Monday

How Can I Drink All That Water...?


One of the questions I get asked the most, is something along the lines of “How am I supposed to drink all this water?” or “What can I do to make drinking all this water easier?”

As you’re already aware, water plays a huge part in any weight loss regime (or any other healthy regime for that matter). In fact, there isn’t any weight-loss program in the world that can by-pass our bodies demand for water. We NEED water. For a reminder of some of the benefits, click here.

We need to drink a litre of water for every 5 stone (70 lbs) of body weight, every day. Yes, I know that’s a lot..!! In fact, for an average 12 ½ stone (175 lb) person, that’s around 200 U.K gallons per year!! (240 U.S gallons per year!!) – It’s a small lake..!!

A lot of this is about getting rid of some of the habits we already have, and replacing them with more hydrating ones. The good news is that once your body gets used to processing the required amount of water each day, it gets easier; you’ll actually notice beginning to crave it. So, here are 20 tips that can hopefully help in making a few hydrating habit changes….

1 Carry water with you. (Not exactly rocket science this one!). Having your own water supply on hand makes drinking water a no-brainer. Slip a reusable water bottle into your hand-bag, brief-case, gym bag, desk drawer, car etc, and be sure to refill it regularly.

Having accessible water makes you more likely to sip on it instead of fizzy drinks or other non-hydrating drinks and can provide a visual cue to drink more water.

2 Pace yourself. At first, it might seem like a lot of water, but you don’t need to drink it all at once. For example, if your target is 3 litres per day, and you’re awake for 15 hours per day, it’s just a litre every 5 hours; or a U.K pint every 3 hours or so... If I gave you a pint of water, would you be able to drink it in the time it takes to watch The Lord Of The Rings..???

3 Develop reminders. Try setting some sort of alarm on your phone, tablet or computer as an hourly reminder to drink water, or decide on a few personal “triggers” for drinking water.

Triggers to sip water can be routine activities such as receiving a phone call, passing a drinking fountain, stretching during work or workouts, hearing someone say your name, or watching commercial breaks during television programs. You can even stick a few ‘Post-it’ notes around the house or office with WATER written on them.

4 Campaign for a water cooler in your office. Okay, it might sound like a big ask at first; but if you’re going to spend a third of your life there, having an inexpensive water cooler or purified drinking system available to you and in close proximity throughout the work day, you would be more likely to grab a glass of water than to head to the kitchen to refill your coffee cup.

5 Prepare flavoured water in advance. Having a large pitcher of pre-flavoured or purified water in your home refrigerator makes it easy to refill your water bottle every morning or to grab a glass of water at each home meal.

6 When you’re out socialising, hold a glass of water (and drink from it, of course!). Holding (and drinking from) a glass of water will help you pace yourself at social events, parties and dinners that offer tempting food and drink. Try drinking a water between bites of any unhealthy food you're faced with. For example, it’s much harder to eat an entire piece of cake if you have to drink a glass of water between every single bite! To keep the wine or beer from bolstering your calorie count too much, drink a glass of water for every glass of alcohol you consume. Not only does this help to limit your consumption, but it helps counteract alcohol’s dehydrating effects. And when you have a glass in your hand, no matter what's in it, you’re less likely to be bombarded with more drink offers in the meantime.

7 Replace at least one drink per day with water. For example, consider a glass of water instead of a second cup of your morning coffee.

8 Try comfort water. This is a great tactic for coffee and tea drinkers. While you’re waiting for the coffee to brew, down a glass of water, squeeze in a bit of lemon and sip while you wait. Try another cup of warm water after you’ve had a mug or two of coffee. Hot water with lemon is also a great treat on a cold afternoon or evening. Invest in a new kind of herbal tea every time you grocery shop until you’ve found a couple that are just right.

9 Quench your thirst with water. Studies show that when you are thirsty, water will satisfy your thirst just as well as other beverages, such as sports drinks, soft drinks, or juice.

10 Drink Water Before, During, and After Meals. Make it a habit to down a quick glass around mealtimes. Drinking a glass of water, or at least a few sips, before, during, and after eating any meal is a great way to up your daily water intake.

