Do you want to lose 10, 30, 50 or more pounds? Have you recently reached your weight loss goal but want to maintain it? Are you willing to dedicate yourself to a healthy lifestyle? Then this blog is for you!

I have lost 118 pounds and have maintained the weight loss for two years. One of the things I have learned during the weight loss process is that it is much easier to reach and maintain your goal weight if you surround yourself with like-minded individuals to support you in the process (whether they be in person or online).

I also have learned that learning as much as possible about healthy living gives you the knowledge and expertise needed to lose weight the “right” way. So this blog includes regular posts, a book list, website list, TV list, video list and book and website of the month. In addition, there is a recipe of the month and product review section. Visitors to Weight Loss Aficionado can just enjoy the site for informational purposes or can comment on posts, ask questions, share resources, their triumphs and pitfalls during the weight loss process.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

What Causes You to Eat When You're Not Really Hungry?

This is a great article written by Ramani Durvasula PhD. She was on the Dr. Oz show a few weeks ago and led a segment on hunger types (sensory, emotional and habitual). Knowing your hunger type allows you to be more cognizant of what makes you eat when you're really not hungry. In the article she gives tips for each hunger type and describes an apple test you can take if you can't tell if you are really hungry. Enjoy the read!

What’s Your Hunger Type?

Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Professor of Psychology, and Author of You Are WHY You Eat: Change Your Food Attitude, Change Your Life
It may sound a bit like asking someone, “What’s your sign?” But, knowing your hunger type could actually help you become a little more mindful of your eating patterns so you can avoid the mindless calories that lead to extra pounds. 

 Most of us fall into one hunger type associated with our eating mistakes. However, everyone is different, and you may find yourself exhibiting characteristics of more than one hunger type. This may make it harder, but you can apply the solutions offered for each category to help you break from your established eating patterns.

Take a look at these hunger types and see where you land:

The Sensory Type
Does the smell, sight, or sound of food set you off and make you want to eat? Does this happen even if you just ate or are not hungry? People that fall into the Sensory Hunger Type crave food when their senses are awakened. In general, people don’t get turned on by broccoli, but certain foods with more typically alluring aromas – like hamburgers – can get you going. The tough thing about this hunger type is that it is so primitive and hard-wired – smelling food and having a growly tummy is an involuntary response. But, the Sensory Hunger Type is often affected by high-calorie foods that are hard to stop eating once you start (e.g. fresh-baked cookies).
 Here are some other questions to ask yourself to determine if you are a Sensory Hunger Type. Think about your response to food smells and tastes: Do you audibly moan after eating certain foods (or even smelling them)? Do you get significantly distracted when you see or smell certain foods? 

What are the risks of this hunger type? When you are in places or situations where you are facing the smells, sounds, and sights of your favorite foods, it can be hard to say no. This can be true of Sensory Hunger Types even when they are full. They use cues outside of their bodies to dictate whether or not to eat instead of listening to what’s going on inside of their bodies.

Tips for the Sensory Hunger Type
 If sensory hunger is your thing, then you are more vulnerable to sights, smells and sounds – in short, your senses – so the best thing is to cut them off at the pass. A few suggestions:
  • Carry around a small bottle of grapefruit oil. Research suggests that breathing it in may help redirect those cravings or at least distract you from other “trigger” food odors. 
  • Pre-load with protein. Sometimes, when you go into a “high-sensory environment,” such as a food court, the combination of being a Sensory Hunger Type and being hungry can be a perfect storm. At least take off the edge by consuming a small protein snack. Mix it up – edamame, a small skim latte – these things have protein too. It may be just enough to keep you from falling too hard for the sensory triggers.  
The Emotional Type
This may be the most common hunger type – eating in response to a feeling instead of to hunger. Before you reach for food, think about the acronym FLAB: Frustrated, Lonely, Angry, Bored. These are amongst some of the most common reasons that people eat when they are not hungry.  
 The Emotional Hunger Type can have some real problems with regulating how they eat because they are eating for reasons that are unrelated to hunger and using food for something it is not designed to do – to soothe, calm or numb themselves. This is also a tough hunger type because it can turn into a pattern. In the Emotional Hunger Type, we often see that the person feels hungry all of a sudden, and will use the food to distract from the unpleasant feeling. This hunger type is also associated with wanting a “quick fix” and an immediate way of beating back a feeling. 
 Here are some questions to ask yourself to determine if you are an emotional eater: Do you eat when you feel bad? When you feel happy? What kinds of foods do you tend to go for when you are unhappy? Do you use food to numb your emotions?    
What are the risks for the Emotional Hunger Type? This type can put on weight fast, and it can be hard to manage weight. Food is being used to manage emotions, instead of learning more useful coping skills and doing the heavy lifting required to work through those emotions. Life is full of challenges – and Emotional Hunger Types may stop listening to their biological hunger cues and let their emotions win at the dinner table.

