Monday, December 28, 2015

Resolutions Are Not Results

It's that time of year once again for "the New Years resolution". Have you come up with one? Are you mulling it over? Do you even remember last years resolution at all? Perhaps you are only reminded by the monthly gym membership that you are still paying? Do you remember what the gym looked like 9 months ago?
If you have a resolution do you have a plan? Remember that a resolution does not equal success or results. A resolution is a decision based on determination. If you lack determination then you will not be able to follow through with your New Year's resolution. You are just going through the motions.

To make a true change you have to recognize that you have to change a habit or habits. In something like quitting smoking most past smokers will tell you that the hardest part of quitting smoking was not the withdrawal. Yes that is definitely very difficult. Most who successfully have quit will remember that it was the habits that went along with the cigarette that was the hardest to overcome. The first cigarette in the bathroom after the alarm goes off, the one in the car on the way to work, the one on your 10 minute break, the after dinner cigarette. What do you do now on that 10 minute break?   How do you change your habits during these times so you don't break down and ask a co-worker for a cigarette which is the beginning of the failure once again?

Habits are so hard to change! That is why it seems to be harder to change something in your life that consists of multiple habits. Changing one small habit is fairly easy. An example of this might be a resolution to go to bed 45 minutes earlier each night or wake up 45 minutes earlier.  This is one habit that done over about a full week will most likely be very successful. Also, deciding to walk one extra mile when you already walk four miles will be easily achieved.

So, lets take this idea and apply it to a difficult resolution that involves a lot of habits. Apply it to a resolution to change to a LCHF Ketogenic diet. This year you resolve that you want to be really committed and make it your lifestyle and you are going to stop eating the wrong snacks. What habits will need to be changed? Each eating habit you have can be a stumbling block so they each need to be addressed seriously and separately. Here are some examples you may want to consider:

Eating on the run or in the car
Eating too late because you have to get the kids ready first
Munching on the kids or spouses foods while you prepare their meals
Taking bars or shakes to work for breaks
Eating fast food lunches
Eating while watching TV
Eating based on your emotions
Keeping high carb foods in the house for the family that you seem unable to avoid yourself.

There are many more food "habits" that could be listed but you get the idea. Do you see from this list why changing eating habits may be just as difficult as quitting smoking?

Once you identify your habits you have to find a solution. Will you be successful if all of these habits are changed at once? That certainly looks like a fail when you look at the entire list! You have to create a solution for each one of these habits. The first two on the above list may be solved first by changing a small habit first; that habit would be to change the time that you wake up. Change that habit and perhaps you can find time to prepare a healthy food rather than grab an unhealthy food. Let's face it, you are not eating scrambled eggs in the car.

Another habit that can be changed that is a more simple habit would be to set aside a day and a time once or twice a week to prepare take along foods for breaks and lunches. Changing this habit helps to solve the problem of eating at fast food joints and instead of shakes or protein bars you will enjoy turkey cheese roll-ups, hard boiled or deviled eggs, chicken or tuna salads and the like. Resolve that Sunday afternoon for one hour is going to be a food prep time and make that a habit.

Emotional eating or eating while watching TV are difficult habits to break. Recognizing it is a key to working on the reasons. In the mean time make sure that you make a habit to make better snack choices while at the grocery store and use some of your prep time to give yourself these extra snacks for these emotional eating times.

 Instead of grabbing your kids bag of chips, have some turkey and cream cheese roll-ups waiting in the refrigerator or have some of your home made "cheese nachos" and sour cream ready to munch on. Have some "salami jalapeno roll-ups" during your usual TV watching snack time. All of these things can be made and placed into containers or zip lock bags.

So, here are two basic changes that can potentually solve the 8 eating habit issues that are going to be quite hard to change all at once. It is much easier to make the two new habits work than to try to change the others.

Don't make the mistake of making a resolution that creates even more chaos in your habit filled life! If you resolve to both diet and exercise to change your couch potato lifestyle you have doubled the number of habits that will need to be addressed! Think about that! Is it any wonder that the gym membership card has been gathering dust on your dresser?

