Happy Healthy YOU

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Kelly Spencer - Happy Healthy YOU

(A wellness column by Kelly Spencer: writer, life coach, yoga & meditation teacher, holistic healer and a mindful life enthusiast!)

Are you a carbaholic?

A carbaholic has “A compelling hunger, craving, or desire for carbohydrate-rich foods; an escalating, recurring need or drive for starches, snack foods, junk food, or sweets.” – Richard Heller

After the holidays, aren’t we all carbaholics? All the festive food, packed with gads of butter, cups of wheat and buckets of sugar, turning our bodies into carb-consuming machines! And now it’s a new year and we desire change but while our brain says “eat a plain cucumber slice,” our body will continue to crave fudge and gravy.

How can we “get off” the carb-train, in one piece?

First of all, I am not going to “sugar” coat it (pun intended), it’s not easy. Not only do we have to break habits, but the body’s reaction to cutting processed, starchy, and sugary foods out of our diet, will have a physical reaction much like a wicked hangover or a flu bug.

When you drastically reduce your sugary carbohydrates intake, you may experience headache, nausea, weakness, dehydration and tiredness. The good news, if you stick with your new healthier diet, the symptoms start to dissipate within a couple days and like any “cleanse” there is usually a hump to get over.

If you decide to restrict your daily carb and sugar intake, add a bit more natural unrefined sea salt to your diet to alleviate side effects. Also drink lots and lots of water. This will help hydrate as well as fill your belly and reduce bad hankerings.

Dr. Stephen D. Phinney, co-author of The Art and Science of Low-Carbohydrate Living advises to "consume plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits, adequate protein from eggs, fish, poultry and meat, and an appropriate amount of healthy fats from nuts, avocado and olive oil to help you adapt more quickly to your new way of eating and curb your cravings.” Choosing organic produce and protein is always the best choice so that you also reduce the amount of chemicals ingested.

"Wheat flour, cornstarch, high-fructose corn syrup, sucrose, and food coloring are now the main ingredients of products that fill the interior aisles of any modern supermarket," says the author of the bestselling book Wheat Belly. (Note: this book is a really great read if you are wondering why our population has so much mid-section body excess). When you are grocery shopping, read your ingredient labels: if the ingredients have the above mentioned ingredients or others words that you may not be able to pronounce, stay clear.

Use healthy versions of sweet if you need to. Instead of refined processed sugar in your coffee, tea or good, try Stevia, a South American herb that has zero carbs and can be picked up at your local grocery store. Or try small amounts of real maple syrup or honey: these do have higher sugar content but come from a natural source and therefore a better choice. Avoid all artificial sweeteners as they are full of chemicals and linked to many illnesses. And if you are at a dinner party and the most delicious chocolate cake is being served, have a small piece. Just remember that "party food is for parties" as David Gillespie, author of Sweet Poison, says. As long as you don't eat party food every day, it's OK.

Clean house! Rid your house of food that will be too tempting. Empty your pantry of cakes, cookies, breads, pastas and replace with healthier carbs such as oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice and sweet potatoes. Keep a food journal: notice when you crave, as well, bring awareness of what you are eating. Start looking for delicious recipes that fit your new food plan too.

And when you find yourself standing, facing the open fridge door, looking for a way to satisfy your carb craving, try responding with a better food choice or physical activity instead. Grab an apple, go for a walk or a run outside. In the winter months, roll out your mat and do some yoga. Replace the old habit with a healthier one.

Once you have tamed your inner carbaholic, you will feel more awake, boost your immune system, have more stable energy levels during the day and sleep better at night. And remember while becoming a happier and healthier you, that the side effects of sugar reduction / elimination are short term, while the lasting health benefits are long term.

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