Is Snacking in Your Genes?

 

Do you tend to “graze” or “snack” all day long? Or do you know someone else who has this tendency? Do you feel guilty about it or somehow think it is because you can’t control yourself? Have you ever wondered if it’s emotional eating?

 

This is not a matter of willpower, and it might not be emotional eating either. It is definitely not your fault and it could be in your genes.

 

What!? How can that be? Seriously?

 

Yes! It’s true. There is a gene variant that increases your likelihood of snacking. But don’t worry, there is also a solution. Read on…

 

The Science Behind Snacking

 

 

Melanocortins are appetite-regulating hormones and certain genetic variants in the melanocortin receptor 4 gene (MC4R) are associated with an increased tendency towards snacking.

The MC4R gene codes for a protein called melanocortin 4 receptor, which is mainly found in the hypothalamus of the brain, an area responsible for controlling appetite and satiety. This area of the brain is considered to host most of the energy-intake-regulation and disruption is linked to increased appetite and reduced energy expenditures. This is not a good combination for weight management.

Individuals with an elevated propensity of this genetic marker repeatedly crave snacking. And this behaviour has also been associated with an increased BMI. As such, weight loss strategies need to include hacks for the snack habit.

 

Recommendations for Snackers

 

 

If you learn that this is you (you can find out below how), don’t worry! There are strategies that will work for you.

What do I suggest? In this case, it is very important to turn to healthy snacks, as snacking behaviour is not likely to be completely eliminated due to this genetic variation.

Snacks that I love include veggies with hummus, seaweed snacks, unsweetened coconut yogurt with berries, or a handful of nuts. Even a little distraction with herbal teas, decaf coffee or Dandy Blend with unsweetened almond milk can be very helpful.

Genetic Testing

Are you interested in more strategies that you can use to elevate your health based on your genes? I conduct a full health and wellness profile based on your genes with a lab that uses the most accurate and modern technology available. Your DNA sample is destroyed after analysis and is never sold to a third party. And only the markers that can be influenced by your actions are measured. Some of the measurements I focus on include:

  • Nutrient deficiencies
  • Macronutrients and fitness strategies for weight management
  • Heart Health
  • Detoxification
  • Hormones
  • Neurotransmitters
  • Skin health
  • Cannabis response

If you are interested in learning more about this type of testing and how it can improve your health outcomes, please book a free session with me here.

 

Bottom Line

Certain genetic variants can tell you a lot about your predispositions and give you the insight on which diet and lifestyle strategies will work best for you. This method of personalizing your plan results in greater rates of success towards your health goals. I have found it to be a game-changer in creating the right focus for my own health and that of my clients!

The predisposition to snacking is just one of many markers that can be measured in your genes. And please note, I only test for markers that we can actually do something about. In other words, the expression of the markers I investigate can all be influenced by your behaviour or remedied by specific strategies.

Emotional vs Physical Hunger

 

Many of us can relate to feeling hungry for emotional rather than physical reasons. And, emotional eating doesn’t have to be the stereotypical “drown out your sorrows eating a pint of ice cream directly from the container.” Things like stress, celebration, boredom, and loneliness are all some of the reasons why we might eat something when it’s not mealtime, and we don’t actually need food for energy.

 

Thirty-eight percent (38%) of Americans report overeating or eating unhealthy foods within the last month due to stress. And half of those report doing it weekly or even more often. This has become a significant problem in our society because excess weight is linked to an increased risk for chronic diseases that have reached epic proportions.

 

Forty-four percent (44%) of Canadians over age 20 are suffering from at least one common chronic condition.

 

But often when we engage in some form of emotional eating, we actually feel like we need to snack on something. Why is that?  And what can we do about it?

 

Let’s first explore the difference between physical and emotional hunger and then learn some strategies we can use to change our behaviour.

 

 

Physical Hunger

 

Physical hunger tends to come on gradually as a result of a physical need for energy. The feeling comes from the stomach and can be satisfied with a number of different foods. Sometimes, as a result of eating a high amount of refined starch in the diet, this physical craving is for sugary foods due to hypoglycemia. This can be resolved by making different food choices.

 

Generally, physical hunger is natural and arrives every 4-5 hours at mealtime.

 

Emotional Hunger

 

Emotional eating is more of a sudden, urgent craving for a specific food. It’s often paired with an upsetting or stressful emotion and involves mindless eating. It’s common to not notice that you are getting over-full until it’s too late, and there is often subsequent guilt associated with the eating episode.

 

Awareness is the first step in making a change. So, when you are feeling the desire to reach for some food, ask yourself whether the need is originating from a physical or emotional need.

