Thursday, October 21, 2010

Food and Your Mood

I was talking recently to a friend who has three children. She was telling me about how she had terrible post-partum depression with each of her births. It got to be so bad that her obstetrician suggested that she go on an anti-depressant. Well, as a breast-feeding mommy, she was wary of medications and how they would affect her baby, so she did some research and she talked to some mommy friends and one friend suggested a book to her that changed everything.

Before I tell you the name of this book, let me ask - how many of you have experienced that midday slump? You know, the one around 2pm where you just want to fall asleep? How many of you have unexplained surges in your temper, when you know that you shouldn't be mad about something, but for some reason you just can't control the anger? What about self-esteem issues, anybody suffer from those? Do you think you are lazy? Are you exhausted, but don't know why? What about the blues, do any of you just get sad for seemingly no reason? Well, there IS a reason and it's on your plate! What we eat affects more than just our waistlines, ladies - it affects our moods as well! You don't have to feel this way. So many people come up to me and ask how I can be so positive all the time. I will tell you it's not that I just have a "sunny disposition"; it's in the way I choose to eat.

White flour, white rice, white pasta, white sugar...they need to be eliminated from your diet! The book I was talking about is called "Potatoes, Not Prozac" by Kathleen DesMaisons, PhD, in addictive nutrition. Now, I am not saying go run out and buy this book, or that it will change your life. I have not read it, I just heard about it from a friend whose life it did change. However, from what she was telling me, the premise of the book is about how what you put into your body affects your brain chemistry and your blood chemistry and can wreak havoc with your mood and your metabolism and cause you to crave even more of these unhealthy white foods. It becomes an endless cycle. You eat the white foods, you feel tired and depressed...so what do you do? You go to the fridge and you look for something to boost your energy and your mood. What is it that we crave when we are depressed? Ice cream? Cookies? Cake? Comfort foods! We get a quick burst of energy and feel better for a little while, maybe we even get something done, but then what? We CRASH! The big sugar let down! We are exhausted again, we are depressed again, maybe we are even beating ourselves up for eating what we ate. So what happens? We go to the fridge again! And what do we eat this time? Carrots? Celery? Some yummy berries? Nope! We go for the soda, the pretzels, the chips...the comfort foods again! Are you seeing a pattern here, ladies? White sugar, white flour, white, white, white! Get rid of it!

OK, now there are some of you who are saying "But Iva, I don't eat that stuff and I still feel moody, depressed or exhausted!" Well, then it's time to look further into your diet. If you have gotten rid of the overt sugar and white flour and such in your diet, it's time to look for the covert suckers! They hide from you in seemingly innocuous places. Ketchup - loaded with sugar; wheat breads - most on the market are made with wheat flour...that's white people! You have to look for "whole grain" if you want to get away from the white. The so-called power bars - they are filled with several types of sugar. You can be eating "healthy" and sabotaging yourself without even knowing it! These foods trigger cravings for more of the same unhealthy white foods and it becomes an endless cycle!
It does the same to our kids. We let them snack on this junk and then we wonder why they can't stop running around, hitting each other and swinging from the chandelier! Or we wonder why they need to sit around watching TV all day or playing their video games. It's hidden in the food we feed them. Do you want to be healthy? Do you want your kids to be healthy? Then your job is simple...get the white out! Now, nobody is saying it's going to be easy (simple, yes...easy, no)! Going back to my friend for a minute, she told me that the end result was that she was no longer depressed, that her weight came off and stabilized, that she was able to boost her energy and take care of her family and herself. BUT - it was hard work. There were withdrawal symptoms that sometimes were worse than what she was going through while she was eating badly. But she knew that the end result would be a happier, healthier mommy...and one that would understand how to feed her family to keep them healthy and energized. She was lucky enough to have a buddy to talk to and to cry to when she was feeling her worst. So nobody is telling you that turning Mrs. Hyde back into Dr. Jekyll is going to be easy. There are steps that you need to take to ensure that you can do this, but it all starts with taking a good look at what you put in your mouth! Now, any of you who are snacking right now...did you just put the cupcake down?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

When Trick or TREAT Becomes Trick or CHEAT

When trick or TREAT becomes trick or CHEAT
by Iva Young on 10/14/10

When does having a treat become cheating?

Does it have to do with what the food is?

The calorie count?

The amount of carbs?

The amount of sugar?

Does it have to do with your age?

Your health?

Your weight?

How about the frequency with which you "treat" yourself?

Or the amount of food you consider a treat?

