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Saturday, August 24, 2013

Most Poor Suckers Are Starving to Death (Part 1 of 4)

I've done it folks!  I'm down two dress sizes. I feel healthy. I am happier (most of the time.) My skin looks better. My hair is healthier (my stylist even made a comment on it when I got my hair cut a few weeks ago.) I can breathe better. I am more active. Overall, I am truly a better person.

Four months ago, I started this goal to just become healthier. The other night, it FINALLY happened.  Someone said "You are looking really good!  What are you doing?" 


Well, I'll TELL you what I've been doing!!!!

I've been LIVING!  I EAT whatever I want.  I DO whatever I want.  I EXERCISE whenever I want. 
"Really?" You ask?  Why, YES! It's all true!  It wasn't always this way, and in fact, it took me 3 of the last 4 months to figure it out. But I have grown (or shrunk, depending on how you look at it,) more in the last month than in the other 3 combined.  How can this be? Is there some miracle lifestyle that I am following?  No.  I'm just listening to my body... for the first time in a long time, I am letting my body tell my brain what it needs instead of my brain trying to force my body to be a certain way. I'll break it down for you.


To truly understand my position on this, you must first understand that my "wants" have changed over the course of the past 4 months.  I realized that when I ate food, I wasn't listening to my body signals.  Not only did I eat according to what my BRAIN or my EMOTIONS told me to eat, but I also only STOPPED eating when my brain told me that it was time.  This was usually because I had fulfilled a portion size, caloric intake, or the food was just gone. In the mean time, I left my body too full or still hungry.  I told myself that I just had to FORCE myself to stay within certain bounds.  Then, one day, I just realized that kind of thinking was, well, ridiculous.  

I mean, it's crazy to think that food and nutrition really is a one size fits all.  All you have to do is plug some numbers into a calculator and it will tell you how many calories you need per day.  First of all, every calorie calculator is different.  Second, everyone has different metabolism.  It is absolutely ridiculous to think that I am going to use 1500 calories the same way that my friend does.  We might both be female, 5'6", 250 lbs, and live a sedentary lifestyle, but we both do NOT burn calories the same way.The truth is, there is NO way to accurately measure or define how many calories an individual needs on a daily basis.  The other variable in this equation is that I might need 1500 calories one day, and 2500 calories another day. This all would depend on, yes, my activity for the day, but also.....wait for it..... my MOOD for the day.  Studies show that being HAPPIER burns more calories than being just...meh. 
A happy emotional state is the key to losing weight and obtaining physical fitness, says Dr. Joe Vitale, author of "The Attractor Factor and Life's Missing Instruction Manual." Those who are happy burn more calories than those who are depressed or angry. Happy people tend to take actions that burn more calories. As a result, they get trimmer. 
SO, calorie trackers and weight loss programs can tell me how many calories I need each day, but, HOW DO THEY KNOW??  They compensate for activity, but what about mood, metabolism, or just plain genetics!

So, I came up with a solution to this.  I really believe that we were born with the natural ability to know not just WHAT our bodies are in need of, but HOW MUCH of it we need.  In another blog post, I talked about Intuitive Eating.  I'm currently reading a book on it that you can read all about HERE.  I'll admit that I haven't finished reading this yet... I think I'm on page 30.  BUT, the concept started a ball rolling in my head that I am sure will only be validated as I continue to read.

I started thinking about how our bodies are made.  When we are babies, we stop eating when we get full. The same goes for toddlers.  No airplane noise could convince either of my boys to take one more bite if they were done.  They would just spit the food back at me.
Proof.  Minion #1 at 4 months old.
As we grow up, lots of distractions lead us away from this natural way of eating. For most of us, food is everywhere-in grocery stores, corner markets, vending machines, and the office break room, to name just a few. It can be hard to pay attention to your hunger signals as you go about your day.You may skip breakfast because you'd rather sleep in. So when lunchtime rolls around, you're extra hungry and eat more than you should. You may watch TV, read, or use the computer while you eat. This can distract you so that you stop paying attention to what or how much you're eating or whether you're full enough to stop eating.You may often eat so fast that you barely even taste your food or pay attention to how full you really are. Stress or other emotions cause many of us to reach for food-not because we're hungry, but because food comforts us or helps us celebrate. Most of us are influenced by larger serving sizes. Research shows that when people are given larger portions, they eat more.

