Chapter 24 The “Rest Of Your Life” Diet

What would a book about obesity and weight loss be without a diet in it? Don’t worry, I’m going to make this easy on you. There won’t be any calorie counting and weird food restrictions (though we’ll definitely be cutting down or cutting out certain foods). And there won’t be any serious austerity.

 There is a good reason for this simplicity: you’ll be eating this way the rest of your life.

 You might not have been taught about healthy foods. Many young people grew up eating fast-food or processed food that went into the microwave. They haven’t been taught how bad this food is for their bodies. They also weren’t given alternatives.

 And even if you were taught about healthy choices, our understanding of food has changed significantly over the years. Most of us were taught a food pyramid that makes no sense today. Or, as in my case, we were taught that fat was bad for us and we needed more carbs. And most of us believe food companies when they tell us their product is healthy, natural, and part of a complete daily diet.

 With this in mind, you probably want some dietary direction, a plan that you can follow and adjust, that will help you lose weight.

 Most diets are meant to give you quick results so that you’ll see a return on the money you spent on the diet. At times, these diets are necessary to get rapid weight loss, to get us to a healthy weight as quickly as possible. If this is what you are looking for, there are many great ones to choose from. Just make sure they follow the science you’re learning in this book.

 But when it comes to most diets, how long can you stay on them? Can you really only eat protein the rest of your life? Isn’t it true you’ll eventually get tired of their shakes and meals? And how long do you want to go without your favorite foods?

 Perhaps the most common reason why we fail to stay on a diet is we get bored with the foods that the fad diets allow us. And we get tired of being hungry and miserable. Eating is pleasurable. We are designed to not only enjoy eating, but to also enjoy variety.

 Our goal is to have as much variety as possible while avoiding all those foods that are bad for you. As I present the diet below, remember that you will have to discover what works best for you. Wean yourself off sugar once a month, and then work with the principles laid out below. Find what works for you. Treat the guidelines below as a blueprint that you’ll need to modify to match your unique body, brain chemistry, age, ethnicity, and cultural history.  Also, realize that for most people, simply following a healthy diet and exercise program won’t be enough to achieve your weight goals. You may need to explore other options to get you to where you need to be. I will discuss these in future chapters.

     With all that said, let’s get started:

 A very important area for the rest of your life is first to get enough vegetables in your diet. Vegetables have the nutrients you need to be healthy.  Next, you’ll focus on proteins and the fats associated with them.  You will add fruits once you get a feel for how your body processes carbohydrates from fruit. And you may even add in a few grains.

But your main focus will be on vegetables, proteins, and healthy fats like those from nuts and seeds.  The good news is that protein and healthy fats will help you feel full and help you maintain your blood sugar at the right levels.  It also builds and supports all the cells in your body.

For the vegetarians, I have a chapter coming up for you real soon (and we have another myth to bust before then). However, it would be good to keep reading this chapter with the understanding that we’ll get to your concerns later. I know that you will not be eating meat, but you should understand why protein is so important to our diet. Bear with the rest of us for a few more pages; we’ll get to you shortly. 

 Let’s make your diet easy. For the rest of your life, do your best to get four to six ounces of protein at each meal. If you’re taller, you can push this to eight ounces. Usually, four to six ounces will be the size of a hockey puck. Another good measure would be your clenched fist.

So, getting adequate protein shouldn’t be too hard; just eat four to six ounces a meal. We don’t want this protein to be manufactured or processed. In other words, a fast food hamburger does not count as protein. Such foods have added hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats to lengthen shelf life and create a smoother texture. They are also modified with additives like sugar to make the food more addictive.

 If we looked at your protein sources, and broke this down to a typical day, you might have cottage cheese or eggs for breakfast, turkey or chicken for lunch, and fish or chicken for dinner. Keep it simple and enjoyable, shopping around the periphery of your supermarket.

 Next, let’s look at fats in your diet. As you know from an earlier chapter, we no longer consider fats as bad. Some are, certainly, but others will be an important part of your diet. This is good because we find fats satisfying in their natural state.

 So we’re not concerned about the fats associated with the protein we’re eating. Even the fat on your steak is fine. And the most satisfying part of that salmon is the layer of fat along the skin.

And unlike everything you’ve been taught, we also need to increase the amount of monounsaturated fats you eat. Remember, these fats are found in olive oil, avocados, and nuts.

 Oh, and keep your polyunsaturated fats low. These are the fats coming from most of the other types of oil you find in your pantry that are manufactured from corn or soy beans.  You may want to review chapter 7 where we talked about the myth that “Fatty Foods Make Us Fat”.

 The one polyunsaturated fat you do want is omega-3. I recommend having seafood at least three times a week. Remember, salmon, tuna, and lake trout are best. You can also try anchovies and herring. The good news is that water-packed tuna and salmon are also great sources of protein as well as omega-3 fatty acids. These you can add to salads and other foods to get your protein.

 I recommend having nuts and olives for snacks, and when avocados are in season, enjoy them on your salad. When it comes to salad dressings or cooking, stick with olive oil, butter, and coconut oil. In fact, the more olive oil you eat, the better, within reason of course. If you don’t like the taste of olive oil, you can use avocado oil.

So, let me give you a good guideline for what the added fats in your diet will look like in a typical day:

  1. tablespoon of butter
  2. tablespoons of olive oil
  3. ounce of cream (for your coffee)
  4. ounces of cheese

2 eggs

10 olives

Half an avocado

2 ounces of nuts

I bet you’re hungry just looking at this list. Isn’t it great that we can now enjoy foods with healthy fats?

