Mindful Eating

Many of us eat for comfort when we are stressed or tired, and can lose track of how physical hunger and fullness feels. We are simply not aware of when our body is telling us to start eating and when we should stop. This is not surprising as we are constantly surrounded by easily available food, at the gas station, from vending machines, or from fast food drive-throughs.

How and when we eat is as important as what we eat.

We no longer ask ourselves ‘am I hungry?’ or ‘am I full? Instead, we reach for easily available food whenever we have the urge. So firstly, we must recognise, when we are physically hungry, not just when we have the urge to eat.

We can relearn to listen to our bodies and their natural cues. I say ‘relearn’ as we are born with an awareness of these cues. You can’t force a baby or toddler to eat when they are not hungry. To break the habit of eating mindlessly, we need to pay attention whenever we have the urge to eat.

We can use the Hunger Scale to measure our true hunger and judge when it is time to eat. For most people, a good time to eat is when they are at 3 or below, and a good time to stop is when they reach a 6.

The scale can be used to see when we eat when we are not hungry. It’s important that we try not to judge ourselves. Eating is an emotional as well as a physcial thing. Instead, we can reflect and ask ourselves ‘why did I eat that whole bar of chocolate when I wasn’t hungry?’. It may be because I feel I’m stressed after a hard day at work. We can then reflect on what we can do instead of eating at that time…

Mindful Eating Scale

 

Oven Fried Salmon Cake Recipe

Oven fried salmon cakes

These are a delicious way to get your omega-3s. We use tinned wild-caught salmon, which contains fewer toxins than farmed salmon.

Course Gluten-free, Main Course, Paleo
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 2
Author Stephen Ward

Ingredients

  • 1 415g can Wild caught pink or red salmon
  • 1 cup Cooked sweet potato (mashed)
  • 2 Eggs (beaten)
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 cup parsley (minced)
  • 2 spring onions (very thinly sliced)
  • 1 tbsp old bay / all spice seasoning
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp hot sauce (not for the kids!)
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tspn black pepper
  • 1 zest of one lemon
  • 2 tbsp butter or ghee (melted)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 220 degrees

  2. Drain the liquid from the salmon, remove the bones, and crumble into a large mixing bowl

  3. Add the sweet potato, eggs, almond flour, spices, hot sauce and lemon zest. Mix well and refrigerate for 10 minutes

  4. Brush some baking paper with the ghee and use a 1/3 measuring cup to scoop the cakes and drop them on to the paper

  5. Patties should be 2.5 inches across and 1 inch think

  6. Brush the tops with ghee and cook for 20 minutes. Flip and bake for another 10 mins until golden brown and crispy. Serve with lemon.

  7. Serve with lemon.

Quit sugar: The effect of sugar on our guts

Do you find that when you are stressed or tired, you automatically seek out something sweet?  And then many of us find it difficult to stop eating sweet foods once we have started.

It is as if, we are biologically hard-wired to crave sugar.

In fact we are.

In Paleolithic times, that sweetness was probably hard to find and the calories were valuable, and so our bodies today do not know how plentiful sugar is in today’s society and we still have that craving.

It’s not your fault that you crave sugar, and it’s perfectly normal.

Sugar in Australia

Australia’s sugar intake has been described by experts as ‘alarming’ with the worst habits among children and adolescents. The 2011 Australian Health Survey of more than 8000 participants found 55% of people consumed more added sugars than recommended. The average American is eating somewhere between 130 and 152 pounds, or 58 to 69kg of sugar a year! 152 pounds of sugar equates to 52 teaspoons a day.

If we could see this amount of sugar laid out, I’m convinced we would immediately do something about it. But as it is hidden away in many foods, we simply do not realise how much we are eating.

Sugar and gut health

But is sugar particularly bad when it comes to the gut?

It sure is!

The microorganisms that live in our gut, that is yeasts, bacteria, protozoa, act in a similar way to a metabolic ‘organ’. Sugar changes the gut microbiota in a way that increases intestinal permeability, or ‘leaky gut‘.

It can particularly feed Candida (a type of yeast), and ‘bad’ bacteria that cause inflammation, and again, causing leaky gut. This allows larger molecules to come into contact with immune cells, which react with further inflammation. These molecules then pass into the blood, and are transported to the liver via the portal vein.

And so the microbiome and leaky gut have been reported to be involved in the development of chronic liver disease and portal hypertension (high blood pressure).

Leaky gut has also been associated with visceral fat (fat around the tummy), presumably as the body uses the fat cells to store the toxic macro-molecules that have entered into the bloodstream. So it seems, leaky gut can make you fat, and that’s not just from all the calories in all that sugar!

Because there is so much sugar in the typical diet, our blood sugar levels are soaring, and high blood sugar has also been shown to increase intestinal permeability directly, at least in mice. These sugar spikes trigger the centers in our brain associated with reward, pleasure, and seeking out the source of that feeling. Amazingly, these are the same areas of the brain that light up in people that are addicted to cocaine, heroin, and nicotine.

It’s not your fault that you crave sugar!

It’s clear that sugar has addictive properties and we need to put in the effort to de-normalize sugar, so it loses its group on us. We can then choose to eat it in small amounts, as a treat, and under our control 🙂. We may find that our energy is more even, our gut is healing, and we have lowered our type 2 diabetes risk.

Retrain your taste buds

You can retrain your taste buds, by eliminating all added sugar from your diet for four weeks

At the end of four weeks without added sugar, your taste buds will have adjusted, and you may find sweetened foods just too sweet for your new tastes. The tea you drank with two teaspoons of sugar, may now taste weird and kind of disgusting. Congratulations!You have now successfully de-normalized sugar!

Added sugar is any form of sugar or sugar alternative added to, or contained in, your food. This includes the raw sugar in your tea, coconut sugar, rice bran syrup, maple syrup, molasses, or agave syrup on your fruit. While there are some metabolic differences between the forms of sugar, your gut and its microbiome don’t discriminate between the type or source of the sugar, or whether it is refined or unrefined. It is all the same:

Sugar = Sugar = Sugar

At the end of four weeks without added sugar, you can introduce a little maple syrup or raw local honey if you want to…

Artificial sweeteners aren’t recommended either as they wreak havoc on the gut by altering the gut microbiota. Small amounts of stevia are probably the best option, although even that may cause gut irritation in some sensitive people.