It’s no secret to anybody living in any first world country that over consumption of food is leading many people to poor health. Overeating is harder to hide because the results glow in our double chins and muffin tops. What is not as easily known is the key to eating in moderation. Here we will delve into the key, actually two keys to eating in moderation. They are 1-increasing the hormone leptin and 2-increasing our own willpower. Finding foods that help overcome both these hurdles is key to finding moderation with food.
Leptin is a well known hormone in weight loss circles, but not one commonly acknowledged in western society. Simply put, leptin is the hormone that creates the feeling of satiety as well as the motivation to get up and go. The modern day couch potato munching on chips while watching the games is the spitting image of the opposite of leptin. Ironically, leptin is created by fat cells. So why doesn’t the obese couch potato, whose body is teeming with leptin, feel full and energized to go on a jog? Because of insulin. Insulin blocks the leptin in our brains! The high sugar American diet that most of us have known our whole lives has increased our insulin levels astronomically! We cannot enjoy the benefits of such a great hormone as leptin because the food we eat prevents it from working in our brains.
How do we lower our insulin? That is probably pretty obvious. Eat less sugar and simple carbohydrates like white bread or pasta. But that leads us to the second key: willpower.
How many of us have promised ourselves to never eat chocolate/ice cream/ white bread/ (fill in the blank) ever again? And how many of us then after a month/week/afternoon cave because our husband brought home extra doughnuts from the office and a binge ensues? I’m raising my hand right along with you. Once you’ve crossed the line, you might as well keep going, right? There are a select few that can do the no white flour, no white sugar diet for the rest of their lives. But most of us either have found from experience, or even realize before hand, that this plan is not sustainable. We live in a world of Christmas and birthday parties full of treats, of cultural traditions that include delicious sugary food. If we depend on our willpower to never eat those foods again, that willpower runs out quicker than we realize and the agonizing feeling of failure and maybe even hopelessness overwhelms us.
We can increase our willpower when it comes to eating less sugar and carbs by doing something that may seem counter intuitive; eating a sweet treat! The popular trainer, Heidi Powell has said, “A (treat) a day keeps the binge away.” Does one sugary treat skyrocket our insulin levels? Not enough to raise our base level of insulin, which is the main culprit for blocking leptin. If we are eating a low sugar diet 90% of the time with an occasional treat, we will still benefit from the effects of leptin. And, treating ourselves consistently keeps away the feelings of deprivation that cause our willpower to run out.
You can see that more and more people are catching onto this idea by the success of treats that are lower in carbohydrates fats and higher in protein. Healthy ice cream options have become widely popular. Baked goods are also making their mark in the low carb high protein genre of treats. Just make sure you don’t compromise too much on taste especially when you don’t have to.