Sip water with each meal (especially when you’re drinking alcohol). Replace your typical drink during meals with water, or at least have water to drink on the side. Not only can this save you money when you eat out, but it can also cut the calories you consume by drinking and make you less likely to consume additional calories from food

Follow up each meal with a small glass of water. Drinking water during and after each meal can help you feel full longer after eating and aid in the digestion of your food

11 Try herbal or fruit teas, or decaffeinated tea or coffee as a replacement, or occasional replacement to your regular tea or coffee fix.

12 Add lime, lemon, or other natural flavourings to your water. Slipping a slice of citrus fruit into your water can add a subtle flavour to perk up plain water, making it easier to drink more water throughout the day. Try mint leaves, cucumber slices, or berries for other flavour options.

13 Combine habits. Get in the habit of drinking a cup of water when you do other things in your daily routine. Love long baths? Fill your water bottle when filling the tub. Working out? Keep your bottle beside you. Heading for bed? Have a glass on the bed-side. Catching up on your favourite soap? Always have a glass of water on the go. Develop water habits that go with your routines.

14 Don’t put your glass down. Instead of putting down an empty glass or heading for the dish washer, refill it with water and keep sipping.

15 Drink through a straw and you'll take bigger gulps and drink much more.

16 What comes out, needs to be replaced. Every time you’ve visited the loo, make a habit of drinking a glass of water before you get back to what you were doing

17 Make it a morning ritual. Start your day by drinking one or two glasses of water. Start early, feel better, set the trend for the day.

18 Eat water-rich foods like watermelon (92 per cent water by weight) for a refreshing, hydrating break from sipping. (just be sure to include the calories in your daily plan).  Or try sugar free jelly as a snack. Very low in calories and you can actually count it toward your fluid intake.

19 Have a big glass of water at every transitional point of the day: When you first get up, before you leave the house, when you sit down to work, when you go to lunch…etc

20 At home always keep a glass of water handy while watching TV, doing laundry, making dinner or surfing the net. There’s an added advantage by keeping water cold. Some find it tastes better and your body will burn more calories heating it up to body temperature. Having said that, room temperature water is better if we're dehydrated, as our body absorbs it more quickly.

So there you have it, some ideas to help in creating new, water-drinking habits. And if you’re able to incorporate just 2 or 3 of those ideas alongside what you’re already doing, that will definitely be a step in the right direction for your weight loss plans.

To get you started, why not go and grab yourself a glass right now…???

Tony

Friday

What Your Food Cravings Are Telling You.


Cravings are the body's way of telling us what we need. But how accurate are they?

Why is it that we crave sugary snacks or fat-laden junk foods and never healthy choices, such as salad..?

Whenever we experience an overwhelming desire for certain types of food, there are a number of factors that are associated with this;

1. Dehydration.

This is by far the biggest reason many of us struggle with our weight. We need to drink around a litre of water each day, for every 5 stone (70 lbs) of body weight, in order for all our bodily processes to function properly. If we’re drinking less than that (and most of us drink MUCH less), our bodies will suffer from at least some of the effects of dehydration. One of these effects is that our brain ‘confuses’ the signals between ‘hunger’ and ‘thirst’; meaning that when we actually need water, this feeling manifests itself as a ‘hunger’. So the first thing to do when you get a craving, is drink a full glass of water.

2. Nutritional Deficiencies.

In order to operate at our optimum capacity, we need to nourish our bodies every day with a variety of macronutrients and micronutrients. If the body doesn’t get enough nutrients, it will send messages in the form of cravings. For example, inadequate mineral levels produce salt cravings, and overall inadequate nutrition can lead to cravings for non-nutritional forms of energy, like sugar or caffeine.

3. Hormones

When females go through menstruation, pregnancy, or menopause, fluctuating testosterone and oestrogen levels may cause unique cravings. Sometimes it is beyond our control, but if we have an idea when these cravings are likely to strike, it gives us the opportunity to prepare healthier options to satisfy our temptations.

4. Underlying Emotional Issues.

Staying in an unhappy relationship, feeling lonely, being disappointed with the opposite sex, being stressed, or uninspired by a career, lacking a spiritual practice, or having an inappropriate exercise routine (too much, too little or the wrong kind) may all lead to emotional eating. In these cases food serves as a substitute for entertainment or to fill the void of primary food.

