Tag Archives: Weight Gain

8 Steps To Stop Your Nighttime Binges

Do you sometimes sneak a late-night snack, even after you’ve had a big dinner? Or worse, do you find yourself hungry and craving sugar and carbs at night? You may think you’re alone, but nighttime eating is a common problem.

Are you hungry after a big meal? Do you continue eating late into the night?

It is one of the biggest reasons we gain weight. We eat and go to bed and store all that food around our bellies.

Have you ever thought about why, not long after a big meal, you crave more food, more sugar, and more junk, and you want to have chips or sweets or other unhealthy foods?

It’s not a flaw in your personality. It’s not some emotional issue that you have to fix. It’s not some psychological trauma that you have to get over.

It’s simple biology, an imbalance of the hormones that regulate your appetite.

Originally posted on DrHyman.com

Got Proof? The Lack of Evidence for Milk’s Benefits

Got milk?There is no biological requirement for cow’s milk. It is nature’s perfect food but only if you are a calf. The evidence of its benefits is overstated, and the evidence of its harm to human populations is increasing.

The white mustached celebrities paid by the Dairy Council promote the wonders of milk in their “Got Milk” ads. Scientists are increasingly asking, “Got Proof?” Our government still hasn’t caught on, in part because of the huge dairy lobby driving nutrition guidelines. When I once lamented to Senator Harkin that all we wanted to do was to make science into policy, he cocked his head and with a wry smile and said, “that would make too much sense.”

And the media is also influenced heavily by advertising dollars. Once, when I was on Martha Stewart’s television show, the dairy lobby sponsored the episode, and her trainer was forced to mouth the talking points of the Dairy Council touting milk as a fabulous sports drink. Studies may show some benefit, but studies funded by the food industry show positive benefits eight times more than independently funded studies.

In a new editorial by two of the nation’s leading nutrition scientists from Harvard, Dr. David Ludwig and Dr. Walter Willett, in JAMA Pediatrics, our old assumptions about milk are being called into question. Perhaps it doesn’t help you grow strong bones, and it may increase the risk of cancer and promote weight gain.

It is bad enough that the dairy industry recently petitioned the FDA to sneak artificial sweeteners into chocolate milk. They want their “shake and eat it, too” by pushing milkshake-like flavored milk drinks into schools as a “healthier” option, even though they have 30 grams of sugar per cup. By cutting the sugar and adding artificial sweeteners to low fat or non-fat milk drinks, the idea is that they would be healthier. Except for the fact that recent studies have found that one diet drink a week increases your risk of type 2 diabetes by 33 percent and a large diet drink increases the risk by 66 percent.

What about low fat milk or non-fat milk? These are the healthier options, right? Wrong.

Ludwig and Willett note that there is scant evidence that fat makes you fat, despite this commonly held mistaken belief. Reducing fat in milk reduces its ability to satisfy the appetite (which fat does) and can promote overeating and hunger. Often, the fat in the diet is replaced with sugar and refined carbohydrates, which clearly has been shown to promote obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Studies show that reducing fat in the diet, which parallels an increase in starch and refined carbohydrates in the diet, not only increases hunger but also may actually slow metabolism. In one study, Dr. Ludwig found that those who ate a low fat, higher glycemic diet burned 300 calories less a day that those who ate an identical calorie diet that was higher in fat and lower in glycemic load. For those who ate the higher fat, lower glycemic diet, that’s like exercising an extra hour a day without doing anything!

More concerning still is that, in studies of kids and adults, those who consumed low fat milk products gained more weight than those who ate the full fat whole milk products. They seemed to increase their overall intake of food because it just wasn’t as satisfying as the real thing. In fact, those who drank the most milk overall gained the most weight. It makes logical sense. Milk is designed to quickly turn a little calf into a big cow and contains over sixty different hormones, most designed to boost growth.

But shouldn’t we stick to low fat milk to reduce our intake of saturated fat? The fact is that, while your LDL or bad cholesterol goes down by reducing saturated fat in the diet, the protective cholesterol, HDL, actually goes up by eating saturated fat improving the ratio of total to HDL cholesterol, which is the most important marker of your risk of heart disease. Switching out saturated fat for carbohydrates actually increased the risk of heart attack in a 12-year study of 53,544 adults. In fact, the whole story of the evil of saturated fats is in great debate. The evidence for linkage to heart disease turns out to be pretty weak indeed.

If you ate only whole foods, fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, and whole grains (not whole grain flour), you might be better off overall (although a recent scientific review of saturated fat dismissed the very notion that is it bad for you). But sadly, that is not what most Americans do when they switch to low fat.

The sad thing is that many schools and “healthy” beverage guidelines encourage the idea that flavored milk is better than soda and that getting kids to drink more milk by any means is a good idea. This is dangerously misguided.

There are 27 grams of sugar in 8 ounces of Coca Cola and a whopping 30 grams of sugar in 8 ounces of Nestlé Chocolate Milk. Sugar is sugar and drives obesity and diabetes. It is not a good way to get kids to drink milk.

But that begs the bigger question. Do kids need milk? Is milk necessary for healthy bones and preventing osteoporosis? The data are clear, but our government polices don’t reflect the science.

