Seduction of food

By taking classes to become a personal trainer with a degree in Associates of Applied Science: Health Fitness Specialist, I’m gaining lots of motivation to improve myself and get in shape. I knew I was unhealthy and overweight. What’s surprising are all the little ways and details of exactly how unhealthy being overweight is.

In my nutrition class this week, we had to watch an hour long video about body composition and weight management. The entire video was very good and looked at several ways  to measure body composition other than the usual BMI (weight to height ratio). The one I liked best was a combination of BMI and waist circumference. This helps to take into account people who may incorrectly be in a higher risk category because they are more muscular yet still slim.

It was also interesting that skin fold measurements may be up to 50% off due to error in measurement by the tester. So these are among the least accurate measure of body composition. Yet they still can be useful to tell a rate of change if measured carefully by the same person at the exact same body locations each time. They just shouldn’t be the only measure of body composition.

Then he talked about the brain’s role in weight management. Some of which I knew. One thing he said that was very enlightening was that food seduces the brain. Even before you eat, your brain is producing soothing hormones at the thought of eating. They showed 2 slides of cocaine addicts. One was the addicts brain watching a nature video. The part which controls the hormones was inactive. Then when they were shown a video of drug paraphernalia (not even the drugs). This activated the part which controls the hormones. He then said for many people, especially those who are obese, food or the thought of food does the same thing. We don’t even have to see or smell the food. Just thinking about eating and getting things ready will begin the release of feel good hormones which will encourage us to actually eat.

This is why we need to keep the cookies and chips or whatever your weakness foods are, out of the home. I don’t remember which company had the slogan “no one can eat just one” but this is very true. It’s best to avoid temptation and just not buy them or have them around. If you want them as a special treat, many snacks are available in small packages at convenience stores. Buy ONE small package. Then when they are gone, that’s it until you’ve earned your next reward. You aren’t being tempted by the rest of a large package. Plus driving to the store makes you think about what you are doing and you may decide it’s not worth the trip.

However, you shouldn’t totally deprive yourself of your favorite snack and treat foods. Use them as a reward for reaching a mini-goal. Studies have shown that people who deprive themselves of certain foods are less likely to stick to their healthy eating plan long term verses those who allow themselves an occasional treat. So allow yourself all things in moderation.

This is one of my favorite aspects of the No S Diet. You can have sweet treat foods 2 days a week.  This gives you motivation to stick to eating healthy the other days because you know you will get your treat. It also limits the amount of treat foods you eat so you aren’t always eating junk. You can have single servings of any other foods at each meal so you don’t have to give up your favorite foods. You just eat less of them at once.

One aspect of the No-S that I have modified is no snacks. I get headaches if I go long between meals. So I allow myself a healthy snack such as a piece of fruit or raw veggies (but without sauce or topping such as dressing or peanut butter). They have very few calories yet are filling. Plus, almost everyone can benefit by eating more fruits and vegetables. Instead of No Snacks, for me it’s no Sweet Snacks. This also helps me eat less at meal times because I’m not as hungry. Plus all the research I’ve read is that 3 medium sized meals and 2-3 small healthy snacks is better than 3 large meals and no snacks because it keeps your blood sugar levels more steady throughout the day.

Food is an addiction. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Like any addiction, education is the key to conquering it. What’s motivating you this week to stay with your fitness and healthy eating plan?

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