Weight Watcher’s Words

The best part of my day is when I am with my patients – discussing their lives, insisting and ensuring that they are eating and obviously discussing – Food! With every person I interact, I also understand their mindset which often reflects in the way they talk about Life, Food, Nutrition & Diet. (For now I am sticking to the Food, Nutrition & Diet bit.)

Some of the very commonly-interestingly-annoying concepts I have come across include –

  • Khushboo, can you please help me, I want to go ‘ON’ a diet” – What do you mean by ‘on’ a diet? Is this an on-off switch? Sad, yet true, we believe we must go ‘on’ a diet and lose some weight, and once we reach our goal or target, slowly go ‘off’ it. Obviously after a ‘maintenance’ diet. Anyway, what happens once we go off the ‘diet’ – we slowly and steadily put all the weight back on and may be some more sometimes. Get frustrated and try something new again. And start another cycle. Shouldn’t the point of a diet program be to not gain the weight back? Exactly! So please get off your diet and start living a good balanced life – Eat right, Workout, Think Right, Rest – results have no choice but to follow.
  • “Cheating on the Diet” – this is another funda I just don’t get. Did you take some vows before you got on to the diet? Also by doing what you shouldn’t have done – exactly who or what did you cheat on? Who is the hurt-party in the bargain? Whose loss is it anyway? Did your Diet have heart-break or was it you, who felt sad and guilty thereafter? So time to get Real! You are human, you like to eat, and so you EAT. Yes, this sometimes includes fried, chocolates – or whatever your list of I-shouldn’t-have includes. Eating even these occasionally is good. You can’t be a sadhu, because if you are over-cautious with your diet, you will definitely rebel at some point. So it is best – to eat everything you like – just Sensibly and in moderation. Avoid the moralistic tag of being loyal or faithful to your diet or cheating on it.
  • “Willpower”– ‘By the sheer force of my will, I will follow the diet’ – doesn’t this mean the you are simply forcing yourself to do something, and pressuring yourself to do a particular, which you feel otherwise you cannot sustain? Because, there will come a time, when you will go back to the usual – and then you will blame yourself for not being strong enough, feel guilty, blah, blah, blah.

So to make life easy and more satisfying – Make life-enhancing Choices! Choose to Eat right because YOU want to. Choose to Work out because YOU want to NOT because you Have to. Whenever you choose something out of Love instead of compulsion or fear, the happiness on the inside shows and yes, the results are much better and long-lasting!

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Enjoy your Meal, if you want to ‘Lose’ your Weight

So often, in my practice I come across people, who are willing to give up foods they love or believe that “if I give in to my taste buds, I will stay fat forever. So its better I stay away from my favorite foods”. These are those who have been on and off diets all the time, and that’s because they couldn’t sustain their diet for long. And yet – they choose to follow the same and obviously results will be the same – weight loss (on the scale) when dieting and weight gain (as soon as they go back to normal eating)

We as humans are chemically wired to choose joy over pain or torture. So obviously when we are eating, we want to enjoy the food and in turn feel satisfied and happy. Scientifically when you relish your meal your metabolism goes up and you not only digest your food better but you also absorb maximum nutrients from your meal. In fact people who consciously eat foods that are “good for you,” even though you don’t like them, or if you think you can have a ‘cheat’ meal and compensate for it by eating bad-tasting vitamin-fortified protein bar, or some ‘tall-claimed’ foods or tea – to wash off the effect of the bad diet or purely choose these because you feel you will put on weight if you eat foods you like – then you aren’t doing yourself any ‘healthy’ favor. Instead not only are slowing down your metabolism, you are also reducing the quantity and quality of nutrients that you get from your food.

Haven’t you experienced that when you abstain from eating and enjoying your food, when you go out – you end up bingeing because you know you won’t be eating this again? Now ask yourself – if you could eat everything would you ever have to go on a bingeing spree?

Also haven’t you experienced that when you eat ill-tasting, ‘low-calorie’ food in the name of diet – you end up eating more and end up feeling stuffed but rarely satisfied?