All these distractions can cause you to ignore your body's signals. You stop paying attention to how hungry you are or how full you are. Over time, you lose the skill of listening to and obeying your body's signals.

Learning to get back in touch with your hunger signals can be one of your best tools for getting to a healthy weight and staying there. Your hunger and fullness signals are still there. You just have to learn how to listen to them again.

When did we start to ignore these signals?  Well, I believe it changed when we were told to "eat ALL of our vegetables," "finish everything on our plates," and my favorite, "to eat it or go without." According to studies done at California State University, we have trained ourselves to use external triggers to tell us when we are hungry.

Hunger cannot truly be explained only by the biological component. As human beings, we cannot ignore our psychological part, the learned and cognitive components of hunger. Unlike any other beings, we humans use an external clock in our daily routine, including when to sleep and when to eat. This external time triggers our hunger. For instance, when the clock says 12 pm, lunch time, many people feel hungry just because it is lunch time. This hunger is triggered by learned behavior. In addition, the smell, taste, or texture of food also triggers hunger. For instance, if you like french fries, the smell of frying potatoes may trigger your hunger. However, this preference of taste, smell, or texture is a culturally learned preference. If one does not like sushi, the smell of sushi does not trigger hunger. Interestingly, people also feel hungry for a particular taste, more specifically, the four basic tastes: sweet, sour, bitter, and salty. For example, an often heard expression is "I am hungry for something sweet." People keep feeling hungry until these four tastes are satisfied.

This thinking changed our programming.  We were programmed to eat everything on our plate or starve! As children, a lot of us WOULD rather starve than eat what was placed before us?  Why? Well, in my case, I just didn't like the food.  I have specific memories of my mom making a cream of potato soup that was disgusting! To this day, I still don't eat creamy soups. they don't look appetizing to me.

I decided that I wanted to eat, what I wanted to eat. Our bodies crave the foods with the nutrients that we need.

 I can eat anything I want. 
I can NOT eat everything that I want. 

I prioritize my food cravings. It's not easy and takes focus, but it can be done. I mean, I did it, so I'm sure that you can. 


To re-program myself into this thinking, I had to conscientiously make the decision to "listen" to my body. I would ask myself questions such as:

"Has my hunger/ thirst been satisfied?"  
"Am I really hungry?"
"What am I hungry FOR?" 
"Why do I think I am hungry?"
"Is food the answer to what I am feeling?"

We want to eat when our hunger is around 6-8 on this scale. You want to be hungry enough to justify eating food, but not so hungry that you overeat. If you eat at a 3-5, you may find that you are eating to satisfy another trigger such as emotion, not hunger itself. Remember, eating food is to satisfy hunger. However, if we wait until we are a 9 or a 10 on the scale, we risk OVER eating to satisfy our extreme hunger.  Extreme hunger=extreme eating.

Being hungry is a lot like being in love; if you don't know, you're probably not. 

This was hard at first.  I had to learn the difference between eating because I was emotional, bored, or just because it was "time to eat," and actual HUNGER. It took effort.  In some ways, I felt like it took MORE effort than counting calories. But within a few weeks, I had caught on.  And, almost magically, my tastes changed. Crazy, right? See, I saw food cravings like a test.  For example, match the word to it's matching effect in the chart below.

Tired                                                        Talk it out with a family member or friend.

Hungry                                                     Take a nap, or go to bed earlier.

Sad                                                           Take some time to settle the chaos in your life.

Energetic                                                 Go have some fun.  Play. Exercise. Smile.

Anxious                                                    Eat some food.

