A while back, I came up with the idea of the Unprocessed Food Diet (UFD). I had read The End of Overeating by David Kessler, and came to the conclusion that eating a diet free of processed foods would cause me to lose weight. I took it further though. I prepared my food in a way that was completely opposite of how chain restaurants do. I cooked single whole ingredients very simply and added no salt, no seasonings, no sauces nor other flavorings. Also, I didn’t mix things together. I might have a meal with several items, but I would eat them separately.
I did lose weight, about 20 pounds over two and half months. Continue reading “Unprocessed Food Diet – More Info”
About a month ago, I changed my eating habits quite drastically. This is an update on how it’s going.
First off, I’m mostly over my cravings. I no longer feel like I did when I was quitting smoking. In the first week, I was a bit obsessed with food, and I never felt satiated. Now, I’m feeling much more in balance and less obsessed. If there is a sugary treat in front of me, I do find it hard to resist, but if none is around, I’m not thinking about it. Continue reading “The Unprocessed Food Diet – the first month”
What is the unprocessed food diet? It’s pretty simple. Follow these guidelines when preparing food for yourself.
- Eat unprocessed, whole foods like meat, eggs, nuts, vegetables, fruit. Buy it fresh when possible, but frozen is fine too.
- Cook foods simply without adding oil, spices, sugar, salt or anything else.
- Do not mix foods together.
- Eat smaller portions than you are used to.
- Eat as often as you like, and as much as you like overall–no need to count calories.
- Eat as many of your meals like this as you can, and especially avoid chain restaurant meals and processed foods from the supermarket.
Here are some sample recipes: Continue reading “The Unprocessed Food Diet – The first two weeks”
I just finished The End of Overeating by David Kessler, former head of the FDA in the first Bush and Clinton administrations. In it he argues that the primary driver of our current obesity epidemic is the ubiquitous availability of large portions of hyperpalatable foods. What are hyperpalatable foods? Open a Chili’s menu or visit your local Panda Express or Cinnabon and you will see plenty of examples. These are highly processed foods with layers of suger, simple carbs, fats, salts and flavoring designed to be irresistible to consumers. They are foods that we crave, that we have become accustomed to eating in huge portions, that are dense in calories and often have strong flavors. The food and restaurant industries have become very good at making foods that we want to eat and the result has been millions of people essentially addicted to fattening foods.
For anyone old enough to remember when a Quarter Pounder was the biggest hamburger available at a fast food restaurant, this won’t really feel like news. We’ve watched the food industry evolve over the last 30 years first hand. Portions have grown, foods have become more indulgent, more flavorful, with more textures. Comfort food is everywhere, and eating it feels great, at least it does for the two minutes it takes to shovel it down our throats. What might seem like news is the extent to which the food industry knows and understands what they are doing. Continue reading “You should unprocess your food”
The conventional wisdom is that is more obesity in kids these days because they exercise less. If this is true, then you would expect that adding exercise into the routine of school kids would help the problem. However, research just presented at a recent Canadian Paediatric Society conference suggests that it doesn’t:
Harris said researchers looked at 13 trials of six months to three years duration in which pre- and post-BMI measurements were taken.
In studies involving nearly 10,000 children, primarily in elementary schools, none demonstrated a reduction in BMI with those who were assigned to the most phys-ed time, compared to those who didn’t have as much.
“School-based physical activity interventions do not improve BMI although they may have other beneficial health effects,” he said. “There are improvements to bone mineral density, aerobic capacity, reduced blood pressure and increased flexibility,” he added.
Continue reading “Are Kids Fat Because They Are Lazy?”
Three months ago, I made the switch to a low carb diet. I had two goals, one was to continue losing weight. The other was to improve my health and reduce my risk of heart disease. After reading a number of things, most recently Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes, I wanted to try a diet with very little carbohydrates and almost no sugar at all. I started a diet of mostly meat, eggs, cheese and vegetables (plus nuts and berries).
I have lost some more weight, another 10 pounds since I started. But I was also interested in the effect it would have on cholesterol and triglycerides. I hoped that it would lower my triglycerides, raise my HDL cholesterol and not raise my LDL cholesterol too much. Fortunately, I had my lipid profile done last December so I could compare. Here were the numbers then (the normal range is within brackets):
Triglyceride (mg/dl): 112 [40-160]
Cholesterol (mg/dl): 153 [<200]
HDL (mg/dl): 31 [29-67]
LDL (mg/dl): 100 [<130]
TC/HDL ratio: 4.94 [<5]
Not a terrible profile by conventional standards. Everything is within normal ranges. Still, HDL is a little low and the ratio is just within normal range. And even though the triglycerides aren’t bad, there is plenty of room to push that lower.
