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26 Jul
2012
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Snacks, Weight Loss, and Catching Dinner.

The trouble with good-looking food is that it just wants to be eaten, and it’s such a shame to disappoint it. And why shouldn’t you eat it? I mean if you are fit, healthy, getting plenty of exercise and your BMI is in the healthy range there is absolutely no reason you shouldn’t eat anything you fancy.

There is only a problem when you want to eat it; you are overweight; exercise is picking up the tv remote; and you really want to be slim, but not until right after you’ve eaten that luscious big heap of gooey, sweet cream cake, and washed it down with several pints of sugar-filled soda.

This is a serious problem. How to continue to consume without any of the negative side-effects – like fat?

I’ve not found a way to do it, but I have found ways to cut down on the consumption without suffering and without feeling hungry.

The problem is not the food, it’s our bodies. Our bodies evolved to eat a large variety of food, but they evolved without supermarkets. Food had to be picked, dug, or chased and caught. Sometimes there wasn’t too much of it around, so we evolved a way to keep us alive when it was in short supply. We evolved the conversion of fats and sugars into body fat that would be stored in case of shortage. But because body-fat is the last resort in the survival game it’s also the last energy source to be consumed. Muscle goes first when we experience famine.

This is how we developed a taste for sweet and fat, and why our regulation mechanisms come a bit unstuck when we eat sugars and fats. Our bodies don’t know about supermarkets and the fact that we don’t really have a food supply problem any more. It’s not the whole story by any means, but it’s certainly a significant part of it. Mind you when food was in short supply, exercise would be increased in the search for it. So a balance was struck. Plenty was never so plentiful that there was a problem. Food was never within easy arms reach and so always required energy expenditure in the search for it.

So, unless you want to go back to flint tools and running down the road after some meat, we have to find another solution. We can’t really change the way our body works – but we can start to treat it with the respect it deserves, and we can also use our intelligence to make losing weight just that little bit easier.

Snacks are one of the biggest sources of excess calories in the diet. When we open the packet we tend to eat all of it no matter how much it contains, or how much we want. The quantity of food supplied in snack packs and snack bars is designed with only one purpose in mind. That purpose is to sell you more. Profit is the only thing that motivates the food industry. You can be their pawn, or choose to make your own choices.

Buy food and dispense into your own bags to take to work, so you take just what you want with you. This way you’ll save money. Stop seeing the packet it comes in as the portion size. It isn’t. What satisfies you is the portion size.

Tell yourself that you’ll have some later. Research has proven that this technique is brilliant and removes craving.

Intend to eat only at meal times, but don’t beat yourself up on the odd occasion when you give in to the urge.

Rather than buying ready packaged snacks, make your own. An apple will last all day in your bag and if you end up not eating it, it isn’t wasted. Mix up some dried fruit and nuts and take that with you. This is a good energy boost, but the sugars are not instantly available so they will satisfy you for much longer than a chocolate bar or biscuit. Because you only need to eat a handful, you’ll find that your calorie intake will drop because while they leave you feeling satisfied there is none of the desire to continue grazing that you get with high fat and sugary snacks and beverages.

Look around for other enjoyable, but healthy, alternatives. Foods that don’t give up their energy instantly are what you want. It’s that instant blood sugar high from things like sweet beverages and chocolate that causes the craving. When you keep your blood sugar levels stable you don’t get the cravings, so you don’t eat as much. That way you lose weight without really trying.

Always monitor your internal sensations and stop eating either the minute you feel full, or when the pleasure is gone i.e. taste buds are saturated. If you are eating for enjoyment and pleasure rather than for nourishment and fuel then it makes sense to monitor your enjoyment levels. You will probably find that the pleasure disappears after a mouthful or two. Focus totally on the taste sensations with no distractions next time you eat some chocolate and you will see what I mean.

If you want to be slimmer then you need to eat a little less and exercise a little more. Small changes are easy and sustainable. Diets don’t work. Make weight loss easy by taking it easy.

Michael

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