Why do we need fat in our diets?

Why do we need fat in our diets?

Fat, often erroneously, is mistaken as the “enemy” and many try to avoid eating it at all costs.  We all need fat in our diets, however, it should comprise no more than 25-30% of our daily caloric intake.

Normal growth and development
Energy (fat is the most concentrated source of energy)
Absorption of certain vitamins (vitamins A, D, E, K, and carotenoids)
Maintaining cell membranes
Providing taste, consistency, and stability to foods
Fat helps food stay in the stomach longer, helping one to feel satiated and to prevent hunger soon after meals
Fat may help your body produce endorphins (natural substances in the brain that are responsible for feelings of pleasure)
Diets too low in fat may trigger cravings
Provides back up energy if one has to go 4-6 hours without food
Provides insulation under the skin from the cold and the heat
Protects organs and bones
Fat surrounds and insulates nerve fibers to help transmit nerve impulses (nerve impulses are necessary for thoughts, emotions, behaviors, movements, etc.)
Fat is used by the body to make other building blocks needed for hormones and immune functioning


Harder to feel satiated, which may lead to continued eating
Dry, scaly skin
Hair loss
Low body weight
Cold intolerance
Poor growth
Lower resistance to infection
Poor wound healing
Loss of menstruation

Don’t Eliminate Carbohydrates

Don’t Eliminate Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates have become almost as evil, in some people’s minds, as fat, making it “in vogue” to eliminate them from one’s diet.  This is unfortunate, as this  macronutrient should comprise approximately 45-65% of our daily caloric intake.  This percentage is necessary for the following reasons:

Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of fuel
Carbohydrates are easily used as energy by the body
Integral to the healthy functioning of the central nervous system, the kidneys, the brain, and the muscles
Important in intestinal health and waste elimination
Carbohydrates replace glycogen stores (necessary for muscle contraction) in the muscle and liver.  Without carbohydrates to replace glycogen, fatigue and less than optimal functioning occurs.

Metabolism and Your Eating Disorder

Metabolism and Your Eating Disorder

What is Metabolism and How Does it Affect My Eating Disorder?

Metabolism, in its simplest sense, is the rate at which your body burns calories. In a broader sense it is complex network of hormones and enzymes responsible for converting food into fuel, while also determining how efficiently you burn that fuel. Many people think of metabolism as how easily they lose or gain weight.

Surprising to many is that the largest component of your metabolism, approximately 70%, is your basal metabolic rate (BMR). Your BMR determines how many calories are needed just to keep you alive and functioning. It is the energy used by your body to perform basic functions, such as breathing, brain health, keeping the heart beating and maintaining body temperature. For example, your brain requires approximately 109 calories per pound and weighs approximately three pounds. This means that 327 calories per day are required to maintain your brain. Other examples include your heart and kidneys, which require 200 calories per pound (approximate weight of an adult human heart is 5/8 of a pound; approximate weight of kidneys is ¼ of a pound). Your BMR decreases as you age and differs from person to person. Resting metabolic rate (RMR) is often used interchangeably with basal metabolic rate (BMR), though they are slightly different.

What influences my BMR?
Age – metabolism decreases five percent per decade after age 40
Amount of lean muscle – Muscle burns more calories than fat. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn, even at rest. (For every pound of muscle you burn approximately 6 calories versus a pound of fat, which burns approximately 2 calories).
Gender – Males generally have a 10 to 15% faster BMR than females, as the male body has a larger percentage of lean muscle tissue.
Heredity – metabolic rate can be inherited from previous generations
Thyroid disorder – hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid gland) and hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid gland) can slow down or speed up metabolism (these conditions occur in only 3 and .3 percent of the population)

How do I calculate my RMR?
To calculate your RMR, use the Mifflin-St Jeor equation (may be more reliable than the Harris-Benedict equation)

RMR = 9.99w + 6.25s – 4.92a + 166g-161
w = weight in kilograms; if you know your weight in pounds, divide by 2.2 to get your weight in kilograms
s = height in centimeters (1 foot = 30.48 centimeters, 1 inch = 2.54 centimeters);
a = age in years
g = gender = 1 for males, 0 for females
For example, the equation for a 30 year old, 120 lb, 5’4 woman would be as follows:
9.99(54.54) + 6.25(162.5) – 4.92(30)+ 166(0)-161 = 1251.80

This means that this woman requires approximately 1251.8 calories to maintain her body’s vital functions and her weight at rest.

