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Tag Archives: carbohydrates

Food Triggers & Dietary Disasters

Posted on January 13, 2020 by

A lot of times emotions can turn on that “feeding frenzy.” Or, sometimes situations will turn it on. Certain foods will call your name. We all seem to have our own triggers. We also have our own cravings. A trigger is something that sets in motion a course of events. Here we’re talking about eating when we don’t necessarily want to eat or should be eating. Eating triggers fall into 3 categories: trigger foods, trigger feelings, and trigger environments.

A trigger food is a specific food that sets off a course of overeating. Is there some food that you can only have a tiny bit and then you need to eat everything in sight? Control is often lost and excessive amounts of food may be consumed. Common trigger foods are usually highly refined foods such as sugar/fat combinations like ice cream. Another common trigger food is salty/starchy combination such as bread, chips, or crackers. I’m not a big fan of diet deprivation. I don’t believe in saying, “You can never eat this…” You’ll typically want it even more if you think you can never have it. If you want it even more it makes it harder to leave it alone. Can we be satisfied with a little bit? That’s what you want to strive for. If there truly is a food that causes you to eat the whole thing (whole bag of chips) then you probably should avoid that food. It’s the food, not the emotion that triggers the out of control eating. It’s not the situation.

Physiologic cravings are real. They tend to be most pronounced with high carb foods such as cookies, breads, pastries, and chips. They usually peak during the first few weeks of dieting. Then they fade. But you can experience true withdrawal symptoms. Carbohydrates are like a drug. If you have a little bit you’re going to want more. The symptoms are worsening cravings, headaches, fatigue, shakiness, and irritability. Once you get through the withdrawal symptoms it gets easier but that doesn’t make it easy. Many cravings are related to blood sugar swings. Every time the blood sugar comes down you’re going to want more because your body wants something to keep that blood sugar from dropping. Consequently you’re going to get a big swing up if you have more of that food. The big blood sugar swings make the cravings even worse. Appetite suppressants can help. Chromium can also help. It’s a mineral and can help smooth over blood sugar swings. You can get it just about anywhere. We sell it here in our nutrition store. On the bottle it will say take one a day as a supplement. Unfortunately that doesn’t work for cravings. Generally you need to take it 3 times a day. It’s very safe but you shouldn’t take a bottle every day!

A trigger feeling is an emotion (good or bad) which sets off a period of overeating. Examples are stress, anxiety, anger, sadness, or loneliness. It often sets off overeating of just about any food (salty, crunchy, sweet, doughy, etc.….). Identifying the emotion is key to controlling these triggers. Journaling is one of the best ways to sort this out. It’s not just writing down what you’re eating. It’s writing down why you’re eating. If you’re hungry and it’s time to eat then that’s a good reason. What if it’s not time to eat? If you’re not hungry, what are the reasons? Am I stressed? Am I excited? Am I depressed? You’ll see a pattern developing.

Trigger environments are specific situations or places that set off an episode of overeating (Movie Theater, buffet, sporting event, socializing with a specific group of friends).  The overeating is set off by the specific environment or situation. Usually you regret it the next day. To manage this you have to identify the specific location, people, or events. Avoidance works, but often that’s not possible. Are you really never going to the movies again? Are you really going to avoid your friends? It’s important to develop strategies to minimize the overeating in those environments. Plan ahead of time what you’re going to do. It’s hard to unlearn things but we have to.

We all have willpower even though we don’t think we do. Some of us need to take it up a notch. Cravings tend to fade with time. They can come back. The internal struggle with cravings leads to emotional pain. It’s often due to indecision. We really haven’t made up our mind. We literally make thousands of eating decisions every day. With fasting you get rid of a lot of decisions. Make the hard and fast decision that you won’t give in to the craving. To weaken the intensity and reduce the craving you must stop giving in to them. It’s easier said than done but it does work. Avoiding the indecision can be very helpful. Willpower is like a muscle. It can be strengthened with practice.

Your Strategies for Improving Willpower

There are strategies for improving willpower. The first strategy is Mindset Changing Techniques. You need to be truthful with yourself. Tell yourself it’s a craving, not true hunger. Is there another reason you’re eating (angry, lonely, tired, and stressed)? Don’t waiver in your commitment. It will get easier with time. We want to imagine the aftermath of giving in. Sometimes when we give in it feels good to eat that sugary food for a few minutes. You might even get a sugar high. But typically, a little later, you’re not going to feel so good. Replace the word can’t with won’t. You always have a choice.  Review your goals and remind yourself why you’re doing this. Why do you want to continue with this weight loss process? If you give in all the time, you’re always going to be at risk for gaining weight.

The second strategy for improving willpower is Habit Changing Techniques. You want to distance yourself from the food you crave. Remove the food or yourself from the scene. Remove the food or distance yourself from the scene. For example, don’t go to the movies for a while. When you go back, don’t revert back to the big tub of buttered popcorn, bring some protein snack along with you instead.  Drink something. Thirst is often confused with hunger. If you drink something you often realize you weren’t hungry. Your body will tell you that you need something. It could be just the water that it needs.  Try to change your mindset. Relax. Set a timer for 5 minutes and concentrate on breathing. Distract yourself: brush your teeth (how many people want to eat after they’ve brushed their teeth?), paint your nails, brisk walk, exercise, call a friend, shower, practice a musical instrument, or work in the yard. Do something that will distract you for a period of time and the cravings will fade away.