Tips for the Emotional Hunger Type
  • One suggestion I frequently take myself and offer to clients is the magic of tea, especially a fragrant tea like Roobios. The warmth and the slight sweetness can soothe and take the edge off – without all of the calories.
  • Distract yourself with a more appropriate tool. Make a list of distractor tasks that fill those emotional needs, such as frustration or boredom. You can try exercise, reading, calling a friend, watching TV, writing in your journal, etc. These techniques may be better for scratching that emotional itch, and certainly have fewer calories.
The Habitual Hunger Type
This hunger type is all about routine and schedule. You don’t listen to whether or not your body wants to eat, but rather, you eat because it is time to eat. The Habitual Hunger Type is challenging because you often override your body’s sense of hunger and of fullness in the name of your schedule or the schedule demands of others. 
 The Habitual Hunger Type can be influenced by early environments – parents who insisted on meal times. It can also be controlled by current environments – such as a set lunch hour at work. This can lead you to think you are “hungry” when you hear the dinner bell ring, even though you really aren’t.
 Here are some questions to ask yourself to determine whether you are a Habitual Hunger Type: Do you eat at set times every day, whether or not you are hungry? Do you eat when other people insist on it
The risk for this hunger type is in outsourcing your sense of knowing your own hunger (or fullness) to variables outside of you. These habits can lead to eating those extra calories even when you don’t need them. 

 Tips for the Habitual Hunger Type
  • It’s a battle – you vs. the schedule and the people who want you to eat when they want you to eat.  Try a “clock fast” – for a few days, listen to your body and eat when it wants to eat, instead of when others or schedules tell you to do so.  Monitor it and see if you start eating less. 
The Apple Test for All Hunger Types
Whether you’re a Sensory, Emotional or Habitual Hunger Type, much of the difficulty here is the question of whether or not you are really hungry. Lots of people struggle with this – and I’ve got the perfect trick to get to the bottom of it.

 Pick fruits and vegetables you like – apple, carrots, tomatoes, cherries – whatever floats your boat. The next time you are thinking you are hungry – ask yourself, “Will an apple handle my hunger right now?” If you are really hungry – even if an apple isn’t exactly what you want – it will seem as good an option as any and you will welcome it. 

 If however, you are eating for some other reason, then you will turn your nose up at that apple or carrot and say, “I am hungry for a burger…” In such cases, you are probably not really hungry but eating for some other reason. The apple test is a quick and dirty way for folks who struggle with these different hunger types to respond to hunger instead of something else.

 Once you figure out your hunger type and whether or not you are hungry, you are in a better position to be mindful whenever you have to face mealtimes and food. Good luck!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

How to Handle Your Red Light Foods!

Red light foods are foods that you cannot stop eating once you start. I have four red light foods, cookies, chocolate, cake and nuts. I never keep my red light foods in the house, but I do not deprive myself of them either. I have learned, from experience, that if I deprive myself of my red light foods I will binge on them once I get my hands on them. So instead, when I am in the mood for one of these items I go to the local convenience store and buy a one serving size pack of the item. This satisfies me and ensures I do not overeat the food.
The article below is one of the best ones I have read on red light foods. It outlines the top 40 red light foods and strategies you can use to ensure you do not binge on or over eat them. It was interesting to see that my red light foods were all in the top eleven of red light foods as surveyed in the article.  

Red Light Foods and How to Handle Them
© March, 2000 Scott "Q" Marcus, THINspirational Speaker

We’re all familiar with "red light foods," those pesky treats we don’t yet seem to control. Bringing them into the house triggers a major eating urge. Before we know, we’re consuming anything that stays on a plate long enough to get a fork into it. (That is, if we even put it on a plate!) Once done with our multi thousand calorie binge, the guilt and shame set in and the thought process, "As long as I’ve blown it, I might as well really blow it!" begins. The spiral escalates. Spirit falls. Weight goes up. No food in the house is safe now. "Yellow light foods" usually don’t trigger the binge but are consumed in mass quantities once a "red light food" has activated the trigger. For example, cereal might sit serenely and safely in the cabinet for months. Yet, after inhaling a jar of peanut butter and the prowl for more is in full swing, that box of "Sweet Puffies" is gone quickly.
Of course, "green light foods" are those that don’t cause a problem no matter what. Rarely will I hear someone confess that s/he ate too many celery sticks last night. These foods are always safe to have around.

What to do with these foods?
  1. Realize everyone has a red light food or two. (The average respondent to my survey had more than four.) One is not weak nor doomed to a life of obesity due to a craving for pizza. For whatever reason, we associate pizza (or whatever the food of choice) with comfort or pleasure or security. Each of us could use more pleasure in our lives. Don’t ‘beat yourself up" over the desire for a better life. (If shame and guilt were motivational, we’d all be skinny.) The key is to realize every behavior has a side effect (the result you didn’t plan) and sometimes the side effect is more harmful than the main benefit.

