What’s Good Medicine?

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Infants die of merasmus (wasting away) if they are not touched. Babies who lack physical touch and attachment are anxious yet apathetic, sluggish, and depressed. Their bodily systems, especially digestive, are practically nonoperational. Their stress response is hypersensitive to almost any stimulation, and practically functions without relief. Those biochemical and physiological effects ultimately lead to death.

Today, the most common forms of disease and health complaints for adults have very similar expressions. They present with digestive troubles, hormonal problems, constant aches and pains, apathy, lethargy, depression, and anxiety. Their complaints often seem to lack origin or explanation, and often go improperly managed far too long.

According to WebMD, 75 – 90% of doctor’s visits are stress related. Adult distress is most often emotional, relational, and social in nature. It’s been my experience that adults often feel a disconnect from others when struggling with their distress. This all makes it very interesting to consider that distressed adults symptoms are so strikingly similar to the babies who lack the experience and reassurance of attachment, security, and comfort.

As Deane Juhan brilliantly asks, “What is it that leads us to assume that the stressed child merely needs “comforting”, while the stressed adult needs medicine?” Isn’t it likely that the first and one of the most important steps to healing, growing and thriving at any age is to be comforted, supported, and made to feel better? “Comforting” and connection literally saves babies lives, why wouldn’t we expect that it could do the same for us?

If we don’t have others to support us in infancy, we can’t survive. We weren’t just built FROM people. We were built FOR people. If someone is hurting or having a hard time, can you be a comfort? If you are hurting or having a hard time, can you be comforted?

Be good for others. Be good to others. And surround yourself with those who are good to you! It’s really good medicine.

You Are Not What You Eat

I am so much more than that

Food pictures abound on social media. I’ve posted them. I’ve posted them a lot.  I’ve even posted them very recently. But I don’t want to do it anymore. In fact, I don’t think I’ll be doing it anymore. What I eat is not who I am.

“You are what you eat.” I call BS! What did Mother Theresa eat? What did Martin Luther King Jr eat? What did Jesus eat? I cannot imagine anyone that was ever helped or inspired by any of these individuals would have ever refused their help based on their diet.

I do not believe that I am only what I eat. I know I am so much more than that. My wife and kids don’t define me by what I eat. They define me by who I am and what I can do. To them, I am a helper, a hugger, a teacher, a comfort, and a support. And they want me to eat anything that is going to allow me to do all of those things better.

Does your food help you feel better? Does your food help you do better? If not, eat something else. Eat anything else that helps you be a better person. Does your food help you be a better father, mother, brother, sister, relative, coworker, neighbor, friend, or fellow human being? If so, wonderful! Bon Appetit!

I am solely interested in eating so that I can feel better and do better. What I eat never has and never will make me better, or worse, than anyone else. What I eat doesn’t make me better THAN others. What I eat makes me better FOR others.

I really have zero interest in eating anything based on what others think about it, and I am no longer going to display my food as though I do. I am not going to post food pictures anymore because whether you like it, love it, want to comment on it, or hate it, really is of no consequence to you. What matters is my physiological response to my food, not anyone else’s social response. #mybodymydiet

If you’re too worried about what everyone is eating, you’re going to miss what everyone is capable of doing. Instead of posting pictures of what I am about to eat, maybe I’ll post pictures, videos, and updates of all that I can do since I’ve eaten.

What can you do since you’ve eaten? What can you do better, now? What can you do that makes you more “you?” How are you doin’ better now? #doinbetternow

“Eat better?” No. You are so much more than just what you eat. Eat to do better. You are also what you do not just what you eat.

5 Ways to Know What to Eat Without Thinking

nothingsoundsgoodtoeat

How often do you ask of yourself, your partner, your family, or your friends, “What sounds good to eat?” Daily, if not multiple times a day, right? “What sounds good?” seems to be one of the most common ways of communicating about what to eat. And I actually think it may unconsciously be doing a lot of harm. Let me tell you why.

What are the most commonly recognized of our senses? They are sight, smell, taste, touch, and sound. Of those general senses, which one is least associated with eating?