Dairy and milk products do not promote healthy bones. In a large meta-analysis, milk did not reduce risk of fractures. Other studies have shown it can increase fracture rates. And the countries with the lowest milk consumption have the lowest risk of osteoporosis and fractures. Calcium is not all it’s cracked up to be. Studies show that higher calcium intakes are actually associated with higher risk of fracture.

Milk may not grow strong bones, but it does seem to grow cancer cells. Milk increases the hormone called IGF-1 or insulin-like growth factor, one that is like Miracle-Gro for cancer cells. Dairy products have been linked to prostate cancer. And cows are milked while pregnant (yes, even organic cows), filling milk with loads of reproductive and potentially cancer-causing hormones.

There are other problems with milk, too. It increases the risk of type 1 diabetes. Dairy is a well-known cause of acne. And of course, dairy causes millions around the world (75 percent of the population) to suffer digestive distress because of lactose intolerance. It causes intestinal bleeding in 40 percent of infants leading to iron deficiency. Allergy, asthma, and eczema all may be triggered by dairy consumption.

The US Department of Agriculture’s new My Plate initiative recommends three cups a day of milk for everyone! If you are two to nine years old, you get away with only two to two and a half cups. And the “key consumer message” is to switch to 1% or non-fat versions.

There is absolutely no biological requirement for milk, and the evidence for low fat milk is lacking, along with the bone benefits. The dairy lobby has its tentacles deep in the US Department of Agriculture. One scientist friend who advises the government on food policy confided to me that when he protested that there was no evidence for the government’s recommendations that we all drink three glasses of milk a day and that, in fact, it may be harmful, he was patronized with a “yes, we know, but the dairy lobby makes it difficult to make science into policy.”

Let’s just forget the science and spend taxpayer’s dollars to promote foods that we know are harmful, because money runs politics. To heck with the health of our citizens.

Bottom line: Milk is not nature’s perfect food unless you are a calf and should not be consumed in large quantities by most people, because it can promote weight gain, cancer, and even cause osteoporosis. Write to your congressmen to encourage them to support changes to our food and farm bill policies that shape our nutritional guidelines and make them evidence based. The answer to the question, “Got Proof?” Heck no!

Now I’d like to hear from you…

Do you think we need to drink milk to be healthy?

Do you agree that getting kids to drink more milk is a good idea?

Have you recently cut dairy from your diet, and if so, do you feel better?

What are some good dairy alternatives that you’ve discovered?

 

Originally published on my website, DrHyman.com

Are You Fat Enough?

Screen Shot 2013-06-19 at 1.07.36 PMIt’s time to change the way you think about fat. For the past 30 years well-meaning diet gurus have preached that eating fat makes you fat. I’m here to tell you that fat, in and of itself, is not what is making you fat.

Instead, it’s eating too much of the wrong types of fat. After all, all fats are not created equal. But, if you are like 90 percent of Americans, you are eating the wrong type of fat most of the time. It’s time for an oil change!

What is Fat?

Fat is one of the body’s most basic building blocks. The average person is between 15 to 30 percent fat! (Men should be 10-20% fat and women should be 20-30% fat). Of all of the types of fats in our diets, the body only REALLY needs two – omega-3 and omega-6. Our bodies manufacture all the other fats we need.

What is an omega fat? The omega numbers (in this case 3 and 6) refer to where the hydrogen atom joins the fat molecule. Remember, the name is just basic chemistry lingo. What is important to understand is the impact of different types of fat on the body.

The higher quality the fat, the better your body will function. That’s because the body uses fat you eat to build cell walls. You have more than 100 trillion cells in your body, and every single one of them should be constructed of high-quality fat.

How do you know if your cells are getting the fats they need? Your body sends signals when it’s not getting enough good fats. It’s up to you to recognize the warning signs:

  • Dry, itchy, scaling or flaking skin
  • Soft, cracked, or brittle nails
  • Hard earwax
  • Tiny bumps on the backs of your arms or torso
  • Achy, stiff joints’
  • Depression
  • Memory problems
  • Attention deficit disorder
  • Diabetes
  • Weight gain
  • Cancer

Why does the type of fat matter? Building your body from the inside out is just like building a house. You can frame the house with the cheapest stuff you can find or you can invest in quality materials that are going to be energy-efficient and last a long time.

Recognizing Which Fats to Eat and Which to Avoid

Most processed foods are made with poor-quality omega-6 fats from refined processed vegetable oils because they are abundant and cheap. Plus, fat makes food taste good and improves its texture. Take a look at the ingredients of your favorite packaged food.

If the list includes oils made from corn, soy, cottonseed or safflower you are getting a sub-par fat. When the body puts these cheap fats to work, the cell walls also become sub-par. That means instead of being flexible and responsive to inter-cellular communication, cell walls are stiff and rigid. The more rigid the walls, the slower the cell functions and the more vulnerable it is to inflammation.

To ensure your body has the fats it needs to construct high-quality cell walls, you need to eat more omega-3 fats. For starters, cell walls made from omega-3 fats are flexible allowing cells to respond more quickly to messages.

Secondly, these “good” fats help the body churn out prostaglandins, hormones that cool off inflammation. The best places to find omega-3 fats include small cold-water fish – such as wild salmon, sardines and herring, organic flax and hemp seed oils, walnuts, Brazil nuts, and sea vegetables.