    Accept you are not YET willing to handle the food of choice and be vigilant for its appearance in your kitchen (and workplace). As was said by Wendell Phillips (speaking at Harvard University in 1852), "The price of liberty is eternal vigilance."
  2. Learn to live without the food. (Gasp!) This can actually be a risky strategy. Too many times, we say that we’ll just "give up" whatever might be our food of choice. We survive, at times digging our nails into the door jambs to prevent running to the nearest Mom and Pop store when the urge bludgeons us. However, pressure builds, desire escalates, urge increase - and finally we suffer from a "food explosion," making up for lost time with several month’s worth in one sitting (or "standing," more appropriately), a reaction usually caused by a feeling of deprivation.

    If you don’t feel deprived by removing that food from your life, it’s the best strategy. If you feel you’re removing your food because you "should" do it, try a different approach. Remember, not all solutions work for all people. That’s why the make chocolate and vanilla. (Hmm, maybe that’s not the best example I could have used here…)
  3. Ask for help. If ice cream is a red light food for you and your husband insists on bringing it into the house, ask him if there is some alternative. Could he use a flavor you don’t like? (Is there such a flavor?) Could he eat it when you’re not around? Could he not leave it in plain view in front of the freezer? Could he eat it when you go out as opposed to when you’re in the house? Many times we don’t ask our families for help. (Is it because they might agree to do so and you’re looking for a reason to "go off?") Elicit support whenever possible; your family and friends are on your side. (And if they’re not, why are you with them?)
  4. Find lower calorie and lower fat substitutes. Sugar free soda replaces regular soda. Fat free cheese can be used instead of the "real thing." Granted the taste might not be as fun - but that just might be the ticket that makes you think twice before eating. If you do, the "damage" will be lessened because of fewer calories.
  5. Eat the food only when you go out. My big flashing red light comes from peanut butter (sigh…). I have learned (sometimes) that if "I always do what I’ve always done, I’ll always be where I’ve always been." Each time in the past that I brought it in my house, I consumed it all (sometimes having to run back to the store to buy a new jar and eating that down to the level of the previous so no one would know what I did). Finally, after years of walking into walls, I moved over and opened a door and learned NOT to bring it in my house. That hasn’t stopped me from ordering off the kids’ menus at many restaurants (I just tell them I’m immature). My peanut butter and jelly sandwich is delivered on a bright shiny plate with a glass of milk and a smiling cookie. I’m content. The world is OK; I again have my peanut butter.
  6. Purchase only small packages. Don’t bring in the giant deluxe bag of cookies. Only purchase the little four-cookie package at the check stand. Count it toward your program. In the event of overindulgence, damage is minimized.
  7. Wait ten minutes. The best advice I have ever received is to wait ten minutes before eating- anytime. More times than not, the urge to eat is due to a trigger. Triggers pass (really!); we just usually don’t wait around long enough to find out.
When the urge to eat crosses your mind, grab tight and look at the clock. Promise yourself you’ll wait ten minutes and then decide. If you’re really hungry, the urge will not go away (and no, you won’t die of hunger in that time period). If it’s a habit, 80% of the time, it’ll pass and you’ll forget about the food for quite awhile.

If 80% of the time you have the urge to eat - and you don’t - you’re going to lose a lot of weight.

(One suggestion: Don’t set a timer. All it will do is remind you when time’s up.)
I hope this helped. If you have a suggestion, or an idea, send it to me at We’re all in this together.
Treat yourself special.
Scott Marcusstar 

Notes on the survey:

The attached chart was compiled during the week of March 6, 2000. Three hundred people were asked to mention their "red light food of choice." After listing the foods, they were asked to vote as often as they would like, raising his or her hand when a food was on the list. (Most people have more than one red light food.) The first column shows the ranking in terms of how many people said the food was on their list. Column two lists the food. Column three says what percentage of all the votes the food received (There were about 1200 votes because the average person had about four foods on her list). The final column shows what percentage of the 300 volunteers raised their hand when asked if this was on their "list." Therefore, Chocolate was the number one trouble food (wow, no surprise, huh?). It received 10.4% of all votes tallied, and it was listed on 44% of the lists. Of course, this list is totally unscientific and is not to be used as a shopping list to help you lose weight.

Red light food cop!
The "Top 40" of Red Light Foods

Red Light Food
% of all votes tallied
% of respondents who said they had a problem with this food
Ice Cream
Fresh Bread
French Fries
Peanut Butter
Fast Food
Macaroni & Cheese
Potatoes & gravy
Pancakes and/or Waffles
Snack Bars
Hot Dogs
Bread Sticks

For comments and questions:
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