FIGHT FOOD CRAVINGS WITH SUPPLEMENTS

Nothing is worse for your intentions of eating healthier than an unrestrained food craving. Food cravings can control you instead of the other way around if the images of those cookies, crackers, chips, soda or ice cream keep popping into your mind.

But what do food cravings actually mean, scientists puzzle over? Can they determine, for example, if a craving is your body's way of telling you that you are needing more of some nutrient in your diet, or if that is just a sign of something else, like an addiction?

Health specialists and scientists have long thought that cravings such as those for chocolate that occur in women in the premenstrual stage have a lot to do with the high mineral content of chocolate, and not with the addictive qualities of chocolate itself. The truth may be that both, addiction and the needs of your body are in play when you have a food craving.

The idea that certain kind of foods (especially sugar and carbohydrates in general) can be addictive are beginning to gather support in the medical milieu. It turns out that sugar addiction has a lot in common with other sorts of addictions, like cigarettes, alcohol and even hard drugs.

This food addiction cause cravings, and is nothing to joke about: it often lead us to eat foods that are not good for us, eat more than we want, and maybe contribute to serious diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity and even Alzheimer's.

Then it is your addiction calling you if food cravings are the result of some addictive behavior and not of your body needing a substance. Most studies on food cravings focus on trying to change your mental approach to eating, as if food cravings were only a psychological problem. So science is behind the ball. There is something called emotional eating, I will not deny, but it misses the point to only consider food cravings in your head. Food cravings are also physical (as cravings for drugs), and need to be approached from both a physiological and a physical point of view.

Supplements for food cravings

Below are some supplements to help overcome food cravings, among which some are scientifically backed while others are not.

++ The amino acids: alpha-lipoic acid, phenylalanine, gamma-aminobutyric acid, tyrosine, glutamine, tryptophan, all seem to help. These amino acids do two things: they provide the body with needed nutrients, and also provide building blocks of brain chemicals that help you to modulate both cravings and mood. For example, serotonin. Throug the Internet, today it is very easy to get healthy supplements containing various vitamins, minerals and these amino acids.

++ B-complex vitamins: they are generally lacking in our diets, yet they are also important co-factors in building brain chemicals├▒

++ Minerals:
Magnesium, calcium and chiefly chromium, have all been shown to help fight food cravings.

++ Herbs:
many herbs, as gymnema, bitter melon, korean ginseng, cynnamon, etc. have been shown to help stabilize glycemia, which is also thought to play an important role in food cravings. You may want to check up one of those herbal supplements, which is completely natural, without side effects and very affordable.

++ Multivitamins
too can help quell cravings. Many of these include the B-vitamins and minerals, as mentioned before.

++ Exercising:
it reduces chocolate urges, for example, and there was a trend towards attenuated urges in response to the chocolate cue.

Listening to what your body needs is the first and most important step to becoming healthy. However, this feedback system can go awry when your food cravings are addictive. On the other hand, supplements can help you control your food cravings and thus be a part of a whole program to attain and maintain a healthy full lifestyle.

LOW CARB DIETS vs LOW GI DIET

I have been hearing of low carb diets for a while, as almost everyone. Examples: the Atkins and the South Beach diets. But in the diabetic diet scene the low GI diet (GI stands for glycemic index) is a fairly new name. The former restrict the quantity of carbohydrates, while the low GI diet focuses on the quality of the carbohydrates that one consumes. It promotes the consumption of foods that are "low" in the glycemic index, the ones that keep you full longer and have a gently effect on your blood sugar.

In the beginning, a typical low carb diet has a restrictive phase, where your carbohydrate intake is severely limited. On the other hand, you can eat all the meat you want, including unlimited fats. Later on, you can gradually add in more carbohydrates.

Although the low GI diet sounds like another fad diet, it has actually been around for almost 40 years! It is being used in European countries to help manage diabetes. Moreover, this diet has gotten a lot of attention as a great healthy way to lose weight. The low GI diet focuses on the "good carbs", foods that have a low glycemic index, and prompts you to eat plenty of them. By the way, these foods are also the ones that we know to be good for us, like vegetables, whole grains and fruits. On the other hand, "bad carbs", which have a high glycemic index, should be eaten in moderation and, if possible, mixed with the low GI carbs, to lower the overall glycemic index of the meal. By the way, it is very easy for vegetarians of any type to adopt the low GI diet since this diet focuses only on carbs.