Let’s talk about the science behind both these – the hormone that makes you feel good about your eating experience is the same one that stimulates your digestive system and also signals the brain to stop eating. Also when you are not enjoying your food brain secretes a neurotransmitter that increases your appetite and makes you hunt for food – and you end up feasting after a bit of starving. Then you get on to a guilt trip – again go starving or dieting and thus the cycle of starving and feasting goes on.

The simple act of eating good food – made at home – as simple as a dal chawal with little ghee – not only fills your tummy, it also satisfies your soul. You feel nourished. Your brain secretes the ‘happy’ hormone – thereby improving digestion, assimilation, nutrient absorption and in turn leads to a greater efficiency in ‘calorie burning’ 😀

Again this does not mean you eat anything and everything – mindlessly. I am just explaining that enjoying your meal is a must for your digestion. Cherish your food, celebrate your food and eat well in Moderation 🙂

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Happy Eating!

The Thin Line between Eating and Over Eating

Just think the last time you overate – when was it? What were you feeling – were you worried or anxious or stressed or simply so busy multitasking that you were completely unaware of how much you ate? In my practice as a Nutrition Counselor, I am often asked – ‘how much should do you think I should eat?  Is 1 roti enough or do I need 2?’ And my standard answer is – ‘Do I live inside your stomach? Then how do I know?’

I do understand where most of these people come from – they are often unable to identify the thin line between eating & overeating. And by the time they realize they are full, they have already overeaten!

Do you know why you overeat when worried, anxious, stressed or unaware?

When you are in a stressful situation, your sympathetic nervous system activates the “fight or flight” response. This is your biological response to stress. Your body shuts down processes such as digestion and increases your heart rate. During fight or flight, the adrenal gland releases cortisol – the stress hormone. Just imagine – when you are eating and your digestive system is actually switched off – because you are stressed – so what happens to the food you eat? How do you get your nourishment?

When you are in this state of fight or flight – your mind is in panic mode – so you are unable to simply enjoy the food in front of you. You need to consume a far larger quantity of food before your brain can register and even begin to relish the food in the mouth!

Solution

I thus tell my patients that the secret to know when to stop is that – even before you sit to eat, sit in a relaxed frame of mind. No matter where you are, and what you are doing – when you sit down to eat, leave all your worries aside, say a little prayer, thank the food in front of you – and then focus all your attention to the food in front of you. As you take a bite to eat, focus on the appearance of it, the smell, and the colours. As you put it in your mouth focus on the taste the texture – try and involve all your senses as you eat.  When you are relaxed and eat in awareness – you actually relish every little bite you eat. And you will actually feel satisfied with just the right amount of food you need in that moment.

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Are you eating the Guilt or is the Guilt Eating you?

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We are counting days to the New Year.In these days of festivity and merry making – we do tend to enjoy – go out, eat out, eat more – and even as we have just taken the first bite of the goodie – we are already on a guilt trip! “Damn – this cake is like 1000 calories – how am I going to burn it?” Sounds like someone you know?

Now let me ask you – dint you anyway eat the cake or cookie or pizza or whatever-oh-so-fattening food? Then why the guilt Now? You chose to eat something with complete awareness, then why the repent?

You ate because you were happy, you were celebrating, and yes you wanted to enjoy – then why slam your joy brakes and count calories! Why can it not just be a simple choice of eating something – feeling grateful for the goodies and from the next meal going back to eating sensibly? What is done is done – you holding on to the guilt – does not make you thin or ‘burn’ the calories.

Body doesn’t hold on to excess weight or calories just because you ate something you were not supposed to in one meal. The excess weight is piled over the years – over time of continuous undisciplined eating – and not eating sensibly. As always I am asking to keep your moderation and balance when eating and you can still have a healthy fit body.

EMOTIONAL EATING MANAGEMENT

EMO EAT

10th June 2014, Tuesday

1pm-4pm

Over eating or bingeing are the mechanisms of mind and emotion. People often seek refuge in food. In the 3 hour session discover your Emotional Eating Pattern & equip yourself with techniques to release it. Go from EMOTIONAL EATING to MINDFUL EATING

Workshop Conducted by – Dr. Khushboo Thakker

She is a Homeopath, a Certified Trichologist from the International Association of Trichologists, Australia; Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist from the California Institute of Hypnosis and Certified Nutritional Counsellor from Sophia College.