In summation, food trigger are all around you. Learn to recognize them for what they are. Develop the strategies to combat them. It will get you that much closer to your weight loss goals! If you need help, we offer counseling for anyone that’s struggling with that. The counselors will figure out a solution for you. Contact us at 757-873-1880 and set up a free consultation to figure out which program or plan fits your needs!

How Can I Control My Cravings?

Posted on April 28, 2014 by

Food cravings are real!  While hunger produces physical sensations such as  stomach growling, lightheadedness and weakness that signals your body for the need of fuel, food cravings are an intense desire for a specific food choice. Normal hunger can be satisfied with a variety of foods while a craving can only be satisfied with a specific food, normally a sweet.

With that in mind, could there be a physiological component to cravings?  The answer is yes.  It is not all about will power.  Neurochemicals and hormones play a large part in hunger,   cravings, fullness and satiety.

There are over seventy neurochemicals that have been identified that play a role in memory, appetite and mood.  A few of them you may have heard of such as endorphins, serotonin and dopamine.   In addition to these neurochemicals, hormones also play an important part in  cravings, hunger and satiety.  They include insulin, cortisol, and leptin plus many more.

Let take a closer look at insulin.  This is a hormone that is produced by the pancreatic cells and is responsible for regulating blood sugar levels.  Since blood sugar is probably the single most important factor controlling appetite and mood, insulin is a key player in causing food cravings.

When we eat carbohydrates they are reduced to simple sugars.  These sugars enter our blood stream and trigger an insulin release.  The more refined foods containing ‘simple carbohydrates’, such as Dr. Clarks six C’s, lead to a quick release of insulin followed by a rapid drop in blood sugar (hypoglycemia) that triggers an intense need (craving) for more carbohydrates.

To eliminate or minimize this physiological aspect of cravings try:

  • Controlling your blood sugar swings by eating protein every few hours, at every meal as well as for snacks.  Keeping your carbohydrate levels below or equal to your protein   levels will help.
  • Avoiding those 6 C’s as well as rice, pasta, bread and potato (Think back to Chapter 1 WMU™ ).  These can raise your blood sugars fairly quickly.
  • Carrying protein-based snacks with you at all times. Never let yourself become famished.
  • Adding the mineral chromium picolinate has shown to be useful in curbing cravings.
  • Exercising helps get your mind off thinking about foods as well as utilize those excess    sugars in your blood stream.
  • Giving yourself a fifteen minute timeout.  Wait about fifteen minutes to see if the craving goes away.


Is there a way to control cravings?

Posted on July 29, 2013 by

Conquer Your CravingsAre you ever frustrated with your inability to control your cravings or appetite?  You know those days when you just want something you know you shouldn’t have because if you do…a downward spiral might begin.  We all get cravings for a variety of reasons such as stress, availability, menses and possibly habit.  Some cravings are real and some are just perceived as real which makes your craving or increased hunger your reality.

Is there a way to control your cravings?  Recent research indicates a resounding “yes”!  This is good news and we have dedicated this month’s newsletter to this very topic – ways to control your cravings and appetite.  It’s a topic worth understanding so the next time you feel like your appetite is getting out of control, you can use this easy to understand information and stay on track instead.

I will begin with a couple of ways to control your appetite with products that are getting quite a bit of attention in the media and can be very useful.  The first is Garcinia Cambogia.  This is a citrus-like fruit containing a unique organic acid compound with several actions that help to control body weight.  It is similar to citric acid found in lemons and other citrus fruit, but it has very different properties.  Studies show that the hydroxycitric acid (HCA) in Garcinia Cambogia promotes weight loss and may also reduce your appetite particularly when you eat higher amounts of carbohydrates because HCA appears to divert these carbohydrates away from being converted into fat and instead favor the formation of glycogen.  As you have learned in Weight Management University™, glycogen is stored in the liver and your muscles use it as a ready source of energy and may signal your brain that your body is “full”, thus curbing your appetite and food intake.  In addition, animal studies show that HCA may also increase your release of serotonin, a key chemical in your brain that is involved in your mood regulation, sleep, and appetite control.  Sound good?  It can be very helpful and is even available to you as a pharmaceutical grade supplement in our nutritional store.

Another helpful appetite suppressant that has been around for a long time (about 60 years) is the prescription drug we utilize when appropriate called Phentermine.  This is a fairly safe medication that is closely regulated by the FDA.  It does require monitoring of your blood pressure which is easily accomplished at CFWLS.  Clinical indications for use of Phentermine includes anyone with a BMI > 30 or >28 with other health problems.

Phentermine can be a great tool to help you with your weight loss.  It tends to take the edge off of your hunger.  Most people “don’t care” as much about eating.  It is also helpful with symptoms of carbohydrate withdrawal.  We routinely see people lose an average of an extra 8-12 pounds when utilized in conjunction with our medical weight loss program.  Phentermine is prescribed in conjunction with a weight loss program – not as an individual weight loss method.  It is also helpful for weight maintenance.  Potential side effects include dry mouth and initially you may feel a little jittery.  These side effects tend to go away over time.  There are other potential side effects that are reviewed upon prescription and monitored throughout your treatment.  If you are in one of our programs, let us know if you desire more information on this helpful tool.

Now read on for more information about other ways to curb your appetite and cravings with your eating plan and/or another helpful tool called chromate.  Follow these tips and you will get your appetite under control sooner than you thought possible.