It is rare these days for adult Americans to have a profound nutrient deficiency, as most people have too much nutrition in the form of unused energy versus the energy they are expending. Our body had to store the extra energy somewhere and it went to our abdomen, hips, and other lovely places as fat stores. We don’t usually get disease because of vitamin and mineral deficiencies, we get them because of excess energy in the form of triglycerides on our overweight bodies.
Before the 1900’s, people died from deficiencies because they weren’t knowledgeable about nutrition, and didn’t realize the importance of certain foods in their diet to provide essential nutrients. For instance, many sailors died on long voyages as late as the 18th century from scurvy, because it wasn’t known how important vitamin C is to one’s health and survival. If only they had some citrus aboard those vessels in the early days, they could have avoided those deaths, and the term British ‘limeys’ never would have come into vogue.
Even if one doesn’t eat fresh fruit and vegetables these days, they can still survive, as many of our staple foods are fortified to give us the basic nutrients necessary for our body’s basic functioning. Cereals that have been stripped of most of their vitamins and minerals through processing have been fortified with some essential nutrients, our salt is supplemented with iodine so we don’t get hyperthyroidism, and calcium is added to some orange juice in hopes of avoiding bone problems in our population.
It is through constant exposure to drink and food products today, and the sheer volume of our intake of them, that we get the necessary minimum vitamins and minerals that our bodies need. When foreigners come to the U.S. they are stunned at how cheap our food is here, and how big the portions are. Since 1960, our dinner plates have increased in size 36%. Today, those who are deficient in a vitamin or mineral are usually at a life stage that requires more, i.e. pregnant women need more iron and older people need more vitamin D, or they have caused it through their chosen behavior, i.e. vegetarian women and women smokers can get iron deficiencies, and vegans can become calcium deficient as they don’t eat dairy.
It is our over-consumption of empty calories however, seen in processed, packaged, and fast food with little nutrition other than lots of the macronutrients of fat, protein, and carbohydrates, that leaves us overweight and unhealthy. It can be argued that some become obese because their bodies are looking for more of what they need, left unfulfilled from eating these empty calories. They get hungry quicker and aren’t satisfied for long as their bodies are looking for more micronutrients, as well as mistaking their unquenched thirst for hunger. They eat twice what they need to get the proper nutrition, becoming overweight in the process.
We need to eat more nutritionally dense, whole, fresh foods, in order to quiet the cravings. You can quiet your cravings by eating 3,000 calories of crap, or you can eat 1800 calories of nutritionally dense food that will satisfy you even better.
Here are some tips to quiet the never ending caloric wanting within:
1) Drink a glass of water before you eat.
2) Rest between bites and put your fork down, this way you will realize you are full sooner than you think.
3) Stop eating when you are 75% full (Most of us have overeaten to 120% for so long, that we have a skewed version of full, and what seems to be 75% is actually 100%).
4) If you are still hungry an hour after eating dinner, have a little dessert.
5) Make 80% of your beverage consumption regular water (by greatly reducing your sugar and aspartame intake through drink, you will curb your cravings). If you are going to drink bottled teas, sodas, or juice drinks more often than 20% of the time, add water to them so they are 1 part water, 1 part packaged drink. To spice up your regular water, add lime or lemon on occasion.
6) Eat more of these nutritionally dense foods: almonds, eggs, yams or sweet potatoes, fish, basmati or brown rice, avocadoes, whole grain bread, carrots, meat, beans, walnuts, raw green and red peppers, chicken, broccoli, apples, seeds, peanut butter, whole grain al dente pasta (lower glycemic index), cabbage, blueberries, green beans, and hummus.
7) Avoid fried and battered food, white and wheat bread and buns, white and wheat pasta, white sticky rice, over-cooked pasta and packaged items that say low-fat on them.
We all want to feel satisfied, but seek it in the wrong way. We feel groggy and reach for a soda or coffee, but they actually play with our metabolism and moods, making us crave more and deal with restlessness and fatigue. Yet because of never-ending brainwashing media campaigns, we now think we need certain products in our refrigerator. We think that Coke or diet Coke are staples, as well as tea drinks like Snapple, and so-called naturally sweetened, zero calorie water drinks such as Vitaminwater. The FDA isn’t very strict on labeling and a company can put naturally sweetened on their label while those natural items, such as corn, have been highly corrupted and processed. Also, other man-tampered ingredients are added to make the water richer and fuller tasting. Look at the back of the label, and if it has things that sound like scientific concoctions or chemicals, i.e. erythritol, crystalline fructose, xanthan gum, then they probably were created in the lab to make your taste buds yearn for their concocted formula. Zero calorie, all natural, yummy flavored water that is full- bodied – come on now, a little common sense please. Water is meant to satisfy our thirst, not to give us the sensation of the clouds parting for us so that a rainbow can alight onto our front porch to take us to the magic world.
There will be a little learning curve in all of this as we have to re-train our taste buds, and thirst mechanisms (which are virtually non-existent now). We drink so little water and think we are satiating our thirst when we drink soda, alcohol, and coffee – but we are not, and we need to treat those beverages like the treats that they are. Make treats a treat again, by having them only occasionally; don’t let them rule your actions and behavior for then other parts of your life may get out of your control as well. To reclaim power over your life starts with carefully monitoring and choosing what you will put in your body, rather than being an unwitting pawn in a rich CEO’s scheme, who uses your eroding health to line his pockets. It may take a while to retrain your taste buds, but you will through changed behavior and choices, and then you won’t be beholden to the same physical and emotional cravings.