I am neither a medical doctor nor a nutritionist (my Ph.D. is in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures), but I can share with you what Nancy and I have learned from others and what we have lived out in our own lives. It was Nancy who first discovered the writings and videos of Dr. Joel Fuhrman, who became well-known for his bestselling book Eat to Live, and his materials had a revolutionary impact on her life. We both highly recommend that you get Dr. Fuhrman's more recent book The End of Dieting.
While the three keys presented in this article do not take the place of reading The End of Dieting (or any other books you find helpful), they summarize important truths that provide the foundation for your new way of life.
1. Forget about dieting. You need a lifestyle change.
According to a May 4, 2016, e-blast from Dr. Fuhrman, a study published in the journal Obesity found that six years after their initial weight loss, 13 of the 14 contestants had regained a significant amount of weight, and four were heavier than before they participated in the show The Biggest Loser. The study measured both the contestants' weight and their metabolic rate. The reason for this? "The human body adapts to weight loss by slowing calorie expenditure," Dr. Fuhrman explains, "increasing appetite, and promoting fat storage. If you regain the weight, these adaptations will make losing weight the second time more difficult than the first."
So, the struggle you have with what's called yo-yo dieting—losing weight, gaining it back, losing it again, gaining it back again—is not simply the result of lack of willpower on your part. It's also a matter of a nonworkable plan, since if you lose weight the wrong way, your own body makes it harder to keep it off.
That's why Dr. Fuhrman and others recommend a totally new lifestyle and a totally new approach to food, what he calls "the Nutritarian way of eating."
His conclusion? Diets fail because of lack of proper education, meaning people don't understand what a healthy human diet really looks like. So rather than eating in a healthy way that can be maintained for a lifetime, shows like The Biggest Loser offer "a formula for failure and disease." This leads naturally to the next point.
2. Don't cut back on the bad foods. Cut the bad foods out, then replace them with good foods.
If you realize that bad foods really are bad for you, then it's best to cut them out entirely rather than just cutting them back. Otherwise it's much easier to fall back into your old, unhealthy eating habits since you're keeping temptation around on a regular basis. Also, when you only cut back on bad foods, you continue to put unhealthy fuel into your system. What's the purpose of that?
Conversely, when you replace the bad food with good food, over time your palate will be retrained, and you'll enjoy the good stuff the way you used to enjoy the bad stuff. But if you keep eating the bad stuff, your taste buds will never change.
Plus, when you eat only healthy foods, they quickly take the place of the bad foods, meaning you will no longer crave the unhealthy stuff. Why make life more difficult for yourself by taking in just enough of the bad foods to keep those addictions alive? And that leads to point No. 3.
3. Recognize that food addictions are as real as any other addiction, and they are some of the deadliest addictions we can have.
The other day, I saw a humorous meme on Facebook that said, "Donut Fact #18: Donuts are healthier than crystal meth." Maybe so, but not by much.
One of my favorite doughnuts was the Dunkin' Donuts Chocolate Glazed Cake. (Better still was the double chocolate version, where this already- rich doughnut had another layer of chocolate on top.) According to the Calorie King website, there are 340 calories in a single doughnut, including 171 from fat, which equals 29 percent of the recommended daily value of fat content and 45 percent of the recommended daily value of saturated fat content.
That means that with just two of these doughnuts—not mentioning anything else you eat all day—you have already almost reached the recommended daily allowance of saturated fat content and have reached 58 percent of the recommended daily allowance of total fat. (And we won't even get started on all the harmful chemicals and additives that are packed in those doughnuts.)
Let's say you decided to really splurge and had those doughnuts with a 24-ounce Starbucks Java Chip Frappuccino® Blended Coffee with whole milk and whipped cream. You've just added another 600 calories to your intake for the day (with the two doughnuts, you'd be at 1340 calories; I live on less than 2,000 calories per day), including another 14 grams of saturated fat, representing the total recommended daily allowance.
This means you would already have consumed more than twice the recommended daily allowance of saturated fat just with your coffee and doughnuts).
Perhaps you say, "So what's the big deal about having all these fats?" The American Heart Association website has your answer: "Eating foods that contain saturated fats raises the level of cholesterol in your blood. High levels of LDL cholesterol in your blood increase your risk of heart disease and stroke."
That Frappuccino and those doughnuts greatly increase your risk of heart disease and stroke, and that's just one example of unhealthy eating. For the most part a significant percentage of the typical American diet is unhealthy, and therefore, in ultimate terms, deadly. Added to this is the addictive nature of many of these foods—It was easier for me to give up drugs than to give up chocolates and other treats—and you really do have a recipe for disaster.
In his book Breaking the Food Seduction: The Hidden Reasons Behind Food Cravings—and 7 Steps to End Them Naturally, Dr. Neal Barnard begins by first discussing "The Seductions," explaining physiologically how we become addicted to certain foods. The titles of the chapters that follow say it all: "Sweet Nothings: The Sugar Seduction"; "Give Me Chocolate or Give Me Death: The Chocolate Seduction"; "Opiates on a Cracker: The Cheese Seduction" and "The Sizzle: The Meat Seduction."
When we fail to take these seductions seriously, we fail ourselves. It doesn't mean you're a bad person if you have bad eating habits. It means you need to have serious resolve to make a change. But people make these changes every day, including atheists and nonbelievers who rely totally on willpower. Surely we who have God's help can make a change.
This article is an excerpt from Breaking the Stronghold of Food by Dr. Michael L. Brown with Nancy Brown. Copyright 2017, Michael L. Brown, Ph.D.
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