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Sunday, November 4, 2012

WHY EATING HEALTHY IS NOT A MATTER OF WILLPOWER


Written by Peter Wright, NTP

If eating healthy requires an act of willpower for you, your body is out of balance and you’re fighting a losing battle.  When functioning properly your body always seeks to maintain homeostasis, a state of equilibrium.  Food cravings are a clear sign of imbalance.  Let’s look at how we create these imbalances and how we can effectively deal with them.




Dieting = Imbalance

As caloric intake decreases the body slows the metabolism so it will burn calories at a slower rate and conserve energy reserves (fat).  The thyroid gland, by altering the hormones it releases, can reduce the metabolic rate by as much as 40% in times of calorie restriction.  Calorie restriction is often accompanied by insufficient intake of nutrients causing reduction in metabolism and hunger. 

Calorie restriction is most often associated with the desire to lose weight quickly.  The truth is, the faster the weight comes off the more likely it will come back on.  Permanent weight loss occurs slowly and naturally when we provide our bodies with the nutrients it needs for optimum health.

Avoid this imbalance by not dieting.  Instead balance your daily intake of calories; 40% from complex carbs, 30% from protein, and 30% from fat.  Get your calories from whole foods, rich in vitamins and minerals.



Low Fat = Imbalance

There are a couple problems with low fat.  One is your body needs fat and the other is the fat calories are usually replaced with processed carbs.   When you don’t consume enough good quality fat your body will crave it.  Unfortunately the craving is often satisfied with potato chips, French fries, and deep fried foods. 

Give your body the good quality fats it must have and watch your cravings for fried foods disappear.  Go back to eating real butter, whole milk and dairy, and start cooking with lard and coconut oil the way your great-grandmother did. 

I know this is a hard change to make when you’re constantly being told to eat low fat to avoid obesity and heart disease.  Fat consumption in the American diet continues to decline while obesity and the incidence of heart disease continue to rise.  Fat is NOT the problem, that is unless you’re not eating enough good quality fat.



High Carb = Imbalance

Eating low fat usually translates to eating high carb.  Carbohydrates are sugar.  Your body can use this sugar for energy but it must carefully maintain the level of sugar in your bloodstream within a narrow range.  If it gets too high the warning sirens go off and the sugar is packed into your muscles and liver until they can’t hold any more, and then all the excess gets converted to fat and is usually stored where you least want it.  On the other hand, if the level falls too low, too quickly, the hunger sirens go off. 

The problem with the typical American diet is we’re eating too much sugar and refined carbohydrates causing blood sugar spikes (exceeding the body’s tolerable limits), followed by blood sugar lows (over-response to the excess), and followed by low blood sugar induced hunger.  It’s a vicious cycle. 

If your typical day looks like this; breakfast of orange juice (sugar), toast (highly refined flour is just like sugar), and cereal (highly refined flour is just like sugar), followed by lunch of soda (sugar) and a sandwich (highly refined flour is just like sugar), followed by dinner of spaghetti (highly refined flour is just like sugar), then you’re riding the roller coaster and you’re going to be hungry all the time.

Get off the roller coaster by balancing your carbs, fats, and proteins at every meal and at every snack.



Nutrient Deficiency = Imbalance

Your body must have a continuous supply of nutrients to perform the thousands of metabolic functions.  This requires a wide array of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients in fairly intricate ratios.  Highly processed foods grown with synthetic fertilizers and combined with chemical additives do not provide the body with the raw materials it needs.  The body responds with hunger and cravings for certain foods.

Eating a properly prepared, nutrient dense, whole foods diet is the way to correct this imbalance.  Choose organic fruits and vegetables, pastured beef and pork, free-range chickens and eggs, and wild-caught fish.  These whole foods are richest in the nutrients your body needs and nature has taken care of the intricate balance between the vitamins and minerals contained in them.



When you put your body into balance you can erase the need for willpower when it comes to eating healthy!  A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.  Make one small change and stick with it until it becomes a habit.  Then make another.  Before you know it, you’ll have a whole new eating lifestyle, one that isn't dependent on willpower!

Photo 1            Darby Aldaco photos, Sep 19, 2007,Picassa Web Album,



The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely our own and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Always consult your doctor before making any dietary or exercise changes. We are not medical professionals.


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