A Baby-Steps Approach: Step 1- Exorcize the Inner Sleestak

Sleestak with their primitive weapons designed to kill Marshall, Will, and Holly…and probably Chaka too.

Many people have the desire to transform their health by eating better, but have busy lives, challenging health problems, or are firmly entrenched in life-long habits they feel powerless to change.  A major overhaul can be quite overwhelming.  Of course, while a complete diet makeover makes for more immediate health results, even baby-steps in the right direction are worth the effort.  Inspired by the Archevore’s 12-step plan for diet change, I decided to create my own riff on this type of approach.  Here’s the first installment.

Step 1:  Nix addictions and sweetened sodas and beverages.

If you use addictive substances casually and tell yourself you could quit any time, just do it.  Allowed to progress, over time, addiction is a disease that alters your brain.  Addiction researchers describe a full-blown addicted brain as a primitive fix-seeking machine on the level of a brain of a reptile or amphibian.  Sounds like some kind of Sleestak.  Yikes!  The good news is, healing is possible, and breaking free from your addiction and staying free will reverse the alterations.

If your addiction is mild, find other ways to deal with stress.  Make changes to your routine to avoid circumstances or people where you will find it difficult to resist temptation.  Many have found natural remedies and/or supplements helpful to ease cravings, even with more serious addictions.  Recovery programs and 12-step groups can help with long-term recovery, but remember, following a nutrient-dense diet that eliminates junk foods, refined flours and sugars is necessary for healing the damage done to your body, keeping cravings at bay, and preventing relapses.

Why am I grouping the addictions with sodas and beverages?  Because, people who smoke cigarettes or drink too much alcohol usually know they need to quit, but unfortunately, some people who drink soda, Starbucks, or even juice drinks everyday think these beverages are either benign or only mildly harmful.  Unfortunately, this is not the case.

Sugars, along with other refined carbohydrates, activate the same pleasure centers in the brain as crack cocaine.  Plus, sugary drinks are loaded with calories which don’t fill you up.  If you eat a food with the same calories as in a soda, your body adjusts its hunger cues and sends your brain the signal you are full.  After consuming a sugary drink, your body doesn’t feel satiation at all, and you are still hungry for more calories.  In effect, you are now primed to over-eat!   Blood sugar spikes are also a leading cause of insulin resistance and a precursor to diabetes, hypoglycemia, not to mention irritability, anxiety and brain fog.

What about artificially sweetened diet sodas and drinks?   A Purdue University study found that artificial sweeteners alter brain chemistry and effect metabolism ultimately causing cravings, over-eating and weight gain.  Dukey (sorry, couldn’t resist) University researchers fed mice sucralose and they got fat.  Some cattle are routinely fed neotame (the new-aspartame) because it causes them to get fat.  If that still doesn’t deter you, how about all the health problems linked to artificial sweeteners?

 Headaches/migraines, bloating, abdominal pain, heartburn, dizziness, seizures, nausea, numbness, muscle spasms, weight gain, rashes, depression, fatigue, irritability, tachycardia, insomnia, vision problems, hearing loss, heart palpitations, breathing difficulties, anxiety attacks, slurred speech, loss of taste, tinnitus, vertigo, memory loss, and joint pain. 

The approval of the artificial sweetener aspartame (E951- aka Nutrasweet) was the most contested in FDA history.  It was clearly shown to cause brain tumors in animals!  The approval was not based on any scientific grounds but was granted due to political and financial pressure.  Water is sounding better and better by the minute, isn’t it?!

Actually, if well-tolerated, unsweetened coffee and tea are good replacements in moderation.  There are some lacto-fermented beverages you can make at home which are quite beneficial.  Water kefir actually tastes like homemade soda, and my kids love it.  Kombucha, a home-brewed tea with natural carbonation and multiple tonic effects on the body, is also useful to cut down on sugar and alcohol cravings.