Do you touch food? Yes. Do you see food? Yes. Do you smell food? Yes. Do you taste food? Yes, of course. Do you hear food? No. Then why are communicating about food in terms of sound? “What sounds good?” Huh?

When you ask “What sounds good?”, you are really asking someone what they think. You are communicating more about thinking and less about feeling. And this is where the danger comes in. Your body is set up to communicate what it needs, and when, through feeling. You don’t have to think about sleeping, you feel tired. You don’t have to think about drinking water, you feel thirsty. You don’t even have to think about eating, you feel hungry. And I am here to tell you don’t have to think very much about what you need to eat if you’ll just feel it.

Here are some ways to better determine how your meal will make you feel…

1 – Look at your food. Do you like what you see? What a food looks like matters. Its appearance can stimulate or inhibit digestion. Does its appearance make you feel better?

2 – Touch your food. How does it feel? How do you feel? If you don’t think the way food feels matters consider “mouthfeel.” It represents how it will be digested and what nutrients might be available for the body. How a food feels to you to touch is important when it comes to how good a food currently is for us.

3 – Smell your food. Does that smell make you feel better? Smell is a big part of taste. How a food smells to you will play a large role in how it tastes, and taste is very important feedback about what your body needs. 

4 – Taste your food. If you don’t trust all of this other feedback, then taste the food. A very small bite can do the trick. Taste it. Do you like it? How do you feel? Do you want more of it, and do you want to feel more like that? Be willing, even if you’ve just spent the time to cook or get some food, to not eat whatever it is that doesn’t feel good.

5 – Lastly, if you really have to think about your food then think about it through your senses. Imagine how that food would feel, look, smell, and taste. How you feel as you imagine yourself sensorily experiencing that food will be a better indicator of how good that food will be for you than asking “what sounds good to eat?”

Can we please stop asking, “What sounds good to eat”?

It’s far more accurate and helpful to ask, “What feels good to eat?”

More Than a Father, a Daddy

fFandJolai

Guest Post by Jen Williams

I am not the best of writers and I do not typically write anything personal. I think it’s time to make an exception, however, because this is a rare occasion when I actually have a few things to say.

When I went into labor with my second child, I was unprepared. The birth of my first child took 3 hours from start to finish. No complications and minimal pain. The second time around was different – Antithetically different.

The labor lasted about 13 hours and was agonizingly painful.  Through this time my partner was very busy. He had many tasks at hand:  rubbing my back, warming the birthing tub water, bringing me drinks, helping me in and out of the tub, etc. He had already had a full day and he’d been up for many, many hours. It was thankless and exhausting for him. There was always more for him to do and he was very intent on helping. I remember looking over at him several times for reassurance and appreciating the fact that he was always right there.

A little over 12 hours in, labor was not progressing well. My midwife said, “You have to get your baby out. I need you to push her out”. I knew that meant something was wrong….that my baby was in distress. We all worked as hard as we could, moving me and turning me.  I tried pushing in several positions. My partner was there encouraging me, helping me move around, trying to make things okay.

Finally….finally, the baby’s head passed through the birth canal. However, there was no time for relief. Her face was blue and she was not coming out. Her shoulders were stuck. I remember that my partner was on his knees next to the midwife, waiting…afraid for his daughter. I could not see his face well, but I looked over and saw that my mother was crying. I’ve seen my mother cry once before this, so I knew things were bad. The midwife became really active. She quickly moved me into a position that allowed her to reach in and maneuver the baby free.  It worked. As the baby was born, she slipped right through the midwife’s hands. But it was okay because my partner was there waiting, and he caught the baby.

Our baby became responsive and started crying—hard.  I saw how happy my partner was that she was able to cry. He was allowing the midwife or me to attend to the baby when she needed us, but he was always right there waiting, supporting and attending.

We were all so relieved that the baby was crying. Some of the heaviness in the room dissipated. Yet, a long while later, the baby had not stopped crying and would not nurse. I was extremely tired and upset about the birth…just frazzled. I told my partner that the baby was hurt and handed her to him, so that he could fix it. I trusted him completely. I knew he could find a way to help her and I knew he would not stop until he did.

So he scooped her up, diagnosed her injury, and got her professional help quickly. Soon she was calm and nursing. I have never been so grateful to anyone in all of my life.

