KRON 4 | Is Your Marriage Making You Fat?

In a study of 43 couples, researchers showed a connection between marital stress and poor food choices. Here’s why your marriage can affect your appetite and your eating patterns.

The Marital Study

Forty-three couples having various BMI’s (healthy weight, overweight, and very overweight) were selected to participate in this study.  These couples frequently had hostile exchanges which generally involved certain topics.

The couples agreed to participate for two days (each 9 1/2 hours long). They ate a meal together and tried to resolve one or more conflicts in their marriage. Hormones were tested at four different times of the day — once before the meal and three times after it — at 2, 4, and 7 hours after.

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What the Marital Arguments Produced

Researchers at the University of Delaware and Ohio State University College of Medicine observed a strong correlation in healthy weight and overweight subjects, but it was not seen in couples who were heavier (having a BMI of 30 or higher).

They found that hostile marital arguments caused a surge in ghrelin — the “I’m hungry” hormone only in the healthy weight and overweight couples. Known as the appetite increaser, ghrelin is primarily released in the stomach and signals your brain when it’s time to eat.

The appetite hormone, leptin, was also monitored, but levels did not rise. Leptin inhibits hunger, that is, it tells your brain you’ve had enough to eat.

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Couples crave ‘comfort food’ when they argue.

Food to Ease Discomfort  

As ghrelin levels rose, distressed partners (both husband and wife) sought food that was typically higher in fat, sugar and/or salt — typically poorer quality food, but what many might consider “comfort food”.

NOTE: Arguments or underlying hostility do not cause hunger or poor food choices, but there is a pretty significant link between the two. 

Typical Comfort Foods for Women   

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KRON 4 | How to Cure Dietary Amnesia

The inability to manage your stress often results in unhealthy, automatic overeating. You likely eat more than you think, don’t feel satisfied after a meal, nor remember what you ate. If this sounds familiar, here are some tips I shared with Marty Gonzalez, KRON 4 Morning News Weekend anchor, to help cure your dietary amnesia.

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Dietary Amnesia

Dietary amnesia occurs when you eat, and you don’t realize how much you ate, whether you’re satisfied, or if you even ate. Stress is often one of the underlying causes of dietary amnesia.

The Downside of Stress Eating

People who eat when they’re stressed often eat FAST which contributes to dietary amnesia. A study found that men who ate fast were fatter than men who ate slowly. 

They also found the men ate faster than women — shoveling down 80 calories per minute compared to just 52 calories per minute for the ladies. If you want to lose weight, slow yourself down and eat “mindfully”. 

What Does Eating Mindfully Mean?

Mindfulness is about paying attention. When you pay attention to your food, that is, really pay attention, you begin to notice the taste, color, aroma, and textures of your food and become aware of what you’re putting into your body. Eating uses all of your senses — it’s a sensory experience.

How to Eat Mindfully   

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KRON 4 | Sugar and Diabetes; Now Potassium Too?

One out of three adults has pre-diabetes, that’s, over 84 million people — and nine out of ten don’t even know they have it. Diabetes increases your risk of death by fifty percent. Many are familiar with the link between diabetes and eating too much refined sugar, but did you know there’s a diabetes link to potassium too?

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The Battle with Blood Sugar

Your body processes the food you eat and turns it into a sugar called glucose. Diabetes is marked by high levels of glucose in your blood (hyperglycemia). This happens because glucose is ‘locked out’ from getting into your cells and starts to build up in your blood.

Blood sugar is a precious fuel for your body, but when it’s persistently high, glucose can damage nerves and vessels. Since glucose circulates throughout your entire body, high levels can cause damage anywhere.

Diabetes-related complications include:

  • Blood vessel damage that increases your risk of stroke and heart attack
  • Poor blood circulation
  • Nerve and vessel damage to your eyes (retinopathy), feet, and kidneys

What is Insulin?

