Six strategies for successful weight management, and the surprising science behind some of them!

The partying and revelry are over, and Holiday season 2015 with it’s whirlwind of last-minute frantic shopping, and even more frantic holiday associated eating, is now history! Now comes the reality check, and the dreaded scale that you had been pointedly ignoring awaits. If you are kicking yourself for tossing last year’s weight loss resolution (once again), right through the window some time in February 2015, after getting off to a great start in January, and are pledging that this New Year you will not fall into the same trap again, do check out these smart strategies.

© Copyright, January, 2016, Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE.

© Copyright, January, 2016, Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE.

  1. Vision and a positive attitude: A successful mission starts with a vision of the end result. Try to visualize where you want to be health-wise, and how you would like to look a couple of years from now, or at least 6 months from now, and keep affirming to yourself that you are already there. Bring your vision into the present, and make it crystal clear, almost akin to looking at  your future self through a high-resolution camera, and adjusting the lens to bring that vision sharply into focus. You are likely to pursue behaviors that will make this a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    Today's environment offers a multitude of palatable foods, designed to hijack your taste buds. © Copyright, January, 2016, Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE.

    Today’s environment offers a multitude of palatable foods, designed to practically hijack your taste buds. © Copyright, January, 2016, Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE.

  1. Seize control of your environment: “Bet you can’t stop at one chip, or one Hershey’s kiss!”, as the saying goes. Let’s face it: we tend to seek highly palatable foods when we experience food cravings. When was the last time you heard of someone “bingeing on a head of cauliflower?!!”. Make a conscious attempt, if possible, to remove all such “trigger foods” from your environment. We are all susceptible to easily accessible, tempting foods in our immediate environment, and our environment today consists of “cleverly engineered” foods, explicitly designed to hijack our taste buds. There is some research that shows that repeated exposure to foods containing added sugars, fat and high fructose corn syrup may have an addictive effect on the brain, in ways we do not fully understand. There is some emerging evidence that shows that repeated, intake of such food may impact brain reward pathways. A subsequent, addiction-like, compulsive eating behavior, might emerge, underscoring the need to restrict easy access to these foods in the first place.
High fat, high sugar and other highly palatable foods tend to induce compulsive eating behavior. Picture courtesy of http://www.tangandspice.com/. All rights reserved.

High fat, high sugar and other highly palatable foods tend to induce compulsive eating behavior. Picture courtesy of http://www.tangandspice.com/. All rights reserved.

  1. Ditch the juicing: You read that correctly. Juicing has become quite the rage today in fitness circles. Like most fads, some folks hop on board without pausing to think about how it affects one’s body and in turn, one’s metabolism. Let’s think about this for a moment. Let’s say you juiced an apple or an orange, and prudently retained the pulp as that’s the part with the all-important fiber. Since the juice is a liquid, it will pass rapidly through your digestive tract and get absorbed into your blood stream within minutes! This causes a rapid spike in your blood sugar, eliciting a large insulin release from your pancreas, and a subsequent sugar crash, triggering hunger cravings.

    image

    The juiced version of a fruit causes a rapid blood sugar spike, compared to the whole fruit. © Copyright, January, 2016, Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE.