Other low carb diets can be limiting in fruits and vegetables, which are high in vitamins, enzymes and minerals, as well as fiber. They are commnonly associated with a license to eat as much saturated fat as you want. This is a misconception. Nevertheless, the low GI diet is full of vegetables, fiber, fruits and low in fat, though it emphasis the "good fats" found in nuts. It encourages eating moderate quantities of lean meats.

We all know that fats and meats are no carbohydrates, and leafy vegetables are low carb. That is why some may not be aware of what foods have a low GI. Most vegetables have a very low GI, except beets, pumpkin and potatoes. Most fruits have a medium GI value, except citrus, apples, peaches and plums, which have a very low glycemic index.

The question now is which diet is best ...

A low-GI diet is useful for people with diabetes, as either their bodies' insulin production is deficient or their bodies are insulin resistant, restricting their ability to metabolise glucose. Thus a low GI diet causes less variation in blood glucose levels which makes the condition easier to manage.

Many people in the health profession in general, and in the nutrition field in particular, consider a low carb diet to be unhealthy. Studies have shown saturated fats to be sometimes worse than carbs for the diabetic. On the other hand, almost everyone would consider a low GI diet to be very healthy. It is widely accepted that eating lots of vegetables and the adequate fruits and fiber can help to bolster your immune system, thus allowing you to fight disease. That is a side effect, besides the main effect of helping you control your blood sugar level and thus avoiding the complications of diabetes. On the other hand, following a simple low carb diet and eating high fat meats, for example, may adversely affect your health and help contribute to heart disease in the long run.

Low-GI diets have benefits for non-diabetics also. A high-GI diet results in peaks and troughs of energy throughout the day, whereas a low-GI diet results in a good level of sustained energy. Low-GI foods also tend to have a longer satisfaction period per calorie given the slow energy release, which is useful in maintaining a healthy weight loss/control diet.

Remember also that being overweight is a major health risk for many diseases, including especially diabetes. Anyway, the best diet is probably one that works for you ...! Some prefer a low carb diet, some respond better to the low GI diet. Either way, it makes sense to make healthy food choices, and living a healthy lifestyle, including excercise.

You may want to read a review on the low GI diet at the web site below:
http://low-gi-diet-breakthrough-review.blogspot.com/

or just go to the "Low GI diet breakthrough" ebook web site.

SWITCHING TO A VEGETARIAN DIET

There are several reasons why people choose vegetarian diets: an indisposition to eat meat, an aversion to killing animals, or a simple choice of a different lifestyle and a special diabetes diet.

There are a number of dissimilar vegetarian diets. None of them need to be a really strict diet. The point here is the avoidance of all red meat (lamb, beef, pork, etc.)

The most common types of vegetarian diets allow vegetables and:
+ Vegan - Eats no food sourced from animals
+ Lacto-ovo - Same as the above but includes milk and eggs.
+ Lacto - Allows milk but will not eat eggs.
+ Ovo - Eats eggs only - but no other animal foods.
+ Pesco - Eats fish but no other animal foods (pescetarian)
+ Pollo - Allows chicken
+ Fruitarian (sub-set of vegan - includes only fruiting portion of plant).

These diets, being based on consumption of vegetables, fruits, nuts and whole grains, are high in fiber. Other advantages are that they are low in calories, refined sugars and saturated fat. With careful planning and the right knowledge, any type of the common vegetarian diets can provide adequate nutrition for the diabetic. Remember that some nutrients must be emphasized: protein, calcium, zinc, iron, and the B complex vitamin.

+ Lacto/ovo diets provide protein by means of egg white and milk.
+ On the other hand, on a vegan diet protein needs are met by legumes (peas, nuts, beans, lentils, etc). By combining legumes with various dishes, the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of protein can be attained.

To keep in mind: because of its high estrogen levels, a factor in the physical maturing process, soy milk could be undesirable for the vegan child, even though it is an excellent source of protein.