Your body is designed to run on high-quality fats. Scientists suspect that early humans ate almost equal amounts of omega-6 and omega-3 fats. Hunter-gatherer humans got their omega-6 fats from seeds and nuts. And their omega 3’s came from eating wild game and fish and foraging for wild plants.

But, as people began to refine oils from plants, the ratio became skewed more toward omega-6. As a result of fats being out of balance in the modern diet, our bodies are more vulnerable to diseases such as cancer and heart disease.

When the human diet contained a balanced number of omega-3 and omega-6 fats, heart disease was almost nonexistent. Cardiovascular disease is now the number one cause of death in the world.

Body Boon

The more omega-3 fats you eat, the easier your body cools itself. A cool body is a less inflamed body. And inflammation is at the root of nearly every chronic disease, especially those impacting the brain and the heart.

Of all the body parts dependent on high-quality fat, the brain is uniquely vulnerable. That’s because it is made up of 60 percent fat, the biggest portion of which is an omega-3 fat called docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

Your brain needs DHA to spark communication between cells. Easy access to high-quality fat boosts cognition, happiness, learning, and memory. In contrast, studies link a deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids to depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia, and even violence.

After the brain, it’s the heart that will thank you for eating more omega-3s. The heart is a direct beneficiary of omega-3 fats. They tamp down cholesterol by reducing levels of bad fats (triglycerides). Meanwhile, they raise levels of good fats (HDL) in the blood. Part of their magic is that omega-3 fats make blood more slippery, which reduces the likelihood of artery disease.

Beyond the heart and brain, eating the right fat also helps you shed fat. Healthy cell walls made from high-quality fats are better able to metabolize insulin, which better regulate blood sugar. Without proper blood sugar control, the body socks away fat for a rainy day. Ironically, it’s not eating fat that makes you gain weight it’s eating the WRONG types of fat.

How to Know Your Stats on Fats

The great thing about modern medicine is having tests, which can alert us to any imbalances in the body. One test in particular I recommend  is not only really useful, but is also super simple! I work with a lab called Omega Quant, which has excellent testing protocols using evidence-based scientific research on fatty acids. I love this test because you only need a quick blood spot to get detailed results and you do it all from the privacy of your own home! The main result generated in the report will be your Omega-3 index.

In a show I did with Dr. Oz on omega-3 fats, we tested his audience – over 80% of the audience were deficient in omega-3 fats and had many of the symptoms and diseases associated with this deficiency.

I did my own test – and thankfully my omega-3 index is fantastic – that’s because I have had insider information for years on what to eat and what supplements to take.  See my report here.

There are other fatty acid percentages and ratios given in the report, which set this company apart from others on the market. However, I mostly care about three results which are important to monitor for maintaining health and preventing chronic disease. Generally, it is essential to know:

  1. Your omega-3 fatty acid index
  2. Your ratio of omega-6:omega-3 fatty acids
  3. Your level of trans fatty acids

My nutrition coaching team will send your results to you with personalized feedback as well as instructions to improve your ratios. I have personally trained them to look for functional levels in order to provide you with the absolute best care to optimize your health.

Since our modern diet is so empty of omega-3 fats and the traditional sources such as wild fish are increasingly contaminated with toxins, especially mercury, I recommend using omega-3 fat supplements. But I only recommend the highest quality, best absorbed purified and tested forms to get all the benefits without the risks.

When you do the Omega Quant Test my nutritionists will provide you with personalized nutrition advice to optimize your blood levels of these important fats. Learning more about what is going on right in your very own body could not be any simpler! And, it is actually really fascinating to watch and see how your diet and lifestyle directly impact your results.

 

Originally published on my website, DrHyman.com

Ayurveda and Weight Management

In Ayurveda, India’s 5,000 year old Science of Life, there’s no “one size fits all” answer to managing our weight. The solutions are as unique and individual as we are. You start by knowing your “dosha” or Ayurvedic mind/body type.

KAPHA

The most common type of weight gain is caused by having a slow metabolism. This is common for a person who is a classic Kapha type. Kapha dosha is comprised of the earth and water elements, so this type of individual will reflect those qualities. A Kapha person will be structurally bigger, with bigger bones and a more easy-going, stable, gentle personality.

For a Kapha person, being skinny is usually not a healthy goal. If you are prone to gain weight, and are always five to ten pounds overweight no matter how little you eat, it would go against your nature to ever be really thin. Rather, it would be better to balance your metabolism, increase your ability to digest sugars and carbohydrates by adopting a Kapha balancing diet and lifestyle, and allow your body to naturally find its ideal weight. You may not be skinny, you may always weigh five to ten pounds more than average, but you will feel better and look healthier, and you will lose most of your excess weight.

Diet

The main principle for balancing Kapha is to introduce some of the fire element into your food and lifestyle. This will balance the earthen and watery elements of Kapha dosha.
Flavor your vegetables and dhal soups with spices that are mildly pungent, such as black pepper, fresh ginger, and turmeric

Other tastes to balance Kapha dosha are the bitter and astringent tastes. These include green leafy vegetables, split mung dhal soup and other bean soups, and astringent vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts. It’s important to cook your vegetables and eat them warm, rather than relying on raw vegetables. Raw vegetables are difficult to digest, whereas to balance Kapha dosha you want to eat warm, light, cooked foods.