This story is important because it exemplifies the admirable qualities of true fatherhood. It is a man with no experience in his position, sacrificing his own comfort in the interest of his child’s wellbeing, supporting the mother of his child in every way he possibly could, becoming as responsive to the needs of his child as he is to his own (or more), overcoming personal limitations to be available for his family, patiently waiting, faithfully attending, catching his child when she is falling, and helping her heal when she is wounded.

Like the difference between “boy” and “man” so to is the difference between “father” and “Daddy.” I see a Daddy as being present, involved, responsive, responsible, nurturing and consistently loving. It is one of the most impactful jobs in the human race. All that a father or Daddy does directly influences the mental and physical health and safety of the child. Men, it is challenging, but it’s imperative to  understand the importance of your role, and take it more seriously than anything else.

Although I don’t communicate my appreciation nearly often enough, my partner still makes a concerted effort to do these things EVERY DAY with his children…that is a Daddy.

To every Daddy out there,
Thank you.

Should I Lose Weight? Part 2: Health

hungry

I loathe the fatness industry the fitness industry has become. It has a very exclusive aesthetic drive, and as we saw in Part 1, it’s results can be quite destructive. The Fatness Industry is almost solely concerned with our shape, our form. It tells us that our composition, our percentage of parts (bodyweight, body fat, or Body Mass Index), is the most important determinant of our health. It forcefully demands us to believe that fat loss and muscle gain are always synonymous with better health. What does the data suggest?

National Center for Health Statistics and Cornell University has compiled one of the most comprehensive studies analyzing over 600,000 subjects with up to a 30 year follow up. What did they find? “Among non-smoking, white men, the lowest mortality rate was found among those with a BMI between 23 and 29.” Not only does this show that lowest mortality was found among those considered overweight (BMI between 25-29.9), but also that there is a range of healthy weights and body frames, not just one strict, ideal standard.

The latter assertion, that we healthily come in all shapes and sizes, is evidenced in the studies findings on women, “in regard to non-smoking, white women, authors concluded the available data indicated that the BMI range correlating with lowest mortality rate was extremely broad, from around 18 to 32, meaning a woman of average height could weigh anywhere within an 80 pound range without seeing any statistically significant change in her risk to premature death.”

First National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES 1)the authors concluded that their findings demonstrate a wide range of BMIs consistent with minimum mortality, and do not suggest that the optimal BMI is at the lower end of the distribution for any age group.

Paul Campos, The Obesity Myth, “The only other large study to look into the question of the health effects of intentional weight loss – the Iowa Women’s Health Study – produced some rather extraordinary data in regard to the assumption that trying to get thin is the appropriate ‘cure’ for the ‘disease’ of above-average weight. The Iowa study is particularly striking, in that it featured no less than 108 different statistical comparisons, based on age, initial weight and health status, and cause of death. In seventy-nine of these comparisons, intentional weight loss was associated with higher mortality rates. By contrast, the number of comparisons in which INTENTIONAL weight loss ended up being associated with lower mortality rates was ZERO. This is especially significant information, given that the Iowa study is one of only a few studies that have distinguished between intentional and unintentional weight loss when measuring the effects of weight loss on health…”

According to Campos, obesity investigator, “…in almost all large scale epidemiological studies little or no correlation between weight and health can be found for a large majority of the population and indeed what correlation does exist suggests that it is more dangerous to be just a few pounds underweight than dozens of pounds overweight.”

For example consider the specific finding that, “…the association between thinness and premenopausal breast cancer is STRONGER than that between fatness and postmenopausal breast cancer.

The editors of The New England Journal of Medicine corroborate, “…the case for the claim that fat is a significant health risk is limited, fragmentary and often ambiguous.

It’s very evident that weight loss and health are not the synonymous pair that too many of us believe them to be. Fat loss is not always associated with health gain, and fat gain is not always associated with health loss. What happens if you ONLY lose fat? What happens if you ONLY gain muscle? If ANYTHING, physiologically, goes only one way, or one way too long, disease and death are imminent.

