Troublesome Intake

December 3, 2013 in Foodland, Nutrition, Uncategorized, Weight Management by Joyce Bunderson

An October 15, 2013 report in Connecticut College News is causing a big stir in the food industry. Certainly a headline suggesting that Oreos are just as addictive as drugs (cocaine or morphine) is fodder for media and argument. Of course this is not the first time researchers have explored the issue of the possibility of the addictive properties of food. As a matter of fact, over three years ago, Victor Bunderson (aka Dr. Grandpa), wrote an extensive body of work and published it here on the Dr. Grandma’s website blog. There is considerably more than the following articles, but if you have not had a chance to read these frequently referred to and referenced articles you may enjoy them. Yumminess – Challenging Hedonistic Foodland; Full, or True Cost Accounting for Food: Part 1; Full Food Cost Accounting: Part 2. Designing Foods for Craving; and A Rat’s Eye View of the Recent Junk-Food Study. Because I enjoy humor and just the thought of a Princeton PhD in Psychology writing about talking rats is funny to me; and makes the last one, on the list above, my favorite.

I do not have a psychology degree; nor do I have any research that would help me explain the difference between addiction, desire, enjoyment or just bad habits as related to food intake. What I do know is that some foods are very enticing and it is more difficult to stop eating some of the enticing foods that have been engineered to promote craving than to stop eating normal foods – say lettuce. We do know that highly processed foods are frequently designed to not be ‘able to just eat one.’ (Remember the “Bet you can’t eat just one” potato chip campaign?) The fact is that eating behavior is complex. There are some things that we know and some things that we can do to help us control our eating behavior and that is what I want to share today.

Since sugary foods are one of the most common food groups that are cited as making people feel out of control of their eating, I share the following ideas:

  • One explanation for the feeling that you want more sugary food after having some is that your blood sugar spikes from simple sugar intake and then your body’s insulin drops it back down. Some people can even feel a little clammy, dizzy or shaky. The symptoms may be from low blood sugar and that may send you on the prowl for more sweets.
  • If you substitute foods higher in protein and fiber like nuts, a piece of fruit or vegetables, an egg, or a small piece of cheese, you may discover that you don’t get shaky. Simple carbohydrate foods like soda pop, candy, white rice, mashed potatoes, pretzels, white flour crackers/bread are very quickly turned into blood sugar (glucose); they don’t have much fiber or protein to slow the process of spikes and dives in blood sugar.
  • Consider slowly reducing the amount of caloric sweetener you use in drinks, cereal, etc. You may be pleasantly surprised that you are actually satisfied with less.
  • Nature’s sweet food, fruit, comes with lots of fiber and water. As a matter of interest, check out how many apples or oranges you’d have to eat to consume as many calories as you do with your candy bar or cookie habit. Not to mention the payload of nutrients in the fruit you do not get with the sweets.
  • If your environment does not contain your trouble foods and you don’t allow yourself to be overly hungry, it’s likely that you can decrease the amount of junky sweet foods creeping into your intake records. Hint, get your trouble foods out of reach, out of sight, out of the environments where you live and work the most.
  • Outside of the craving it evokes, and the pleasure of sweet and fatty sweet things, sugar offers nothing but calories – nothing to keep your body healthy. When you have an apple dipped in peanut butter, for example, you nourish your body and offer a steady release of energy.
  • If you enjoy sweets, try to keep the total calories for the day under 100 (for women) and 150 calories (for men). You’ll be surprised at how tiny that amount is. You may also be surprised at how nibbles of small healthy snacks can help you control the temptation for the craved sweet thing.
  • Especially if you’re relying upon processed foods, use our list of all the types of sugar that may be found in our article, Detoxing from Sugar?. So-called ‘Healthy sugars’ don’t offer a significant amount of nutrients to make eating them worth the calories delivered. You may be surprised how much sugar is in your spaghetti or barbeque sauce, for example.

In my personal experience, the two habits that most helped me to dispel the sugar monkey on my back are: Not allowing my self to become overly hungry and not having the house stocked with cookies, etc. Best to you in your quest to reduce troublesome intake.