Take that first baby-step to change today.  You will start to feel better and be energized to do even more.   The human body has remarkable resilience and ability to renew itself.  Exorcize that inner Sleestak and get out of the ‘Land of the Lost’ for good!!

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4 Responses to A Baby-Steps Approach: Step 1- Exorcize the Inner Sleestak

  1. chris August 10, 2012 at 6:22 pm #

    Ha! I can’t believe you found such a fitting picture of the Sleestaks to go along with this post! I’m pretty sure I have been a frequent visitor to the Land of the Lost…

    • Maria November 18, 2012 at 12:01 am #

      Hey, there.Craving sugar when you first wake up can be caused by a nmbuer of factors. Here’s a few to keep an eye out for and what to do about them.1) Don’t eat a large, sweet dessert before going to bed. This causes a sugar rush (even if you are tired enough to fall asleep without problems) that causes your body to sleep fitfully. When you do this, you’re exhausting yourself more throughout the night by fighting sleep. You never enter the REM stage of sleep and when you wake up your body knows from experience that sugar will give it the boost it needs. This causes you to overeat. What to do avoid sweet desserts at night such as Ice Creams, Cakes, PB J’s, sodas, even pretzels, chips, etc. It would be best to eat a light dinner instead of a heavy carb dinner, also so not a whole plate of pasta or mashed potatoes, etc. Have the heavy meal or dessert with lunch and eat something light for dinner and evening dessert. Fish, veggies, chicken, soup and eat something for dessert with natural sugars if you have a sweet tooth. A piece of fruit, fruit with a little honey drizzled on top, or some ricotta cheese with splenda and vanilla or banana or chocolate extract (they come in all flavors!)The natural sugars of fruit are slow released because of the fiber from that fruit and leave you feeling less hungry in the morning.2) Drink water when you first wake up. Often times we confuse hunger for thirst and when foods aren’t satisfying the hunger (because we are actually thirsty) we turn to sweets. Sweets are a drug to the brain and make us temporarily happy so we ignore the original hunger’ which is actually the need for water. Crazy bodies we have, huh?3) Cut back on the refined sugars throughout the day the more we have the more we want. ESPECIALLY sodas if you drink them even diet. The caffeine causes an energy boost the same as sugar and our body doesn’t know the difference between sugar and caffeine and is more likely to make us crave sweets for the energy if it is hooked on caffeine. Also, try whole grain pastas and bread and don’t get rid of the potatoes just cut back on them and fill up with veggies instead.4) The others here are correct you might have a form of Insulin Resistance (that shows in many forms) and if modifying the things above or cutting out sugars (but only the refined ones!! fruit is good for you!) doesn’t help chat with your doc. There may be something else going on.Also .without getting too personal .is this always or have you noticed it is near when you have PMS? Because, at least for me and most of my friends, the further away from our teenage years we get the crazier the symptoms get as far as wanting to eat anything not nailed down until we finally eat the right thing’ that we seem to be craving. For some of us that’s salt; for some sugar. For me anything, everything as long as its edible!! And, if that’s the case, that just takes will power because nothing going to stop it!! Good luck!!

  2. carmelbec August 10, 2012 at 8:06 pm #

    Lol! You and I both! I had fun searching for them. Saw a few old clips on YouTube and it sure brought back memories… Sid and Marty, my childhood heroes ;-)