The Eating Disorder Connection: Bringing it all Together
Often people with eating disorders, such as Anorexia Nervosa, restrict their caloric intake to below 1000 calories or even 500 calories per day. As illusrated in the example above, this is not even enough calories to maintain their basic body functions. Over time, if this calorie deficit continues, one’s body will begin shutting down.

Also, our bodies are very intelligent and if a continued calorie deficit is percieved, our metabolism will slow down to compensate for this deficit, meaning we are burning less calories than prior to the restriction. This starts a vicious cycle for someone with disordered eating behavior, as the result is that one usually has to restrict even more. There is hope though, after resuming a balanced diet sufficient to meet one’s caloric needs, one’s metabolism will also adjust once the threat of starvation is no longer present and your body begins to trust that it is getting the necessary nutrients.

Steps to Recovery presents an informative article on “The Barbie Doll Effect”

Steps to Recovery presents an informative article on “The Barbie Doll Effect”

Exposure to Unrealistic Figures is Driving Eating Disorders in Young People

Although it is often said that eating disorders typically begin during the teenage years and early adulthood, an increasing number of under 12s are now receiving treatment for disordered eating, with figures for admissions increasing more than 100% in less than a decade.  It seems that young girls’ exposure to unrealistic figures may at least partly explain the rise in anorexia and bulimia among tweens, with the ever popular Barbie doll providing a worrying role model.  Although, Barbie’s vital statistics are unnatural and unachievable, this is not appreciated by young girls who try to emulate her figure.

Equally, older girls are bombarded with images of ultra slim models in glossy fashion magazines, which are far from the average woman’s figure and a lot of the time they are significantly underweight.  When teens see these pictures they believe this is how they should look, but don’t necessarily take into account that the images in front of them have been photoshopped.   Television shows also promote unrealistic expectations for body image, with the vast majority of female characters at or below weight recommendations, which only a third of the population achieves naturally.  Finally, young women contemplating weight loss who access pro-anorexia websights, where eating disorders are promoted as a lifestyle choice, are exposed to material that can have a damaging impact on their eating behaviors.

While treatment is available for eating disorders, prevention is always preferable.  To protect young children and women from low self-esteem, which can contribute to the development of an eating disorder, it is essential to raise awareness of how distorted the female figures presented to us are.  Steps to Recovery highlights this in the following article and also considers the link between eating disorders and substance abuse: http://www.stepstorecovery.com/starving-yourself-to-achieve-the-impossible-figure-of-barbie/



Stop Your Cravings

Stop Your Cravings

I’m always looking for informative and thought provoking articles on diet and cravings, so I wanted to take this opportunity to share with you an article by Dr. Daniel Amen.  If you want more information from him, visit his website cited at the end of the article.

Stop Your Cravings From Becoming Binges (by Dr. Daniel Amen)

It’s 10 p.m. and the cookies are calling—the voice may start as a whisper, but it grows stronger and stronger with every minute that passes. “Eat just a couple and start fresh tomorrow,” it says. Of course, the second you take the first bite, it’s too late. Cravings. Usually for high-fat, high-sugar, refined carbohydrates—we have all experienced them. The painful truth is that if you don’t know how to get your cravings under control—your cravings will control you, and it will be very hard to succeed at sticking to a brain healthy eating plan. So how do you beat cravings? In six steps, I will show you how to avoid the thoughts, foods and behaviors that get you into trouble, and better yet, how to incorporate new, healthier habits into your lifestyle that will address cravings and allow you to succeed. The great news is that learning to live craving-free gives you the power to stick to and enjoy a nutritious, satisfying brain healthy eating plan without feeling deprived.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z4RJeRyAI-U#t=69 [/youtube]


Before specifically addressing cravings, it’s important to quickly address basic nutrition needs.

Did you know that 91% of Americans do not eat five servings of fruits and vegetables a day? And that’s the minimum required for proper nutrition! As a starting point, I recommend that all my patients take a good multivitamin, a fish oil supplement and vitamin D (if your levels are low).

