My love affair with peanut butter

I have a problem. I LOVE peanut butter.

The fact is, I am a recovering peanut butter addict.

Many fitness experts promote peanut butter. You can buy shirts that say, “will run for peanut butter.” And while peanut butter is good for you, there is the chance of having too much of a good thing! I often play this game with individuals when I ask “if you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, and you didn’t need to worry about it having a negative impact on your weight or health, what would it be?” My answer is peanut butter. Hands down. Without hesitation.

Too much of a good thing?
It started with snacks – mostly an apple and peanut butter. Then celery with peanut butter. And carrots with peanut butter. The occasional ice cream with peanut butter. Or brownies with peanut butter. A pear and peanut butter. Sugar snap peas and peanut butter.

Then meals. A sandwich followed by carrots with peanut butter. An urgent breakfast – a banana with peanut butter. Chocolate peanut butter protein shakes. Chocolate peanut butter cottage cheese. Peanut butter on waffles and pancakes. Peanut butter on a turkey sandwich.

I am pretty sure peanut butter can be paired with anything.

As of a few weeks ago, I was eating peanut butter 2-3 times a day!!! Too much of a good thing.

My body said whoa
My body and digestive tract had been hollering at me for a while – I will spare you the details. I ignored them. I loved peanut butter. All forms – fake and natural, those with sugar, those with eggs, and those with nothing but peanuts. It tastes good! It satiates me and fills me up! And it is good for you!!

Win-win-win.

Elimination diet
In the nutrition world they refer to my recent change as an elimination diet: I gave up peanut butter as of August 12. And my body is thanking me. I did accidentally eat peanut butter while on a recent vacation to Chicago – it didn’t occur to me until I was half way through my sandwich.

I had a strong suspicion that peanut butter was the culprit to my discomfort. And it seems I was right. By eliminating it, I have been feeling 10x better

The bottomline
Regardless of what the food item is, it is not healthy to eat it all the time. This can lead to intolerances and sensitivities. (I seem to be prone to this as I had this occur with shrimp a few years back).

Is there anything that you eat too much of? Be mindful of what your body may be telling you about it!

Breakfast – MY favorite meal of the day

You need to start your day right by boosting your metabolism with a solid breakfast. Typical breakfasts are carb-laden and protein deficient. I am guilty of this, as I LOVE pancakes! To help you out with that I’ve got a gift for you from me and my buddies over at Prograde Nutrition. It’s a delicious Protein Pancakes recipe. 

Thanks to the protein in the recipe your blood sugar won’t go crazy like it can just by eating a huge stack of pancakes with sugary syrup. Nope, this recipe will fill you up, nourish your body, and give your metabolism just the boost it needs.

Go get the Protein Pancakes recipe!

Be sure to let me know how you like it.

PS – Seriously, have a nutritious breakfast and your body will thank you for it ALL DAY!

http://betterbybecca.getprograde.com/prograde-pancake-recipe.html

What supplements do you use?

I have been thinking more about supplements. I get asked ALL the time – “What supplements do you use?”

The bare minimum. I carry more muscle than your average woman, as a result I suspect individuals assume I take something – whether it be natural or synthetic. I do not use creatine. I rarely use protein powder. I do not use energy boosters, pre-workouts, nor post-workouts. My first and foremost source is FOOD!

However, I do use FOUR supplements on a consistent basis:

  1. Multi-Vitamin
  2. Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs)
  3. Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)
  4. Iron

Multi-Vitamin

The Western diet does not provide all the vitamins and minerals that the body requires to be fully functioning. I personally use Prograde Women’s VGF 25+ Multi-Vitamin. You can try the Men’s or Women’s VGF FreeIf you are not currently taking a multi-vitamin, I strongly encourage you to do so. Unfortunately, regardless of how healthy you eat, it is nearly impossible to get enough of everything your body needs for optimal functioning!

Essential Fatty Acids

The most common example of an EFA supplement is Fish Oil. The benefits of EFAs are abundant. Taking an EFA supplement can reduce your risk for heart disease, reduce inflammation, improve brain functioning, and more. I use Prograde EFA – I have tried all the products under the sun and I continually return to Prograde.

Branched Chain Amino Acids

BCAAs are designed to help you maintain the muscle you work hard to build. Naturally occurring in pork, fish, some dairy, etc., it is difficult to consume amounts adequate for our bodily and mental needs.

