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Evidently fatter pockets equals a slimmer waistline, or at least that seems to be the case based on a recent study conducted by Adam Drewnowski (a good Polish name if I’ve ever heard one), a University of Washington epidemiology professor who studies obesity and social class.

Between December 2008 and March 2009, his research team studied approximately 2,000 shoppers in the Seattle area by tracking their choice of supermarkets and comparing it with their income, education, and obesity rates. Obesity was measured by asking consumers to report their height and weight, then calculating body mass index (BMI). People with a BMI higher than 30 were identified as obese.

During the study, they noted that approximately 40% of shoppers at the low-priced supermarket chain, Albertsons, were classified as obese as compared with only 4% of shoppers at Whole Foods Market. For the mathematically challenged, that’s 10X more shoppers!

“That’s likely because people willing to pay $6 for a pound of radicchio are more able to afford healthy diets than people stocking up on $1.88 packs of pizza rolls to feed their kids”, the study’s lead author suggested.

Drewnowski also pointed out that the study focused only on Seattle, which at 20 percent has an obesity rate much lower than the U.S. average of about 34 percent. He doesn’t claim that the same rates would bear out in other cities, though I would imagine the results would be in the same ballpark.

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Lower Costs Foods Are Usually Calorie Dense

To me, the findings of the research make complete sense, partially due to personal experience. There was a time where I was having some financial difficulties, so I was looking to cut expenses anywhere I could. One area where I stupidly made some sacrifices was substituting low cost, unhealthy, calorie-dense foods like condensed soups, refined pastas, and TV dinners. Not surprisingly, my energy went down while my waist size went up. A big thumbs down to that one!

“If you have $3 to feed yourself, your choices gravitate toward foods which give you the most calories per dollar,” Drewnowski said.

Unfortunately I agree, my friend.

My experience did teach me a couple of valuable lessons:

  • It’s important to keep your priorities straight. I’m all for capitalism, but instead of spending money because we believe that we have to drive a certain type of car or have a huge TV with all the channels, I feel that it makes more sense to invest in your health by eating well. How often to you see someone who has a bunch of toys but claims that they can’t afford to eat healthy, organic food? Misaligned priorities, in my opinion.
  • It’s infinitely easier to make more money than to try and survive on less. I can literally think of a dozen different ways to make an extra $100-$300 a month which would more than cover any increased costs of eating good quality food (or to save for retirement, take a vacation, etc.), yet most people opt to save a few pennies by forgoing one of the most important things you can do for your health.

Anyways, what do you guys think?

Do you think the results of this study would hold up in different areas of the country, or is it limited to health-conscious areas like Seattle, WA or Austin, TX?

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The Food and Drug Administration announced on Wednesday that the days of lipodissolve injections, a popular non-surgical alternative to liposuction offered by many health spas and other practitioners, may be coming to an end due to the fact that these injections have not been proven effective or even safe to use. D’oh!

According to a statement issued by the FDA, they are “not aware of any credible scientific evidence that supports the effectiveness of any of these substances for fat elimination.”

They went on to say that they’ve received complaints from former patients citing adverse reactions to the injections such as:

  • Permanent Scarring
  • Dark Spots On The Skin
  • Hard Lumps

This is exactly why when it comes to healthy fat loss I always look to safe, natural methods over pharmaceuticals. I understand the appeal of something as simple as getting a few shots to lose weight over making changes to diet and exercise, but in my opinion the risks (dangerous side effects) far outweigh the rewards. Maintaining a healthy weight is a life-long process and the benefits are truly amazing, and not just from a outward appearance standpoint either.

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You don’t have to look too hard to find a weight loss diet. You’ve seen them: Atkins, Nutrisystem, the South Beach Diet, Sugar Busters, the Cabbage Soup Diet (mmmm), and literally hundreds or even thousands of others options.

While I agree that it is possible to lose some weight in the short term, the real test of a program that aims to promote healthy fat loss is if the results are sustainable in order to avoid Yo-Yo dieting (the constant cycle gaining and losing weight).

The thing that many people don’t realize is there are often strong emotional factors which, if not properly addressed, can make long term weight management a very difficult journey. As Jillian Michaels (trainer for the black team on the show, The Biggest Loser) often says,

“Weight gain is the manifestation of other issues, not the problem itself.”

