Too Many Cheeseburgers in Paradise

How to recover when you've been eating too much

It’s been a while! I’ve missed you! I’ll tell you a bit about what’s been going on and then we will get down to business. Among about a zillion things happening at any given moment, I finished up a couple classes (I’m currently in grad school) then started another class immediately after that.   Then, I went on vacation to TX with the fam for a week (while still in the class – you can imagine how awesome it is to do homework on vacation…not). And, most recently, I just found out that I passed the Certified Nutrition Support Clinician (CNSC) exam and I am now board certified (yay!) in nutrition support. So, needless to say, it’s been NUTS; but I’m glad to be back with you!

Today’s focus is vacation eating. I made a lot of suboptimal meal choices in the recent past. I blame In-N-Out Burger for everything. Just kidding (or am I?). The thing is, most of us have said “why not, you’re on vacation!” in the midst of our coveted R&R. The problem is, we say it over and over to justify our poor decisions.

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I’m going to admit that I had a burger at In-N-Out with fries, AND a shake. *Gasp* “Doesn’t she know that’s not a healthy choice?   The thing is, had I shared the shake (my original plan) and bypassed the fries, it wouldn’t have been such a huge deal. Only that’s not what happened. AND…it happened twice. I know, I know. Stop your judgy thoughts; I’m still a little disappointed in my choices. I will say though, that life is short; and the food was tasty. But life will be shorter if we eat that way frequently!

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The real point of my confession is multifaceted. So I’ll break it down like this:

  1. Go ahead and indulge once in a while, but be smarter about it. I didn’t even love the fries, but I ate a ton of them. I could’ve been quite satisfied with a burger and half a shake in this indulgent adventure. THINK before you order, seriously.
  2. My problem on vacation wasn’t the two burger escapades; rather it was seven days’ worth of a poor decision snowball.   Granted I didn’t actually gain any weight (yippee!) that doesn’t mean I didn’t negatively impact my blood sugar, cholesterol, mental clarity, mood, etc. One or even two meals where you go crazy DOES NOT make you fat. Even two days’ worth of poor decisions will not make you fat. It is the compounded effect of continuous poor decisions over a length of time that will cause true weight gain.
  3. Think hard (even if only a few seconds) about how you will feel if you eat all that. Seriously folks. If I had followed my own advice and thought about how miserable and bloated I would be after some of the way-too-huge meals I ate, I truly wouldn’t have done it. As weird as it sounds, forecasting that yucky feeling can be a step in the direction of making better choices.
  4. If you know where you’re going to be dining, go online ahead of time and check out the menu options. Typically when I find I make the worst decisions with food is when I feel rushed and I just go with what I know (which often isn’t a very healthy choice). Take some time and peruse the options and you just might find you can piece together a meal that follows some of the basic principles of healthy eating: 1/2 non-starchy vegetables, 1/4 starch (preferably 100% whole grain or whole starchy vegetables), and 1/4 protein-rich food.
  5. Research has shown that we get the most satisfaction from the first 1-3 bites of an indulgent food. It’s during those 1-3 bites where our senses are heightened and all those awesome feel-good hormones light up our brain and make us so happy. But after the first 3 bites, the pleasure peaks. In other words, the food will continue to taste good but we won’t continue to get that surge of amazingness. Consider talking amongst your group and sharing those decadent foods you all love so that you only have a few bites.
  6. Contrary to vacation bylaws, you do not need to have ice cream every day. If we want to keep things novel, having them infrequently is the key; otherwise they simply become routine, and then our health is in big trouble. If you do want ice cream, try the kiddie size. Often the kiddie size is nutritionally still too much for an adult (isn’t that sad to think), but it is the smallest size available. You might just find that if you eat it slowly, you get a tremendous amount of satisfaction on a much, much smaller dosage of frozen love without the guilt.
  7. Pick your indulgence. In other words, don’t have the free bread AND the appetizer AND the entrée AND dessert AND a soda. Pick the thing that lights your fire at that particular restaurant and go light on all the rest. Here’s an example: if this place has the absolute best chocolate cake in the land, perhaps you forgo the bread and appetizer, have a smaller veggie-rich entrée (maybe a dinner salad or use an appetizer as your meal), and order water to drink. Nothing is off-limits if you rearrange your eating strategy a bit. Just remember – never completely sacrifice nutrients to accommodate treats.
  8. This is a little unrelated, but you can tell a lot about the standards of sanitation in a restaurant by how clean their bathrooms are. If their bathroom is nasty, odds are so is their kitchen! If you plan on driving through Eden, TX, make sure you pack snacks. I do not recommend you eat at their DQ unless you want room-temperature chicken and hepatitis A.
  9. Don’t forget to keep moving. You cannot outrun a crappy diet, but you can mitigate the harm you’ve done on your food-bender if you at least make an effort to do some sweat-inducing exercise. It won’t feel very good with a belly full of French fries, but you’ll be so thankful afterwards!
  10. After I got home and had several super-vegetable-explosion salads, I felt rejuvenated. It was a friendly reminder of the fact that I don’t eat healthy just to maintain a healthy weight, I truly want to FEEL GOOD. And if you’ve never truly felt good, now is a good time to start. Once you know what feeling good really means, you won’t want to blow it with eating as much. Your body will remind you from time to time when you stray. Nothing tastes as good as being in great health feels. Nothing.

