YOU Magazine - June 2008 - Satisfaction Guaranteed Curing Cravings and Hunger Pangs
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Kathleen Petty     Kathleen Petty
AVP/Sr Mortgage Originator
Alaska USA Mortgage AK#157293
Phone: (907)261-3458 Cell: 223-4440
Fax: (907)929-6699
License: NMLS Unique Identifier #203077
Alaska USA Mortgage AK#157293
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Satisfaction Guaranteed
Curing Cravings and Hunger Pangs

Satisfaction Guaranteed - Curing Cravings and Hunger Pangs

Regardless of how informed a person is about the health consequences of obesity, and despite unbelievable motivation, the number one reason people can't stick to a weight loss diet is simply because they get hungry. The hard fast truth is hunger derails even the best dietary intentions.

As a surgeon specializing in bariatric (weight loss) surgery and the author of three national top-selling books specifically dealing with non-surgical lifestyle approaches to improving health and losing weight, Andy Larson, M.D. has interviewed thousands of patients pre-operatively, regarding their diet and eating habits.

While the conversation inevitably takes a few twists and tortuous turns (patients explain they eat for emotional reasons, they eat out of boredom, they eat because they are happy, or sad, etc.), the discussion inevitably leads to one universal chief complaint among all weight loss surgery candidates...hunger.

The primary reason why weight loss surgery works is because it curbs appetite...a lot. Patients don't get hungry, they eat significantly fewer calories than they previously ate, and they lose weight...a lot of weight. Some patients lose 100-plus pounds.

So, is there a way to curb those cravings, without resorting to surgical intervention? Dr. Larson says absolutely, "yes." He says the key to losing weight successfully, without surgery, is to learn to eat in a way that naturally satisfies hunger. Larson says this way of eating also cures food cravings, which further assists the weight loss cause.

So what is the dietary pattern the weight loss surgeon himself follows? (Do note that it's a dietary pattern and not a diet). In a nutshell, Dr. Larson recommends a nutrient-rich, balanced whole foods diet based on unrefined foods in their most natural state.

It's also borderline vegetarian, or "flexitarian," as it contains a plethora of plant-based foods in the form of beans, vegetables, whole grains, soy, nuts, seeds, and fruits and limited portions of saturated fat-rich animal foods (about two servings a day).

Dr. Larson says one of the most important things you can do from a dietary standpoint is to make your food count nutritionally.

Of course, here in the land of plenty, calories, carbs, fat grams and "points" are ubiquitous, and one can't deny that excessive intake of any will lead to weight gain and poor health. Yet, the oversupply is primarily derived from calorie-containing "food-like substances," such as chips, cookies, pretzels, etc., and not necessarily "real," or healthy whole foods. Dr. Larson says his patients are rarely overeating "real" foods, but rather, they are overeating these food-like substances. You don't see fields of pretzels growing in nature. Pretzels are not "whole" foods, and they are low in nutrients.

One of the biggest problems with the modern diet is that it provides a surplus of calories with a deficit of nutrients. Diet fads add fuel to the fire as they encourage people to count calories, carbs, fat, grams, points, etc. Instead of counting your food, learn to make your food count based on its nutritional content.

The typical supermarket is a virtual wilderness of untamed empty calories, many lurking suspiciously inside packages specifically advertised as healthy. Yet such an oversupply has not produced excessive nutrition; quite the contrary. The majority of people eating the S.A.D. (standard American diet) are overfed and actually undernourished.

Malnutrition refers to inadequate nutrient intake - not inadequate calorie intake. Putting this concept in perspective, this means it is entirely possible to consume 3,000 calories a day and be 50 or more pounds overweight, yet still be undernourished. It's also possible to be rather slim and consume a mere 1,600 or 1,800 calories a day and be very well nourished. If you follow the four simple guidelines below, you'll find it easy to maximize nutrition without overdoing calories, naturally. This way of eating allows you to leave the table feeling nurtured, nourished and well fed, without having over-consumed calories.

Include at least one fruit or one vegetable, plus one other plant-based food in its natural and unrefined form at each and every meal.
All fruits and all vegetables are good. Other plant-based foods you should increase your intake of include nuts, seeds, all-natural nut butters (avoid those containing hydrogenated oils), legumes, beans, unrefined whole grains (such as quinoa, millet, oatmeal, barley, corn, etc.).

Stop relying on the misleading Nutrition Facts and start reading the Ingredients List on the back of all packaged foods you purchase.
Not all packaged foods are made from refined/processed ingredients, so if you know how to read and interpret the ingredients list, you can still enjoy a wide range of prepared foods.