Now, I’m not arguing that body weight and composition don’t have significance. Problems arise throughout the spectrum.  We all have different limits. But who’s to say whether it is time to lose or gain? Who’s to say that, right now, you don’t need more fat and less muscle for better health?

The problem with a weight/shape/form focus is that by itself it is not a reliable indicator of progress or for which direction progress is to be made. Healthier weight and body composition, like life, will trend both up and down. Our shape is a response to how we live our life, and better comes in all different forms.

Simply stated, you should not, cannot, and will not, only lose fat and gain muscle. Thus do not use it as the gold standard of healthy achievement. It’s not! Our focus on form is fallible, and the Fatness Industry is failing. Instead, focus on function. That’s Fitness.

But what areas of function should we focus on? And how do we overcome the pressures of popular aesthetic morality in favor of the influence of personal perpetual progress?

Stay Tuned for Part 3

Should I Lose Weight? Part 1: Beauty

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I’ve been in the fitness industry for 15 years, and over the years there’s become more and more I dislike about it. I think what I dislike the most is the obsession with our physical form. It’s not a fitness industry. It’s a fatness industry. And it’s falsehoods are killing us.

Greg Crister, Harper’s Magazine, wrote about our culture, “No one, and I mean NO ONE, in the pages of the glossy magazines within which the elite project their image of themselves is anything like fat. The hierarchy of acceptable body types is becoming more rigid and exclusive than ever before.”

And within ALL of the thousands of “beautiful” images are hidden some rather ugly statistics.

Women and Children, first:
-Up to 97% of women report, at some point, “HATING” their own body.
-47% of girls in 5th-12th grade reported wanting to lose weight because of magazine pictures.
-69% of girls in 5th-12th grade reported that magazine pictures influenced their idea of a perfect body shape
-42% of 1st-3rd grade girls want to be thinner
-81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat
-The average dieting age for girls is 8 years old

Men:
“The muscularity of ideal male body representations present an extremely, and largely unattainable, muscular ideal male body type, which is equivalent to the unattainable thin female ideal” (Lever, Frederick, & Peplau, 2006; Schooler & Ward, 2006) (Olivardia, Pope, Borowiecki, & Cohane, 2004)
-Inadequacy in males often leads to abnormal eating and substance abuse

In total…
The U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reported Americans spent approximately $30 billion in 1992 on all types of diet programs and products. Marketdata estimated in its 2007 study the size of the U.S. weight loss market at $55 billion. It is now estimated to have reached over $60 Billion.

There are well over 100 million people “dieting” every single day in the United States. And 35% of those “occasional dieters” progress into pathological dieting (disordered eating), and as many as 25%, advance to full-blown eating disorders, reports the Philadelphia Eating Disorder Examiner. And eating disordered individuals have the highest rate of mortality of all mental disorders.

Anywhere from 65 – 98% of dieters return to their pre-dieting weight within three years, according to Gary Foster, Ph.D., clinical director of the Weight and Eating Disorders Program at the University of Pennsylvania, and Rudolph L. Leibel M.D. of Columbia University Medical Center.

Wherever the actual percentage of failing dieters falls, the majority of people are never going to see the projected expectation of physical beauty expressed by their body. According to The Renfrew Center Foundation for Eating Disorders, It’s estimated that the body type portrayed in advertising as the ideal is possessed naturally by only 5% of American females.

Even though the odds of almost anyone radically altering their weight indefinitely are dismal, it is still possible. But at what cost? If we don’t want to embrace the unique beauty of the Individual, the majority will continue to find themselves devastated by the physical, psychological, and emotional destruction of believing that all of us should fit into 5%.

Roberta Pollack Seid in her book, Never Too Thin, Why Women Are At War With Their Bodies, concludes “We pursue thinness with a fervor that borders on the religious. We believe in physical perfectibility and see its pursuit as a moral obligation. The virtue that presumably will put us on this road is our ability to control one of our most fundamental instincts – eating. We have come to believe thinner is healthier, happier, and more beautiful as though it were handed down on Mount Sinai. But those are not divine truths. They are prejudices with a complex history. They have led to a false religion that does not deliver what it promises.

Seid continued, “…Never before have so many people believed that the shape of their lives depended on the shape of their bodies.” But their measurements, their weight, are a matter of health,.. Right? Is weight a useful predictor of health?

