Tuesday, May 31, 2016

[Guest Post] How One Woman Survived 30 Days with No Refined Sugar

One of the things I love about teaching behavior change in groups each week is that the personal stories of challenge and triumph create such a rich experience for everyone present.  We learn through story.  We connect to others with compassion and empathy when we hear their stories.  And, we can see ourselves in the stories too.

To bring a bit of that richness to you this week, my friend Carmen shares her honest story of struggle and triumph in breaking free from refined sugar.  She shares her motivation, experience, struggle with hormone imbalance, and how she successfully managed 30 days without refined sugar even while baking cakes and attending parties!
I wanted to try to get refined sugar out of my diet for 30 days, because I was recently "diagnosed" as menopausal (43 years old).  I had been very emotional and stressed over little things.  After I discovered I was menopausal, I got a little unnerved.  I had put on about 15 lbs in the last year, which is very unlike me.  Until now, I had managed to keep my weight relatively the same within a few pounds for the last 10 years or so. I was really frustrated with the sudden weight gain and the inability to lose it. 
I did not have control of my hormones or emotions but I could try to have some with my diet.   I was too fatigued to exercise!  I love to exercise.  I always have.  I could go for a five mile walk and feel great.  Now, I can't get the energy to walk a mile.  I just felt like things were a little out of control.  I was inspired by a Facebook friend that declared her household sugar free,  I thought, I can do that too, especially with my daughter out of town for Spring Break.  That made cabinet purging a little easier since I had no resistance to the idea.  My husband doesn't have a sweet tooth and can pass up almost all of the goodies.  
My motivation was if other people were willing to try, why not me?  I am VERY competitive and maybe I saw it as a challenge.  I am not good at challenging myself but if others lead me into something, I am more motivated.  I decided that all processed sugars were out of the house.  I did eat bread but only whole grain organic with no fructose or sweeteners added.  I did have fruits.  They were lifesavers throughout this process.  
My best breakfast was unsweetened almond milk, two strawberries and five raspberries in a smoothie.  I did consume artificial sweeteners in diet soda (one per day).  I felt that it satisfied my urges a little better with than without.  I did try without and it was so hard I was afraid I would blow the whole thing.  I chose my battles on this one.  I know…I know , Diet Coke will kill us all!  But considering what I wasn't eating instead, this was better for me.  I have heard that artificial sweeteners make you crave more sweets.  I found this to be the opposite during the month.  With processed sugars in my diet, I did crave sweets more.
The most challenging part of the month was about two and a half weeks into it.  I was still having cravings, which I had hoped would subside by then.  This is also when the family birthday parties take place.  WE had four in two weeks!  I bake as my hobby and I am usually asked to make the cake or dessert.  Not once did I lick a spoon, beater or even have a taste of what I made.  I heard everything was delicious. 
The next biggest challenge for me was keeping portion control on all of the other foods trying to replace those cravings for sugary goodness.  I thought, there is no sugar in this so I can have more.  I am hypoglycemic as is my daughter.  Since this month without sugars, I have had no episodes of my levels dropping!  I was surprised because I thought the loss of sugars would affect this greatly [making it worse].  
This was not the case before.  I know I would have to be mindful of snacks and the timing of such so I didn't get shaky, or light headed.  Bananas were always in my house.  If I craved something tasty, I would eat a banana.  No more than two a day.  Sometimes just the one.  I know they are a sugary fruit, but they’re not processed.  A banana is always a better choice than cookies!
Unfortunately, I did not lose any weight.  I feel like my stomach is less bloated now, I drink more water than before which is good for me, and I do feel a bit calmer with my emotions. Except tonight (day 29) after my work out class I came home to the smell of freshly baked chocolate cupcakes with chocolate chip fudge frosting on the counter.  My daughter "just felt like making cupcakes!”  I did not even lick one! 

I have to say with one more day to go, I feel like I will make better choices from this point on.  I really feel like the fatigue was worse this month than the month before.  I think my body was really adjusting to the changes hard.  I have truly never been so tired as I was this month.  Tomorrow is my thirtieth day!  

