This Week in Paleo: Starting the Path to Recovery and Discovery

This Week in Paleo: Starting the Path to Recovery and Discovery

There comes a time in each person’s life when they must decipher their own motivations.

In fact, there are probably many times we do this as we seek to learn more about ourselves and come to a greater awareness of who we are.

In the paleo community, many of us swim dangerously close to the deep waters of eating disorders.

We  sometimes hide behind “healthy” food as a mechanism of control.

We sometimes fall a little too deep into our community until the world around us and the food around us begins to create deep fear.

We often worry about our waist size above all else, even our underlying health, even our relationships.

Is there a little (or big) part of you that has strayed into those deep waters?

Do you eat calories, macros or food?

Does food that isn’t “clean” or “paleo” cause you fear or anxiety?

Is being the “healthy role model” more important to you than anything else?

Is being “fat” one of your greatest fears?

Kaila Prins, an advocate for women’s health and a dear friend in the realm of disordered eating recovery, has been helping women face these issues for a long time, ever since she herself began to overcome the battle several years ago.

Her new program; Recover. Discover. Emerge. is changing the way women everywhere think about disordered eating and recovery.  

The program is intended to help those suffering disordered eating, exercise, and mindset issues that are holding them back from fully reaching a place of body acceptance.

The course is intended to introduce you, in two phases, to the world beyond “recovery.”

Kaila is the perfect person to be teaching this course and I’m so excited she is finally doing it!

She has always offered up her help and advice to women when they need it most and couldn’t be a kinder, more beautiful soul.

I know you will get out of her new program something amazing.

Some of us struggle with issues of disordered eating more than others, but it’s common for those of us who need the help most to feel the most resistant to it.

Are you ready for a change?

Are you ready to uncover the beauty of the path to “discovery”?

Are you tired of beating yourself up over the way you look or the food you put into your mouth?

Recover. Discover. Emerge. will help you.

Through a series of phases, Kaila will walk you through exactly how to overcome many specific issues related to body image, disordered eating, exercise bulimia, and more. 

By the end, you’ll have learned what to do to recover, but more than that, you’ll learn about the beautiful life waiting for you beyond recovery.

You’ll discover.  And then you’ll emerge.

The program starts October 9th. 

To learn more about this phenomenal opportunity, visit the program website for Recover. Discover. Emerge. here. 

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So, just as a heads up - some links above may be my affiliate links, which means I get a small commission if you click on it and make a purchase. Doing so is no additional cost to you, but helps me tremendously. Your support is SO greatly appreciated, so thank you in advance if you choose to do so. Check out my entire disclosure to know exactly how things work.

Want a healthy macronutrient ratio? Do the exact opposite of what you’ve been told

Want a healthy macronutrient ratio? Do the exact opposite of what you’ve been told

For my entire life, I feel like I’ve been given nothing but dietary limits.

Limit meals to 3 per day. Limit snacks to 1 per day. Limit dessert to 1 per day. Limit fruits to 3 per day. Limit fat to 30 grams per day. Limit carbs to 50 grams per day. Limit calories to 1200 per day. Just kidding. Limit calories to 800 per day.

Don’t do this, don’t do that.

Diet in America–the healthy diet everyone always talks about–is always about a limit. It’s about a number. It’s about a prescription, a border, a container. The most trending diet searched on Google in 2015 was the “20/20” diet.

Diet in America gives you a restrictive number, and it’s supposed to be some silver bullet. It combines two of America’s favorite things–numbers and willpower! (I wish I were joking, but I’m not.)

It says: hit this target, strive for this target, work for this target. The more hardcore you are, the better you are. The more hardcore you are, the more willpower you’ll have, and the more the rewards are within your reach. If only you can manage to restrict yourself this much, to this precise amount, you will finally be the healthy, thin woman you always deserved to be. 

(Says Oprah, anyway.)

So this is what diets are all about.

This is what, by and large, paleo is about, too.

Paleo talks so much about macronutrients. And nearly every single bit of advice you will ever hear about macronutrients in the paleosphere is that you should “keep them to” some level. It’s carbs, by the way, that paleo is mostly worried about… other worlds, like vegetarianism, do the same thing with fat.

