It's the food!Oct 24, 2022
Although I am a Keto coach, I don’t think Keto is necessarily for everyone. However, I do want to share my story with you here about the turning point for me where my whole mindset and food choices changed, and I finally got off the diet roller coaster. I guide my clients to find what foods work best in their bodies, but for me it was cutting my carbs very low. In today's post I will show you how often it's the food that determines your success. I don't mean the food in terms of dieting and calorie restriction. I want to show you how it's the food that controls hormones, which control how your body processes what you are eating.
Here is the Roadmap to this week's blog:
My personal story
Why We Get Fat and What to Do About It by Gary Taubes changed my life. For the first time I realized it wasn't me. I wasn't being lazy, uncommitted or stupid. IT WAS THE FOOD. IT WAS THE HORMONES. IT WAS NOT ENTIRELY MY FAULT! I listened to the book on CD maybe 10 or more times, going over and over the very scientific parts about insulin and hormones, until I could understand every bit of it. One passage meant more to me than any other:
"So long as we believe that people get fat because they overeat, because they take in more calories than they expend, we're putting the ultimate blame on a mental state, a weakness of character, and we're leaving human biology out of the equation entirely. . . Do these authors wish to range obesity as a 'behavior problem' among psychiatric instead of metabolic diseases?"
Now, for the first time, I understood that the fruit salads, root vegetables and banana breads made with dates and honey were keeping me fat. The more I tried to be "good" by eating all those real foods instead of candy bars, the deeper I fell into obesity and metabolic disease. Fatty liver, pre-diabetes and sheer exhaustion are not moral diseases, they are metabolic diseases. I am not lazy or stupid. I am metabolically damaged by the foods I thought were good for me. Of course, no diet recommends eating the entire banana bread or fruit bowl, and so I do not blame those diets entirely, whose intentions were good by recommending and supporting whole and good foods. My mind was blown, and it was a start for me, to realize that in my case, the food itself fueled endless hunger and cravings, a fact that ultimately helped me to change habits and my mindset.
Here is what I learned and what I want to share with you. I had many health factors that made following Keto the right path for me. For your needs, it might be that you keep all the foods, but cut back on some and eat a little more of others. My intention with this blog is to share with you what I have learned, and now share it with you. Once you have this information on how it's the food that causes a lot of issues, you can make some informed decisions about which roads you would like to travel.
Just like a real road trip, it’s best to have some idea of your destination and, with gas prices being the way they are, you might like to take the best route with as few twists and turns and detours as possible. However, to continue the metaphor, twists and turns and detours can be fun and lead to adventure, but really, don’t you already know what potato chips, ice cream and chocolate layer cake taste like?
I’m not going to give you the entire Google satellite view of this (boy I am loving the road trip metaphor!) but I will show you the main attractions.
Two types of hunger
- There are two types of hunger. True physical hunger is one of them. The other hunger is driven by what is in your head. There are definitely mechanics that trigger this head hunger. These could be habits or feelings such as anxiety, loneliness and anger.
- Sometimes wrangling with your hunger can often just be wrangling with the head hunger such as “It’s lunchtime so I’m hungry for lunch.”
- It could be heart hunger such as “I’m lonely and food always makes me feel better.”
- It could be habit hunger such as “I always pick up and eat a croissant when I pass this bakery.”
- If your hunger is not true physical hunger, then it is emotional hunger, whatever is fueling it.
- I will be writing further detailed blogs about emotional hunger but for now you are welcome to visit blogs on emotional eaters and head hunger.
Physical Hunger and the importance of knowing what food does in your body
- The main mistake that people make when they are following most diet plans is to believe that all calories are created equal. Let's talk about those 100-calorie snack packs that are so popular. 100 calories of junk is still 100 calories of junk. It is not even a matter of the quality of the food. An organic marshmallow is still a marshmallow. An organic fruit bowl the size of your head is still a fruit bowl the size of your head!
- What do a snack pack, a marshmallow and a bowl of fruit have in common? They are all carbohydrates. No, I am not demonizing carbohydrates – even all vegetables are carbohydrates! But why is it important to know this? It is important to know this because carbohydrates raise your insulin.
Insulin and Insulin Resistance
- When I said before that Keto is not for everyone but is for some of us, I was referring to the fact that many of us are insulin resistant.
- What this means is that your body does not hear the signal that insulin is trying to send your cells to open up and let the sugar and energy in.
- This is what happens when you have type 2 diabetes and there is too much sugar in your blood.
- Type 1 diabetes is a separate metabolic disorder which can also be helped by lowering insulin, but it is not what I am referring to here.
- Insulin is a hormone, and it is considered by some, to be the master hormone.
- A hormone is a signaling molecule that is transported to organs to regulate both physiology and behavior.
- In the case of insulin, not only does it regulate blood sugar, but it also is responsible for fat storage, and plays a part in many metabolic disorders such as hardening of the arteries, hypertension and PCOS (Poly-Cystic Ovary Syndrome).
- As a matter of fact, Alzheimer’s disease is now referred to as type 3 diabetes.
- Research is currently investigating insulin’s role in building muscle following sickness or injury, regulating the uptake of amino acids, DNA replication, and enhancing memory.
- If you are someone who doesn’t process carbohydrates very well, you might find that you are plagued with hunger and fatigue, even having just eating a good meal.
- This is because your insulin is not getting glucose into your cells to be used as energy.
- You are tired all the time.
- You are also hungry all the time because not only are your cells not getting the energy they need, but your satiety hormones (ghrelin and leptin) are also out of whack.
- This was one of the lightbulbs that turned on for me when I listened to Gary Taubes. I realized that I was on the hamster wheel because I was always hungry and fatigued, and this put my cravings and urges into high gear.
