Friday, July 10, 2015

It Starts With Foood

This morning I woke up and pretty much felt the same as yesterday.  I had a ton of blood tinged gunk drain out of my nose over the first hour and a half of the day, I will spare you the rest of the gory details.  So I dedicated most of today ready my book "It Starts With Food" by Dallas Hartwig and Melissa Hartwig.  Or in other words, the first book that teaches you about the Whole 30 diet.  I took the kids to the gym and camped out in the cafe.  I have several things mulling around in my head now so hopefully I can get this all out in an organized and coherent manner. 

What I like about this book is how it goes through and explains everything in detail.  It goes through the science, and the biology (and you know me, I love biology) and explains how food acts in your body.  It outlines four good health standards that your food should meet and the very first one is the one that most weight loss bloggers talk about at nauseum: Food should promote a healthy psychological response.  This is where we talk about our sugar cravings, emotional eating, uncontrollable binges, unhealthy relationships with food, and all that stuff we are trying to beat but just can't seem to win.  While I found the other four points interesting, informative, and pretty important, this is the one that resonated with me the most.  The psychological effect that food has on me.  This is why the book I found and loved last year "how to have your cake and your skinny jeans too" doesn't work.  While I agree with a lot of things in her book, and my ultimate goal is to be able to live and eat intuitively, you can't cure sugar cravings by feeding them.  In the book Josi says that the reason why we crave certain foods is due to restriction.  While that certainly has a psychological effect on us, the authors of "It Starts with Food" (lets just call them the Hartwigs so I don't have to keep typing out both their names) make it clear that your body's biological and hormonal responses are much stronger than your willpower.  Doesn't that always seem to be the case?  We can white knuckle our way through for only so long before the urge to eat becomes too strong and we give in. 

Without rewriting their whole chapter on this topic (which might be hard because I really loved that chapter) basically refined sugar and artificial sweeteners are much sweeter than anything we could find in nature, eating sugar then creates a very real chemical and hormonal response in our brains and our bodies.  The food processing industry puts extra sugar, corn syrup, MSG etc into foods to make us like them more.  These foods trigger the reward centers in our brains, more specifically for all you biology nerds like me eating these foods releases dopamine, the feel good neurotransmitter, which then "reinforces food seeking and energizes your feeding.  It gives you that rush of anticipation before you've even taken your first bite. "  (Think about daydreaming about eating a cookie).  The other side of this is the hormonal response that these foods create, basically creating insulin and leptin resistance.  Also, since there is no real nutrition in say cookies the only biological signals you get to stop eating them is the feeling in your stomach when you have to manually force yourself to stop eating or face the consequences of overindulging.  (And if you are like me, stopping eating these foods once you are in full swing can be so difficult that often I just take the consequences of overindulging.  That is a classic sign of dopamine working alongside messed up hormones, combined with consuming a food that has no nutritional value so my body doesn't tell my brain it's nutritionally satisfied.  Ok, that's the best summary I can do I hope it made some sense.  I also really like the chapter on hormones, that was very fascinating and explains why many people have such a hard time losing weight, especially through calorie restriction.  But this is why Josie's idea of "eat whatever you want, even if it's cookie dough" idea is flawed.  Because for the food addict, you always want more.  You don't eat cookie dough three times and decide you've had enough, because you are dependent on it to change your moods, make you feel good, and your brain becomes hardwired to want it because it feels so good.  (In the moment that is, we don't need to get into the pity party that takes place afterwards).

Moving on.  This book made me cry.  This book is well written, funny, informative, includes testimonials from real people at the beginning of every chapter, and makes some pretty intense promises.  One of which I think we can all relate to.  The third promise is simply this:  "You will never again be controlled by your food.  Freedom."  Isn't that what we are all hoping for?  Isn't that what we are all striving for?  Having a healthy relationship with food, freedom from food so we can live our lives to the fullest.  What I wouldn't do to no longer be enslaved by food. 

So let's talk briefly about some of my previous arguments against Whole 30: Isn't it really restrictive?  I heard you can't eat hardly anything.  It's too strict. 

Ok so it's not for everyone.  If I picked up this book at 211 pounds I would have laughed in it's face and thrown it out.  In fact, I laughed in its face at 155 pounds and it was only when I was ready for it that I picked it up and seriously considered it.  Did you catch that?  It was ONLY WHEN I WAS READY.  Ready to do it for myself, because it would give me the push in the right direction that I needed.  I love the go at your own pace idea, make small changes, do what you can when you can and that is exactly what I've been doing.  It's what got me to lose and maintain a 60 pound loss in the first place.  Only maintaining is very hard for me right now.  My eating is all over the place, and my emotions are up and down like a roller coaster ride.  I have gone from eating really poorly to eating less poorly.  I seem to be coming up against the transitional foods a lot in other bloggers posts lately.  Where they talk about how some people knock the processed health foods because they aren't really all that healthy and some bloggers defend them and some don't.  For me, those foods helped me get where I am.  I live on Chobani fat free black cherry yogurt, fruit and protein bars, healthier chips, whole grain breads, and a lot of other choices that the Whole 30 deems as generally unhealthy.  They are right, they are not the best choices, but for me they have been the better choices.  They got me to where I am, but you know what.... they are also keeping me at where I am.  I am ready to move out of the transitional phase.  All those bloggers who have lost tons of weight and seem to effortlessly maintain?  Yeah, they are eating unprocessed whole foods.  Eating much healthier than me.

Weight loss is a journey, this is the next step in my journey.  

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