The first rule is to avoid all foods containing any ingredient you don't immediately recognize as a food. You also want to avoid packaged foods made with the top four empty calorie ingredients, including trans fats in the form of hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils, processed vegetable oils (such as corn oil, soybean oil, cottonseed oil, "pure" vegetable oil, etc.), sugars (especially avoid foods containing high fructose corn syrup), and refined flours (such as "enriched" flour).

Make sure you get enough omega-3 fats and not an excessive amount of omega-6 fats.
The easiest way to avoid getting too many omega-6 fats, which can decrease your insulin sensitivity and make it more difficult to lose weight, is to avoid refined vegetable oils in the form of corn, cottonseed, soybean and "pure" vegetable oil. You also want to make sure you get enough omega-3 fats by eating either three tablespoons of ground flaxseeds a day or one tablespoon of flax oil a day plus three or four servings of fish a week (it's also a good idea to take a fish oil supplement). The best cooking oil is extra-virgin olive oil, the monounsaturated fats actually help boost your body's ability to metabolize the omega-3 fats.

Eat more seafood and vegetable protein sources (such as soy from tofu, edamame beans, tempeh, etc., plus beans, nuts, seeds, etc) and less animal protein.
By eating more plant-based foods, you'll naturally be getting more fiber, more phytochemicals, and less saturated fat. The animal foods you do choose should be low in saturated fat, including eggs (omega-3-enriched eggs would be best), chicken, low-fat dairy, and lean cuts of meat. You don't need saturated fat, so excess consumption is empty calories. In addition, saturated fats increase inflammation in your body and decrease sensitivity to insulin, thus making it more difficult to lose weight.

Although it shouldn't be an afterthought, the dietary pattern Dr. Larson recommends will also help you fight disease because it combats inflammation, malnutrition and oxidative stress.

More information on Dr. Larson and his previous publications, The Gold Coast Cure, The Gold Coast Cure's Fitter, Firmer, Faster Program and Chicken Soup for the Healthy Living Soul is available on his website at His fourth book, The Whole Foods Dish, a nutritionally-oriented cookbook he has collaborated on with his wife and cooking instructor Ivy Larson, is due out in January 2009. The following nutrient-rich "whole foods" recipes are from the couple's upcoming cookbook.

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie (serves 2)

  • 1/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 3/4 cup organic whole-milk plain yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons ground flaxseeds
  • 1 frozen banana, cut into thick slices
  • 1 teaspoon Agave nectar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients into a blender. Whip until smooth and creamy. Serve at once.

Bistro-Style Pan-Roasted Whole Chicken with Tarragon, Yellow Split Peas and Carrots over Arugula (serves 4)

Enthusiasts of bistro-style cuisine will tell you it's the depth of flavor these eateries provide that keeps them coming back and craving more. Here, we've layered subtle hints of orange, lemon and tarragon with rustic split peas and chicken. It's a flavorful feast, but even better, the laid-back and mostly hands-free cooking method will allow you to sip and savor your favorite wine while the meal practically cooks itself.

  • 1 (3 lbs.) whole free-range organic chicken, split down back, excess skin and fat removed
  • Salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 4 shallots, quartered
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups organic chicken broth
  • Juice from 1 whole lemon
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice concentrate
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 cups yellow split peas
  • 1 1/2 cups baby carrots
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1 tablespoon organic whipping cream
  • 6 cups arugula
  • 1 tablespoon flax oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Rinse the chicken and pat dry, then sprinkle all over with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a large oven-proof skillet (preferably a cast iron skillet) over medium heat. Add the chicken, breast-side down and cook for five minutes. Turn the chicken over and add garlic and shallots. Cook, stirring constantly, for one minute. Add the wine and chicken broth; stir, scraping up all brown bits from the bottom of the pan.

In a small dish, whisk together the lemon juice, orange juice concentrate, vinegar and Dijon mustard. Add the liquid to the skillet. Add the split peas, carrots and tarragon.

Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast for 40-45 minutes, or until the chicken is done and a meat thermometer registers 170 degrees. Carefully remove the chicken from the skillet, transfer it to a large platter and cut into eight serving pieces. Cover the chicken to keep warm.

Season the split peas with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the whipping cream. Raise the oven temperature to 425 degrees. Return the skillet to the oven and continue cooking the split peas for about 20 additional minutes or until the split peas are tender.

In a large salad bowl, toss the arugula with flax oil plus salt and pepper to taste. Divide the arugula among four serving plates. Top the arugula with the warm split peas. Nestle chicken pieces on top of the split peas. Serve at once.

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