I’m working to lose a few pounds right now and one of my favorite advisers for this is Dr. Roxanne Sukol, who blogs at YOUR HEALTH IS ON YOUR PLATE. Which in many ways says it all. So if you’re like me and thinking about shedding some weight, let’s explore what might be working against us. Here’s a check list.
- First think about the very last meal you had. If you grabbed a quick lunch or dinner out, that’s a problem, as when we do that we often have no idea what is ON THAT PLATE–well in terms of corn syrup which Sukol reminds us is in almost everything. We are getting hidden sugar that spikes insulin and packs on fat. Corn syrup is in: yogurt, breads, ice cream, salad dressings, sodas and sports drinks, muffins, non-dairy coffee whiteners, and if you love dark chocolate like I do, and eat it thinking you are being virtuous, corn syrup is even in some dark chocolate.
- Read labels. I’m in trouble here and need to do a lot more. I insist on a certain brand of peanut butter (which I eat almost daily) because is has NO SUGAR. But I need to do more.
- Portion control is a major problem in the United States. When I was growing up, portions were so much smaller than they are now. As a wealthy country, we seem to use size as a metaphor for success–bigger houses, for a while bigger cars, and certainly increased portion size. Sukol points out a few changes, some you will be aware of: bagels have tripled in size since the 1960s. There’s always room for dessert. You can get a bucket of soda for ten cents more, so why wouldn’t you?
- Super size is not the answer. Everyone of us can feel full by eating healthy foods. Healthy solutions to fighting hunger include: fiber, fat, and protein. Fruits and vegetables and beans are delicious and filling. Fat is flavorful and satisfying. Protein keeps you going. Want more info on fat, Sukol’s latest post is here.
- Your weight gain might also be attributed to irregular sleep patterns which can derail your weight loss efforts. Sukol suggests learning about “sleep hygiene” to see if you are doing something that is actually making it worse. Are you finding it hard to fall asleep because you can’t turn off your mind? Do you wake up in the early morning hours and have difficulty returning to sleep? Maybe you aren’t getting enough sleep, period.
- Reconsider the bedtime snack. Sukol reminds us that eating a big bowl of cereal before bed (which I have often done to keep my blood sugar level) or a peanut butter sandwich or a candy bar IS A PROBLEM. Her suggestion: Start working on this issue by trying to eat a bigger breakfast and lunch, thereby getting in more calories earlier in the day. You may still want a nighttime snack, but make it healthier and one that does include fiber. Her suggestion: berries which are sweet and satisfying, but low in practically everything else (except fiber).
- Sleep hygiene also includes:
- avoiding a nap during the day;
- avoiding stimulants like caffeine, nicotine and even alcohol, especially late in the day. Though the latter is know to lead you into sleep, research shows that it interrupts sleep as your body begins to metabolize the alcohol;
- exercise can promote sleep, but vigorous should be done earlier in the day and relaxing, like yoga, nearer to sleep hours;
- maintain daily light exposure so that when night comes, your body is aligned with the pattern that darkness means sleep; (Note that people who work night shifts like nurses and other first responders, often have difficulty controlling their weight.)
- associate your bed with sleep and create a regular, relaxing bedtime routine.
You might have discovered your own methods to control your weight or to lose weight when it sneaks up on you. Please share. Or keep this post and decide how some of Sukol’s ideas might apply to you. Start thinking about the one that resonates the most. Because like anything we attempt–it cannot happen over night. So here are last words to consider:
- one step at a time,
- one day at a time,
- one issue at a time.
There are NO QUICK FIXES. Progress is achieved when we set realistic goals. I’m going to start with changing my bedtime snack. What are you going to do?
Dr. Roxanne Sukol can be found at YOUR HEALTH IS ON YOUR PLATE.
Photo Credits: www.traceone.com www.skinnymon.com