To register contact – 09820770536

9 Commandments to Effectively Handle Emotional Eating – to Go from i-Crave to i-Understand

1. IDENTIFY YOUR HUNGER

Is your hunger physical or emotional? (Refer to the comparative chart on the previous post to determine if your hunger is based the physical need to eat, or emotional need to eat.)

If you ate a few hours ago and don’t have a rumbling stomach, you may not be “truly” hungry. Give it 5 minutes and see if the cravings are present yet.

Also –

  • When having a meal stay away from all distractions. Switch off your tv, you cell phones. This will help you put your complete focus on the food in front of you. Now with every morsel of food – try and involve all your five senses; see the food in front of you – the colour, the variety; smell the aroma of food, feel the texture in your fingers, taste the various flavors and finally enjoy the silence of your meal. This will make you more attentive towards your food and help you get in touch with your real hunger signals.
  • To help determine if your hunger is physical or emotional, try asking yourself questions like “When was the last time I ate?” “Am I suddenly hungry or I have been hungry for a while now?” “Do I really need to eat this specific food that I am craving for, or can I substitute it for something else?”
  • Create healthy alternatives to eating. Whether it’s a walk in the park or curling up with a good book or talking to your friend or even playing with your pet – planning other activities will help you relax and avoid binge eating.

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2. IDENTIFY YOUR EMOTIONAL TRIGGERS

Emotional eaters must become aware of their reasons for wanting to eat.

A long drawn but a great way to be more aware of your emotions surrounding food is to keep a journal and record how you feel before you eat and after you eat. Write down what you eat, how much you eat (portion sizes), when you eat, how you’re feeling when you eat and how hungry you are (on a scale of 0-10). Over time, you may see patterns emerge that reveal emotionally driven eating patterns and you will see your triggers that you need to avoid.

Top 6 Emotional Eating Triggers

  • Stress and Anxiety –Oh God! I am so nervous and edgy. Munching on the bag of chips or a tub of ice cream makes me cope with it better.”
  • Loneliness – “I am alone, I don’t know what to do or I am lonely and sad – let me just switch on the TV, watch a movie and order in a pizza”
  • Anger –I am so angry with XYZ, and what makes me more angrier is that I can’t tell XYZ how angry I feel – so let me just munch on anything I can lay my hands on”
  • PMS – “where is that CHOCOLATE? I need it NOW!”
  • Sadness and Depression – “I am feeling so low – only a good dessert would make me happy”
  • BOREDOM“I am bored and I have nothing to do, let me what is there in the fridge or the pantry or the kitchen”

3. AVOID KEEPING YOUR SNACKY-MUNCHY FOODS AROUND

  • Avoid keeping your comfort foods at home. Give yourself special days that you allow yourself to have “treat” foods available, and only in MODERATION
  • If you are planning on food shopping and are also feeling hungry or low, postpone the trip for a few hours so that these feelings don’t influence your food choices at the store.
  • Plan your meals ahead of time! Knowing what you plan to eat ahead of time, will make you look forward to every meal, as you know exactly what your next meal would be and will make it less likely that you will opt for an unhealthy option, even after a stressful day.
  • Eat every 2 – 2 ½ hours. Eating frequently and in small portions throughout the day will help to keep your blood sugar stabilized, keep your energy and mood up, and prevent cravings for sugary or fatty foods.

4. EAT A BALANCED DIET

  • If you are not eating enough in your normal meals – for the fear of getting fat, you may not be getting enough calories to meet your energy needs for the day and that may make you more likely to give into emotional eating. So try to eat at regular times and never skip breakfast. Include foods from the basic food groups in your meals (carbs, proteins and fats). Avoiding or reducing any of the food groups – leads to a lot binge eating. Get your portions and proportions of these correct. When you eat your basic food well, you are more likely to feel full longer.

5. EXERCISE  

Participate in regular physical activity. Be active for a minimum of 40 minutes for 5 days a week. Go for a bike ride, run or even a swim. Every little bit counts!