Or is it all about perception? What one may perceive as a treat can be seen as a cheat by another. One candy bar, once a week can be a treat, when you are on your fifth candy bar of the day...definitely a cheat. A small bowl of ice cream for dessert at night...a treat; a whole carton of ice cream...a cheat! If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so is portion size! The amount of treat you allow yourself and the frequency with which you treat yourself can change your "treat" into a full blown "cheat". The key here is moderation. A little bit of something "naughty" every once in a while is a fine treat, but when you go overboard often, that's just flat out cheating on your health plan. If you feed yourself filling, healthy foods, then having a treat once in a while it is just that - a treat. If you eat empty calories and junk all the time, then you are just cheating yourself out of years of your life, as far as I am concerned.

So, how do we control this urge to CHEAT? One thought is to give yourself permission to cheat once a week. I have a friend who follows a healthy eating plan all week, but allows herself one cheat day to eat whatever it is she is craving. Now that is not to say she goes overboard and eats a whole cake! But she gives herself permission to have that piece of cake that she wants, not just a sliver, but a whole piece - once a week. She finds it is much easier to stay on her eating plan when she knows that in x amount of days; she can have what she is craving.

There is also the school of thought that there is no such thing as "cheating". If you view your way of eating as a healthy lifestyle, and not as a diet, then there is no "cheating". The "cheating" part only matters if you don't go right back to eating healthy. If it kicks you off track and you don't resume your healthy way of eating then you are cheating yourself out of good health. In this case then, I don't think I would call it cheating so much as "falling off the wagon". In this scenario, if you have something you are "not supposed to" then it is just a case of moderation. A little bit of everything, once in a while. A good example of this would be that once a year state fair, you know the one...the one with the deep fried Twinkies. If you indulge in something that is not "of the best nutritional value" at the fair once a year, would you call that a treat or a cheat? Here we go back to the concept of perception. If you are living a healthy lifestyle and you allow yourself a little something yummy once in a while, regardless of its nutrient value, then I would say that you are treating yourself. However, if you are on a "diet" (which is an event, by the way, not a lifetime commitment to health) and you let yourself have that yummy treat at the fair, then you might perceive that as a cheat.

Maybe it's not a matter of perception after all, but a matter of commitment to your health...think about it!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

What A Rush!

Runner's high, chocolate coma, afterglow...it's called so many different things. But what is it? What causes that delicious sensation after sex or eating chocolate? What makes you run that extra mile just when you thought you couldn't take another step? Is it something that comes from deep, down inside you? In a way, yes!

What it is is an endorphin rush and there is a physiological cause for it. Endorphins are small chains of amino acids that are produced in the pituitary gland and hypothalamus. They resemble opiates when they attach to the sedative receptors in our brains. Endorphins can do many things. They can help block out severe pain when there is too much stressing the system, they can help control cravings for addictive substances, and they can help control stress and frustration. Endorphins are the "rush" you feel when you skydive or race cars, they are with you on every roller coaster ride and in that scary movie that you love so much. They are the driving force behind bungee jumping.

So why am I telling you this? Because...certain foods can induce endorphins! So can exercise! See where I am going with this?? Being healthy isn't just good for you, it can be a RUSH! Do you know of someone who just can't go a day without running or going to the gym? How about a friend who is "addicted" to chocolate or spicy foods? There is a good reason behind this. You guessed it! Endorphins! There are at least 20 different endorphins made in the human body. The one that seems to be brought on by exercise is called Beta-Endorphin; that's the one we're going for here!

So, how do you get your body to increase the production of this wonderful polypeptide? Endorphins can be produced by:

*Meditation

*Sex

*Deep breathing

*Spicy food (hot peppers - the hotter they are, the more endorphins are produced)

*Acupuncture

*Chiropractic adjustment

*Chocolate (Dark chocolate...one of the many wonderful health benefits!)

*Laughter

*Massage

I could go on, but I think I would rather go for a run and then get some spicy food and dark chocolate!

Seriously, though...this is why when we are down in the dumps we tend to look for something chocolate, ladies! And yes, I have an ulterior motive here, too. If we want chocolate because of the endorphin rush...what else can we do to get that rush without going and eating a pound of chocolate? C'mon now, you know this...look at the list! We can meditate...we can laugh...we can get a massage...we can have sex! (yes, I left that one for last for the effect) So, when you are in need of an endorphin rush, you can exercise those blues away. You may not feel like doing it when you start out, but when you are done...what a RUSH! You will feel so much better about yourself than you will if you eat a whole chocolate bunny. Seriously...how many of us binge then beat ourselves up for it? There is a reason you are binging...it's a need for endorphins. The cure for that is to find those peppy polypeptides somewhere else. Now, I'm not saying you need to go out and bungee jump, but try taking a walk, going for a run, joining a yoga class...and if you still find after that that you need a little more of that euphoric feeling --THEN go have that piece of dark chocolate you wanted. All you will need by then is ONE!
 

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