Thursday, July 12, 2012

How often should you Super Size It?

I am excited to announce that AlignLife will be having its first movie night tonight at 6pm in the office! Tonight's theme is a wine and cheese night of little nibbles as we watch and discuss clips from Morgan Spurlocks' shocking documentary Super Size Me. In this extreme look at a fast food diet, Morgan eats a diet of nothing but McDonald's for 30 days to see how that would impact his health. You will be shocked to see the changes his body goes through, appalled at the discoveries in your children's cafeteria food, and disgusted with the truth about sugar and what it really does to your brain and body. Call 309-689-6200 to reserve your spot tonight!

How often should you eat fast food? This is a question I hear on a regular basis from patients and one that has a number of variables. As a general guideline you should avoid eating fast food as the high fat and highly processed carbohydrates that frequently go hand in hand with fast food can not only pack on the pounds but they can also lead to poor digestive health and alter your body's hormones and metabolism. Sounds scary right? That's because it is! A record number of children are eating fast food on a regular basis and we are watching obesity rates in children rise to highs that have never been imagined or predicted from health officials. In fact, according to the Palo Alto Medical Foundation approximately 25% of Americans are eating fast food on a daily basis.

When you ingest a high carbohydrate meal your body is signaled to dump out insulin to combat the excess sugar you will have in your blood before long. Since insulin's job is to usher the blood sugar into cells and send the excess to the liver for fat conversion, it will tend to leave little sugar in your blood which was the whole purpose of you eating in the first place. This low blood sugar can cause you to become light headed or get a headache and also signal your brain that you are hungry again. This vicious cycle is in process for many Americans today and has lead to an obesity epidemic with headaches and hormone balance teetering on clinical diagnoses of chronic pain and a concoction of prescribed medications to try to "right" hormone balance.

If you're attending tonight's Wine and Cheese Movie Night you'll see the effects a McDonald's diet has on your liver, your fat stores, your hormones, and even your brain. The lab tests performed in the movie will shed real light on the serious transformation the United States needs for their children's cafeteria and also for the mentality of it's citizens in regards to their food choices.

So what can you take away for some Healthy Habits for yourself and your family?

1)  Plan ahead so you can avoid eating at fast food restaurants on a regular basis. This means getting the menu figured out for the whole family ahead of time, grocery shopping with a list, and may include cutting and preparing ingredients ahead of time so little effort has to be put forth if you've had a long day.

2)   Eat smart portion sizes. A single serving of protein is about the size of a deck of cards while vegetables should take up about 2/3 of your plate. Eat fruits sparingly between meals or to enrich and add flavor to spice up a bland meal. Bread products even those with whole grain tend to spike insulin and alter hormones in the body, so try to avoid those as frequent use can lead to insulin resistance and weight gain.
3)   Indulge yourself. This doesn't mean splurge on a Super Size Meal with enough calories and sodium intake for the next week. But don't underestimate the power of a small dessert. A square of dark chocolate is a great choice for those that need a sweet tooth snack after dinner.
4)   Drink plenty of water. Ever notice that children always seem to be thirsty rather than hungry? (Until they hit puberty right moms?) This is due to the fact that as our brains grow and synapses connect we lose our ability to distinguish thirst from hunger. As a result many people tend to reach for food every time the feel an urge to fill up rather than the water your body is screaming for. Incidentally, about 75% of Americans are dehydrated and don't get the recommended daily water intake. The 8 glasses of 8 oz rule is severely outdated and variable between people with different heights and builds. I recommend drinking half of your body weight in ounces daily as a better guideline and reaching for a glass of water first next time you think you're hungry. As an example, if Jane Doe is 100 lbs then she should aim for 50 oz of water daily.