Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Snacking, carbs, and more...

I actually had this post written and was in the process of posting it when my connection hiccuped and it was lost entirely! SO, we'll start again! LOL Well, not really laughing if you know what I mean... Grrrrr!

Over on the OH mini-challenge group, we've been chatting about some things we'd like to do better at... One of those things is snacking. But, we must remember that all "snacks" are not true "snacking" as when it is a part of a daily eating plan, it isn't a bad thing! If you plan your day so that you are eating 3 "meals" and 2 or 3 "snacks," then your snack is not what we are talking about. What we are struggling with is that dreaded snacking/munching/grazing that so many of us (postop or not!) fall into in those inactive hours before bedtime each evening. You crash on the couch to watch your favorite TV show or you snuggle up in a cozy chair to read a few pages of that book you're reading and as you sit there, you suddenly find that you are hungry. Now you are not usually truly "hungry" in the my-body-needs-nourishment sense of the word. It is more a struggle with head hunger and old habits... Many people (overweight, skinny, old, young, ANYONE) get in the habit of having something to munch on while doing these relaxed activities... We get out a box of cookies and pour a nice cold glass of milk while watching a movie. We munch on nuts or crackers (or both!) while reading that suspense story. It is easy to make a habit of these things. Then, when we are trying to lose weight, we have to deal with those habits and whether we are eating because we truly need food OR because we just want to... For some, it IS true hunger. Perhaps they need to build a healthy, solid snack into their eating plan to compensate for a long period of time between dinner and bedtime. For others, it is just that powerful head hunger that screams at you to GO get those crackers! GO get that glass of milk and cookies. It is what we do when we do this activity! You work so hard to change those habits and replace them with something healthy. And, for some folks that will be harder than others and they'll need to replace or change the activity itself and not just address the hunger issues. Maybe instead of sitting and watching TV, they plug a few minutes of cardio into their evening. Watch TV from the treadmill or the ab lounger instead of the couch! Go for a walk around the neighborhood instead of reading... You get the point here! GO and DO something instead of sitting there letting your brain tell you to eat! Otherwise, make sure you have some solid snack foods in the house to grab when these cravings hit! Carrot sticks and yogurt dip... Chopped up pieces of a protein bar (instead of those cookies!)... Soy crisps and bean dip instead of potato chips and ranch dip... Beef jerky, nuts, etc. There are healthy choices out there. You just have to plan to keep those items and make them readily available!

Carbs... That is another topic lately. We asked the group what carbs they eat. We did not mean to ask how many carbs they eat as in 50 grams per day or whatever. We meant what foods, specifically, do they allow themself where carbohydrates are concerned. In general, folks tell you things like veggies, fruits and beans. BUT, there are far too many of us who've let the OTHER carbs sneak back into our diet and, for some of us, it is even on a daily basis... What did you eat too much of before you began your journey to a healthy weight? Was it pasta? Were you a big bread eater? Did you have a deadly sweet tooth? Have these items found their way back into your postop life to the point of what you think of as "excess" of what they should be?

The biggest problem with carbs is that carbs beget carbs. The more carbs you eat, the more you crave them. And, don't forget that when the body processes the carbs into glycogen, it stores the glycogen in water. This means that for every 300 or so grams of carbs you eat and your body stores, you also gain 3 to 5 pounds of water weight... This is why you can see a very rapid weight loss of 3 to 5 pounds in just a day or two of carb-purging! Your body burns those glycogen stores and the water goes with it!

So, what is a "healthy" carb? The only good carb is a complex carb. For breads, tortillas, crackers and such, be sure to seek out the best whole-grain version you can find and look for low-carb options. Look for breads and tortillas with added fiber--the fiber carbs don't count! Same goes for pasta--find a good whole-wheat product such as the Barilla Plus pastas or Dreamfields... Both are available locally at Krogers stores and many other grocery chains.

If you must eat chips, go for things like soy crisps and protein enriched chips such as the protein chips from Kay's Naturals. And don't forget that 20% discount either! Kay's will give you 20% off all items ordered if you use the code minichallenge during checkout!

Veggies--there are better choices there too... Broccoli, squash, brussel sprouts, artichokes, asparagus, leeks, etc., are better choices than things like peas, corn and carrots. If you just can't live without your potatoes, consider sweet potatoes.

Fruits--The thing you've got to remember with fruits is that they are full of sugar. Yes, it is NATURAL sugar, but it is sugar just the same. Be very careful! Eat small portions till you know you can handle the particular fruit. I know that the first time I tried pineapple after my WLS, I dumped and I dumped HARD! But, now--2+ years later, I can eat them with no issues... Orange juice (even fresh squeezed) will send me over the dumping edge in a heartbeat, but I can eat a nice, large Navel orange or other piece of citrus fruit with no issues. Trial and error...

Beans, legumes, and nuts are other complex carb foods. They are healthy and usually full of fiber. They can be fatty foods too though, so some folks will dump from the fat content. This makes them another food to start carefully and watch for reactions.

The best advice I can give you on diet is to write it down. If you can't put your finger on where the problem may lie, the best tactic to take is to journal everything you put in your mouth for at least a week. You can be shocked to find out that you are eating a lot more (or less) than you thought. And don't forget that too little food can stall your weight loss just as quick and easy as too much food or the wrong kinds of food! If you are active and burning calories while not eating enough, your body will rebel and hold on to every little morsel you give it sometimes!

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