The answers may surprise you…
Stay Tuned for Part 2

*Note – statistics cited from National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, University of Colorado, and National Eating Disorders Association

Two Questions That Forever Changed How I Eat

foodofthefuture

I used to pride myself as being a very “healthy” eater: limited foods, from even more limited sources, as “whole” as possible, always. I didn’t think of it as restrictive. It was “clean.” I believed in only eating “natural, real food.” My way of eating was more than about being healthy, it was moral…or so I thought.

I campaigned fervently for my righteous way of eating. I taught “real food nutrition” at every opportunity, to anyone I met. I changed the way A LOT of people thought about food, and how they constructed their diet. And A LOT of people’s health changed for the better. I was validated…for a while.

The results didn’t always last. Not only were my results waning, but so were others. I was seeing more people that weren’t instantly cured by giving up “unhealthy, processed” foods. And I even encountered people who were getting worse upon eating the “good, whole, real” foods. I could not imagine what was so inherently wrong with these people that the “healthy” foods were not working, and even making them sick!

Until one day, while ruminating about others food indecency and their perplexingly positive results, I had a thought that would change my life. I very quietly, and dubiously, asked myself one question, “What if… just, what if… I was… (clears throat, swallows)… wrong?” Was it possible that it was my beliefs, and not their bodies, that were wrong?

Do we, as a collective scientific community, know everything? Uhhh, No. There is a genetics professor at UT Austin that says at the beginning of each new semester, “Everything I taught 10 years ago is complete nonsense today. And everything I teach today will be complete nonsense in 10 years.”

Our model of every thing is limited and incomplete. We are constantly learning new things, with new pieces, from new technological breakthroughs.  What good is the scientific process if we are not willing to change our perspective when given new pieces to the puzzle?

Stephen Hawking, world renowned theoretical physicist, states in A Brief History of Time, “you can disprove a theory by finding even a single observation that disagrees with the predictions of the theory…” One outlying, seemingly contradictory experience changes EVERYTHING, and I had witnessed a lot.

Hawking concludes with, “Each time new experiments are observed to agree with the predictions the theory survives, and our confidence in it is increased; but if ever a new observation is found to disagree, we have to abandon or modify the theory.

My confidence in my dietary beliefs was crumbling beneath me. And then my long held beliefs about diet and nutrition were revolutionized with 2 simple questions:

“Have I ever had a good outcome/positive response with any declared “unhealthy” food?”
Yes.

“Have I ever had a bad outcome/negative response to “healthy” food?”
Yes.

Answering yes meant my model of a healthy diet was wrong. And that was hard for me. But changing, despite my experiences, seemed harder.

Deane Juhan in his book,Job’s Body, eloquently states my struggle,
“…Unfortunately, if the history of mankind, or even of modern science, has any lasting certainty to offer us, it is the fact that it is entirely possible for rational individuals to be absolutely certain about notions that later prove to be utterly preposterous… We must escape our pain, quiet our fears, and we must act, today, now. For this reason we are always tempted to adopt beliefs and to defend them staunchly as truths, because the possibilities which they imply profoundly soothe our anxieties and produce some measure of practical results, rather than because their actualities have been borne out by unequivocal proofs or continue to offer the very best solution to current problems.”

The problems that had occurred from defending, adhering, and negatively adapting to my old beliefs were far worse, for myself and everyone I interacted with, than the momentary pain and anxiety of adopting the new. In fact it was that temporarily uncomfortable space that led me to the realization that our diet has never been, nor will ever be, perfect. That’s NEVER been biology’s goal. But it could be better. It was time for a new model.

With all that I currently know, I believe a healthier diet model includes these three important distinctions:

Dietary Distinction 1: Individual
We are all different, and we should respect one another’s dietary reflection of that.
Does your diet reflect yours?

Dietary Distinction 2: Inclusive
A healthier diet includes ALL of the foods that have EVER elicited a personally positive response. Has Yours?

Dietary Distinction 3: Increasing
Biology’s greatest offering is the possibility of ever increasing one’s functional capacity. A healthier diet model seeks, at every opportunity, to increase the range of foods from all sources that makes one feel good and function better. Does yours?

