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”

Are Kids Fat Because They Are Lazy?

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?”

We need an old paradigm of why we get fat

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.