A few random facts about losing weight I learned in kindergarten...or physiology...or somewhere.

All this talk of food made me hungry.  Here is a picture of an asparagus quiche I made.
I wrote this post for another blog my sisters and I have to help each other stay healthy.  I thought I'd share it here.   I am a bit leery of promises that I can lose 50 pounds in a month like Rachel Ray just by following one little trick, or shed the pounds by only eating one miracle food, or by dropping a food group entirely.  I feel if there was a quick and easy cure for obesity, we'd already know about it.  Basically I figure if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  I'd much rather look into the science behind weight loss and how the human body processes calories, and tried to sum up some of the random facts about weight loss that I've found helpful over time, presented in no particular order.
Hope you find it useful :)   

*I am not a doctor, dietician, or a nutritionist, just a biologist who likes to know what's going on with her body when she's trying to lose weight.  I am not promising you'll loose 50 pounds in a month, or anything else.  Some of these facts may be replaced in the future as science learns more about how our bodies work. Haha, I love small print!

1.  Your body has a set point.  This means your body will try very hard to maintain the same weight-and it is a lot easier to raise your set point than to lower it. You'll need to get started losing weight by being diligent with exercise and careful of how you eat.   Lowering your set point is more successful when you lose weight slowly, and maintain it for a few months before trying to lose more.  People tend to lose about 10% and plateau, and while this may not be the end goal you are looking for, let your body adjust to your new portion sizes of food and rate of exercise.  After a pause, kick things up a notch and go for your next 10%.  Slow weight loss is much more likely to stay off for good.     (Here is a good article explaining what a set point is and how it affects weight loss. )

2.  Sleep matters.  If you aren't getting enough sleep, you probably won't lose weight as fast.  They haven't pinpointed exactly why, but one reason might be that you are up longer and get hungry again a while after you'd had dinner, and eat when you might be sleeping.  You also don't have the control you might if you are rested, and lack of sleep messes with your metabolism either way.

3.  Don't deprive yourself-just be strict with portion control.  Complete deprivation of a favorite food will lead to binges, then guilt, then you might get depressed and throw in the towel.  Eat a shake if you want, just don't do it every day, or finish it if you start to feel full.

4.  You don't belong to the clean plate club anymore.  It is ok to leave food on the plate.  Learn to pay attention to when your body says you are done, not when the plate does.

5.  Eating can be HARD to stay on track when eating out.  Remember these places are there to sell food, and most don't care how healthy the food is, as long it tastes good so you buy a lot and come back for more.
Here are a few tricks:
Go for the salad if you like-but skip the dressing and toppings like cheese and croutons.  Some of those salads have more calories than getting a hamburger meal.  Ask for the dressing on the side and just dip your fork or each bite.  You'll eat less of the dressing but still get the taste.
Grilled chicken (hold the mayo) is also a good option, and don't feel too bad about a plain old hamburger now and then-sometimes it can be one of the lower calorie options.
Sometimes you can ask for half portions for half the price even if it isn't on the menu.
Don't be afraid to ask for other favors-like sauces on the side and requesting the meat be grilled not fried.
If you know they are going to give you a large serving, ask for a container when you start, and put half in before you even start eating.
If you are eating with other people, eat slowly, so you don't feel like you need to take more to be social while others are still eating.  Remember to keep sipping your water, and move the glass directly in front of you when done to give your hands something to do while you are waiting.

6. Drink enough water.  Sometimes it is easy to confuse thirst with hunger.  If you think you feel hungry, try a glass of water first and wait a bit to see if  you really want to eat. Drink a glass just before eating a meal. There is a reason resturants serve lots of water with their meals...

7. Eat colorful food (no, not a bowl of Trix).  Naturally colorful foods usually have more nutrition per calorie, and are visually satisfying than a plate of beige food.  Try for a variety of colors with each meal-and include white.  White fleshed fruits like apples and pears may help reduce the risk of strokes.

