6 Ways to Conquer Your Cravings

Understanding the 5 types of overeaters is crucial, however, your best offense is a good defense. Learn how to avoid temptations by conquering your cravings before they take you down. The holidays are right around the corner and cookies, fruit cake, and feasts of food are in abundance. On average, adults gain 2 pounds a year during the holidays (and don't lose it). Multiply that by 25 years and that's a lot of weight that you could avoid gaining if you are a conscious eater.

Given this information, what can you do with it? You may not be severely overweight but you may have some characteristics of a certain "overeater". No matter if you are a compulsive eater or an emotional eater, controlling and conquering cravings is very important. Six tips on controlling cravings are summarized below:

1. Get moving
Research has shown that exercise can help blunt genetic obesity tendencies, improve how the brain uses sugar, reduce cravings and overcome food addiction, handle stress, helps you make better food choices, and improve brain health overall.

2. Keep blood sugar levels balanced
Low blood sugar levels are associated with lower brain activity and more cravings. Here are some tips for keeping your blood sugar levels even throughout the day:

  • Eat a nutritious breakfast every day
  • Eat cinnamon, found to help regulate blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes
  • Ingest smaller meals throughout the day
  • Stay away from simple sugars and refined carbohydrates (processed/boxed foods- if it won't spoil if left out on the counter overnight, it's likely processed)

3. Decrease the use of artificial sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners can  be up to 600 times sweeter than sugar and may activate the appetite centers of the brain, making you crave even more food and more sugar.

4. Manage Stress
Chronic stress has been implicated in obesity, as well as addiction, anxiety and depressive disorders, and cancer. Consider deep breathing, meditation, and hypnosis to combat stress.

5. Get adequate sleep
Science has shown that the less sleep you get, the more cravings you'll have; the more calories you eat, the more belly fat you'll have and the higher your BMI (body mass index) will be.

6. Find out about hidden food allergies
Food allergies can trigger cravings. If you have an allergy to wheat gluten or milk and you eat wheat or dairy products, the allergy can reduce blood flow to your brain and impair your judgement. Subtle but important food allergies can result in brain inflammation that contributes to poor brain health.

To identify food allergies, eliminate dairy, wheat, sugar, food additives, preservatives, and artificial flavorings or colors from your diet for 1-2 months. Then, slowly reintroduce these items one at a time every 3-4 days to determine whether a new item triggers problems.When you reintroduce a food, eat it at least two or three times in a day for 3 days to see if you notice a reaction. Stop immediately if you do. Symptoms vary greatly but may include brain fog, difficulty remembering, mood issues (anxiety, depression and anger), nasal congestion, headaches, sleep problems, joint aches, muscle aches, pain, fatigue, skin changes, and changes in digestion.

Food allergy testing is also available in our office. The test results show you which foods you're severely allergic to (avoid at all costs), moderately allergic to (eat sparingly if you must), and mildly allergic to (be aware how frequently you eat these foods and limit your consumption). A mild food allergy, if not controlled or addressed, can escalate into a moderate or severe food allergy.

Hopefully this information helps you throughout this holiday season (and beyond!). Find out which "craving conqueror"  works best for you and stick with it. Consistency and routine turns conscious decisions into habits. How much easier would it be if reaching for the veggies at the next holiday party was your instinct rather than the cookies and creme puffs?

Reference: Monroe, Mary. "It's All in the Brain: Unlocking the Secrets of Overeating With Neuroscience."IDEA Fitness Journal November-December (2011): 38-46. Print.

5 Types of Overeating

Obesity is rising rapidly in the US. New research put out by Dr. Daniel Amen, has shown that there are five patterns of brain activity that may cause overeating. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans are taken of an individual's brain, which show predictable patterns of activation. The pattern of activation determines the "type" of overeater the individual may be. The five types of overeating are explained below:

Compulsive Overeater
Compulsive overeaters get stuck on one thought (such as food) and feel driven to eat. The brain scans show decreased levels of a chemical in the brain called serotonin. These people do best by increasing the serotonin levels in the brain through natural ways via exercise, for example.

Impulsive Overeater
Impulsive overeaters often have difficulty with control and are easily distracted. They often reach for food without thinking. The brain scans show decreased activity in the "control" area of the brain, which helps you decide between the banana and the banana split. High-protein and low-carb diets benefit these people. Exercise, meditation, and supplements that calm the brain help to control overeating.

Impulsive-Compulsive Overeater
Impulsive-Compulsive overeaters are compelled to eat and have little control to say "no". The brain scans show  too much activity in the "gear shifter" in the brain so people get stuck on food thoughts. Exercise increases serotonin levels and greatly benefits these types of overeaters.