Insulin (produced by the pancreas) is the hormone that’s needed for the glucose in your blood to enter your cells. Think of insulin as the ‘key’ that unlocks the cell door and lets glucose in. Without the ‘key’, your organs are starved of essential energy and can lead to cell death.

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Insulin is the “key” that unlocks the cell door and lets glucose in. 

Types of Diabetes

The two most common forms of diabetes, known as Type 1 and Type 2, are distinctly different:

1. Type 1 diabetes mellitus: You DO NOT PRODUCE INSULIN and are unable to control the sugar in your blood. This form of diabetes is an autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system attacks and destroys insulin-producing cells of your pancreas.

2. Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM): With this type, you DO NOT USE INSULIN efficiently and are unable to control the sugar in your blood. 

  • 90% of diabetes cases are type 2.
  • In T2DM, your cells become resistant to insulin. Your pancreas goes into overdrive producing more and more insulin in a futile attempt to get the glucose into your cells. As a result, your pancreas can eventually wear out (become permanently damaged) and can no longer produce enough insulin. 
  • High blood sugar levels can erode your cells’ ability to make insulin. T2DM is preventable whereas Type 1 is not.

Waist Size and Diabetes

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A waist size that is over 40″ increases risk for type 2 diabetes 12X.

People who are overweight or obese, particularly with visceral fat (i.e., belly fat), are more likely to develop T2DM, but even normal weight individuals can develop diabetes.

  • If you’re a man and your waistline is over 40 inches, your risk for diabetes is 12 times higher than someone with a normal healthy size waist. 
  • Normal waist size is half your height in inches. Therefore, weight loss is the primary goal in treating this form of type 2 diabetes.

What is Potassium?

Potassium is an electrolyte and mineral that helps keep your bodily fluids at the proper level. If your fluids are at normal levels, you can:

  • Contract your muscles without pain
  • Keep your heart beating correctly
  • Keep your brain functioning at its highest capability

Muscle cramps to more serious conditions, such as seizures, are symptoms of potassium deficiency which also means fluid imbalance.  

Low Potassium Linked to Diabetes

  • One 2011 study found that people taking thiazides (diuretic, a.k.a. “water pill”) to treat high blood pressure experienced a loss of electrolytes, such as potassium. 
  • Researchers noted that potassium loss might increase a person’s risk for developing diabetes.
  • Researchers have also linked low potassium levels to high blood pressure.

NOTE: Even though low potassium may increase your risk of developing diabetes, taking potassium won’t cure your diabetes.

How Much Potassium Do You Need?

An adult needs 4,700 milligrams per day. Even if you’re getting the right amount potassium each day, levels may still be deficient or excessive due to fluctuating potassium levels.

Causes of Fluctuating Potassium Levels   

Continue reading “KRON 4 | Sugar and Diabetes; Now Potassium Too?”

KRON 4 | 10 Tricks to Make New Habits Stick

If you pledged to get healthier this year with yet another New Year’s resolution (or maybe even two or three resolutions), know that typically 80% of them fail by February. If you want to increase your odds of success this year though, here are some tricks to help make your new habits stick!

1. Commit to Thirty Days

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Consider the first 30 days as the foundation for creating a new habit. It takes time to make a new behavior stick, but you’ll increase the chances of achieving your new pledge if you commit to making it through these 30 days.

To get inspired, watch this lighthearted TED talk, “Try Something New for 30 Days” as a new way to think about setting and achieving goals.

2. Do It Daily

Whatever your goal — whether it’s to go to the gym or eat three fruits a day — then do it DAILY for the first 30 days. It’s easier to nail down the habit if you do it everyday versus once every few days. The goal is consistency.

NOTE: If you pledged to go to the gym, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to work out vigorously every day. Just get yourself to the gym for 30 consecutive days — even if it means walking in and taking just a few spins on the bike. The key is to get in the habit of getting up and going.

