Whose Misbehaving, You Or The Food


     In the war on excess weight changing our attitudes toward food and our resulting eating behaviors leads to success. If we learn to focus on eating healthy foods, appreciating each bite more, and consuming proper sized portions we will achieve a healthy weight. We need to discipline ourselves.

     Disciplining ourselves –  telling ourselves no when we need to and setting proper limits doesn’t sound very appealing though. So, instead of disciplining ourselves we try to “discipline” the food.

Gwyn Shamblin

     In her book “Weigh Down Diet”, Gwyn Shamblin says this is the reason diet’s don’t work. Instead of making ourselves behave, we try to make the food behave. We remove the sugar, half the fat, replace natural substances with chemicals and fillers. We then have a less satisfying lower calorie option that allows us to eat the same amount for fewer calories with less pleasure. Because it is less satisfying we are not likely to continue to use these foods once our “diet” is over. When we return to the foods we love, the weigh returns to us.

     In addition these “less satisfying” options often leave us unfulfilled and we have a hard time sticking to the plan. We are likely to eat more, add other things, or get frustrated and give up all together.

     Some of the ways that we try to “discipline” our food actually contribute to our weight gain or hamper our weight loss.  For instance, a Perdue University Study suggests that artificial sweeteners actually lead to weight gain. An article at Time.com puts it like this –

     “The new study, say the scientists, offers stronger evidence that how we eat may depend on automatic, conditioned responses to food that are beyond our control.”
     “What they mean is that like Pavlov’s dog, trained to salivate at the sound of a bell, animals are similarly trained to anticipate lots of calories when they taste something sweet — in nature, sweet foods are usually loaded with calories. When an animal eats a saccharin-flavored food with no calories, however — disrupting the sweetness and calorie link — the animal tends to eat more and gain more weight, the new study shows. The study was even able to document at the physiological level that animals given artificial sweeteners responded differently to their food than those eating high-calorie sweetened foods. The sugar-fed rats, for example, showed the expected uptick in core body temperature at mealtime, corresponding to their anticipation of a bolus of calories that they would need to start burning off — a sort of metabolic revving of the energy engines. The saccharin-fed animals, on the other hand, showed no such rise in temperature. “The animals that had the artificial sweetener appear to have a different anticipatory response,” says Susan Swithers, a professor of psychological sciences at Purdue University and a co-author of the study. “They don’t anticipate as many calories arriving.” The net result is a more sluggish metabolism that stores, rather than burns, incoming excess calories.”

     Last week in our Facebook Slimdown With Sandee Support Group, my friend Joyce brought up the topic of artificial sweeteners and many of our ladies who have already seen weight loss success seconded these sentiments. Keep the sugar, the real butter, the full-fat mayonnaise. Account for them in your plan and keep the portions appropriate. A pat of butter isn’t a bad thing. A little mayo on my sandwich at lunch won’t wreck my calorie count or my fat intake.

     I’m not a purist in my approach. I admit to needing to discipline myself in a way most “dieters” would think backward. I am an artificial sweetener addict working  to overcome. As for full fat vs. low-fat or fat-free, it depends on how the product tastes to me. If I can take in fewer calories and fat grams and receive just as much pleasure, far be it for me to waste a calorie. However, if I feel deprived eating the “light” version, its full fat for me – in a small quantity.   

     I encourage you to enjoy real foods. God created your body and he created natural foods as fuel for it. Your body is smart. It’s looking for the real thing. Use the fuel the “manufacturer” intended and give thanks for each bite. Enjoy slowly. Eat only enough to be full. That sounds like behaving to me.

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