 

Strategies to Try

 

If you realize through investigation that you are engaging in emotional eating more than you would like, then it’s time to try some strategies that can help you make a shift in your behaviour.

 

 

Don’t deprive yourself – it’s commonly known that deprivation diets lead to overeating once you are “allowing” yourself to eat normally again. But this can also be the case when you are depriving yourself of the self-love and self-care that you need.

 

If you spend your day being the martyr and doing things for everyone else except yourself, you will have similar feelings of being deprived. When the evening comes, you can feel that you deserve more than you have received on that day. And if your habit is to reward yourself with food, this is the time that you may get that emotional craving.

 

Make sure you…

  • Enjoy your food throughout the day and don’t’ starve yourself and risk overeating later.
  • Give yourself the love and compassion you need throughout the day (this may involve taking breaks, meditating, reading for pleasure, etc.).

 

Be intentional – slow down, practice self-love (i.e. use the ideas in the other blog post and link to it)

 

Bottom Line

 

The first step in addressing emotional eating is in identifying when you are doing it. So, be sure to spend some time investigating your behaviours with curiosity (not criticism) so that you can take that information and plan for moving forward.

 

Then, use some of the ideas of slowing down and self-love to address the triggers that you identified. And replace the emotional eating habit with one that more directly meets your needs.

 

Want my 5 step process to stop eating too much? I have written another article about it here. Check it out and let me know which strategy is working the best for you.

The Scale Doesn’t Determine Your Health

Diet concept

Are you obsessed by the number on your bathroom scale or do you avoid it like the plague? If you’re eating well and focusing on mindset and movement, it can be frustrating to see the scale move in a way you don’t like. Daily scale check-ins shouldn’t be part of your routine.

Being a healthy woman isn’t about getting on a scale or measuring your waistline. We need to start focusing on what matters—on how we feel, and how we feel about ourselves

Michelle Obama

Unfortunately, many of us use a morning weigh-in to determine our mood and self-worth for the day. But there are so many things that go into what number is displayed (and none of it correlates to your value!). So, read on for some reasons to limit your weight check-ins to once a week or less. The scale doesn’t measure…

Your Health

Scale weight is not a true measurement of your health. It is simply one of many variables you should be considering to determine your level of health and feeling your best.

Fluids and Waste

When you wake up after fasting – usually for around 12 hours, you’re completely dehydrated and at your lowest weight of the day. This is why you may have heard it recommended to weigh yourself first thing in the morning after you’ve voided, and before you eat or drink anything.

You can also experience daily weight fluctuations of 1-3+ lbs due to waste that could be lingering in your large colon. Who knew poop could be so heavy? Be sure to keep the bowels moving with plenty of fluids, plant-based fibre and targeted supplementation, if necessary.

Muscle vs Fat

Your scale doesn’t just weigh fat. It weighs muscle, bone, organs, water, and as you just learned – poop!

When you lose weight, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve lost body fat as the average bathroom scale has no way of telling you what bodily tissues you’ve lost. Losing weight on the scale does not always translate into healthy fat loss off the scale.

For instance, the scale can’t tell if you’ve gained muscle.

The more muscle you have the more energy your body burns, even when you’re just sitting around – due to the fact that it’s a metabolically active tissue. That’s one reason why a fit, active person is generally able to eat more than say the chronic dieter who is unknowingly breaking down and losing muscle.

Building muscle also makes it possible to drop clothing sizes (and lose inches) without a significant change, if any, in scale weight.

Think of it like this… a pound of muscle is like a small, compact brick, whereas a pound of fat is like a bulky, lumpy pillow. So that’s why when you gain muscle and lose fat, your figure appears slimmer and more firm – but your scale weight may not change much.

Hormones

For all the ladies out there…it’s not you, it’s your hormones!

Some women can gain up to 10 lbs right before or during their period. No joke! This is because of the natural drop in progesterone just before your period often causes digestive issues like water retention and constipation. And, let’s not forget how heavy poop can be!

Our bodies also tend to lose magnesium in the days before menstruation, which drives our insulin levels up leading to an increase in food cravings – especially for sugar.

Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas that manages blood sugar levels is also a fat storage hormone. Read more about balancing your blood sugar here.

Bottom Line

Your changing scale numbers have nothing to do with your long-term progress. They are just part of the overall health optimization journey.

Simply do your best to maintain an overall healthy lifestyle and understand that daily weight fluctuations are completely normal!

Eat Better Without Changing Your Grocery List

Have you ever wondered how some people seem to eat “whatever they want” and can still manage to feel great and full of energy? Sometimes eating better doesn’t have to do as much with the actual food as it does with our habits and routines around eating.