I feel more normal this week than I have in awhile.  Sleep wasn't different; energy was depleted for the first three and a half weeks.  It was horrible.  I have planned to add some sugars back into my life but very little and only for a special occasion.   _______________________________________________________________ Carmen "I'm a baker, not a writer" Housh - thank you for sharing your story with Junk Food Rehab!  You did an amazing job with your 30 day commitment.  Resisting those delectable sounding cupcakes goes to show that even when it's hard, there is a way... Did you know the average American eats more than 500 calories of refined sugar each day?   If you're ready to break the sugar habit, it's not too late to join Junk Food Rehab's Sugar Free 14 Day Challenge. Grab your free Step by Step Guide, and join the private Facebook group today
FREE Step by Step Guide to the Sugar Free 14
 *If you have a story about your personal journey toward healthier eating, please share below!  Or, if you'd like to be featured in a blog post, please email me at kimosmith.com. 

Friday, May 27, 2016

5 Keys to SUCCESS with the Sugar Free 14 day Challenge

Ready to make a change for the better?  There are some very clear steps to making changes in behavior (habits).  I'm going to lay it out for you here, and if you want to use the FREE Step by Step
FREE Guide
Guide to help move you through these steps quicker, that's a great place to get started!

I've broken this down into 5 Key Steps for you.  It's time to gear up for success.  The challenge kicks off in just a few days!

  1. Commit:  Make a strong, clear commitment stating exactly what you will and will not be doing.  For this challenge, you are committing to eating no refined sugar, including syrup, honey, and all the other types of refined sugar out there (see the Guide for a list).  You could also commit to using only whole fruit to sweeten things up.  For example, you can use ripe mashed banana or soaked pureed dates to sweeten baked goods.  I recommend that you also give up non-nutritive sweeteners too, like aspartame, sucralose, stevia and saccharin.
  2. Plan:  Success almost always begins with a solid plan.  In the case of the Sugar Free 14, a plan for what you will be eating over these 2 weeks is a great idea.  Plan for meals, snacks and drinks.  Make plan A for when things are working out as expected.  Make plan B for when plan A isn't working for you.  And, make plan C for when things get really tough or you don't have access to the foods you planned to eat (last minute invitations to eat out, parties, tornadoes, or any major emotional upsets or routine interrupters).  Check out the free, done-for-you meal plan and meal planning template in the free Step by Step Guide.
  3. Prep:  After you make your plan, make a shopping list.  Get the foods you'll need for the week.  Get the sugar-containing foods out of the house, or at least put them away where they are not in sight.  If you can't get rid of them entirely, then put them in a cabinet you don't normally open, or put them in an opaque container at the back of the pantry.  Once you've got the right foods in the house, go ahead and clean, cut, portion produce.  Put portion sizes of nuts in little snack containers.  Make a few meals ahead, and get yourself prepped for a week of easy eats, not sweets.
  4. Post Support:  Post in the private group to support others and to reach out when you need support.  People who recruit support during behavior change endeavors are more successful!  Also, are there people at home or work that you could ask for support?  What kind of support do you need?  You might have to ask your significant other to NOT bring ice cream home, for example.  If you haven't already joined the group, it's FREE & you can join here!
  5. Pleasure:  Sweets are a really easy go-to when you need a little boost, but they aren't doing you any favors in the long run.  Clearly identify several other easy access things that give you a pleasure boost.  For me, this could be listening to music, taking a walk, going out for coffee (plain), or sitting outside reading a book or magazine.  There is a place to write this in the free Step by Step Guide too.  I'd love for you to post your (G-rated) pleasurable activities in the comments below!
You’ve got this!  I’m not perfect, and you don’t have to be either.  But, you can give it your all for just 14 days.  You'll reduce your cravings, strengthen your willpower, and be part of a like-minded community who values nutrition as a path to health too.  I'm so glad you're  here!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Top 10 Reasons to Join the Sugar Free 14-day Challenge

What is REFINED SUGAR?  You probably have an idea.  But, I just want to clarify.  Some say brown sugar and agave nectar are healthy.  But, they are actually highly refined sugars! A sugar is refined if it has been extracted from a food, leaving the fiber (and more) behind.  A sugar is also refined if it is distilled or concentrated from its original source.  Maple syrup is a good example of a refined sugar that is distilled or concentrated.  The sap is removed from the tree, but then 75% of the liquid sap is evaporated off in order to distill the sweetness into a syrup, which has become a highly concentrated source of sugar.

There are also a lot of people out there saying all sugars are bad, including sugar in whole fruit and carrots.  I wholeheartedly disagree! 

