Dieting is not the Answer

Nutrition Tips with Julia O’Loughlin, RHN

Fat loss is not about dieting: it is about eating for a long and healthy life. It is a lifestyle change that is permanent, so unless you seek a lifetime of exerting willpower and discipline, a diet should not consist of an eating plan you don’t enjoy.  The cornerstone of successful weight loss is finding healthy foods that you love to eat, those that maintain a healthy weight, extend your lifespan and increase your vitality.  Eating practices should not be based on depriving ourselves of the foods we enjoy, but rather on satisfying all nutritional needs with foods that are delicious, meet our individual tastes and habits, minimize hunger, and boost energy.

The answer is really quite simple: eat whole foods; foods that are in the natural form, foods that have not been refined, foods that have not been processed. When it comes to food, the emphasis should be not on quantity but on quality.

You may ask, if the answer is so simple, why don’t more people know about it or how come there are so many diets that state the opposite?  Well, most people and creators of the fad diets understand weight gain and weight loss in a very 1 dimensional sense: as related to the amount of fat we consume.  Understood in this way, the answer seems simple: eat less fat and we will lose weight.  Enter the plethora of low fat/diet foods, a North American scam that has lead to the understanding that less fat is equivalent to better health and being thin. With some critical analysis, not to mention cross-cultural analysis, it is clear that this is not so.

The factors that are involved in weight gain and/or an inability to lose weight despite doing things “properly” are complex and varied.  Poor nutrition, hormone imbalance, acidic pH level, stress and liver congestion are amongst the most common culprits however. Notice that very few fad diets address any one of these factors.

Think of low fat yogurt: a product that, via an industrialized process, has had its fat content cut in half, is in essence a product with poor taste, unpalatable texture and few health benefits. The solution? Add in excessive sugar to improve the taste, milk solids to improve the texture and synthetic vitamins to meet CFIA demands. The result: weight gain and acidic pH due to the sugar content and milk solids, a confused liver due to the foreign combination of nutrients, and a hormone imbalance that can cause your body to crave more food than it actually needs, and the wrong foods at that.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I am not saying that fat consumption doesn’t play a role in weight gain.  It most certainly does.  However, again with the emphasis being on quality rather than quantity, it is easier to understand the relationship between the fat we eat and the fat we gain.  The body uses certain fats for energy and stores only fats in excess and fats it has difficulty metabolizing. The easier a fat is to breakdown, the more readily available it is for the body to use as energy (metabolism).  For example, butter, a commonly demonized saturated fat, is made up of short chains fatty acid, not long chain fatty acids and is therefore more available for energy than red meat, which is made up of long chains.

Whole foods work because, simply put, they meet the demands of any body.  Whether the need be for cleansing or for building, whole foods are the answer.  They balance hormones, create a healthy pH balance, support a healthy liver and meet all nutrient requirements of the body.   They are indeed, the long term answer for meaningful weight loss.

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