Iron

I take an additional iron supplement under the advisement of my physician. I have a tendency to be iron deficient and borderline anemic. It is not abnormal for a female to require an iron supplement, particularly during menstruation when iron is lost.

I am not a sales representative

I have been getting so many questions – Herbalife, Body by Vi, Advocare. Save your money! A good multi-vitamin and a fatty acid are all the average person needs. I have been approached by numerous individuals regarding Advocare – about both using the products and selling them. While I know many who use them, that is not my idea of a healthy lifestyle. I will summarize my reasons.

First, a product sold in a pyramid scheme screams red flag. If everyone in that pyramid is making a profit, then the quality of the product must be poor.

Second, I know many individuals who have replaced coffee with Spark. While I applaud them, I prefer to remain with my all natural sources for energy – coffee, fruits, vegetables, and FOOD. Plus, the ‘sugar-free’ Sparks contain a minimum of 2 sugar ingredients — something to think about.

The bottomline

Yes, you can order your Prograde products through me. And I live by the products – give them a shot and you will know why. But I will not give you this big long explanation of what they will do for you – because NOTHING can replace REAL FOOD and REAL WORK.

A supplement is just that – a supplement. A supplement to healthy lifestyle. If a product claims to allow you to continue to eat junk (ah-hem, Sensa?) – it is a gimmick. It will not work. Further, your body often does not know what to do with the chemicals and synthetics in many supplements – so it removes it through waste.

STOP rewarding yourself with food!

Rewarding oneself with food leads to an undesirable attitude towards self-treating. The extrinsic reward of food should be replaced with the intrinsic reward of treating yourself well (Lovell, 1994).

I had another conversation with a woman who views ‘treat’ foods as a reward for working out. “I workout so that I can eat that stuff,” she said. I do not know her well, but I know bodies and it is clear that she has never struggled with weight. The problem with this mentality is that the body doesn’t physiologically work that way. If your “reward” is a high fat food, your body does not turn around and use that as fuel for your workout. Further, after the workout, few “treat” foods provide the replenishing macronutrients we need for recovery. You cannot earn your calories.

And unfortunately, a calorie is not just a calorie.

Your relationship with food

Your relationship with food is cultivated from childhood. Unfortunately, parenting strategies that use candy or junk foods as rewards can teach someone at a young age that we can use these foods as rewards. For example, a parent might say, “If you are well behaved in the store, I will buy you a candy bar at the checkout.” (I guess my mom was smarter than I knew because we received Topps baseball cards.)

This has two negative implications: one, it instills a habit of rewarding with food and two, it sets a foundation to desensitization in the brain’s reward pathways (Amen, 2008; Amen, 2010).

Using food to reward exercise

Many of the benefits of exercise go unrecognized, because we too frequently consume food products that overstimulate the reward pathways of our photo (39)brain. By using a food pleasure, we are not allowing our bodies to recognize and experience the natural pleasures associated with exercise – for example, boosted dopamine and serotonin. This is particularly harmful if you reward yourself with rich foods immediately following exercise. Not only do you eliminate the opportunity to experience the immediate benefits of exercise; but also, your mind begins to build an association between exercise and food.

Your brain is powerful, and once that association is made, your physical body will come to expect the reward (in this case rewarding food) following exercise.

Further, we humans are creatures of habit. If you habitually reward yourself with food, your mind, body, and soul will come to expect this consequence. You ask, what is wrong with that? Foods can be addicting – therefore not only are you then going to need to break a habit but you will then need to break an addiction.

NOTE: It is critical to eat as immediately following exercise as possible. But there is a difference between feeding your body’s physiological needs with a post-workout snack or meal and psychologically rewarding yourself with pizza or ice cream. As I said, the brain is powerful.

The bottomline

I could delve into the neurological reasons for not rewarding yourself with food, but those complexities overwhelm the mind. If you want to understand more about the neurological and reward pathways, read Dr. Amen’s books cited below (he does a great job of speaking in layman’s terms).

Similar to training for life with your workouts and physical activities, it is important to eat for life. And there is much truth to the saying – you are what you eat.

Ask yourself – what do you want to be? 

Certainly NOT cheap and fast!

