While working closely with our clients and helping them reach their weight goals and general well being , I realized that almost none of them understands how food “works”. We simply take food for granted, as something that is a “must have”, so what is there to understand. When it comes to food, common sense defies logic. How ? People think, in general: I am overweight because I eat too much, so if I want to lose weight, I simply should stop eating. Start skipping meals, challenging myself how long I can go without eating, and eventually the excess weight will be gone. Most of our clients tell us that they used to be “normal” and as they aged pounds started to compound. Each month, year, a few, but after awhile it became too obvious that something was off. Some of our clients have some understanding trying to figure out what food to eat. They somehow understand that maybe what we eat also affects how we feel and look. To their surprise, whatever they have been trying results in bad breath (due to skipping meals), being edgy or constantly anxious, difficulties sleeping, low energy etc. They might lose a few pounds and then struggle to go further, and in most cases those few pounds come back with a vengeance! After a failed attempt or two, our brain goes into: I don’t care mode! I am what I am, take me as is, or leave me alone! Luckily, there are people like nutritionists, who first and foremost not only have very good understanding of how the food affects our mood, health and looks, but we also are very patient people. We know that we are dealing with serious addictions and common misconceptions about food, so patience is as equally important as the knowledge and experience. Let me try to comfort you a bit (not too much, just a bit): The vast majority of the food we are offered, is like a “stacked” deck of cards. It is simply made to “work” against us, no matter what we try. How is that possible? It is possible due to the high concentration of ingredients that are added to our food, that have absolutely nothing to do with our health, our looks or well being. Actually it does. It makes us, overweight, tired, low energy, anxious, depressed, sleep deprived, and many other things equally unpleasant. Just a weird example: Did you know that bacon manufacturers add artificial color to make bacon look more red, and they also add sugar. Sugar to the bacon??? Sugar to bacon, ketchup, bread, pasta, salad dressings, sausages, meat, I can go on. However that is not all. Beside sugar they are adding artificial flavor enhancers, artificial color, corn sweeteners, corn starch, just to name a few. All those additives have only one task: To make food tastier (not healthier) and equally important, to create quick spikes of our glycemic index and also to make sure it slowly goes down. Quite the opposite of what the healthy food should do. Short glycemic index spikes, quick drop to normal levels.
Ok, let’s get to the point. Each piece of food we have to eat in order to stay alive has a glycemic index. Glycemic index is the level of sugar in the blood that goes up and down all day long, and it is affected by the food we consume. It has a very complex and crucial role in our digestion system. We should have glycemic index at certain levels to help us digest the food, extract the nutrients from the food, and to prevent our body to start dissolving our muscle tissue looking for energy to keep as alive. However the glycmeic index is also supposed to go to the “rest” mode once we are done digesting. I said, it is supposed to go back to the “rest” mode, because the “bad” food we eat prevents it from doing so.
The way it works is: The higher glycemic index spikes after a meal and the slower it levels down, our body being designed the way it is responds always the same way: fatigue, anxiety, storing too much fat, forcing us to munch all day and sip sugary drinks. Once we were able to digest what we ate, brain says: MORE!!!! preferable of the same nature or worse. In order to avoid depression, our brain needs another “kick” to feel happy, before it gets depressed again. What a circle of joy! Keep in mind we are not talking about dieting, we are talking about serious addiction. Remember, if the person is not (currently) overweight, it is much harder to “detect” the issue.
So what is the solution?
The solution is a few step process:
Approach the issue rather as addiction than as being overweight, depressed, constantly tired, anxious, sleep deprived etc. Those are the consequences, luckily not the cause, therefore they are treatable. It takes about two to maximum four weeks to start feeling “withdrawal” signs. However do not fool yourself, once “clean” you cant go back to your usual habits thinking I am ok. This is a lifestyle change and has to be treated like one.