I usually crave something sweet around 4 p.m. The temptation is so strong that I almost always give in. I've tried many tricks, like bringing carrot sticks to eat instead, but nothing seems to work. Is there any way to break this cycle?
When it comes to favorite foods, most of us are creatures of habit. But recognizing that sugary treats are your weakness, and knowing when to expect them gives you a good chance to fend off the cravings.
First, make sure you eat a healthful lunch containing protein, complex carbohydrates and a small amount of fat. As late afternoon rolls around, expect the craving. When it hits, try to figure out what is motivating it. Hunger? Boredom?
Then use the seven-minute rule. Give yourself seven minutes to see if the craving passes (take a quick walk or brush your teeth to kill the time). You'll be amazed at how quickly most cravings disappear. If yours hasn't, and a piece of fruit or handful of peanuts won't do, indulge yourself. Just make sure you enjoy every bite.
I've been hearing a lot about the dangers of mercury in fish. Which fish is safe, and which should I stay away from?
Swordfish, shark, king mackerel and tilefish (think BIG fish) tend to have the highest mercury levels. Albacore tuna can also be high in mercury. If your diet consists of a moderate amount of smaller fish, you should be fine. Those who need to be most cautious about the fish they eat are women who are pregnant or nursing. Too much mercury can cause serious neurological damage, particularly in a fetus or growing child. For more information, go to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Web site www.cfsan.fda.gov and click on "seafood."
Does chocolate really cause acne breakouts?
Recent research appearing in the Archives of Dermatology suggests that sugar, white flour and other high-glycemic foods boost insulin in the blood. In turn, this raises testosterone levels, which can lead to acne.
But according to Johns Hopkins dermatologist Patrick McElgunn, diet usually does not influence acne in large groups of patients. Most large-group studies on the subject, while not conclusive, do not show a definite correlation between specific foods and breakouts, says McElgunn.
"Individual responses may be variable," he concedes, "however, we do not generally suggest any dietary modification."
If a patient regularly breaks out after eating chocolate, McElgunn will have the patient avoid or moderate his or her chocolate intake. The bottom line? If you don't notice a connection, no need to worry.
Do you have a fitness question? Write to Fitness, The Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21278. You can also fax questions to 410-783-2519 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.