8. Go whole grain.  Brown rice, whole wheat bread, oatmeal, etc. have more fiber and nutrition per calorie.

9.  Fiber is good.  Besides filling you up and keeping your digestive tract moving, it binds with fat in the digestive tract so less is absorbed.  Make every calorie coming in work for you by bringing with it fiber or vitamins, etc.  Avoid highly processed food-white flour and refined sugars are the worst culprits when it comes to delivering empty calories.

10.  Snacks are good-if you pick them wisely.  Eat meals at a regular time, and plan for a few healthy snacks in-between.  If you let yourself get too hungry, you'll overeat at the next meal.  When you feel deprived and hungry all the time while dieting, you'll be less likely to stick to it.  Combining a carb and a protein will keep you satisfied longer than just a carb. 

11.  Don't give up. If you slip and eat something you shouldn't, this doesn't give you permission to give up on the rest of the day or week.  Let it go, and keep on track.  If you stub your toe, you don't keep kicking the rock...

12.  Be aware of the law of diminishing rewards.  The first bite tastes the best, but the more you eat, the more your brain starts to tune out the flavor.  (The same thing happens with smells-you'll notice a scent when you first walk in a room, but once you've noticed it, you tune it out.  It happens with touch as well.  You probably won't notice it until I mention it, but can you feel where your shirt is touching you?) You may want second helpings, but you won't have the same satisfaction when you eat it.

13. Spice it up.  Flavorful food is a lot more satisfying than bland food, and you'll pay more attention to it, helping you notice when you start to feel full.  Texture, color, variety and temperature are important too-warm foods are more filling, and crunchiness and taste add variety to the food.  If food isn't appealing, you tend to eat more of it in search of satisfaction. Have fun preparing your food, and enjoy eating it!  

14.  Are you done? Your body takes a bit of time-sometimes 30 minutes-to get the signal to your brain that you are full.  Stop when you first notice this feeling-you probably have already eaten a bit more than you needed in order to feel satisfied for a while.  Resist munching a bit more, but if you must, then switch to something with few calories.  Eating slowly also prevents overeating for this same reason, you don't eat as much in the time between when you are full and when the signal hits your brain.  This is why you sometimes are enjoying a meal and all of a sudden realize you ate WAY too much.  Blah.

15.  Have strict rules about where you eat.  Make each meal a ceremony-set the table, sit down, and don't do anything else while eating-focus on the food.  Most empty calories are eaten while reading or watching TV.  If you must munch while reading, keep something like a bag of precut veggies ready, and have a specific place you eat and read.  Avoid eating while on the couch, so it doesn't trigger hunger cues whenever you sit down.

16. Write it down.  It is easy to eat more than you think you are if you aren't keeping track.  Besides keeping track of what goes in, try keeping track for a few days of the times you get hungry-and what you are doing when you first feel hungry, and how you feel when you notice you have a craving.  You might be surprised to find you expect a snack every time you sit down to the computer-or you get cravings when you finish something and are a little bored.  Recognizing triggers will help you control cravings.  If you consistently get hungry at the same time of day no matter what you are doing, try planning a snack for that time. 

17.  Eat Breakfast!!  Some carbs with a protein get your metabolism going...which is a good thing.  Your body shuts down a bit to conserve energy while you sleep.  Once you eat in the morning, it gets things going, and you burn more calories while just sitting there.  Eat a bit just before exercising if you plan on going first thing in the morning to help you make the most of the workout-even a handful of almonds or something helps.

18.  Food Food Everywhere! Our bodies are not equipped to deal with a surplus of food.  Throughout history, a lack of food has typically been the problem.  We are designed to crave fats and sugars, and then hang on to every calorie coming in.  You aren't weak, you are just designed this way.  This doesn't mean you have no control, it just helps to recognize why it is so hard to walk away from food.  Sometimes it helps to have an internal dialogue that goes like this: "Yes, I see you, you lovely bowl of (insert favorite treat here), and my body thinks it needs you.  It is my brain that controls my arms though, and I'm going to tell them to go get that apple and a glass of water first.  When I'm done with the apple, I'll think about coming back when I'm a little more objective."