Could switching to a vegetarian diet cure diabetes?

Switching to a vegetarian diet will not probably cure your diabetes. But it will surely offer several benefits over a non-vegetarian diet. Among them: making your body more responsive to insulin (probably the most important advantage), reducing your risk of some diabetes-associated complications (quite important as well) and helping you better control your weight.

All this, of course, depends on the particular food choices you make when following the type of vegetarian diet you selected. There is not a unique vegetarian eating plan.

The vegan diet is the strictest of all vegetarian diets. Vegans eat neither animal meats nor foods that come from animals, such as eggs and dairy products. Other types of vegetarian diets may allow dairy products and eggs. A strict vegan diet is generally low in saturated fat and cholesterol-free.

Vegetarian diets that include fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes in generous amounts are high in fiber and phytochemicals. Generally speaking, vegetarian diets are lower in calories than are non-vegetarian diets.

Bottom line: good vegetarian diets benefit people with diabetes.

Vegetarian diets generally lead to significant weight loss, which in turn can improve type 2 diabetes in people who are obese. This is true of similar weight loss from non-vegetarian diabetes diets as well.

A vegetarian diet makes your body more responsive to insulin, some studies say, and that is very important if you have diabetes. According to a 2006 study published in a scientific journal, 43 percent of people who ate a low-fat vegan diet reported a reduction on their need for diabetes medications.

The risk of diabetes-associated complications, such as kidney disease and cardiovascular disease, is also reduced with vegetarian diets. But again, all this depends on the specific kind of foods you choose.

Notwithstanding, before you switch to a vegetarian diet, it is always best to talk to a dietitian or doctor, if you have diabetes. They can help you create an eating plan that provides all the nutrients for your body and the right amount of calories to maintain the healthy weight.

INTERESING ALTERNATIVES TO CONSIDER:

1. A balanced and more enjoyable diet might be one including other foods. You might want to read a review on the eBook "How to play the diabetes diet game and win" or directly go to the author's web site.

2. Another kind of diet, based on the kind of carbohydrates you eat, is the low GI diet. Before taking a decision, you might want to read a review on the eBook "The low GI diet breakthrough"

DIABETES DIET: Your Healthy-Eating Plan

diabetes dietYour diabetes diet should be no more than a healthy-eating plan to help you control your blood sugar and your weight in a safe and comfortable fashion. You do not need to start eating special foods or follow complicated diet plans just because you are a diabetic.

A diabetes diet, for most people, simply translates into eating moderate amounts of a variety of foods, and sticking to regular mealtimes. A diabetes diet must emphasize vegetables, whole grains and fruits. Coherence is key as well. Your body responds to excess calories and fat by raising your glycemia levels. Rather than a strict standardized diet, a good diabetes diet is a healthy-eating plan, low in calories and fat and naturally rich in nutrients. It should be the best eating plan for everyone, in fact.

diabetes dietHOW TO PLAN YOUR MEALS

Your meal plan is your eating guide to help you:
+ Choose the right amounts of the healthiest foods at each meal
+ Set up a routine for eating meals

Watching your serving sizes and sticking to your meal plan will lead you to eat about the same amount of calories and nutrients every day. Which in turn will help you better control your weight and your blood sugar.

Beware of this: the more you vary the amount of carbohydrates and fat you eat, the harder it is to control your blood sugar.

If at the present you are already eating a variety of adequate healthy foods, you will need to just adapt the portion sizes, to keep your glycemia (blood sugar) checked. You may need to go in for a more specific plan, eating only a recommended number of portions from each food group every day.

diabetets dietWHAT ARE EXCHANGE LISTS AND HOW TO USE THEM

Dietitians recommend using the exchange system, which groups foods into categories, such as fruits, meats and meat substitutes, fats and starches, for example. A helping in a group is what they call an "exchange". Any exchange has about the same amount of protein, fat, carbs and calories as a helping of every other food in the same group, and the same effect on your blood sugar. For example, you could trade either of the following for one carbohydrate serving: 1 small apple or 1/3 cup of cooked pasta.