“Keep carbs low,” they say.

“Limit fruits to a small handful of berries a day.”

“Be sure not to have too much.”

“Go ahead and eat carbs, but not too much.”

“Have some carbs, but only post-workout.”

“Don’t eat more than 200 grams of carbs a day, or else you’re in the “danger zone” with “insidious weight gain.””

You might think things were different.

These days, paleo talks the big talk. It says that it’s progressive about macronutrients.

But all it does is limit them in a different way. 

Instead of saying, “keep carbs under 30 grams a day” it says, instead, “only eat carbs in the evening meal,” or something. Between 6 and 8 pm. 4 hours before bedtime, they say.

To which I say,

“hell no.”

Don’t set macronutrient maximums, set macronutrient minimums

From my point of view, the right thing to do is to throw dietary maximums out the window.

Let’s stop talking about food like it’s something to be corralled.

Let’s stop talking about food like it’s a problem.

Let’s stop talking about food like an indulgence. 

Instead, let’s talk about food like it’s healthy. Let’s talk about food like it’s energy, and fuel. Let’s talk about food like it’s nourishment.

You need food in order to reproduce. You need food in order to be active. You need food into order to feel happy, to feel good, to be kind, to go on adventures, and to live your life.

Protein is a part of this. Fat is a part of this. Carbs are a part of this. Calories are a part of this.

And none of those things (unless you have some specific health condition) should be restricted. None of those things merit fear.

They are all just different components of food, and food is that which gives us life.

In fact, it is much more unhealthy to undereat than it is to overeat. I would rather see a woman eat 400 grams of good, natural carbohydrates a day than 4…. 4000 calories instead of 40.

So let’s stop setting macronutrient maximums, and instead set minimums.

Fat grams, per day, should be at an absolute minimum 30 grams. That is an absolute basement minimum, and should ideally be at least 45 or 50 grams a day as a minimum.

Protein should be 50 grams daily, minimum, for women (and more for athletes).

Carbohydrates should be 100 grams daily, minimum, for women (and more for athletes). If you have a particular health condition such as diabetes or really want to be “low carb,” then 50 grams daily should probably be reasonably sustainble for you. But let’s be real. Most of us don’t need to do that. At all.

Calories should be 2000 minimum, daily. For women.

There, I said it. 2000 calories a day. I’m done pretending like it’s good or okay to eat less. I’m done rationalizing our restrictive eating behaviors. I’m done thinking that it’s okay to undereat, just because society says you don’t deserve to eat, or to have meat on your bones. You can eat less than 2000 calories a day and survive, certainly. And I want you to eat when you are hungry and stop when you feel good and full. But if you ever dip below 2000 calories a day because you don’t feel good about yourself, I hope that you read this post, and read my other posts on self-love, and read my book Sexy by Nature, and look at yourself in the mirror every day and say “I am hot. I am worthy. I am smart. I am capable. I am amazing, and lovable.” Because you are, and I’ll be damned if I let a nutrition label or a jean size or a nasty comment shouted at you from a passing vehicle ever let you feel otherwise.

Eat as many carbs as you want! Eat as much fat! Eat as much volulme! At whatever time of day you want! 

I don’t care! The universe doesn’t care! Your body doesn’t particularly care! I mean certainly, your body cares. But it can be healthy with carbs, healthy with fats, healthy with protein, and healthy with varying calories, eaten at any time of the day! Really!

So in my opinion, the healthy thing to do is to set minimums. The smart thing to do is to set minimums.  The loving thing to do is to set minimums.

When you do this–when you set minimums instead of maximums–you start to think of food as something you should be welcoming into your life with open arms. You think of food as nourishment. You think of food as a gift, and something to be cherished.

And then yourself, as a being worthy of that gift.

 

For  my post on whether you can love yourself and lose weight, check it out, here.

For my post on why I love healthy at every size, check it out, here.

