My apologies for the late post. I hope you are doing well on your weight loss/health goals this week! Today's topic is a sensitive topic. I find that giving up sugar can be very tricky for so many people. But, doing a sugar detox can SIGNIFICANTLY reduce cravings, improve health, and aid in weight loss - so don't tune me out quite yet ;)
Becoming a Sugar detective
An average American eats 23.5 teaspoons of sugar per day (358 calories). The average female is eating on average 37 teaspoon of sugar per day. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Americans eat about 64 pounds of sugar per year. 64 pounds! That’s the weight of an average 9-year old boy! BTW in case you were wondering, the recommendation is no more than 6 teaspoons (25g) per day!
Where is all this sugar coming from you might ask.
Sugar comes from many forms and found in many sources, including dried fruit, snacks, desserts, and beverages. But it is also in a lot of things we don’t realize that really add up! Some examples include: condiments, salad dressings, cereals, breads, peanut butter, and even some frozen vegetables! Sugar is literally everywhere! One trick of the food industry is to add sugar, fat, and salt to food to make it more palatable and addictive.
It is important to look for hidden sugar because it influences our food cravings and, when we eat more than 6 teaspoons of sugar, it makes it extremely hard to get all the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that our body needs without going over the amount of food our bodies need to maintain a healthy weight. There is even less room for sugar for someone trying to lose weight on a calorie restricted diet. (This is why I recommend a good multivitamin for anyone trying to lose weight, also because of vitamin depleted soil).
Another reason to avoid added sugar is the gradual (or not so gradual) desensitization of sweetness.
When we add sugar to food (either by the manufacturer or in our kitchens), the food becomes unnaturally sweet and naturally sweet foods (like fruit) no longer tastes sweet. Sugar (along with salt, and fat, but to a lesser degree) increases dopamine, which excites the brain. When you eat foods with sugar (or even worse with sugar in combination with fat and salt) regularly, your brain lights up and stays that way giving you constant food cravings. These foods stimulate the brain similarly to the stimulation your brain receives from drugs or alcohol. Break this cycle of cravings by detecting hidden sugar and eating whole foods without excessive amounts of sugar, salt, and unhealthy fats. Watch this to find out what sugar goes to your body: https://youtu.be/R46MnUbL6Z8
Which food item has the most sugar?
Answer: The oatmeal! Poptarts: 16g sugar/4 teaspoons; 19g sugar/4.75 teaspoons; flavored instant oatmeal: 28g sugar/7 teaspoons
Some more common foods:
Some more common foods:
But you might be thinking orange juice is better than coke, and you would be right because of the vitamins, but the sugar in juice still behaves like the sugar in the soda. It’s always better to eat the whole fruit instead of the fruit juice. The fruit is packaged in fiber, which slows down the sugar release. When you drink juice (such as orange juice), you’re taking about 4 oranges and removing all the fiber to get one cup.
SO where is all this sugar hiding?
A bit on sugar substitutes...
Diet products (i.e. diet soda, sugar substitutes) can still make people gain weight! This is because they cause people to consume more food because they cause cravings, just like sugar does. One way diet products cause weight gain in through upsetting your microflora (the good bacteria) in your gut. New research is showing how your microflora influences your cravings.
The scoop on different sweeteners:
Finding the Hidden Sugar
1. Locate the grams of sugar, protein, and fiber on the food label. Be sure to check the serving size.
2. Make sure there are at least 3 grams of fiber
3. Add the grams of protein and fiber:
4. Compare the grams of protein and fiber to the total grams of sugar
5. If the grams of protein + fiber total is greater than total grams of sugar the product is a good choice; if it is less than, it is not the best choice. For the example above, this isn’t the best choice. Try finding something that has at least 3 grams of fiber and has less sugar.
The No Added Sugar Challenge: The idea here is to help break the sugar "addiction" that prevents us from reaching lifestyle and weight loss goals. While you are not going to stop eating desserts or added sugar permanently, the purpose of this challenge is to increase your awareness of how much sugar is present in your routine and how it makes you feel. I recommend doing the challenge for 2 weeks in order to see a noticeable change in your taste pallet and to speed up weight loss. At the end of the 2 weeks, you may decide to continue it or start carefully adding in sweeter foods.
Here are the rules:
PAN-SEARED SALMON OVER TRI-COLORED SALAD WITH DIJON DRESSING
Yield 2 servings | Active Time 30 minutes | Total Time 30 minutes
In a separate bowl, combine the radicchio, endive, and arugula; set aside.
Heat the oil in a small nonstick skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle salmon with salt and pepper and place in skillet, flesh side down; cook, until fish flakes easily with a fork, 4-5 minutes per side. Remove from skillet.
Toss the dressing with the lettuces and place on the two plates; top each with a salmon filet.
