Are you hungry?

January 28, 2009

How do you know when you’re hungry?i-am-hungry
Does your stomach feel empty?
Do you hear a “gurgling” in your stomach?
Do you get a headache?
Do you feel irritable?
Do you feel weak?

How do you know when you are full?
Do you feel energetic?
Does your stomach feel full?

These are a some common signs of hunger and fullness. We are all born with the ability to recognize these signs.

Today my 60-year old client told me that he doesn’t know what it feels like to be hungry. He said that he basically feels full all the time, but, he eats anyhow because he thinks he “should”. There are many possible reasons that people eat when they are not hungry or past the point of satisfaction or fullness. For many people, including my client, their eating pattern is based on a habit that has been formed or because it’s a certain time of day. Other people eat for emotional or situational reasons.

My client has been overweight and dieting his entire life. This dieting has caused him to become completely disconnected with his eating, meaning, he has lost the ability to regulate his eating through his own internal cues (hunger, fullness). The only way that he knows how to eat is through what he has been taught to be “good” or “bad” foods or by following “the rules” of a diet. He has basically been taught to ignore his own sensations of hunger and fullness.

It is no wonder that diets don’t work (See post on August 13, 2008). When you are on a diet, you are essentially fighting your own natural tendencies. It is virtually impossible to maintain a lifestyle of restraint and that is why many people “fail” at dieting.

For those who struggle with eating, one of the most important things to do is to heal disconnected eating. This involves eating when hungry and stopping when full or satisfied; eating adequate amounts of food; choosing a variety of foods that are both satisfying and healthful; and living free of worry, obsession or preoccupation with food, the body and eating.


It’s A Snack Attack!

January 20, 2009

junkfoodCookies, chips, candy, and ice cream….these are just a few of the things many people think of when they hear the term “snack”. For some reason, people automatically think snacks are “bad” and involve “junk” foods.

It is true… any food containing less than optimal nutritional value, might be considered “junk” food, but, it doesn’t necessarily matter when you eat it. For example, your big mac and fries for lunch might also be considered junk food.

Technically, a snack is any food consumed in-between a meal (breakfast, lunch, and dinner). Snacks can help to ease hunger between meals and prevent extreme hunger and overeating at meals. Snacks also provide a brief supply of energy to the body. If you consciously choose healthful snacks, such as fruit, vegetables, nuts, and grains, snacks can also help to balance out your diet by providing additional nutrients.

Keep in mind, being prepared and planning is key! If you know that you’ll be away from home, be sure to bring a healthy snack with you to avoid the “out-of-desperation” or “out-of-convenience” junk food attack! 

Some healthy snack ideas include:
yogurt1Fruit and Cottage Cheese
Apple & Peanut Butterapplespeanutbutter
Whole Wheat Crackers with Low Fat Cheese or Peanut Butter
String Cheesecheese_string
3 cups Air-popped Popcorn
mixed_nutsNuts (1/2 cup)
Graham Cracker Squares and Peanut Butter
½ Turkey Sandwich
1 cup Whole Grain Cereal + Milk
Hummus + Raw Vegetables
Kashi TLC Chewy Granola Bar
Whole-grain Crackers or Whole-Wheat Tortilla with Hummus or Nut Butter
Individual Unsweetened Applesauce with a few Dry-Roasted Walnuts
Individual packs of Carrots, Celery Sticks, or Apple Slices with Nuts, Nut butter, or Low-Fat Cheese
Skinny” Latte (made with low-fat or nonfat milk)
Fresh Fruit Smoothie made with Non-Fat Milkfruit-smoothie

Unless you’ve been living in a cave somewhere, you definitely know what constitutes a healthy diet- fruits, vegetables, grains, low fat proteins and dairy. But, did you know that there is more to think about depending on your stage of life?

YOUR 20’s and 30’s

Generally, you are at your healthiest and strongest in your 20’s and 30’s. However, this does not give you permission to disrespect your body and throw away basic principles of healthful eating. In fact, this is the time in your life that you are actually building your eating habits since most people are living on their own and don’t depend on Mom anymore for food. If you choose to ignore healthful eating, you are setting yourself up for a lifetime of unhealthful eating practices and most likely disease.

So, during your 20’s and 30’s, it is important to ensure a balanced diet and to practice choosing healthy foods and learn how to cook and prepare nourishing meals.

For men, a balanced diet should be adequate, but, women need to pay extra attention to certain vitamins. Women (ages 19-50) haveironrichfoods1 higher iron needs than men. The recommended daily amount is 18 milligrams. Iron rich foods include beef, clams, bran, cream of wheat, beans and lentils, dried apricot, prunes, and raisins, and nuts and seeds.

Also, women in their childbearing years, need to ensure an adequate intake of folic acid, especially prior to conception to help reduce the risk of having a child born with neural tube defects, like spina bifida. Foods rich in folic acid include oranges, asparagus, green leafy vegetables, and beans and lentils.

Additionally, women in their 20’s and 30’s should consume adequate calcium. Calcium is essential for maintaining strong bones. Thepyramid_dairy2 recommendation is 1000 mg per day. Calcium rich foods include milk, yogurt, and cheese. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should consume 1200 mg of calcium per day.