So now the questions turn to you:
Have you ever had a positive response to a “negative” food?
Have you ever had a negative response to a “positive” food?

My résponses to these questions forever changed my diet which leads to my last question:
How will your response to food change your relationship to food…how will you change your diet?

Trendy

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I am a TRENDY guy… dietarily speaking.

When it comes to feeding, eating and dieting, I have done it all. At least I have tried. I started 18 years ago as a strict calorie counter and a low calorie consumer. I have been fat free, and also full fat, all fat. I have eaten low carb, no carb ketogenic. I’ve carbed with no bread, no grains, as well as hi carb, and heavy grains. I have gone paleo, in all of its forms. I was metabolically “typed” and a metabolic typing advisor. I have been vegetarian, vegan, and as carnivorous as Vihjalmur Stefannson.  I have strictly used conventional or all organic and biodynamic foods, like the local co-op and grocery store I founded. I have been gluten free, soy free, dairy free, and additive free. I have soaked, sprouted, and fermented. I have not only exclusively used whole foods but highly processed and refined,too. I have supplemented and superfooded, cleansed, detoxed, fasted, and I have feasted. When it comes to food, the only thing I have more of than food knowledge is varied dietary experience.

I was constantly searching for the perfect way of eating. It had to be there. I would seek and sample ’til I found it. For many years, moving onto a new dietary trend meant new hope, with an eerily optimistic belief that all variables of food chemistry and human biology had been, and could be, accounted for with this new trend. “Ahh, Yes. Of Course!” I THOUGHT to myself. As if this time dietary optimization was at hand. It also meant bashing the old belief, and belittling anyone who still advocated for any of the aforementioned antiquated ways of eating. The sad truth about this brazenly biased way of thinking, I missed the most important thing, my response.

I was far more interested in arguments than outcomes. I wasn’t a scientist. I was a philosopher at best, and a pedantic pundit at worst. But that could change any time I wanted because unbeknownst to me I had been running experiments this whole time. Simply by eating and noting my responses I had far more useful evidence than I could ever acquire through reading and research.

Before running anymore experiments, I needed to look at the results of my dietary endeavors: ALL of them. To the best of my ability, I put my beliefs and ALL that I had “learned” on the back burner and looked simply at the outcomes. I was startled, to say the least, about what I found.

What I found was not an exclusive way of eating, but an inclusive one. With each diet practice, I had positive results, to some degree. I had done well with whole foods, but also with processed and refined. I had done great with organics, but also with conventional. I had good experiences as a vegetarian, and just as good as a meat eater. I had done well with low fat, low carb, and low calories, and I had other great outcomes from hi fat, hi carb, and astronomic caloric consumption.

The greatest association I found with food and my health, was that the more foods I was willing to include in my diet, the better my health. I just had to pay attention to what I was feeling, and be ok to eat what was necessary.

Every diet has something in common. It defines good and bad. According to EVERY diet there are good foods, and there are bad foods. And we believe it, every time. And we act accordingly. Until that inevitable moment that we sway from our diet, or give it up altogether. We abandon the “good” for the “bad”. And for some time after, we feel better, much better. Why?

Because there is no such thing as inherently good or bad foods. There are just better contexts, for each person, to eat a particular food, or eat in a particular way. And it is going to be different for EVERYONE.

I still consider myself a trendy guy,.. dietarily speaking. But instead of following diet trends, I follow my body’s. My body provides me with all of the direction I could ever need.
Biofeedback based eating is sensitive and responsive to all of our body’s trends. And I believe it’s the only way of eating that will always work. The only requirement is to let your body, not your mind, be the guide.

 

Snack for Sleep

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You cannot sleep. You’re wired but oh so tired, wide awake. It’s probably close to the hours of 2am – 4am. Not only is this a  physiologically classic time to find yourself sleepless, but it’s frustrating and very anxiety producing. You’re quite possibly on the precipice of a total emotional breakdown.

I’m sorry. I know you’re TIRED! I’ve been through it too. But I am here to tell you, that there’s hope!

