New Year’s resolutions. Ugh! Yes, it is that time of year when exercise equipment and gym membership sales surge and people make promises/commitments/vows/blood oaths/swear to lose weight. Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem, Red Mountain Weight Loss, Medifast. They are selling you the goal you are wanting. You want to lose weight or cleanse your body- they want to sell you their system. The most common mistake made by those bloody oath-swearing commitment makers is they set the wrong goals. They’ll spend money (needlessly) and set unreasonable (or distasteful) objectives to detoxify, cleanse or rid their body of whatever. So many of these detox systems are totally useless.
There’s only one thing that really works: planning. And it has to be your plan that fits you. We recommend adapting a lifestyle that works for you. For example, we think there’s a lot of common-sense and good science supporting a Pegan or Mediterranean diet. We also that Jamie Oliver’s Superfood lifeplan makes a lot of sense. But each of these lifestyle plans requires, first and foremost, planning. That’s the secret behind achieving your New Year’s resolution. Start with making a meal preparation list and a corresponding shopping list each day. You can even have fun and create a “menu” template that you can fill in, weekly, with your planned meals
We’ve created a chart that offers what we’ve learned so far about the foods you should chew and what foods to eschew:
|GOOD TO CHEW||WHAT TO ESCHEW|
|Blueberries – Bursting with antioxidants. Nature’s uber food.||Strawberries – Gave been hybridized into flavorless, rock-hard lumps of cellulose|
|Dark Chocolate – Loaded with antioxidants and serotonin (happy hormone).||Milk Chocolate – Perfectly good dark chocolate watered down with cow secretions. Ugh!|
|Gluten-Free Grains – brown rice, quinoa, millet, oats, non-GMO corn, sweet potatoes||Bad Starches – Any wheat-based flours, white rice, russet or red potatoes, granolas.|
|Nuts – Almost any nut or nut-based milk with the exception of peanuts (which really aren’t nuts). It’s easy to make your own nut-milk and it tastes GREAT!||Most Dairy Items – Cheeses, whole milks, sweetened yogurts, cream, sour cream, cream cheese….and definitely creamed corn.|
|Red Wine – Full of flavonoid antioxidants. Works for Europeans.||White Wine – Deprives you of the healthful skin of wine grapes.|
|Fish – Full of Omega-3 and fish oil. Keeps Eskimos warm and dolphins happy.||Beef & Pork – Have you ever been to a slaughterhouse? Did you ever watch Babe? C’mon.|
|Honey – It’s good enough for baby bees, why not for you? An alternative: Stevia. A very cool herb.||Sugar – Almost as addicting as cocaine but with more calories. Avoid unless it is in dark chocolate.|
|Veggies – If its green, it’s keen. …unless it is spoiled. Take it easy on the starchy veggies…and learn to love yams.||Processed Foods – All convenience, no class.|
|H2O – Drink a lot and drink it often.||Soda – View it as liquid cocaine.|
And for those who don’t like to read charts, here it is in one paragraph: Eat blueberries. Exercise. Eat fish (that isn’t endangered). Eggs are OK too. Exercise. Eat dark chocolate. Drink red wine, but not too much. Exercise. Eat lots of greens and other veggies. Drink a lot of water (throw some lemon or lime in it). Exercise. Get enough sleep. Then exercise. Repeat daily. Oh yeah, and floss. Get rid of your gym membership and diet plans and spend your hard-earned money on really fresh, nutritious food. For those people who live in Southern California, you might want to try out a food delivery service called Paleo Delivers.
Livestrong Diet – Aims for a loss of about 1-2 pounds per week.
GM Diet – It’s not really a General Motors-designed diet plan. It’s actually a short one-week detox program. But it could be a useful starter to a major personal diet reboot. Linora Low gives a helpful (and free) step-by-step video and written guide to how to do this detox program.
The Lose Weight Diet – It does what many of the diet scammers do (take free information and distill it down to 3 easily understood phases) but he actually offers it for free!
CDC Research on Portion Size – A 2006 Center for Disease Control study that documents how salty, high-fat, high-calorie foods have infiltrated our diets, in part, because portion sizes have increased. You’ll never look at a menu the same way again after reading this very accessible evaluation.
Dr. Terry Simpson – This doctor offers much useful and free information about diet and nutrition that is both thoughtful and scientifically validated. In particular, his discussion about weight loss is a must read.
But the most important free diet information you can find is about the dangers of sugar and processed foods. There are tremendous numbers of articles about these two health scourges, including a number of free articles at this website. But if you really feel compelled to spend money about how to lose weight, the two best resources currently available are: “Mindless Eating” by Brian Wansink and David Kessler’s “The End of Overeating” . Both books are available on the Internet for a few bucks if you are OK with a used (previously read) version.
