Complicated, restrictive diets have failed us. But there is another way. In this article, we look at how eating more of the right foods can support your weight-loss and your health.
Many of us struggle with managing our weight in today’s world. In fact, 2 in 3 Americans are now considered overweight or obese. Twenty years of diet advertising has made no difference. But if diets don’t work, what is the solution? The simple answer might surprise you. We need to eat more.
Eating more to weigh less might sound counterintuitive. But it is what you eat that makes the difference. The key is to go for foods that are high in nutritional value, but low in calorie density. What are these foods? Fruits and vegetables in their natural state, plant-based proteins such as legumes, and high-fiber whole grains and plenty of fresh water, broth-based soups, or other non- caloric beverages. When you fill yourself up with these low calorie, highly nutritious foods, you stay fuller and more satisfied for longer, which allows you to take in fewer total calories and lose weight in a healthy way.
Another important consideration is dietary fat. For the “eat more, weigh less” approach to work, you do need to strongly limit added fats. CHIP recommends getting ~40 grams of fat per day, mainly from whole foods such as nuts or avocados. Yes, we know that low-fat diets are not trendy at the moment! But here’s why dietary fat is so important for weight loss: fat contains 9 calories per gram, compared to the 4 calories per gram in carbohydrates and protein. That means it is very easy to quickly overeat foods that are high in fat while your stomach remains relatively empty (i.e. high calorie, small food volume), meaning you get hungry sooner.
It is a rare person who can eat in a completely healthy way all the time. It is more sustainable to aim for an 80:20 balance. 80% of the time you eat a low processed, whole-food diet, and get exercise daily. The other 20% of the time you might not make such good choices. Forgive yourself for not always being able to do the right thing and get back on track as soon as you can. The important thing is that you are prioritising your health most of the time.
There are all sorts of issues tied up in our ability to make healthy choices, including our emotions, our culture, and our stress-levels. Many of us turn to food for comfort without even thinking. Being
mindful in your eating can help you to notice these patterns. You can then develop other ways of comforting yourself after a bad day. Set yourself up for success by doing an audit of your pantry and refrigerator. Get rid of processed foods and replace them with plant-based whole foods. It can help to think of your kitchen as your “farmacy” – full of preventative food-based medicine.
We live in a society that tells us to eat, drink and make merry, and then piles on the guilt when conventional diets don’t work for us. It is time to let go of that guilt. Without access to the right information, it is difficult to make sustainable changes to your lifestyle. But when you are armed with knowledge and proper support, you will be successful. That is what we offer through our Complete Health Improvement Program (CHIP). We work to some simple principles:
- Reduce high processed foods
- Reduce animal products
- Reduce or avoid added fats
- Eat more fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes
- Take one step, then another, until you are walking half-an-hour a day
- Surround yourself with emotional, spiritual, and social support
Get free help to get you back on track – For more on CHIP and the lifestyle medicine approach to promoting health and reversing chronic disease, join us live every Wednesday at 3pm EST for our “Ask Dr. Sal” webinar with Sal Lacagnina, DO, Medical Director of the Lifestyle Medicine Institute. Previous recorded sessions are also available at: www.chiphealth.com/AskDrSal
Join the movement! Employers, health care systems, and health care providers achieve real and positive health outcomes for their employees and patients with CHIP. CHIP is the first Certified Lifestyle Medicine Program and has helped tens of thousands of people prevent, halt and even reverse chronic illness. Ask your employer or health care provider about offering CHIP today!