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 crunchy 6 C’s as well as rice, pasta, bread and potato. 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.
Exercise 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.
Now that the holidays are over, the stress in your life is gone and you have lots of time to devote to exercise. What do you mean, “Not really.”?
There is always going to be a certain amount of stress in your life. Some of the things that come your way are neither predictable or preventable. You may not actually be able to do anything to change these events but you have total control over your response to them and its effect on your body.
Your coping mechanisms work better if you’re not overly tired and have eaten properly so it’s important to keep to a regular sleep schedule and eating pattern. And don’t forget exercise! Physical activity also helps you combat stress. Anything you enjoy, whether it’s aerobic or strength training, will act as a stress-buster. Make exercise part of your stress management plan.
Your body releases endorphins, your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, as a result of physical activity. You don’t have to be a runner, any heart-pumping exercise will work.
Regular exercise lowers the symptoms related to mild depression and anxiety while increasing your overall health and your sense of well-being. Sleep can be improved with routine exercise. Stress, depression and anxiety often disrupt sleep but easing the stress levels can put you back in command.
Your mind responds to meditation in motion! Try it—after an hour of PiYo or Yoga, you will have forgotten what irritated you during the day. Repetitive motions that command your concentration keep you focused on a single movement and can help you remain calm and collected in everyday tasks. Who couldn’t use a little more energy and optimism?
¨ Start by making a plan and take it slow. The gyms are full of people who burn out before January is over. This is a life-long habit you are building, not a 30-day program.
¨ Set realistic goals and find a friend who enjoys the same activities to join you. You are more likely to stick with it if someone is waiting for you.
¨ Try something new. Check out the new class line-up below or consider personal training.
¨ Put it on your schedule. 45-60 minute workout, three days a week, you spend more time than that on Facebook.
You deserve to be happy, healthy & strong this year – and you can make it happen!
2014 Fitness Line-up
Mondays 6:30 pm Intervals with Susan
Tuesdays 6:00 pm PiYo with Robin
Wednesdays 12:00 pm Fit Xpress with Arlyne (30 min)
5:30 pm Core & More with Susan
Thursdays 6:00 pm Yoga with Anne
Saturdays 8:30 am Zumba with Gail
Classes are part of your WMU program or WLFitness Membership. They may also be purchased separately or as part of a 10 class pass.
Watch for special offerings like our next Tai Chi program that begins on Thursday, January 9th at 7:15 pm.
Sign up here or in the Nutrition store or call us at 757-873-1880 to claim your spot!
Workout and Work Off Stress!
Are you feeling stressed out this holiday season? You’re not alone. For many, there is so much to do that you can end up feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. Then there are the family gatherings and parties that can bring us together with individuals we might actually prefer to avoid.
A certain amount of anxiety is a normal part of life as it alerts you to danger. However, excessive anxiety can have negative effects on your health. Symptoms can include muscle tension, restlessness, increased heart rate, difficulty breathing, stomach upset, headache, fatigue, irritability, trouble concentrating and trouble sleeping. The relationship between stress and the inability to sleep is bad news if you are trying to lose weight because it has been found that sleep is essential if you want to lose “fat” and lower the number on your scale. Lack of sleep increases a hormone called ghrelin which stimulates hunger and promotes fat retention. Cortisol is another hormone that increases when you are stressed and high levels have been linked to obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
Take care of yourself by getting 7-8 hours of sleep each night, eat healthy foods, try to get some exercise, and relax with meditation, yoga or message therapy. Taking a B complex vitamin can also help you to manage stress and promote rest. Stay hydrated – water is tied to your energy levels.
Try to keep things simple by sharing cooking responsibilities, plan quick and easy meals, take advantage of gift wrapping services, and shop on the internet or from mail-order catalogs.
Stay organized by writing a “To Do” list and plan ahead with events and food preparation. Put exercise at the top of that list.
Have realistic expectations and don’t let your emotions get the best of you. It’s good to remember that you can’t always control other people’s behavior and certain situations. Say “no” when you have to and make sure that you take time for yourself. It’s important to enjoy the sights and smells of the season because it will be gone sooner than you know!
There are all kinds of places that you might find stress in your day but your own kitchen does not have to be one of them! Here’s a few tips to stay on track and maintain your healthy eating plan.
Tip 1. Draw It Up
Take a few minutes at the beginning of each week to plan your meals for the coming days. Check your family’s schedules for dinner conflicts like late nights, evening classes or sporting events. Whatever you do, don’t wait until you get home from work to figure out what’s for dinner. That’s just an invitation to order in pizza or Chinese.
Tip 2. Write It Down
Make a shopping list (group what you need based on the layout of your favorite market). It’s a waste of your time to be running back every few aisles because you forgot something. A list saves time and it can save money; if you stick to it, you’ll avoid those “impulse” buys.