Quinoa is an excellent grain for managing weight, as it has high protein and zinc content (4 mg of zinc per cup). But it should be cooked with a bit of ghee or olive oil, as otherwise it may be too drying.

Basmati rice is also a good grain for Kapha dosha, because it has a more drying quality than other types of rice, but quinoa is better because it has the intelligence of fire to support weight loss.

The fire element can even be added to the water you drink. If you boil your water for five minutes on the stove, you are adding the intelligence of fire to your drinking water. If you sip the water throughout the day, the intelligence of fire will permeate the molecules of water, and thus permeate your body. You won’t notice anything right away, but if you continue with this routine, in time you will feel less fatigue. This is because Kapha dosha tends to create a feeling of lethargy, and by introducing the fire element in the water, you’ll gradually feel more energetic.

If you are Kapha by nature, you’ll want to stay away from heavy, cold desserts such as ice cream and cheesecake, as these will only slow your metabolism and increase the cold, heavy qualities of Kapha in your body. Rich desserts, fried foods, foods made with refined sugar and refined flour, cold foods and drinks — all of these should be avoided if you want to balance Kapha and your weight.

Lifestyle

Regular exercise is the most important change you can make to improve your metabolism. The problem is that people with excessive Kapha dosha often feel somewhat complacent or even lethargic, and they might have to push themselves a little to exercise every day. Usually Kapha types need more vigorous exercise for a longer period to have the same effect as milder exercise would have on a Vata person.

Even making a habit of breathing more deeply can help charge the metabolism with more of the fire element. When Kapha dosha is out of balance, one of the first things that happens is that the person becomes a shallow breather. Deeper breathing is healthy for all body types, but especially for Kapha dosha, because deeper breathing helps wake up the body’s metabolism. When the metabolism is lower and breathing is shallow, the body’s channels get blocked and cause even more lethargy, which becomes a vicious cycle.

The digestive fire is weaker in the morning when you wake up and in the evening before bed, so breakfast and dinner should be lighter meals. An excellent breakfast for balancing metabolism for all three body-types is a cooked apple or pear with cooked prunes and figs. This breakfast choice is light and sustains most people until noon, when they can eat their heaviest meal. A healthy supper for a Kapha person might be soup made with vegetables, grains and dhal and flavored with spices such as cumin, fresh ginger, black pepper, and turmeric. Or kitcheri, a light meal made with rice and split mung dhal, is also a light Kapha-reducing meal Kapha Churna is an excellent spice mixture for balancing Kapha dosha.

VATA

If you are Vata-predominant, you are normally thin and wiry. But that does not mean weight gain will never be a problem for you. Sometimes Vata types are thin all their lives and then suddenly put on weight because their metabolism has changed. Vata-predominant people are susceptible to mental stress because they tend to overuse or misuse their minds. When under stress they also tend to forget to eat regularly, thus disturbing their digestion, creating ama and clogging the channels. This is often the precursor to weight gain.

Diet

When Vata dosha is the underlying cause of a weight problem, it’s important to eat a balanced diet that is easy to digest but also nurturing. Take the middle path, and eat a tridoshic diet, which means one that balances all three doshas. Avoid foods that are too hot and spicy (such as food spiced with chillies, cayenne, and black mustard seed), and at the same time avoid foods that are ice cold, such as ice cream, iced drinks, and cold, heavy desserts. Stay away from foods that are too heavy (such as aged cheeses, meats, and heavy desserts) and also avoid foods that are too light and dry, such as crackers, cold cereals, and packaged snacks. In general, avoid leftovers; frozen, canned or packaged foods, and processed foods of all kinds.

Lifestyle

People with a predominance of Vata dosha need a regular routine, to balance the uneven, variable nature of Vata dosha. It’s important that they go to bed early, well before ten o’clock and rise early, before 6 a.m. A regular routine with adequate sleep is one of the best antidotes to Vata imbalance. Regular meals are essential, with three warm, cooked meals a day. It’s important to eat them at the same time every day, as Vata digestion tends to be irregular. By eating at the same time, your digestive enzymes will prepare to digest the food and digestion will be stronger. Avoid work that is stressful to the mind, and practice relaxing exercise such as yoga and pranayama. A daily oil massage, abhyanga, is especially important for Vata. The skin is one of the primary seats of Vata dosha in the body, so massaging your body every morning with warm, Vata-pacifying oil can go a long way toward soothing your entire nervous system and emotions. The more relaxed you are, and the more regular your routine, the better you will withstand day-to-day stress and the less likely you are to fall prey to weight imbalances.

Many times people with Vata disorders find themselves in a rush, always in a hurry. It’s not healthy for anyone to always be rushing around, to constantly have to hurry, and it’s especially harmful to people with Vata imbalances. If you find yourself in that situation, it’s important to cultivate a habit of taking it easy and slowing down. Learn to structure a more relaxed, royal daily routine. This is important for mental, emotional and physical health.

