Thursday, May 21, 2009

Quiet the Ghost in Your Genes: Rule 8 to Control Your Appetite

Well, if you can't blame your mom directly for your surging appetite, how about blaming your dad AND mom for your genes? That's a satisfying answer, because it doesn't blame anyone personally. Your parents are no more responsible for their own genes than the ones they passed on to you.

So, let's start there. Let's accept the fact that, if you are overweight by more than a few pounds it's probably the fault of your genes. That done, what do you want to do now? Stay overweight? Get fat?

You have a perfectly good excuse. Lean on it. Use it for all its worth. When you reach for that extra serving of mashed potatoes, say out loud, "Mom and Dad, this spud's for you!" There, you have peace in your war with food.

That having been said, were you looking for an excuse?

Or a solution?

Before we talk about potential solutions, let's take a closer look at your genes. Because, as it turns out, your fat-building genes are actually great genes. In fact, if it weren't for them you wouldn't be here.

Somewhere, far back in your ancestry, was a woman who got pregnant in the late Summer or Fall. She was genetically able to accumulate fat during the "abundant food" time of Summer and Fall. During the "starvation" time of Winter and early Spring, she was able to supplement her diet (for both herself and her unborn child) from her fat reserves.

Fat in the Winter. Thin in the Spring. Your grand-forebearers had exactly the right "fat building" genes to bring their healthy babies into this world. And you are the recipient, the direct descendant of that happy "fat building" gene.

Women who could not build fat reserves during the "abundant" time, were not as fortunate in bringing their babies to full term. In short, most Skinny-in-the-Fall women didn't pass on their skinny genes. Fat-in-the-Fall women passed on their genes more prolifically. Today, this accounts for about 80% of us. You are fortunate to be alive today because of Fat-in-the-Fall women, successive generations of them. If you're overweight in every season, chances are, you too are a Fat-in-the-Fall woman, too. Or man.

Your family survived because of fat. So, say: "Thank you mom, thank you grandma, thank you great grandma. The noisy ghost in your genes, that you bequeathed to me, made me what I am today. Alive. Just fatter than I should be."

So, how do you quiet these ghosts in your genes?

The same way your great-great-grandmother did. She feasted in the Fall. And starved in the Winter. Feast. Famine. That's the key. Eat heartily all Summer long, gorge at Thanksgiving, then eat a pittance, (barely at all) in the Winter. It really is that easy. That's what your great grandma did. Are you up for that?

If not, if living off the "fat of the land" is not your style – which involves you willingly getting fat during swimsuit season, then stop eating and getting skinny during the "put-on-a-coat-fasting-season" (I'm not talking about a Winter diet here, I'm talking about not eating at all). Are you ready for that?

If not, what can you do? In a way, all you have to do is the reverse what your great grandmother did. What she did, you should NOT do. She awakened the fat-ghost hidden in her genes, making it an active part of her dietary life in the Fall. And she put it back to sleep in the Winter.

So what should you do?

Here are two ghost quieting lessons for you.

Lesson 1: Don't eat starchy foods (potato, rice, pasta, refined grains, etc.) with protein foods (meat, fish, plus fatty foods, etc.) in the same meal.

What? What can that possibly do for your appetite? Well, as it turns out, quite a lot.

When great grandma, (and you) ate these foods together, they doubled their fat formation from that meal. Doubled it. Unbelievable, but absolutely true. Plus, it made her much hungrier at her next meal, so she would repeat the fat-building step.

Think of Thanksgiving. Lots of starchy foods (mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie), and lots of meat (turkey, ham, roast beef anyone?). For great grandma, this led to the generous formation of fat that allowed grandma to be born healthy. For you, it compels you to decide between Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig.

Every culture has a tradition akin to ours, of a Fall harvest celebration, with ripe-for-the-picking starchy foods, and abundant meat – a celebration that usually lasted for days, not just one meal. Your old progenitors may not have known it, but it is what got them through the Winter, starvation season.

The lesson for you? Don't eat starchy foods with protein or fatty foods in the same meal. When eaten together they make you gain fat. They jump-start your hunger and appetite. Repeat.

Chances are, combining starchy foods and protein foods in the same meal is the reverse of what you do now. Because you have been taught to serve a "balanced" meal, do you make a point of having a starchy vegetable with your meals (hamburger and a bun, meat and potatoes, fish and rice, pasta and sausage, spaghetti and meatballs)? Those kinds of "balanced" meals are adding pounds. Do that multiple times a week, and you have a weight problem.

How do you undo the weight gain? Run great-grandma's methods in reverse: Don't eat starchy foods with protein or fatty foods in the same meal. Simple, but effective.

Lesson 2: Eat lots of raw fruit, but eat it alone.

(No, I don't mean skulking off into a corner to hide while you eat a banana.)

You see, when your great-grandma started eating the first fruits of Spring and Summer, and coupled it with eating anything else available, she was able to quickly rebuild her depleted fat stores, after a long Winter of sparse eating. That's how she successfully breast-fed grandma after she was born.

The lesson for you? Eat fruit abundantly, but always by itself.

Practicing these two lessons can go a long way toward quieting the ghost in your genes – the noisy ghost that makes you fatter than you should be. Unless you plan to get fatter, or go on a 120 day fast at the end of Summer, quit eating like great-grandma. While it made her thrive, it's killing you.

How do you control your appetite?
Conclusion 8: Quiet the Ghost in Your Genes

Next article...
How do you control your appetite?

Rule 9: Make a Decision – Satisfy Your Hunger
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