I want to digress here because I want to go back to those 100-calorie snack bags.
- On my last round of Weight Watchers, I remember – as if it was yesterday – leaving work and wanting to chew my face off.
- I had eaten the correct number of points – using a Lean Cuisine, two or three snack bags, and probably a bag of baby carrots (which are very high in carbohydrates).
- I just about cried before I could carry on and face my commute home.
- I know now that I was feeding my body an overload of carbohydrates that my body could not process, and I was driving up my insulin to the point where I was starving even though I had just eaten before leaving work.
I am going to leave insulin here but will talk more about it in later blogs because it is so important, and I will also explain at a later date why it is called the fat storage hormone. That is a piece of information you would want to have as well. You are welcome to read an earlier blog on insulin to get more information.
There is very much a hormonal biological basis for when you feel true hunger.
Ghrelin and leptin, known as the “hunger hormones” along with insulin play important roles in hunger regulation. These two hormones, in particular, help regulate insulin and are very prominent in successful weight loss.
First let’s talk about Ghrelin
- Ghrelin is considered your "hunger hormone" and is produced in the stomach to signal hunger.
- When you eat a meal, ghrelin normally will decrease so that you are no longer hungry until it builds up again for the next meal.
- When you are insulin resistant, ghrelin decreases only slightly.
- Because of this, the hypothalamus – which is a portion of your brain – doesn’t receive as strong of a signal to stop eating, and when you do, you are never quite satisfied and always have a certain level of hunger.
Now let's talk about Leptin
- Leptin, on the other hand, is considered your "fullness hormone" and is secreted from your fat cells in the adipose tissue. Your adipose tissue is your fat tissue.
- Leptin also communicates with your hypothalamus but in this case, sends a fullness signal.
- As with ghrelin, insulin resistance dulls this communication so that not only are you hungry because of the unbalanced ghrelin production and communication, but now the imbalance of leptin's production and communication will make it so you never feel satisfied.
- Dramatically lowering your carbohydrate consumption will heal your insulin resistance and thus get your ghrelin and leptin hormones functioning correctly. This reduces hunger and helps with sustainable weight loss.
There are dozens of other hormones that can play a role in hunger. The more unregulated these are the less you will be satisfied.
The bottom line with all of them, though, is that you must keep your insulin low. The best way to do this is to learn about carbohydrates and how you can lower them a bit in your eating plan, even if you don’t want to eat low carb. Remember: It's the food that causes insulin to rise in your body.
We make the mistake of not understanding what the food itself does to our body and our hormones.
- This is because… who knew?
- I am not saying here that everyone’s weight problem is insulin resistance, not at all.
- However, it is important to point out the possibility of an overweight person having insulin resistance and to help you understand that a lot of your weight issues might come from the food itself.
The cost of making the mistakes
- The costliest mistake of not understanding the communication between your body and the food you are eating, is thinking it is YOU who is at fault.
- I am not saying we can’t do some work to clean up our feelings, thoughts and actions, and that is a lot of what these blogs and my podcast are about.
- However, the joke about “You can’t eat just one” is a truism for a reason.
- You really CAN’T eat just one, whether that is a chip or a cookie.
- The food itself drives that behavior, not any shortcoming or fault you think you have.
The good news is that although this is all going on behind the scenes with how your body is digesting and using the food you eat, you can still override this with self-regulation using the Hunger Scale which you can download at the end of this blog.
HERE IS YOUR ACTIONABLE COACHING ADVICE FOR THIS WEEK:
In this week’s action item, I will get you started on the process that you need so that you will get on the road of easily learning how to recognize your hunger signals. This process will help you become aware of how various foods, and quantities of foods, make you feel.
Honestly, once you build the awareness that I am asking for, you will be free from diet prison because you will use your body’s signals to tell you when you are full – not measure cups, a kitchen scale or an App.
This week I want you to pay attention – even just one day – to what you are eating.
- My goal is to have it be that ultimately you do no tracking.
- No need to track quantities but just take a moment to jot down what you eat in a day and then pay attention to what is going on in your body.
- You can mark down time and quantity if you want, but a skeleton list will be just as good.
- I want you to think about these questions – better yet, write your answers:
- Do you want more immediately?
- Do you start thinking about that food or other food soon after eating even though you are not hungry?
- Are you sleepy after eating?
- All of a sudden do you have cravings to eat a certain food?
- Do you have an urge to eat – anything – just to eat?
- Are you hungry for your next meal sooner than you normally would be?
- An example would be if you have toast, cereal and fruit for breakfast.
- Are you needing a mid-morning snack?
- Are you sleepy around 11AM?
- All of a sudden, are you craving a certain food for lunch even though yours is already planned and packed for the day?
- If you want to do a second day, have a breakfast without the carbohydrates which are the cereal, toast and fruit.
- Instead have eggs scrambled in butter, a couple of slices of bacon if you want, and half of an avocado or olives on the side.
- See if you have the same experience as you did the day before.
This action step – especially if you compare and contrast the two days – is our starting point heading toward diet success.
Awareness that it's the food, is the first step to making changes.
VFO (Valuable Free Offer)
If you haven't already picked up my free bonus guide, the Hunger Scale, I would like you to add this to the actionable coaching advice that I give you. You can stop beating yourself up for not following specific plans and programs and begin to trust your own choices and decisions about quantity.
Awareness is the first step in our journey, and that is where you start with this guide. It is yours to download below.
Learn more about this with my book and course:
Book Breaking Free From Diet Prison: Common Sense Keto and Low Carb
Course Breaking Free From Diet Prison: The Roadmap to Low Carb and Keto Success