 

 

So there it is. My feelings about macronutrients today. I’m feeling fiery. How about  you? What do you think of this idea? How does it work for you?

 

Tired of living with macronutrient limits?  Here's why setting a minimum is a MUCH better idea.

 

 

 

 

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So, just as a heads up - some links above may be my affiliate links, which means I get a small commission if you click on it and make a purchase. Doing so is no additional cost to you, but helps me tremendously. Your support is SO greatly appreciated, so thank you in advance if you choose to do so. Check out my entire disclosure to know exactly how things work.

5 Reasons to Stop Counting Calories Right Now

5 Reasons to Stop Counting Calories Right Now

Of all the ways in which people try to lose weight in America today, counting calories is probably the most popular.

It is also probably one of the most misguided.

Well, I’m not sure I can say that, given that I know that something called The Grapefruit Diet exists.

Nevertheless, so far as I am concerned, calorie counting is extremely flawed. It is bad for health. It’s bad for spirit. And it’s bad for weight loss. Here are some reasons why — though the list is by no means exhaustive.

1) Counting calories is time consuming

Counting calories is time consuming. You either have to search for calorie amounts on google for every food you eat, or carry around one of those little pocket calorie guides. I used to do that. Nothing like a good old-fashioned calorie counter in your back pocket.

Then you have to measure your food, and then do math. 

And you can’t simply weight in after the fact, but need to parcel out your food beforehand, so you can make your target goals. Of course, you may be one of the more loosey goosey calorie counters and simply tally how much you’ve eaten after the fact, but that’s time consuming too because after you’ve done all the math you will probably spend a fair bit of time worrying about it.

Moreover, one of the most obnoxious things about calorie counting (and body image issues in general) is that it’s such a mental time drain. You have so many creative, brilliant things to bring to the world! What a terrible drag it would be to dampen that light and energy so that it can be channeled toward grape rationing.

I can’t even.

2. Energy needs vary by day

Part of the reason calorie regimens are so dangerous is that they impose strict rules on daily eating, even though energy needs vary greatly day by day.

Energy needs vary for a whole slew of reasons: exercise, how much you’ve slept, whether you’ve worked out recently and are rebuilding muscle, how much stress you are under, how much time you spend standing or walking on any given day, if you are sick and how active your immune system is at the time, and even the time of the menstrual cycle are all important factors.

Each of these variables means that every day requires a different number of calories to be eaten.

When calorie counting, you will almost certainly, every single day, miss that mark.

This is a problem physically because it can teach you to ignore your body’s basic hunger drives. Doing so may signal to your body that you are starving yourself at times, or overeating at others. When you are out of sync with your body’s caloric needs, you open yourself up to stress hormone problems and sex hormone problems, which can lead to infertility, irregular periods, mood swings, low libido, and many other problems down the line.

This is also a problem mentally because any sort of leftover hunger or restrictive feelings can make you feel deprived, which can feed feelings of deprivation, frustration, yearning, and obsession.

Much easier than dealing with the physical and psychological problems that come from calorie counting is simply learning to interpret and eat in harmony with your body’s hunger drives. It may take time and patience to learn, but the rewards are great.

3. It’s controlling aspect is addictive

Most people who become serious calorie counters also have type A personalities. They are perfectionists. They like to have their worlds managed in particular little boxes which can be controlled and manipulated to their liking.

Sometimes, people start to get a high on this kind of control. I was definitely one of them. I loved when I could demonstrate my mastery of the world, my moral superiority, and my discipline. I felt the power in myself, and I delighted when I could demonstrate that kind of control in front of others, too. Counting calories was a great way for me to feel like I had  control over myself, my bood, and my body. I loved the feeling.

My humble advice in this regard is to be mindful about it. Do not let the obsession overtake you, and be wary of the ways in which it can. Avoiding calorie counting altogether is the best way to do this. Maybe knowing that type A perfectionism underlies your calorie counting habit can help you deconstruct it, and ultimately let go.

4. It can make you care more about weight than health

One of the major problems of calorie counting is that it prioritizes weight over health.

Calorie counting is all about weight loss (and that’s not to say it’s effective, more on which in the next point).

