Important new information that will help you understand the roadblocks to health and develop a plan for optimal health and happiness!
If you are not already on it, we would like to introduce you to an exciting new diet program called "Fat for Life"! Would you like to eat whatever you want whenever you want it? Would you like your exercise program to be as easy as pressing the remote control button on your channel-changer? The Fat for Life program allows you to do whatever comes easiest for you. No thought or effort is required! Millions of Americans swear by the Fat for Life program, and now you can too! In fact, it was recently announced that for the first time in history the majority of adults in the United States are obese. This just shows how quickly the Fat for Life program is catching on. "But, aren't there risks associated with being fat?" you ask. Well, while it is true that at least 75-80% of all deaths in the United States are attributable to unhealthful diet and lifestyle choices, government officials, doctors, and even health associations often insist that the standard American diet is "healthy"! So, think positive! You may be among the lucky one-in-five Americans who won't suffer unnecessary illness and premature death. And besides, what is so bad about cancer, heart disease, strokes, diabetes, arthritis, and osteoporosis? Isn't that why you have health insurance?
Admittedly, not everyone is comfortable being fat and sick. But that is no reason to forsake the Fat for Life program. If you don't like carrying the extra weight, you can get your doctor to give you appetite-suppressing drugs, or to staple your stomach.
"But, you ask," doesn't research indicate that it may be more likely that my doctor can cure cancer than cure obesity?" Well, ask yourself this question: Why do you have to be so negative? Just think positive thoughts. Everything is exactly the way it is supposed to be. Go with the flow.
Diet no laughing matter
By now, you can tell that we have been writing tongue-in-cheek. But doesn't what we have written sound all too familiar? Most people, even most physicians, are really in the dark when it comes to diet and nutrition. Fortunately, there is an easy-to-understand approach to weight loss, and it doesn't involve any pills, powders, potions, or other gimmicks. It does involve learning how to eat and to exercise in ways that are consistent with our natural history. That means eating a diet consisting of whole natural foods. It also means engaging in frequent, moderate exercise.
Does our program work? At the TrueNorth Health Center, we have helped many people lose unneeded and unwanted fat, and keep it off, by following a few sensible guidelines. But before we describe our approach, let's look at why conventional diets don't work. One reason that diets don't work is that they contain foods that were never present in the natural environment! As a result, these foods - such as bread, cheese, crackers, "low-fat" chocolate shakes, margarine, and "light" beer - have the ability to fool the brain's natural appetite mechanisms. When this happens, people tend to over-consume, and that over-consumption is stored as fat. It is just about as simple as that.
Fooling our nature
Our brains are built to sense the caloric value of foods we eat. When we've eaten enough, our hunger drive is designed to shut down naturally. Notice that you have never "accidentally" eaten 50 apples. Your body "keeps count" and shuts your hunger down at the appropriate time. The brain mechanism that organizes this feat is called the satiety mechanism. It was built into our psychology over countless generations, as part of our natural biological heritage. All creatures need to know both when they are "hungry" and when they are "full," so that they can live most effectively.
The satiety mechanism appears to depend upon two types of receptors in our mouths and stomachs. These are stretch receptors, which give our brain information about how "stretched out" our stomach is, and nutrient receptors, which tell us the caloric density of the food we have eaten. Notice that if you eat four pounds of raw salad, you may feel "full" in terms of being "stretched out," but the nutrient receptors in your stomach also will be saying, "Hey, that was 'OK,' but it wasn't nearly enough! Get me some calories, or I'm going to continue to complain!" You might feel "stretched out" but still hungry. To be satiated, or hunger-satisfied, we have to have our stomach both stretched out and filled with some "real" calories. In the environment of our ancestors, the foods had moderate caloric density; that is, those foods both stretched the stomach and also caused significant nutrient signaling to the brain. People couldn't easily overeat on foods of moderate density because the stretching of their stomachs would hurt. Our ancestors ate everything they could, until they felt full, and then stopped eating! They never worried about overeating and getting fat (which might have been dangerous in a natural setting). They didn't need to be concerned about this because on a natural diet, people rarely get fat.
Modern, processed foods tend to be more calorically dense than natural foods. They can fool our satiety mechanism! When people eat substantial quantities of processed foods, it is quite natural for them to overeat, because the stretch receptors in their stomachs are not getting much chance to signal "enough" - until too much has been eaten.
Let's look at the caloric density of some popular foods. Raw vegetables, such as salads, contain about 100 calories per pound. Cooked vegetables, such as carrots, contain about 200 calories per pound. Fresh fruits contain about 300 calories per pound, and starchy vegetables and grains contain about 500 calories per pound. (See chart on p.12.) But breads, pizza, ice cream, and other processed products are usually between 1000 and 1500 calories per pound!