So after three months of meat, eggs, cheese, veggies and nuts, what is my lipid profile now?
Continue reading “Cholestorol, Triglycerides, and a Mostly Meat Diet”
How often have you heard some variation to, “There’s no secret to weight loss, you just have to exercise and eat less.” The implications are clear, if you are fat, it’s because you are lazy (you don’t exercise enough) or you are slovenly (you eat too much). Obesity and the associated diseases are the wages of sin and the only way to overcome these temptations is through will power and virtue.
These ideas that obesity is the result of eating too much or exercising too little or both is treated as a self-evident truth. People invoke the First Law of Thermodynamics and people who argue otherwise are marginalized as not understanding the First Law.
But what if it’s wrong? What if the causality is all mixed up? What if you eat more because your body is getting fat? What if you don’t feel like exercising because you are already obese? What if simple calorie restriction is not particularly effective in losing weight? It isn’t and yet it’s repeated over and over again, “You are overweight because you overeat,” and “If you just eat less, you will lose weight.”
In this lecture by Gary Taubes, he does a great job of showing the fallacy of the conventional wisdom:
It’s a longish video, about 70 minutes, but it’s a nice introduction to his ideas. If you find it all compelling I highly recommend his book, Good Calories, Bad Calories. It’s not a diet book, it’s a science book, and it sets out to demolish some of the conventional paradigms we have about diet, obesity and disease.
UPDATE: Changed the title because we don’t need a new paradigm really, we need an old one. If you watch the video, you will understand what I mean.
I find it interesting that in the book Omnivore’s Dilemma, the author Michael Pollan takes, not one but two jabs Gary Taubes and his 2002 article, “What if It’s All Been a Big Fat Lie?” The first is in the introduction, and the second is here:
It remains to be seen whether the current Atkins school theory of ketosis—the process by which the body resorts to burning its own fat when starved of carbohydrates—will someday seem as quaintly quackish as Kellogg’s theory of colonic autointoxication. What is striking is just how little it takes to set off one of these applecart-toppling nutritional swings in America; a scientific study, a new government guideline, a lone crackpot with a medical degree can alter this nation’s diet overnight. One article in the New York Times Magazine in 2002 almost single-handedly set off the recent spasm of carbophobia in America.
I wonder if Pollan has read Taubes book. I’d be shocked if he hadn’t. To me there is much that they agree on. For instance, I bet they both would agree that we would be more healthy if we ate like our great grandparents did, and that traditional cuisines lead to healthier people than modern processed diets. They both see the large amount of processed carbohydrates like high fructose corn syrup as harmful to those that eat it. Furthermore, Taubes goes to great lengths to establish that cutting carbs to lose weight is not a late 20th century fad. It’s the accumulated wisdom of doctors and patients going back at least two centuries, precisely the kind of cultural wisdom that Pollan so admires in traditional cuisines.
Continue reading “Pollan vs. Taubes”
Last Spring, I listened to Freakonomics on CD as I drove from Illinois to Arizona. In the appendix, the authors have a short article on Seth Roberts and his strange idea that drinking sugar water can lead to weight loss.
A month or two later, frustrated with my inability to lose weight on my own, I looked up Seth’s scientific paper online about what makes food fattening and tried his method. It worked! I started losing weight again.
After a few weeks of sipping sugar water and drinking olive oil, I spent a week in New York for the Del Close Marathon. I was explaining it to a friend and he responded, “Oh you mean the Shangri-la Diet.”
Continue reading “Life is a pattern game”
So far so good. I’ve made it through the first five full days on a low carb diet. Besides a small serving of berries and full fat yogurt each day, my diet has been meat, egg and cheese (usually with a serving or two of green leafy vegetables a day). My typical breakfast looks like this:
After five days, I’ve had no real weight loss. After a big meal, I’ve occasionally felt a bit overfull, which probably means I’m eating more than I need to. And on day two I had a small carb crash. But in general I’ve felt good. I haven’t felt very hungry. The food is relatively satisfying and the restrictions haven’t been hard to stay within. I miss the fruits and vegetables a bit, but I’m thinking that I’ll add a few servings of them back eventually.
Continue reading “First Five Days on Low Carb”