References

Amen, D. G. (2008). Change your Brain, Change Your Life. Three Rivers Press: New York.

Amen, D. G. (2010). Change your Brain, Change Your Body. Three Rivers Press: New York.

Lovell, D. B. (1994). Treatment or Punishment?. European Eating Disorders Review2(4), 192-210.

Wilson, C. (2010). Eating, eating is always there: food, consumerism and cardiovascular disease. Some evidence from Kerala, south India. Anthropology & Medicine17(3), 261-275.

Like what you read? Please comment and share below.

Why eating everything in moderation does not work

The popular notion – eat everything in moderation – does not work. It is not effective. It is not helpful. And in some cases, it might even be detrimental.

While I currently practice a form of eating “everything” in moderation, this advice lacks specificity and consideration for an individual’s true needs. Having altered my eating behaviors in 2009, I spent the first 2 years mindfully monitoring everything I ate, avoiding social and food triggers, and planning my snacks and meals. I ate following my template – religiously. Prone to nighttime eating, if I became ‘hungry’ at  night after all my meals and snack were consumed, I went to sleep.

Used to eating anything you want

If you are used to eating whatever you want, the advice of eating everything in moderation can offer you a justification to continue doing so. “But, I am just eating everything in moderation.” And your results will reflect the inadequacy of this advice.

Many individuals cannot stop at a little of something when it comes to food. If this is you, you ARE NOT alone. We have trigger foods. There are physiological and psychological explanations for these food addictions. These are associated with binge eating disorder, as well as common to many – disordered eating behaviors.

A real-life example

I immediately think about a former client who ate 6+ full-size Hershey’s bars each day, sometimes a full pizza for breakfast, and 2 Whoppers for lunch. He wanted to listen to the advice – everything in moderation – and reduced his Hershey’s bar intake to 2 bars each day, half a pizza for breakfast, and 1 Whopper for lunch. Do you think he saw results? (He did not – despite intense workouts 3 times a week.)

He followed the advice – everything in moderation

Comparatively speaking, he was eating in moderation! Is it effective for weight loss? The answer, more often than not – NO!

Abstinence

Recovery from food addiction requires abstinence. You need to eliminate trigger foods completely. For how long? At least 28 days, but the length of abstinence required depends on various individual factors – other psychological factors, length of addiction, strength of motivation to overcome, and more. NOTE: For those who may be addicted to food in general, more aggressive strategies are needed and professional advice should be sought.

I have talked about trigger foods. One of my trigger foods is Starburst Jelly Beans – one leads to the full bag. To be successful in weight loss and health – you must identify and abstain from your trigger foods.

Assessing the advice

If you are on your weight loss journey, ask yourself – how many people have offered this advice to eat everything in moderation. Now tell me – how has this worked for you? 

Have you lost weight, only to put it back on?

Have you not lost at all?

Or, has it worked?

The bottomline

Eating everything in moderation sounds glorious. It will work for a select few. If it has not and does not work for you – please know that you are not alone. If only it was so easy!

Better, is to have more specific advice to meal and snack creation. Please click the link for more specific and helpful guidance. The best plan is to invest in a personalized, customized plan. Each of us has a different experience with foods – past and present. Each of us has different dietary needs, wants, and restrictions. Not sure where to start?

I can help and point you in the right direction.

Like what you read? Please comment and share below!

Myth: Move more, eat less for weight loss

I have been studying for an advanced health and fitness certification. This requires me to review fitness, fitness nutrition, and anatomy – I am sure to be over-prepared for the exam. I am immersed in the text. I am thinking.

There is nothing new in weight loss.

There will never be anything new in weight loss.

Every year, millions of individuals fail at weight loss. MILLIONS. Of those who successfully lose weight, only 2-4% will keep that weight off for a year – even fewer keep it off for more than a year. Every year, more individuals purchase gym memberships, infomercial products, supplements, and more – and still fail at weight loss. Individuals invest a great deal of money, time, energy, and heart. What is everyone missing?

Unfortunately, we are often misled. The gimmicks lie – using key words to trigger emotions. The claims of quick fixes are alluring, but unnatural and unsustainable. Weight loss is not as simple as calories in < calories out. More often than not, the most significant changes need to be made to meal plans and diets.

Eat less, move more?

