Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Crack Down on Cravings

Don't let your hankering for chocolate and cheese sideswipe your otherwise clean diet. Find out how to fight back and win the daily challenge!
There is some debate about what causes cravings but the most plausible reason is grounded in how food affects the brain. Some of the most commonly desired foods affect our brains like drugs, sugar and chocolate both cause the brain to release opiates. By stimulating our brain's pleasure center, these foods cause us to make the connection between them and a slight euphoria, leading us to seek them out for a repeat performance---we become addicted.

1. Eat Breakfast
A high-fiber morning meal will prevent hunger-induced binging later on because low-cal fiber staves off hunger pains longer with soluble fiber (found in oats and fruit) and insoluble fiber (found in whole grains). For example, add a tablespoon of natural peanut butter (protein) to your whole grain bagel (fiber and complex carbohydrates).

2. Strip Temptation
Clean all unhealthy food from your fridge and cupboards, making sure to keep them well stocked with healthy alternatives to your most common cravings. The best foods to have on hand register love on the glycemic index such as pears, low-fat cottage cheese, and black beans.

3. Meal Time
To make sure that hunger doesn't get the best of you, eat small meals every three to four hours. Another strategy to avoid overindulging is to remove all distractions while eating. Keep the television from the kitchen and you'll keep from feeling as though you are hungry every time you watch your favorite shows.

4. Dear Diary
Tracking your eating habits by writing them down can help you to gain a better understanding of when and why you get cravings. To maximize the benefit for each entry write down the date, time of day, what you ate, how much, how hungry you were before you ate and how satisfied you were afterward. By doing this you'll be able to assess your eating patterns, plan good habits and create less opportunity for bad ones.

5. Falling off the Wagon
Even if you do fall to your cravings don't sweat it, instead figure out where you went wrong and what you can do about it. Instead of making a commitment to cut out all carbohydrates and sweets cold turkey, give yourself a month to switch to whole wheat bread and stop eating chocolate. But remember, it takes time, practice and persistence before your new ways become the way you live life.
Oxygen Magazine
Myth: Skipping meals can help lose weight

Many people think that by skipping a meal, they will be eating less food and therefore lose weight. As we now know, this is a nutrition myth. People who think skipping meals means weight loss do not understand how our bodies work.
If you skip a meal, your body will think that you are in starvation mode and therefore slow down the metabolism to compensate. You then tend to overeat at the next meal. Often, skipping a meal and then eating too much at the next one means that you have a higher total caloric intake than if you just ate more frequently throughout the day. A better approach is to eat smaller frequent healthy meals and snacks to keep your blood sugar balanced.
Gloria Tsang
Question of the week?
Q: If I miss more than a few days of exercising, I get really sore following my first workout back. Any tips that can help me avoid this?
A: Muscle soreness occurs when muscles are pushed farther then they are accustomed. This can happen if you haven't worked out in a while, you try a new exercise for the first time, or if you make an increase in weight or reps during your daily routine. A small amount of soreness isn't harmful and usually dissipates as you get your body warmed up and moving.
If your soreness keeps you from doing your everyday activities in the 24 to 48 hours after your workout, you are probably doing too much on your first day back to the gym. To avoid being overly sore, don't try to do the same workout you did when you were going to the gym regularly. To allow time for your body to adapt, scale back the amount of weight, the amount of reps, or even both. Doing a "cool down" routine after your workout will also help keep soreness at bay. Try walking for 10 minutes and doing some gentle stretching.
Whether you experience light or heavy soreness, the quickest way to alleviate the pain is to get the body moving again. While it might be tempting to stay stationary on the couch and wait for the soreness to go away, inactivity will actually keep your body sore for longer and make your muscles tighter. Instead, do a light workout such as walking, slow swimming, and gentle stretching. Or, you can do the warm-up routine you usually do before a heavy workout. This light activity will help increase the muscle temperature and blood flow, which will help your muscles recover and get you ready for your next regular workout.
Leslie McNab