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Falling Into Weight Control

By | Behavioral Nutrition, Celebrity Diet, Diet Resources, Smart Strategy, What The Winners Do | No Comments

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Yup. It’s here already. That time of year when the days get shorter and cooler. It’s a time for apple picking, decorative gourds and pumpkins, ghosts, goblins and haunted houses, corn mazes, hayrides, apple cider donuts, pumpkin bread, trick-or-treating, French onion soup, and tailgating. Do you notice a pattern here?

For most of us, fall means we start eating more. And with the weather turning colder, we start exercising less.

Studies have shown that people eat up to 200 additional calories more per day in the fall. While this doesn’t seem like much, if you add up those calories over 13 weeks then you’re looking as much as 5 pounds of weight of gain (if this trend continues into spring you could be looking at an additional 10 pounds).

Why does this happen?

For one, meal size and rate of eating increase in the fall. These calories come primarily from carbohydrates (Interestingly, there’s an inverse relationship between seasonal alcohol consumption, which is highest in the summer and lowest in the fall, and weight gain. I suspect much of this has to do with fewer calories from food and increased physical activity).

Part of fall weight gain may have to with our biological programming. Our ancestors probably put on weight to prepare for the long cold winter when food was comparatively scarce and they didn’t know where the next meal was coming from.

The shorter days may play a role as well. A Swiss study found that patients with seasonal affective disorder–a mood disorder related to lack of light–consumed more sweets and starch-rich foods, buttressing the idea that there’s not just a relationship between light and depression but light and food as well. As I tell my patients, sometimes eating isn’t about food, but mood.

Smart Strategy for Fall Eating

• Get Your Moods Out of Your Foods. Whether it’s eating out of depression, boredom or anxiety, emotional eating is one of the most overwhelming and ubiquitous issues vexing dieters. It’s also an insidious issue, because if you eat whenever you get upset you”ll find in no time that you’re just running in place. Whether it’s a slice of pumpkin bread or a handful of Halloween candy, we’re using these foods to change our moods because they taste good. Most mood eaters reach for snacks that are crunchy, creamy or salty and sweet. These tastes and textures provide immediate satisfaction or relief from pent up emotions the same way that letting out a scream or pummeling a pillow would. And if you keep these foods within arm’s reach, eating to relieve emotional turmoil becomes easy and immediate.

If this your pattern, and you find the shorter days and hectic pace have you reaching for a food you have a long history of abusing, you shouldn’t worry. Mood eating is a learned behavior and anything that’s learned can be unlearned and though it’s one of the greatest challenges for dieters, it’s can easily be corrected with smart strategy. Below are my favorite strategies for ending mood eating–at any time of year.

• Write out what you will eat a day in advance. Creating a sample menu of what you’ll eating for breakfast, lunch dinner will help direct your psyche to think only of these foods and avoid all others.

• Plan which snacks you are going to eat. As you plan your meals, do the same for your snacks, being sure to include those you want to avoid.

• Plan to avoid trouble. Don’t waltz into your neighborhood bakery or pizza parlor, particularly if you know you’ll be having or anticipate a stressful day.

• Don’t bring problem foods into your home. I always tell my patients that thin starts in the supermarket. Don’t buy and bring problem foods into your home.

• Ask yourself, “Is it really a crisis?” Look at your own life. I suspect you’ll find that it’s the little annoyances and not profound crises that trigger emotional eating. Remember that most mood eating is about immediately substituting an unpleasant feeling for a pleasurable one. The key to control mood eating is to recognize that most of the stress that makes us want to eat is predictable stress and not a profound crisis. Thus, you can plan for this eventuality.

• Choose an activity to block stress eating. Take a walk, go for a bike ride, or send an email to a friend. There are any number of activities you can choose to divert your attention away from your immediate condition and away from the kitchen.

• If you can’t stop it, substitute it. A key strategy of behavioral nutrition is to think substitution, not deprivation. If you can’t completely avoid emotional eating, then consider a healthy, low-calorie substitute for your favorite stress snack.

Since planning is a key strategy to end mood eating, eating seasonal, locally grown produce is one way to help make your weight loss diet more affordable. Plus, when you make an effort to include more seasonal foods in your meal plan, you may be more likely to eat more vegetables and fruits. (After all, there is no season for Oreos.) As a general rule of thumb, choose the most vibrant produce for the optimal nutrient content and include a wide range of fresh foods in your diet. Delicious fall foods range from dark, leafy green veggies to exotic pomegranates.

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A Big Universe Or A Small Village?

By | Behavioral Nutrition, How To Lose Weight, Smart Strategy, What The Winners Do | No Comments

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You can’t avoid food situations. They’re a part of everyday life, even if you’re living the life of a hermetic monk in uninhabited stretch of desert. In restaurants, family gatherings, sporting events, holiday parties, holidays, business meetings, shopping, commuting to work–there’s no way to avoid them. Yet, for all the different situations we’re likely to encounter, there’s an amazing amount of predictably in what we can expect to encounter.

