Ever feel like you’ve got a license to splurge just because you bought some healthy foods? Psychologists call this the licensing effect. Here’s what happens: you buy a nice bunch of kale and maybe a bag of carrots and your mind tries to convince you that you deserve a little ice cream since you’re being healthy. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy healthy foods. The bottom line is: Buy the healthy foods, but know you may need a little willpower to keep your cart rolling past the ice cream!
This same “licensing effect” can happen when you do a hard workout or reached your 10,000 steps? Don’t lose the calorie deficit you created by giving in to empty calories in a candy bar or French fries!
Health & Nutrition Letter from Tufts University
Research has found that people who eat more organic foods like produce, dairy, and meats, may significantly lower overall cancer diagnosis, especially lymphoma and breast cancer. A French study that followed 70,000 adults (mostly women) for 5 years found that those who most frequently consumed organic foods had 25% fewer cancers overall compared o those who never ate organics. Those who consumed organic foods the most had 76% fewer lymphomas, 86% fewer non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas, and 34% fewer post-menopausal breast cancers.
Although organically grown foods don’t necessarily have higher nutrient levels, the more important factor is that they don’t contain a lot of harmful chemicals, such as pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics, and more. Research shows that organically grown crops do have significantly lower pesticide residues, as well as lower levels of toxins like cadmium, and choosing organic can lower your exposure to these contaminants.
You can eat healthier and save money by focusing on the 12 most important foods to buy organic. Each year, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) publishes a handy shopping guide to help you easily answer that question and prioritize your shopping list. Their list of the Clean Fifteen and Dirty Dozen foods will help you steer clear of those foods laden with the most pesticides and eat the cleanest diet you can.
The Clean 15
The EWG lists the 15 foods with the least amount of pesticides. If you’re on a budget, buy the non-organic versions of these foods and make sure you wash them thoroughly.
The Dirty Dozen
Your food budget is best spent of buying organic foods on the “Dirty Dozen” list. In 2017, the foods with the highest amounts of pesticides include:
Sugar alcohols occur naturally in some fruits and vegetable and are also a man-made ingredient commonly used as a substitute for sugar in foods. Despite their name, they do not contain ethanol, the alcohol found in alcoholic beverages. Their chemical structure looks similar to the chemical structure of both sugar and alcohol, hence the name.
Sugar alcohols are most often used in products labeled as sugar-free like gum, jelly spreads, beverages, candy, and toothpaste. If you read the nutrition labels, xylitol (also called wood or birch sugar), erythritol, sorbitol, or maltitol are the most often used sugar alcohols. Notice that they all end in the letters “itol.”
Advantages: Sugar alcohols contain fewer calories than sugar and are only partially digested so they have less of an effect on blood sugars. That is why they are often recommended for diabetics. Sugar alcohols can help prevent tooth decay and exert benefits on the gut. In addition, sugar alcohols in food also add texture, moisture, and prevent browning when heated.
Disadvantages: If consumed in large amounts, sugar alcohols may contribute to gas, bloating, and diarrhea. Just like sugar alcohols differ in their calories and taste, they also differ in how much GI distress they cause. Warning: Xylitol is poisonous to dogs.
Bottom Line: Sugar alcohols can be used sparingly with the recognition that they are not calorie free and are often in foods that have little nutritional value.
www.environmentalnutrition.com, Feb. 2019.
Ahh, cravings! Despite our best efforts, the desire to eat certain foods can get the best of us at times. These cravings can lead to poor food decisions that can derail even the most dedicated of healthy eaters. From cookies to potato chips, the foods we crave usually offer us little in return other than extra fat, sugar and salt we simply don’t need (and often feel better without).
Before you beat yourself up over your cravings, keep in mind that they are completely normal and experienced by almost everyone. Your desire for highly palatable foods containing sugar, fat and salt is rooted in biological need and is not innately bad. Unfortunately, it has become way too easy to satisfy these cravings.
Although you may not be able to completely avoid the foods you crave or turn off your impulses, it is possible to change the way you respond. By doing so, you can eat with confidence knowing you have control over these “junk” food cravings — and not the other way around.
What Causes Cravings
Cravings happen for many reasons, but research has shown that we often crave the foods we love most when we restrict them (Think: strict dieting) and/or when our meal plan lacks variety. In some instances, cravings are triggered by the thoughts of foods we’ve given up or haven’t had in a while.
In fact, if you make changes too quickly or are too restrictive, you may find your cravings intensify. Why? Because some of those highly palatable foods we’ve come to love activate pleasure centers in our brain that keep us wanting more. Shut off the supply, and get ready for your brain to throw a fit. (This is why we encourage enjoying all foods and making gradual diet changes.) By doing so, you’ll give your brain and taste buds time to adjust and also discover creative ways to add flavor, color and enjoyment to your plate without relying heavily on sugar, fat, or salt, like so many manufactured foods tend to do.
How to Identify a Food Craving
When a food craving strikes, it’s usually pretty easy to identify because of the intense drive behind it; however, pinpointing your exact need or desire may not always be simple. This is especially true if the craving you experience feels more general than specific –– like when you want something, you just don’t know what.
If you struggle to know what your body is trying to tell you, consider keeping track of your emotions when you eat or experience cravings. This can help you notice trends in your eating habits and allow you to better understand and process the signals your body is sending.
5 Tips to Curb Junk Food Cravings
Knowing why and when your cravings occur can help you prepare to deal with them. Whether you are changing your environment to experience them less often or are developing ways to respond differently, it is possible to overcome most junk food desires. Here are a few ways to set yourself up for success:
Although we may never be able to completely avoid the foods we crave, we can change the way we approach them. By implementing a few of these strategies you can overcome cravings and begin enjoying the foods you love in a realistic and balanced way.