Q. I am a 40-year old woman and I love food! I often end up pigging out on snacks, chocolates, butter chicken, pizza, bebinca, shawarma, cakes and anything that’s delicious. As a result, I have put on a lot of weight. I know that I should be eating in moderation, but I am simply unable to do that. Can you please tell me how I can eat in moderation, and not crave tasty food all the time?
A. At 40, you are halfway through life, and habits that you’ve cultivated along the way have now become established into a pattern that is often difficult to alter. However, there is always hope, and recognizing that you need to change the way you view food and consume it is the first step towards self-realization and transformation!
It would help if you first decipher the time of day, week, and month when you lose control of your eating. Maintaining a food diary where you put down the incidents and your emotional state prior to making the wrong food choices will let you know if it’s the work stress or receiving your pay cheque or the family noise and responsibilities or the friends’ gossip or the boredom or your menstrual cycle that is causing you to reach out for the sweets and snacks. This will also help you pre-empt a situation that forces you to eat unhealthy, and you can then train your mind to move away from the temptation.
Skipping meals, especially breakfast, is the least-acknowledged and most-obvious reason for overeating. When your blood glucose levels dip due to food deprivation, your mind and body crave for simple sugars (chocolates, cakes, pizza, samosas) in an attempt to stabilize hormone and energy levels. The result: a yo-yo effect of “no food-hunger-wrong food-happiness” sets in. Cultivate the habit of beginning your day with a satisfying meal followed by snacks at 3-hour intervals and a mini-meal at 6-hour periods, stopping eating at least 1 hour before you hit the sack.
When the urge to reach out for sugar-laden or fried foods overcomes you, distract yourself by playing a game on your mobile or reading the newspaper or going for a walk or chatting with a friend or going for a ride or drive or rummaging through your cupboard to remind you about the plus size clothes you want to get rid of!!
If you are on any medication, discuss with your doctor about how it can affect your cravings, and the options available to replace them. If stress, no-sleep, and inadequate water intake describe your everyday living, those could be the primary causes of your wrong food choices. Eating a protein food (egg, low-fat dairy, lean meat, fish, pulses, sprouts, nuts, seeds) at each meal/snack and a fibre-laden meal/snack (raw veggies, steamed greens, fruits with peel and a high water content, nuts and seeds in their skin) will keep you feeling full for longer periods of time, thereby decreasing your urge to constantly snack. And finally, slow down when eating! Allow yourself at least 10 minutes per meal, chewing well and allowing “satiating” messages to be sent to your brain so that your brain and gastrointestinal system can work in harmony towards creating a healthier you.
Physical activity – skipping, brisk walking, jogging, swimming, sports, dancing, gym – help release endorphins that elevate your mood and subsequently keep the food cravings away. Sign up for an activity class that will not only keep you feeling fresh and fit, but will also serve as distraction and get you on the road to eating wiser and staying healthy longer.
SHERYL AFONSO e D’SOUZA
CLINICAL NUTRITIONIST (NORBERT’S FITNESS STUDIO)
DEPARTMENT HEAD (POST GRADUATE DEGREE DEPT. OF FOOD TECHNOLOGY, CARMEL COLLEGE)