We have all heard this.

A, if only it were so simple.
B, most individuals need to eat more (but perhaps fewer calories).

I request that all my clients maintain a food log – whether with an app such as myfitnesspal or handwritten. More often than not, after reviewing the details of his/her log, I am recommending that the client eat MORE. More fruits and vegetables. More protein.

Who wants to eat less?

We live in a culture where we love to eat. We enjoy eating – some enjoy it more than others. I discuss weight loss with individuals daily. Many express the frustration of, “but I eat so little.” Sometimes this is an accurate statement and the individual has been eating too few calories (usually the result of ineffective and misinformed dieting). Other times, the individual is lying to herself. And in some situations, she is eating a high number of calories in a small portion of food.

I seldom flat out tell individuals to eat less. Who wants to eat less? One reason I avoid this advice is that it has a negative connotation – goals and objectives and the steps required to obtain them require a positive mindset. Instead, what can you add, improve, or experience?

For example, the goal “I will not eat candy bars.” Great, this may stop you from eating candy bars – but it may also make you think more about candy bars. The focus is on the candy bars. An alternative goal, “I will eat a fruit or vegetable with every meal.” The focus is on adding a healthful behavior – the focus is on eating fruits and vegetables. Your increased satiety will, more often than not, reduce your desire for candy bars. Further, you are focused on actively doing something good for yourself.

Further, you have not established a restriction (often negatively perceived).

If I workout, I can eat more

False. Does a professional athlete or physical laborer who is active 4-12 hours a day require more food on most days? Yes. They are expending 4500-7000 calories during practice, training, and work (McArdle, Katch, & Katch, 2005; McArdle, Katch, & Katch, 2010). Does your 200-600 calorie workout require that you eat more food? No. And certainly not if you are aspiring to lose weight. (NOTE: I will not address the specifics of the science, but will gladly provide it for anyone who requests it.)

Some may argue that I eat more than the average individual. Yes I do. I first give considerable thanks to my genetics. Second, I am far more active than most. Third, I eat more fruits, vegetables, and other foods that are low in calories but carry a high nutrient density. So I may eat more – but I do not eat more pizza, cheeseburgers, candy, chips, etc.

Do we need to move more?

There is a misconception that all overweight/obese individuals are physically lazy. Is this true? I see moms and dads hustling after children. I see overweight men in softball leagues. I see all shapes and sizes of individuals at the gym – most all of them going hard. NOT all overweight/obese individuals are lazy. In fact, many are the opposite of lazy.

The most frequent feedback I hear from prospective clients – I workout and I eat well and no matter what I do, I do not get results so I give up.

Have you been there?

Are you there now?

The bottomline

Move more, eat less is less than helpful advice. Many individuals are moving – inefficiently and ineffectively – and eating less – too much less.

My advice? I provide it through my posts. Review how many calories you should eat, meal and snack creation maade easy, and how many days a week you should workout, and anything else that catches your attention along the way. And everyone has individuals needs – what works for your girlfriends and neighbors may not work for you. What worked for you 20 years ago may not work for you now. The human body is an amazingly complex system – but treat it well and you will be on your way to the results you desire.

and

Think Positively. Eat Mindfully. Move Intentionally.

References

Cooper, K. H. (1982). The Aerobics Program for Total Well-Being. New York: Bantam Books.

Loucks, A. B. (2004). Energy balance and body composition in sports and exercise. Journal of Sports Sciences, 22(1), 1-14.

McArdle, W. D., Katch, F. I., & Katch, V. L. (2005). Sports & Exercise Nutrition (2nd Ed.). Lippencott Williams & Wilkins: Philadelphia.

McArdle, W. D., Katch, F. I., & Katch, V. L. (2010). Exercise Physiology: Nutrition, Energy, and Human Performance (7th Ed.). Lippencott Williams & Wilkins: Philadelphia.

When foods are triggers

I believe we all have them – we just may not be aware of them: Trigger foods. These are foods that lead us to eat mindlessly, to binge or simply overeat, to eat without ever feeling satiated (or satisfied), or to restrict eating. I became aware of a trigger food for myself last week: Starburst Jelly Beans.

Danger!

