Why Diets Don’t Work (5-min video about myth of calories)
Only need to think about 3 things this week:
[learn_more caption=”1) Focus More On Whole Foods (click the arrow for more details)”]
Eat more whole foods and minimize processed foods.
By now we have all heard about the evils of processed foods. But, what is a processed food and why is it bad for us?
According to Wikipedia processed foods is defined as:
“Convenience food, or tertiary processed food, is commercially prepared food designed for ease of consumption. Products designated as convenience foods are often prepared food stuffs that can be sold as hot, ready-to-eat dishes; as room-temperature, shelf-stable products; or as refrigerated or frozen products that require minimal preparation (typically just heating)”
Looking at this definition it does not sound so bad, right? I mean, foods that are already prepared for us, that are convenient, are ready to eat or just require heating, and that have a stable shelf life….What could be wrong with that? It sounds like a great solution for busy families and commercial businesses.
Well, in order to create “processed food” (convenient shelf-stable food), you have do certain things to it (that is where the “processing” comes in). And, what ends up happening is that we ‘kill’ our food by removing things, adding things, heating and changing the structure of the original food.
What you end up with at the end of the day is “food-like” substance that is convenient, but is lacking nutrients and fiber. Unlike whole foods, it has less nutritional value and is higher in calories.
When you think about it, a whole food like an apple is easily digested by our body. Our body knows exactly how to use the apple and all of its components.
When we remove things from the apple and add things to the apple and modify the apple and create an apple food bar, for instance, our bodies don’t really know how to deal with these types of “food”. Our bodies are expecting all those things in the original apple and not all of the chemicals that have been added.
Fiber is one thing that is typically missing in highly-processed foods. The average American gets around 15 grams of fiber per day. The recommended minimum is around 25-35 grams per day. (And, when we were roaming the earth thousands of years ago, we humans were probably consuming close to 100 grams per day!)
What’s the big deal? Well, fiber is probably more important than we realize. Our body was designed (and is expecting) a certain amount of fiber in our diet to function properly. The colon is where our body deposits things it needs to get rid of. Our body expects a good amount of fiber to come through so it can remove the stuff our body wants to get rid of. When we do not provide the fiber, those bad things can get reabsorbed into our bodies. We do not want that, you want that “stuff” out as fast as possible.
Excess hormones like estrogen, for instance, are deposited in the colon and over-exposure to estrogen over time can increase the chances of breast cancer.
The point is, our bodies puts things in our colon for a reason. If we are not flushing that stuff out, it can cause problems. So, fiber is important and it is severely lacking in highly-processed foods.
The other trick that processed foods can play on our system is based on the concept of food concentration- meaning the amount of calories a food contains in comparison to its size. Although I do not believe counting calories is a solution for permanent weight loss, at the end of the day, weight is determined by calories in versus calories out.
One of the most concentrated foods I can think of is oil. Let’s say you have a nice big salad for lunch. You put 2 tablespoons of olive oil dressing on it. That is going to add over 200 calories to that meal. If you would have skipped the olive oil, you would have been just as full, but would have consumed 200 less calories (and 17 days of doing this equals one pound of body fat).
Genetically, we all have different abilities to calculate and manage food concentrations. That is why some people can seem to eat anything and never gain weight, while others tend to gain weight much more easily.
But remember, just because someone is skinny does not mean they are healthy on the inside. It does all come back around to proper nutrition.
As with most things, we tend to over complicate this stuff. The bottom line is this:
The more you can eat food in the form it was found in nature, the better off you will be.
When you do this, you do not have to count calories, fiber, fat, carbohydrates or any of that because all of it is already found in the food in the right concentration. If you feed your body fresh, whole foods that you prepare yourself, your body will eventually reset its internal systems and start working the way it was designed.
Think of it like your car. If you have a Ferrari, you put supreme gas in it, right? A Ferrari was designed to work on a certain fuel and it understands how to use that fuel. You would not put diesel, or whatever random flammable liquid you had laying around your garage into your Ferrari and expect it to perform as it should right? SO why would you give your body anything less than what it expects or needs?
Your body is expecting whole foods!
Give it what it is expecting and it will perform for you!
- Avoid buying food that has labels. Fresh raw vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds do not have labels. If the food you are buying has a label, it is most likely a processed food and has the potential to be counter-productive to your goals.
- If your food does have a label, then make sure that it has no more than 5 ingredients. The more ingredients, the more likely that food will not support your goals. If it does have more than 5, the next tip is even MORE important.
- Make sure you can pronounce all the ingredients AND you recognize them as food (something that can be found in that form in nature)
[learn_more caption=”2) Add a Green Smoothie or Salad (click the arrow for more details)”]
Add 1 green smoothie a day to your plan this week. Also make sure to have a green salad with whatever you are having for dinner.
