The Unprocessed Food Diet – the first month

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”

The Unprocessed Food Diet – The first two weeks

What is the unprocessed food diet? It’s pretty simple. Follow these guidelines when preparing food for yourself.

  1. Eat unprocessed, whole foods like meat, eggs, nuts, vegetables, fruit. Buy it fresh when possible, but frozen is fine too.
  2. Cook foods simply without adding oil, spices, sugar, salt or anything else.
  3. Do not mix foods together.
  4. Eat smaller portions than you are used to.
  5. Eat as often as you like, and as much as you like overall–no need to count calories.
  6. 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”

You should unprocess your food

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”

Life is a pattern game

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”

Good Calories, Bad Calories in a nutshell

I’m surprised how long it has taken me to get through Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes. After 2 and half weeks, I’m still not done. I’m on the last chapter though. Maybe I’m just a slow reader.

The book is dense, bringing together a huge number of scientific studies that date back to the beginning of the the 20th century. His goal seems to be to overwhelm the reader with evidence that many of the assumptions about diet, obesity and disease are wrong. He isn’t content to give you one or two examples of studies that suggest that carbohydrates are the primary factor behind obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer and a range of other modern illnesses that were rare before the 20th century. He piles it on, determined to make sure that someone can’t read his book and dismiss it as “some fad diet book.” If you say he is wrong, you better bring your citations with you.

I’ve enjoyed the ride, but I wonder how many readers get bogged down and don’t finish it, or don’t care so much about the reams of evidence that Taubes has compiled and want to skip to his conclusions. One passage near the end that jumped out at me as something that people need to know:

By the mid-1960s, four facts had been established beyond reasonable doubt: (1) carbohydrates are singularly responsible for prompting insulin secretion; (2) insulin is singularly responsible for inducing fat accumulation; (3) dietary carbohydrates are required for excess fat accumulation; and (4) both Type 2 diabetics and the obese have abnormally elevated levels of circulating insulin and a “greatly exaggerated” insulin response to carbohydrates in the diet

Continue reading “Good Calories, Bad Calories in a nutshell”