3. Mingle with Role Models 

Make a point of seeking out people whose habits you want to imitate because when it comes to becoming fatter, obesity spreads through social relationshipsA 32-year study published in the New England Journal of Medicine revealed that you’re more likely to become obese if you spend time with close friends that are obese. That is, according to researchers, obesity can literally spread from person to person, much like a virus.

Therefore, if your close friend is obese, eats junk food, and doesn’t exercise, then it will be more difficult (but not impossible) to stick with your pledge to create new healthy habits. Although you cannot change your friend’s habits, YOU can still change yours. Seek out and spend time with your role models.

4. Negate Negatives with “But”

But“But” is a very powerful word. When you use it, it negates everything you said preceding the word “but” in that sentence. (Did anyone ever say to you, “Say, I love your new hair color, but….” Stop the negative self-talk. It can lead to overeating to relieve those negative emotions.

When you catch yourself saying, “I can never stick with my New Year’s resolutions,” follow it with, “but I have the skills to help me this time.” Use “but” to stop negativity in its tracks.

5. Own It

Resolutions fail because they’re created based on what someone else (such as your spouse, doctor, or parent) is telling you to change. Be sure your New Year’s resolution is something YOU want to achieve. That is, be sure your resolution is NOT based on what you “should” do.

A part of owning your goal is watching your language. The words “should”, “need to”, and “have to” are negative words, and you surrender control when you say them. Negative thinking and negative self-talk lead to negative emotions, such as feelings of defeat and depression, and thus, emotional eating.

The words “should”, “need to”, and “have to” imply something is wrong with you. That is, something is ‘broken’ and needs to be fixed. For example, notice the difference in how you feel when you say, “I have to exercise” or “I need to lose weight” versus, “I want to exercise because I love walking vacations” or “I choose to lose weight, so I won’t have knee pain” which puts the control, motivation, and power to change back on you.

Healthy Living

6. Relish the Reward   

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KRON 4 | Tricks to Beat Halloween Treating

Halloween parties, potlucks, and trick-or-treating can break even the most disciplined of dieters. Here are my top 10 tips to survive this annual sugar fest that I shared with KRON 4 Morning News Weekend anchor, Marty Gonzalez.

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The Top 10 Tricks

1. Buy trick-or-treat candy you don’t like. Buy a candy that won’t tempt you.

2. Buy candy the DAY OF Halloween. There will ALWAYS be candy left in the stores — unless of course, you’ll looking for your favorite candy! You may also save some money (thanks to clearance sales) as well as save on calories.

3. Eat dark chocolate — 85% or more of cacao. 

  • Milk chocolate contains more added sugar and fat. Due to their antioxidant content, deep dark chocolate can reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke by nearly 40 percent, and reduce the risk of dementia. 
  • Per a 2004 study published in the Journal of American College of Nutrition, dark chocolate improved blood flow in arteries.
  • Eat in moderation as it still packs plenty of calories. Limit to 1/2 to 1 ounce.

Note: White chocolate is highly processed which means it’s lost most or all of its antioxidants.

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4. Keep the wrappers. Keep evidence of what you eat in front of you. It’s easy to forget how many times you’ve dipped into the candy bowl.

  • Two studies showed that people tend to rely on visual cues, such as the number of chicken bones on their plates, to decide whether they’re full or still hungry.
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One handful is equivalent to 1,400 jumping jacks!

5. Avoid the candy dish. The candy dish encourages eating mindlessly — i.e., “grab-and-go syndrome”. 

  • Scientists believe you make hundreds of unconscious food decisions daily, but seeing food pushes you to consciously decide whether to eat it. Seeing it more often increases the likelihood you’ll choose to eat the food.
  • A handful (1.5 oz; about 1/4 cup or 1 shot glass) of M & M’s can pack on 210 calories. To burn off just one handful, the average size person would need to do 1,400 jumping jacks which would take about 24 minutes (1 jumping jack per second)!

6. Stay on track and meet your fitness goals on the 31st. Don’t let the occasion be an excuse to give up on your goals.    Continue reading “KRON 4 | Tricks to Beat Halloween Treating”