The definition of "refined food" that I think is most useful:  a refined food is one that has had something healthy removed from its original form, or it's had something unhealthy added to it.   For example, let's talk about corn.  As a whole food, corn is not terrible.  If you get organic, non GMO corn it's got vitamins.  It's got fiber.  It's got antioxidants and phytochemicals.  But, when you create special strains of corn that are high in starch, remove that starch and convert it into high fructose corn syrup, it's no longer a whole food.  And, it's not good for you....you've taken out the fiber, the vitamins, and everything except the starch.  It's got no remaining healthy supporting nutrients (besides calories) anymore.  Whatever healthy aspects that original corn had, it no longer has.

Brown sugar, maple syrup, agave nectar...they are all very refined, highly concentrated sources of sugar that are nutrient poor.  Which brings me to...

  1. Sugar is addicting.  When you eat it, you crave it.  Watch the video above to learn more.  Eating sugar makes you HUNGRY!  When we eat sweet things, we want MORE sweet things.  You've probably heard sugar is addicting.  It's true.  The more you eat, the more you want
  2. Refined sugar is a major source of empty calories.  The bad thing about these is that they don't make us feel full or satisfied.  In fact, they can make us MORE HUNGRY (see #1 above)!
  3. One quarter of Americans' daily calorie intake is from sugar:  514 calories per day.  That's a lot!  If you could cut that alone out, without replacing those calories, you'd lose 1 pound per week.   Honestly, I have worked with many individuals over the years who have simply given up their regular soda and lost a significant amount of weight by doing that alone.  How do I know that 500 calories per day is a pound?  One pound of fat = 3500 calories...500 calories per day  times 7 days per week = 3500 calories in a week not eaten - by giving up refined sugar.
  4. Get guidance on how to find hidden sugar:  refined sugar is lurking everywhere...there are so many different types of refined sugars that go by various names.  You need to know what these are in order to pick them out on an ingredients list.  For example, would you think that barley malt is sugar?  It is!  I've created a Step by Step Guide that lists many of these lesser known names for sugar.  You can download it FREE here.
    Get your FREE copy of the Step by Step Guide
  5. High Fructose Corn Syrup causes fatty liver disease.  This is far more serious than just feeling hungry or overeating.  Soda and sweetened drinks are the biggest source of this ingredient, although high fructose corn syrup is everywhere.  These days, we even see fatty liver disease in children, and that is obviously not from alcohol consumption.  It is from over-consumption, especially of high fructose corn syrup.
  6. Eating excessive amounts of sugar exhausts the pancreas.  If you already have a predisposition for diabetes, ie someone in your family has diabetes or you have insulin resistance, PCOS or pre-diabetes, then excess sugar intake overworks the pancreas.  This is a big step toward type 2 diabetes.  Eating sugar in and of itself probably does not cause diabetes, but eating more refined sugars challenges your pancreas.  If you continue doing this and you are already at risk, your pancreas will eventually poop out.  The point at which your pancreas becomes exhausted and can no longer over produce insulin is the point at which you develop type 2 diabetes.
  7. Excess sugar damages your blood vessels.  High blood sugar can cause your blood vessels to become tight and rigid, leading to high blood pressure and poor circulation.  When you have poor circulation, that affects all organs including the skin, your largest organ.  The structures and proteins that keep your skin looking good don't work right, and you get wrinkles and look sallow.
  8. One hundred million Americans have diabetes or pre-diabetes.  These are chronic, expensive, sometimes deadly diseases that can be controlled by, or reversed by, using the proper diet or eating pattern.  I would love for you to not be part of that 100,000,000.
  9. Consuming refined sugar causes mood swings.  Part of this is due to hunger.  First you get the nice sugar high, but then when the blood sugar comes crashing down, you get cranky, crabby and just down right bad mood.
  10. To get support.  The Junk Food Rehab group on FB is a fantastic place for you to get support, and I highly recommend that you join in. It's FREE.  What do you have to lose?  We know that people who get regular support do better at reaching their nutrition goals and maintaining them.  Come on over.  I am looking forward to getting to know you!
What you can do NOW:

    Thursday, May 19, 2016

    Sweet Cravings: 2 Quick Ways to Hit it & Quit it

    The Junk Food Rehab Sugar Free 14 day Challenge is coming soon. 

    It's 3:00 PM.  You're starting to get a bit sleepy and a little something sweet sounds good.  What are you after?  Are there any cookies in the house?  Did someone leave donuts in the break room?  I know Mimi has some peanut M & M's on her desk...