Most of us in North America are accustomed to fitting our meals into our busy life. We feel like eating mindfully, as we might on vacation, is not realistic day to day, especially with work, busy families, and all our other daily distractions.

But how you eat is more important than you think. Have you noticed that kids seem to be really good at this? They use their natural instincts and eat when they’re hungry and leave food on their plate when they’re not. It’s time to reconnect and listen to what our bodies are telling us. Here are seven simple ideas to help you get started.

Use the STOP System

If we’re getting the urge to eat at a time other than mealtime, we sometimes think that we’re “deciding” we want to eat, but it’s really coming from an emotional rather than physical need. The most common triggers are sadness, anger, frustration, loneliness, stress or even just boredom. If we stop (S), take a breath (T), and observe how we feel (O) before we proceed (P), we can learn to tune into and be better listeners of our body’s actual hunger signals.

Eat off a Plate or Bowl with Cutlery

Does this sound obvious? Yes, but think about how many times you have eaten out of a bag or container! A beautiful presentation is a part of enjoying your food, so, get into the habit of placing even snacks on a plate before eating them. This also helps you to take notice of exactly what and how much you’re actually eating.

Also, acknowledge the time, effort and passion you put into creating your meal. Consider the ingredients, preparation and intention involved in getting the food presented on your plate!

Sit at a Table

NOTE: a desk is not a table!

In addition to eating from a plate, it’s also important to always sit at a table. This helps to pull your attention back to your food and to your eating habits. It has also been shown to dramatically reduce overeating – especially for those who tend to eat in front of the TV or at their computer.

I can’t tell you how many times I have emptied a plate beside my computer without even remembering eating the food!

No Distractions

Yes, this means no computer, TV, phone, etc. Food is meant to be enjoyed. So, if eating is an enjoyable activity for you, why deny yourself the pleasure by putting your attention on something else like your social media, a movie or an email?

Designate the first few minutes of your meal for a quiet, mindful practice.

Chew Your Food

Most of us have heard this from a parent at some point in our childhood, and there is a good reason for it. Chewing our food helps us to break it down so that we can gain the nutritional benefits from it. It also helps us to slow down.

Slowing down is one of the easiest and most effective ways we can get our body and mind to coordinate their signals of what we really need for nutritional purposes. The body actually sends its “I’m full!” signal about 20 minutes after you eat. So if we slow down, we can give our body a chance to catch up to our brain, hear the signals properly, and eat the right amount.

Chewing more, and more slowly, is probably THE simplest and most effective way to begin developing the habit of eating mindfully.

Put Down Your Fork and Look Around Between Bites

Putting your fork down between bites of food reinforces your enhanced chewing habit, rather than mindlessly picking at your plate or preparing to shovel in your next bite. And it gives you the opportunity to really taste and enjoy your food!

Pro tip: when you put your fork down, look around rather than at your plate so that you can enjoy your food rather than focusing on the next bite.

Make it more difficult to feed yourself

Making things more difficult is a great way to force yourself to pay attention and be more intentional about eating.

Ideas to up this challenge are to eat with your non-dominant hand, use chopsticks or choose food that takes work to eat such as pistachios or shellfish in the shell. While this may seem tedious, try one of these for one meal or snack a day.

Your whole body will benefit from simply slowing down, and being more intentional and present while eating. Which of the seven actionable tips will you start with?

What’s Causing My Digestive Upset?

When you read about keeping a good balance of gut bacteria, its often referring to the large intestine that hosts most of the bacteria in the gut.

But, what about the health of the small intestine that is located before it? The small intestine is where the nutrient absorption happens before the waste products are sent through to the large intestine or bowel to be eliminated. So, when a bacterial imbalance happens there, it can trigger a cascade of symptoms in the body.

SIBO Explained

SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth) is when bacteria or other microorganisms grow out of control in the small intestine – an area that would normally have a low bacterial count, as compared to the large intestine.

When these microorganisms colonize, they end up damaging the cells lining the small intestine creating a problem of leaky gut or increased intestinal permeability.

This then triggers impaired digestion and absorption of nutrients which exacerbates nutritional deficiencies and allows toxins, pathogens and undigested protein molecules to enter the bloodstream.

This can then cause widespread inflammation, food sensitivities, autoimmune disorders, and other immune reactions.

