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Healthy Eating on a Budget

March 6, 2009 Written by JP    [Font too small?]

How do bad economic times affect our diet? There are two ways that are of particular concern to me. The first is a tendency to eat “comfort foods” that calm our increased sense of uncertainty and stress. Secondly, we often try to get the most “bang for our buck”. We choose higher calorie foods that are cheaper so that we can better manage our budget. Both of these options are not only ill advised for their effects on our health, but also for what they’ll do to our pocket books in the long run.

Instead of falling victim to these trends, consider using the following information. I think it’ll serve you well during this tough economic downturn and well beyond.

Healthier Fast Food

Overcome OvereatingFirst, some breaking science which is the basis for the recommendations I’ll make towards the end of today‚Äôs blog. A study from the January 2009 issue of the Journal of Nutrition describes the effects of oat bran extracts on appetite. Here’s a brief description of how the study was put together:

  • 20 healthy volunteers participated in the experiment. Their average age was about 22 years and the group was comprised of 16 females and 4 males.
  • The participants were given an oat fiber beverage on two separate occasions.
  • Blood tests were taken prior to consuming the beverages and also at 15, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120 and 180 minutes afterward.
  • Questionnaires were also provided to gauge levels of hunger after each oat shake.

The researchers reported some interesting findings based upon the feedback from the volunteers and their blood work. There was a marked increase in satiety (a feeling of “fullness”), cholecystokinin and peptide YY (natural hunger suppressants). There was also a decrease in ghrelin. Ghrelin is a hormone that stimulates appetite.

Another study in the journal Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases tested the merits of a different fiber blend in the management of hunger. In this instance, the types of fiber used were: Konjac-mannan (a root vegetable), Sodium Alginate (from algae) and Xanthan gum. This blend is known as PGX. Together, these fibers form a very viscous consistency when mixed in liquids.

31 teenagers took part in this experiment. The breakdown was 25 females and 6 males. Each volunteer was given one of three different types of fiber supplements prior to eating a meal of pizza. The different fiber sources consisted of a) PGX; b) Konjac-mannan fiber; c) cellulose fiber.

All the volunteers were instructed to eat as much pizza as they needed to feel satisfied. The young men and women who took the PGX fiber blend consumed about 12% less pizza than those who took the other two fiber supplements.

Both of these studies offer us clues about the role that fiber can play in helping us to feel properly satisfied with reasonable amounts of food. But let’s not stop there. Modern science is also telling us that protein plays a role in managing hunger. By combining these pieces, we can form a more complete weight management puzzle.

Coconut Fiber

The next time you start to feel hungry and you’re tempted to snack on junk food, try something else instead. Here’s what you’ll need:

  1. Buy a natural, low-calorie protein powder and a plastic shaker cup (available at most health food stores).
  2. To that, add a good fiber supplement. A few examples are: a) organic flax seed meal; b) hemp seed protein/fiber; c) coconut flour
  3. Combine those two ingredients with water and any natural flavoring you like (cinnamon, cocoa powder, peppermint or vanilla extract, etc.), and sweeten with pure stevia extract (0 calories).

Make sure to shake the ingredients well and drink the mixture quickly – as it thickens very fast. It’s important that you drink plenty of water with this as well. If you add a lot of fiber to your diet without drinking more liquids, it can constipate you.

This “snack” may not only help to control your appetite, but it can also help detoxify your body by promoting proper elimination. If you use it regularly, don’t be surprised if you find other benefits such as lower cholesterol levels and, possibly, even a decrease in inflammation. These are side benefits that can be a consequence of adding more fiber to your diet.

Be well!


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