YOUR 40’s

obesityOne of the primary nutritional issues people face in their 40’s is increasing weight due to a natural decline in metabolism.

This is a critical time to begin (if you haven’t been already) watching your portions and reducing intake of high calorie foods (sweets, fats etc.). Many people in their 40’s also start developing high cholesterol and therefore, it’s a good idea to reduce saturated fat, trans fats, and cholesterol intake (think animal products and baked goods) and to increase fruits, vegetables and grains more than ever before. But, remember, if you did this in your earlier years, you can potentially avoid the problem at all! J

Women, who have stopped menstruating, need to cut back on iron intake to 8mg per day, increase calcium to 1200 mg per day and Vitamin D to 400 mg per day.

YOUR 50’s

The effects of lifelong eating begin to appear in your 50’s, while at the same time our body continues to slow down. The result: weight gain and possibly disease. Also, women are at a greater risk of osteoporosis and heart disease during this decade due to loss of estrogen, which protects the heart and bones.osteoporosis2

For everyone, a reduction in caloric intake and an increase in activity level is advised to combat the extra pounds. For those who have developed chronic medical conditions, such as high blood pressure or diabetes, a special diet may be advised such as a low sugar or low sodium. For post-menopausal women, 1200 mg calcium per day and 400-800 units of Vitamin D is needed to decrease the risk of osteoporosis.heart_veggies2

Additionally, an emphasis on lower saturated fat and cholesterol foods can continue to help in the prevention of heart disease.


man-progressive-aging2By now, your dietary habits have certainly caught up with you and if they were negative, it’s usually harder to change as you age.

In your 60’s, it is especially important to optimize your intake by choosing nutrient dense foods (fruit, vegetables, grains, dairy, protein) and less of the non-nutritive foods (sweets, chips, fried foods etc) as a way of maintaining a healthy weight. During this decade, your body tends to be less forgiving if you frequently eat these types non-nutritious, high calorie foods.

It is also important to continue taking the recommended 1200mg calcium and 400-800 units of vitamin D since your risk of hip fracture and bone breaks increases as you age.

Also, many older people frequently suffer from constipation as our digestive system slows down and also due to certain medications. To help reduce constipation, it is important to consume a diet filled with high fiber foods such as whole grain breads, cereals, rice, pasta, fruits, and vegetables, and beans. In conjunction with this, it is important to increase water intake.

Your 60’s is also a time when you may start to experience a decline in your immune system, which is why a healthy diet as well as a diet containing probiotics is especially important. Seventy percent of your immune system is located in your digestive system. Probiotics help to maintain a healthy balance of good bacteria in the intestinal tract, which can help promote a healthy immune system.

But, no matter which stage of life you are in, it’s never to late to eat healthy and take good care of yourself! J

2009-print-preview-blogIt’s a new year! If you are like millions of other people, you have made at least one resolution for self-improvement this year. It may even have to do with losing weight or eating better (since these are among the top new years resolutions). While most people have good intentions at the start, within weeks or months, their ammunition is diminished and they’re back to their old ways.

No one ever said change is easy, but, perhaps a few of my tips will help you to reach your nutrition goals and help you to become a healthier person by the end of 2009!

1. Only choose 1 or 2 things to change. Oftentimes, changing too many things at once, is completely overwhelming and sets you up for failure.

2. Be sure to choose something that is meaningful to you. Just because you know you should eat more vegetables,smileyfaceplate does not necessarily mean that it’s important that to you that you do it. But, if you believe that losing 10 pounds will make you feel better about yourself, then you will more likely succeed.

3. Choose realistic goals. If you plan to lose 50 pounds in three months, you will likely be disappointed and frustrated because you aimed too high. Try setting smaller goals, such as losing 4-8 pounds per month.

4. Announce your goals. When you tell others about your goals, you are more likely to succeed because others can help keep you accountable.

5. Write it down on paper. Seeing your goals written on paper can help solidify them and reinforce your commitment.writinggoals Also try posting them in highly visible places for daily reminders.

6. Visualize yourself doing the behavior and what it will feel like for you to attain your goal. For example, if your goal is to eat out less often in order to lose 20 pounds, imagine what and where you will be eating instead of eating out. Also, imagine yourself at 20 pounds less- think about how you would look and feel.

7. Troubleshoot. While imagining yourself modifying your behavior, think about challenges that may come up for you that might steer you away from your behavior. Come up with some solutions for possible challenges. For example, if you’re trying to eat out less often, come up with a response to give your coworkers when they ask you to go out to eat with them for lunch.

popcorn-and-tickets-revised8. Reward yourself! Changing your behavior and putting effort toward self-improvement is not an easy task. Make sure to reward yourself along the way for your hard work. Choose a reward that motivates you. For example, if you love to go to the movies, but, never have time to go, then, treat yourself to a movie each time you reach a certain goal.

9. Don’t stress if you mess up! This is SO important. Oftentimes, I hear clients say they “cheated” or “went off track” and then, “Well, it was all over after that!” It’s important to remember we’re all human and we make mistakes. No one is asking for perfection! So, don’t be hard on yourself if you go back to your old ways for a day or two. The key is being gentle with yourself and knowing how to pick yourself back up to get you where you want to be. It just takes practice! 