Easy to overeat
A pound of bread, for example, has about 1200 calories! Because of processing, bread is a more concentrated product than grains or starchy vegetables. Therefore, when eating bread, there will be less stretch receptor activity in the stomach signaling for satiety than when eating grains, given the same caloric intake! Some examples might make this easier to understand. Which is easier to eat: a pint of ice cream, or five pounds of cooked carrots? Which is more likely to make you feel full: a pound of pizza, or eight pounds of cooked broccoli? Four ounces of chocolate, or three large baked potatoes? You can see that overeating is easy to do if concentrated, processed foods are prominent in the diet. Meats are also very concentrated - one of the few naturally concentrated sources of calories. Meat consumption was probably relatively unusual in the natural environment, and it packed a big punch at about 1200 calories per pound.
In today's world, the Fat for Life crowd is eating a diet that predominately consists of processed foods and meat, fish, fowl, eggs, and dairy products. This guarantees that the caloric density of the average American's diet is much, much greater than their appetite machinery is built to handle! Any creature given a diet that is more concentrated than is appropriate for its design will tend to overeat - and get fat. Birds eating processed foods, for example, may fatten to the point that they can no longer fly. Given this perspective, it is hardly a surprise that over 50% of U.S. adults are obese; and another significant percentage are well above their optimum weight.
Remarkable new approach to weight loss
A key strategy in any successful weight loss program is to treat your body in the way it was meant to be utilized. A top priority of this strategy is to eat a diet consisting of whole natural foods - fresh fruits and vegetables, and the variable addition of whole grains, raw nuts and seeds, and legumes. In addition to the many other health benefits, this dietary strategy will provide sufficient stretch receptor activity, resulting in satiety. With this dietary strategy, significant overeating is much less likely to occur. At the Center, for lunch and dinner, we recommend that meals be eaten in a particular order. First, eat a large, raw vegetable salad. Steamed vegetables should be eaten next.
Finally, eat starchy vegetables and whole grains. There is a reason for this recommendation. We have observed that once a person gets a taste of higher-calorie foods (such as cooked grains), lower-calorie foods (such as raw salad) are suddenly less appealing. This can result in less salad and vegetable consumption, which, in turn, can cause an overall increase of the meal's caloric density. By starting with the least caloric foods - when we are the most hungry - more low-density food is consumed. This results in more stretching of the stomach, which helps us to feel full and thus less likely to overeat.
Using this strategy, there is little need to be concerned about portion size. There is truly no need to "go hungry." By consuming the majority of calories from moderately concentrated, unprocessed, whole, natural foods, most of the "fat battle" is easily won. Combined with a moderate exercise program, this strategy really works - just as nature intended. We have found that our overweight patients tend to lose about two pounds per week using this strategy. Most medical researchers would consider our patients' successes to be "miraculous." We don't, but we are very pleased to see our patients consistently rewarded for following this "uncommon sense" approach to weight loss.
We should add a few comments about exercise because some people place so much emphasis on it. We have seen people who exercise almost constantly, but still fail to lose weight. Exercise is a useful and important adjunct to healthful living and to weight control, but exercise alone is not enough. We recommend that our patients engage in moderate exercise 4-5 times per week. Actually, we think it is a good idea to exercise moderately almost every day, if you have the time. By "moderate" exercise, we mean an activity that causes you to have to work at it a bit. If you are an Olympic marathoner, it might mean a five-mile run. For most of our overweight patients, however, it probably means a brisk 20-30 minute walk. If our program seems "too good to be true," we're not surprised. While our diet and exercise strategies are very simple and easy to understand, they are sometimes difficult to implement.
Many factors can get in the way, but the most potent obstacle that you face in conquering the Fat for Life challenge is your built-in "energy conservation programming. "Programmed for convenience foods, all animals, including humans, have energy conservation programming built into their nervous systems. The nature of this programming differs from species to species, but it is always there, nonetheless. Migratory birds, for example, will fly in a characteristic "V" pattern, so that they can use each other's bodies to break the wind - and save calories. Many fish swim in schools, saving calories riding in each other's wake. And predators, all over the world, are found to pick on the "weak," so that they get the greatest number of calories for the least amount of effort expended.
Humans, too, have this type of programming as part of human nature. We are programmed to want to get as many calories as we can, with the least possible effort! This is great programming for humans living in an environment of scarcity, which is where almost all humans lived until just the last few decades. Now, however, most of us in the modern Western world are no longer living in an environment of scarcity. But our natural programming is still with us - encouraging us to eat as much as we can with as little effort as possible! Is it any wonder that obesity is an epidemic within industrialized societies? Your "natural" tendencies may be to eat the most concentrated foods available - and to exercise as little as possible. But you needn't be a slave to these tendencies. People are often able to over-ride them with some moderate effort. You can "use your head" to think ahead when it comes to your health and fitness. Plan ahead to have plenty of whole natural foods available at all times so that it is convenient, and schedule time to engage in regular, moderate exercise. No need for miracles you do not need a "miracle" to have a healthy, trim body. But you need to understand and respect how you were naturally designed to live.
You were designed to consume a diet of whole natural foods - and engage in moderate, regular exercise. Your energy conservation programming may make it seem "unnatural" to live this way, but that is only because of the modern environment. Progress has made unhealthful living all too easy. You do not need to follow the herd, which is headed toward fatness and failure. By implementing these simple strategies, you can join the fortunate few who are fit - not fat - for life.