What do I mean by this? Most people, even the heaviest among us, rely on the same assortment of foods. It sound strange, but it’s true. Even in our 24-hour food environment, where we can buy almost anything at any time, the great majority of people eat the same meats, the same vegetables, the same fruits, and the same snack foods. Look at you own life. Take a moment and write down what you eat everyday. You’ll see that you seldom stray outside the limits of our favorite foods. Marital infidelity may be a problem in this country but food fidelity is not, apparently. If only we could marry turnip or head of broccoli.

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Perhaps not coincidentally, most eating occurs in just a few situations, even with the advent of secondary eating: the home, in the workplace, at restaurants, in other people’s homes, when traveling, on vacation, and at celebratory or recreational events.

Clearly, the realm of food is not a world, but a small village.

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As such, the scenarios come up again and again. You’ll face the same temptations, and be vexed by the same cravings. But no matter how outmanned or overwhelmed you may feel, you’ll see that there is another, powerful truth at work: You’ve seen it all, and probably tasted it all. But there is very little new you’ll encounter today or any day in the world of food. This why it’s always a bit amusing to hear someone tell me they feel deprived if they can’t have a certain food. I remind patients that there are billions of people who’ve never even tasted the food you can’t live without.

But if our food choices and food situations seldom vary, why are we heavier now that at anytime in our nation’s history? Simply, we ignore the distinct and predictable food patterns and behaviors that keep leading us down the road to dietary perdition. Indeed, the diet a person follows is secondary to success at weight control. How else to explain how people can keep switching from diet to diet, year after year, not to mention the success, albeit brief, of the great majority of diet programs? The most important variable for success isn’t the diet you follow but the strategies you employ. This is what the entire diet field is missing. It’s not the food, but how you behave in the presence of food that determines success or failure. Perhaps this is why the esteemed health journalist Tara Parker Pope commented that “if sticking with a diet were so easy, so many of us wouldn’t be fat.”

To overcome the powerful biological, environmental and physiological forces that chip away at our commitment, even among the most obdurate dieters, determination and an iron will are not enough. What we need is strategy. Strategy is stronger than willpower.

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Fortunately, there’s literally a strategy for each and food situation we’re likely to encounter. And just like a piano player masters the skill of his craft, we can develop our skills so our responses become automatic instead of constant, demoralizing struggle that drains our resolve. Strategy will not only help you achieve diet success but more importantly, can help you keep that weight off for years to come.

Though strategies vary person to person, and situation to situation,my program of behavioral nutrition shares the following seven underlying core principles:

• Food History-If it’s true that the key to a “lean” future can be found in your dietary past, then food history, the “GPS” of weight control, is proof that even in a world of millions of foods, there are only a handful that are at the root of most weight problems. Thus, food history is a true crystal ball that can predict which foods and food situations will lead to cravings, loses of control and weight gain. But food history isn’t about deprivation. On the contrary, it liberates people from the belief that they must give up their favorite foods to achieve their weight loss goals. Want proof? Hundreds of patients dine nightly at the finest restaurants, lose weight and most importantly, keep it off.

• Food Desensitization-By using techniques culled from the world of advertising, I’ve been privileged to help thousands anesthetize themselves to the foods that undo the efforts at weight control. With food desensitization you can learn how to fortify yourself against any food temptation.

• Containment-A sure fire wire to turn your slip ups into successes and do with the feelings of guilt and shame that plague the majority of dieters

• Keeping the Taste and Pleasure Without the Calories-If a food doesn’t taste good, you won’t stick with it, no matter how much weight you lose over the long run. Thus, enjoying your favorite food (s) is critical for success. Fortunately, there are now thousands of great tasting low calorie alternatives to most people’s favorite foods, and an equal number of recipes and food preparation techniques, many of which you’ll discover as a subscriber to drgullo.com, that will help preserve the joy and pleasure of eating with guilt and excess calories. Remember, if you don’t enjoy what you’re eating you’ve al but guaranteed that you will fail.

• Breaking Through Food Baby Talk-The food talk we learned as children no longer serves us as adults. The winners at weight control replace their “food baby talk” with new phrases, thoughts,values and ideas that work in world of food and can help anyone overcome the feeling that they’re being deprived–the number #1 cause of failure on all diets.

• The New Scale for Dieting-Anyone can measure his or her weight. But how do you measure the thinking, behavior, and attitudes that ultimately determine success or failure at weight control? You use the New Scale for Dieting, the only surefire way to predict in advance whether you’ll gain weight and best tool for helping avoid the critical mistakes that lead to weight gain.

• Junking the “junk” science of “all foods in moderation”-This ubiquitous diet mantra hasn’t just tanked, it’s but led tens of millions to failure. How, as an example, is it possible that thousands of ‘diet experts’ can teach “all foods in moderation” when in matters of pleasure and passion all of human history is a testimony to human excess? It’s an obvious but often overlooked fact: Those who could live by “all foods in moderation” would have no need of the diet field! It’s not that you can’t have a certain food. You can have anything you want. But you may never have the life you want if you constantly return to foods you have a long history of abusing.