Wansink’s book documents how we often manage to eat hundreds of extra calories every day without gaining any extra satisfaction or even knowing that we’ve eaten them. Over time, this easily translates into weight gains of 10 pounds or so each year. He demonstrates how people will eat more food based on cues that we don’t even recognize we are responding to. One of these cues is quantity; if there is more food available, we will eat more. Another cue is variety; if there are more different types of food, or they are presented in a mixed up assortment, we will eat more. This type of mindless eating often occurs whether we are actually still hungry or not. You can painlessly and knowingly lose 10 pounds every year, simply by reversing the bad habit. Rather than consuming extra calories that bring you no greater pleasure or satisfaction, eliminate this mindless ‘margin’ of calories.
His common-sense suggestions include:
* Eat until you’re 80% full. You may be surprised to find that you are, in fact, completely satisfied at this point.
* Dish out 20% less than you think you want. Same principal as above, just a different variation of it. Put less on your plate to begin with, so you don’t feel the urge to ‘clean your plate’. Out of a 2000 calorie day, you just saved yourself 400 calories. In just over a week, that’s a pound of fat lost. And you probably didn’t even notice the change!
* Put everything you want to eat on your plate at once, including dessert. This will give you a true visualization of how much you are packing away at one sitting, rather than having two or three servings and not seeing how much it adds up to.
* Use small serving dishes and tall, slender glasses. An easy way to fool the mind into thinking you are getting more.
* Mind habitual eating routines. For me, this is a bowl of ice cream after dinner. It doesn’t fulfill any need of mine, it is simply habit.
* Don’t deprive yourself – eat your favorite foods, just less of them. This is my very favorite rule, because I will never change my eating habits if it means eliminating the delicious foods that I love. However, I can easily eat less of the foods that are higher in calories, and still get the same pleasure without the excess.
The End of Overeating is Dr. David A. Kessler’s attempt to impart all of the knowledge that he developed about the American diet during his many years as a doctor and head of the Federal Drug Administration. This guy is smart and determined. He goes into detailed scientific reasons for why we overeat, and how the food industry plays into our psychological weaknesses, causing us to eat way more than we should. This book addresses the seemingly irresistible cravings to eat certain foods and the inner dialogues that accompany these cravings for a growing portion of the population. For example, suppose you go to a meeting after lunch, when you’ve already eaten and are not hungry, and find someone has brought in a tray of cookies. For some people, they will see the cookies, know that they have already eaten and don’t need one, and stop thinking about the cookies. For many of us, we will see the cookies, know that we have already eaten and don’t need one, but think about how good they probably taste, and start having an inner dialogue about how much we really want a cookie, but really shouldn’t, etc. All of a sudden the cookies are front and center in our mind and even if we turn our focus to the meeting, the cookies will be calling to us until we either eat one (or more), or leave.
Kessler boils it down to the appeal of sugar, fat and salt in combination, and compounded by the reinforcing nature of them when we consume them and experience the reward of pleasure. He calls this ‘conditioned hypereating’. The food industry plays into this by creating highly palatable combinations of sugar, fat and salt layered together, marketing them to us as ‘fun’, and making them available to us 24/7. There are physiological processes going on in our brains, reinforcing the eating habits that are making us sick. With awareness, we can re-program our brains, basically, so that we no longer crave the unhealthy foods. He frequently compares the steps to breaking these eating habits to the steps drug and alcohol addicts must take to break their addictions. “The enduring ability to eat differently depends on coming to view these foods as enemies, not friends”, he reminds us.
For example, he talks about developing negative associations with the unhealthy stimuli. This could include picturing your fat thighs rubbing together every time you walk by a chain restaurant that you find especially tempting. Eventually your subconscious will make the connection that tempting chain restaurant = fat thighs, and you will not be tempted, and may even be turned off by the stimulus of the restaurant. He suggests:
*Figure out your cues. Food cues, situational cues, all of them. Add negative associations to your normal cues.
*Refuse everything you can’t control.
*Create an alternate plan with a specific behaviour to adopt in place of what normally would be conditioned hypereating.
*Remember the stakes. When faced with a situation that may involve conditioned overeating ensure that your visualization takes you all the way through to the inevitable end of the eating episode where you acknowledge that following momentary pleasure may come the pain of guilt or depression or the simple fact of it being counterproductive to your health.
*Reframe things in terms of you vs. them. Kessler calls this active resistance. Recognize that Big Food is out to get you and try to see food in those terms.
*Thought stopping. Try to stop your food-related thoughts dead in their tracks.
*Talk down the urge. Approach it with rationale thoughts. “Eating this will only satisfy me momentarily”, “If I eat this I’ll demonstrate that I can’t break free”.