It gives priority to eating less. The smart, effective, and healthful way of eating would instead be to give priority to eating better. 

In fact, it can be actively detrimental to your health to make weight loss your focus over and above high quality eating. Our society thinks that skinnier people are healthier, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Thin people regularly get diagnosed with diseases and die early deaths; overweight people regularly live long, healthy lives. Sometimes, being overweight actually increases your health.

5. It will in all likelihood make you gain weight in the long run

Calorie counting is inherently contradictory. It may make you think that you are going to lose weight, but  in actuality most people who lose weight by calorie counting eventually gain it back.

Why?

When you prioritize quantity over quality, it is nearly impossible to maintain. This is for a wide variety of reasons:

For one, high quality nutrition helps you feel full. The body sometimes feels hungry specifically because it is missing out on important nutrients. Focusing on high quality foods in this way will help you feel both healthier and more satisfied by your food.

For another, rigidly controlling food intake forces the body to be in a permanent state of hunger, to some degree or another. Doing this causes the body to up-regulate it’s production of hunger-stimulating hormones. The more of these hormones you have swimming in your blood, the hungrier you will feel, and the more you will feel like you need to eat. When you eventually cave to these increasingly pressing signals, you will in all likelihood overeat, since the hunger signals that have built up are so strong.

Once you overeat, if you are a calorie counter you will in all likelihood restrict your calorie allowance for the following day even more, which can further exacerbate the hunger hormone problem, thus sending you into a spiral of restriction and overeating.

This kind of pattern, in which the body is restricted and then overeats, causes weight gain. In a state of restriction, the metabolism slows down. Then when you overeat, you store even more fat than you would have before.

Slowed metabolisms are a very real problem for being who diet or have dieted in their past. It is very hard to overcome a slow metabolism once it sets in from calorie counting. The ideal situation would be to never restrict calories in the first place. If that can’t be avoided, you can help boost your metabolism by starting to eat as intuitively as possible, and relaxing the controlling grip you have on your diet and your body.

It is totally possible to lose weight without counting calories. In fact, it  is even more effective and permanent not to.

 

Also, If you want to lose weight, but are wary of calorie counting  (and for good reason!), I provide a great way for loosely keeping track of your food intake without counting calories in my program for weight loss, Weight Loss Unlocked: The Paleo Woman’s Solution.  

 

And that’s a wrap for me! What do you think? There are plenty more reasons to never count calories again! What are yours?

 

Pin It:

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So, just as a heads up - some links above may be my affiliate links, which means I get a small commission if you click on it and make a purchase. Doing so is no additional cost to you, but helps me tremendously. Your support is SO greatly appreciated, so thank you in advance if you choose to do so. Check out my entire disclosure to know exactly how things work.

The difference between eating disorders and disordered eating, and why it matters to you

The difference between eating disorders and disordered eating, and why it matters to you

The other day I walked past a table in the dining hall and heard a girl say, “I used to purge once in a while but I was never bulimic.

One time a male friend said to me “what you feel sounds serious but at least it isn’t a real eating disorder.”

I once sat incredulously next to one of my girlfriends as she said to another “you haven’t eaten today at all, you’re like totally anorexic.”

For so many reasons, it’s important that we be very clear about  what the difference is between an eating disorder and disordered eating.

In this post today I’ll demonstrate the difference, and then talk about why it’s so important, and what we should do with it in our own lives.

What is an eating disorder?

An eating disorder is a psychological disorder officially classified in the one document regarded as the world authority on mental disorders, the DSM. The DSM is re-issued periodically. The most recent issue was number V, and it came out just last year.

There are four diagnoses of eating disorders in the DSM: anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, and eating disorder not otherwise specificed. Each of these disorders has specific criteria:

Anorexia:

  •  Restriction of energy intake relative to requirements leading to a significantly low body weight in the context of age, sex, developmental trajectory, and physical health.
  •  Intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat, even though underweight.
  • Disturbance in the way in which one’s body weight or shape is experienced, undue influence of body weight or shape on self-evaluation, or denial of the seriousness of the current low body weight.

