Have you ever been thirsty, gone into the kitchen for a glass of water and left without your water, but instead with a salty or sweet snack? You may have fallen victim to the "see-food syndrome." Yep, when you see food, regardless of whether or not you're actually hungry, you'll likely eat it. Especially if it's a food that you love. We eat for many reasons, but unfortunately many of those reasons do not involve true physical hunger. This is a huge part of why some people find it extremely difficult to lose weight.
Brian Wansink PHD, a Psychologist in the U.S and author of the book "Mindless Eating" has devoted much of career to researching and teaching about the idea of "mindless eating"—eating without being fully aware of what, how much and why you are eating. There are many reasons why we eat. Actual physical hunger, visual cue, emotion (sad, bored, happy), social pressure, fatigue, etc. but I must say, visual cue is a biggy.
When you see, smell or even THINK about a food (especially if it's a carbohydrate-based food that you really like), your pancreas may start to secrete a hormone called insulin, in anticipation of a sugar fix. Insulin decreases your blood sugar level, which makes you feel hungry. So even if you have not even touched the food and you weren't hungry to begin with, all of a sudden you are eating. This could happen several times a day if you're not aware of it. Personally, I know that if anything delicious (and by that I mean anything involving chocolate) is within my vision when I open the pantry or freezer, I will forget about what I was going for in the first place and reach in and grab a cookie or a piece of chocolate…without even thinking about it.
Even though we can't always control which foods make their way into our vision, here are some tips on how to avoid the "see-food syndrome":
Try not to keep too many tempting treats in the house, in your car or at your office. It's a lot less likely that you'll eat junk food if you have to walk or drive all the way to the store to get it every time you have a craving. Most of the time, it just won’t be worth it.
Keep healthier treats in the house that you know you won’t overindulge on. An example is dark chocolate (70% cocoa or greater). For me, one or two squares of dark chocolate after dinner satisfies my chocolate craving, but I’m not tempted to go back for more.
If you have baked goods in the house, keep them in the deep freeze or at the back of your freezer where you can’t see them. Chances are that if you cannot see them, you will forget about them.
Keep an attractive water bottle with you at all times. This sounds funny, but really, you will drink more water. Having a nice water bottle that you can easily carry around with you (perhaps has a handle), will remind you to drink every time you look at it.
Keep healthier things out on the counter or within eyesight so that you are reminded to eat or drink more of them. Keep a colourful arrangement of fruit in a fruit basket on the counter or table. Keep an assortment of herbal teas out on the counter. Get into the habit or putting out raw veggies and low fat dip before supper so that you are tempted to munch on them.
Today I helped throw my sister-in-law a baby shower and I was in charge of bringing a fruit platter and some smoked salmon. I wanted to do something fun and unique, so I decided to make a baby-themed fruit platter—I spotted a similar fruit platter on Facebook recently and couldn't believe how cute it was. My sister-in-law thought it was awesome and I must say, I received many "wow!s" and "how did you do that?s" and "you're SO creatives." The truth is, it was super easy and fun to make.
Here's how you do it...
1. Cut a large watermelon into the shape of a baby bassinet and using a fruit baller, scoop out little balls of watermelon and transfer them into a large bowl. Drain remaining water and remove remaining watermelon until you have an empty watermelon shell. Place it on a large rectangular or oval platter
2. Cut a small cantaloupe in half (or 2/3 and 1/3). Set aside the smaller half and take the larger half and scoop out all of the seeds.
3.Using a sharp knife, carefully remove the rind so that you end up with a oval-shaped, rindless cantaloupe "head". You may have to spend some time carving it so that it is smooth and head-shaped and so that it easily fits into the watermelon shell. Use the other half of the cantaloupe to cut little ears and a little nose (carve with a paring knife—there's no right or wrong way to do this part). Use tooth picks to secure these into the head. Place the head into the watermelon.
4. Use 2 large blueberries for the eyes (secure with tooth picks).
5. Spread the watermelon balls on the platter and into the watermelon shell surrounding the cantaloupe head. Use assorted kinds of fruit to fill the rest of the watermelon shell and spread on the platter. I used blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and grapes.
6. Cut a small hole for the mouth and stick a new soother into it. Voila!
I've decided not to write about nutrition today. Food and nutrition are the last things on my mind right now actually, unless it involves ice cream or unhealthy, greasy food.
Ok, not even that.
Instead, I've decided to step WAY out of my comfort zone (I'm talking WAY) and talk about something really personal. Something that has rocked my world recently and something that is real. Something that many women unfortunately have to experience.
You may find it weird or inappropriate that I'm sharing this personal news on this platform, or it may touch you in a deep way. Either way, here's a glimpse into my world right now...
I found out, right after my birthday (a couple days ago), that the baby I was supposed to deliver in early February was no longer growing. I am going to have a miscarriage. It hasn't happened yet, but it will. And I'm dreading it. Even though miscarriages are incredibly common, and it's just mother nature's way of ending a pregnancy that wasn't viable anyway (blah, blah, blah), it still hurts in a painful way that is hard to put into words. Maybe that's why I'm writing this—in attempt to express how I'm feeling at this point in time and maybe as a way to reach out to other moms who have had a loss like mine. Who knows?
I went for my first midwife visit and was beyond excited. My plan was to have a completely different labour and delivery experience than I did with my son (side note: thank God for my son!) this time. Instead of suffering from another painful pelvic floor injury which, by the way, still hurts, and a nasty 3rd degree tear, I was going to have a much more peaceful, non-traumatic experience.
That was my plan.
But, when the midwife took her doplar and carefully nagivated around my belly, only to find my own heart beat, I knew that something was wrong. She assured me that it was probably too early to hear baby's heartbeat and that I should wait until my first ultrasound on August 1st. As much as I wanted to brush it off and wait, I couldn't. So she sent me for a dating ultrasound that same day.
So, with my bladder full and my hopes high (sort of), I went to my ultrasound. My eyes moved back and forth from the ultrasound screen (where all I could see were circles and a small black sack) to the technicians perplexed face and I asked "Is there something wrong?" and then looked at my husband with fear. I could see that he was scared too. "When was the first day of your last period again?" she asked. "May 11th" I said. Then she told me that "things are looking a little smaller than expected at this stage."
My heart dropped. I knew.
She left to consult with the Doctor and I immediately burst into tears. Thank God my husband was there—he almost didn't make it to the appointment. As soon as the Doctor walked in and gently told us that, unfortunately, our baby didn't make it past 7 weeks, I broke down. She confirmed what I never thought would happen to me. It was true. It was the worst hurt.
Even though "it wasn't a baby yet," and even though "this happens all the time" and that "I can start trying again soon!" it still hurts more than I ever would have imagined. At 9 weeks pregnant, I was getting excited that my nausea had subsided and that I was starting to develop a tiny bump. I was excited that in 3 weeks time I could finally share my news with the world. And that Ben was soon going to be an older brother (and an amazing one at that). Now I'm left with an unborn, unviable fetus, or whatever it is at this stage, inside of me, and the most empty feeling I've ever had.
I know that it will get easier. It's just a bump in my road. And I now know that I'm not immune to having a miscarriage, as perhaps I once assumed. None of us are. I'm trying not to analyze every bite of food that I took and every milligram of caffeine that I consumed during that 7th week. I'm REALLY trying hard not to do that. And I'm trying to be thankful. I'm thankful for a supportive and loving husband, for my son Ben, and for loving family and friends. I'm also very thankful for the ability to become pregnant in the first place, for the ability to deliver a healthy baby and for the chance to try again.
And here's where I give a huge virtual hug to all of the moms out there who have had to go through what I'm going through right now. xo