    • Contrast that with what happens when you eat the whole apple or the orange. Carb, for carb, and calorie for calorie, even though there is no difference between the apple and it’s liquefied version, just the process of chewing the fruit, slows down and prolongs digestion, thus tempering the inevitable sugar spike, and the subsequent crash caused by an exaggerated insulin response. In short, I would not recommend pulverizing your fruit in a blender. Eat it whole, and in sync with how nature intended us to eat. (Might explain why we have teeth:))!
    • Don’t get me wrong. There is room for some juicing, when it comes to vegetables, as these are very low in carbohydrates, and less likely to elicit a huge insulin response. Also, it would be much easier to consume a glass of broccoli or kale juice rather than eat your way through a huge bunch of spinach or kale leaves. That said, this argument holds true only if you are already consuming an adequate vegetable intake, but wish to add more, and “drinking” the freshly squeezed juice would enable you to squeeze in another nutritious vegetable serving.
  1. Get a grip on ghrelin: We all know that although it seems counter-intuitive, skipping meals, starving, fasting or overly restricting calories never works. But why is this so? One contributing factor is that ghrelin, your hunger hormone, rises 2-fold immediately before a meal, and tapers to it’s lowest level about an hour after the meal. Ghrelin levels also rise after an overnight fast, and will keep building up until you eat, peaking just before you eat, then falling. Thus, eating at regular intervals is in sync with your ghrelin cycle, and by avoiding long gaps between meals, you are able to tame the “hunger monster”, aka ghrelin. Now you know why small, well spaced meals help!
  • What is interesting about ghrelin is that counter-intuitive as it might seem, low ghrelin levels are observed in obesity, whereas higher levels are seen in anorexia. However, studies show that obese folks may be more sensitive to the appetite-stimulating effects of ghrelin.
  1. Exercise your way to your goal: Yes, it can be boring, but your best weight loss efforts will be in vain, without some form of aerobic exercise to help burn fat. If you have a tendency to be a sedentary, make sure you do not over reach, and keep your goals realistic, practical, doable, very specific and above all, enjoyable. Look at your calendar, pick a time when you are most likely to exercise, and set an exercise date with the most important person in your life-yourself! The more specific your exercise goal, the more likely you are to follow through!
  1. Fiber rules! Assuming there is no contra-indication, eat approximately 30-40 grams of fiber rich foods per day. If that seems like a tall order, bear in mind that one medium pear can give you 6 grams of fiber and a medium apple, 4! Toss a cup of kidney beans in your salad for lunch, and that’s a whopping 16 grams! Replace the white rice with wild rice (5 grams), and fill up half your plate with broccoli at dinner (5 grams), and you can see how quickly the fiber begins to stack up! Human beings do not have the enzymes to digest fiber, hence the body has to work hard to digest foods that are highly fibrous, prolonging digestion, and as noted above, promoting satiety, minimizing cravings and facilitating weight loss. Not to mention, indigestible fiber latches on to toxins and removes them as it moves down the digestive tract, working as nature’s own cleanser. Fiber is a sure fire win-win, or rather, with an adequate fiber intake, all you have to lose is the weight!
Loading up on fiber rich foods is the key to good health. © Copyright, January, 2016, Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE.

Loading up on fiber rich foods is the key to good health. © Copyright, January, 2016, Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE.

  • While you are at it, do not forget to toss in prebiotic rich fiber foods, and probiotics from yogurt and kefir as discussed in this post.
Asparagus, onions, leeks, bananas contain prebiotics. Also found in Jerusalem artchokes. Copyright, Sangeeta Pradhan, October 2015

Asparagus, onions, leeks, bananas contain prebiotics. Also found in Jerusalem artchokes. Copyright, Sangeeta Pradhan, October 2015

Apple-cinnamon-flax seed kefir. © Copyright, Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE

Power up with probiotics. Apple-cinnamon-flax seed kefir. © Copyright, Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE

Were you surprised to discover some of the scientific facts about nutrition and weight management? You may also be pleasantly surprised to discover that the answers to weight management are often within arm’s reach, in your own kitchen cabinet! Armed with these strategies, kick off the New Year with a renewed focus on your health. Eating well does not have to be complicated and tedious, and it is not always about eating less, a very common misconception, but about eating right!

Disclaimer: This blog is strictly for informational purposes and should not be construed as medical advice. Please consult your personal physician or registered dietitian for recommendations tailored to your specific needs.

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About Sangeeta Pradhan RD, CDE

Hi there! Welcome to my blog! If you are confused with all the conflicting messages you get bombarded with every day on carbs, fats, proteins, gluten and anything you can think of related to nutrition, look no further! The purpose of my blog is to cut through all this clutter, utilizing scientific, evidence based guidelines to help you, the consumer, navigate the complex, dietary landscape, and thus empower you to make informed decisions.
This entry was posted in Weight management and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to Six strategies for successful weight management, and the surprising science behind some of them!

  1. smilecalm says:

    clear, informative & fun, Sangeeta!
    i feel like the weight has melted off
    just reading this 🙂
    ok, i’ll get some exercise, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks so much! Love your positive feedback as always! Trust me, I struggle with exercise too, what can I say😏!

