Sunday, July 24, 2011

SparkPeople Follows With Evening Eating Article

I thought it was most timely to get an email this week from SparkPeople with an article entitled: "Is Evening Eating Destroying Your Weight Loss Efforts?"  Sometimes things come together at the right time and this certainly is a fitting follow up to my last post. The article speaks to a person who is able to control eating proper breakfasts, lunches and even snacks - but then coming home hungry only to eat a large dinner, dessert and perhaps a more than adequate bedtime snack, like a whole bag of chips!  Evening is a time we want to relax and let go of the day's stress. Our resistance to temptation is at an all-time low.  Coming home from a busy day and mindlessly eating whatever is within reach can become a chronic habit and destroy our efforts at losing weight.

The SparkPeople article offers some simple suggestions to think about. The first and foremost step is making sure you get adequate sleep. 8 HOURS of sleep. Statistics show overweight people get 1.8 hours less sleep than people of normal weight. Sleep regulates two hormones that effect appetite. When a person is sleep deprived, the result is excessive hunger. (I normally sleep 4-5 hours a night, and have for the last decade.)

The article suggests these tips to normalize sleep and fend off hunger:
  • Walk the dog
  • Pay bills
  • Call a friend - chat it up and laugh!
  • Keep your hands busy doing a craft
  • Try a relaxing exercise video like tai-chi or yoga
  • Have a low calorie soda (no caffeine) or relaxing tea (hot or iced)
  • Make a list of low carb snacks. Prepare these ahead of time. Select one and eat one serving but no more
  • Finish eating all foods 2 to 3 hours before bedtime.
  • Take a bath 
  • Establish a relaxing bedtime routine, going to bed and waking at the same time every day, even on weekends.
  • If you have trouble going to sleep after 20 minutes, get up and pursue another activity like reading until you tire. Do not watch TV or use the computer. Use the bedroom only for sleeping and sex.
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine close to bedtime; avoid nicotine all together.

You CAN control your night time eating with thoughtful PLANNING ahead of time. You CAN fix low calorie pudding or jello in individual dessert cups. You CAN cut up melons or wash berries and put them into individual snack ziplock bags.  You CAN cook up a veggie dish like ratatouille ahead of time and put into single serving size plastic ware to be reheated as a snack later.  MAKE a list of foods you'd like to prepare ahead. GET all the ingredients. PREPARE the snacks and store in refrigerator. MAKE sure to include the snacks on your meal planner. If you are in need of a meal planner, go to SparkPeople to review their online nutrition tracker (a free service) which NOW also includes a Blood Glucose Tracker!

Put those HIGH CARB FOODS - breads, crackers, chips, rice and tortillas in the garage freezer. The harder they are to get to in the evenings, the better your weight loss efforts will be.  YOU CAN DO THIS . . . plan ahead this week. BUY the FRESH fruits, rinse them and have them ready to snack on. GRILL some zucchini and sprinkle parmesan over the top. Store in a plastic container and have this as a single serving snack when you need it. YOU CAN fit this strategy into your lifestyle right now. YOU don't have to wait!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Addressing Emotional Eating Habits

I've been researching anti-inflammatory foods for the last several months. I've learned a lot about the nutritional value of eating a variety of vegetables and fruits, along with whole grains and lean meats to aid in healing my body. I know to avoid inflammatory nightshade vegetables. I understand the difference and benefits between Omega 3 and 6 fats. And I know how to adjust my food choices to compensate for my digestive disorders. There are links to all of the posts I've blogged about. But to be perfectly honest with myself, I'm having trouble with emotional eating, especially at night.

I've identified one source of this type of eating (for me) as a result of taking multiple medications late in the evening. I take 10 tablets between dinner and bedtime. My thinking has been that all this medicine upsets my stomach, so I have a little (too much) to eat. Now that I've learned I have Gastroesophogeal Reflux Disease (GERD) and Gastroparesis (paralyzed stomach), I realize I'm only adding more stress to my already compromised digestive system. So why do I do continue to eat at night? There's more to this than just what I thought was a physical feeling.

I don't have all the answers yet. But I have been researching emotional eating on several websites, including WebMD and NIMH. The Mayo Clinic defines emotional eating as [a way to suppress or soothe negative emotions, such as stress (physical and mental), anger, fear, boredom, sadness (depression) and loneliness. Major life events and the hassles of daily life can trigger negative emotions that lead to emotional eating and disrupt your healthy eating efforts. Sometimes the strongest cravings happen when you're at your weakest point emotionally.] Well I certainly fall into the category of daily life triggers. Besides the health issues listed above, I also manage chronic pain from Fibromyalgia, Arthritis and Neuropathy, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Hypercholesterolemia, Diabetes and Liver Disease. My body is under a lot of stress every moment of every day and has been for 30+ years.

