Health Talks

with Dr. Tanya Hudson

The Dilemma Of Whether To Snack Or Not

We all get the urge to snack. For some of us, we need something sweet. For others, something salty. Or maybe you prefer the healthier route and choose nuts or berries.

You might be surprised to learn that even “healthy” snacking can be detrimental to your health.

Confused? I understand. Read on to learn more.

This story begins with leptin. Leptin is a hormone produced by your fat cells that plays a significant role in managing the link between your brain and your stomach. Throughout the day, your fat cells release leptin into your bloodstream, which in turn tells your brain how much energy it has in storage. When leptin is working properly, it signals to the brain that you are either full or hungry, whether you need to store fat or burn it, and even how to manage your metabolism. In other words, proper leptin function keeps you from eating when you’re not hungry (or overeating in general) and it maintains your body’s fat burning and metabolic function in a proper state so that you aren’t storing excess fat or improperly using the foods you eat.

Years of unhealthy eating habits and poor food choices can affect the way our digestive system works. This can lead to an inability of our body to properly regulate and receive information relayed from hormones, such as leptin. When this happens, a person becomes “leptin resistant” and their hungry/full signals, cravings, metabolism, and overall diet suffer because the information transmitted by this important hormone is not received properly by the brain.

Correcting the issue of leptin resistance is crucial for you to achieve your health goals. If leptin resistance is left alone, it can set you on a path toward eventual obesity, diabetes, heart disease, gastrointestinal problems, and even cognitive decline.

Concerned about leptin resistance? Follow these five rules:

Rule 1: Never eat after dinner. Allow 11 to 12 hours between dinner and breakfast, which means you should never go to bed on a full stomach. Try to finish dinner at least 3 hours before bed.

Rule 2: Eat 3 meals a day and allow 5 to 6 hours between meals. Do not snack unless you fall into one of these categories: diabetics, children, extremely active young adults, or bodybuilders.

Rule 3: Do not eat large meals. If you are overweight, always try to finish a meal when you are slightly less than full. The full signal will usually catch up in 10 to 20 minutes, so eating slowly is very important.

Rule 4: Eat a breakfast containing protein. Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day when it comes to your metabolism. Unfortunately, most people consume processed carbs and sugar for breakfast and lack the appropriate amount of protein.

Rule 5: Reduce the amount of carbohydrates you eat. This is specifically referring to processed carbohydrates. Most of the carbohydrates in your diet should come from vegetables and fruit.

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