Sad or Emotional Overeater
Sad or emotional overeaters eat to medicate their feelings of rejection or nervousness to calm the emotional "storms" in the brain. There is excess activity in the emotional (limbic) region in the brain on the MRI scans. Exercise benefits this type of overeater because it optimizes vitamin D levels (which make you "feel" better).  Taking fish oil supplements are also great.

Anxious Overeater
Anxious overeaters medicate their feelings of anxiety with food; they reach for food to calm their nerves. they are always waiting for something bad to happen and don't look for the positive. These people suffer from physical tension. Meditation, hypnosis and anything else that calms the mind benefits this "type" the most.

Granted, not everyone is obese, but these 5 types of overeating can be a tool to evaluate your patterns of eating. Stay posted for next week with the "6 Ways to Conquer Your Cravings"!

Reference: Monroe, Mary. "It's All in the Brain: Unlocking the Secrets of Overeating With Neuroscience."IDEA Fitness Journal November-December (2011): 38-46. Print.

Staying Fit As You Age

Children (0-12 year olds)

The importance of crawling
The cross crawl is the correct form of crawling. The baby needs to move both extremities opposite of each other. This allows the motor nerve impulses, which begin on one side of the brain, and cross over the brain stem to supply the motor activity to the opposite extremity. This uses both the right and left sides of the brain and enhances neurological coordination.

Get your kids outside as much as possible!
It is the best way for them to get exercise. Playing with siblings and friends outside makes it fun and creative. Encourage jump roping. Kids’ endurance is extensive compared to adults. Encourage activities such as jump roping for as long as possible as they age.

Music and the connection to math abilities late in life
Babies are more attracted to sounds that are melodic and rhythmic and have bold tones. When babies get a bit older, they make noise with anything they can get their hands on: pans, pianos, clapping hands, etc. This love for music and rhythm is an innate drive within us to find patterns and rhythms. Training the brain to detect rhythms and patterns is transferred over into math as they enter school-age. Research shows that students who participate in musical activities perform better in math later in life. 

Teens (13-20)

* Breakfast is the most important meal of the day! Don’t skip it * 

Staying active is important! 
This is the time period when children get involved in more competitive team sports and activities. Allowing children to lead sedentary lifestyles (sitting inside watching TV or playing video/computer games) teaches them that it is ok to stay sedentary and not take an initiative in caring for their health and fitness.

Traumatic Brain Injuries
Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are caused by an external mechanical force and are either “closed” or “penetrating” (opens skull). Concussions are a type of closed traumatic brain injury and are the most common form of TBI among teens. You can only protect kids and teens from TBI so much but they do occur. It is very important if your child suffers a TBI to seek medical help and do everything possible to prevent a second one. After a TBI, you will never be 100% but you can get as close as possible. Multiple TBI’s can be very serious if not deadly! Pulling your child out of a favorite sport after a TBI can be a “dream killer” for them but it can save their life.

Diet Soda
Diet soda, especially in females, leeches magnesium and calcium from the bones and can initiate the beginning of chronic migraines and low bone density. In addition, the human body does not recognize the artificial sweeteners used in diet sodas as a sugar. Because of this, these sweeteners are not broken down properly and are stored in the body. Over time, these storages contribute to weight gain not loss.

20’s + 30’s

* Breakfast is the most important meal of the day! Don’t skip it *

Pre-workout and post-workout nutrition
It is important to have a balanced exercise program incorporating strength training, cardio, stretching, and proper nutrition. A large part of taking control of your body weight and fitness is timing your eating habits with your exercise.

Pre-workout: It is fact that your body needs glycogen (the stored form of glucose in your body) in order to burn fat. If no glycogen is present, your body will burn muscle for energy. Therefore, it is important to eat some sort of carbohydrate (bananas, Ezekiel bread, apples, and berries are great option) within 2 hours of the start of your workout.

Post-workout: Protein, protein, protein! When you workout and exercise, your body breaks down muscles in order for them to get stronger and larger. It is important to supply your body with protein after your workout. This enables your body to rebuild those muscles you just worked out. Lean meats (chicken, turkey, and wild fish) are great but a low-sugar protein shake is a quick and easy option too. Just add a scoop of protein powder to a liquid (water, almond milk, non-GMO soymilk, unsweetened fruit juice, etc.) and shake it up!

40’s + 50’s

* Breakfast is the most important meal of the day! Don’t skip it *

Keep your muscle!
Similar to your 20’s + 30’s, it is very important to maintain a balance of strength training, cardio exercise, stretching, and nutrition. Muscle burns fat. Therefore, it is important to constantly be doing exercises that increase strength, simply so you don’t lose it. A slower metabolism is tightly linked to loss of muscle mass.

Lower Impact Exercises
Be aware of your knees and joints! Repetitive high impact exercise (i.e. running) can irritate and injure knees, hips, and other joints.