Common Symptoms of SIBO

  • Malabsorption and malnutrition
  • Weight loss (or gain)
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Abdominal bloating or distention
  • Abdominal pain or discomfort
  • Acid reflux or heartburn
  • Excessive gas or belching
  • Constipation and/or diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Skin issues like rashes, acne, eczema and rosacea
  • Aches & pains, especially joint pain

Contributing Factors

The causes are not clearly defined but contributing factors to SIBO can include:

  • Metabolic disorders
  • Chronic pancreatitis
  • Diverticulosis
  • Injury to the bowel
  • Recent abdominal surgery
  • IBS
  • Celiac disease
  • Immunosuppressants
  • Reflux medications
  • Inflammatory diet
  • Stress
  • Heavy Metal Toxicity

How Do I Know if I Have it?

SIBO is typically diagnosed using a breath test in which the patient drinks a sugar-containing drink and exhaled gases are measured.

If there are too many bacteria, excess gases (hydrogen, methane or both) will be produced. It should be noted that the reliability of this test is considered less than ideal, but it’s one of the only methods available at this time. It’s important to properly prepare for this test by limiting certain foods beforehand.

What Can I Do?

Most holistic health practitioners recommend reducing carbohydrates with the exception of fiber. This may include the following:

  • Herbal antibiotics (e.g. oregano oil)
  • Low FODMAP diet, Specific Carbohydrate diet or GAPS diet,
  • Stress management
  • Probiotics to repopulate and then prebiotic foods to support their growth

In more severe or persistent cases, a prescription antibiotic may be needed to get the overgrowth under control.

If you’re feeling frustrated and don’t know what the try next. Let me help you strategize so that your next step takes you towards the solution. Book a free call here.

What to Do About Heartburn

Around half of North American adults experience heartburn at least once per month and about 10-20% have it at least once per week!

So, it shouldn’t surprise me that when I’m speaking and ask the audience, “who has experienced heartburn?” A sea of hands goes up!

Heartburn (aka reflux) occurs when the acid from your stomach creeps back up into your esophagus. It can feel like a burning sensation, which gives it its name. Other common symptoms include bloating or burping and can include a bitter or sour taste as well.

But stomach acid isn’t all bad. In fact, it’s essential for good health and optimal digestion. It

  • protects us from bacteria that lurk in our food and drinks.
  • helps us break down our food and digest nutrients.

And stomach acid doesn’t burn the stomach tissue itself because of the mucosal layer protecting it. However, your esophagus doesn’t have that same layer of protection. So, it’s important to make sure you are choosing the right foods and eating the right way at the right time to support your system’s functioning and prevent heartburn from becoming a problem.

I have written about tips to reduce heartburn before. Here are the 5 tips. Below, I get even more specific on the actual trigger foods you want to be avoiding and the importance of the timing of eating.

Important note: if symptoms last for a long time, or get worse, please go see your doctor.

What to Eat

You may notice that certain foods cause you to get heartburn. These triggers are different for everyone but typically include onions, garlic, chocolate, citrus, tomato, mint, spicy or greasy foods, coffee, carbonated drinks, or alcohol. Some people are triggered by food sensitivities to grains or dairy, so those are important to watch out for as well.

The best thing to so it to reduce these foods or cut them out for a period of time (3-4 weeks) to see if it makes a difference. Keep a journal so you can review and notice changes.

At the same time, increase your fiber intake (i.e. whole foods, especially veggies). Try getting at least five servings of veggies every day!

How to Eat

Eat slowly. Use meal times to release stress. Chew your food well and don’t eat meals that are too big. Eating in a rushed or stressed frame of mind prevents your body from properly preparing for food and could result in too LITTLE stomach acid.

Too little stomach acid can prevent the breakdown of your food so that it sits in your stomach too long and starts to creep back up. This is a common issue and to read more about it click here.

When to Eat

Don’t eat too close to bedtime. You want to avoid lying down with a full stomach. Try to finish eating 2-3 hours before lying down.


Supportive Exercise

Sometimes strenuous exercise can make heartburn symptoms worse. If this happens to you, then focus on low-intensity exercises like walking and cycling.

Sleep Habits

If symptoms come on as you’re lying down to sleep, try placing something under your headboard or add a pillow so your head is a bit higher than your stomach.

And try sleeping on your left side. Lying on your left side works because the valve between the stomach and the esophagus is located on the right side of the stomach. So, when you’re lying on your left, the acid is away from that valve.

Bottom Line

Heartburn is a very common condition where stomach acid creeps up into the esophagus where it shouldn’t be.

If you suffer from heartburn, there are many things you can do to help yourself. There are foods and drinks to avoid or increase. You can eat slower, chew more thoroughly, and don’t lie down within 2-3 hours of eating. You can try lowering the intensity of your exercise and sleeping on your left side.