I have known that I LOVE Starburst Jelly Beans. They are the only jelly beans I like and they have become my favorite springtime treat. When I saw the Fave Reds in the store – I just had to pick some up. The problem? I am not able to eat them in moderation. The jelly beans – I know now – are a trigger food for me. (I should know that red means danger!)

Emotional eating triggers

Not the topic of this post but worth mentioning are situational triggers. These are the triggers we are most familiar with and most often encouraged to identify. Examples of these triggers include:

  1. A bad day at the office or at home
  2. An argument with a loved one or friend
  3. Tiredness/exhaustion
  4. Not feeling physically well

Identifying trigger foods

It is not always as easy as it may seem to identify trigger foods. Sure, some of us know it is chocolate, or chips. But what about dairy? Or how about coffee – do you always need something sweet in addition to your hot coffee? This might be a trigger.

In order to manage your triggers (food or situational), you first have to know what type of eater you have become. There are several types of eaters: Mindful eaters, mindless dieters, mindless over-eaters, mindless under-eaters, and chaotic eaters. This is a commonly used checklist to help you identify what type of eater you are.

Check all that apply:

Mindful Eater
All foods in some moderation. Flexible about eating
Student of nutrition.  Aware of nutritional needs. Able to meet body’s needs
In touch with physical body and body’s needs—hunger, fullness
Eats when hungry and stops when full
Nonjudgmental of self, redirects thoughts to positive thoughts, accepting of body
Understands the impact of food on health and well-being
Enjoys food but not obsessed
Only eats mindlessly on occasion
Recovers quickly when mindless eating does occur
Mindless Dieter
Has tried multiple yo-yo type diets.  Fad follower
Spends money on different diets
Feels really guilty when eating poorly
Ignores that taste of diet food—it is eating that matters
Has a ”hard to obtain” body image and feels bad about not having it
Studies food labels and tries to follow “food rules” (not nearly 100%)
Mindless Overeater
Yo-Yo Club Star Member
Ups and downs in weight
Eats until miserable.
Aware of being full but keeps eating anyway
Picks at foods without true enjoyment
Feels out of control and unable to stop
Has intense food cravings – gotta have it!
Tries to eat alone—feels embarrassed
Uses food to comfort self
Uses food to maintain pleasant feelings
Specific food cravings
Often eats alone
Mindless Undereater
Skimps on nutritional needs
Obsessed about calories, fat grams, and other single components of food
Worries a lot about weight
Has high self-image when hungry
Isolates self instead of eating with others—has an excuse not to go to lunch
Fears loss of control
Desires perfection—always trying to obtains
Eliminates certain food groups to save on calories
Mindless Chaotic Eater
May purge to compensate for overeating
Has major swings in weight
Will make large purchases of food and will restrain from eating—perceived binge
Make over exercise to make up for overeating
Thinks critically about self
Uses food to cope with negative self-image
Uses food to “tune out” or “numb out”
Feels empty or lonely a majority of the time
Eats while multi-tasking
Seldom feels full

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is critical to identifying triggers. Are you prone to bingeing only on chips? Chips may be a trigger food. This could be ANYTHING for anyone. Trigger foods are usually sweet or salty – as these most significantly effect the rewards center of your brain.

Need help with mindful eating? I recommend tracking your food and I especially love the Recovery Record.

The bottomline

Yes, undesirable eating behaviors – undereating or overeating – are often preceded by emotional situations or triggers. But sometimes, the foods themselves can be a trigger to start eating and not stop. It is also important to note that these are not always unhealthy foods. For example, peanut butter is a trigger food for me and I must be incredibly mindful when I consume it.

Do you have trigger foods?

Response: Mediterranean Diet not for weight loss

I read a blog post yesterday about the Mediterranean Diet. The post (specific author unknown to me and brought to me by my Facebook newsfeed) proposes that the Mediterranean Diet is not conducive to weight loss and declares that it is only good for improving heart health. This is an incredibly superficial understanding of nutrition and naive perspective. I would even go so far as to say that posting such information is professional negligence or malpractice.

I strongly believe that you should get your nutrition advice from a qualified nutrition professional. I AM NOT ONE. I feel like I have been writing more about nutrition than exercise or mental strategies lately – I only intend to make you think critically and then get the answers you need. And when I read posts like this and hear a story of a nutritionist telling a friend that a vegetable is not a carbohydrate (yes, true story), I become infuriated. It makes me angry and it makes me sad. As if individuals are not confused enough! This world is infiltrated with hogwash and I intend to do my small part to call attention to it.