60’s +

* Breakfast is the most important meal of the day! Don’t skip it *

Staying Active
It is very important to stay active, even if it does not feel as easy as it once did. Daily walks, pool aquatics, and low impact weight training are good activities to keep up. Try exercises that are seated rather than standing if balance is difficult. Keeping a sedentary lifestyle is one of the worst things you can do for your health. Talk to your health care provider or a personal trainer for some great ideas that would compliment your abilities well.
Be a constant learner
Daily Sudoku puzzles, mind games, and crossword puzzles are great for keeping the mind sharp. Research has linked these fun activities with a decrease in Alzheimer’s occurrences. The brain is a true example of the phrase, “if you don’t use it, you lose it”. These games reinforce the brain’s logical thought processes, enhance problem solving abilities, improve concentration, and boosts mental sharpness. 


Injury Recovery

With fall around the corner, sports will be ramping up. Injury prevention is ideal, but when sprains and strains arise,  it's important to know how to care for them.

R= Rest. 
Give your body a break. The less strain you put on your body, the more energy your body can focus on healing the injury.

I= Ice. 
Initially after the injury, apply ice to the area for 15 minutes, then remove the ice for 45 mins. repeat the cycle hourly if necessary.

C= Compression.
 Increased blood flow to the area of injury is your body's way of starting the healing process. With this said, swelling causes more pain. Use an ace bandage to wrap the injury to keep it compressed and limit the swelling.

E- Elevate. 
Help reduce the swelling (and pain!) by elevating your feet above your heart.

In addition to RICE, taking arnica tablets (orally) or in an ointment formula (topically) will help with healing and reduce swelling. Sugar, alcohol and processed foods hinder the body's ability to heal and increases inflammation. To return to normal as fast as possible, cut those three categories from your diet.



It’s the inability to burn fat that makes you fat.  In fact, if you deprive your body of fat it can have detrimental effect to its function.  Your brain, your nervous system, your hormones, in fact, every cell of your body is built from fat.  Therefore, for your body to function at its optimal level, you need to replenish your body with sources of healthy OILS and FAT in your diet.

In the last decade, “low-fat” and “non-fat” or “0 Calories” products have taken over the shelves at the grocery store.  From yogurt to Pringles to soda, people have been tricked into thinking that if its “low in fat” this will help them lose weight.  In fact, the opposite is true.  Research from the Behavioral Neuroscience found that fat substitutes can interfere with the body’s ability to regulate food intake. This leads to inefficient use of calories and weight gain!1 

Researchers compared rats on a high fat diet versus rats eating “fake-fats.” The results showed that the rats that ate fake-fat Pringles ate more food, put on more weight, and gained more body fat than their counterparts on the high-fat diet that were given only the high-fat Pringles (we are NOT recommending either type of Pringles, this is only an example). 

Not only does eating a “low-fat” diet deprive your body of essential nutrients, but it doesn’t lead to the weight loss you want.  A 2009 study published in the American College of Cardiology showed 645 obese patients who used a low-fat diet had NO CHANGE in waist circumference.2

Don’t get drawn into the trap that man-made and man-altered products are better and healthier for your body than food in its natural state.  If a food doesn’t naturally come from the earth, don’t eat it!

What’s in YOUR CART???  Ask Dr. Schenck or Emilie Clairmont for help and learn how to make healthy grocery shopping easy AND affordable for you and your family. 

1. Susan E. Swithers, Sean B. Ogden and Terry L. Davidson. Fat Substitutes Promote Weight Gain in Rats Consuming High-Fat Diets. Behavioral Neuroscience, 2011; 125 (4).
2. Anthony A. Bavry, M.D., M.P.H. and Deepak L. Bhatt, M.D., F.A.C.C. Comparison of Weight-Loss Diets With Different Compositions of Fat, Protein, and Carbohydrates. American College of Cardiology Cardiosource, 2009.

Basics and Benefits of Exercise

Exercise has many benefits when performed properly. Some of the benefits include lowering blood pressure, maintenance of blood sugar levels, decreased body fat, and reduction of chronic disease. Other benefits of exercise include improved sleep, arthritis relief, decreased amount of depression, and improved strength, stability, and flexibility. Exercise is an important part of life and its benefits are not taken seriously enough.

With so many benefits and fitness centers popping up everywhere, why isn't everyone reaping the benefits of exercise? The most common reasons are lack of knowledge and motivation. Some people are lazy and don't want to follow a routine, while others follow a routine and end up with minimal gains. Improper execution of exercises will cause injury and may hamper results. Getting the advice of a qualified professional is a great way to ensure proper technique and maximum benefit. If you're searching for a fitness coach, a quality trainer will focus on flexibility, stability, and core strength while working toward a specific goal.