Bulimia:

  • Recurrent episodes of binge eating characterized by BOTH of the following:
    • Eating in a discrete amount of time (within a 2 hour period)large amounts of food.
    • Sense of lack of control over eating during an episode.
  • Recurrent inappropriate compensatory behavior in order to prevent weight gain (purging).
  • The binge eating and compensatory behaviors both occur, on average, at least once a week for three months.
  • Self-evaluation is unduly influenced by body shape and weight.
  • The disturbance does not occur exclusively during episodes of anorexia nervosa.

Binge Eating Disorder:

  • Recurrent episodes of binge eating. An episode of binge eating is characterized by both of the following:
    • eating, in a discrete period of time (for example, within any 2-hour period), an amount of food that is definitely larger than most people would eat in a similar period of time under similar circumstances
    • a sense of lack of control over eating during the episode (for example, a feeling that one cannot stop eating or control what or how much one is eating)
  • The binge-eating episodes are associated with three (or more) of the following:
    • eating much more rapidly than normal
    • eating until feeling uncomfortably full
    • eating large amounts of food when not feeling physically hungry
    • eating alone because of feeling embarrassed by how much one is eating
    • feeling disgusted with oneself, depressed, or very guilty afterwards
  • Marked distress regarding binge eating is present.
  • The binge eating occurs, on average, at least once a week for three months.
  • The binge eating is not associated with the recurrent use of inappropriate compensatory behavior (for example, purging) and does not occur exclusively during the course Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, or Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder.

 

All of which is to say that eating disorders are quite specific, and identifying someone’s behavior as such has important implications for the type of treatment they receive, the recommendations their doctors make, and the way in which their health insurance companies handle them.

What is disordered eating then?

Disordered eating is pretty much all neurotic or mentally unhealthy ways of interacting with food that do not fall under these set criteria.

Whereas 0.5% of American women suffer from anorexia and 2.5% of women from bulimia (and both of which having higher rates in college, statistics from here),  it is estimated that more than 50% of Americans suffer from some sort of negative or disordered behavior around food. People who have clinical eating disorders are a small subset of a very large group of people who struggle with food.

Symptoms of disordered eating may include behavior commonly associated with eating disorders, such as food restriction, binge eating, purging (via self induced vomiting or excessive exercise, and use of diet pills and/ or laxatives).  Disordered eating may also be indicated by:

  • Yo yo dieting
  • Obsession with diets
  • Self worth or self esteem based highly or even exclusively on body shape and weight
  • A disturbance in the way one experiences their body i.e. a person who falls in a healthy weight range, but continues to feel that they are overweight
  • Excessive or rigid exercise routine
  • Obsessive calorie counting
  • Orthorexic behaviors, an obsesion with ‘clean’ eating
  • Rigid adherence to a particular dietary paradigm
  • Anxiety about certain foods or food groups
  • A rigid approach to eating, such as only eating certain foods, inflexible meal times, refusal to eat in restaurants or outside of one’s own home

The difference between eating disorders and disordered eating is one of degree

The motivations that someone may have for developing an eating disorder are highly complex. We could talk about body image and food issues all day long, and that very well often plays a role in eating disorders. Yet more complex and varied psychological issues often play a role: significant trauma, childhood trauma, dysfunctional behaviors in the family, feelings of helplessness and lack of control, social anxiety, sexual and emotional abuse and many other problems often come into play. It is also often hypothesized that genetics may play a role in the development of eating disorders, making some people more susceptible to developing them than others.

These motivations result in behaviors that are demonstrably physically harmful to the person enacting them. Significant nutrient depletion and caloric deprivation are problems for anorexia, which very often lead to death in the end. For bulimia, metabolic derangement may result, and also many gastrointestinal disorders, stomach acid issues, and the decay of tooth enable. Binge eating disorder may also have significant physiological effects as bingeing cycles can also seriously harm the gut and the body’s metabolism.

