Friday, March 16, 2012

Curb that hunger

A very wise person once told me that dieting is not about giving up but adding -- leafy greens, whole grains, fruits and lots of water -- so the good eventually crowds out the bad. There's just not enough room in your tummy for everything.

What you crowd out are the highly processed carbs found throughout the grocery store -- the fiberless, nutrient lacking foods that major food companies love the jam down our throats. And we can't resist because they taste too damn good.

High-fiber foods, good fats, and lean protein work together to help slow the digestion of the sugar in carbs. Fill your system with the good stuff and your body produces less insulin, and less insulin means fewer swings in blood-sugar levels. And why is this important? Because if we keep our blood-sugar levels on an even keel, our cravings and hunger just goes away.

We feel satisfied: What a concept!

Fiber: We all  know we should eat more. Abut a month ago, I began starting and ending the day with a teaspoon of pysillium (the natural stuff not the manufactured Metamucil, Benefiber, etc.) dissolved in a cup of water. It really gets things moving, which for me is always an issue. I like to follow my morning pysillium with some steel-cut oatmeal -- and I have to say I often have to remind myself that it's time for lunch. I did some research and learned that before my stomach digests the sugars in the oatmeal, it has to separate the sugars from the fiber. Then the fiber passes undigested through my system, naturally slowing down digestion. That promotes satiety.

Fat. For years I avoided fats like the plague. Low-fat diets were the rage -- and I was starving most days. It's one of the reason I am enjoying the Sonoma Diet: It is teaching me that fat is my friend, especially when it's the good fats such as olive and nut oils. But fat also helps in digestion, slowing the speed at which my small intestines access the sugars I've eaten. Fats are a chef's best friend, simply because they make food taste better. Mono and polyunsaturated fats are the best kind. And of course, when you are trying to shed pounds, there really can be too much of a good thing. However, used sparingly, friends are becoming my new best friend.

Protein is digested slowly and keep blood sugar from spiking -- so again, you feel satisfied for a longer period of time. If it's not oatmeal I am eating for breakfast, it's two eggs scrambled with lots of veggies. And just like the oatmeal, it keeps those late-morning hunger pains away. For lunch, I add either grilled chicken or beans to my huge salad, and dinner is always a protein, a small serving of brown rice and lots of veggies. For me, this way of eating works.

Acidic foods. Before I take my morning psyllium, I squeeze the juice of half a lemon in a cup of warm water. My mom always started her day - and mine -- this way, so it comes naturally for me. But what I have since learned is that acidic foods -- lemons, limes, grapefruit, vinegar -- slow the digestion of carbs and the rate at which the stomach empties. So, lemon juice in the a.m., and vinegar dressing my salads at lunch and dinner.

If I ate like this every day, I would be svelt in no time flat. If -- that little word that always gets in the way.

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