You can always recognize people who are on a diet – they eat plane, tasteless salads and as a whole they avoid adding fat and salt to their meals. Even if they do not admit it, people who eat like that, often go through the so called emotional eating or a moment when they eat, they feel full, yet something is still missing and they crave different foods – usually, not much time goes by, before they are tempted by sweet foods or something else, that combines fat and carbs. A week ago I organized an IFS Bootcamp, where I had a seminar on the topic of training and nutrition. There, I shared some key points, that I’d like to share with you as well.
There is something really important about nutrition, craving foods and as a whole about the balance we achieve with our nutrition plan. For me, this realization changed my life – literally. The least, it helped me understand my body better and set myself free from emotional eating.
Because, as I’ve written so many times – emotional eating, hasn’t to do that much with the emotions themselves, as it has to do with what is going on a biological level. Because every emotion, has first appeared on a biochemical level, before we experience it and act upon it. And what happens on a biochemical level is directly connected with what we choose to eat or not.
How could you understand what your body craves – what are the symptoms you should look for?
First, some scientific part – we can’t go without it, if we want to understand what happens in the body. The body has the so called external cellular fluid (ECF) or a fluid, that is found outside of the cells. It also includes the blood. The food we eat and the liquids we take, have an impact on the concentration of that ECF and its content.
You know, how in the fitness industry, the most common advice is to drink a lot of water and avoid eating salt. And while these recommendations might be good, when you follow them with the extreme most people do, they actually harm us.
What happens in the body when we decrease the salt intake too much and increase the water intake?
The amount of water that we take, doesn’t have to do just with the liquids we drink, but also with the food we consume – for example fruits, veggies, low fat yogurt – all of them have a low salt and fat concentration and a higher water concentration.
The concentration of fluids in the body has to do not just with how much salt and carbs we eat, but also it depends on the total sum of the foods and drinks that we consume and if their equivalent leads to a hypotonic, isotonic or hypertonic result.
Isotonic means that the liquid contains 9 grams of salt per liter. This is close to the amount that the ECF contains. Probably, you can think of the isotonic drinks, that most athletes take during a period of high intensity training. Hypertonic means more than 9 grams per liter, i.e. a more concentrated liquid. Now, you could probably think of people with hypertonia or higher blood pressure, as well as the advices why they need to avoid eating too much salt. Hypotonic means with less than 9 grams of salt per liter, i.e. a less concentrated fluid.
Most people who follow diets, usually take their body to a hypotonic condition – i.e. to a low concentration of ECT. You know that in the body everything comes down to homeostasis – balance. When this balance is disturbed, then the body is trying to recover it. In this case, the body wants to take the ECT to the required isotonic state – i.e. to regulate the salt content. That is why the more desperately we try to follow diets, that require to avoid salt and fat intake and to eat a lot of law fat products, a lot of fruits, veggies, salads and drink too much water, without adding salt or fat, the stronger are the carb and fat cravings.
The idea is to learn how to manipulate the ratio between the food we eat and the liquids we take. If you have a low fat yogurt for breakfast with some fruit, a cup of tea and water, then you are probably gonna be freezing all morning – the water content in your food will be way too high in combination with law salt intake.
Besides that, the content of potassium is still higher, compared to the sodium, which is abundant in most fruits. Keep in mind, that neither one of the foods we eat acts isolated. For example, it doesn’t matter how much salt we eat, because it needs carbs in order to be absorbed, which is one of the reasons why hydrating drinks contain salt/ electrolytes and glucose (for example Isostar). Here, it is important to note that probably it is no coincidence that in traditions, most meals contain a combination of fat, sugar and salt. They carry a lot of encoded wisdom, that we often neglect and the we suffer from tis. Another example is how in most traditions, salads usually contain condiments with some fat and salt – thus, the hypotonic effect of the veggies, is being balancsd with the fat and salt that sustain balance in the body.
Cooling and warming foods and their effect on our appetite
In this post, I wrote about cooling and warming foods, which have a direct link to today’s post. If you haven’t read it, go back and you will understand better what I am talking about. For me, this is a really important realization – to understand, that you burn fat, not when you go to an extreme –eating only low fat foods, a lot of protein, veggies, fruits and no fat or salt. Actually, the more we sustain this extreme, the more we need to fight with our body’s needs and cravings. A lot of people define their state exactly like a fight with the body – because it is desperately trying to return the balance, and we are desperately trying to disturb it.
You need to realize that there is nothing scary in adding some salt and olive oil to your salad and that you won’t gain fat or sustain water – the most that can happen is to enjoy a delicious meal, get satiety with the first helping and free yourself from thinking about food throughout the whole day.
For me, a successful diet is the one that combines foods in such a way, that with a moderate amount and enough nutritious food, you can receive satisfaction – without needing to eat cucumbers every hour, because you are hungry, yet you wonder how to fool your hunger; without needing to drink coffee with low fat milk, so you can search for the energy, that you lack.
I work with a lot of women and when they approach me through e-mail, most of them complain that they eat huge amounts of veggies, because they need to eat something. This need is an indication for a disturbed balance of ECF and the more we eat “diet foods”, the more our body needs the periods of binging, when it gets the salt, fat and carbs that it needs. You do not believe me yet?
Forget everything I wrote above. Just remember the last time, when you “were really strict with your diet” throughout the week. How did it end? Probably with a weekend full of binging with all the higher fat and carb foods, that you were trying to avoid. I went through that. Trust me. Do not swing between extremes,. And achieve a balance in your nutrition and learn to read the signs of your body – when and what it needs. Read about the cooling and warming foods again and give your body time so you can finally understand its needs.