 Now that we have the proteins and fats taken care of, our next focus will be on vegetables. Your goal should be to have six cups of vegetables a day.  Raw vegetables are best but don’t miss your cooked or steamed vegetables. It is interesting to note that there is more vitamin A available in a cooked carrot than in a raw one.   Some brands of protein powders will have added vegetable servings that can make for good smoothies to get your day started.  If you blend organic greens into a liquid that can be frozen into “ice cubes”, each cube will be a serving of vegetables.  Two of these ice cubes of vegetable juice, a handful of frozen berries and one scoop of the pea protein powder mix (that has two servings of vegetables), can be added to a small blender.  Your smoothie has 20 grams of protein and 4 servings of vegetables. 

 I know that this recommendation is probably quite a bit more veggies than you’re eating now, but this is where your nutrition and some of your hunger curbing fiber is going to come from. In the back of this book, I’ve listed vegetables from best to good. At the very least, begin thinking about salads, lots of salads.

 So far, we’ve focused on what you should eat. Most people will be just fine with six ounces of protein a meal and six cups of vegetables a day. Notice we haven’t talked about calories. It’s kind of refreshing to talk about what you should eat instead of what you shouldn’t eat. But, of course there are some other types of foods we can also eat in moderation.

 I’ve noticed that my obese patients experience something close to panic when I suggest they cut back on breads and pasta. Their large bodies need a lot of energy for all those extra cells, and starchy carbohydrates are the best source of fast energy.

 If you want bread, sourdough and pumpernickel move through the body more slowly than other types of bread.

This means they don’t spike your insulin as badly as other breads. You can, occasionally, include pasta in your diet, but realize that you may get an insulin spike if the pasta is not associated with enough fat and protein to mitigate the carbohydrate effect. Worse, many breads and pastas are processed, and many bakers will sneak in sugar to make the bread more enjoyable and addictive.

 When it comes to grains, I do encourage you to add oatmeal to your mornings. The body processes oatmeal in a wonderful way that supports your gut. Studies show some tremendous advantages coming from these little micro-breweries in our guts. The fermentation of these oat fibers create not only alcohol but free fatty acids that help our immune system to function at its best.  The water soluble fiber of oats will also help lower your cholesterol levels. 

 Don’t become too stressed with the idea of eliminating grains and breads from your diet. Remember, our goal is to have a program you can stay with the rest of your life. For now, be very aware of any refined grains you eat. You may even eliminate them totally from your diet for a couple weeks to begin losing weight.

 Fruits create a problem. They are so full of wonderful and necessary nutrients but they also have sugar, lots of sugar. And you will remember that the fructose sugar tends to be more likely stored as fat.  Therefore, you will want to be careful in your early weight loss program with how much fruit you add.    When you do eat fruit you want it to be in a natural state so you have all that fiber along with the sweet flavors.

 Many of us crave sweets, and fruit is the best way to get sweet into our lives. So instead of banishing fruit from our diet, we need enough to satisfy our sweet tooth.

 Of course, some fruits are better than others when it comes to weight loss. For instance, grapefruit does not trip insulin production as much as watermelons do. Berries have important nutrient benefits and are lower in their glycemic effect.

 Again, avoid juice and processed or canned fruits. If fresh fruits don’t work into your lifestyle, a great option is frozen berries, even if you have to wander into the middle of the store to get them. Just don’t linger in front of the ice cream display.

 So let’s lay out your typical day. Again there will be changes, and you will indulge occasionally. You’ll also have your days of sugar rehab and your dinners out. And holidays are important celebrations. All that I’m presenting here is a typical day. I also have some menus in the back of the book that will help you put together your weekly food plan.

 For breakfast, eggs are perfect if you have the stomach for a protein breakfast. If time is an issue, hard boil some eggs ahead of time. For those used to a lighter, sweeter breakfast, cottage cheese with a few berries works. You can also experiment with yogurt. Of course plain yogurt is better than flavored which has extra sugar. If you like cereal for breakfast, consider oatmeal. Again, don’t use those convenient little packages that have added sugar.  For lunch, you will not be going to the fast food joint. Nor will you be eating a sandwich. Salads are your best course. The good news is that a refreshing salad won’t make you sleepy in the afternoon. But if you’re too used to sandwiches, try lettuce wraps. Or wrap things like vegetables and cheese in deli meats. Again, be careful with your deli meats. Make sure the butcher isn’t adding a bunch of unhealthy stuff into the meat. If you have a sweet tooth, some fruit will be fine for dessert.

 For dinner, focus on the protein. Alternate between fish,  fowl, and  red meats, depending on what you like. Accompany the protein with vegetables. Again, use the list in the appendix for good net carb decisions. You may also get some good ideas for variety by looking through the list. If you must have dessert, and fruit just won’t cut it this late in the day, how does some dark chocolate sound? If not that, ice cream is probably your next best choice. But go for the high milk fat kind, and watch those portions.

Now that snacks are good, let’s focus on healthy ones. Most of us like sweet snacks in the morning and salty ones in the afternoon. Berries and fruit might work in the morning. As you cut down on sugar in your life, you’ll also discover how sweet carrots and peas are. For the afternoon, nuts like almonds and walnuts would be best. A little turkey jerky may hit the spot.

 Does this sound like a diet you can stick with for a couple of months? Maybe a year or two? The good news is that this diet is set up for your body. Once you free yourself from your sugar addiction, you’ll find it easier and easier to eat around the periphery of your supermarket. You’ll find that whole foods taste better than you thought when you were addicted to processed food. You’ll also have variety and creativity in your diet.

 You will indulge yourself occasionally. Don’t beat yourself up. Just continue on with your diet the next day. Again, we’ll be eating the rest of our lives, so we might as well enjoy it.
Chapter 25 Myth #7: Count