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What’s Your Food Personality?

Sue hosts - 2

Are your eating habits helping or hindering your New Year’s resolutions?

Watch / take my Food Personality quiz to find out.


Question #1: I eat when I am…

a) Bored
b) Stressed / Upset
c) Hungry
d) All of the above

We’ve probably all had time when we’ve nibbled out of boredom or stress. But if you answered a) or b) or are constantly reaching for food when you’re upset, you may be an Emotional Eater.

Advice: Keep a food diary. In your diary, write down everything you eat and drink, the amounts, the time, and how you were feeling before you ate. Do you notice any patterns and eating triggers? Are you always bored or stressed before you eat? If so, find a healthy distraction away from food. Go for a walk, clean out your closet or give yourself a manicure (you can’t eat with wet nails, right?)


Question #2: I stop eating when…

a) All of the food is gone
b) My plate is clean
c) I’m not hungry anymore
d) I feel stuffed

If you answered a), b) or d), you may be a Mindless Muncher. You may be overriding you natural cues for fullness and satiety, which can lead to overeating and weight gain.

Advice: Eat until you’re 80% full. Even though you could probably take a few more bites of food, you’re comfortably satisfied and not hungry anymore. To avoid picking at food until it’s gone, pack up any leftovers quickly or put your napkin on your plate as a signal to yourself that you’re finished eating.

Question #3: On my kitchen counter, I’m most likely to have…
a) Packaged snacks such as cookies, chips and baked goods
b) Cereal
c) Candy or soft drinks
d) A bowl of fresh fruit

If you answered d), you’re on the right track to being a Mindful Eater. Research from Cornell University shows that women who kept comfort foods on their counters, such as cookies, chips, soft drinks (regular or diet) and cereal, weighed 4 to 5 lbs more than women who kept a bowl of fresh fruit on the counter. Men who put candy on the counter were 3 to 4 lbs heavier than men who kept a bowl of fresh fruit on the counter.

Advice: Keep only a bowl of fresh fruit on the kitchen counter. This helps to create a healthy kitchen environment. Make it easy to find the healthy choices.


Question #4: I tend to eat…

a) At my desk or while watching TV
b) In the car or on the go
c) Over the kitchen sink
d) Sitting down with family and friends

If you answered a), b) or c), you could be a Mindless Muncher. If you answered d), it’s a sign you may be a Mindful Eater. Distracted eating hits us with a double whammy! Research shows that when we’re visually distracted with TV or work or social media, we eat 10% more food at that particular meal, AND we eat about 25% more food at the next meal! When we’re distracted, we’re not building awareness or memories of the food that we’ve just eaten. So when it’s time for the next meal, we have no “food memories” of what we ate previously so we tend to overeat. On the other hand, when we’re eating with attention, we’re building food memories – what we’re eating, how much we’re eating, how the food tasted, how we felt full after the meal. These positive food memories actually lead us to eat about 10% less food at the next meal.

Advice: Enjoy your food and create wonderful food memories with friends and family!

References:

Slim by Design: Kitchen Counter Correlates of Obesity Wansink et al., Health Education & Behaviour, 2016; Vol.43(5):552–558.

Eating attentively: a systematic review and meta-analysis of the effect of food intake memory and awareness on eating Robinson et al., Am J Clin Nutr 2013;97:728–42.

Intermittent Fasting – the new weight loss trend?

Clock made of spoon and fork, isolated on white background

Fasting has been practiced for centuries around the world, typically for religious reasons. Now, intermittent fasting is becoming a trendy way to lose weight. But does it really work and should you try it?

There are a few variations of intermittent fasting:

Alternate day fasting was researched by Dr. Krista Varady who is an Associate Professor of Nutrition at the University of Illinois in Chicago. The idea is to alternate back and forth between eating about 500 calories one day and then eating a moderate high-fat diet the next day. In her research trials, she found that adults lost an average of 11 pounds in 12 weeks. Plus, the alternate day fasting lowered the participants’ levels of the “bad” LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein) cholesterol which helps to lower their overall risk for heart disease.

The 5:2 fasting diet is a modified version of the alternate day fasting diet. The general idea here, according to proponent Dr. Mark Mattson, is to eat no more than 500 calories on two non-consecutive days each week. On the other five days of the week, you can eat your usual diet. Mattson is a Professor of Neuroscience at the John Hopkins University. In his research, overweight and obese women who followed the 5:2 diet for six months lost just slightly more weight than women who were following a low calorie diet. Mattson is now exploring whether this diet can help improve brain health in seniors.

Time-restricted eating is another type of intermittent fasting where you only eat during a small window of time. This includes ideas such as a longer nighttime fast (for example, not eating from 7 pm to 6 am) or eating just one big meal a day instead of three typical meals. Animals who fast in these ways do lose weight, but there are hardly any scientific studies with people.

Here’s our advice:

1. Intermittent fasting is not easy.
In fact, 10 to 20% of participants who try intermittent fasting find it too difficult and quickly stopped. Those who stick with the diets admit that it is very challenging for at least the first few weeks.
2. Intermittent fasting isn’t a miracle weight loss cure. The studies show that you can lose about the same amount of weight whether you fast intermittently or just cut back on calories every day.
3. Intermittent fasting is NOT for everyone. For example, if you are pregnant, underweight or have type 2 diabetes, then intermittent fasting is not suitable and can be dangerous for you.
4. The best “diet” is the one you can stick with for the rest of your life. Healthy eating is about enjoyment, not deprivation. If you’re interested in trying intermittent fasting, perhaps start with the least extreme option of extending your nighttime fast. Think of the motto “Done after dinner.” Eat your dinner and then skip any bedtime snack. Refuel with a good breakfast in the morning.
5. Talk to a registered dietitian for safe and expert advice on diets and weight loss.

“Eat Less, Eat Better”…is it that simple? Rethinking our message about healthy eating and obesity

Will we solve the obesity crisis by simply telling people to “eat less and eat better”? A one-day health professional forum was held in Toronto to rethink our messages about food and obesity. The event featured key leaders in obesity research/treatment and health communications: Dr. Ayra Sharma, Ted Kyle and me! Here’s what the experts were saying.


Dr. Ayra Sharma – Chair for Obesity Research and Management, University of Alberta
• Obesity is a complex chronic disease.
• Simplistic messages about obesity are misleading, can promote unhealthy weight obsession and promote bias and discrimination.
• Prevention and intervention strategies should focus on improving health behaviours rather than on just changing body weight.


Ted Kyle – Founder, ConscienHealth
• Use respectful, people-first language that is free of bias and stigma – e.g. “unhealthy weight” or “high BMI” instead of “fat” or “morbidly obese”.
• “Obese” is a harmful label. “Obesity” is a disease.
• Shift the conversation from “being obese” towards health.


Sue Mah – President, Nutrition Solutions
• “Eating better” means cooking, eating together and enjoying food.
• Consumers are bombarded with food/nutrition messages that simply don’t “have the scientific muster to present as fact” (quoting Dr. Oz here!)
• Health and nutrition communications needs to be creative to capture consumers’ attention.
• From celebrities and chefs to dietitians and politicians, everyone has a role in being a champion for change.

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