Mediterranean Diet = weight loss?

Yes, a Mediterranean Diet will yield weight loss. The poorly misguided post ‘cites’ research (that focused on heart risks, bias much?) that claimed a Mediterranean diet improved heart health but did not result in weight loss. I put cites in quotes because the author claims that the New England Journal of Medicine conducted the research – really? A journal did research? More like researchers were published in the journal. But hey, it’s close and shows that the author does not understand how to accurately read and present research.

Moving on. Yes, the Mediterranean Diet is best known for its coronary benefits. Along with dietary guidelines, the diet emphasizes plenty of exercise. So, while weight loss may not have been significant in the study, fat loss probably was significant and not measured. Numerous studies have shown that a Mediterranean diet shows improved weight loss over other weight loss strategies (Mohamed, El-Swefy, Rashed, & Abd El-Latif, 2010; Razquin, Martínez, Martínez-González, Salas-Salvadó, Estruch, & Marti, 2010; Serra-Majem, Roman, & Estruch, 2006).

NOTE: Without proper citation by the author, I was unable to locate the so-called research among the thousands of articles published in the NEJM. Therefore, my argument is anecdotal but based on years of personal research and education.

Benefits of a Mediterranean Diet

Beyond heart benefits, the Mediterranean diet has been shown to increase fat loss (Serra-Majem, Roman, & Estruch, 2006). It is also known to prevent and ‘cure’ diabetes (Serra-Majem, Roman, & Estruch, 2006; Walker, O’Dea, Gomez, Girgis, & Colagiuri, 2010), decrease mental decline, reduce insulin resistance, and reduce metabolic disorders (which have a high comorbidity with overweight/obesity).

And I refer you to a nutrition professional for additional information.

Basic nutrition

This brings me back to the fact that very few weight loss “professionals” have an understanding of the basic nutrition principles and processes. It is appalling to me that any weight loss company would publish such hogwash. Seriously. A Mediterranean Diet not a weight loss diet? HOGWASH! I will over simplify this: A diet of fruits, veggies, lean meats, and healthy fats won’t yield weight loss? But a diet of Fig Newtons and graham crackers with pudding is a better solution (per the post’s publisher)?

I think it’s time to come back to the basics. I read textbooks for my information – but I realize this is too dense and time consuming for most individuals. I am beginning to put together a resource list of videos and websites to help my friends and readers increase personal understanding of nutrition!

The bottomline

I am not promoting a Mediterranean Diet. Nor am I discouraging it. I believe that the guidelines are reasonable and will work for some and will be difficult for others – as like any other change. It is not significantly different from a a low-carbohydrate diet, a low-glycemic index diet, or a Paleo diet. The most critical commonality? Eating more REAL food and less processed and packaged junk.

Further, this absurdity highlights the importance of weight loss versus fat loss. Body composition will often improve with no change in weight – with proper lifestyle improvements.

Lastly, please be a critical consumer. It is sad that I read this post on a page that I believed I could trust (at least to a certain degree). I now know otherwise.

References

Mediterranean-Style Diet Counters Metabolic Syndrome. (2011). Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter29(6), 6.

Mohamed, H. E., El-Swefy, S. E., Rashed, L. A., & Abd El-Latif, S. K. (2010). Obesity and neurodegeneration: effect of a Mediterranean dietary pattern. Nutritional Neuroscience13(5), 205-212.

Razquin, C. C., Martínez, J. A., Martínez-González, M. A., Salas-Salvadó, J. J., Estruch, R. R., & Marti, A. A. (2010). A 3-year Mediterranean-style dietary intervention may modulate the association between adiponectin gene variants and body weight change. European Journal Of Nutrition49(5), 311-319.

Serra-Majem, L., Roman, B., & Estruch, R. (2006). Scientific Evidence of Interventions Using the Mediterranean Diet: A Systematic Review. Nutrition Reviews64(2), S27-S47.

Walker, K. Z., O’Dea, K. K., Gomez, M. M., Girgis, S. S., & Colagiuri, R. R. (2010). Diet and exercise in the prevention of diabetes. Journal Of Human Nutrition & Dietetics23(4), 344-352.