    Like

  3. Linda says:

    Great post to start off the year with!! Now, if I could only follow your great advice! I’ll try, I’ll try!
    Happy New Year 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you so much, Linda. Trust me, I have my share of vices and struggle like everyone else! 😏

    Liked by 1 person

  5. RMW says:

    Love your photos… very nicely staged. I have this discussion about juicing all the time with a friend. I juiced for a while but when I saw all the fiber that was going down the garbage disposal I got rid of the juicer.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you so much😊! Yes, juicers that remove all the fiber should not be used at all. However, even if you retain the pulp/ fiber, by using a juicer/ blender that does not discard the pulp, because the juice is a liquid, it is rapidly absorbed into your blood stream, causing the rapid spike in blood sugar that you are less likely to see when you “chew” the solid version, i.e. the whole fruit. The latter is more slowly digested and absorbed, tempering the glucose curve. Hope this makes sense. Great feedback.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Saengeeta, the section on ghrelin was very enlightening for me. It makes perfect sense to maintain a balance to keep this hunger hormone in check. Thank you for this very clear explanation.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Sangeeta, I just noticed in my last comment that spell check placed an extra “e” in your name. I did catch it when it tried to make ghrelin into gherkin,though. I will definitely keep a closer eye on those spell check gremlins!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hi Claremary,

    The pleasure is all mine! So glad that the explanation on ghrelin resonated with you. I try to help readers connect the dots between food and the science/ physiology behind it, without the medical jargon, if I can help it. Your feedback is very helpful, as it tells me my message is hitting home, so to speak. Thank you so much!😊. Take care.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. You’re welcome, Sangeeta and your guidance is much appreciated.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. No worries, Claremary! I did not even notice it. Thanks for being so diligent! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Great post with some helpful tips! I recently started cutting sugar (along with a lot of carbs) and kicking up fiber and protein. It’s amazing what a difference it’s made in how I feel, and I’ve already lost 15 pounds. Hope to stay on track all year in 2016!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Hi Kaitlin,
    Thanks, Kaitlin. Congratulations on successfully losing weight, cutting out sugar and increasing fiber and protein. Makes sense to cut back refined carbs, but emphasize higher fiber whole grains, legumes, fruits and veggies. Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your experience here. Take care😊.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Your post reminds me to remove all “trigger foods” from my kitchen and to start exercising regularly. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  15. You’re more than welcome, Somali. Creating a “safe” environment has what has personally helped me the most. Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Sheryl says:

    The tips are wonderful – and perfectly timed at the beginning of the new year.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Thanks, Sheryl! So glad you found the tips helpful. Cheers!

    Like

  18. All wonderful information very relevant to this time of year.. I confess to over indulging over Christmas.. Luckily I do not suffer too much with being over weight.. But since my retiring have put on extra unwanted pounds due to not running about all the time 🙂

    Since the New year started I have been having salads with some protein most days.. making my own coleslaw from red cabbage, carrots, and red and yellow peppers.. Raw shredded beetroot and using kale and spinach in the salad. Even my husband has enjoyed them and they are very filling.. I also asked my hubby to cut sugar out from his drinks and he is not missing it..
    Walking everyday we always have done.. 🙂

    But I really enjoyed reading through all of your six tips..

    Many thanks also for your own lovely visit.. wishing you a good week ahead..
    Love and Blessings Sue x

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Hi Sue, you are a woman after my own heart- love all those lovely wholesome, fresh, veggies you have worked into your meal plan, and all the wonderful changes you and your husband have embraced! Funny how the taste buds adapt isn’t it??Love our virtual chats! May the New Year be Joyous, Healthy and Prosperous for you and your family! Thank you so much for stopping by and for your good wishes! 😊

    Like

  20. Yay. Glad I did not succumb to the temporary urge to buy an (expensive) juicer.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Hi Julia,
    Thanks for stopping by. Makes sense doesn’t it?? From an evolutionary perspective, we are not really programmed to consume blenderized foods, but to eat them in their whole form the way nature intended us to. Cheers! 😊

    Like

  22. Swetha M says:

    I love this post! Great info and reminder:)

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Hi Swetha,

    Thank you for the great feedback! So glad you found it helpful. Thank you for visiting and stopping by.

    Cheers!
    Sangeeta

    Liked by 1 person

  24. I think that I am a person who really tries to eat in a healthy way, but your advice are marvellous and I will try to eat my orange in the morning instead of thrinking it!! Very many thanks Sangeeta.:)

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Hi Martina,
    My pleasure! You got it! Thank you for the great feedback. So glad you found my post helpful. When I read comments that tell me my message has hit home, and readers are making meaningful changes in their lives, that positively impacts their health, it just makes my job all the more rewarding!!
    Warm regards:))

    Like

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