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(Image Courtesy – http://www.polyvore.com/cgi/img-thing?.out=jpg&size=l&tid=55003566)

6. GET ADEQUATE REST

Your mood is more manageable and your body can more effectively handle stress when it is fit and well rested. You can also do relaxation exercises such as imagery and guided visualization, deep breathing and meditation. Try tai chi or yoga.

  • Get enough sleep. If you do not sleep well when you are stressed, it may have an impact on your weight loss efforts, and often will cause fatigue leading to emotional eating.
  • Develop a ritual to help prepare you for sleep, and try going to bed at the same time each night.
  • Deep breathing, yoga, and meditation are all great ways to ease emotional stress, and to help you fall asleep more easily.

7. DEAL WITH YOUR STRESS

Since lack of emotional support is directly linked to the tendency to binge-eat, it is important that you build your own reliable support system. This could mean talking with a counsellor, or a friend or starting a healthy weight loss program.

  • If you have difficulty expressing your emotions verbally, try getting them out on paper. Maintain a journal or write a letter to even to yourself writing in detail about how you feel. Avoid judging or critically analyzing your own feelings. Acceptance of what you feel and where you are helps
  • Be sure to schedule time to spend with your friends or loved ones or family works wonders. Building relationships doesn’t happen overnight, so make spending time with those you care about a priority.
  • Make yourself your No.1 Priority. This is not about being selfish. It is about SELF – LOVE.

8. LEARN TO COPE WITH CRAVINGS

We all get food cravings, and often we all give into them. It is how we deal with these – is actually what will make or break our dream body efforts.

In essence, we subconsciously desire food that might bring on a specific feeling like a sugar rush or comfort. These “comfort foods” may have more to do with emotional security than a desire for food.

SO, THEN WHAT TO DO? TIP – The key to dealing with any food craving is to select times that you will give into them. If you deny your cravings all the time, you will only drive yourself to binge and eat more of what you crave once you do indulge. Select a day once every 2 weeks or once every month – where you eat the food you love! Be honest with yourself, and understand that having a treat does not mean having an entire day devoted to poor food choices.

9. COMPLETE WELLNESS OUTLOOK

It is important to remember that we eat to nourish our bodies and not for comfort. Look at food as nutrients that fuel your body. Every vitamin, mineral or nutrient that you put into your body helps to maintain your youth, vitality appearance, energy, fitness and health. Combine your food with exercise and a happy spirit, and you’re on your way to living happy, eating guilt free yet MINDFULLY!

My Relationship Status to My Food – It’s Complicated! — Really?

 “Why am I so weak willed?  Why is it so difficult for me to resist the temptation of over-indulging in so called forbidden foods – ice cream, chocolate, pizza, that very inviting-looking pastry, etc.?” – How often do we get frustrated with ourselves this way?

Like I mentioned in the previous post, our bodies make us crave particular foods and flavours when we are out of balance in some way, whether it is physically, mentally or emotionally. Feeling powerless to resist cravings usually has absolutely nothing to do with willpower.

Physical or rather physiological cravings occur because we have either a reduced store of certain nutrients or an imbalanced diet as a result of either an excess or even drastically reduced portion – often of sugar, salt, or carbohydrates. These types of cravings can happen as a result of poor diet (includes both – over-eating as well as eating less than what you need), over-exercise or no exercise, stress, illness, lack of sleep, or – as a favourite topic of discussion among the ladies – a symptom of pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS).

Cravings related to mental or emotional state are much more complicated, because the root cause cannot be addressed simply by increasing your intake of leafy greens. No food or vitamin supplement can replace this.

Emotional eating can really disrupt your efforts for weight loss. Often, emotional eating leads to consuming too much of our so-called forbidden foods – like the high calorie ones, high fat ones, salty and sweet ones. Eating as a way to suppress or soothe negative emotions, such as stress, anger, anxiety, boredom, sadness and loneliness can never really solve the core issue that led to the disturbance. There is personal inner work to be done to identify triggers and thus we begin our journey to heal.

How to differentiate Physical Hunger from Emotional?