Recovering from binge eating

I am a recovering binge eater. I say recoverING rather than recovered because it is a weekly – sometimes daily – battle. I believe it will be a long battle. I have been shrugged off and disregarded when sharing this fact with others – being told that I am fine and there is nothing. Please know, this rejection is the worst reaction you can ever have to someone who is forthcoming about such behaviors. Luckily, I am excessively independent and this didn’t effect me in anyway other than temporarily reducing my desire to increase my interdependence (which is critical to becoming a highly effective individual according to Stephen Covey).

Coming from a long ancestral line of addicts known for episodes of binge drinking – I am genetically susceptible to addiction. This is not an excuse, this is a heightened awareness of what to watch for. After a period of binge drinking – and developing a fear of becoming an alcoholic – I eventually replaced alcohol with food. You might say, but you are not overweight. I once was. Further, my binges did not occur every day (though there were periods of consecutive days) and I maintain an incredibly high level of physical activity (often compensatory).

Food = comfort

My most frequent binges occur when I am under the most stress. I eat for comfort. I eat because it was one thing that I still had complete control over when I feel like everything else around me is falling apart. I eat because food tastes good. I eat to stay awake to get through work demands. I eat for the temporary benefits of increased energy and improved mood. Some individuals might now say that I have shifted to finding comfort with coffee – I may assess this at a later date! I did come to realize that I binged for comfort and I was not satisfied with this behavior, not at all.

Do you eat for comfort? Is it excessive?

Awareness

How do you stop an undesirable behavior? First, you need to be aware of the behavior. Second, you have to want to change. For a long time, I had no idea that I was bingeing – because in today’s society binges have become a norm and many individuals even binge at every meal. It was when my mind began towards thoughts of compensatory behaviors – specifically purging – thatI knew something had to change. I sought professional help – while this may not be necessary for everyone and I am not promoting it as such.

Are you aware of existing problematic eating behaviors?

Environment & triggers

My most dangerous times are periods of sadness. Specifically when I am disappointed in myself or life. Sometimes this is the result of comments other people make – but more often than not it is the result of my negative self-talk. Therefore, it is critical to catch these negative thoughts early, before they can dwell in my brain and set themselves as real. I use a dysfunctional thought record (DTR) to monitor these thoughts on a semi-regular basis.

Another trigger for me is hunger – I cannot let myself become hungry. This is one reason I tend to gain weight when training for endurance running – it makes me hungry. If I allow myself to reach the point of stomach grumbling, it is likely that I will excessively eat.

Do you know your triggers?

Self-monitoring

I tell all of my clients – log your food. Write down everything you eat. EVERYTHING. Often times, writing down everything you eat can be enough to increase your awareness and ultimately change problematic eating behaviors. It can be enlightening to see on paper exactly what you eat. Other times, simply writing it down is not enough.

There are numerous additions and modifications that can be made to a food log. Struggling with compensatory behaviors? Begin tracking the engaging in and thoughts of performing these behaviors within your food log – it is important to know the time it occurs and what you may have eaten as either or both can be triggers.

I like hand writing my food log – as opposed to using an app or online system – because I can add whatever I want. I astrick any consumption that I feel is excessive. I highlight anything that I perceive to be a binge.

Other things to monitor include but are not limited to:

  • Context – where did you eat and who were you with?
  • Mood (& feelings) – what was your mood prior to eating?
  • Thoughts – what were your thoughts prior to, during, and after eating?
  • Physical pain & illness – did you have a headache, sore muscles, a cold, etc?
  • Weather – Sunny or cloudy? Warm or cold? Humid or dry?

I recently wrote about the Recovery Record app, which allows you to track all of these factors and more! I find this app to be one of the best and most useful I have ever seen. And best of all, it does not track calories (unless YOU do it independently). I do not promote tracking caloric intake nor expenditure.

The bottomline

Often times, what you eat is not the determining factor of weight loss or maintenance. When and how much, along with your psychological state, can significantly effect digestive processes and your ongoing psychological state. External and internal stressors have a powerful impact on our eating behaviors.

Further – you cannot spot a binge eater. They come in all shapes, sizes, and socioeconomic backgrounds. There are more of us out there than you may suspect. Be kind to those who express concern with eating – because more than likely there is something going on inside.