PITTA

You would think that since Pitta dosha is associated with the fire element, a person with high Pitta would not have any problem burning up carbohydrates and sugars. Yet if the person doesn’t take care of the digestion, that can create problems. For instance, if someone who is predominantly Pitta by nature skips breakfast or other meals, that can create ama, digestive impurities, because the digestive fire becomes too strong. In this situation, stomach acids can “burn” the food and even damage the stomach.

To understand how this happens, think of setting an empty pot on the stove. The heat is on, but there’s nothing to cook. Instead, the pot itself gets burned. In the same way, if you have a strong digestive fire but you don’t feed it regularly, then the digestive enzymes go out of balance, burn the food and create ama the next time you eat.

Many people with high Pitta dosha are overweight, precisely because they are not eating regularly and as a result ama has coated their digestive system. When ama blocks the channels of digestion and the channels that circulate nutrients throughout the body, then metabolism slows down and weight gain results.

Diet

First of all, the person with high Pitta should get into the habit of eating three meals a day, starting with breakfast. This is very important, as otherwise the stomach will continue to be burned by digestive acids. Eating a cooked apple or pears with cooked prunes or figs for breakfast is a good idea, because it will soothe the digestive fire but not overload it. Raw pears or other sweet, juicy fruits are also good for people with high Pitta.

A vegetable that is good for weight management is daikon radish. This white radish can be grated and added to dhal soups for a mildly spicy flavor. Include sweet vegetables for lunch and dinner, such as squashes that are white inside (zucchini, loki or yellow squash). Steam them well and then sauté them in ghee with mild, cooling spices such as powdered fennel, small amounts of cumin and small amounts of turmeric. Flavor foods with Pitta Churna, a delicious spice blend specifically created for balancing Pitta.

Avoid eating pungent spices such as chilies, cayenne, and black mustard seed. These will only increase the acidity. A person in this situation may be drawn to heavy, cold, sweet foods to cool the acidity. But heavy, cold foods will only make the problem worse by creating more ama and blocking the channels of digestion and metabolism. It’s better to cool the digestive fire by cooking with cooling spices, eating light desserts with your meal such as fruit crisps, and by drinking light dairy drinks such as sweet lassi.

Lifestyle

People who are predominantly Pitta should go to sleep before the Pitta time of the evening (10:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m.). Even if you feel like you have a lot of energy then, or feel more creative, it’s not a good idea to stay awake during the Pitta time of night, because this only aggravates Pitta dosha further. And if you stay awake during the Pitta time of night, you will invariably get hungry and thirsty and may eat packaged cookies or salty snacks, or drink soft drinks or alcohol. All of these things will only disturb Pitta dosha further and contribute to weight gain.

Lissa Coffey is world renown as the authority on Ayurveda and relationships. She is the author of “What’s Your Dosha, Baby? Discover the Vedic Way for Compatibility in Life and Love.” For information on Ayurvedic products to balance your dosha, including teas and churnas, visit her website: http://www.doshasmart.com

photo by: Kerala Tourism

How Seth Godin Reminded Me Why Calories May Not Count…and Tim Ferriss Confirmed It


Over the last year and a half, I’ve become a fan of all things Seth Godin.  Although he has been a popular and well known author, blogger and marketing guru, for many years, I confess I found him late.  I am, however, committed to playing catch up and I’m absorbing all he has written, as fast as I can.  In Godin language, I’ve become a true enthusiast.

I admit that at first, I found myself a bit intimidated by his constant reminders about being “remarkable”.  Godin says in Small is the New Big, “Working hard doesn’t make you remarkable.  Doing a good job doesn’t make you remarkable.  What makes you remarkable is being amazing, outstanding, surprising, elegant and noteworthy!”  Gulp!  Okay.  Am I putting myself out on a limb; setting myself up for serious scrutiny?  No matter what, after reading that, I’ve been taking the leap.

After all, I’ve always thought that being ordinary, normal and average were not things to aspire to anyways.  Somehow reading Godin confirms for me that I was right to think that way all along.  He also continues to remind me that fear of change, not by me alone, but by the population in general, has led to a persistent belief in what he calls “lies that people tell to maintain the status quo.” Of the ten he lists in his rant “Mail…the check is in the”, and as I’ve been traveling more recently, I relate to the one that affects all of us frequent flyers. “A bottle of Evian is dangerous to airline security and must be surrendered.”  We have accepted this as truth, or at the very least an imposed truth.  He goes on to say, “…people will embrace patently false ideas if it helps them deal with their fear of change.”

This kind of modern day myth permeates all areas of our lives.  Once they take hold they seem virtually impossible to dislodge.  Which brings me to the title of this article.  In the areas of health and weight loss, this kind of popular “lie” has without much effort, been ingrained into the mass consciousness relating to the part calories play in healthy weight loss or weight gain.

Although there is much research over many decades to the contrary, like a recent piece I read in the N.Y. Times, about what makes us fat, I would bet that most people when asked, would confirm that if you eat fewer calories than you expend, you will lose weight.  Simple, right?

Even though there has been increasing evidence that not only is the kind of calories important, but that calories, if they count at all, are merely a small and maybe insignificant piece of the overall complex weight puzzle.  Yet, the idea persists that if you cut your calories and do more exercise, you will lose weight.  The old calories in – calories out theory.