These are simple, natural strategies that work for many people, so give them a try and see if they can help you too.

If you want to work with a nutrition practitioner along with your doctor, then please contact me here for a free consult to get started.

What Does “Leaky Gut” Mean?

Have you ever heard the term “leaky gut” and wondered what that means? It’s a common term in health articles and, it’s thought to be partly responsible for many common symptoms and conditions (e.g. intolerances, joint pain, and autoimmune diseases).

But what exactly is leaky gut? What causes it? What kinds of issues are related to it? And most of all, what can you eat for leaky gut?

What is a leaky gut?

Your “gut” is another term for your intestinal tract, which is part of your digestive system. It is where much of our body’s immune system resides as it is our first line of defense against everything that we ingest. Our gut is lined with cells attached with “tight junctions” and when functioning optimally, they keep out what we don’t want (i.e. harmful microbes or toxins) and let in what we do (i.e. nutrients).

“About 70-80% of our immune system is housed in our gut”

If the cells lining the gut get damaged, or if those tight junctions get damaged, then added space is available for larger molecules and harmful microbes to sneak through. This is what is commonly referred to as leaky gut.

What causes “leaky gut”?

Leaky gut can be caused or worsened by a number of diet and lifestyle factors such as:

  • Eating too much sugar, alcohol or foods that you’re intolerant to
  • Stress, lack of sleep, infections, and some medications that contribute to inflammation
  • Other contributing factors that alter the microbial balance in your gut

A more scientific term for “leaky gut” is “intestinal permeability.” This means that our intestines are permeable and allow things through that they normally would keep out. This doesn’t sound too good, right?

How do I know if I have leaky gut?

Since the first place affected is the gut, there are a number of digestive symptoms that can be a sign of leaky gut (e.g. bloating, gas, nausea, vomiting, constipation or diarrhea).

However, you may experience other symptoms around the body related to leaky gut without the digestive issues. When inflammation and leaky gut develops, this can result poor absorption of nutrients and can lead to deficiencies of essential vitamins and minerals for the cells in your body.

It can also result in an overactivation of the immune system (it is triggered to react to the undigested food and other invaders are getting through) and inflammation. This can appear as symptoms of

  • food intolerances
  • skin issues such as acne, dry skin, rashes, hives, rosacea, psoriasis
  • neurological symptoms such as brain fog, headaches, fatigue, sleep problems, irritability
  • GI issues such as IBS, Crohn’s, Colitis and Celiac
  • autoimmune diseases such as MS and arthritis

Finally, a number of chronic inflammatory diseases are thought to be linked with a leaky gut. Even things like heart disease and stroke are possibilities.

What foods should I eat?

The general recommendation is to stop eating inflammatory foods and eat more gut-soothing foods.

Here are some ideas of what to try removing from your diet. Everything on this list won’t necessarily impact you, but these are some of the most common irritants. Also, once you have healed your intestinal tissue, you may be able to add some of these back into your diet.

Instead of the above, add in more of these gut-supporting foods and nutrients:

  • Probiotic-rich fermented foods (e.g. sauerkraut, kimchi)
  • Prebiotic (fibre-rich) foods which help our gut microbes produce butyrate (e.g. leafy greens, vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds)
  • Glutamine-rich foods (e.g. bone broth, meat)
  • Zinc-rich foods (e.g. shellfish, organ meats, pumpkin seeds)
  • Quercetin-rich foods (e.g. citrus, apples, onions)
  • Curcumin-rich food (turmeric)
  • Indole-rich foods (e.g. broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, mustard greens)

These are all nutritious and can help with gut health and overall health.

What about lifestyle factors?

The following lifestyle activities will help you to reduce stress and inflammation in the body that can contribute to leaky gut:

  • Eat slower and chew thoroughly to help break down food better
  • Eat when hungry, and stop when satisfied so you don’t overwhelm your system
  • Go to the bathroom when you need to (don’t hold it for longer than necessary)
  • Get more high-quality sleep
  • Work on stress management

Bottom Line

Leaky gut, or “intestinal permeability” can happen when your gut gets damaged due to eating too much sugar and alcohol, stress, lack of sleep, or an imbalance in your friendly gut microbes.

The symptoms of leaky gut are varied and can be unrelated to digestion.

It’s important to cut out problem foods while adding in more gut supporting foods, eating mindfully and managing stress and sleep in order to support your body’s ability to properly digest your food. That’s not too hard isn’t it? lol

If you’re struggling to figure out where to begin with your health issues, please book a free discovery call with Bonnie here.

What are Prebiotics?

