Do You Really Need Another Diet?

by Jeanne Rhodes

Get this! If you’re on a restrictive diet of any kind with boring food and deprivation - it doesn’t work! Ask yourself, “Am I willing to do this laborious task for the rest of my life? What happens when I am no longer adding and subtracting all those numbers?” Before you start on another “get thin quick” gimmick, you owe it to yourself and to your health to consider permanent weight loss - possible ONLY through a wellness lifestyle approach. And we do assume that you want to keep if off?

It is critical that you learn to get back in touch with your body’s natural “appestat” so you’ll want to stop eating when you’re satisfied. Learning to respond to true physiologic hunger is a simple but very important way to regulate your food intake without dieting. Counting calories takes us in the opposite direction because it creates feelings of deprivation often accompanied with excessive hunger and food cravings. We need a “back to basics” approach that will normalize weight and create a healthy relationship with food. We need to think lifestyle, not diet. It is critical that we enjoy food and not be obsessed with calories or high protein.

Dr. James Hill, obesity expert, director of the Colorado Clinical Nutrition Research unit at the Colorado Health Sciences in Denver states that “ stuff is really a little gimmicky.” He does not endorse any “diet,” emphasizing instead that people need to make lifestyle changes - finding a plan that works. No population, he says, that practices healthy lifestyles has obesity problems.

There are many things that are self-defeating when counting calories, or carbohydrate grams, but we’ll look at just one - the attempt to live in constant hunger.

The two following menus are both low fat. Menu #1, although double the calorie content, is a lot less food, and is certain to create food cravings because blood sugar will run low all day:

Menu #1

Breakfast - 1 bagel and orange juice; Lunch - lg. low fat muffin and apple juice; Afternoon Snack - pretzels, large banana and raisins; Dinner - 3 c. spaghetti with tomato sauce, Italian bread w/ light margarine and fruit cup; P.M. Snack - orange juice and fat-free crackers. Total calories = 2,500-3000.

Menu #2

Breakfast - High fiber cereal w/ skim milk (large bowl), whole wheat toast w/1 oz. low fat cheese, melted; A.M. Snack - 1 apple; Lunch - chicken breast on 1 whole wheat bread w/fat free gravy, vegetable, 1-2 cookies (lowfat and sugar free); Afternoon Snack - raw veggies w/1/3 c. lowfat cheese dip; Dinner - *Chicken Cordon Bleu (lowfat recipe), vegetable, lg. tossed salad w/ lowfat dressing; P.M. Snack - 1 high fiber cracker w/ peanut butter. Total calories = 1200-1500.

Examine these two menus carefully - Which of these two menus would deliver the volume of food to satisfy your appetite? Menu #2 has twice the amount of food, but only half the calories! Why is this? Fiber content of Menu #2 delivers a much greater volume of food for far fewer calories, since the calories in fiber are not absorbed by your body. Fiber contains 4 calories per gram, but these are “free” calories that go straight through your system and out your “back door”! Fiber also nabs cholesterol as it passes through your body, lowering your risk of heart disease. What’s more, fiber slows the rate at which glucose is absorbed, providing “staying-power” for your food, preventing hunger, reducing your risk of diabetes, and reducing body fat. AND Menu #2 is not high protein - it is high in carbohydrates - the healthy high fiber kind.

If your goal is to lose weight permanently, a Wellness Lifestyle will actually change the way your body works, taking you from “fat storing” to “fat burning” without food deprivation. In fact, new government guidelines hammer home the message that most professionals have advocated for years - lifestyle changes that are comfortable and convenient, get you to your goal permanently, and most importantly - bring quality to your life!

Rhodes, B.A., M.A., is a nutritionist, wellness consultant, author and director of Rhodes Preventive Health Institute in Hagerstown.