    • Wiefa November 17, 2012 at 6:00 pm #

      Here are some distractions I use when i feel a dspaerete urge to binge. 1. make sure other people are around. even them just being there and knowing you cant freely access the kitchen / food helps.2. do not keep food in your room, and ensure binge’ food is kept at a minimum. if you are serious, perhaps you could literally ask your parents [if you live with them] to keep them in a locked cupboard if they feel its essential to have cake/chocolate/chips in the house.3. just WAIT. wait 10 minutes. wait 20 minutes. give yourself a time limit, because sometimes by that time your so frustrated that you havent given in to the urge that you dont want to binge [its unlikely, but test it.]4. have something to DO after you eat. have this prepared. if you plan to watch a movie, have the movie in sight as you are eating. it will remind you that you are not going to binge. if you are going to do schoolwork, have your diary in front of you. if you are going to do painting, have the paints out.5. ask yourself where you want to be in a year/month/week. Recover NOW. start your binge/purge free days NOW. you might think this will be the last time . remember last time you said that too? ACTUAL ACTIVITIES:- Have a shower. you cant eat in the shower.- do something that [usually] fully engages your mind. Crosswords, puzzles, assignments. have these out BEFORE you start eating.- change your environment.. get away from food completely. go for a walk somewhere. bike ride [ do not do this to COMPENSATE though]- craft. this helps me the most. paint, cross stitch, long stitch, work with canvases, soft pastels [use your hands, you cant eat if you are finger painting], collages, drawing, making cards- make things for the people you love. give you a purpose to not do it for 5 minutes and then go and binge.- if you are angry and frustrated, find something that you can do to get your anger out. Totem tennis, anyone?- call a friend or family member and talk- play an instrument- redecorate your room / wardrobe- chat to friends on the internetessentially, the most effective thing for you not bingeing will be the thing that fulfills the need that you would usually be filled by bingeing. eg. if you binge because you feel isolated, calling a friend will directly fill that need. call friend after friend if need be. if you binge because you feel rejected, call someone you feel accepted by. if you binge because you simply have the house to yourself, make sure you eat with people and have them stick around after the meal! if you binge because you feel worthless and dont feel that you should have eaten the meal, then do something that makes you feel worthwhile make things for friends, create something, do something productive that you can SEE you are doing something. MAKE SURE YOU HAVE:1. a list of people you can call when you feel like you want to binge. 2. a list of things you can do when you do want to binge.rate both of these activities and people: eg. Activity: Punching a pillow. Good For: releasing frustrations, initially taking my mind off bingeing.Activity: Doing an assignment / schoolwork. Good For: showing that i can achieve something. you really need to make sure you get yourself SUPPORT. no matter if you have been bingeing or struggling with eating disorders for a month or a year, you WILL continue to struggle until you empower yourself and decide that you do not want this life. if it helps write down a list of things you want from life. is bingeing included? er.. no. See a psyc. See family members. See friends. See a team. Art therapist, music therapist. REMEMBER THE 5 D’SDELAY your response so you can figure out what exactly is tempting you to binge.DETERMINE what’s going on. Ask yourself, “Why is my desire to eat so high right now? Am I physically hungry? If not, “what do I really want or need?”DISTRACT yourself for 10 minutes (WAIT).DISTANCE yourself, physically, from the temptation.DECIDE how you will handle it.- If you’re tired, take a nap. If you’re feeling lonely, call a friend. If you’re feeling anxious, go for a walk or take a bubble bath.- If you’re having a specific food craving, identify what you really want, go get a single HOW TO STOP FOOD CRAVINGS Craving chocolate? Eat a banana. It sometimes satisfies the yearning for chocolate and is much less fattening. Chew sugarless gum. It speeds up the digestive system, burning more calories, and sometimes kills a craving. Exercise! Your appetite will temporarily subside and you’ll feel better about taking such a proactive approach. Still craving chocolate? Try a magnesium supplement. Many women are deficient in this mineral, which is found in chocolate. Craving fatty foods? Eat fish, or take a fish oil or flaxseed oil supplement. You may be low in essential fatty acids. Grab something to drink. Sometimes, cravings for food are really thirst in disguise. Sweet tooth? Protein, fat and fiber keep blood sugar levels more even and help keep such cravings under control. Watch your caffeine intake. Caffeine seems to make sugar cravings worse. If your will power weakens at night, try leaving the lights on until the minute you go to bed. Dimmed lights tend to lower inhibitions. Turn off the lights in your kitchen and avoid hanging out there. Whew!!! It seems that I’ve gathered a lot of suggestions. I hope one or most of the lists of advices above help you.

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