Why am I awake?
We could discuss neurology, sleep phases and durations of beta, alpha, theta, and delta brain waves, but how’s that going to get you to sleep, NOW! We could look at the suprachiasmatic nucleus, the pineal gland, or the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis, but other than making me sound smart, how does that get you to SLEEP? Let’s keep it simple. Generally speaking, You are distressed. Why? I don’t know. I am not you. Maybe something you didn’t finish that day, or something you have pending tomorrow, or maybe you’re just in the middle of some existential crisis. Regardless, you’re distressed. Just not getting sleep is distressful. “OK. So I am ‘distressed.’ How does that knowledge help me, and not add to my worry?”

Is there anything I can do?
Our body’s chemical distress response activates systems in the body that are alerting and adrenaline pumping, not sleep inducing. You need to shut down that chemical alerting and excitation. And there is one easy way to do so…food, specifically carbohydrates: sugar, starch or both, that’s up to you. Salt and fat are great accessories. Let’s be real, when you’re totally distressed or up on a sleepless night, you’re not thinking how you can get your hands on raw celery sticks and mineral water. You want chips, candy, and ice cream…intravenously, NOW! That’s not emotional. That’s physiological. “But, but.. BUT!”

Won’t I get fat?
No, it’s not going to make you fat. In fact, quite the opposite. Sleep is one of the best lean-producing, fat reducing, anti-aging activities our bodies can engage. When you go sleepless, you significantly lower metabolic rate, your appetite activating and suppressing hormones, ghrelin, leptin and insulin are deranged, and that all-day tired is practically chronically activating that chemical distress response, over and over, which exacerbates all of the above (and A LOT MORE), and of course requires even more food to suppress it. In other words, snack yourself to sleep, if you can, or you will rapidly age your depressingly, fattening, sick and over-tired body.

What sounds a lot like, nice. dream? Ice. Cream.
I could go on, but suffice it to say, a carb-y, salty, fatty snack, in the middle of the night, when you need it, will be much more stimulating to weight control, leanness, anti-aging, health, vitality, energy and general bad-assery than starving yourself of both the food and sleep you so desperately need.

So you’re saying there’s a chance?
If you cannot sleep, and you cannot directly link your sleeplessness to something you can immediately handle, ask yourself if you could eat. Specifically, ask yourself if you could go for a personally tasty, carb-y, salty, fatty snack. It just might be exactly what you need to suppress your distress so your body can REST, and be fast off to SLEEP!

Your Diet Can Be A Piece of Cake

Is this you (or at least “weekend you”)?

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Is this You on a diet?

Girl Dislikes Vegetables

From my experience working with people to better their health through food, fitness, and lifestyle, I am probably pretty close, if not spot on.

Dieting, restricted eating, or what is clinically referred to as “restrained eating”, is inherently unpleasant. In the words of my wife, ex-figure competitor, “dieting SUCKS!” But is the distaste (pun intended) for restrained eating/dieting simply a matter of psychological shortcomings of weak willed individuals?

There has been A LOT of research demonstrating that restrained eaters, when exposed to “palatable”, or more appropriately, diet restricted foods, like pizza, ice cream, or meat, will overeat, especially relative to unrestrained eating, non-dieters. The most interesting research to me has shown that seeing, smelling, or just thinking about “palatable” foods, creates a much higher amount of salivation in restrained eaters vs unrestrained eaters. To appreciate the importance of this finding, let’s discuss digestion.

In simple terms, our digestive system breaks down food to deliver energy (macronutrients)and vitamins and minerals (micronutrients) to all of our cells. The better our digestion, the better we can access, produce, and use energy and micronutrients. Salivation is one of the first products of the digestive process called the cephalic phase.

From Biology for Dummies“The cephalic phase comprises those stimuli that originate from the head: sight, smell, taste, or thoughts of food, as well as emotional state. Stimuli that arouse digestion are relayed to the hypothalamus, which in turn initiates nerve impulses in the parasympathetic vagus nerve. These impulses innervate nerve networks of the gastrointestinal tract (enteric nervous system), which promote contraction of smooth muscle (which causes peristalsis) and secretion of gastric juice. Stimuli that repress digestion (emotions of fear or anxiety, for example) innervate sympathetic fibers that suppress muscle contraction and secretion.”