There is a lot written about probiotics and probiotic supplements. Maybe you’ve taken probiotics at some point? Probiotics are the friendly or “good” gut bacteria in your GI tract.

However, have you ever heard the term prebiotics?

They’re the food that we feed our probiotics in order to keep them healthy. Our gut microbes feed on prebiotics which include dietary fibre and resistant starch.

  • Fibre keeps us feeling full, slows down digestion and provides roughage that keeps us regular.
  • Resistant starch helps promote healthy blood lipids.

A prebiotic:

  • Needs to be undigested and reach the colon intact
  • Needs to be digested by our gut microbes, and,
  • Needs to stimulate health-promoting good gut microbes.

If we equate your GI tract with our lawn care, adding probiotics would be like over seeding, while adding prebiotics would be like fertilizing. Make sense?

Health Benefits

Prebiotic fibre helps keep us regular. It gives it bulk so our stool is properly formed. In fact, because of this more fibre is often recommended to help with symptoms of diarrhea. It is like a broom that sweeps food through our gut, and can even enhance blood flow to the cells of the colon.

When our friendly gut microbes eat and digest the prebiotic fibre, we get even more benefits such as when our good gut bacteria use prebiotics to make short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). SCFAs such as butyrate that feed the cells of our colon to keep them healthy. They also inhibit the growth of bad gut microbes, and can even increase mineral absorption.

What food contain prebiotics?

Dietary fibre and resistant starch are the main sources of prebiotics.

Fibre is found mostly in whole fruits and vegetables (i.e. not juice) such as:

  • Onions
  • Asparagus
  • Berries
  • Pears

Resistant starch helps to keep us full because it isn’t broken down by our digestive enzymes. Resistant starch is found in:

  • Oats
  • Potatoes
  • Legumes
  • Green bananas

Starches can be made resistant by cooking and cooling these foods before eating them. The cooling process allows the starches to re-shape themselves into a structure that is harder to digest (i.e. more resistant).

Bottom Line

Prebiotics are fibre and resistant starches that feed our gut microbes. And when we feed our gut microbes, they help keep our gut healthy and have other health benefits too.

Have you tried some of these tips and still have digestive issues you want to discuss. Book a free call with Bonnie here to discuss in more detail.

Do you ever juice your amazingly healthy fruits and vegetables and have a ton of leftover pulp? What do you do with it? I have a great recipe for using that healthy prebiotic fibre in a delicious way.

Foods to Curb Your Cravings

potato salad

Have you ever noticed that some foods curb your cravings so you’re full until your next meal, whereas you’re back in the kitchen an hour or so after eating others? Have you ever wondered why that is?

If you’re working towards kicking the snacking habit and kicking your cravings before they arise, then this post is for you.

The feeling of fullness, or being satiated after a meal is important. It helps us to stop thinking about food and move on with the other things we want to do in our day. But how do we know which foods to choose?

There is actually a list of food that has been analyzed and ranked according to their perceived satiety. Amazing right!?

It’s called the satiety index (created in 1995). It arose from a study that rated 38 foods in a 240-calorie portion size based on the “fullness” factor. The scale is similar to the glycemic index. The response to white bread was set to be 100. Foods that were ranked as more filling have numbers higher than 100 and those that are less filling have numbers lower than 100. According to the study, the following traits of more filling foods were found.


Traits of Filling Foods

More filling foods tend to have:

  • More protein. Protein tends to be more filling than either carbohydrates or fats.
  • More fibre. Because fibre is not digested, it provides bulk in your GI tract that helps you feel full longer.
  • More volume for the same number of calories. Again, providing more bulk to help you feel fuller.
  • Less fat. What? Really? I thought fat was satiating?
  • Less processing. Highly processed foods tend to lack nutrients and digest quickly and leave you feeling hungry for more quickly.

Eating more foods that have a higher satiety index and are more filling, curbs cravings and makes you want to stop eating. Therefore, eating more of these foods can help you to eat less overall which is a good strategy if you’re trying to lose weight.

The Most Filling Foods

  • Boiled potatoes (323) – To make this food even more satiating, use boiled and cooled potatoes to increase the amount of resistant starch.
  • Fish (225)
  • Oatmeal (209)
  • Oranges (202)
  • Apples (197) – I personally don’t find apples filling on their own and feel hungry again shortly after eating them. I add nuts or nut butter to make it a snack that leaves me feeling satisfied.
  • Steak (176)

Try this weeknight recipe book that includes many of these foods. All recipes take 15-20 minutes to prepare!