    Does this sound familiar?  I've been there.  And, I've had hundreds of people tell me they've been there too.  And, the science backs it up - these cravings are a thing.  And they are real, with a physiological cause.  Your brain is driving you to get a hit of that sweet (or salty) good stuff.  What are you gonna do about it?

    1. You could go for it.  But have just one serving.  But how will you feel after?  No one needs a guilt hangover or a return trip to the candy bowl, which is what is likely to happen.
    2. Another option is to hit that craving with the perfect weapon, kill it and move on.  How?  You've got to get a little bit of a healthy snack, feed that brain, and plan on a better, lighter lunch next time.  What will work when you really want some chocolate, or a stale donut?  The first time, it might not be totally awesome, but it will work & you'll be happy you tried something that works & doesn't cause a guilt hangover:  fruit and nuts.  Seriously.
    Here are some options:

    Lara Bar - I like the Chocolate Chip Brownie flavor
    Cherries (1 cup = 90 calories) with almonds (20 almonds = 140 calories)
    Apple (60-90 calories) with walnuts (2 Tbsp = 90 calories)

    If you're willing to prep ahead, you could bake yourself a healthy treat.
    I like black bean brownies or other minimally processed, fruit-sweetened brownies.  Here is a link to a pretty natural vegan brownie recipe from Brand New Vegan that uses only a small amount of sugar and maple syrup for sweetness.

    Chewy Vegan Brownies Recipe:  http://www.brandnewvegan.com/recipes/chewy-vegan-brownies

    Saturday, May 14, 2016

    5 Facts About Metabolism & The Biggest Loser Research

    Does "yo-yo dieting" permanently destroy your metabolism?  It's a question researchers have been asking for decades.  This month, the journal Obesity published research, suggesting that metabolism is permanently damaged by dieting.  Researchers followed 14 "Biggest Loser" contestants to see if their bodies burned more or fewer calories than would be expected after losing weight.  They did a test, called RMR or Resting Metabolic Rate, at the end of the 30 week competition and again 6 years later to find out whether the competitors' metabolisms became sluggish after losing so much weight.  And, they wanted to know if the metabolic rate would ever recover...

    While the study was not perfect, it provided some interesting results worth discussing.

