Breaking The Cycle…

I don’t know about you, but I was raised in a family that worked really hard to put food on the table. In turn, that meant that we had to give thanks for our abundance by eating every single morsel on the plate! Often this looked like me, or a seven year old version of Katie, sitting alone at the table late into the evening staring at dry pieces of that nights dinner.

Picture a “persnickety” (this is a term coined by my late grandfather to define my stubborn and very picky Taurus the Bull persona) little blonde girl with arms crossed, staring blankly down at a plate of hamburger and mash (made with vanilla yogurt because if you recal I have a dairy sensitivity – It’s yucky, don’t try it at home) that she refuses to touch. My parents would get tired of waiting for me so they would go about their business, putting their trust in me to finish my food before leaving the table. Little did they know the valuable lesson they were teaching me at the time – how to scam my way out of a situation I didn’t want to be in (insert evil laugh here).

I quickly learned that if I bent down from my chair that I could reach the oak cabinet behind my chair. At the foot of this beautiful piece of antique furniture was a decorative design with soft curves cut out and just enough room to shove pieces of hamburger I did not want to put in my little girl belly. Ha! My parents had no idea that I had been hiding food under the cabinet for months before they decided to rearrange the living room only to find rotting food molding on the carpet. Ooops, was I in trouble!

I cannot help but laugh at this memory. Although I no longer am forced to eat my entire meal, I still have the mentality engrained in me that I should finish everything on my plate. I hate wasting food and I hate wasting money. When eating out it pains me when people choose not to wrap up leftovers.

When at home I have become ridiculously good at cooking for one (ahem, holla at the single gentlemen that would like me to enhance my cooking for two skills), and any extras I make are always stored away for the next day. I have become a frugal goddess, and am damn proud of it. But, I believe this mentality is no longer doing me any favors, and this is why:

Each and every cell of our being needs the proper building blocks to function, repair, and grow. We get this from our food. Hunger is triggered when our bodies tell us we need to refuel. Many of us have forgotten what it is like to feel hungry.

We are stuck in this routine of eating 3 meals a day (plus snacks) and these meals need to take place at 9am, noon, and 6 pm because that’s the way we were raised. That’s what society, or our parents have trained us to become accustomed to. But I think we need to start listening to our bodies and only eating when we are truly hungry.

Don’t force yourself to eat breakfast if you’re not hungry. BUT…make sure if you skip it that you are not replacing these lost calories with muffins or donuts at coffee break or eating extra calories after dinner. This new mentality is something a year at nutrition school has taught me. Taking control of my body had been empowering. There are no rules to the mountains I can climb now, as long as I am honoring my body. So what does this look like?

Try following these 5 simple rules to controlling your hunger…

1. Watch Your Portion Sizes.

Although our bodies are powerful and intelligent machines we lack the ability to differentiate between stressors. A stranger startling you as you round a corner effects our adrenal glands in the same way that overeating does on our digestive tract. We get overburdened, our liver gets overworked, and we start to feel sluggish, bloated, and depressed. Eating smaller portion sizes allows our digestive tract to rest and digest in between meals allowing for proper elimination and better blood sugar maintenance. This puts you back in the driver’s seat to take control of your health! My rule of thumb is this: Make sure half your plate is veggies (eat the rainbow), and split the other half between starch and protein.

2. Avoid High Fructose Foods Like The Plague!

We have two main hormones that control our hunger, Leptin & Ghrelin. Simply put, Leptin turns off our hunger pains, while Ghrelin (think Grrr…tummy rumbles) initiates our hunger pains. When we consume foods high in Fructose (hello high fructose corn syrup found in almost every processed food item in the world) it prevents Leptin from being released and our brains do not receive the signal to stop eating. We loose the ability to recognize when we are full and this leads to overeating or binging. Don’t be afraid to take a stand and say no to the new Agave syrop trend either. It may be toted as natural and easily digestible but simply put it is pure Fructose and something to be avoided if possible.

3. Consume Fats and Proteins at Every Meal.

Consuming fats and proteins with every meal help us to feel full longer. Meals high in Carbohydrates, especially simple carbs like pasta and white bread, are broken down relatively fast in our system. This can lead to spiked in blood sugar and subsequent energy crashes a few hours following a meal. Adding healthy fats like avocado (my favorite food of all time), nuts, seeds, or coconut milk to your salads, smoothies, cereal, stir fry, or whatever you eat on the daily helps to delay stomach emptying and prevent the vicious blood sugar spike/crash cycle. Even better would be adding protein like chia, tuna, almond butter, or quinoa (oh this velvety grain is extremely luscious and versatile – try it, I dare you). Once again, proteins and healthy fats delay gastric emptying and prevent your stomach from telling your brain to get up and go for seconds or dessert or whatever ridiculous thing our “second brain” tempts us with.

4. Fill Your Water Bottle and Drink It Too!

Our hydration plays a huge part in not only our daily energy levels, but it also helps to control our hunger. I hate to break it you but often we are thirsty not hungry. I could write an entire blog telling you why you should put down that sandwich and grab a glass of water but I won’t (not today anyway). I will however try to hammer home the idea that when we are dehydrated we are more prone to overconsumption (hello post party morning breakfast binge). My recommendation starts by taking a 1L glass water bottle and making a point of filling and emptying it down the gullet at least twice during the day. Admittedly if this is new to you it may cause extra visits to the water closet, but your body will adapt within a few days and learn to utilize this gift. Also, drinking only small amounts of water with meals will prevent your stomach acid (which is responsible for breaking down your food) from becoming diluted and allow for better digestion and assimilation of key nutrients that help us become unstoppable human beings.

5. Give Thanks For Your Food…

I am far from a religious person, but there is something to be said for the tradition of giving thanks to your food prior to digging in. This process allows for a chain of events to take place that are key to proper digestion. First off, it puts our bodies into rest and digest mode, engaging our parasympathetic nervous system, allowing for energy to be allocated to the proper breakdown of food. Secondly, it instigates what fancy foodies like to call the “phallic phase” of digestion. No, this is not some crude statue. Moreover it is a very important yet often overlooked phase of digestion where your mouth starts to secrete juices that aid in the digestion of starches. This can be activated when we smell our onions sautéing in the pan, or the chili simmering on the stove. This is the first stage of digestion. Lets not miss out on it okay!

Not being present while you eat can lead to what I like to call “Quick to Forget” syndrome or “QTF”.

Now QTF syndrome can be quite serious! It has led me to the cupboard many times, grasping for loose handfuls of chocolate chips or a second helping of those salty, crunchy chips and salsa. All the while I know I am full, but don’t feel filled up. Applying the simple rules I have outlined above has helped me to take control of my cravings (especially important during these bikini months). I hope they hope they help you too.

Don’t forget that are a beautiful and powerful being. I have faith in you. So make today the day you put down the Special K and reach for the Chia pudding

Katie Israelson

Certified Nutritional Practitioner at Refresh Natural Health
I like to bring an organic and honest yet humorous approach to my counselling and writing. I believe in the importance of nourishing the soul and body, and hope to provide support for those open to my quirky yet insightful anecdotes. By embracing my own challenges with food sensitivities, hormone balancing, and weight management (believe me, this is an ongoing battle) I hope to connect with my readers on a personal level.

As a newbie blogger, I am here to let you know we are not alone in our struggles, challenges or successes. Everyone has a story. Regardless of setbacks we are powerful human beings, capable of achieving greatness. So may we rise up, and walk this road together.
Katie Israelson