>>>>>>>>>>>Download the recipe book here

The Least Filling Foods

  • Yogurt (88);
  • Peanuts (84);
  • Mars bar (70:
  • Doughnuts (68);
  • Cake (65);
  • Croissant (47).

Bottom Line

In general, it is beneficial to increase filling foods in your diet and decrease the less filling options if you want to reduce weight. If you follow this you will likely gain more nutrients as well because more filling foods tend to be whole and nutrient dense and the others are primarily processed foods.

However, each of us is unique, so it’s even better to listen to your own body and note how you feel after eating certain foods. Keeping a food and mood journal can help and be very enlightening. For instance, I know for myself that I don’t feel full with high consumption of carbohydrates and need to combine in proteins and fats for my fullness to last.

We each thrive on a different balance of macronutrients, so you may notice that different foods curb your cravings. Which foods make you feel the fullest?

The Vicious Sugar, Flour & Cravings Cycle

Most people are aware that sugar creates spikes and crashes in energy, but many do not realize that the more you eat sugar, the more it causes sugar cravings. Also, it’s not commonly known that refined flours do exactly the same thing. Yes, that means the bread, bagels, crackers, and pasta are doing the same thing as your cookies, cakes, and candies!

And artificial sweeteners are no better at reducing sugar cravings. Read about why this is here.

Many people report having challenges in overcoming their cravings for these types of food. This makes sense because sugar consumption is at an all-time high. In Canada, the latest reports (from 2015) indicate that each day children consume 101g of sugar and teens consume 115g. Adults consume 85g. This is much higher than the World Health Organization’s recommendation of no more than 25g per day.

Here is how eating sugar and flour makes your cravings worse. Excess sugar and refined flour consumption:

Overworks the reward response

Consumption of excess sugars and refined starches produce a large surge of dopamine to be released in the brain. Researchers suggest that this is likely due to the fact that for most of human history, food was scarce and we needed to be attracted to high glucose-producing to survive. With modern food production and widespread availability of refined foods, this is no longer necessary for survival.

When we repeatedly flood our system with these refined foods, our dopamine receptors get worn out (i.e. downregulated). This then provokes more intense feelings of hunger and greater addictive drive in the brain. And as a result, anticipatory pleasure increases and actual pleasure decreases. This means that we need more and more of the refined starchy foods to satisfy us.

Exacerbates anxiety and depression

How does sugar do this? For one, sugar increases inflammation in the body and the brain and is implicated in depression. Also, with excess consumption, the resulting spike and crash in blood sugar are linked to irritability and shakiness that can worsen your anxiety. And this in itself can be a trigger to reach for more sugar.

Increases your baseline insulin levels

When baseline insulin levels increase, leptin’s message (our satiety hormone) is blocked from being received by the brain. In other words, we are not receiving the message that we are full, so we are constantly hungry. Basically, we lose our ability to rely on willpower. Fantastic! While it makes sense then that we need to stop eating sugar and flour in order to lose our cravings for sugar and flour, many people can’t get there on their own.

What you need is a strategy to create the habits that will make you successful. Check out this 5-day sugar free recipe book and guide to help cut your sugar cravings in 5 days.

>>>>>>>>>Download the guide here

Then book a call with Bonnie here to discuss how to continue moving forward with your goals of reduced cravings.

>>>>>>>>>Book your call here

Which Processed Foods are Healthy?

Grocery shopping, navigating processed foods and reading food labels has become so confusing. Food used to be simple – it came directly from nature – whether foraging, hunting, or farming.

Now we have access to so many things that don’t resemble food from nature. I love Michael Pollan’s famous quote…

Eat Food – Not too much – Mostly Plants

Michael Pollen

And in his book, In Defense of Food, he says, “Don’t eat anything your great-great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.” I’m sure we can agree that we’ve all eaten some things are not recognizable by our great-great-grandmothers!… candy bars, fast food, and sports drinks for example.

We can also say that many of the chronic health issues we face today: heart disease, diabetes, some cancers, cavities, etc. exist at far greater rates since processed foods became available.

But, where do we draw the line in calling a food processed? Is there a specific definition?

Levels of Processing

The NOVA internationally recognized classification system gives definitions for 4 levels:

Unprocessed – These are the edible parts of plants or animals, and also fungi, algae, and water, after separation from nature.

Example: This is like eating a whole apple right off the tree – clearly unprocessed.

Minimally processed – These are unprocessed foods that have been altered in some way without adding anything to the food (including sugar, salt or oil). So there is still only one ingredient. For example, the food may be dried, ground, boiled, pasteurized, frozen, vacuum sealed, or fermented etc.

Example: This is like coring and slicing an apple for eating or making applesauce (as long as nothing is added).

