Sugar, sugar

Ask Dr. Annie K:

Why do I always crave something sweet after a big meal? Even if I ate enough and I feel full it seems like there’s room for a little dessert. Is there a medical explanation for this?

“Would you like to take a look at the dessert menu?”

Someone invariably in the group says yes.

It all goes back to the primal connection between our brain and our gut – why we refer to the gut as the “Second Brain”.

We could blame it all on ghrelin . Ghrelin is known as the “hunger hormone” which is produced in the gastrointestinal tract and brain. It stimulates the appetite and signals the brain to eat. New studies show that it can keep you eating, even when you are full. Consider the potential of this hormone to lead to a major medical breakthrough in weight management. It is one of many other factors that lead to overeating.

Sugar cravings happen for 3 primary reasons:

unstable sugar levels
emotional imbalance
habit

UNSTABLE SUGAR LEVELS

Eating food that is high in sugar and carbohydrates creates a quick, sharp rise in the level of sugar in your bloodstream. Insulin – a hormone secreted by the pancreas – kicks in to control blood sugar levels. As a result, blood sugar levels drop. Then the cravings start and that tiramisu is looking better and better. The sugar/insulin rollercoaster is dangerous. Besides the damage it does to our bodies, it wrecks havoc on mood and energy levels.

EMOTIONAL EATING

Any type of unbalanced emotional state can lead to sugar craving. Stress, anxiety, anger, and sadness can trigger a need of food, for comfort. Sugary desserts produce a serotonin and dopamine rush, neurotransmitters associated with mood-elevation. Feeling unusually happy can also incite cravings. A seriously great mood makes me want to celebrate with my favorite, marshmallows ;).

HABIT

Habit is a big one. If you grew up in a house where every meal ended in dessert, you may have simply developed the habit. Dessert follows dinner, no questions asked. It may be part of a tradition in your culture. This habit is now programmed in your mind.

A habit is still a choice and that choice is yours to make.

WHAT TO DO

The dangers associated with excessive sugar intact are documented facts. Sugar has been well studied. This is not one of those findings you can rationalize by saying “one day they say eggs are good for you, the next day they are bad”. FACT: High sugar is associated with obesity, tooth decay, accelerated aging of the skin, impaired cognition in children, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, depression and dementia. Type II diabetes is an epidemic in the western world.

I am not advocating cutting out all dessert. Stressing out over dessert is also unhealthy. If you need a little something sweet keep it little. A tiny dessert will relieve the craving with way less harm than the big dessert.

Ask Dr. Annie K: B12 Injections

Love+Medicine Vitamin B12
 

Should I get a B12 shot weekly @ 65 years old?

Love+Medicine

B12 injections have been popular for decades. This is the most fun part of my job as a writer – I learn new things. While researching for this article, I have learned that I am borderline B12 deficient. Enough about me (more later). Let’s get to the facts.

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THE WAY TO A MAN’S HEART*

*it’s not what you think

Little did I know that going through my old cookbooks would be so thought-provoking. Going by the “one year rule” – tossing whatever I haven’t used in the last year – these cookbooks should have been donated years ago.

The One and Only Settlement Cookbook

Let’s start with The Settlement Cook Book. It was first published 118 years ago. It was written by Elizabeth (“Lizzie”) Black Kander, a social worker in Milwaukee. She taught cooking classes at the Settlement House – an organization that helped poor European immigrants find their way in America. She believed Jewish women had an obligation in “advancing the history and customs of their forefathers.” Her thought was that if these women knew how to cook and clean, they would be rewarded with a happy husband and a happy life. This woman was no suffragette.

Mrs. Lizzie Black Kander

The book’s tagline was “The way to a man’s heart”. Besides the recipes, it gave strict instruction on how to set the table and clean spills. Kander wanted the man to..

“be surprised and pleased when he gets to the table. That is where he should forget all of his worldly cares”.

This part is great:

The hostess should serve the soup, salad, dessert and coffee, and, at a family dinner, the vegetables and entrées. The host serves the fish and meat.

The first copies sold out within a year. It was a way to reach the ultimate goal – finding a man and taking care of a home. Cooking gave women the means to assimilate while still maintaining a connection with their roots. The advertisements in the book are classic:

A Good Milkman
The beer that made Milwaukee famous!

There have been at least 40 editions since that time. By 1991 the sexist tagline was gone. The Settlement House was renamed the Milwaukee Jewish Center and then the Jewish Community Center ( AKA the JCC, or for the real old timers, “the Center” ;). Most of the women I know have a copy right up there with The Silver Palate.

As dated as it is to the point of absurdity, the housekeeping and cooking duties are still done by women in most American homes. For some this is out of choice, to those I say ‘sababa’! They may see cooking as a means of creative expression and culinary art. There are women who do love to cook and clean. I love to cook – not every day- and hate to clean.

For others it is a pattern dictated by gender alone. It is an added job for the woman at the end of a long day. Sure, the men do the classic male stuff – they are in charge of the barbecue of course or the grocery shopping if the woman makes the list. This is true even if the woman works and when she is the only breadwinner in the family.

My cookbook collection…

Women come up with all the excuses – I don’t trust him to buy what is in season, he doesn’t know how to cook, he can’t boil an egg, he doesn’t keep the house as clean as I do – without actually saying how much it sucks and you hate having to do it all the time. This is the quintessential “problem that has no name”, described by Betty Friedan in The Feminine Mystique from 1963.

People ask me how to raise a feminist boy or girl? The answer is by example. Build a home without gender-dictated roles and your kids will learn.

The Settlement Cook Book started with the goal of finding a man. Considering its humble roots, it now it holds a place as one of the greatest American cookbooks of all time. The schoolteacher language of early editions has softened. Non-kosher recipes appeared among the traditional kishke, kreplach, borscht and kasha varnishkes. I don’t use my Settlement Cookbook much, except during the Jewish holidays when I’m feeling the diaspora blues.

Hummus with Israeli pickles

I’m proud to say my mom was a true feminist and one of the later contributors to The Settlement Cook Book.

Do you own a copy of this legendary book? Who does the cooking in your house? Who “mans” the barbecue?

Magic Dust & Artichokes

When my year of no shopping ended, like a prisoner released from captivity, I couldn’t wait to bust out and buy something. I fell right into the trap! What a sucker. You wouldn’t believe what my first purchase was: Dust. I did not know that Gwyneth Paltrow touted it in her painfully misguided bullshit celebrity retail outlet called Goop. I read about it on a blog I once respected, called Cup Of Jo. There was one line…

“Psst, my friend says this …really works,”

…with a handy hyperlink directly to the Nordstrom website. For $39 I was the proud owner of a tiny jar. My partner just heard me reading this aloud and mumbled, “That useless shit was $39”?

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