Eat Healthy Foods: 3 Simple-But-Not-Easy Rules for Permanent Weight Loss, Part 2

Eat Healthy Foods: 3 Simple-But-Not-Easy Rules for Permanent Weight Loss, Part 2

Ok, in part 1, I hope you learned that the nutritional science behind permanent weight loss is not contradictory; rather, it’s the sensational eat-all-you-want-of-certain-yummy-foods diet books that are often in conflict with the scientific literature. But if you adhere to the following suggestions, which are based on current medical research, you’ll be well on your way to permanent weight loss–with increased disease resistance as an added bonus!

Beware the temptation of Standard American Diet (SAD) foods. Food cravings will undermine the most dedicated dieter’s intentions unless you understand how fatty, salty, and sugary foods impact your brain chemistry. While our brains were evolving hundreds of thousands of years ago, we had infrequent access to calorie-rich food. Twinkies and Fritos were particularly hard to come by, and it wasn’t until fairly recently, long after our brains had settled into their current configuration, that processed and refined foods came into being. Refined foods are particularly enticing to the brain because they do away with unpleasantries like fiber and water and make those once-hard-to-find calories much easier to access. But whereas all those years ago we had to work hard for the few calories we managed to bag, today high-calorie food teases us from every corner, requiring very little energy expenditure to acquire. And remember that our brains use taste as a primary reward for gobbling down high-fat, high sugar yummies. Next time you’re faced with a choice between cheesy nachos versus spinach salad with vinaigrette, take notice of your knee-jerk preference. Now you can begin learning to override the instinctual pull of high-calorie food in favor of some nutrient-dense green leaves.

Limit animal foods and refined foods to no more than 10% of your total caloric intake. Americans currently get about 25% of their calories from animal products like meat, cheese, eggs, and chicken and about 62% from processed foods like bread, cereal, sweets. The China Oxford Cornell Study showed us that, as animal food consumption rises above 10%, disease rates begin increasing in a dose dependent manner. Also, the longest lived cultures in the world (The Hunza, Vilcabamba, Okinawans) obtain 90% of their calories from unrefined plant foods (vegetables, fruit, beans, seeds). What does 10% look like in practical terms? The easiest way for most people is to have two “free” meals/week, assuming you eat three meals a day. That means the remaining 19 meals should be from whole plant foods.

Spend most of your food dollars at your local farmer’s market. There’s an unsubstantiated (and potentially deadly) myth going around that you should just shop along the perimeter of the grocery store–that would include produce, milk, dairy, and meat, primarily. Well, you could do that, but the scientific research doesn’t support eating that much animal food for long-term health. Thousands of studies point to leafy green vegetables as a damn-near magic bullet for decreasing cancer risk, heart disease, and diabetes. And due to their super-low-calorie content, they’re highly weight loss favorable. Oh, and after the farmer’s market, make sure to stop by the natural foods store for some dried beans, nuts, and seeds!

Ok, here’s a quick review on the three rules for permanent weight loss.

Be ever aware of food cravings.

Limit or exclude animal foods.

Eat lots of leafy green vegetables.

Now, go find out where and when your next farmer’s market is. If winter has undermined these outdoor events, plan your next produce section outing. Remember, permanent weight loss is just past resisting your next food craving and right next to the leafy green vegetables!