Is it likely that someone would go to their fridge at 11pm and grab that chocolate ice cream, if they were with a loving partner who tells them how special they are and how much they care about them? Probably not.

Would someone snack all afternoon on biscuits and crisps if they were totally immersed in a fabulous, interesting project they’re working on? Probably not.

Sometimes it’s useful to look at all areas of our life and be aware that it’s not necessarily the food we desire, but other forms of nourishment: love, inspiration, friendship, fulfilling career, movement, hobby or feeling significant.

Does Dieting Affects Our Cravings?

There is now little doubt that dieting significantly increases our cravings for food. Last year, a University of Leeds study investigated the link between food restriction and food craving. A group of 129 participants (dieters and non-dieters) were assessed, completing food, mood and craving diaries for 7 days. Of the 393 craving incidents recorded, dieters experienced significantly more food cravings than non-dieters, with chocolate being the most craved food, accounting for 37% of all cravings. Also, compared with non-dieters, dieters experienced stronger cravings that were more difficult to resist, and for foods they were restricting eating.

What Are Your Cravings Trying To Tell You?

Craving Chocolate

Why we crave it
For a start, it tastes good! It's sweet on your tongue and creamy in your mouth. It provides calories and fat to ward off any hunger that may occur over the next few hours. It temporarily boosts your blood sugar, and even alters some chemicals in your brain that make you feel better. The caffeine may help you become more alert, and at the same time the serotonin (a neurotransmitter) more calm. Why wouldn't we crave chocolate constantly? It does so much for us!!!

How to control it
Women who increase their intake of the mineral magnesium, by taking a supplement, or by eating nuts, wholegrains and spinach, reduce their hormonally driven chocolate cravings. Interestingly, researchers at University College London found that subjects who were told to eat chocolate when not hungry found their cravings became weaker. Eating it on an empty stomach made their cravings stronger.

Chocolate also increases our levels of serotonin, a mood boosting hormone,  meaning cravings can also be related to an emotional need.  With this in mind, this emotional need can be satisfied by reaching for a loved one, friend, pet or any activity that makes you feel good. Healthy cocoa or dark chocolate also has the same serotonin-boosting effect.

Craving Sweets

Why we crave them
There are many things that can lead to craving certain foods, but it seems that stress is the leading cause for sugar cravings. Stress can be biological or emotional. For example, not getting enough sleep, being dehydrated or being hungry are all biological stresses. Emotional feelings like sadness, guilt or being upset can lead to feeling stressed and also lead to sugar cravings.

There are also environmental triggers that we have to be aware of. These are usually external but they are still powerful. A great example of environmental triggers is going to a movie. When you walk into a movie theater usually the first thing you notice is the overwhelming smell of buttered popcorn. Then, as you turn towards the refreshments counter, you notice all the brightly colored boxes and the biggest array of 'pick-and-mix' imaginable! You see the overstuffed boxes of popcorn and you can probably even hear more corn being popped by the second. (Are you craving popcorn yet???) This is where all that memory stuff kicks in. You're familiar with this scene. Maybe you've experienced a movie with a huge bag of M&M's at your side. Our mind connects things like buttered popcorn or M&M's, with the pleasure-centres in our brain. We have pleasurable memories of eating those foods, satisfying our cravings and experiencing their enjoyable contribution to the whole 'movie night' thing. So it's natural for those cravings to show up when we're in this type of environment.

Understanding environmentally triggered cravings is key. It's hard to reduce sugar cravings if we're surrounded by sugar and environmental triggers that cause us to crave sugar. These triggers can become more powerful the more we try to give-in to them. This is part of the reason why we might experience intense sugar cravings or processed carbohydrate cravings 10 days into Lent, when we've given up sugar. Our body is so used to eating high sugar foods and highly processed carbohydrates that our brain has strong memories associated with those types of foods.

How To Control It
The main, long-term trick for you to break sugar addiction is to PLAN AHEAD. Plan ahead as much as possible and make good choices at the supermarket. Pack healthy snacks like apples, nuts and berries to take with you to work. Keep some of these foods in your desk drawer so you're always prepared. Most of all, know the triggers that cause your own sugar cravings and be prepared for them.

