Tuesday, January 27, 2015

New Year's’ resolutions rarely bring the lasting change

It is the last week of January. How are your New Year’s Resolutions coming?

New Years’ resolutions rarely bring the lasting change that you hope for. The number one resolution - losing weight - makes sense considering the epidemic of obesity and related diseases, and our genuine desire to look and feel better.

But since only 8% of people who make resolutions actually stick to them, the question remains why do we keep making resolutions, especially if we know we are probably not going to keep them?

Anyone who has ever made and broken a New Year’s Resolution can appreciate the difficulty of behavior change. When we think of behavior change, we usually are at one the following three stages.

Not Ready - You are not intending to take action in the near future, and can be unaware that your behavior is a problem.

Getting Ready - You are beginning to recognize that your behavior is problematic, and you start to reflect on the pros and cons of your continued habits.

Ready - You are intending to take action in the immediate future, and may begin taking small steps toward behavior change.

Action - You have made specific actions in modifying your problem behavior or you have begun acquiring new healthy behaviors.

What stage do you relate to?

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Easy strategy for keeping junk food out of your life

Knowing that junk food is bad - or even knowing how it’s bad - doesn't make it any less tempting.

Since we know the negative outcomes of eating sugary foods, one could wonder what makes us come back for more. Is it that we have selective memory when sugary foods are placed right in front of us? No. I think we experience different levels of pleasure depending on what we eat.

Dopamine is one of the feel good chemicals produced in our brain and when it’s released, it makes us feel damn good. It’s our own brain crafted happy drug. When we eat, our brain releases dopamine as a little reward for doing something that is helping us stay alive. The higher in calories the food, the more dopamine is released in the brain. This is why most people would grab fries over a carrot stick in a hot second.

Eating processed foods and foods that are full of salt, sugar and fat give us a super high amount of pleasure because more dopamine is released. And it’s not that healthy food doesn't release dopamine, it does. It just doesn't release nearly as much as processed and caloric dense foods that are high in fat, sugar, and salt.

Here is my easy strategy for keeping junk food out of your life - for good. Don't buy junk food. If you don't have junk food in the house or office, you can't reach for it.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Guest Post: The Addictive Properties of Junk Food

We can all relate to this feeling: you’re sitting casually watching TV and all of a sudden you have an urge for a late-night junk food snack. It starts small and you tell yourself that you’re not really hungry, that you really don’t need anything else to eat tonight. Then it gets stronger, almost as if the potato chips are screaming at you from the pantry. Ultimately you give in, finish the bag of chips and promise yourself that this won’t happen tomorrow. You may attribute this behavior to a lack of self-control… but did you know that these cravings have an evolutionary component and, in some cases, junk food manufacturers have actually exploited these properties to make them more addictive?
Before we go into the science of junk food addiction, let’s define what I’m talking about when I say “junk food.” Basically, junk food is a food that is high in fat or sugar and low in other nutrients like vitamins, minerals and fiber. Examples could be potato chips, ice cream, pastries, etc.
Now let’s go back to a time where there wasn’t a fast food restaurant on every corner and humans spent most of their days hunting and gathering food. In this era, there was a type of reward system that developed in our brains when we did things to encourage survival. For instance, a neurotransmitter called dopamine was released when we ate, creating a feeling of pleasure throughout our bodies. This let us know that what we were doing was good and encouraged us to keep doing it. Food that was high in fat provided more calories and long-term energy storage and food high in sugar was dense in short-term energy. These types of food were some of the most important for our survival so they released even more dopamine and made us feel even more pleasure.
Today, even though the average American is not at a loss for calories we still have this reward system, causing us to choose higher fat and higher sugar options. Unfortunately, we are no longer choosing foods in their natural state that also have vitamins and minerals and fiber. Instead we are choosing processed food that is actually manufactured to be higher in fat and sugar so that it releases extreme amounts of dopamine in our brain and creates an almost addictive state.
These junk foods cause a hormonal response in our bodies, which causes us to gain fat and ultimately leads to diseases like Type 2 diabetes. Moreover, although high in calories, most junk food is void of other essential nutrients. So even though we may be eating more food than our bodies need, we are starving our bodies of the important vitamins and minerals that keep us healthy.
Remember, your love of junk food didn’t happen overnight so don’t be too hard on yourself if it takes time to break. Focus on choosing foods that make you feel good long-term rather than foods that just give you the initial dopamine rush. You’re going to do great at making healthier choices and quitting your junk food habit!

Guest post provided by Tara Coleman. Tara is a nationally recognized nutrition expert, educator and spokesperson. Visit her website

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Confronting the reality

Recently I posted about overweight and obesity. I wrote what the extra weight was doing to our overall health. I also pointed out that health effects of obesity were real and they were dangerous, because the health subject is often avoided by overweight people.

We prefer to avoid subject of what the extra weight is doing to our overall health. Many of us are reluctant to discuss our weight face to face with doctors. We are ashamed of our weight and how we have let body get out of control.

I understand that confronting obesity can be an embarrassing topic. We need to be kind, supportive and non-judgmental.

I know that when we are overweight or obese, the last thing we want to do is confront the reality of our size but it’s important that we do. It has to be done so we could break through denial and confront the reality of the present situation – the reality of our size and weight.

The issue will not go away and the longer we postpone, the greater damage our unhealthy food choices and unhealthy eating will cause.

Being overweight or obese is a major health emergency that requires your immediate action. Not surgery, not administration of weight loss drugs, but an immediate change in your diet. 

No matter how bad your diet is, no matter how much excess weight you’re carrying around, no matter how many food related mistakes you've made in the past, you can start fresh now.

You can embark on a new way of living today.

How? By following healthy eating. Changes that you can start to make right this minute can turn your unhealthy diet to a health-boosting, life-saving gift that you give yourself.

Yes, you can do that, you can turn your life around.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

New life resolution

I am not setting goals for a New Year. I am (and have been) setting goals for a new life. A healthier, happier, more fulfilling life. It's about recognizing what I value, what a quality life means to me, and how to align my daily activities to achieve these.

It is not about the New Year. It is about a whole new life, a continuous journey.

Set new goals if you are motivated to do so, but know that those goals will not be stopping points, but just resting spots where you can enjoy your new place in life, reassess your plan and set off in a new direction.

Happy 2015, and here's hoping it is the start (or continuation) for a whole new (or even better) you!