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!

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ARE YOU THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS EATER?

Eating a meal – very often is just another task on so many people’s to do list. They eat super quickly, so that they can just tick one thing off their list and move on. Doing this however comes with its disadvantages. Very often mothers tell their children – to chew their food, eat slowly. It is not just something that mom’s say – there is a reason to it.

Did you know – that your speed of eating can be one of the factors that determine your body weight?

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Why so? The brain takes some time, about 20 mins to process the chemical messengers from the stomach that you are full. When you eat fast, means you are not paying attention to your signals from your stomach and it typically leads to you over-eating as the brain hasn’t received the message to stop yet. That’s why despite of eating – you don’t feel full and you reach out for more food. Now imagine, doing this daily over every meal. What are the results – Weight Gain!

Today we want everything – FAST. Fast Internet, Fast Cars, Fast Food and most definitely FAST WEIGHT LOSS. Yet, speed always isn’t good. When you are doing something nice or having a good time – don’t you want time to Slow down, so you that you can cherish each moment?

Eating slowly with complete awareness is a natural appetite regulator and a powerful tool when it comes to losing weight. When you direct your entire focus on your meal in front of you, involve all your senses into it, relish and savor every bite – you automatically slow down.

So the next time you sit down to a eat – just sit down, say a little prayer or grace, thank the food in front of you and give it your complete attention. You’ll not only enjoy your food, but you will also naturally regulate your appetite, maybe lose a few kilos or inches 😉 and most importantly, you’ll remember that your mother was right. 😉

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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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)