TRICKING YOUR BRAIN TO CARE FOR YOUR BODY
It is a well-known fact that to reduce your body weight you must decrease your caloric intake. As with nearly everything in life, the extremes of daily calorie intake tend toward failure at both ends of the spectrum – either too little or too much causes problems. Most Americans have had their servings sizes slowly increased over the decades, seemingly unnoticed and mostly driven by restaurants to increase the amount of food sold. The heaping servings of rich foods causes too many calories, from poor quality sources, to be eaten by us everyday. The only outcome from this scenario is obesity and weight gain.
Reducing calorie levels too much (think: 500-1000 calories/day) will cause significant weight loss but at the cost of your sanity. Our primal monkey brains get hyper focused on finding food to eat for keeping us alive at these levels. One rare starvation experiment was conducted back in the 1940’s at the University of Minnesota. It was a clinical study designed to study the effects of severe and prolonged dietary restriction. Their main conclusion was that this induced state of semi-starvation causes significant increases in depression and hysteria. The mainstream diet techniques that some people use which involve very low levels of calories are nearly impossible to keep up – you slowly start to go crazy! Then quit. Keeping your cheat meal to once per week in your meal plan will lessen your chances of quitting your new lifestyle changes.
Change is hard. The longer eating and exercise habits have been in place, the more difficult it can be to change them. When results are not quickly seen, it can be easy to bag it and just quit. But change takes times – up to 6 months to for a new habit to stick and become a common routine. Change is a process that slowly happens over time, it is not a single event. A cheat meal is designed to help make the process of change easier. It allows you to gradually build new habits while maintaining some of your old ways, just at a far fewer intervals.
WHAT’S THE SKINNY ON THE CHEAT MEAL?
Doughnuts are a normal part of a healthy, balanced diet. —Brooke Smith, Krispy Kreme spokeswoman
- Suppress your hunger by inhaling mint. Research has found that inhaling the scent of mint can naturally, and safely, curb your appetite for the near future. The simplest way is to put a few drops of essential oil in your hand to smell. Or use the essential oil with a diffuser.
- Drink an entire glass of water. Filling the stomach can trigger leptin, the hormone that your body produces when it is full of food and done eating.
- Set a timer for 15 minutes. If you do feel like you must have a cookie or slice of cake, just wait. Give it 15 minutes and if you have not fully distracted yourself when the timer rings, eat the cake. Hopefully you will not and the craving will have passed.
- Weight yourself on a scale. If you are trying to reach a target weight, seeing that high number on the scale can be the negative reinforcement that your brain needs.
- Meditate for 5 minutes. The power of meditation is beyond amazing. It can be used to increase your will power and decrease your impulse behavior. Check out calm.com.
- Take a 15 minute walk. Getting active will offer a distraction and give you distance from the box of donuts in the break room or whatever the craving might be.
THE SPECIFICS OF A PROPER CHEAT MEAL
Yes, the nature of a cheat meal is to let loose. Eat what you want to revisit old foods to keep your sanity while embarking on the healthy road to change. But there are ways to use the cheat meal to satisfy indulgence while minimizing the damage it does to your body and waistline. Keep these guidelines handy to optimize your meal:
- Avoid all HFCS and trans fats. There is a direct link between high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and obesity and diabetes. Read all labels closely and chose items without these toxic ingredients. For example, Ritter Sport chocolate uses sugar instead of HFCS and milk, whey instead of trans fat. It is a less worse indulgence.
- Mind the portion size. Restaurants serve cartoon-sized portions these days. Ordering from the kids’ menu, if allowed, will get you the correct amount of fast food. Ask if it is possible to get a half-order of something or split an entrée with someone at your table. Wait at least 20 minutes before taking second servings. There is an approximate delay between you eating and when your body produces leptin, the “I am full hormone” to send to your brain.
- Eat your cheat meals out of the house. It is a bad idea to buy all the ingredients for cooking a cheat meal at home. You are then left with, and tempted, to eat all of it. This effectively turns your cheat meal into a cheat day. Eat out at a restaurant or a friend’s place and do not bring leftovers home!
- Walk for 15 minutes. Eating a cheat meal will most likely result in your highest blood sugar numbers for the week. The best thing to do in this case is some light exercise. Walking around the neighborhood or around the street with the restaurant before driving home can lessen the burden on your body.
- Do not fall immediately asleep. The worst thing to do after a big meal of poor quality ingredients is to fall asleep. This is a guaranteed way to gain weight. Keep active for at least an hour before dozing off. This technique of eating big then sleeping has been dubbed as the Sumo Diet, since this is one of the ways these famous wrestlers increase their size.
SHARING IS CARING
Has this article helped you learn more about the benefits of a cheat meal? If you enjoyed this article, others may also find it useful. If we’ve earned it, can we kindly ask that you share this article online or through email? A referral is the greatest compliment a customer can give a business and we thank you for helping us spread the good word to the millions who suffer from this troubling disease.
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