Craving Savoury (Salty) Foods

Why we crave it
Cravings for salt can occur when we're used to eating a lot of salty foods and then try to cut back on our salt consumption. Salt cravings can also be the result of a range of medical conditions, some more serious than others. Here are more of the reasons why we crave salty foods.

Our Body Needs Salt
Our body consists of 60 to 70 per cent water. Salt is one of the electrolytes that helps our body maintain an appropriate balance of fluids.

We need to eat about one teaspoon (6 grams) of salt each day to maintain healthy salt levels in our body and much of our daily salt requirement comes from salty foods. Eating too much salt however, can lead to high blood pressure.

Common Reasons for Salt Cravings
We may find ourself craving salty foods when we try to cut these foods out of our diet for health reasons. This is because once our body has become accustomed to salt, it will continue to anticipate that same level. However, this type of salt craving will subside with a little time (and will power!)

Natural salt contains a number of trace minerals not found in table salt. If we're craving salt but don't have any additional medical symptoms, our salt cravings could be the result of a trace mineral deficiency. Eating salty foods temporarily relieves cravings of this type, but they return when our body fails to absorb any trace minerals from the salty foods we've eaten.

Salt cravings can also be the result of mild dehydration. When we sweat, we lose salt from our body. If we have salt cravings after exercise or after perspiring on a hot day, we've probably lost too salt and/or other electrolytes.

Medical Reasons for Salt Cravings
Salt cravings can be a symptom of a serious medical condition and are often associated with adrenal disorders, such as Addison's Disease and Adrenal Cortex Disease. Other causes include hypoadrenocorticism and hypoparathyroidism. If your salt cravings are accompanied by other physical symptoms or if they seem to come on suddenly and strongly, consult your doctor to rule out underlying medical conditions. It's likely
your doctor will consider your personal and family medical history when making a diagnosis, and run blood tests to determine if your salt cravings are the result of adrenal dysfunction or another medical condition. Your doctor may also perform urine tests, and, if you're a woman, check for pregnancy, since pregnant women often develop cravings for (amongst other things) salty foods.

Complications of Salt Cravings
Salt cravings can easily lead to over-consumption of salt and salty foods. While our body needs a small amount of salt to function properly, eating too much salt can lead to dizziness, excessive thirst and dry mouth. If you eat too much salt for a long period of time, you could succumb to high blood pressure and develop a higher risk of heart attack and stroke.

Craving Fatty Foods

Why we crave it
Firstly, it’s perfectly normal to crave fat. That's because animal fat is the primary constituent of the evolutionary human diet – We’re hard-wired to crave it. Not only that, ‘low-fat’ diets just make us crave fat even more. Here’s why…

Although many individuals associate fat with weight gain, fat is actually an essential component of a healthy, well-balanced diet. Some of the essential vitamins required by your body require fats for absorption. Vitamins that require fat for absorption include vitamins A, D, E, K and the carotenoids. Additionally, our bodies require fat for normal growth and development, for maintaining cell membranes and for cushioning for our internal organs.

When we consume fat, it fills our cells and helps to insulate our body. Our body also uses fat as storage for energy; after exhausting the energy from carbohydrates, our body relies on its fat stores for fuel.

Also when we eat fat, our body releases a protein called Galanin in large amounts (Galanin helps the neurons in our brain communicate with each other);- our bodies also release Galanin when we haven’t eaten for some time... this helps to explain why our body craves fat when we are hungry.

How to control it
When choosing fats to eat, we should consume mostly unsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats will still satisfy our need to consume fats without subjecting our body to the health risks associated with saturated fats. Also, try to avoid processed foods. Not always easy, but if we aim to achieve that at least 80 percent of what we eat is ‘natural’ foods, this can sufficiently limit our intake of ‘man-made’ processed foods, which are pumped full of ingredients that cause ‘drug-like’ addictions, causing us to crave those foods even more.

