#39: Lessons From the School of Nutrition
Friday, August 07, 2009
Welcome to the School of Nutrition. We have many lessons to learn. Here's an example of one:
Yesterday I talked with a nurse friend and told her I couldn't seem to break through the weight loss plateau that has plagued me for six weeks. I explained that in the first 15 days with SP I had lost 10 pounds and was feeling good about my progress, but since then have gained back five pounds and am hovering at a five, six, five, six pound loss.
I admitted that there has been and is tremendous stress in my life and that I was exceeding my daily calorie limit every other day or so. Still, I thought I was eating responsibly. One major problem has been insomnia which keeps me awake at all hours and that a fourth to a fifth of my calorie intake was consumed in the early morning time before breakfast -- 2:00, 3:00 or so.
Here's what I learned:
* Stress contributes to insomnia
* Stress produces cortisol in the body which drives us to eat carbohydrates
* The body does not distinguish between regular sugar-laden carbs and low- or no-sugar ones
* That eating carbs drives us to crave even more carbs
* That carbs don't produce a feeling of fullness as protein does.
I thought I was doing all things properly. I knew the lack of sleep was causing me to consume many of my calories very early in the morning, leaving me with only a handful of my allotment by dinner time, but I did not fully grasp the big picture.
What has actually been happening is this:
* Stress causes the insomnia
* Insomnia causes me to be awake more hours of the day
* More hours awake make me hungrier more often
* Cortisol causes me to crave foods high in carbohydrates
* Carbs causes a further craving for more carbs
* Carbs do not produce a feeling of fullness
* A feeling of constant hunger leads to more eating
* Even though I was smart about nutrition, I wasn't smart enough.
So, my plan from now on?
* Acknowledge the stress
* Understand that it will cause sleeplessness
* Understand that lack of sleep will cause feelings of hunger
* That, when hungry, reach for protein instead of carb heavy foods and snacks
* Continue drinking water
* Get out of the house when the hunger pangs, real or false, hit me.
This happened yesterday. I went out and mowed the yard, drank a lot of water in the hot weather and conquered the feeling of hunger. Although I didn't learn these things until we talked at noon, I ended up with an ample supply of calories by dinnertime and consequently did not exceed my daily total.
That I've kept off the initial five pounds is an achievement. Now that I know what's driving my eating, I look forward to losing the next five.
I also look forward to my next lesson in the School of Nutrition.