22 March 2010

Gremlins? Want vs. Need...

I remember having a conversation a few years ago with another mother about a philosophy that her and her husband had instilled in their children whenever they had those moments when they would request something.  She said they would go through this exercise each and every time asking them, "well, have you thought this through, is this something you really need or something you just want, and why?" 

I thought about how profound such an exercise was to practice with the children especially in these times when it seems essential for them to learn this to cope now and in the future in all aspects of their lives.  Such a philosophy is highly impactful when you are making decisions on what to eat, how to spend leisure time, who to spend your time with, what to buy, where to live and more. 

I recently caught an episode of Dr. Oz where he shared information about this interesting hormone, "Ghrelin" which in simple terms, is secreted in our stomachs.  Experts say that it is the hormone that triggers your hunger, it makes you hungry, slows your metabolism and decreases your body's ability to burn fat effectively.  You may have heard about it and it is compared to that of the similar sounding, "Gremlin," because it wreaks havoc in our bodies. 

Dr. Oz went on to show a demonstration on how this little gremlin, I mean "ghrelin" may function.  Many folks get up in the morning and opt not to eat breakfast, telling themselves that they are not hungry.  Stop right here.  If you slept during the night, a few hours, or perhaps many hours, and did not eat, you should be hungry when you get up.  Opting not to eat in the morning sends the signal to the gremlin, I mean the ghrelin, to start it's menacing work! 

The demonstration continued as Dr. Oz showed, if you just gave the body some sensible food right away, perhaps some fruit and/or some lean protein, just a moderate amount, you would balance out your body's (and mind's) needs and this little gremlin, I mean ghrelin, would stay quiet and not bother you.   However, if you let those hours go by and not feed yourself, the substance is being secreted in a larger quantity. 

The longer you don't eat, more the hunger is building.  You may not even notice or feel what is happening according to Dr. Oz but what happens is, when you wait too long to eat (instead of eating small meals every so often) this ghrelin is mounting and finally you look for all the wrong foods to satisfy this hunger and more often than not, you eat way too much of it!

It actually takes a few FRESH, healthy foods to banish that ghrelin compared to the large amounts of unhealthy, fattening, processed foods.   The ghrelin does not easily respond to unhealthy foods so you just keep eating.  The little wretch enjoys feasting on bad foods! 

All of this brings me back to the philosophy of wants vs. needs.  When you rise in the morning, your body NEEDS food, and a certain type of food.  You have to try to put aside the idea of wanting or not wanting to eat, and realize you NEED to eat -- and to eat certain foods to enable your body to function properly and to keep the GREMLIN... I need Ghrelin away! 

A great exercise, besides physical exercise, is to get up every morning and have that conversation with yourself, "I need to eat.  I need to eat the right foods to address my body's needs."  During that conversation, make an effective decision on what to give your body.   As with any new habit, you will have to practice this exercise for a few weeks to get it to stick.   Eventually you will find yourself not giving into those impulsive undesirable "wants." 

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