Craving pasta and bread

The Likely Culprit: A Sleep Shortfall
If you can’t pass a bread basket or pasta bowl without wanting to dive in headfirst, a chronic lack of sleep is most likely to blame, says Michael Smolensky, Ph.D., a professor of environmental physiology at the University of Texas-Houston School of Public Health. “Your brain functions best on eight hours and 15 minutes of sleep nightly, yet many busy women are slogging along on six hours -- or less!” The problem, say UCLA doctors: Deep sleep is essential for restocking your brain’s stores of the appetite-taming hormone serotonin; and as serotonin levels plunge, carb cravings go through the roof. “Within two days of becoming sleep deprived, almost 100 percent of people start grazing on breads, buns, and other starchy foods!” says Dr Smolensky.

How To Control It
Make it a top priority to get at least eight hours of serotonin-boosting sleep nightly, and your carb cravings could disappear in as little as 72 hours.

Ten More Ways To Beat Those Cravings;

1. Eat Small Amounts Of Healthy Food Regularly: One of the biggest reasons for cravings is the crash in blood sugar which makes us feel like we need something to eat immediately. Eating small amounts of healthy food regularly (every 3-5 hours) ensures we aren't suddenly ravenous when our blood sugar drops.

2. Chew Gum: You can usually stall cravings for something sweet by chewing sugar free gum. It will satisfy the craving, keep your mouth busy and distract you until the craving passes.

3. Brush Your Teeth (This Works!): Once you feel the cravings coming on, go and brush your teeth. Do a thorough job and even floss too. We're conditioned NOT to expect food for a good while once we've brushed our teeth; it's as if our brain temporarily 'switches off' our hunger receptors. A combination of the mint flavour in your mouth and all the hard work you've just put in, means it's highly likely you won't want to eat, giving you the chance to distract yourself by getting on with something else.

4. Avoid Your Triggers: There's a lot to be said for steering clear of temptation altogether. If there's a vending machine or kitchen cabinet that always tempts you or triggers cravings, avoid it. Dispose of all the goodies that tempt you in that kitchen cabinet and then avoid it altogether. Walk around and avoid any vending machines, etc, until they no longer cause your cravings.

5. Break Any Habits That Bring On Cravings: Sometimes, we unconsciously develop habits that encourage habitual cravings. Examine your schedule and see if you make any habitual trips to the 'sweet cupboard' or other place where you give in to cravings. Replace the negative pattern with a positive one until the habit is broken. For example, during those times when you used to indulge in negative snacking habits, make a point of distracting yourself by painting your nails, listening to relaxing music, going for a walk, watering the plants, tidy your inbox, browse through a treasured photo album, treat yourself to a hot, bubbly bath, etc, etc.

6. Always Drink Water First: Sometimes we feel hungry when in fact, what our body actually needs is water. Don't fall into the trap of giving in to your instincts; drink an entire glass of water, wait for 3 minutes and see if that eliminates those hunger pangs. Not only will you be hydrated, you'll also feel fuller.

7. Wait For The Craving To Pass: Okay, some will power required here; the trick is, don't tell yourself that you're definitely not going to have anything, tell yourself that you'll re-evaluate the craving after 15-20 minutes, then go and do something else you find engaging or you enjoy. Often cravings are simply the result of being bored. Chances are, if you find an engaging or absorbing activity, you'll forget all about the craving.

8. Realize the Cost Of Giving In Is More Than The Calories: Know that giving in to the craving will actually make it more difficult to say 'no' the next time. Fortunately, the opposite is also true; success brings on more success. Each time you conquer a weight loss challenge, the next challenge will be easier.

9. Get Enough Sleep: Many studies suggests that a lack of sleep contributes to a shift of hormones that influence hunger, cravings and appetite. Whilst we can certainly 'get by' on less, virtually everybody needs 8 to 9 hours of sleep each night, in order that their brain and body functions at its very best.

10. Many Cravings Are Thought To Be A Sign Of Nutrient Deficiency From Our Foods. One simple way to start correcting these deficiencies, is to take a basic multivitamin and mineral supplement. It is not necessary for this to be a mega dose pack of micronutrients. A little can go a long way to correcting deficiencies when taking a quality multivitamin and mineral supplement. With the correct amount of nutrients in our system, the mind and body work as they should and are less likely to trigger cravings.

Cravings are bound to crop up at some point, particularly when we take on-board a regime of healthier eating. But as time passes, there will be progressively fewer cravings, and taking steps to identify and overcome the triggers, makes this process go even faster.

Have a fabulous, craving-free weekend!

Tony