On Women's Health ( there's an article that addresses the mindset of "dieting" or limiting food selections. For those of us with Diabetes, we must keep track of the type and amount of  carbohydrates we eat, in order to stabilize our blood sugars. Having the mindset of tracking foods, keeps us in control - or so we think. However, mentally we are always thinking about food and making a judgement of whether we're staying within our boundaries. If we eat too much, or eat a restricted food (not within our food list), we tend to beat ourselves up. This negative thinking can cause depression or a sense of failure, and we give into the notion of that we have no control after all. Our negative thinking patterns can have a destructive influence on our eating behaviors.

So I went on to research the psychology of eating disorders (, night eating syndrome (, and the role of caloric intake on sleep disorders ( All very interesting stuff. What I discerned from these various articles was that treatment for eating disorders usually involves anti-depressants, possibly an appetite suppressant, and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).  The underlying concept behind CBT is that our thoughts and feelings play a fundamental role in our behaviors. Since negative feelings or thoughts reinforce faulty beliefs about ourselves, we can change those thoughts by first identifying them. The next step focuses on learning and practicing new skills to cope with the eating disorder (night eating).  CBT is a gradual process which makes incremental steps towards changing a destructive behavior into a positive healthy behavior. CBT entails multiple strategies and is well-suited as a short term treatment option.

This is definitely something I will think more about and talk with my doctor about. I hope this has been helpful information for you personally or to think about the effects it may have on your co-workers, friends or loved ones. Maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle is critical to helping our bodies heal, but it may require we take an in-depth look at our eating habits.

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Benefits of an Alkaline Diet

In researching the Alkaline Diet, there appears to be many similarities between it and the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. The Alkaline Diet divides foods into higher pH groups which potentially show more alkalinity and those in lower pH groups which show more acidity in their nature. [The relative alkalinity or acidity of foods is measured by the pH value of the ash residue that remains after a food has been metabolized by our body. This ash can be acid, alkaline or neutral depending upon the mineral content of the food.]*

Although the Anti-Inflammatory Diet does not relate foods to pH values, many of the recommended foods are the same. Basically sugar, refined foods, fatty foods, meats, dairy, yeast, carbonated drinks, chips, chocolate and alcohol should be limited as they all leave an "acid" ash.  Vegetables, fruits and seeds should be increased, as they leave an "alkaline" ash. The American diet tends to lean towards being an over-acidic diet, resulting in chronic health issues, fatigue, gum and teeth problems, susceptibility to colds, chronic pain and inflammation.  The Alkaline diet can help balance the acidity and perhaps even prevent some of the health issues that arise with eating an acidic diet.

So let's take a little sample of the pH values of certain foods: (per one oz. of food)
Alkaline vegetables
Avocado    +15.6
Cucumber  +31.5
Spinach      +13.1

Acidic meats, dairy, carbonated drinks, and alcohol
Pork           -38.1
Cheese       -18.1
Artificial Sweeteners  -26.5
Wine          -16.4
Liquor        -38.7

Fruits and nuts are the exception in these two categories, as they can be either acidic or alkaline but their benefits may outweigh their values.
Almonds    +3.6
Peanuts     -12.8
Cashews     -9.3
Watermelon -1.0
Natural Fruit Juice  -8.7
Processed Fruit Juice  -33.6

There's a good pdf chart online which outlines the Alkaline and Acidic foods into two separate groups. It recommends a diet of 75% Alkaline foods to 25% Acidic foods. I thought this might be a good starting point for you to evaluate your daily diet and ask your Doctor/Dietician what they would recommend. The link for the food chart is at: Another good breakdown of pH values is found at:

The comparison of Alkaline foods to Anti-Inflammatory foods is similar in that Alkaline foods are mainly the leafy green and root vegetables, excluding potatoes. It does include the nightshade vegetables of eggplant, peppers and tomatoes, which add to inflammation in the body (see my previous posts on Nightshade Vegetables). Many of the fruits are the same in both food plans. The following link is a chart for Anti-Inflammatory foods  You can determine the similarities and differences between the two diets.

The benefits of both diets seek to control eating habits that have gone away from fresh produce. Limiting sugar and processed foods is known to aid in healing the body. Balancing portion control with food choices continues to be our main responsibility in helping make our bodies healthier.

Thanks for stopping by today - I wish you all the very best!

[* Excerpt from webpage:]