Monday, June 13, 2011

The 100 Calorie Letter

The other day I received an organic hit from a search engine under the search term “I have only eaten 100 calories today will that help me lose weight”. Since writing the post about A Nice Healthy 200 Calorie Meal, I get 5-10 hits a week from people looking for 200 calorie meals. And I don’t come up on the first page. Which leads me to believe that people are searching hard for low calorie meals in spite of some nutritional math that doesn’t add up (Even 5-200 calorie meals in one day still only adds up to 1000 calories, well below what a normal person should be eating).
But to the person who hit my site having eaten only 100 calories, I would like to write this post directly to you…

We as Americans are desperate to lose weight. We will try fake diet food, starvation (for a day at least), diet pills, shakes and even scary surgery to help us. But at the end of the day, we continue to gain instead of lose. I carried around with me for years an extra 10-15 pounds and I alternated between being completely obsessed with losing weight and not caring and embracing my cheeseburgers “curves”.

Eating only 100 calories in a day might start out as a great weight loss trick. But if you are able to maintain fasting for more than 12 hours (most people cannot when surrounded like we are by food), then your body will likely enter starvation response mode. Starvation Response is the process that the body undergoes when it is deprived of calories. It is a survival technique that evolved to enable humans to survive food shortages typical in a hunter/ gatherer lifestyle. Starvation Response allows one’s body to conserve energy for the brain while maintaining cognitive function and muscular structures, at least at first. According to Wikipedia, the brain typically uses glucose for its fuel, though the body can break down fats into glucose. When you stop eating your body first turns to its fat reserves and the brain must switch to using fatty acids for fuel, which under normal conditions it will not do. The body then conserves glucose. After several days, the body will begin to breakdown lean muscle. The proteins taken from your muscular structures can be converted into glucose that the brain can use. Take a look through the whole Wikipedia page, I found it enlightening. Plus I could never explain all the biological nuances.

Over time, the starvation dieter will find that he is able to lose little weight. And during celebration or binge eating, he will likely gain weight quickly as the body scrambles to add fat reserves. Many people (including me) believe that this preoccupation with low fat and low calorie foods is causing much of our metabolism problems. People regularly eat silly 200 calorie meals only to have their ‘reserve’ break down a few hours later and consume 600-800 calorie snacks! This doesn’t make any logical sense to me.

To maintain health we must focus our diets around quality protein and lots and lots of veggies. Then we can add whole grains, fruits or possibly dairy to that. But all the fake doctored up diet foods are causing even more trouble. There never was anything wrong with food. In fact it was all we could eat back before our current obesity crisis, back before diet foods and fake foods. And we were all a lot skinner then. God made food the way it was supposed to be, the way it was intended to be, the way we need it to be in order to be healthy. We were not plopped here on earth to figure out what to eat. We evolved with our food, and that’s why it works so well.

And of course, it comes back to love. We must love ourselves. When we love and respect ourselves, we can take care of our bodies in the proper way. For me, that took having children. In trying to set a good example for my kid’s eating habits, I realized that I needed to care for myself in the same loving way I was caring for them. Loving and respecting myself enough to say ‘those Doritos don’t love you back’ became a key point in my current good health. Now I view food as something that can keep me running in tip top shape. I do still eat some junk and when I do I pay with lethargy and grumpiness. I don’t appreciate food doing that to me. Junk food is like an abusive spouse.

So Dear, whoever you are, wherever you are…Starvation is not the answer. It is not about the food being in control. It is not even about major changes! Proper weight management is all about some small shifts: eating more veggies to get all the nutrients you need (you already knew that), eating foods whole so as not to eliminate the fats or fiber you need, and eliminating the stuff that you are eating that is not actually food (i.e.-chemicals and preservatives, etc). The food stuff is easy, the loving yourself enough to eat properly is a bigger concern. But when you begin to do that, you just might find that you have the upper hand, not food.

This post has been shared with Simple Lives Thursday

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