Crowding Out

March 26, 2009

Crowding Out
Why is it when most people hear about eating healthy, the think about what they are going to have to give up?

I understand that it is true that many of us can help our diets by eliminating certain foods, but that doesnt’ have to be the only way to approach eating healthier. What about introducing new foods into your diet. Whole, natural, nutritious foods. Ones that you enjoy that just happen to be healthy.

If you go about eating healthy along the lines of “Well, I can never give up ______” Then what a long and suffering road that is going to be. There are too many things we could think of to fill in that blank. So, right on the heels of talking about cravings, I’d like to introduce the concept of “crowding out.” It’s quite simple. Add new foods into your diet, and gradually over time you will have less desire to eat unhealthy foods. Try it, it works. And this approach has an abundant feeling as you are adding more to your diet, rather than taking things away.

Think about it, when someone tells you to stop eating something, or you muster up the willpower to do it yourself – How long does it last? How probable is it for you to stop eating a food that you are constantly thinking about? It’s probably more likely to do so when you are focused on allowing yourself to eat some new interesting natural foods. This is where crowding out works its wonders. You are able to resist the foods you crave because you are putting your focus on what else is out there to eat.

Yes you may eat fruit – apples, oranges, bananas, strawberries – but what about kiwis, mangos, papayas, avocadoes, pineapples, coconuts, gogi berries, acai berries, and the list goes on and on. You may eat vegetables – spinach, broccoli, corn, carrots – but what about kale, collard greens, turnips, sweet potatoes, yukka, burdock, eggplant, squash, cauliflower, and once again the list goes on and on. As does with grains, and nuts, and beans, and legumes. All natural, whole foods.

So when striving to eat healthy think not of the sacrifice you will have to make – think of the bounty of food that awaits you.



Say Cheese

March 7, 2009

Recently I asked: “If there was one food you couldn’t live without, what would it be?”

Well, as you can guess from the title, my answer is cheese.  Cheese has always been a staple in my diet, and I’ve never really noticed myself having an adverse effect to it.  After assessing my diet, I’ve calculated that there have been only short amounts of time that I’ve gone without it.  What is it about cheese that has made it become such a mainstay in my diet?  What puts cheese in a category of the most craved foods, along with sugar, chocolate, ice cream or meat?  Is it simply the taste, or is there something more?

Did you know that researchers have found that there’s more to the appeal of cheese than taste.  It has been found that cheese and other dairy products actually contain chemical compounds no one ever suspected were there – mild opiates that are released during digestion.  Therefore, if they stimulate the brain in such a way, you can easily see why someone would continually crave such a food and keep it as part of their diet.  Even while gaining weight or having health problems.

So what do we make of these scientific studies that say there are certain foods, like cheese, that have enough of an effect on your brain to get you hooked?  Well, most people do nothing.  And that may be fine if they aren’t experiencing adverse health conditions or are trying to lose weight.  But what if you have an unknown food allergy, and your body in turn craves the very food that it’s allergic too?  This is not as uncommon as one would think.

Perhaps this is an indication to do a little experimenting of your own.  Would it kill you to eliminate one of these foods, say cheese, for a given period of time?  (I’m currently doing just that, eliminating cheese from my diet, and I will continue to post how it goes.)  Is 21 days such an eternity?  Not really.  And it’s enough time for your body to experience what it’s like functioning without that food.

The key here is not so much the elimination of the food, but it’s re-introduction back into your diet.  After going a few weeks without it, you can assess your reaction to it when you re-introduce it.  How does it really taste, now that your taste buds have gotten a break from it?  How does it make you feel after eating it?  How do you feel hours later?  The next day?  Do you have energy, or are you fatigued?  Do you have clarity of thought, or brain fog?  What roll is this food playing in your daily functioning?

You have to accept that some foods cause a downward spiral for your system, and yes, your beloved cheese may be one of them.  You must purposefully take action to break that food habit and see if any of your physical problems start to go away.  And only you can decide whether or not it’s worth sacrificing whatever changes necessary to see desired results.

Remember, you don’t have to go at this alone.  You are not the only person in which a food like cheese acts like a narcotic.  Your brain’s pleasure center wants you to eat, this is something we all experience to a degree.  For some it is heightened with certain foods.  That’s a reality.  These food experiences provide pleasure and your brain releases a bit of dopamine, the brain’s main pleasure-producing chemical.  Fortunately, dopamine is central to virtually anything that feels good -exercise, interacting with others, even sex. So there are plenty of places to get a fix of it. You don’t have to fight reality,but you may have to hold the cheese

21 Days

March 2, 2009

Ever wonder how long it takes to create a new healthy habit?

According to scientific researchers, it takes approximately 21 days to build a new habit. That’s 3 weeks. Some people believe there isn’t a magic number, and claim they can do it in less time, others need more. Well, let’s say the researchers are right, and it is 21 days. Are you willing to test it out? What would you like to create? Are there any habits that you’ve been contemplating adding to your life?

Yes, I said adding. I think we often get caught up in thinking what habits we need to break. And we forget that most of those habits were broken because we added new habits in. Say, for instance, with the habit of eating breakfast, we are much more likely to stop eating a desired food (ie. egg & cheese sandwich), when we come up with an alternative that can be equally satisfying (ie. oatmeal with agave nectar and almonds). This was an example of a habit I broke/changed a few years ago. Did it happen the first time I tried it? No. Do I eat oatmeal for breakfast all the time now? No. So what was it that allowed me to successfully change this habit?

First, I had a clear intention that I wanted to add oatmeal into my diet. Prior attempts were focused on cutting out the egg & cheese sandwich, and guess what most of my thoughts were about: egg & cheese sandwiches. So the first step is deciding what you would like to do (as opposed to what you don’t want to do). Next, is too make sure things are set up for your success. Try taking one habit at a time, you don’t want to take on too much at once. Also, try to make your circumstances over those next few weeks conducive to the success of the new habit. With the breakfast example, make sure you have access to oatmeal or whatever it is you want to be eating. Make it convenient for you to eat. Also, it wouldn’t be the best idea to put yourself in an environment that would allow your previous habit to overcome (like starting the habit change when you are on vacation at a hotel that serves a free continental breakfast).

So why 21 days? See for yourself. 21 days of concerted effort will allow you to make the space for the new habit. It’s enough time to become part of your routine, and build some momentum so that eventually you aren’t feeling like you’re forcing yourself. If you’ve been following along with my blog, you’ll remember I did a test with not having coffee, I suggested trying a week or two. This was enough time to see what it would be like introducing that food back into your diet. But to create the habit change you have to take it to the next step and go a little longer. Basically, it’s a gestation period to nurture yourself into becoming the new you (the one with the new habit).

It’s really exciting that we are even capable of doing such things. And if you doubt you’re ability to do it, go back and look at your past. You’ll see how many times you’ve already successfully done this. Go back 3 years ago, then 3 years before that, and 3 years before that, and so on. Look at the major eating habits you had at those times, you will notice that there are number of things you changed over that time span. It could have been due to a new job, or a new relationship, or maybe you moved, but nonetheless you changed your habits. So what would be the difference if you willingly chose one thing right now, and tested it out for 21 days.

No pressure, just try it and see how it goes. I dare you