>>>>>>>Check out this easy applesauce recipe here

Processed – These are products made by adding sugar, oil, salt or other ingredients to unprocessed foods. These typically have 2-3 ingredients. These foods can still be healthy, but stay away if one of the added ingredients is sugar.

Example: This is like adding cinnamon or sugar to your minimally processed apple or applesauce.

Ultra-processed – These foods will have 5 or more ingredients that usually include: sugar, salt, oils, stabilizers, flavours and preservatives. In other words, they often include ingredients that you couldn’t buy in the store yourself. Unprocessed foods are a small proportion of or are even absent from ultra-processed products.

Example: This is like taking that original apple and including it in a packaged apple strudel.B

My Take

In short, the first 2 levels are OK, beware of the 3rd and stay away from the 4th!

While the line is clear between unprocessed and ultra-processed, I find that the 2 middle levels have a fine line between them. How do I draw my own line?

I am far from perfect, but my own rule of thumb is when the 1-2 ingredients being added are acceptable to me (say, water and sea salt added to canned beans), then I go for it. When sugar has been added, I draw the line and don’t buy.

When there are 5 or more ingredients, I look at them and ask myself whether I could buy them all in the store or not. If I can, and one of them isn’t sugar (my exception is dark chocolate!), then I go for it. I figure I’m really just paying for the added convenience since I could buy all the ingredients and make it myself if I wanted.

Bottom Line

Now that you know the definitions of these foods, I think you’ll agree that the commonly used term “processed” is mostly referring to ultra-processed foods.

Do you have challenges staying away from them in the grocery store and need a reset? Book a free discovery call with Bonnie here to discuss

I’d love to hear your thought on these definitions. Let me know in the FaceBook group. I’d love to get some fun discussions going on about this there!

Stress-Busting Tips That Work

Some days, stress can feel like it’s wreaking havoc on your health. I have written about the health implications of stress many times. I’ve discussed how they impact specific health symptoms, weight loss, and your adrenals.

Many of us have heard that acute stress can be helpful in motivating us to action to get things done. And on the flip side, chronic stress can deplete us and send us on a downward spiral of symptoms such as I’ve written about above. So, if stress is both good and bad, what do we do?

You can start by focusing on getting the foods and supplements that help reduce stress in the body. Making sure that our body doesn’t have to deal with the physical stresses of processed foods, nutrient deficiencies or food sensitivities is a great start.

And at the same time, it is important to explore the mindset pieces that can help. I want to share with you some specific things that you can do to both reduce your stress and experience the positive benefits from the stress you have. There is no one activity that works for everyone. Pick the one that resonates with you and get started.

Then share what you’re doing in our community group. Join here!

Work on Mindset

Meditation – This practice is touted as one of the best ways to slow your mind so that you can relax in our physical body. It also helps give you the time and space to reframe your stress. You might start to think of your stress as energizing rather than overwhelming! And even a 1-minute meditation can be beneficial.

Journaling – You don’t need to spend a lot of time writing out your thoughts for the process to work. Taking just a few minutes to write 3 things you’re grateful for helps to keep you in a positive frame of mind. The more specific you can be in your writings, the greater the impact will be for you. Pick out the small positives in your day.

Sleep – Too little sleep and too much stress go hand-in-hand. To calm a racing mind for sleep, try diffusing lavender essential oil in your room at night. This will calm the nervous system and help you get to sleep.

Build Community

New research is coming out about the health issues related to loneliness. So these are some ideas to get ourselves joined up with a supportive group of friends with the same interests.

Join a book or craft club – Whether you enjoy knitting, scrapbooking, colouring or reading, this will get you actually take some time for your hobby. And the bonus is that you will also have some set dates and times to get out and laugh with friends.

Restorative exercise – There are many benefits to exercise. And gently moving your body is another great way to de-stress. Join a walking group or a yoga, stretch, or tai chi class. These are all social ways to relax your mind and improve your strength and balance at the same time.

Self-care – Do you love getting mani/pedi’s or going on a spa day? Invite some friends and take a break with some self-care that you love to do.

Get outside – It’s so important to spend time with family, friends, and pets whom you love. And getting outdoors only makes this better as you can take a break from your usual daily tasks (and walk your dog if you have one).

Bottom Line

When dealing with stress, reduction is only one of the goals. Working on your mindset to see some stress as positive and surrounding yourself with support should also be a factor. And there is no magic activity that is perfect for everyone. It’s the one that creates the feeling that you are looking for.

Do you have other great ideas? Let me know what helps you de-stress in our community FaceBook group. And learn from others what works for them.