For those who may suffer from binge eating – you are not alone. This does not make it easier, but it is always nice to know when you are not alone.

Yours in health,

Becca Rose

Response: Food Babe’s unconventional habits

I know that the friend who sent me the guide to Food Babe’s Unconventional Habits is waiting for me to address this. The fact that someone who wrote this list might be respected and trusted in the health and wellness industry is appalling. While I have not taken the time to read her blog, after reading this single document, I know there is no need. She may have some useful advice to offer in between the bullsh&%t, but why should I bother to waste my time?

The unconventional habits

The guide promotes six unconventional habits – for what I am not exactly sure but it seems focused on weight loss. The six habits are:

  1. Drink warm lemon water and cayenne pepper.
  2. Eliminate refined sugar from your diet.
  3. Fast every single day.
  4. Drink a green drink every single day.
  5. Change your grocery store.
  6. Stop drinking with your meals.

I will address each of these individually and break down the ridiculousness – without becoming scientific.

Warm lemon water & cayenne pepper

Some individuals claim that this will boost your metabolism and increase your ability to burn fat. Food Babe promotes it as a detoxifyer and digestive cleanse. A good way to keep your digestive system clean? – chia seeds or something sticky that waste can attach to and then be removed from the body.

Eliminate refined sugar

Duh! Tell me something I did not know. How is this unconventional?

Fast every day

For at least 12 hours Food Babe proclaims. “It takes at least 8 hours for your body to completely digest it’s meals from the day. If you add in another 4 hours to that time without introducing more food to digest, the body actually goes into detoxification mode and has more time to remove dead and dying cells from the body.” Okay, so please refer to Nutrition 101 or any basic nutrition course and you will find for yourself that this is bogus advice. While there is some truth to the 8 hours to digest a meal, after 4 awake hours (approximately, each human body is different) the body will enter starvation mode. While in this mode, your body may shed dead or dying cells as a strategy for survival, but your metabolism will slow down and fat development will increase.

And yes, most of us sleep for more than 4 hours, but our bodily processes are very different while we are sleeping. For details on that, seek the advice of a qualified nutritional professional (e.g., registered dietition).

Drink a green drink

Sure. We all need more green stuff in our diets.  “As long as you chew your green drinks your body will be able to digest and receive the benefits. Don’t just slam down a smoothie or juice – you need that chewing action for digestive enzymes to do their magic.” Oh, I see….what makes this habit unconventional is that you have to CHEW your DRINK. Do most individuals need more greens in their diets? Yes. Is a daily, chewable green drink going to improve health???

Change your grocery store

What she is essentially saying is shop at a small, local and natural food store rather than a large, chain store because it is easier to shop and you will be less inclined to buy the crap. There are fewer distractions by highly processed and marketed foods. I can agree with this one – this is a great habit and strategy.

Do not drink with your meals.

Last, but not least – DO NOT DRINK WATER WITH YOUR MEALS. Sure, if you want to become constipated.  “Drinking liquids during your meal dilutes your naturally occurring digestive enzymes and stomach acids which makes it harder to breakdown food. Stomach acids are dissipated with the act of consumings liquids with solids because water is excreted faster than solids.” I am not sure what world Food Babe is living on. Water is ESSENTIAL for natural digestion. The military requires recruits to drink full glasses of water before they are even served their meals. The first dietary step to weight loss or health improvement is to increase water intake. The human body is 57-70% water (on average). If you do not consume enough water to support metabolic processes (we need H20 to convert food into fuel), it will acquire it from somewhere else within the body – increasing the risk of dehydration. Does that sound like good advice?

Want to know more about the importance of drinking water with your meals? Visit a trusted site with information provided by medical professionals, such as the Mayo Clinic.

The bottomline

Because of the absurdity of the last habit alone, I have no respect for anything that will be posted on the site. This advice should be considered professional negligence – only Food Babe is not a professional. I did read the about page – no credentials, just a few lines that say nothing and a plethora of pictures of her with celebrities. Do you find comfort in accepting advice from a novice? I know that I do not.

Think twice about the credibility and validity of the sources of advice. Reading this so-called unconventional habits makes me angry. I even hate writing this response because I do not want to boost Food Babe’s popularity in any way, shape, or form.