“One of the secrets of a happy life is continuous small treats.”
~ Iris Murdoch
Did you ever notice when you were on a low-fat diet that you couldn’t stop eating pretzels? Have you found that when you run out of the house in the morning with only dry toast and a banana, you’re hungry by the time you get to work? Or that after eating only an apple or no-fat yogurt at 3:00 pm, you end up eating past comfortable fullness before you even sit down to dinner? (Not to mention that you weren’t your pleasant self since you walked in the door?)
These hunger and craving responses are normal, and they make physiological sense. And there’s something you can do to work with them instead of fighting against them. Eat your C-Piffs!
What is a C-Piff? “C-Piff” is the way one of my clients pronounces “CPF,” which is what I call foods, meals, or snacks that provide us with a combination of carbohydrate (C) + protein (P) + fat (F).
Although many diet plans tell us to avoid or limit carbs and fats, our body needs both of these nutrients, along with protein, not only to function well but also to maintain a normal blood sugar (glucose) level.
Keeping our glucose, the body’s fuel, at a steady, normal level by eating C-Piffs at regular intervals allows us to more easily regulate our intake and avoid episodes of overeating.
While all three of these nutrients provide us with glucose, combining them sustains our glucose levels so much better than just a carb food (like a dry bagel) or a wimpy no-fat food (like a no-fat cheese stick) because they vary in their rates of digestion and absorption.
Carbohydrate foods take the least amount of time to digest, and they provide glucose the most quickly. Glucose from simple carbohydrate foods, like jelly beans or juice, is available as fuel in our bloodstream within about 5 to 10 minutes, while glucose from complex carbohydrate foods (also known as starches), such as whole grain bread or brown rice, is available after about 15 to 30 minutes. Glucose from protein foods is available in the bloodstream within 30 to 90 minutes, depending on if it’s a low-fat, such as broiled flounder, or a high-fat protein, such as ham or Brie cheese. Fats (oil, butter, salad dressing, mayonnaise, etc) take the longest time to digest, providing glucose after about 90 minutes to 3 hours.
So, for example, pizza, despite being labeled a “bad” food, is an amazing C-Piff! With the crust and sauce providing carbohydrate and the cheese providing protein and fat, eating one or two or three pieces to comfortable fullness will satisfy you for several hours. Most meals, with their chicken, fish, meat, or soy protein, combined with a starch and veggies, are also C-Piffs.
Eating C-Piffs throughout the day helps us keep our energy level up and our mood more manageable. It also enables us to think more clearly, not only because we’re providing our body and brain with fuel, but also because we’re not distracted or driven by hunger. As a result, during the moments you have urges to use food, we will be able to more easily decide what, if not food, is needed.
Here’s a sampling of mobile snack-type C-Piffs. Don’t leave home without some!
- peanut butter sandwich
- nuts + fruit trail mix
- peanut butter pretzel nubs
- granola + low-fat or regular yogurt + banana
- protein bars with at least 12 grams of protein
- cheese + fruit or crackers
- hummus + pita + avocado
Or stop along the way for:
- smoothie made with low-fat or regular yogurt
- ice cream cone
- hot chocolate and pretzels
Make sure you keep C-Piffs on hand, so that you are always prepared!
About Karin Kratina, PhD, RD, LDN, SEP
Karin can help you escape food and body angst and learn to manage your eating and weight naturally. Visit www.EatingWisdom.com for free handouts, online courses and more tips on mindful, intuitive eating and healing disordered eating.
© 2012 Amy Tuttle, RD, LCSW Adapted slightly by Karin Kratina, PhD, RD, LD/N