We are on to week #2! I hope no one is disappointed about their weight loss this week! At my work everyone did a great job! Some people lose between 1-2 pounds, with one person losing 8.6 pounds! No one gained more than a pound or so, which is great given the big holiday! Maintaining your weight during a holiday is really a big accomplishment.
Bring on the Super swaps!
I swapped C.R.A.P. for superfoods and you can too! Eating better means eating more superfoods – they give you the wholesome nutrition for a slimmer, healthier, more energized body. I’ve also learned that the most successful long-term changes happen when you enjoy what you’re doing. (Stop the diet mentality!)
Last week, we talked about the C.R.A.P. that is in our diet and things to look for. We also talked about the right proportions for blood sugar and craving control (30/30/40 rule). Today I’m going to talk about simple and nutritious swaps you can make to satisfy your cravings and still eat what you what to eat, but in a healthier way. (It’s all about choosing the SANE foods over the INSANE foods per last week’s discussion). Another way of looking at this is choosing nutrient dense foods over calorie dense/nutrient poor foods.
Superfoods are foods (mostly plants) that deliver the maximum dose of antioxidants, vitamins, healthy fats, minerals, and other good stuff your body needs to thrive. When you do a “superswap” you add something better and drop something of lower quality. And by quality, I’m not just talking about price or brand names or organic (organic cookies, cakes, and candy is still cookies, cakes, and candy!). I mean things that benefit your body and mind. (It may mean you chose organic, grass-fed meat over conventional meat because it’s higher in omega 3’s, which decrease inflammation, or it may mean substituting wheat pasta for spaghetti squash). The goal is to think healthier and make healthier choices.
Here are a few health superswaps to get you started:
Note: Just because a food is a superfood doesn’t mean you can eat all you want. For example, nuts are a very healthy food with healthy fats, fiber, and protein, BUT they still have calories. Nuts are calorically dense so should not be eaten mindlessly without portioning. Even though a calorie is not a calorie, calories still matter (or rather net calories matter, which are the calories not used in digesting the food). 100 calories of nuts would look very small compared to 100 calories of kale or fruit. But what makes nuts so good is that even a small amount helps sate hunger. Try to stick to 1-2 small handfuls per day. Peanuts and pistachios with the shell can be self-limiting and helpful for weight loss. With that said, many nutrient dense foods have little to no calories, such as non-starchy vegetables. Feel free to eat as much as you want of these. A good strategy for second helpings would be to limit to only the veggies.
This outside the box: Are you craving pizza and only “real” pizza will satisfy your craving? Sometimes we have a craving and despite our best efforts to substitute, we can’t shake it. Sometimes these cravings even cause us to “go off diet” or give up on the “diet” all together. Here is a way to have your cake and eat it too – or rather have your craving and stay on plan. Make a green base and put whatever you are craving on top of that green base.
“Spaghetti” and Meatballs with Tomato Sauce
Serves 4. Prep time: 15 minutes. Cook time: 30 minutes.
Dandelion Pumpkin Seed Pesto
Tastes great on Spaghetti squash). Makes about 1 cup
Note: I often sub other greens for the dandelion greens for different types of pesto (i.e. basil and sage) May use half basil and half spinach to stretch the basil if you don’t have enough. I have also substituted any type of roasted squash seeds for the pumpkin seeds. Have fun with it! I’ve never made a bad pesto.
For all you Chinese food fans out there, try this recipe instead of fried rice: http://www.shape.com/healthy-eating/healthy-recipes/cauliflower-fried-rice-bowl-will-make-you-forget-about-takeout
Wishing you all a great week! xox
I was recently asked to lead a 16 week weight loss program for the hospital employees at my work. I quickly became really excited and started planning out my curriculum, committing to writing about topics in nutrition, stress management, physical activity, sleep, and healthy lifestyle changes as it relates to weight loss over the next 16 weeks. Because I am so excited about these topics, I want to make these tips available to my blog readers! I hope you decide to join us on these next 16 weeks.
Week 1: Introduction to a Real Food Diet
I hate the word diet…. Diets don’t work. They denote deprivation, hunger, restriction, inflexibility, mood swings, etc. To top it all off, 95% of people fail on diets and regain all their weight or more. That’s why I want you to forget about your diet mentality while doing this weight loss challenge. I get it, you want to lose weight, you want to win the jackpot, but the most important thing for me is that you be healthier, have more energy, a better mood, and fewer cravings. And believe me, the weight loss will come too! But I’m hoping to equip you with tools to develop a lifestyle around food and to help you be in that 5% that loses weight and doesn’t regain it back, while focusing on all those other benefits I mentioned.
The national weight control registry is a group of people who have lost 30 lbs and kept it off for a year or more. In fact, I encourage you to sign up for this registry once you have lost your weight. Registry members have lost an average of 66 lbs and kept it off for 5.5 years.