Looking at digestion, coupled with the unconscious, hyperarousal of salivation, indicates to me that state of arousal may not only influence how you digest your food, but  may reflect what foods are best for you. An increase in salivation is an increase in digestive function. It might just be one of your body’s way of saying, YES!

But what happens if you ignore your body’s communication in favor of your diet plan?

The most common finding is that restrained eaters (someone on a diet) will eventually overeat compared to unrestrained eaters. An example of this research is to observe dieters and non-dieters in grocery stores when they are exposed to food sampling. Dieters eat a lot more samples than non-dieters.

One of my favorite studies looked at the amount of ice cream eaten by dieters (restrained eaters) vs non-dieters (unrestrained eaters). Both factions were split into 3 groups. One group had to drink 1 milkshake, the next had to drink 2 milkshakes, the third received no milkshake. After the milkshake was finished, all 3 groups were given a big tub of ice cream, and were given 10 minutes to eat as desired. When the time was up, the researchers returned to collect the tub of ice cream and measure how much had been eaten.

In the unrestrained (non-dieters) group, the more milkshake you consumed, the less ice cream you later ate. Makes sense. They were full. But in the restrained eating (dieters) group, the trend was the exact opposite. Dieters who did not receive a milkshake didn’t eat the ice cream. The dieters who had 1 milkshake had some ice cream. But the dieters who had 2 milkshakes ate the most ice cream of them all (also the lower the subject’s self esteem, the more they ate).

According to research restrained, restricted eating is statistically the single best predictor of future weight gain. It’s also a surefire way to not only be over tempted and interested in “off limit” foods, but also nearly assures that you will binge on them at some point.

But what happens if all “my body wants” is junk food?

Stress (of any kind) can increase the body’s needs for more food (think energy and nutrients). In particular stress can lead the body to need more carbohydrate and fat. It’s probably no coincidence that’s the primary ingredients of most “junk” food.

Additionally, during distress digestion becomes more inhibited. This drives the body to seek more easily digestible foods. “Processed” foods are, by their nature, quite digestible.

In other words, if your body is really only interested in “junk” food, at that time, you probably need it. If you’ll eat what works with your body, you can use it to address the stress in your life which will lead to better eating and health.

Anecdotally, I have been more restrained in my eating than most you will ever meet. I have experienced incredible distress because of that restraint. So when I first began to eat unrestrained my “junk food” appetite was insatiable. I ate nothing but bread (all things gluten), fast food, ice cream, chocolate, meat, and gallons of gatorade.

I was psychologically challenged. But I was physically very energized (and relieved)! And after just a few days, I became neutral to food for the first time in years! I was finally able to eat (and live) without struggling.

Today, even with an open and stocked cupboard of refined and processed foods, I find myself usually more interested in the foods that people generally consider to be “healthy” (Parents, same is true for my kids). And when I feel in need of the health “restricted” foods, I no longer overeat, binge, stuff, or sicken myself with them (or my thoughts on what I just ate). In fact, when I need them, processed foods have become a very healthy part of my diet. But that’s just me.

Earlier I mentioned my wife, the figure competitor and chronic dieter. Well, she no longer diets. After years of disordered eating she’s abandoned the restricted and regimented ways of restrained eating. She feels better, looks better, and is stronger than most guys I know (me included)! With a monumental increase in “allowed foods” she is really healing her body and relationship with food. Do you know what kind of freedom and health that allows for in life?

My Wife and Kids...  Pretty Healthy Group of Unrestrained Eaters, huh?

(My Wife and Kids…Pretty Healthy Group of Unrestrained Eaters, huh?)

One of the main tenants of The Movement is to go with the body, not against it. What might happen if you go with your digestive action and bodily inspired food interests instead of disciplined restraint and dietary dogma?

You can’t struggle to be healthy. Those concepts are antithetical. Feeling better and functioning better are the essence of health, and I believe that any foods that allow for such positive outcomes are healthy.

It’s simple: pay attention to your body’s cues, and be willing to follow. For better digestion, better health, more energy, more productivity, more satisfaction (in all things), consider eating what satisfies your body, whatever that may be. Healthy eating can be a piece of cake!