CARBOHYDRATE COUNT diabetic diet

Counting carbohydrates can be a helpful tool, especially if you take insulin or diabetes medications in general. This method makes sure your timing and amount of carbs are the same each day. Eating more or less carbs than usual at a given meal or from day to day may lead your blood sugar to undesirably fluctuate more. This method is not so hard to implement, but you better work with a dietitian to learn how to do it properly. They will teach you how to calculate the carbohydrate content in each meal and snack, so you will be able to adjust your insulin dose accordingly.

THE GLYCEMIC INDEX (GI) diabetic diet

Some diabetic people use this index to select foods, in particular carbohydrates. High glycemic index of a food is associated with greater increase in blood sugar. But foods with low index are not necessarily healthier. For example, foods high in fat tend to have lower glycemic index values than some healthier options do. Nevertheless, the low GI diets are, experts say, one of the best choices for diabetics. It is just a matter of making adjustments to your particular needs to get your personalized and balanced healthy GI diet.

diabetic dietADDING VARIETY AND BEING CONSISTENT

Coherent eating habits help you control the level of your blood sugar. That is why you should try to eat every day at about the same time and the same amount of food. Aim to meet your nutritional needs by including a variety of healthy foods. With the help of a dietitian, plan a program to meet these guidelines:

+ Carbohydrates must provide 45 to 65% of daily calories diabetic diet
+ Fats, 20 to 35% of daily calories+ Protein, 15 to 20% of daily calories.
+ Eat adequate carbohydrates. Focus on the healthiest ones, the complex carbohydrates (starches), such as vegetables, whole grains, fruits, low-fat dairy products and legumes.
+ Select fiber-rich foods. Dietary fiber consists of all parts of plant foods that your body cannot absorb or digest. Fiber helps control blood sugar levels and decreases the risk of heart disease.
+ Every day consume about 25 to 30 grams of fiber. High-fiber foods include fruits, vegetables, legumes (lentils, beans, etc), wheat bran, nuts and whole-wheat flour. At the same time, limit saturated and trans fats. Heart-healthy eating becomes a vital part of your diabetes diet because your risk of stroke and heart disease is increased by your diabetes, which accelerates the development of hardened and clogged arteries.
+ Try to avoid trans fat completely, and get only up to 7% of your daily calories from saturated fat.

The best way to achieve this is to
+ Reduce the amount of shortening, butter and margarine you eat. In short, limit solid fats.
+ Use low-fat substitutes. For example, instead of butter, top your baked potato with low-fat yogurt or salsa.
+ Instead of margarine, use sugar-free fruit spread on toast.
+ Opt for unsaturated fats. Aim for monounsaturated fats such as canola oil or olive oil. Polyunsaturated fats are a healthier choice as well. You can find them in seeds and nuts, for instance. Nevertheless, remember that all fat is high in calories. Here moderation is essential.
You may develop fatty deposits in your blood vessels if there is too much cholesterol in your blood. And these deposits make it difficult for your blood to flow freely through your arteries. So curb dietary cholesterol. Consume only up to 200 milligrams of cholesterol a day, to keep it under control in your blood.

HINTS TO LOWER YOUR CHOLESTEROL INTAKE diabetes diet game

+ Instead of organ meats use lean cuts of meat
+ Choose egg replacements over egg yolks
+ Instead of whole milk products opt for skim milk
+ Consume heart-healthy fish twice a week at least. Tuna, halibut and cod, for instance, have less fat and cholesterol than do meat and poultry. So fish can be a good substitute for high-fat meat. Other fish such as herring, mackerel and salmon are rich in omega-3 fatty acid, which promote heart health by lowering blood triglycerides.

CAUTIONS? Avoid fried fish and also fish containing high levels of mercury, such as swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish.

low gi dietNO MATTER WHAT, KEEP YOUR MIND ON THE PRIZE

Adhering firmly and devotedly to your diabetes diet is the best way to prevent diabetes complications by maintaining your blood sugar under control. If you want, work in your favorite foods and foods you have not tried before, for greater variety. Follow your healthy-eating plan, a low GI diet or any other, and be creative within its guidelines.

Try to join others who are following a diabetes diet and enjoying the benefits, and look for inspiration from them.