Did you draw your lines?  Now, take a minute and think. What if you drew a line from Tired, to Eat some food.  Would you have gotten that answer right? NO! Of course not! So, WHY do we use food as an answer for just about anything? Food is not the answer for boredom. Food is not the answer for depression, anger, happiness, or any other emotion.  DIETS, PILLS, or PROGRAMS are NOT THE ANSWER TO YOUR WEIGHT PROBLEM!  YOU ARE! Over eating or staying within certain portions or calories will not fulfill the purpose of food! If you are hungry, eat until the hunger is satisfied.  Nothing more, nothing less. The trick is to KNOW when that satisfaction has come. That takes practice.  

1. Stop MULTIPLE times throughout a meal and ask yourself..REALLY ask yourself if you are satisfied. Then, take time to listen.  I'm not talking about being FULL. I'm talking about satisfied. Try this and you will know the difference. 

2. Look for signs such as sighing, slouching over the table, or slowing down as you eat.

3. You can start by using the correct portion sizes, and then go from there, testing your satisfaction along the way.

4. MOST IMPORTANT- Eat what your body needed to eat in the first place!  You will NEVER be satisfied eating something else INSTEAD of what you really FELT like eating.  Listen to your body.  This sounds dangerous. But I guarantee, you will be surprised.  If you want a cheeseburger, eat it.  But JUST that.  AND, check yourself for satisfaction.  

5. It helps to know WHAT you want in a certain food. Do you want the fettuccine noodles or the sauce? Would it work to use zucchini instead of noodles and just eat a bowl of it with a little sauce on it? I don't know why we think that we have to have it all or nothing at all.  Where did that come from?  WHY must we do the cheeseburger, fries and a shake, and a coke, when what we REALLY wanted was the gooey, grilled, cheeseburger?  And, for heavens sake, if you are going to go for something like that, at least get QUALITY from it!  But, I digress.  Soon, I think you will find that you don't really want a whole cheeseburger, but perhaps a few bites of it.  After that, you will realize that you don't want THAT, but instead you just wanted the meat or protein from it.  You will find that grilling up a beef patty with cheese will really satisfy you as much as the cheese burger would have. Then, you save the calories from the bun, mayo, and such, and your body gets what it really wants. 

6. Eat With Others!  You eat less when you talk more!

7. Try new foods!  It's exciting!  Live a little. 

8. SLOW DOWN! Enjoy the food! Take time to TASTE it! It is OH SO DELICIOUS!

9. Breathe.  Use your senses.  Smell the food. Look at how pretty it is.  Enjoy the atmosphere. 

10. Fill up on the experience.  ANY time that you eat, take time to do as many of the above things as you can. It will fill your soul along with your belly. I promise.

Until we realize that we need to feed our mind with something, rather than eating, we can not feel satiated. Until we recognize it is our mind, not our body which needs food, we cannot be satisfied with what we put in our mouth. Thus, hunger is not only about how the body changes physiologically, it is about how our body and mind together are well fed, not just by the food that one can put in their mouth, but also by the whole environment around us. To satisfy hunger, our minds must also be satisfied. I won't be happy with celery if my mind wants a cookie.
I stole this from another blogger.  It hits the nail on the head!
Check out her blog HERE


Look, this worked for me.  I'm not stupid enough to think that it is a solution for everyone.  Obviously, those with diabetes, Celiac, or other diseases that affect their diet will have to train themselves differently.  However, as I discussed this with various friends that suffer from these types of diseases, they all agreed that when they really listen to their bodies, they recognize that their bodies don't crave things that they shouldn't. Of course, this gets easier as you feed your body the types of foods that are good for it as well.  Linda Bacon, PhD, author of Health at Every Size, said that "people with diabetes can learn attuned eating without any special difficulty. Even for people using fast-acting insulins, matching carbohydrate to insulin isn't an exact science anyway. Both carbohydrate absorption and insulin action vary with physical activity, temperature, and other things." Bacon also agrees that restricting your diet with numbers and rigid meal plans gets in the way of your body trying to do what’s right for itself.  She says "You may have to restrict somewhat, but try to do it as little as possible. I would say that a person with diabetes might have to set more limits on emotional eating than other people do. It might be more important to get to the root of the stress triggers that drive unhealthy eating."