In some sense, you could say that these severe psychological issues and severe physical problems are what distinguish eating disorders from disordered eating. Yet when we take a good, hard look at disordered eating we find that the same problems abound, simply with a result in less extreme eating behaviors. Whoever suffers the “most psychological damage” could never truly be evaluated.

Why this matters to all of us

Problems with eating exist on a spectrum. On one far end of the spectrum are severe eating disorders. On the other end of the spectrum is a perfectly mentally happy and peaceful person.

But pretty much all of us exist somewhere in the range in between.

Even if someone does not technically “have a disorder,” she may be quite near disorders on the spectrum. And even if in some particular regard she manages to escape the “official disorder,” say, because she doesn’t meet the criteria of bingeing often enough, she still may be under a truly significant amount of emotional distress and need real help. This help could come from friends, or it could come from a therapist.

Unfortunately, today in our culture in order for an individual to get the most powerful treatment she must qualify as having a precise disorder. This is unfortunate, and I believe the DSM and psychological and psychiatric facilities need to work together in order to be more inclusive for their treatments for people who do not meet rigid criteria.

Fortunately, most psychologists I believe are attuned to the potential severity of mental pain regardless of whether someone meets the specific criteria, and so will be able to provide high quality help to the people who need it.

I wanted to raise these points today because I believe we need to have more sympathy for everybody: more sympathy for those with official disorders, more sympathy for those who don’t qualify as having disorders, and more sympathy for ourselves. This last point is particularly important for many of us: just because our problems aren’t “official” doesn’t mean they aren’t problems. It doesn’t mean they aren’t worth addressing. They are. They truly are.

And, as with all psychological problems, with both support from our therapists, our friends, our communities, and whoever we may find ourselves amongst, and with unending forgiveness and patience for ourselves, we really can overcome the problems. The first step is acknowledging that they are real, and that we are not alone.

 

What do you think? Questions, comments, concerns, communal love? Love my ideas, hate them? I live for your thoughts!

The difference between eating disorders and disordered eating, and why it matters to you | Paleo for Women

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So, just as a heads up - some links above may be my affiliate links, which means I get a small commission if you click on it and make a purchase. Doing so is no additional cost to you, but helps me tremendously. Your support is SO greatly appreciated, so thank you in advance if you choose to do so. Check out my entire disclosure to know exactly how things work.

Appetite and your period

Appetite and your period

American culture is nothing but confused about the effect that the menstrual cycle has on women.  We have rumors about mood swings, weight gain, appetite, athelticism, acne, depression, anxiety, insomnia, inflammation, and more. But we really don’t know much about any of them at all, let alone if they are true in the first place. Does the menstrual cycle really have that great a grip on a woman’s physical and mental health?

 

There are in fact grains of truth to many of the vague beliefs we have about the menstrual cycle. Some are bigger than others. Today, I investigate one of those grains:

Does appetite fluctuate according to the time of the month?

Actually, it does.

There may actually be something to wanting to eat ALL THE THINGS during your period. I love this chocolate since it’s gluten, dairy, and soy free.  And these chips when I’m craving something salty.

If you take a look at the graph below (click to enlarge), made by Hirschberg for her 2012 article reviewing appetite in women, you’ll notice that appetite is complicated. It’s influenced by many different sources, such as gut flora, hormones secreted from the gut, insulin secreted in response to a meal, and leptin from fat cells. Yet hormones are most certainly one of them. Hormones interact with leptin, as well as feed directly into the brain to stimulate or suppress appetite.

HIrschberg 2012.

HIrschberg 2012.

 

The two primary hormonal mechanisms of action are estrogen and progesterone.

Contrary to what you might guess – and what I originally guessed – estrogen is an appetite suppressant How is not totally understood, though it is widely thought that estrogen spontaneously decreases calorie intake by increasing the potency of the satiating actions of some gut peptides, especially cholecystokinin. The more cholescytokinin produced by the gut, the more full the brain feels. Furthermore, estradiol stimulates anorexigenic (stop eating) POMC/CART activity and inhibits orexigenic (keep eating) NPY/AgRP neurons.