The thoughtful use of supplements is an essential part of a healthy brain plan.

Fish Oil. Taking fish oil, a good source of omega-3, is not only good for our heart, skin, eyes, joints, hair and brain—in a recent study, omega-3 supplementation was shown to decrease appetite and cravings. My recommendation is 1-2 grams of high quality fish oil a day.

Vitamin D. Low levels of vitamin D are associated with depression, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, cancer and obesity. When you don’t have enough vitamin D, you feel hungry all the time no matter how much you eat. Have your doctor order a test called 25-hydroxy vitamin D and take vitamin D3, if your levels are low. I am convinced that boosting my vitamin D levels was critical in helping me get control of my cravings and my weight.

The 6 Ways to Get Your Cravings Under Control!

Keep Your Blood Sugar Balanced

Low blood sugar levels means lower overall blood flow to the brain. Lower blood flow affects brain activity levels, which means more bad decisions and poor impulse control. Alpha Lipoic Acid and Chromium are two supplements that have good scientific evidence showing support for healthy blood sugar levels and for cravings. Also, be sure to eat breakfast with a little protein. People who maintain weight loss eat a nutritious breakfast, have smaller meals throughout the day and stay away from simple sugars and refined carbohydrates (candies, sodas, cookies, crackers, white rice, white bread). High-sugar, high-fat foods work on the addiction centers of your brain—avoid them.

Decrease Artificial Sweetener Use

We think of these sweeteners as free because they have no calories, but because they are up to 600 times sweeter than sugar, they may activate the cravings centers in your brain, making you crave even more food. The one natural, no calorie sweetener I like is called stevia.

Reduce Stress

Anything stressful can trigger certain hormones in your brain that activate your cravings making you believe that you have to have that cinnamon roll! Meditation and hypnosis are wonderful practices that can help boost your brain and decrease your stress and your weight.

Identify Triggers and Plan Ahead

Know your vulnerable times and plan ahead. For example, going to my mother’s during the holidays is a trigger for me. She makes the best pizza and I could eat eight slices. So I eat a little something ahead of time so my brain can choose to eat one or two slices of pizza. That way I don’t have to blow the whole holiday season in one 30-minute feeding frenzy!

Avoid Hidden Food Allergies

Did you know that wheat gluten and milk allergies can decrease blood flow to your brain? When you decrease the blood flow to your brain, you decrease your judgment. Know your food allergens and avoid them.

Kill the Automated Negative Thoughts (ANTs)

Being overweight is a thinking disorder, not just an eating disorder. ANTs stands for Automated Negative Thoughts—negative thoughts that automatically come into your mind and ruin your day. It’s your uninvestigated thoughts that will kill you early. Most people don’t know that thoughts lie. They lie a lot. By questioning your ANTs and asking if they are true, they lose their power and you are free to choose healthier thoughts and healthier behaviors. This is a great video to share with anyone you know who is trying to stick to a healthy eating plan!

– See more at: http://www.mybrainfitlife.com/binging/?utm_source=Email&utm_content=blog&utm_BFL_12_13_14&inf_contact_key=73888918b4f7a12c9cf6a3d7f482394c061fbfc7570f0acacc53d778f254acb6#sthash.7LdLqjrk.dpuf


Insatiable Hunger and Binge Eating Disorder

Insatiable Hunger and Binge Eating Disorder

When Eating Becomes a Problem


Insatiable Hunger and Binge Eating Disorder

An eating disorder might seem humorous. Have you ever joked that you could “eat everything on this table?” For some people, though, overeating is no laughing matter. Overeating and binge eating disorders are complex illnesses that can be life-threatening. As a Santa Barbara psychologist, I have seen how they can completely overwhelm patients’ lives and wreak havoc on their bodies.

Although both issues are generally labeled as eating disorders, there are some differences between insatiable hunger and binge eating disorder. With insatiable hunger, patients feel like they are always hungry, no matter how recently or how much food they have eaten. Although there may be some type of physical cause for this feeling, it can also stem from anxiety. It could be based on feelings of low self-esteem, or might represent insatiable needs which were not met by parents or significant others. Therapy for anxiety can often uncover these underlying causes and alleviate the feeling of continual hunger.