Enter Tim Ferriss.  Reading his latest book The Four Hour Body confirmed that the weight gain, weight loss issue has little, if anything, to do with calories.  I must admit I’ve also become an enthusiastic fan of Ferriss’ and luckily for me, he only has two books, so I’m pretty much on track with all he has written.

In very succinct Ferriss style, in explaining the subject of calories, Ferriss says, “as usual, the focus is on the least important piece of the puzzle.  But why do scientists harp on the calorie?  Simple.  It’s cheap to estimate and it is a popular variable for publication journals.”  He then goes on to call this “parking lot science” and I suggest you read the detailed explanation, in what I think is a very thoroughly researched and informative book.

I personally have understood for a very long time that calories don’t really count.  In my ongoing search for ways to continue to improve my health, (which at times has been so bad that it was feared I might die of malnutrition and at other times I was so heavy no matter what I did the weight didn’t come off), I have read many, many books and tried even more programs.  I have faithfully counted calories and could never explain the lack of significant results.  Yet, the widely held calorie myth is hard to dislodge.

It appears on food packages and we are constantly reminded about calories and their relationship to weight, seemingly everywhere we go.  I personally have often chosen to go against the popular belief of the moment.  The recommended daily dose of vitamins and minerals has never resonated with me either.  For example, I take 3,000-4,000 mg of vitamin C daily, thanks to what was once controversial research by Linus Pauling.  This is much higher then the suggested RDI which is between 60-75 mg, but it doesn’t seem to have hurt me in any way.  Dare to explore what works, I say.

So I’ve taken the leap and given myself a challenge; to question some of the widely and long held “truths” that just may not work anymore and in fact, may not have ever been true at all.  Each new day brings us all an opportunity to be open to make changes, and even small changes can result in making big differences in our own lives, and can inevitably have an impact on those around us.

Personally, I am ready to give up the lies I have bought into over the years.  I am committed to being remarkable and an enthusiastic enthusiast as Godin suggests and to becoming superhuman and having incredible sex, if I learn from Ferriss.  If I can do this, life as I once lived it, might become more than I dared to imagine!  In advance, I thank Seth Godin and Timothy Ferriss for challenging me to be better and to do better.  What change challenge are you willing to take?

Visit me at: www.beverleygolden.com

Chelsea Roff: Can air pollution make people obese?

According to scientists at the University of Copenhagen, increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere may be affecting our brain chemistry in a way that increases appetite and ultimately (they suggest) contribute to obesity.

While research to test the hypothesis is still preliminary and inconclusive, it suggests that carbon emissions may be effecting us in far more subtle ways than we ever imagined. Moreover, weight gain and obesity are often conceived of as being the results of poor judgment, lack of willpower, or even sheer laziness.  If these scientists have it right, our personal weight is far more influenced by our environment than commonly thought.

via Discovery News:

Steadily rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere may be affecting brain chemistry, increasing appetite and contributing to the obesity epidemic, according to a new hypothesis, which still awaits rigorous testing and inevitable debate.

The idea proposes that breathing in extra COmakes blood more acidic, which in turn causes neurons that regulate appetite, sleep and metabolism to fire more frequently. As a result, we might be eating more, sleeping less and gaining more weight, partly as a result of the air we breathe.

Studies show that our blood becomes more acidic when we breathe in CO2-laden air for just a few weeks, Astrup wrote in his article. And it only takes a 0.1-unit drop in pH to double the firing rate of appetite and wakefulness-related neurons. One human study found that pH levels fell by 0.05 units with exposure to 7,000 ppm of CO2.

Major studies are in the works to test the hypothesis, which is still very much in the what-if stage. But if the link pans out, the research would offer yet another reason to reduce the CO2 we produce, while also potentially inspiring new obesity treatments.

Each week on the Intent Blog, we feature articles, videos, and images to inspire you to live a healthier, happier, more fulfilling life. This week, our focus is on the Ecology and Environment. If you’ve recently set an intent related to green living, share it with us in the comment section below. We’ll do our best to support you with interesting content to keep you motivated along the way!

Is Unemployment Making You Fat? 7 Tips To Avoid The Jobless Muffin Top

As if unemployment and job instability wasn’t soul-crushing enough already. More and more newly unemployed Americans are finding themselves gaining unwanted weight as they cope with their new jobless lifestyle.

There are a number of reasons why this happens. Depression and anxiety are a common side effect of unemployment, which may cause many individuals to feel unmotivated to get out of the house and exercise, or turn to unhealthy comfort food as a coping mechanism. A lowered sense of self-esteem also makes it more difficult for people to take better care of themselves.

The sudden increase in unstructured free time is also a major contributing factor to unwanted weight gain. Without a daily structure of work and commute, many people resort to a lot of internet-surfing or watching TV, thus lowering their physical activity even more. When people no longer have the social pressure of looking presentable in front of their co-workers in a professional work environment, they may also lose the self-motivation to keep up their appearances and let it all slide.

Finally, junk food and microwavable meals are cheap, whereas organic fruits and vegetables tend to be more expensive. All of these factors contribute to a perfect storm of rising obesity in a time of economic crisis.

