By, Dany Carmady
I know you’ve been there. We’ve all been there; reading up on diets, cleaning out cupboards, stocking up on “healthy food”. You started that diet! You started out great and managed to stay on track. You were even feeling accomplished. You made it through the first few days … perhaps longer, then WHAM O! You lost control. Totally.
Like a rabid animal you devoured every last Pringle — which you bought for your children and swore you’d only have a few. You knew you should’ve stopped, but you couldn’t. There’s a jingle that comes to mind, but it’s for another brand and I digress. Either way, you were powerless to “eat just one”.
Even as you were scarfing down that stack — your greasy hands revealed your guilt in the afternoon light and you were mentally justifying your deed by telling yourself you’d get back on track tomorrow. Then a funny thing happened. Suddenly you found you were back at the fridge eyeing the ice-cream in the freezer and down you went. A tablespoon worked faster and hell, who needed a bowl? They’re overrated anyway.
…tomorrow never came.
Your diet was blown.
What causes a binge episode? Well there may be numerous contributing factors like boredom, habit, social pressure or even anxiety, however; the overriding reason your body will binge is hunger. To keep your hunger in check you need to learn how to stabilize your body’s blood sugar throughout the day. Eating foods containing carbohydrates forces your body to release a hormone called insulin, which is responsible for distributing the carbohydrate, delivering it to your bloodstream and cells for energy. Excess carbohydrates are converted to fat and stored in your body. So eating more carbohydrates than your body can utilize is a fast track to gaining fat.
Many people are still hung up on the low-fat myth which once dictated we needed numerous servings of complex carbohydrates like; bread, rice and pasta,; and we were told we should avoid butter, oil and fat rich foods. New research has proven that eating too many carbohydrates has the effect of causing weight gain. So, if you are still hooked on the idea of a low-fat diet to reduce your caloric intake and lose weight, the food you’re turning too could be your undoing.
Hidden Carbs Are Everywhere!
Most foods contain carbohydrates and they can be rated according to the extent to which they spike the release of insulin in your body. The rating system is known as the Glycemic Index (GI). Ifyou’re serious about your health and making better choices, it’s imperative that you get familiar with the effect that different carbohydrate foods can have on your blood sugar.
If you learn to choose lower GI foods, you lower your risk of binge-eating. The following list of common foods contains their GI rating as well as their GI load which factors in the effect on your blood sugar in real terms due to portion sizes.
Here are the top five foods which dieters have typically turned to, to fill up on when attempting a low-fat, lower calorie diet. These seemingly harmless offenders are probably doing you more damage than you have realized and because they spike your insulin — raising your blood sugar levels, they do not satiate you. Instead they’ll make your body more ravenous within a couple of hours. That is when you are in dangerous territory!
A low-fat meal which you thought was perfect for your diet, could actually be setting you up for a binge.
Keep reading… you will never again blame your lack of self- control or your can of Pringles.
ENEMY #1. White Bread
The humble sandwich is a daily staple for most. A dieter might add some lean meat, low-fat cheese, dry lettuce and a dash of low-fat dressing for flavor. They probably omitted the butter completely or used it sparingly to avoid too many fat calories. One slice of white bread scores a 71 on the glycemic Index.
Many people eat two slices of toast at breakfast, a sandwich for lunch and they might have garlic bread or dinner rolls at night. Bread is a great food however, the refined white type is stripped of both nutrition and fiber. This payload delivers a big dose of insulin and will rarely satiate your hunger for more than an hour or so. According to the Whole Grains Council, only about 60% of Americans eat a whole-grain food (not just bread) at least once in two weeks.
It would be better to find a whole grain alternative.
Become a sleuth. Get to know which breads have less carbs. High fibre alternatives will drastically reduce the GI index and satisfy you longer.
ENEMY #2. Rice Cakes
I’m listing rice cakes as my pick for a top offender, because many people have been brainwashed into thinking these are a good diet food. because they are low in fat they entice misguided dieters into believing they are onto dieters gold. Unfortunately, a small serving of rice cakes (25 grams) scores a whopping 82 on the glycemic index. Not only will these NOT satisfy you, your blood sugar may spike sharply. These cakes are now marketed in flavors which can add even more carb calories.