There is evidence that estrogen does all of of these things in both rodents and humans. Rats that have had their ovaries removed, and thereby lost their estrogen-producing capabilities, for example, spontaneously eat more and gain weight. When injected with estradiol, their normal feeding and weight behaviors are restored.

In contrast to estrogen, progesterone appears to increase appetite. When administered high doses, ovariectomized rats eat more. This happens in humans as well, and most especially when in the presence of estrogen. Unless a woman has had her ovaries removed, she will always have at least some estrogen in her bloodstream.

 

So what about the menstrual cycle?

It seems clear from studies on both rodents and humans that estrogen decreases appetite and progesterone has the power to increase it. Do estrogen and progesterone fluctuations during the menstrual cycle make this happen? Hirschberg put together a graphic to approximate the feeding effects documented in women (again, click to enlarge):

Hirschberg 2012

Hirschberg 2012

You can see from this graph how feeding decreases when estrogen spikes and increases when progesterone does. This model is supported by data from several studies, including, a meta-analysis that revealed that mean food intake is lowest during the periovulatory phase of the menstrual cycle, when estradiol levels are high (see here), and other studies that have demonstrated that there is typically a peak in food intake occurs during the premenstrual period, when progesterone levels are high (hereherehere, and here).

 

Hormones and appetite in pregnancy and lactation

It’s not the explicit topic of this post, but I thought I’d throw in some notes on pregnancy and lactation. They are fascinating periods of hormone regulation. Learning about them demonstrates a bit more about the ties between hormones and appetite.

Both animals and women eat more during pregnancy to ensure health fetus growth. Rats will eat up to 200 percent their normal intake! In humans, the increase is more moderate, at about 10–15%. This effect is greatest from about week twelve until midgestation, when physical activity and food intake both decline.

No one knows quite for sure what biological factors cause this increase in food intake. Of course the fetus causes an increased caloric need, but the body doesn’t leave anything to chance. It doesn’t wait for the fetus to demand food in order to provide it — this could result in starvation for both the woman and the fetus. Instead, it uses hormones to get the woman to start eating more at the right time. Progesterone appears to be a primary component of this. It does so via specific receptors in the brain.

During lactation, progesterone becomes less important and prolactin possibly more so (though, again, simple energy demands from the fetus are likely the greatest factor.)  At this time, energy requirements are even higher than during pregnancy, with breastfeeding demanding approximately 500 extra kcal per day. This elevated need is generally met bya number of mechanisms: 1) being less physically active, 2) by eating 20–25% more (which makes sense, since most women consume approximately 2000 calories/day), and 3) by mobilizing fat tissue, which is an excellent natural way to burn off pregnancy weight.

so.. what?

I’m not sure. For one, this biochemistry might explain a little bit why there’s that mythic “go wild for chocolate” part of the menstrual cycle.

bugdocmom.com

bugdocmom.com

Second, it is totally cool that the reproductive system is so powerful! I am a firm believer that there’s no need to try and resist any enhanced cravings that you feel throughout your cycle. Typically the body will burn through the extra calories consumed on this level, especially if it is demanding it because of energetic and hormonal demands.

In fact, listening to these appetite fluctuations is one of the best things you can do for your body. Your body wants you to feed it when it asks to be fed. There are lots of ways to feed it in a healthier way, like some of the fantastic looking things in this book.  But if not fed, the body down-regulates thyroid activity, slows metabolism, and may even decrease the potency of reproductive organs.

The lesson here isn’t to start counting calories.  It isn’t to weight and measure while you’re PMSing. It is, instead, to understand how your hormones vary throughout the month, appreciate the wonder of your reproductive body, and do your best to be its partner and provide what it needs.

And for god’s sake, just eat the chocolate!

Are you really more hungry during your period? Find out what the deal is with your appetite during your period.

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Want to learn more about hormones, food, and fat? If you haven’t heard yet (and sorry if you have like a million times) there’s a super kick ass this week only collaboration between my favorite paleo thinkers (Kresser, Wolfe, Sanfilippo, me, etc) on female fat loss. Check out everything – which, btw, is competely free – @ the site where it’s all available:

http://forwomenonly2014.com

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So, just as a heads up - some links above may be my affiliate links, which means I get a small commission if you click on it and make a purchase. Doing so is no additional cost to you, but helps me tremendously. Your support is SO greatly appreciated, so thank you in advance if you choose to do so. Check out my entire disclosure to know exactly how things work.