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In this journey to heal or even identify that disturbance which leads to the “emotional craving” for certain foods, befriending our body works wonders instead of criticizing ourselves or thinking that we are weak willed. When we make friends with our own body – our own inner guidance – we come to realize that our body is actually strong and that it knows what to do. It will then guide to make right food and exercise choices to achieve your dream bod!

I believe that food is not about calories or fat but about feelings, emotions, the love for food is an enriching and rewarding experience and central to human existence. Along with your body befriend your food. And eat it without any guilt rather eat it with utmost pleasure. (Mind you – I said EAT not Binge 😀 😉 & remember the bit on Physical hunger)

(P.S. – Working to write the last part of the i-Crave series ending with Strategies on dealing with Emotional Eating. Will keep you posted)

i-Crave!! – Ever Wondered the Whys of Emotional Eating – Obsessive Compulsive Eating – Binge Eating – Un-explained Food cravings???

Very often, when taking the initial history of my patients, I find them helpless, clueless and wondering why they crave foods that make them Fat!! Just 2 days back, I was counselling a 17 yr old girl, who was visibly overweight and she told me – “Doc, I know it is not good for me- but I still eat that entire big bag of chips or the entire big box of chocolates in one sitting, when I am upset with my mum.. I just cannot stop myself at a few pieces.. I feel so angry, so helpless! Help me.. Please!!”

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Been in this phase at some point in my own life – I knew exactly what she was telling me. Haven’t we heard of someone going through something similar or even haven’t we ourselves experienced emotional eating like this at some point?? Have we not already realized that our state of mind can affect our food choices and this is true the other way round too!!! This link between food and mood has been established by so many scientific studies.

Haven’t you ever wondered why we crave certain foods during certain moods? What do these Food Cravings even mean??

Cravings for food are a sign that there exists a certain disturbance in the body and there are unresolved emotions that are looking for peace and balance. Very often today our cravings arise from emotional imbalances. Taking this one step deeper – actually, whenever there are disturbances inside of us, we receive an inner guidance – like a gut feeling or an idea or simply our inner voice guiding us to change the situation, that caused the imbalance to begin with in the very first place.

But due to too much going on in our lives and mind – we are either not in touch with our inner selves to hear this guidance or just ignore this guidance; the body which continues to experience the imbalance now tries to regain the lost balance in a different way, and so now we crave certain foods. Very beautifully, the body or rather the mind knows that certain foods will alter the brain chemicals in order to regulate energy or mood (though not permanent – but yes, for that little while one does feel better) And once that moment is passed – we eat that food again – because we want to continue feeling that way. It is a lot easier to eat our way out of a problem, than address the root of the problem itself. This takes us into the cycle of Compulsive Eating – Over Eating and Excess Weight!!!!

Let me explain – let’s say that you’re unhappy at work, with your boss. You feel he constantly pressurizes you to perform the job of 2 people without giving any consideration to your time or even increasing the pay. We do give in – as we need the work, but after a while, we begin to feel the resistance, the fatigue and the voice inside tells us – you need to make a life change. May be like discussing with your boss or speaking up for yourself or looking for a new job. But then crops up the fear about financial security or how would your family survive the transition, what if I dint find a new job?? – such doubts and many more like these – keep us from following this guidance. So now – the body that wants to feel better sends signals to eat certain foods that will help us temporarily feel better.

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The most direct route to reducing cravings is to heal the situation that’s triggering them. Even taking a baby step towards the resolution of a problem at work, in your love life, or in your lifestyle can reduce food cravings.

But instead, we end up equating food to making us fat!! We thus make associations with food – some devil, some angels.. some fattening.. some thinning.. So now, food either evokes a feeling of guilt, or a feeling of resentment, or a feeling of worry!!!

Don’t we get energy from our food?? Should it not bring forth a feeling of appreciation, a feeling of abundance, a feeling of longevity, and a feeling of energy – of being charged to move forward with our day; a feeling of well-being – of feeling good about what we eat, about our body and most importantly Ourselves!!!

Food is such an important component of our experience. Why call it names? Why give it unnecessary tags?? Why not befriend it.. Bless it..  And eat it with utmost pleasure and gratitude 🙂

Think about it 🙂