Tip 3. Work Ahead
Consider cooking two meals on a quiet night, and reheating on a busier day. Even fresh vegetables like green beans and broccoli can be made ahead; blanch them at the start of the week and store them in reusable plastic containers. Quickly rewarmed or sautéed and then seasoned, these make for almost-instant side dishes.
Tip 4. Minimize Waste
If a recipe calls for half of something like a bell pepper, you don’t want to throw out the other half. Most vegetables can be cleaned, cut up & stored in a resealable bag in the freezer for a short time.
Try a couple of these tips this week – relieve a bit of stress in the kitchen!
You know the benefits of being active. You own the shoes and the clothes. You may even have a membership to the gym. What’s missing? It might be more than motivation, it sounds like you may need an attitude adjustment!
Start by thinking of yourself as an active person—perception often turns into reality. Exercise has a way of increasing positive beliefs while decreasing negative ones. The snowball gets bigger and starts rolling faster—you get the idea.
It’s time to put yourself first again. It was normal as a toddler and easy as a teenager but this time it is a conscious decision to block out some time for yourself to do something for you. The hours that you spend working out are an investment in your own health & wellbeing. Exercise increases your overall energy level as well as reducing stress and building lean body mass, just to name a few of the good things. But did you realize that it also improves your mood? You could be healthier and happier all at the same time. And research indicates that it works with any type of exercise that you enjoy. Need I go on?
Now make a list of all the activities that you have enjoyed in the past and any that you would like to try. Put 2 of them on the schedule for each week. Yes, it’s December and everyone is busy but you’ll be glad that you took a couple of hours out of the 168 available to do something that is good for you! Who knows, you may want to add another one or two when you see how good it feels.
Once you have established the routine of lacing up your tennis shoes and heading out the door, you won’t require quite as much thinking.
On second thought, don’t think about it—’Just Do It’! Nike may own the trademark but you can use it to turn your “I really should” into “I did it!”
That’s right – Thanksgiving dinner is right around the corner. For many Americans, it is the largest single meal of the year. Why do so many feel the need to gorge themselves that day? The turkey and stuffing is so plentiful that it’s falling off the plate. Yes, it’s tradition to serve multiple side dishes but can too much of a good thing be not so good? Absolutely.
Let’s take a look at how things got out of hand.
In the era of the supersized meal it’s often hard to recognize normal portion sizes. Restaurants use platters rather than plates. Fast-food joints have ‘super-sized’ everything on the menu. Giant bottles of soda, extra-large bags of chips and king-size candy bars are part of our everyday eating landscape. But unfortuantely, as our portion sizes get larger, so do our waistlines. And bigger packages can also sabotage portion control.
Research from the University of Illinois shows that people may tend to eat more food when it’s served in larger containers. When movie-goers were given the same amount of popcorn in containers of two different sizes, the people given the larger tubs ate 44 percent more.
So how does that relate? To keep portions in perspective, you need a tool to help you identify your portions as they relate to serving sizes. Being able to visualize recommended serving sizes by relating them to common household objects is an easy and useful technique. By comparing food portions to things you already recognize, you should be able to eyeball a food item and guesstimate how large it is. Carrying around a food scale is just not practical! It’s wise to weigh things occasionally to get an accurate idea of how big portions should be, but relating those measurements to common objects and teaching yourself to recognize them will be a great step toward achieving your weight-loss goals.
Your fist is about the same size as one cup of fruit or vegetables
Your thumb (tip to base) is the size of one ounce of meat or cheese
Your palm (without fingers) equals three ounces of meat, fish, or poultry
Your cupped hand equals one to two ounces of nuts
A glass of wine is 3-4 oz. That is less than 1/2 cup – measure it in your stemware in advance.
Once you have serving sizes committed to memory, you’ll be ready to fit them into your Thanksgiving Day plan.
Start the day off with plenty of water. Thirst is one of our most misinterpreted signals. If you are well hydrated, you are less likely to graze on things sitting around you.
Zero in on the veggie tray or cheese before the big meal. A few cubes of cheese or some raw crudites will take the edge off of your hunger. When it comes to cocktails, a small glass of wine may be the best option. Dry wines have less sugar than their sweet counterparts so a chardonnay or pinot grig would be a good choice.
If you are hosting the dinner, put some thought into the centerpiece and place settings. If your table is beautiful, the bowls of food won’t be missed. Consider using smaller plates with your traditional plates acting as chargers. Dish up the plates in the kitchen and leave the serving dishes on the counter. Starting with a salad and/or soup will make the meal more of a feast and your guests may not notice the smaller than usual servings in the main course.
Most vegetables are full of flavor and color and are extremely low in fat and calories. Bell peppers and brussel sprouts may become your new best friends!
Consider trying some of our lighter options in place of your traditional favorites this year. Remember that traditions always have a beginning, why not start one of your own! We have some recipes to share with you – download & print: CFWLS Thanksgiving Lite
Check out our selection on Pinterest!