Anyway, this post was a little off-the-cuff, but I hope there are some practical takeaways for you. Figure out how to make healthy eating tasty for you. Google the hell out of recipes loaded with vegetables. Add vegetables to your “regular” recipes even if they don’t call for vegetables. Ask for extra vegetables at the restaurants. If your major focus is constantly “how do I eat more vegetables,” often the calories, fat, salt, and all those other dreaded numbers typically fall right into place.

Cheers until next time…

XOXO – Casey

 

Unicycle…Bicycle…Tricycle…Carbcycle?

www.lettucetalk.blog

“Carb cycling” has become a new fad, especially in weight-loss-seekers. Today’s post will be a brief dissection of the existing scientific evidence (or lack thereof) surrounding the concept of monkeying around with how and when to eat carbohydrates.

For those of you who don’t feel like reading a whole lot, here is the bottom line up front:

  1. Not enough research exists, at all, supporting the concept of carb cycling for weight loss.
  2. Some research supports the use of carb cycling in highly trained athletes, but even that research is limited. Additionally, a couple things have to be considered:
    1. Many people who are avid exercisers are not the type of “highly trained athletes” these studies were as subjects. (Think actual collegiate/Olympic-type people, not 60-minutes-4-times-per-week-type people…)
    2. Although some trials showed that the athletes did sometimes become better fat-burners, they did so at the expense of feeling super tired during their performance, which isn’t exactly leading to performance enhancement.

In the literature, “carb cycling” is actually referred to as “periodization.” In other words, selecting periods during which you eat a large amount of carbohydrates; then other times when you eat very few carbohydrates. Some look for periodization of carbohydrates to enhance performance; others feel it will be the ticket to weight loss. Either way you look toward carbohydrate periodization, the evidence simply doesn’t support the practice. Sorry.

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The idea is that you would first load up on carbs, then do a super-intense workout. Then, you eat very few carbs during recovery and perform very light exercise the next day. Then you lather, rinse, repeat in different increments. The rationale imposed is that you will train your body to rely on burning more fat for performance OR for weight loss by keeping it “guessing.”

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Some turn to carb cycling because they have heard that it works like exercise periodization. In other words, some evidence does exist that shows you will build more muscle and/or perform better if you keep the body doing different exercise all the time. This concept can also apply to those with a weight loss plateau (e.g. you have been losing weight for some time now, but you’ve stopped losing before reaching your goal). However, the hypothesis that periodization for carbohydrate consumption will work the same as periodization for exercise falls short.

Some of the research that does promote benefits of periodization, even that concerning exercise, should be looked at with scrutiny. One big systematic review of the literature done in 2015 by Strohacker, et al. showed that exercise periodization was beneficial for adults who previously weren’t exercising. Anything stand out to you? I mean…if you aren’t exercising, but then you start IN ANY FORM (periodization or simply going on a walk)…wouldn’t there be some positive health outcomes? Duh? Is it the periodization, or is it because you got up off your butt? Hmm…perplexing…

Some literature does show a favorable effect of manipulating intake of carbohydrates, such as a review done by Arciero, et al. in 2015. However, they admit that the existing research is hard to compare apples-to-apples, as the variables are far too different. They also note that there are so many individualized factors required for an appropriate diet prescription that a generalized recommendation is not appropriate.

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Although most of you will not like what I’m about to say, the fact is that trying to find a new FAD each time your previous FAD fails to help you shed the weight is the problem. Although there may be some merit to reducing (not eliminating) total carbohydrate intake, (especially processed, sugary, yucky refined carbohydrates), it is not the one-stop-shop for weight loss. The issue I see most often is a lack of consistency—a constant flutter from one fad to the next. Try eating whole, unprocessed foods and listening to your body a little more often, and BE CONSISTENT with your efforts.

For more tips, click here and here. If you are hoping for individualized advice, please consider seeking out a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN). You can find a RDN at many local retail grocery stores, such as King Soopers or Hy-Vee. You can request to see one at many hospitals as well. Make sure they are credentialed with RD or RDN. A personal trainer is a wealth of expert advice for EXERCISE, not nutrition…

As always, I’m willing to change my stance on anything given enough evidence-based information.  I simply haven’t seen it yet regarding carb cycling.

