Eating foods that disturb this balance results in a condition called “leaky gut syndrome” which is a condition where the intestinal lining becomes structurally damaged. This condition allows undigested food particles to enter the bloodstream which results in food sensitivities – and eventually – chronic inflammation. Chronic “systemic inflammation contributes directly to insulin resistance and diabetes,cardio-vascular disease, stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, chronic inflammatory diseases (like IBS and asthma), bone and joint disease (like osteoporosis and arthritis), neurological conditions (like Alzhiemer’s and Parkinson’s) and most certainly weight gain. “ (Hartwig, 2012, p. 79)

by Katherine Harriman, Counsellor, Social Worker

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