Curbing Carbohydrate Cravings
There are many approaches to weight loss; it is a multimillion
dollar industry in our land of plenty. The bottom line is to eat fewer calories than you expend daily, but not drastically fewer, until you're happy with how you fit into your clothes, then resume a diet and exercise program that will maintain the desired weight. Regular, preferably daily, exercise is a must; and a brisk walk is a terrific choice. Exercise not only burns
calories, but gets you away from the fridge, stimulates the cardiovascular system thereby improving blood flow, tissue oxygenation and the overall sense of well being, and promotes lymphatic drainage which will help rid the body of toxins. Dean Ornish (new age cardiologist) says "Walk your dog every day, even if you don't have one."
A basic comprehensive detox program is very helpful with weight
loss. If the "juices" are flowing well, total cellular balance (homeostasis) is more readily achieved. This means drinking plenty of fresh, pure water. At least 40 ounces daily, and not just in 1 or 2 sittings. Keep sipping on water throughout the day if possible. Morning dry skin brushing is an excellent replacement for morning java -- just as invigorating, works as
a laxative, doesn't leave a bad taste in the mouth, is less expensive, and gives you baby soft skin! Such a deal. Brush the entire beautiful naked surface of your body firmly with a natural bristle brush in long strokes towards the heart. Don't forget the palms and soles, but avoid the face. The chest and abdomen are especially important to stimulate circulation. Women: brush up under the breasts and gently down from the collar bones. Low heat saunas are highly recommended to promote, literally, "melting" of the excess body fat which can then be excreted through the skin -- our largest organ of elimination. Be sure to wash down vigorously with a high fat soap and loofa once you've built up a good sweat. Close the pores with a cold rinse before venturing outdoors after the sauna.
Most reputable weight loss products contain three elements:
Some "natural" examples in the above categories are as follows (make up your own teas!):
- a diuretic to promote urination and water weight loss
- a mild stimulant to keep you "on the go" and peppy feeling
- some form of euphoric and analgesic so that you don't feel the "pain" of hunger or calorie deprivation or increased levels of exercise.
Volatile oils work partly through the olfactory bulb. The sense of smell is linked directly to the "primitive" midbrain so sniffing our aromatic beverages is crucial to the beneficial
- Diuretic: Fucus vesiculus (bladderwrack, a common seaweed) or Taraxacum officinale (Dandelion root)
- Stimulant: Ephedra sinensis (Ma Huang), a Traditional Chinese medicinal herb also useful in the treatment of asthma, or good old Vitamin C. I prefer the buffered, powdered form, up to 4 to 6 grams daily, mixed into water or juice. Don't take Vitamin C at bedtime.
- Analgesic: Salix alba (White Willow Bark), the original source of aspirin (acetyl salicylic acid), or oils of wintergreen or lavender in 1-2 drops dosage, under the tongue or in warm tea.
Losing weight is difficult; be prepared. First, assess carefully and honestly the amount of food you eat first. If you are overeating regularly, please consider getting some counseling to help identify the reasons for excessive "non-nutritional" eating. Everybody does it; it's fine sometimes. But it's a tricky habit to break. When a compulsive eater eats moderately and follows a wholesome regimen, discomfort arises. Many people do not appreciate discomfort so it is understandable that they find unwholesome coping mechanisms. An awareness of this dialectic can begin to provide a space for the discomfort. One effective approach to working with compulsive overeating is a technique called "re-framing." Every time you feel the gnawing emotion we name hunger without needing food fuel to do work, recognize that the "inner child" is screaming for love and attention. Change the frame around "gnawing hunger" from needing food to giving love. Instead of numbing the scream of the inner child with french fries or oreos, give her love and attention. See if you can get quiet enough to hear what she wants.