Until next time…xoxo

~Casey

Annoying Things: Part One

Auinglessons

Nearly every day of my life, someone says something ridiculous to me regarding nutrition. Sometimes I just laugh to myself and walk away. Just kidding, I don’t have that ability! I wish…

The misinformation in the field of nutrition is appalling. The “ridiculous” part of it is not that they are misinformed (it happens), but that they declare with certainty facts that are absolutely not true. To me, that’s like someone telling me the moon is made of cheddar cheese (I mean, we all know it’s mozzarella).

Here is a medley of the greatest hits as of late

#1:  “Kale has absolutely no nutritional value; it’s just filler.”

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[Rolls eyes.] My husband brought this little gem home for me after a fun-filled Army Reserve drill. Apparently Private Young Girl was one of the chow line servers. My dear husband was choosing to have a decent-sized pile of salad (yay!) with his dinner, during which time Private Young Girl declared the aforementioned quote. Husband tried to do her a favor by passing on some knowledge regarding the fact that kale is actually quite high in nutrition; he was unsuccessful in changing her sweet, ill-informed mind. Here are some fun facts about kale:

  • Kale might just be one of the richest sources of vitamins/minerals of the food world.
  • Kale is a good source of calcium like spinach, only the calcium in kale is better absorbed.
  • Kale is a great source of fiber.
  • Kale is rich in vitamins A, E, and K.
  • 1 cup of kale = about 3 grams of protein.
  • Read more fun stuff about kale here and here.

#2:  “Margarine is one molecule away from plastic.”

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Ugh. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard this statement in the past 10 years, I could retire RIGHT NOW. Anyone with the most primitive, basic, elementary understanding of the fundamentals of chemistry would hear this statement and think, “wait…what?” While I do not promote the consumption of margarine in any way/shape/form, explaining the rationale for avoidance as the declaration noted above is ridiculous.

  • Everything is one molecule away from something entirely different.
  • Water and hydrogen peroxide are ONE MOLECULE different; yet we don’t drink or cook or bathe in hydrogen peroxide.
  • We are surrounded by carbon dioxide because we produce it during respiration. However, a high volume of carbon monoxide in our home could be life-threatening.
  • Keep avoiding margarine, but do it for some better science-based reasons.

#3:  “I put half and half in my coffee for the calcium and because it’s got fewer carbs than milk.” [Proceeds to tell me she eats a 6” Philly cheesesteak w/French Fries for lunch AND dinner…]

So many things are wrong with this scenario. What’s even scarier about it is that literally someone said this to me very, very recently (and she was stone-cold serious).

  • Half and half is mostly fat, and is NOT a rich source of calcium. While a little fat isn’t too big a deal, and necessary to have at most/all meals and snacks, if you’re choosing half and half solely to “get calcium,” that is not a good reason to add it to your coffee.
  • When we get too caught up in the details of nutrition, we often fail to see the forest for the trees. In other words, you will miss some of the things that are affecting you big time because you’re stuck on a little detail here or there.
  • The hoagie bun on which a Philly cheesesteak is served is quite high in carbohydrates, as is a pile of French fries. The fact that she was not even remotely concerned about the massive amount of refined carbohydrates in her lunch/dinner, yet won’t put milk in her coffee…well, it speaks for itself.
  • Try to look at the big picture with nutrition. It will take you further than counting anything

#4:  “Rice is a vegetable.”

Seriously, I hear this one at least weekly. Who started spreading this rumor? If it was you, STOP IT.

  • Simply put, rice is a grain.
  • Brown rice is a 100% whole grain (better for you than white rice).
  • White rice is called “enriched” because after so much nutrition is taken out of it during refinement, there isn’t anything nutritious about it. The manufacturers have to add a few vitamins/minerals back into it, hence they “enrich” it. Whenever you see “enriched,” think “UNriched.”
  • Rice would be considered a “starch” at your meal. Try to choose brown rice, and limit your portion to no more than 1/4 of your plate (~1/3 to 1/2 cup).

#5:  “I’m doing _______________ because I saw it on Dr. Oz.”

If I ran a private practice, I just might yell “GET OUT” to anyone who came in spouting off this one. Dr. Oz might have started out with intentions of good health when he embarked upon a TV series. However, he has (in my opinion) sold his soul for cash-money.  I honestly don’t have it in me to say much more on the matter, except for don’t get your medical advice from someone who peddles the flavor-of-the-week supplement or from any TV show, for that matter. Blah.

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#6:  “I only drink [zero/one/two glasses] of water each day because I’m never really thirsty.”

  • If that’s true, then your thirst mechanism is broken.
  • Additionally, it also probably means your body is chronically dehydrated.
  • If you’re drinking sugary beverages or caffeinated beverages instead of water, you’re creating far more problems with your health than you even know.
  • Read more here.

 

To be continued…

xoxo,
~Casey