Health & Fitness

November 12, 2013

You Docs: How to feel full faster and eat less

The 2013 pizza-eating champion, Molly Schuyler, downed 12.9 cheesy slices in 10 minutes. But that’s definitely not what we’re suggesting when we encourage you to learn how to feel full faster.

The 2013 pizza-eating champion, Molly Schuyler, downed 12.9 cheesy slices in 10 minutes. But that’s definitely not what we’re suggesting when we encourage you to learn how to feel full faster.

Feeling satiated after eating involves your guts, brain and attitude. And when you eat too fast, too much or too-processed foods (anything with the Five Food Felons – trans and saturated fats, added sugars and sugar syrups, and any grain that isn’t 100 percent whole), your body can’t tell when you’ve had enough. You need to give your appetite-regulating systems (and emotions) a chance to react to what you eat. Here’s how:

• Savor the flavor. Put your fork down between bites; chew your food slowly. That releases more nutrition from the food and lets leptin, your appetite-controlling hormone, respond so you eat less. Almost a century ago, “the Great Masticator” Horace Fletcher advocated 100 chews per bite. We say, depending on the food, chew around 10-20 times.
• Just say “nuts.” Twenty minutes before a meal eat six walnuts or 12 almonds. They contain 70 calories of fat, and that’ll slow your stomach emptying, so you’ll feel full sooner.
• Practice mindful eating. Notice the texture and flavor of each bite and how your body responds to food; place yourself in a calm (no TV) environment. That helps control cravings and impulse eating. It also improves the digestive process that goes on in your mouth.

Experiment with this for one week; we’re sure you’ll eat less, feel fuller faster and enjoy mealtime a lot more.

Fat skinny people

Four-year-old Johnny Collinson seemed too young to summit Mount Rainier, and 14-year-old Hou Yifan didn’t look the part when she became chess’ youngest female grandmaster. But appearances can be deceiving, especially if you assume normal-weight people aren’t at risk for complications associated with obesity, such as high lousy LDL cholesterol, diabetes and hypertension.

Being MONW – metabolically obese normal weight – isn’t uncommon. Up to 20 percent of people diagnosed with diabetes are thin. And 37 percent of normal-weight adolescents have at least one risk factor for prediabetes – high blood pressure, high blood sugar or high LDL cholesterol.

Turns out, what determines lipid levels and some other risks associated with metabolic obesity is what you eat and how much you move around, not just how much you weigh. Case in point: 60 percent of North American adults are obese or overweight, but only 33.5 percent have lousy LDL levels.

So thin or not, check your cholesterol levels at age 20, then again every five years. Check more often if you’re a man over 45 or a woman over 50; if you’ve had an LDL cholesterol reading of 130 or more; or if your good HDL cholesterol level is below 40. Also, test glucose levels annually.

Get more active. Don’t sit for more than two hours at a stretch. Add a 30-minute walk to your daily routine, aiming for 10,000 steps daily. Do 20 minutes of strength-building exercises two to three days a week.

Eat nine servings of fruits and veggies a day, only lean protein and 100 percent whole grains.

Oreos and addiction

We feel compelled to weigh in on the recent “Oreo Study,” which postulates that Oreos are as addictive as, or maybe more addictive than, morphine and cocaine. The Connecticut College researchers did get a few things right, but we’ve got to drop the study into the bad science bin.

It’s true that high-fat/high-sugar foods stimulate brain pleasure centers in both humans and rodents (the experiments were done on lab rats). And Oreos contain powdered and granulated sugar, hydrogenated shortening, cocoa and high-fructose corn syrup. So when researchers gave the rats the option of a rice cake or an Oreo, it wasn’t surprising that lab rats went for the cookie.

But next, researchers compared how much Oreos stimulate the pleasure centers in the rodents’ brains with the results of another study that measured the level of pleasure the rats registered from taking narcotics. Researchers discovered the cookies jump-started the rats’ pleasure centers as much as or more than drugs did.

The Oreo study’s conclusion? The cookies are as addictive as narcotics. But addiction in people involves much more than activation of pleasure centers – and shouldn’t researchers have directly compared the rats’ reactions in an Oreos versus cocaine experiment?

We do think Oreos are addictive (sugar cravings are real), but don’t pick on rice cakes (we love them).

Pain relief without meds

Without pain, says the Dalai Lama, you wouldn’t know something was wrong with your body. But for more than 100 million North Americans who deal with lower-back problems, arthritis, fibromyalgia and other chronic conditions, message received – loud and clear.

Fortunately, there are powerful self-care techniques that may reduce your discomfort by 20 percent to 60 percent and allow two-thirds of you to slash your use of addictive pain meds.

•  Drink caffeine – up to four 8-ounce cups a day. It blocks the action of a neurotransmitter that’s involved in the onset of muscle pain.
•  Look at your aching body part. Really. The body senses you’re in control of your pain when you look at where it’s located (even if you have to use a mirror). And then apply a topical pain reliever made from capsaicin (the sizzle in hot peppers).
•  Laugh. A really good belly laugh increases pain tolerance. So treat yourself to a funny movie.
•  Use hot and cold packs, plus step up physical activity, if possible. For soft-tissue problems, walking at least 30 minutes a day (headed for 10,000 steps daily), stretching and (eventually) strength-building exercises help. Combine with use of hot and cold packs on tender areas twice daily.
•  Meditate for 10 minutes morning and night using deep breathing (count to four as you breathe in, eight as you breathe out) and progressive muscle relaxation. You’ll harness the power of your brain’s alpha waves and tune out distractions like pain.

Post-cancer fitness

Dance Dance Revolution is a Wii game we’ve often recommended as a great way to help you get in shape while having fun. But there’s a new dance revolution on the horizon – and it’s for adult cancer survivors.

Getting back into good physical shape after cancer treatment can be tough, physically and psychologically. But it’s key to beating the disease and avoiding recurrence. Just as important, and sometimes more challenging, is restoring intimacy between couples who have had to deal with prostate cancer, a mastectomy or hysterectomy. (More than half report they were not prepared to deal with the effect treatment had on their sexual relationship.) Well, here’s a way to do both.

The University of Alabama is recruiting folks who have battled cancer to take part in a study of physical fitness and relationship intimacy that they call “a couples ballroom-dance intervention.” Say hello to Ballroom Dancing With the Cancer All-Stars.

This is a great idea, and it’s worked before. Just ask Joan Cashon, 73, a three-time cancer survivor and award-winning competitive ballroom dancer. Her husband gave her ballroom dancing lessons 13 years ago, after her last bout of chemo.

If you’re a cancer survivor or love someone who is, before you two start cuttin’ the rug, get the green light from your doctor. Then find a ballroom dance studio with a suitable program or an instructor who is interested in working with you. Make a date, and see where the music takes you.

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