    1. Dieting Slows Metabolism:  The lower your body weight, the lower your metabolic rate (generally speaking).  So as a person's weight goes down, so does their RMR.  But, in this case, the competitors' RMRs went even lower than what would be expected based on their new lower weight.  It may be that the extreme nature and severity of calorie restriction used on the Biggest Loser was particularly metabolism-destroying.  It may be that group of people was metabolically unlucky (they were not a random sample of the population).
    2. Maintaining Weight Loss is VERY Challenging:   After 6 years, 13 of 14 Biggest Loser contestants regained weight.  Five of those almost made it back to their starting weight or went higher on the scale.  Other published research suggests that 6 years after losing weight, only 6% of people maintain a weight loss of 5%.  Five percent is enough of a weight loss to improve blood pressure, blood sugar, etc., but it's not the degree of weight loss that a typical dieter would deem "successful."  Five percent of 200 pounds is just 10 pounds.  The average weight loss for these Biggest Loser competitors was 39% at the end of that season.  Only 7% of them kept the weight off after 6 years.
    3. Re-gaining Weight Doesn't mean Re-gaining a Faster Metabolism:  Even though people re-gained the weight, they did not re-gain the higher metabolic rate they started with.  To put it another way, at the end of the show, the average weight was 90.6 kilograms, with an average RMR of 1,996 kcal/day.  Six years later, the average weight went up to 131.6 kilograms, with an average RMR going down to 1,903 kcal/day.  As people gained weight, their metabolism should have gotten faster.  But, it didn't.  And the discrepancy couldn't be explained away due to age, muscle mass or anything else the researchers looked at.  Other published research has shown that metabolism does return to it's expected rate.  Several other published studies have had conflicting results, suggesting that metabolism does recover...so the jury is still out on this one!
    4. The more intensive and holistic a weight loss program it is, the more successful people are at losing weight and keeping it off.  The Biggest Loser contestants had an intense few months on the Biggest Loser Ranch, and while they learned to exercise and eat less in that setting, they didn't have ongoing support once they returned to their normal lives.  In an intensive diabetes prevention program called Look AHEAD, people who received group therapy, behavior weight loss counseling and follow up for 8 years.  They received more support and assistance than just about any weight loss program out there.  With all of the ongoing education, support and follow up, 27% of them maintained a 10% weight loss after 8 years.  And even though that doesn't sound like success to most people hoping to lose weight, it is one of the most successful trials to date.  Even gastric bypass patients, who get minimal follow up with a dietitian or weight counselor, regain the weight.
    5. Preventing weight gain is the best way to go.  While it may be too late for 67% of the adult US population to prevent themselves from being overweight or obese, it is never too late to prevent further weight gain.  And, the idea of just keeping overweight individuals from gaining weight, rather than prescribing weight loss, is an idea that is gaining some traction with obesity researchers.  For people who are committed to losing weight, making realistic, sustainable changes in eating and exercise habits over time may be the best course of action.
    So, does this mean you should just give up trying to lose weight?  Is weight re-gain inevitable?  Not necessarily.  The real messages I hear about successful weight loss from studying the research are:
    1. Focus on Behavior & Habits.  Set clear, actionable, realistic food & exercise goals for yourself each day, week or month.  Master a new habit, then create another healthy habit, then another.  And, if you really want success, seek support.  Whether you have a coach, dietitian, support group, hospital-based education and support program or just a really strong buddy-system, having ongoing support will make you more successful in the long run.
    2. Eat for Health.  Your motivating force needs to be deeper than the desire to be thin.  In fact, you may decide that your goal is just to NOT gain weight.  Dig in and get very clear about why you want to eat better and move more.  Are you prediabetic?  Would you like to avoid medications?  Do you have kids, grand-kids or a bucket list to check off?  A compelling reason I often hear from the wonderful people in my classes is that they'd like to be able to sit on the floor and play with their grandchildren.  And, they'd like to be able to get back up too!
    3. Get More NEAT.  Move more throughout every day vs starting a big exercise program that isn't sustainable.  NEAT is lifestyle activity (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis).  Move around more during every day, take the stairs, park in the back 40, dance around the house, and sit less throughout the day.
    Online support can be as helpful as face to face support.  If you 'd like to be part of a supportive community dedicated to optimal health through nutrition, come on over & join the private group!
    Or get started by grabbing your copy of the Sugar Rehab Checklist and Meal Plan FREE.

    Tuesday, May 10, 2016

    7 Surefire Ways to Split Your Skinny Jeans

    Are you doing any of these things that researchers know leads to weight gain?

    1. Stay up way past your bedtime.  Inadequate sleep will leave you searching for relief from your tiredness the next day, and you are likely to choose your extra calories from foods rich in refined carbs.  Eating these foods sets you up for cravings, and a cycle of overeating begins.
    2. Don't take the time to eat meals early in the day.  People who habitually fail to eat a meal during the day are likely to overeat or binge eat later in the day, eating too many calories.
    3. Improvise!  Busy peeps who don't have a food plan that's easy to follow are vulnerable to the sweet siren call of fast food - usually high in calories, fat, sodium and low in good nutrients.
    4. All work & no play makes Jane's life dull!  We are programmed to seek pleasure, and a very easy, accessible pleasure is junk food.  We get a nice little shot of serotonin and dopamine when we experience pleasure and eat foods high in sugar, salt, and/or fat.  We can get the same shot of feel good brain chemicals by doing something pleasurable, like exercise, playing, listening to music, watching a funny video, etc.
    5. Doubt your ability and your willpower.  Your body will go wherever your mind tells it to.  If you make up your mind that you don't have the willpower to eat right and exercise, then you will succeed at having zero willpower.  Change your mind; change your life.
    6. Save exercise until you get home from work.  This makes you less likely to exercise.  People who successfully exercise after work tend to do that before they step foot in the house.  Once you're home and comfy after a long work day, it is so very difficult to get motivated to push yourself to exercise.
    7. Eat empty calorie junk foods.  Highly refined and processed foods leave us craving more of the same.  They provide calories but they lack the fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals that keep the body functioning optimally.  Whole foods like vegetables, fruits and nuts do not have the same craving-inducing effect...choose these kinds of snacks to keep you skinny jeans in tact!
    You probably know you could eat better, but where should you start?  Who should you listen to for nutrition advice?  There are so many "experts" out there with differing opinions.  The truth is you should JUST START.
    If you'd like some guidance from a Registered Dietitian who understands the struggle to eat right and exercise on a consistent basis, I have some free resources for you.