10 Steps to Be Loyal to a Healthy Diet

10 Steps to Be Loyal to a Healthy Diet

At AHS 2012 (holy time flying that was more than two years ago now) I had the most perfect 30 second exchange of my entire life with Mark Sisson.

We were in complete agreement: the health industry, we said, was headed toward a major shift in focus. No longer will we need to worry so much about what to eat. We know that already. What we need to do is learn how to eat those foods. America’s problem with food isn’t knowledge — it’s loyalty.

We said all of these things exchanging about twenty-two words and fifty head nods apiece. I can’t remember how we did it.

In any case, I recently gave a talk (and quite an awesome one, if I do so say myself) describing my ten favorite tips for how to be loyal to a healthy diet. For those of you who have read this blog for a while now or who have read Sexy by Naturesome of the themes will definitely be familiar to you.

I argue, for example, that “the most important tool in any dieter’s toolkit is love.” I ask that you be partners with your body. I espouse on the virtues of self-love for several minutes. But some of them are most likely not all that familiar, and I manage to fill in explicit details and observations I’ve made in my consulting practice and in my own life that end up making it fairly entertaining.

Here’s part of the list of the ten ideas I propose:

  1. Know What You’re Up Against

    (Arming yourself with knowledge about the poison being peddled to you helps you make smart choices. Perhaps even more important, it gives you the indignance you need to help you say no.)

  2. Make Cooking Easy

    (Wherein I provide approximately 600 tips for turning your culinary life into a breeze. My personal solution is to do 90% of my cooking in the microwave. I know that’s not for everybody.)

  3. Keep Healthy Food on Hand

    (Wherein I talk about snacks, travel, work, and excuses.)

  4. Make Healthy Food the Choice, Not the Rule

    (Unless you’ve got an autoimmune disease, diets are guidelines, not rules. Forbidding foods = unhappiness.)

  5. Love Your Body and Yourself

    (“Change is not always easy. Yet the more you love yourself, the less willpower it requires. Love makes you want instead of feel like you have to eat healthfully.”)

  6. Never Punish Yourself for What You’ve Eaten

    (Wherein I get real about acceptance.)

 

…and more.  (I’m simply not sharing all of them and in full because I’m pretty sure there are copyright issues involved.)

 

Read the full list of tips, watch a trailer of the video, and watch the complete 30 minute video at the Entheos Academy for Optimal Living here.

If you haven’t read any of my books, you totally should!  Sexy by Nature is, of course, my bestseller on all things women’s health and will give you a detailed view of how I feel about ALL THE THINGS.  Weight Loss Unlocked is for those of you looking for a healthy and sustainable weight loss path.  PCOS Unlocked is for my ladies with PCOS and will help you discover your unique cause and ways to treat your PCOS.  And Birth Control Unlocked will give it to you straight about the best forms of birth control!

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While we’re at it, I may as well tell you about what a stellar, life-changing business the Academy for Optimal Living is. (At least in my experience.) It’s basically like Netflix for your brain and your soul. You sign up (there’s a good-length free trial)-and receive access to hundreds of classes on topics ranging from the proper interpretation of Nietzsche to how to fuel your body as a triathlete. Their tagline is “optimize your life. change the world.” Awesome, I know, and I am so honored and grateful to be considered a “Professor” (alongside people like Abel James and JJ Virgin) and a “thought leader in the field of women’s health” by these giants of wisdom, and even happier to be able to take their classes.

 

entheos-logo

 

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So, just as a heads up - some links above may be my affiliate links, which means I get a small commission if you click on it and make a purchase. Doing so is no additional cost to you, but helps me tremendously. Your support is SO greatly appreciated, so thank you in advance if you choose to do so. Check out my entire disclosure to know exactly how things work.