Secrets to their success include:
Food proportions and combinations: Know your SANE score, get the C.R.A.P. out of your diet, and the 30/30/40 rule
The first thing you need to do is to take the CRAP out of your diet. Taking these ingredients/foods out of your diet will put you on the path to clean eating and boost your metabolism.
C = Chemicals you don’t use in your own kitchen. Words like: azodicarbonamide, carrageenan, potassium bromate, soy isolate, brominated vegetable oil, and partially-hydrogenated vegetable oil.
R = Refined sugar and flour. Look for words like refined flour, enriched wheat, high-fructose corn syrup, sugar, and anything ending in –ose (sucrose, maltose, dextrose….etc)
A = Artificial sweeteners, flavors, colors. Words like caramel coloring, saccharin, aspartame, acesulfame-potassium, dyes, diacetyl, and just plain “artificial flavoring.”
P = Preservatives. Words like: sodium nitrate/nitrite, BHA, TBHQ, BHT, heptyl paraben, and propyl gallate.
A calorie is not a calorie is not a calorie. Suffice it to say that 100 calories of sweet potato will behave quite differently in your body than 100 calories of candy, even though they are both carbs. One cup of sweet potatoes contains 38433 IU of vitamin A (769% of the daily value), 39.2 mg of vitamin C (65% of the daily value) and is a very good source of the mineral manganese, while also being a fantastic source of fiber. Fiber is the main component in foods that makes you feel full and helps regulate your blood sugar. The sweet potato takes more mechanical energy to chew and to process than the readily available sugar from the candy. Thus, you burn more calories from eating the sweet potato. So I want to implore you to think of food as information for your body and not just food or calories. With every bite, you can either do harm or good for your body. Think of every food having a SANE score.
S = Satiety: How quickly the calories fill you up and how long they keep you full. Typically, foods with higher water content, higher fiber content, and higher protein content are the most satisfying and filling.
A = Aggression: How likely the calories are to be stored as body fat. (Simple carbs > complex carbs > fat > protein).
N = Nutrition: How many nutrients – vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, essential amino acids – the calories provide. Which foods have the highest nutrient density per calorie? Think non-starchy vegetables, nuts, seeds, fish, and sustainably raised meat.
E = Efficiency: How many of the calories can be stored as body fat. I.e. When you eat 100 calories of almonds, only a percentage of that is consumed because it takes calories to breakdown and use the calories in the almonds compared to the candy. Thus, the net calories in the almonds are less than 100 calories.
Need more proof that a calorie is not a calorie?
· Research at Cornell University split people into groups, each eating 1,800 calories a day. The group who ate the higher-quality calories lost 86.5% more body fat than the “typical” dieters – even though they ate the same calories.
· A similar study at the U.S. Naval Hospital revealed that simply by altering the quality of food consumed (NOT the number of calories), test subjects lost twice as much body fat in just 10 days.
The secret to losing weight is NOT to eat LESS food, but rather to eat MORE higher-quality (SANE) food. You should not be hungry! SANE cheat sheet!
Food Combinations and hunger and weight loss:
Every time you eat carbs, your body releases insulin. Insulin acts to store sugar as fat in your body's cells. Insulin also inhibits fat breakdown, making it harder to lose weight. I will often recommend that people check their blood sugar before and 2 hours after a meal to monitor their blood sugar and make sure it’s within range (even non-diabetics).
What happens when you eat a lot of carbs: (A reader’s digest article where I discuss the subject can be found here)
You get wide fluctuations in your blood sugar: Sugar isn't the only thing that will spike your blood sugar - refined carbohydrates, a fancy word to denote carbs that don't have much fiber, and starches break down very quickly to sugar in the body and can cause highs in your blood sugar. Now just like Newton's law of what comes up must go down, your body secretes insulin in response to all the sugar, leading to blood sugar lows. Avoid: candy, sweets, soda, juice, and sweetened breakfast cereals. Limit: White bread, bagels, pasta, white rice, and alcohol. When in doubt, look for foods that have at least 3 grams of fiber and that their grams of sugar are less than their grams of fiber plus grams of protein.
You're irritably moody - When your blood sugar falls, you might feel a "crash" - tired, irritable and shaky. The more carbs you eat, the more variations in your blood sugar and your mood. Do your family a favor and add some peanut butter or cheese to your carbs.
You're a sugar addict - Sugar, Salt, and Fat increase dopamine which excites the brain. Sugar is the biggest culprit of this. When you eat foods with sugar or refined carbs, your brain lights up and stays that way giving you constant food cravings. This is very similar to the excitement the brain receives from drugs and alcohol. The solution? Eat whole foods found in nature without excess amounts of sugar.
