Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Eating Less

As a culture, we eat too much.  WAY TOO MUCH!!!

I’m not pointing any fingers.  Maybe you think you eat the perfect amount. Hey, I would have said the same thing about myself until about six months ago. I was recently inspired to begin experimenting with the concept of “LESS” throughout many aspects of my life.

I have improved my mindset and increased my strength and agility by breathing less. (I wrote about that in a different blog post.)  I have also increased my sensitivity and my enjoyment of life by slowing down the rate at which I walk.  (I was living in New York City, among some of the fastest walkers in the world, so it wasn’t easy. But it was totally worth it.) And I've increased my energy level and improved the look and feel of my body by reducing the amount that I ate.

I focused on eating smaller meals and on not just reacting immediately to the hunger feeling.  But I found that living with the feeling of hunger for just a couple of hours made a HUGE difference in my energy and my physique. 

Using hunger properly, I was able to improve the tone of my body, which was already lean and muscular, and found a new level of energy I didn’t even know existed!

Here are some tips to help you, if you’re interested in experimenting with eating less...
A word of caution first.  Please don’t starve. It seems that whenever I tell someone something is good, they assume that more of it is better.  The hunger is only meant to be with you for a few hours each day, not constantly.  And the whole point is that when you do have a meal, all you do is make that feeling go away for about four to six hours.  You don't want to get full. If you find that you’re full, you’ve eaten too much. But on the other hand, if you find that you’re hungry again in two hours, then you didn’t eat enough. Finding your groove may take some experimenting.  Please feel free to let me know what sort of experiences you have with this. And to ask me any questions you have.

HOW TO MANAGE HUNGER FOR WEIGHT LOSS

1. Protein suppress appetite better than any other macronutrient. Meats, beans, nuts and seeds are good sources. A study from the University of Washington School of Medicine found that a meal containing 30% protein was best for satiety and weight loss. A study at Maastricht University in the Netherlands reported that having casein protein makes you feel fuller. Those are the proteins found in dairy products.

2. Eat breakfast. Skipping breakfast is a major contributor to late day bingeing. People who eat breakfast are far less likely to experience an eating disorder called “night eating syndrome.”

3. Don't cut all the fat out of your diet. Fat is a crucially important nutrient and if you don’t eat it, you will crave it.  If you ignore those cravings and continue to avoid fat, you will become sick. Low-fat diets don't curb hunger as well as those focused on lean protein. Dietary fat provides psychological satiety and satisfaction, as it adds flavor and texture to a food or meal.

4. Eat fiber. Experts say to have 14 grams of fiber per 1000 calories of caloric intake. But I honestly don’t know how much that is. Do you? What a crazy thing to say, right?  But you can get fiber by thinking veggies. I have two vegetables with every meal. I also have fruit (NOT NOT NOT fruit juice!!) twice a day. There is also a high amount of fiber in whole grains and legumes.

5. Water isn't necessarily a strong appetite suppressant, but it does fill up your stomach and satisfy a psychological need to consume something. I often use carbonated water because it makes me feel more full. Also, many times we think what we are experiencing is a hunger sensation, when actually we’re just thirsty.  Often a glass of water will curb the ‘hunger’ for another few hours.

6. Some foods make you feel much fuller than others. Most people say that oatmeal gets them extremely full, while a boxed cereal like wheat flakes leaves them hungry.  You need to experiment to find what works best for you. Keeping a food journal will help immensely. Eat a food or meal, and then take note of hunger and how you feel immediately afterwards and for the three hour period afterwards. This type of food/hunger journal will reveal a LOT to you.

7. Give yourself a break.  Don’t stress over any of this, or you’ll be undoing any good benefits. Allow yourself a bite of cake at the office party or feel free to eat the fattening meal your grandmother made.  This is life.  Live it and love it. You’ll be much healthier if you don’t stress about these things, and in the end, when you’re unstressed, it will be much more likely that your body will be at its correct weight.

8.  SLEEP! Oh my gosh this one gets abused and ignored so much, I should have made it number 1.  Research from the University of Chicago and the University of Wisconsin has conclusively proven that sleep deprivation increases hunger hormones and leads to more inadvertent snacking during the day. DON'T IGNORE THIS ONE! It is a bigger culprit than you think.

9. Keep alcohol to a minimum. In addition to adding excess calories, alcohol distorts your body's perception of hunger, satiety and fullness.  The correlation between drinking alcohol and body fat gain is stronger in men in almost all of the studies.

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