Flexibility is a very important part of any training program but it is often overlooked. Lack of flexibility can be the root to many problems. When a muscle or ligament is tight, it limits its ability to contract properly, causing inefficient movements and joint stress. Muscles that are tight are more likely to become injured, hampering your fitness goals and results. Flexibility plus strength equal stability and are the foundation of exercise. Without them, the body's movement becomes limited and good results are difficult to achieve.

Stability exercises should be a part of every exercise program. Exercising with free weights or resistance bands and challenging the surrounding environment promotes balance and stability, which is essential. Training primarily with machines without integrating free weights into a program is inefficient because you are moving resistance along a fixed axis and not free in space (as we do in life). Stability is critical for everyone. Stability training starts with an efficient core routine. A weak core contributes to poor stability and inhibits proper limb movements.

Maintaining a strong core is vital for protecting yourself from injury. Many back and hip injuries stem from a  weak core. Training the core (your midsection) goes way beyond sit-ups and back extensions. An effective and efficient core routine involves dynamic movements (varying intensity and activity), challenge of the center of gravity, and isometric exercises (muscular contraction against resistance). Using a physio ball (large rehab ball) is much more effective than training on the floor. Working on a ball forces you to use your core muscles that deal with balance. In addition to using a ball rather than the floor for core exercises, it is important to work in all planes of motion (not just front and back). Working with a personal trainer or a knowledgeable exercise partner is a great way to expand your horizons and ideas of different exercises.

If the goal is gaining lean muscles and losing body fat, circuit training is the best choice. Circuit training is geared toward increasing your heart rate while using some type of resistance or environmental challenge. When circuit training, it is crucial to keep moving and maintain your target heart rate zone. Performing full body functional workouts every session is a sure way to bur maximum calories. This type of training does not isolate muscles, rather it targets getting as many body parts involved as possible. For the general population, the benefits of this type of training surpass the traditional style of single body part sessions.

Exercise promotes a healthy body and prevent against injury. As we age, maintaining muscle mass is very important. A healthy and vital longevity should be everyone's goal! Exercise is the key. Set specific goals for yourself and keep track of your progress in a fitness diary. If you want that extra motivation or challenge, find a great personal trainer who matches your goals. It is a sure way to get the results you're hoping for and avoid injury now and down the road.


Damaging Effects of UVA and UVB

There is a huge hype about protecting your skin from the sun and for good reason! Although sunscreen use has reached its peak,  skin cancer rates have also been rising. What is the correlation? There are a few misconceptions that led to the false reassurance of sun protection via sunscreen.

Myth: “My high SPF sunscreen blocks the sun’s radiation”
  • You first must understand that there are different types of radiation from the sun. SPF (the sunscreen measurement we are most familiar with) refers to the level of protection against Ultraviolet B rays (UVB). UVB rays are responsible for damaging the skin via a sunburn. Unfortunately, a majority (95%) of the sun’s rays are Ultraviolet A rays (UVA) which cause wrinkling, sagging, and most importantly, trigger cell mutation that may initiate skin cancer. Simply blocking the UVB rays is not enough and gives us the false belief we are protected from the sun’s harm because we burn less quickly. Most sunscreens are great at blocking those UVB rays, however, they lack the ability to block UVA rays.

Myth: “The sun is bad for me” 
  • Lack of sunshine is just as detrimental to your body and health as getting too much sunshine. When sunshine touches your skin, your body makes vitamin D. Vitamin D is crucial for immune health and also plays an amazing role in preventing osteoporosis and breast cancer. You can find manufactured vitamin D in health food stores, but it will never be of the same quality that your body produces naturally when exposed to sunshine. The key is getting small doses of sunshine regularly (i.e. don’t try and cram a year’s worth of sunshine into a day at the beach).  

Myth: “I’m not burnt so I’m fine”
  • Sunscreen gives us a filter from the sun, allowing us to spend all day in the sun and moderate the rate of tan. However, as described above, the sun’s rays that burn you are different from the ones that contribute to skin cancer. Sunscreen blocks the burning effects of UVB making us believe we are safe; however, the UVA rays are busy at work damaging our skin. The human body is genius! A sunburn (caused by UVB rays) is your body’s way of saying, “you’ve gotten too much sun and are quickly approaching the point of radiation damage from the UVA rays”. It is important to get out of the sun before you burn. The best way to protect yourself from UVA radiation but still get a good dose of vitamin D is to adopt the philosophy of “everything in moderation”. Go out in the sun (without sunscreen) but don’t stay out too long. When determining “how long is too long”, take these factors into consideration:
    • Your skin tone (darker skin is naturally more protected from sun damage)
    • The heat of the day, cloud coverage, etc.
    • The time of day (burn time will be more delayed in the evenings and early mornings)
    • Location (tropical areas are more prone