If you topped yours with some quality protein like tuna or salmon it would reduce the GI load, however as far as convenience foods in the pantry go rice cakes risk getting topped with quick spreads like jam, cream cheese or Vegemite, and are then wolfed down. For a serious dieter, there are whole grain crackers high in fiber which would provide a better crunchy base for your snacks.
ENEMY #3. White Rice
White rice is a staple food around the world. Enjoying an excellent shelf life, quick cooking time and versatility it is one of the most highly consumed foods on the planet. However a modest portion of 150 grams delivers a huge glycemic Load of 43 and is listed at 89 on the GI Index. You run the risk of over-eating the rice. While your body may feel full due to the high GI effect on your body, you’ll probably be awake at 11pm and heading back to the fridge for a snack.
Many people who control their carbohydrates choose very low GI alternatives like ‘riced cauliflower’ which has virtually no effect on the GI. Even brown rice still delivers a high GI, although it does have more fiber, it can still leave you feeling hungry.
ENEMY #4. White Pasta
White pasta is one of the most beloved foods in the world, and low-fat dieters have long been attracted by the low-fat draw-card of a pasta meal topped with a low-fat/calorie sauce. Seemingly a great choice according to old model diet outlines, there are numerous pasta dishes touted as low-fat and diet friendly. Don’t believe it. A 180 grams a serving white pasta earns a 58 on the GI Index and has a load of 26. This will spike your blood sugar and much like rice, portion sizes are difficult to control with the urge to have seconds being very strong. Add to this the likelihood you decided to enjoy just a few pieces of ‘low fat garlic bread’ with your pasta meal, and now you’re in blood sugar hell.
There are companies now producing low-carb pasta products which have a higher fiber content. This means the GI rating is drastically reduced. They are much more expensive however, controlling your hunger and therefore your weight means fewer wardrobe issues… so perhaps it is cost-effective in the end. If you are serious about losing weight, and do enjoy pasta, think of the pasta as a condiment not the main meal.
Enemy #5. Baked Potato
I selected baked potatoes as a top offender because many people dry bake potatoes and then stuff them with – fillings such as baked beans, light sour cream, a little meat. Unfortunately, while it’s noble to swap the French Fries for a low-fat baked potato, the GI rating of an average baked potato is a whopping 111. That puts them above all the others I have listed. Adding protein foods and a little bit of fat would actually reduce that GI load however, our committed dieter is probably holding the cheese and using the leanest mince they could to fill their spud.
Cauliflower and broccoli are worthy substitutes for a baked potato, offering a much lower level of carbohydrates, and they lend themselves to lovely creamy bakes. Or, you could try this recipe for “cauliflower rice”.
What’s the Skinny?
Low carbohydrate meals are the way to proceed if you want to banish binges forever. Understanding the effect of carbohydrates on your blood sugar is paramount; that is of course if you’re sick of binge-eating and failed efforts. Every packaged food lists the carb-count so be sure to look. Fiber reduces your net carb count, so if your bread contains 30 grams of carbohydrate and 10 grams of fiber, you subtract the fiber count from the carbohydrate count in order to get a better idea of the real number of carbohydrates that will be sent into your body.
Eating a controlled carbohydrate diet will change your life forever. Once you control your carb intake, you control your binges. Many diet models adopt the low carbohydrate approach, with the Atkins diet being the most famous of all. A simple Google search for low-carb recipes will produce thousands of results. Chances are your favorite comfort foods have a low-carb alternative. I know people who have adopted the low-carb lifestyle and never look back.
No More Hunger
With hunger a thing of the past binges become long forgotten memories.
Feasting on quality protein foods like chicken, beef, pork, lamb, fish, salmon, tuna, or beans paired with generous servings of low-carb vegetables is key. Low-carb breads and wraps may cost a little more, however you save money because you can now say no to chocolate treats or sugary or carb–laden snacks.
Be careful, fruit is a potential danger food. Although I have not listed it as a top five offender many are still high in carbs and all convert to sugar. For the best results you’ll need to research which of your favorite fruits enjoy the lowest GI counts.
The Moral of This Story?
Never again do you need to beat yourself up over a lack of self-control. Simply control your carbs, and the binges will end. If you slip-up because you decide to indulge in a big bowl of pasta or a baked potato, realize that hunger will hit you in a couple of hours and you may find yourself gorging on chocolate cake without control. Don’t blame yourself, blame your blood sugar and get back on-track tomorrow replacing carbs with delicious fulfilling protein based meals.
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