According to The Something Fishy Website on Eating Disorders, a binge eating disorder usually involves periodic occasions where sufferers will go on an eating binge and consume a large quantity of food in a short period of time. They feel like they have no control over their actions. Sufferers continue taking in food until they are uncomfortably full, and do not take any voluntary steps to purge the food from their bodies. Binge eating may be used as a means of hiding from emotions, filling a void inside, or coping with stresses and problems. According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD), it can manifest with a sense of depression about the overall situation and loss of control. Depression counseling may be one step in understanding why these patients feel so sad that they look to unhealthy eating habits for comfort.

In either case, long-term afflictions with the disorder can lead to serious health issues. The patient will likely be overweight and may suffer from high blood pressure, diabetes, and other diseases associated with overeating. For these sufferers, it is not as simple as going on a diet or working with a nutritionist to learn about healthy eating habits. They may need to see a psychologist for depression in order to work through their feelings of despair and to understand the unhealthy role food is playing in their lives.

Understanding Insatiable Hunger and Binge Eating Disorder


Insatiable Hunger and Binge Eating Disorder

It can be difficult to accept the fact that you no longer have a healthy relationship with food. You may try to forget any episodes of unhealthy eating, and may attempt to hide any evidence. You may push away others who try to show concern or offer help. The first step in overcoming any type of disorder is realizing that you are acting in a way that is not healthy for your mind or your body. Some questions which might help determine if you or someone you love are dealing with insatiable hunger or a binge eating disorder include:

  • Do you recognize when you are full and are you capable of stopping eating?
  • Do you feel like you are always hungry, even after a physician has ruled out any possible medical causes?
  • Do you often eat more in comparison to others at the same meal?
  • Do you try to hide your eating, or evidence of how much you have eaten?
  • What are your eating habits like now compared to what they were a year or two ago?
  • How much food do you eat in a typical day?
  • Have your sleep patterns been interrupted by your eating habits?
  • How quickly do you eat?
  • How do you feel emotionally about the way you eat?
  • Have your eating habits affected your relationships with others?
  • To what extent is your life controlled by your eating?
  • Do you have secret “stashes” of food in various locations?

Your answers to these questions don’t necessarily indicate that you have an eating disorder, but they provide helpful guidelines. If you think there is cause for concern, it is always best to check with a medical doctor and a Santa Barbara therapist to confirm your suspicions. 

Overcoming an Insatiable Hunger or Binge Eating Disorder

The first thing to understand if you think you are dealing with an eating disorder is that you are not alone. There are many people in situations similar to yours, many people who can help you, and many people that love you. When you come to me for help with managing anxiety and/or your eating disorder I spend time getting to know you so we can explore the emotional roots of your condition together.

Dr. Adina-McGarr-Knabke, Santa Barbara TherapistIn addition to psychotherapy, I may recommend a consultation with your medical doctor to discuss antidepressants or other medication to help you deal with the emotional turmoil you are experiencing. It may also be helpful to seek alternative therapies to relieve stress and tension. The Deep Tissue Massage Center specializes in Therapeutic Deep Tissue Massage which promotes full body stress relief, healthy function of muscle tissues, and speeds recovery. Points of Health Acupuncture helps you rejuvenate, relax, balance, and heal. Together we’ll help you regain control of your life.

If you feel you are being controlled by insatiable hunger or a binge eating disorder, contact my office immediately to set up a session, and let me help you find a path to a better life.

Dr. Adina McGarr-Knabke
The Santa Barbara Therapist


About MySantaBarbaraTherapy.com: If you feel you need therapy for depression to help you overcome an insatiable hunger or binge eating disorder, consider setting an appointment with Dr. Adina McGarr-Knabke, the Santa Barbara Therapist. The doctor provides counseling for anxiety to help patients deal with many types of eating disorders. The office, which is located at 1187 Coast Village Rd., Suite 10P in Santa Barbara, also provides alcoholism and addiction treatment services. Visit the website at https://www.mysantabarbaratherapy.com to find links for more information regarding binge eating. “Like” the Facebook page to receive updates, tips, and information on managing anxiety and sustaining good mental health. Appointments to see the psychologist for anxiety and other mental issues may be made online or by calling 818-518-6775.


Insatiable Hunger and Binge Eating Disorder