People with Celiac disease or Gluten Intolerance often claim that their bodies feel worse when they eat the foods that they shouldn't. They will feel cramping, fatigue, headaches, and multiple other symptoms when they eat incorrectly.

It really isn't much different for the rest of us.  When we put good things into our bodies, we feel better. It really is that simple. [Edit: Just in case this comment gets hidden, a reader posted the idea to eat the healthy items first, THEN see if we still want the rest. This really should go without saying, but she brought up a good point. Better food makes our bodies feel better, but it doesn't mean that we have to LIMIT ourselves to only healthy food. We just need to LISTEN to our bodies more carefully.]


For anyone thinking of trying this type of lifestyle, let me tell you what you can expect.

1. Expect to feel guilty. Don't go so overboard with this that you are over eating at every meal. I'm not saying to go get a dozen Krispy Kremes right now and go to town.  But, don't feel bad if you DO eat one. If you keep your MAIN PURPOSE when you eat as SATISFYING HUNGER, you will soon find that you don't want the stupid doughnut because it won't fill you up. An apple will. HOWEVER, sometimes you just want the doughnut, and that's ok. You don't need to feel bad about it. 

2. Expect to gain some weight at first. You may or may not gain weight.  I think it depends on how well you watch your bodies signals already.  I used to watch TV while I ate, therefore, my mind was not TOTALLY recognizing that I was satisfying the hunger. An little 5 lb bump in weight is normal and will come off once you get the hang of this. (But you aren't weighing yourself, right? That's not how we measure success around here.)

3. Expect to be surprised. Once you start to see that it really doesn't take much to feel satisfied, you will really be surprised.  It doesn't take much, but it does take SOMETHING! More than a piece of bread. Really. Once you start to notice how your body responds to food, you will be able to make consious decisions about whether the food is really what your body wants and needs.  I don't handle sugar very well.  As a result, I don't EAT sugar very often. It's that simple.

4. Expect to have feelings of mourning.  I know it sounds funny, but I totally mourn the days that I used to eat TWO enchiladas.  But, in reality, I one enchilada does it's job....on most days. So, why spend the money. (I don't make my own... they turn out gross.) 

5. Expect to drink more water.  I'm not saying this because it helps to fill hunger, but just for the fact that you drink more.  I'm sure that there is a reason, I just don't know what it is and I am too lazy to research why. I noticed a little swelling in my fingers and feet at first. It's gone now, maybe because I started drinking more water.

6. Once you get the hang of it, you can expect an increased libido and energy, a clear mind, healthy hair and nails, and, of course, a better self image. The self image comes because you quit beating yourself up over ever little thing that you put in your mouth. Plus, you DO start to shrink.  ;)

There are a lot of people out there that need different solutions.  But I started The Healthy Redhead because I was SO TIRED of trying all of the programs, pills, and gimmicks for a happier healthier lifestyle. Can you really take a pill or count calories FOR EVER?? Can you live on a shake for two meals a day? Will you be happy doing this?  I can't and won't.  I just wanted change. I GOT change. I eat differently. It didn't happen over night.  I didn't lose a zillion pounds in one week.  I just tweaked a few things.  It took me over 30 years to build the habits that I have.  I'll be pretty ok if it takes me some time to break them. 

I give my body what it needs. Nothing more, nothing less.

For a copy of the FOOD PYRAMID that I try to base my diet off of, click HERE. Scroll down to the pyramid and click the link to print it out.

What do you think?  Leave a comment.  Let me know your thoughts!  Thanks to everyone for your support this far!  No, Parts 2- Exercise, 3-Timing and 4-Living are not this long... I think.

1 comment:

  1. I have heard about this before. I think it is amazing! One thing I would add would be to eat the best part first. No more 'saving the best for last'. If you eat the best part first, you will feel less guilty leaving food on your plate when you are satisfied. You won't feel like you HAVE to eat it.



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