Again, we want results not just resolutions. Of course make your resolution but also resolve to get results; not in the way you tried to get results in the past but by trying a new way! Think it through. What can you do to create NEW habits that will bring the results you want to achieve?

Monday, December 7, 2015

The Failed Food Policy Experiment

When I was a kid growing up in the 1950's-1970's I remember being told not to eat snacks because it would "spoil" my next meal. This was a pretty universal thought from what I remember.
In the late 70's and early 80's this all changed right along side the newly released dietary guidelines that had not existed before that era.

Now anybody here who grew up in the 80's or later "knows" that we are supposed to eat three meals and 2-3 snacks a day to keep our blood sugar "stable" and keep our brain and body from experiencing low energy. That is what just about every dietitian, physician or dietary aide will tell you. They will also tell you that skipping a meal or not eating breakfast will "slow your metabolism and make you gain more weight". Well how has this all worked out for the last 35 years? It seems that is has worked out poorly indeed!  Because these guidelines to eat all the time came along at about the same time as the published dietary guidelines and the war on saturated fat it is difficult to know which dietary change is the worst culprit here. I'm going to focus here on the 5 meals a day idea only at this time.

Why would eating five or six "small" meals a day be a problem? The first thing seems obvious and that is that most people aren't following the "small" meal part of the advice. That in itself is a fail!

Next, Let’s look at the process of what happens when you eat a meal. I'm not going to go into great detail as I am not a biochemist. At the start of the meal, in the mouth, digestion begins.  Enzymes are release to begin the breakdown of starches and sugars.  At the same time a signal is sent to the brain. The brain signals that you are eating and the hormones and enzymes are released to process the meal.

Let’s just focus here on insulin and let’s assume that the person eating is not a diabetic.  Insulin levels rise and fall in with food consumption.  In the standard diet the meal is normally a high carb meal.   The hormone insulin is known as the energy storing hormone.   This means that the meal causes your body to release insulin.   If it is a really high carb meal and blood sugar is still rising after a half hour or so, a second round of insulin is needed and your body will continue to release insulin until the blood sugar is back to normal levels.  

In a non-diabetic person this should happen in less than an 1 1/2 hours or so.   Insulin then comes back down to baseline and some new insulin is stored for the next meal.   In two hours you are now eating again at your morning coffee break.  This process begins again.  So this is normal right?  Why is this a problem and why does it contribute to obesity?

Insulin has several jobs.  Number one is to store excess carbs and sugar as fat and secondly to tell the cells not to release any fat.  Blood sugar management is not it's primary job.   Insulin has several jobs.  Number one is to store excess carbs and sugar as fat and secondly to tell the cells not to release any fat.  Blood sugar management is not it's primary job.  Your body will NOT release fatty acids from your fat cells, and will instead encourage your body to store fat.

This will happen at each meal and snack you eat.  It means that you are storing fat all day long. Even eating a low calorie, low fat diet isn't going to do much good for weight loss as long as meals are going to be eaten every few hours. The only time insulin is going to stabilize is when you are sleeping.   Most people have noticed that dieting this way just doesn't seem to work out very well.

Now if we go back to the old idea that snacking between meals is not a good idea we should be better off as far as insulin goes.  We may have some fat loss between meals once insulin levels are low.   This works even better if we eat a low carb diet because insulin levels come down even faster and we don't need as much to deal with the meal.

What if we go to eating only twice a day with 6-7 hours between eating low carb meals; something no mainstream dietician is ever going to recommend?   Would this be a fat burning scenario?   It should be!   It may not be the same once a person has metabolic syndrome or insulin resistance. Things get more complicated and weight loss may still be difficult for a person in this situation.

Here is the problem we face with the dietary guidelines that we have learned to follow.  Most adults do become insulin resistant because of the standard American diet and the pounds begin to add up.   This is even more reason to leave longer periods between meals.   Insulin will have to stay high longer to deal with the insulin resistance and blood sugar problem.  It will take much longer to go back to base line.  All of this time you are storing fat and not losing it.

So the next time that your dietician, diabetes educator, or doctor tells you to eat several high carb meals throughout the day to keep your blood sugar stable remember that you don't have to be part of the failed 35 year dietary experiment any longer!