Fortunately, there are many useful lifestyle improvements that you can incorporate into your everyday life to avoid the unhealthy weight gain of unemployment. Here are tips to avoid the jobless muffin top: 

1. Make exercise a part of your daily schedule. Got a lot of fre time on your hands? You no longer have the excuse of having no time for physical activity.

2. Use your free time to cook healthier meals and to eat at home as much as possible. Since you don’t have to worry about rushing through a packed schedule to eat a lot of fast food and pre-packaged meals, you can use this opportunity to do more healthy cooking that will save you a lot of money.

3. Create a support group with other unemployment buddies to stay on track with your physical and mental health. Social isolation tends to breed a lot of unhealthy habits, both physical and mental. Staying connected with a support group, on the other hand, will keep you optimistic and give you the motivation to stay on top of your game. 

4. Exercise at home without the expensive gym membership. Check out this video by fitness trainer Holly Perkins, which demonstrates 5 easy exercises you can do with minimal equipment in the comfort of your own home or in a local park. 

5. Know your emotional triggers for overeating or being a couch potato. Does waking up late tend to set the tone for laziness for the rest of your day? Are you vulnerable to a mid-afternoon pig out? Do you get depressed in the evenings if you’re not out with friends? By knowing your triggers, you will be more aware of what sets off your bad habits and what you can strategize to avoid them.

6. Have structured meal times at specific points during the day. Rather than eating whenever you feel like it all times of the day, having specific windows of time to eat will help you control your eating habits.

7. Stock your pantry with healthy snacks instead of junk food. Of course, easier said than done. But getting in the habit of having only healthy food in the house is one of the best strategies of keeping crazy weight gain at bay.

PHOTO (cc): Flickr / chapendra

Clutter Can Mess Up Your Life

If your environment is cluttered and you are overweight, you might be wondering if there is an emotional connection. Perhaps, if you cure one, you cure both. Shopping and hoarding like eating and gaining might indicate that you are trying to self-soothe your stress. Whether you eat junk food or accumulate junk, the result is that you tend to feel guilty and ashamed.  How can you invite someone in to see your inner chaos?

Here is how clutter can make you fat. For example, check out your fridge which once housed an exciting, impulsively hungry purchase of crisp, colorful healthy fruits and vegetables from a local farm stand and a huge container of low-fat Greek yogurt.  However, now you hastily close the fridge door after you grab some milk for your coffee, offended by the sour smell and the science experiment actively growing there. You lack the motivation to clean it out – it has become overwhelming. Instead, you easily reach into the pantry for the processed, preserved foods with a real long shelf-life like, cookies, chips and candy bars, or head towards the odorless freezer for the ice-cream.

You take your stash to the living room to get distracted by TV. Your space looks like a thrift shop during year-end tax-deductions. Piles of dusty possessions sap your natural energy. Drawers are bulging with receipts, mail, unread magazines and loose photographs. The clothes in your closet still hang with price tags from a couple of years ago because you rotate three or four outfits. You are imprisoned, unaware that you can open the cage door any time you want.

Turn on the music and move it out. Music restores your rhythm.

The good news: as soon as you throw out the very first object of external clutter, you will feel lighter and lose that ravenous appetite to consume. Probably, the easiest place to start is with your fridge. Success breeds success. Then proceed to where your eyes are drawn; let your body lead you to it. The sequence doesn’t matter; the emotional association is more important. So you can go from the fridge to your closet or to your desk. The order you create will enable you to cope with the chaos of daily stress. When you can sit alone in your space without feeling lonely, you have de-cluttered, ready to invite others into your life.

Here are 3 basic questions to help determine what to let go.

* Do you collect objects to show off who you are like books you never read or strange souvenirs from your travels, or do you really treasure your possessions? Throw away what you don’t love.

* Are you afraid to let go of the things you have inherited from family, living or dead, whom you have always wanted to please? Take photographs to remember these items like grandma’s piano in order to free up your space. Create your unique place in the world.

* Do your possessions symbolize who you are and wish to become? The hand sculpture holding a bar bell no longer reminds me of my essence. I gave it away.

Thoreau lamented that life is frittered away by detail and begged us to simplify. TODAY.

 

Prepare for a Healthy Holiday Season

Starting with Thanksgiving, the holiday season gives us reason (or an excuse) to celebrate and indulge. Some of us are great at managing the amount of celebrating we do, and some of us are not so good. The worst, however, is waking up the day after New Year’s, dumbfounded as to how we gained ten pounds in a month and a half. If you are hoping to avoid this scenario, be proactive! Here’s a plan to help you enjoy, while not overdoing it:

1. 6:1 Weekly Calendar.
Create a holiday event calendar where non-event days are color-coded light blue and event days are color-coded bright red and weeks with multiple events bright yellow. Events include extended family dinners, work and social parties, and happy hours. When possible, aim to have no more than one “event” a week…or a 6:1 ratio of healthy days to indulgent days.

2. Plan for the 5:2 or more Weeks: Weeks that are at higher ratios than the 6:1, can cause us to “blend” one celebration into another, and before you know it, we eat as though every day is a holiday…with or without an event to attend. When you have these weeks do the following:

  • Exercise a little extra
  • Eat extra healthy on non-event days
  • Eat extra healthy up until your event on event days

3. At Events.

Indulge with purpose and in the things that are worth it. Decide want you want to indulge in before the party – alcohol…dessert…chips – so that you can keep yourself in check from over-indulging. Meanwhile, fill-up on things you know to be healthy, leaving little room for unhealthier foods. Here is a good order in which to eat:

  • Fibrous Veggies
  • Lean Protein
  • Starchy Veggies
  • Fruit
  • Snacks, Sweets and Alcohol

As you experience the holiday season, enjoy! Don’t obsess about weight gain, just be smart about your habits and choices!

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Avoid Task-Snacking: How to Be More Mindful When Eating

Eating while doing other things may be a recipe for weight gain

 Some call it “multi-tasking”; the French call it “vagabond eating”; in America, it’s a growing trend. However it’s perceived, eating a meal or snacking mindlessly while at work in front of your computer, while driving, watching TV, shopping with a friend, or talking on the phone, the Task-Snacking eating style puts you at risk for overeating and becoming overweight or obese. Ever meander through the mall while munching; if so, you’re task-snaking. Do you watch TV, flip through a magazine, or study while eating? These are more task-snacking behaviors. As a matter of fact, doing other things while you’re eating has become so common in our culture, it’s become normal.

How might Task-Snacking, specifically, work against your waistline when you eat at your desk while working, or you munch while watching TV, or you snack while driving? In other words, how may eating in a not-too-conscious, not-too-mindful way, be a recipe for weight gain? Understanding what happens when you eat while Task-Snacking provides a clue.

 Because the brain can only attend to one topic at a time, when you do multiple tasks simultaneously, the mind constantly shifts its attention. If you were to undergo a PET (Positron Emission Tomography) scan—a powerful, non-invasive imaging technique that accurately images the cellular function of the human body—while Task-Snacking, it would show lights blinking on and off in selected areas of the brain associated with the various tasks you’re doing. To cope with your Task-Snacking, when you eat while the mind is not focused on your food, the mind disengages from the body. In response, the digestive process is impaired, making food not nearly as nutritious as it could be. In turn, this can trigger hunger and malnutrition and the drive to eat more so you will feel satisfied via the nutrients both your mind and body need for optimal health—and that you’re not metabolizing. In this way, Task-Snacking can create a vicious cycle of poor digestion, inadequate nutrition, and overeating to compensate; to try to get the vitamins and minerals you’re not metabolizing.

Task-Snacking works on yet another level: when the mind is not paying full attention to the sensation of food, such as its taste, scent, texture, and visual presentation (more about eating to satisfy the senses in the chapter on the eating style of “Sensory Disregard”), then eating, itself, becomes less satisfying. And a key way to compensate for getting less pleasure or gratification from food is to continue to eat…more and more. The bottom line? Mindless Task-Snacking is likely to lead to eating more and enjoying it less.

Sure, it’s obvious that if you’re a Task-Snacking couch potato or mouse potato, it’s likely you’re not moving much, and that lack of exercise is a key contributor to weight gain. But how might Task-Snacking, specifically, work against your waistline when you eat at your desk while working, or you munch while watching TV, or you snack while driving? In other words, how may eating in a not-too-conscious, not-too-mindful way, be a recipe for weight gain? Understanding what happens when you eat while Task-Snacking provides a clue.

Because the brain can only attend to one topic at a time, when you do multiple tasks simultaneously, the mind constantly shifts its attention. If you were to undergo a PET (Positron Emission Tomography) scan—a powerful, non-invasive imaging technique that accurately images the cellular function of the human body—while Task-Snacking, it would show lights blinking on and off in selected areas of the brain associated with the various tasks you’re doing. To cope with your Task-Snacking, when you eat while the mind is not focused on your food, the mind disengages from the body. In response, the digestive process is impaired, making food not nearly as nutritious as it could be. In turn, this can trigger hunger and malnutrition and the drive to eat more so you will feel satisfied via the nutrients both your mind and body need for optimal health—and that you’re not metabolizing. In this way, Task-Snacking can create a vicious cycle of poor digestion, inadequate nutrition, and overeating to compensate; to try to get the vitamins and minerals you’re not metabolizing.

Task-Snacking works on yet another level: when the mind is not paying full attention to the sensation of food, such as its taste, scent, texture, and visual presentation (more about eating to satisfy the senses in the chapter on the eating style of “Sensory Disregard”), then eating, itself, becomes less satisfying. And a key way to compensate for getting less pleasure or gratification from food is to continue to eat…more and more. The bottom line? Mindless Task-Snacking is likely to lead to eating more and enjoying it less.

Deborah Kesten, MPH, was the nutritionist on Dean Ornish, MD’s first clinical trial for reversing heart disease through lifestyle changes—without drugs or surgery, and Director of Nutrition on similar research in cardiovascular clinics in Europe. With a specialty in preventing and reversing overweight and heart disease, she is the award-winning author of The Enlightened Diet: 7 Weight Loss Solutions That Nourish Body, Nourishing the Soul Body, Mind, and Soul; and The Healing Secrets of Food. Call her at 415.810.7874 to learn more about her health and healing coaching, or visit her at to learn more about her Programs for wellness, weight loss, coaching, and books.

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