If you feel that the amount you eat is normal, but consider yourself overweight, look at where the calories are coming from. At 9 calories per gram, fatty foods are by far the most
caloric. A handful of nuts is 150 calories, or 1/10th of the caloric intake recommended for the average dieter. Wow! Nuts are out for dieting! Any fried foods are very high in fat, of
course, and many sweet treats may disguise as complex carbohydrates, but actually are extremely high fat. For example, chocolate is higher in fat than any other desert item,
including ice cream. Every wonder why it turns into syrup so nicely? That's right; cocoa butter. Other sources of fat are most animal products, including dairy, egg yolks and chicken skin. Anything "roasted" such as granola and nut butters are high fat, and so are most baked goods, including crackers, especially sweets. Fat and sugar complement each other in the yummy tasty department; sweet often disguises the amount of fat a given delectable contains. Check out the label of that "naturally sweetened, good-for-you" cookie. If it's over 7% fat, forget it.
Other than working well to disguise fat, carbohydrates are the
object of many a dieters desire for numerous good reasons in their own right. For example, carbohydrates create a potent brain neuro-chemical called serotonin, which promotes calmness, drowsiness and decreased pain sensitivity. Biochemically speaking, this works because carbos generate insulin, which sequesters all the amino acids except Tryptophan (the key precursor to serotonin), which attaches to albumin to get through the blood brain barrier and produce the sedation. Unfortunately, carbohydrates eaten alone also sedate the natural satiety center in the hypothalamus. In other words, eat a plate of bare pasta for dinner and you'll be hungrier than when you started. To negate the serotonin effect, the snack or meal must contain 40% protein. Simple carbohydrates, such as sugars and fruit, create a short term serotinin "flood" whereas whole breads and grains will generate a tryptophan to serotonin conversion over a longer period. We know this on an intuitive level when we grab for a sweet snack which will give us a quick "calm" high -- but only very temporarily.
So we'll go for it again, and again. And the real kicker is that while carbohydrates are used by the brain for immediate fuel, any leftovers get stored as fat.
In theory people with less body fat have larger appetites, to ensure they get enough calories and building blocks for nerve tissue and cell membranes. People with greater amounts of body fat are supposed to have a smaller appetite, specifically for fat. The glitch is that it tastes so good, especially laced with sugar. The desire to eat is not always hunger. It is important to honestly differentiate the two for ourselves. Eating regularly when not hungry can create a state of hyperinsulin secretion. Insulin increases appetite because it signals the need to transport sugar from the blood into the cells. The only known "remedy" for hyperinsulin secreters is hard exercise (60 minutes at 65% maximum heart rate capacity at
least 4 times weekly). If you are a carbohydrate craver, try taking protein and a wee bit of fat in with each snack and every meal. This way your brain will register a longer-term source of energy, and tell the taste buds "enough." And don't forget, you don't have to eat it all today. It'll be there tomorrow if you still have to have it.
Healthy snacks, 150 calories or less, to revive to interest in those New Year's resolutions.
NB: never snack while standing or driving -- you miss out on the best part!
The following food items have less than 20 calories per serving and should be used for grazing when the need arises throughout the day:
- 1 or 2 rice cakes lightly smeared with dark miso (light miso is best in summer) and a dab of honey.
- 1/2 cup grated cucumber in a 1/2 cup low-fat yogurt generously sprinkled with fresh (preferably) dill.
- A small baked yam with 1/2 a baked onion and a dollop of flax oil.
- A thumb-sized piece of raw coconut, chewed very thoroughly.
- An apple with a small hunk of soy cheese, nibbled together, European style.
- A slightly warmed chapati, then stuffed with sprouts and rolled up loosely.
- A freshly juiced veggie special (carrot, with some celery and a little beet and ginger) plus a heaping teaspoon of Spirulina.
- cabbage, celery, radishes, mushrooms, green peppers, zucchini, spinach and all lettuces.
- unsweetened dill pickles. Don't go overboard here: pickling your insides may increase the risk for colon cancer.
- unsweetened cocoa powder (1 Tablespoon), actually not too bad blenderized into some sparkling water, or into black coffee, if you insist.
- sugar-free hard candy.
About The Author
A graduate of Bastyr University in Seattle, she completed both the Naturopathic and Acupuncture/Oriental Medicine programs. Her preceptor work (similar to residencies) took place in Seattle, West Virginia and China, with emphasis on gynecology, counseling, herbal medicine and naturopathic manipulation...more