19.  Leave emotion out of it.  Don't ever reward yourself with food, or comfort yourself with food, and be very careful about how you entertain yourself with food.  Come up with other things that you find rewarding, comforting, or entertaining, and don't eat because you are sad, happy, or bored.  Eat because you need to fuel your body.

20.  Be careful of diet food.  Artificially sweetened foods may not be your friend for the following reasons:
Many people end up overeating the diet food and take in more calories than they would eating regular food. 
Your body knows the difference.  A recent study showed that your body has a natural drive to satisfy sweet cravings-and if deprived by abstinence or substitution, it will trigger binging behavior. Diet drinks were associated with weight gain because sugars trigger full feelings and also trigger pleasure hormones after eating while artificial sweeteners don't-so more food is eaten in an effort to trigger those physical responses.
Eating artificial sweeteners also increases sugar dependence.  A diet high in sweet flavors increases sweet cravings.
Sweet tastes increases your appetite-you eat more if you eat something sweet just before a meal. 
Low fat foods may be a good choice-but check the calories.  Many low fat foods are not healthy because the food manufacturer attempts to compensate for the taste by increasing the sugar or adding sweeteners.  Read the label before eating it.  Low fat food that doesn't compensate is usually ok.

21. Set yourself up for success.  First, get rid of any junk in your house that will tempt you to eat poorly.  Second, plan your meals.  Besides saving you money by preventing impulse buys, you have a plan.  Figure in leftovers and plan for nights you just don't feel up to cooking by stocking the freezer with some quick, healthy options.  Plan for snacks-if you chop up the celery, wash the grapes and peel the carrots ahead of time, they'll be ready when you get a snack attack.  And EAT before you go shopping :)  I had the WORST craving for pie the other day while in the grocery store...the only thing that saved me was that the dang things cost $7 and I wasn't about to pay that for something I could make myself...

22. Happy Holidays! If you have a party or a holiday coming up, don't let it derail you.  If you know candy will be around the house or at work, allow yourself a piece, but don't go back. (It can help for you to not throw away wrappers.  Leave the pile to remind yourself of how much you've actually eaten!)  The same with holiday treats-take small portions, and plan before you go how much dessert you will eat and stick to it.  Let's face it, holiday food is good, fun to make, and the holidays wouldn't be the same without it. Go ahead and have some!  Just remember a small piece of the pie tastes the same as the whole thing.

23.  Sorry, there are no miracle foods, pills, or tricks to weight loss (that work long term).  It takes a good old combination of eating fewer calories than you use up during the day.  It's simple physics.   Energy in, energy out.  Remember the word of wisdom, and practice moderation in all things. 

So, now we know all this, the trick is to turn knowledge into action.  Remember that if you want different results you need to do something different.  Diets don't work.  You have to commit to this way of living.

Asparagus Quiche

This recipe was submitted to by Michele O'Sullivan.

1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces.
10 slices of bacon
2 eight inch unbaked pie shells
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups half-and-half cream
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups shredded Swiss cheese.
1 egg white, lightly beaten (I skipped this and just used some of the egg mixture).

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Steam asparagus until tender but not overcooked.
While asparagus is cooking, cook the bacon until crispy. Drain and set bacon aside.
Beat together eggs, cream, nutmeg, salt and pepper.  
Brush pie shells with egg white (or egg mixture).   Sprinkle crumbled bacon and chopped asparagus into pie shells, top with shredded Swiss cheese into both pie shells.
Pour egg mixture over bacon, asparagus and cheese, dividing it equally between shells.
Bake uncovered for about 35-40 minutes or until firm.   Let cool to room temperature before serving.   (We ate it hot and it was pretty good that way too.)

Number Of Servings:12

Preparation Time:prep time 25 minutes, baking time 35 minutes

If you have any other tips please share!!

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