You're always hungry:
Did you know that you can actually become hungrier after you eat refined carbs? Your body's response to low blood sugar is hunger. So if you eat more carbs, chances are you will have a lot more fluctuations in your blood sugar and feel even hungrier after your blood sugar crashes in less than an hour. If you ignore the hunger and don't eat, your blood sugar remains low until your next meal. At this time, your body produces ghrelin, a hormone that increases appetite, leading you to overeat at your next meal.
You can't seem to lose weight despite restricting your calories - Every time you eat carbs, your body releases insulin. Insulin acts to store sugar as fat in your body's cells. Insulin also inhibits fat breakdown, making it harder to lose weight.
You gain weight at the sight of carbs - For the reasons mentioned above, if you eat too many carbs and are not restricting your calories, eating too many carbs can lead to weight gain.
You're sluggish and drained despite getting a good night's sleep - Consuming carbs, particularly refined carbs and starches, can provide a short-term rush of energy. But once your body releases insulin to help regulate your blood-sugar levels, the swift removal of those carbs (now turned into sugar) into your muscles, liver and other organs can leave you feeling lethargic and tired. The solution? Look for carbs high in fiber and/or pair your carbs with protein or other fiber-rich foods.
Your cholesterol is through the roof - Carb consumption from refined carbohydrates that are high in sugar and low in fiber, is associated with lower levels of HDL ("good" cholesterol) and higher levels of LDL ("bad" cholesterol) and triglycerides, which is associated with an increased risk for heart disease. Very high carbohydrate intakes of more than 60 percent of total calories -- along with excess sugar consumption -- are associated with an increase in triglycerides, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. A 2005 OmniHeart study by Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions compared three diets that emphasized either protein, unsaturated fat or carbohydrate and found that the protein and unsaturated fat diets were more effective in reducing the risk factors for heart disease than the high-carbohydrate diet.
A bit about choosing carbs: Not all carbs are bad, in fact, we need carbs for energy. But most of us don't need as many as we eat and we eat the type of carbs void of the "good stuff" that keeps our blood sugar, hunger, and mood in check. This "good stuff" is fiber, protein, and healthy fats.
When possible, substitute the refined carbs for healthier carbs. There are the obvious switches such as substituting white rice for brown rice and white bread for whole wheat bread. But you can also expand to include other high fiber grains such as quinoa, millet, and sorghum. This could be substituting spaghetti squash for spaghetti (42 vs 221 calories per cup), cauliflower mash for mashed potatoes (70 vs 120 calories per cup), kale chips for chips (50 vs 160 calories/cup), or collards/lettuce wrap for a tortillas (30 vs 300 calories per 2 wraps). The list is endless as pureed fruit makes (9 calories per 2 tbs) a good substitute for pancake syrup (104 calories/2 tbs) and brewed chai tea (0 calories) or turmeric golden milk (127 calories) makes a good substitute for an overly sweetened chai latte from Starbucks (240 calories). Also, be aware of your drinks! Sugar-sweetened beverages, not traditionally thought of as a carb, act like a refined carbohydrate in your body. Limit your consumption of soda, juice, flavored coffee drinks, and alcohol or substitute with fruit infused or sparkling water.
If unable to sub out the refined carbs, pair them with another food that is either high in protein or healthy fats, such as nuts, seeds, avocado, lean meat or dairy.
So how do we track that we are getting the right nutrient composition? My favorite app for doing this is MyFitnessPal, also Loseit! Is another great app.
30/30/40 Rule: 30% calories from protein, 30% calories from fat, 40% calories from carbs; easy to track using MyFitnessPal app or online tool!
Hint: Focus on eating protein at every meal and snack!
More -->Goals --> Calorie and Macronutrient Goals --> update percentages to 40% carbs, 30% protein, 30% fat
The Plate Method: Another way to look at the 30/30/40 rule
This week, try to make your proportions closer to the 30/30/40. Weight loss jump-start: try substituting your starch portion for starchy vegetables (i.e. sweet potato, squash, beets, carrots, turnips).
Some ideas for breakfasts: http://greatist.com/eat/healthy-breakfast-cup-recipes-to-fuel-your-mornings (except save the French toast one for a special treat)
Some lunch ideas: http://greatist.com/eat/paleo-lunch-recipes
Some Dinner Crockpot ideas: http://greatist.com/eat/paleo-crock-pot-recipes
1) Log your foods using MyFitnessPal, Loseit, or on paper (make sure you update your proportions to the 30/30/40 rule)
2) Try to eliminate the CRAP from your diet
3) Think about the SANE score when choosing your foods
Eating slower can help you enjoy your meals more while eating less--two things that are key for sucessful weight loss. But if you're used to scarfing down food at a breakneck pace, taking it slow can be tough.
Here are 7 great tips for eating slower and why they work: