What we eat is at least as important as how much we eat — maybe even more important. No one ever got fat eating oysters alone (raw, not fried, sans hushpuppies). I know someone who can eat a whole lot of them, too.
Two things that contribute to making people fat as a result of our Standard American Diet (SAD) are food cravings and false hunger. Food cravings lead to a compulsion to eat foods that will make us fat, or large quantities of nonfoods (low nutrition/high food sensitivity foods). False hunger is the “second step” in that process, leading to yet more bad eating.
Food cravings are compulsions to eat certain foods in quantity. Usually, the foods that are craved fit into the dairy-wheat-junk-sugar category. I’ve never heard someone say, “I’m craving brussel sprouts!” People joke about pregnancy-related cravings, like ice cream with pickles and peanut butter. When I was pregnant with Meredith, I craved the sweetest-possible Coca-Cola (not Pepsi, sorry!) and squishy white bread.
False hunger is characterized by stomach pains that, once one is familiar with real hunger, are obviously something different. True hunger does not manifest as pains in the stomach. It manifests as a strong desire to eat … real food! The so-called “hunger pains” or “hunger pangs” are at least in my case, a result of eating something I’m sensitive to. I used to get them at 10:00 a.m. all the time, after consuming a breakfast containing dairy and probably HFCS (high fructose corn syrup). It has been a very long time since I’ve gotten them.
It drives me crazy when I see the diet industry recommending foods that will fuel food cravings and false hunger. This is like a doctor recommending that a patient switch from high tar to higher tar cigarettes in order to quit smoking.
Does your stomach hurt?
Eat some soothing yogurt!
When I first saw Dannon “Light and Fit” yogurt I thought “There’s a good one!” (Not). And indeed, this little container of nonfood has 80 calories, and its main ingredients are cultured Grade A nonfat milk, water and fructose. It contains less than 1% of all the other crap in the container – modified corn starch, “flavors,” artificial coloring, good old sucralose (Splenda) and numerous preservatives and stabilizers.
Eating this little goodie won’t satisfy hunger. It’s guaranteed to bring on “hunger pangs”/false hunger or food cravings within a short time that will inspire a) overeating in general; and b) overeating of the wrong/low nutrition/low health foods.
If you disbelieve me and are “dieting,” take the Casil Craving Challenge.
Eat one of these little containers or a similar product (make sure it’s low-fat, contains artificial sweetener and is otherwise junked up) as a “snack” at 10:00 a.m. on Monday. Then record how hungry you are at lunch time, whether or not you have “hunger pangs” and what you want to eat for lunch. Write down what you actually eat.
On Tuesday, instead of the little container of nonfood yogurt, eat a handful of almonds or other nuts at 10:00 a.m. and a small amount of low-glycemic fruit: common ones are apples, oranges, bananas, berries, peaches and plums. By “small” I mean one actual small apple, orange or banana. A serving. Record whether or not you have “hunger pangs” and what you want to eat for lunch. Write down what you actually eat.
If you want to eat foods that are high-calorie for lunch on the day you consume the nonfood at 10:00 a.m. – regardless of what you actually eat – you have experienced food cravings resulting from consumption of nonfood.
As to documenting the difference between real hunger and false hunger, I do not advise taking the Casil Hunger Challenge if you’re not already eating cleanly. However, our memories should all help us to remember what real hunger feels like.
When I was a kid, we often went to the beach. On several occasions, I remember playing all day in the surf, building sand castles and running around. At the end of the day, sand in my hair and my bathing suit, fully-sunburned to a crisp, I remember how good a small, plain, sandy hamburger and an apple tasted. That was my child body saying “thank you!” Even the sand in the burger and on the apple tasted good.
False hunger and food cravings are the reasons why “what you eat” is as important as how much you eat, and why the “it doesn’t matter what you eat as long as you consume fewer calories than you burn each day” advice is so very, very wrong.
If you’ve already taken the step of consuming the nonfood substitute at 10:00 a.m. and seeing if it produces food cravings or false hunger, note if there are other foods which have a similar effect. I began my journey by eliminating dairy and food additives from my diet. I then eliminated high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and wheat gluten. I find myself automatically consuming much less sugar in general than I used to: because I have no food cravings. I haven’t counted calories for years.
And as I am informed by the oyster-eating individual I know quite well – I have the body of a woman half my age. This didn’t happen overnight, but it’s really nice to be able to run, jump, climb, swim and do any activity I like at age 52. Recovery time fast, too!
I would not trade the ability to, 50 yards out, spot Henry emerging from his nest at 5:30 a.m. on the beach at Jekyll Island for five thousand free cases of Dannon “Light and Fit” Yogurt.