In this series, I’ll talk a little about the 5 major types of emotional eaters:

* Binge Eaters
* Emotion Eaters
* Stress Eaters
* Self-Esteem Eaters
* Snowball Effect Eaters

Binge Eaters

The first and most difficult type of eater is the binge eater, but the good thing is that it is also the least common type. A binge eater is someone who, once they have had even a taste of a certain food (their “binge food”), is almost completely out-of-control until they’ve consumed as much of the food in one sitting as possible and who are eating for reasons other than physical hunger or emotions.

Binge Eating Is An Addiction

You’ve probably heard of the phrase “Chocoholic” to describe someone who absolutely loves chocolate (If not, well, now you have. You: 1 Ignorance: 0). Besides an attempt at hilarity by over-paid food industry marketing consultants, it’s a condition similar to that of an alcoholic or any other type of addict.

Now, the purpose of this post isn’t to argue the severity of one addiction over another, but I’m sure the person who’s experiencing symptoms ranging from aching knees to more serious conditions like diabetes and/or heart problems due to an intense psychological need to voraciously consume certain foods would argue that it’s not a joke. Feel bad for judging?

I’m sorry. It’ll never happen again, I promise.

Food Can Contain Mood-Altering Substances

Take it easy, Cheech. By that I mean some foods contain certain chemicals, like pyrazine, that some say affect the pleasure center of the brain in a similar fashion to more traditional vices. It puts new meaning into the phrase “comfort food’, doesn’t it?

Well, there is some truth to that. A binge eater is unconsciously eating large amounts of their binge food due to their brain being flooded with feel-good chemicals like dopamine. This positive feeling is met with the rationalization of:

“Mmmm it feels to so good to be eating this right now. I’ll go ahead and have one more little bite. *chomp* Well, I guess one more won’t hurt anything. *crunch* Alright seriously after this, I’m done. *chomp* There’s only a little bit left, so it’s not really worth saving the rest…”

What Does This Have To Do With Healthy Weight Loss?

That’s an excellent question! Imagine for a moment that you’re a binge eater who has recently achieved 50lbs of fat loss. One day, you decide to reward yourself by buying a bag of potato chips (your binge food in this example) since they are, after all, probably your favorite thing to eat. You take the first salty bite and revel in the crunchy goodness.

“It’s been far too long, my delicious friend.”

You notice the words, “Once you pop, you can’t stop”, and not being one to get in an argument with a bag you grab another handful. And another. And another. And another until most, if not the entire bag is gone. But the real issue is when you step on the scale the next morning.

Your weight hasn’t changed! Awesome!

You think to yourself that maybe you’ve become one of those people that can seemingly eat whatever they want without gaining an ounce. So you get another bag of chips and start down the path of slowly gaining back the lost weight and more.

Identifying Binge Foods

As I mentioned, a true binge eater is the least common type of emotional eater (In actuality, it’s not emotional at all as you’ll see with the rest of the series). For someone that is a binge eater, it’s necessary to identity what specific food(s) are going to set off a feeding frenzy and ruin your weight loss goals.

Step 1. Identify your binge food(s)

  • Ask yourself “how does eating this food make me feel?” Happy, content, depressed,  full of energy? Have you ever been able to eat just one (or a single portion) without an overwhelming craving later in the day/near future? Do you feel nervous or guilty after eating it? How often do you start overeating after you’ve tasted this food? Do you feel compelled to eat this type of food even when you’re not upset/stressed/etc.? If not, you’re not a binge eater and should try reading the next post in this series.
  • Try eating without any distractions like television. Eat one thing on your plate at a time while noticing your levels of anxiety. Did you feel like you didn’t want anything else but large quantities of one specific food?
  • Binge foods can be general, as in spicy foods, or sweets, but are usually more specific (nacho cheese chips vs. chips in general).

Step 2. Avoid Your Binge Food

I know, that’s probably not the most popular answer, but for a binge eater abstinence is the only answer, if they want to avoid the proverbial upswing of yo-yo dieting that is. Alcoholics can’t start drinking again without a severe risk of relapse, so why is it any different for someone who is addicted to overeating a certain food?

*BOOM!*

That, my friends, was the first of my many logic bombs.

I’d love to hear your questions, comments, criticisms (j/k not really), ideas for future posts, or anything else you have to say, so please leave them in the comments section below!

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