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Walk, don’t crave (food, tobacco and other things) 1/12/11

January 12, 2011

Getting Back Control

Gained a few pounds over the holidays but still craving those chocolate croissants?  Do you want to establish or re-establish control over what you do?  One answer for you may be walk, don’t crave.

Often I’ve written that what you do is what you become.  The body runs on information, using that new information to remake its rebuild.  Everything you do and everything you come in contact with changes the body’s incoming information  (much of this information is unconscious, as in your reaction to bugs and pathogens.) You body’s remake is rapid – most of you is replaced in weeks.  So how you process and use information creates the template for a new rebuild – effectively a new you.

So what can you do to control food and other cravings?  The simple answer – use your body the way it’s built.

In The New York Times Science section Anahad O’Connor writes a column on scientific claims – true or false.  One claim she found true – walking changes food cravings.

People who were chocoholics were kept away from their favorite food for three days, stressed with tests, and “tempted” with chocolate bars.

Those who walked 15 minutes craved chocolate far less.

And that’s not all.  Similar results occurred with smokers, who also demonstrated less cravings for their favorite smokes after brief, self-paced walks.

Is this a way to get your pounds down after the holidays?  To control cravings that feel beyond your control?

If you do it right.


Moving as Information


Humans are walking machines.  Hunter-gatherer societies walk 12-14 miles a day.  Victorians routinely walked 20-25 miles at a stretch.

Americans seem to have a hard time getting out to stroll.

Our sedentary life does more than increase our risk of death (see “New Year’s Revolutions” 12/30/11) .  It gives our body all kinds of different information. It changes insulin levels and insulin sensitivities.  It changes the response to incoming glucose and fats.  It changes the weight at which the body feels comfortable.

Now, think of what happens if instead of sitting all day you start moving before meals.  You’re back to using your body for what it is well designed for – as a walking machine.  And some of the positive changes that occur include:

  1. Changes in insulin sensitivity.
  2. Overall increases in metabolism.
  3. Changes in muscle density and tone.
  4. Changes in joints and tendons.
  5. Changes in how you process food.
  6. Changes in your brain’s set point for weight.


So walking before the meal is changing your body’s response to food and how it processes the food.  It changes what, to the brain, food “means.” The changes produced above are just some that are known – there are probably hundreds of others.  So you can modify your metabolism, your cravings, and your behavior, all by yourself – just by doing one of the most natural acts anyone can do – walking.

Now think what happens if you walk after the meal.


Going FAR

Walking before meals does a lot, but so does walking after them.  Even a short stroll delays the digestion of food as blood supply is shunted to the muscles from the gut.  Food does not get assimilated so quickly.

Glucose levels rise more equitably.  Insulin does not jump so high.  Insulin related increases in fat depostion, particularly into the belly, delay or stop.

You’ve changed your metabolism again.

And knowing that you’ll be moving after a meal has other effects – including not eating quite as much as you might, since you know you’ll need to move once the meal is done.

This is part of going FAR – Food, Activity, Rest, a simple rhythm to the day that can align you and your body clocks.  It’s all part of something much bigger than controlling weight – controlling your Regeneration.


Your Regeneration Project

Your body rebuilds fast.  You essentially get a new gut within days, as well as a new heart.

Since you rebuild so fast, you have a lot of influence on how that renewal proceeds. Give your body the right information, and it can rebuild itself right.

Some of that information comes from the food you eat; how fast you eat it; how you prepare it; who you eat it with; where; when.

And there are many other factors about your regeneration that are under your control – when and how you move; how you socialize; how you use your body’s daily rhythm through the day.

Think of this as your Regeneration Project.  Think of what you need to do, minute to minute and day by day, that will regenerate yourself the way you want.

You might to think about walking – before and after meals.  With friends.  In sunlight.

All things that can help you regenerate right – and make life more fun.
Rest, sleep, Sarasota Sleep Doctor, well-being, regeneration, longevity, body clocks, insomnia, sleep disorders, the rest doctor, matthew edlund, the power of rest, the body clock, psychology today, huffington post, redbook, longboat key news



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