The main purpose behind Week 1 was to:
- Begin to reset your internal biochemistry. We want to make sure all your internal signaling is working properly so that your body can tell you when it is full. This will continue over the next few weeks, so it is important to keep an eye on your added sugars.
- Keeping hydrated will eliminate false hunger signals being sent and helps start the elimination of toxins.
- Starting your day with a strong breakfast is important. It sets your metabolism up properly for the entire day.
The green smoothie will take all of this to the next level.
We always say there is no pill, potion, lotion or magic bullet to weight loss, fitness, health and extra energy. However, there may be a secret sauce. We call it “Awesome Sauce”. EVERY client that has embraced the concept of “green smoothies” has reported (without exception) more energy, less cravings in a very short amount of time. This is our personal secret sauce. We have 2-3 per day as our snacks. Even our girls have one with their breakfast.
Why Green Smoothies
It is not necessarily the green smoothie, it is what is in it. Green smoothies are an easy way to get high doses of fresh raw vegetables and some fruit into your system. This does two things:
- Provides your body with all the nutrients it needs to function properly.
- It is high in natural fiber (which most of us are not getting enough of).
Why is this important.
Well, giving your body all the things it needs to function properly, in the form it recognizes and can utilize just makes sense. Once your body has what it needs, all the systems will start working better. This will start supporting the changes you implemented in Week 1.
Secondly and just as important, Green Smoothies are loaded with fiber and help your body detoxify naturally every day. When you start losing body fat, toxins are released into your body and it is important that you get those out of your body as fast as possible. If you do not get them out, your body has to deal with them and this will hinder your goals.
The only way to get things out of your body is pee, poop, perspiration, and breath. When we work with our one-on-one clients, we do not even discuss exercise for at least the first 3 months (sometimes longer), so perspiration is not a key factor. When people start to lose weight, there is really only 1 or 2 main ways they are eliminating the excess body fat byproducts. That is #1 and #2 😉
The first time we met with a nutritionist she was always so fascinated with our poop. Turns out, she was looking for clues. Ideally, you should be having 1-2 bowel movements per day. When our clients are losing significant weight, they have reported up to 3 per day (when previously only having a couple per week).
Frequency is important and also consistency. Here is a stool chart that you can use to self diagnosis whether you are the right track (don’t worry we are not going to be asking for pictures). Ideally, you would want your stools to be a #4, the second best is #3. If you are well hydrated and getting plenty of natural fiber from plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits, you should be in good shape here. If you are off, no worries. Just look at what you’re eating and see where you can incorporate more of these whole foods into your diet.
What about juicing?
Juicing is good because it does have high doses of nutrients. The down side is you lose the fiber, it is more work, and more expensive because you are using way more produce. If you do like to juice, make sure your juice does not contain too much sugar. Even too much natural sugar can cause challenges in reaching your weight loss goals.
The bottom line is that green smoothies put all the good in and take all the bad out. There really is not a better single thing you can do for your body than to enjoy a couple green smoothies every day. Again, it does not have to be in the form of a smoothie. If you like just eating a bunch of raw fresh vegetables and fruits, then that is awesome (probably even a better). But, we have found the green smoothies a quick and easy way for our clients to easily get a bunch of good stuff in (and bad stuff out). The best part is they love the taste of them.
- When starting with green smoothies, you will want to ease into it. They key is that you enjoy them. Here are some beginner and advanced recipes.
- Again, if you do not like smoothies, you can just eat the ingredients. The point of the green smoothie is to get those things in your body. How you do that is up to you.
- The key to adding salads to your dinner routine is it has to be easy. We just buy a 1 lb container of mixed greens. At dinner time, grab a handful, put it on the plate, sprinkle with raw pumpkin seeds (or seeds of your choice), and top with a balsamic vinegar. Later, you can get fancy and add shredded carrots or other things you like.
- The key to looking forward to your salad is the dressing. It has to be something you enjoy. We have found a dressing that our kids LOVE. It is a Juniper Berry Balsamic and it only has 2 g of sugar per Tbsp (which we hardly use a fraction of). You will want to avoid dressings with oils and creams in them.
[learn_more caption=”3) Food Swaps (click the arrow for more details)”]
Making the Switch
You do not totally want to change your diet around in 1 week. Move into a new way of eating slowly. A great first step is to just swap the things you enjoy now with a healthier option.
Our cupboard used to always have things like: chips – Doritos, Cheetos, Fritos (anything that ended in “os”)), cookies, pop-tarts, wheat thins, top ramen, mac-n-cheese, fruit roll-ups, granola bars,…you get the idea, right? If you’ve ever walked down those first couple of rows at Costco…that was what was in our pantry.
So how did we go from that to what you see today? (Flackers, homemade protein bars, nuts, fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, homemade chips)
Well, it did not happen overnight. There was a process.
This is how it went down at our house.
The first step was to realize that everything we were buying from Costco was most likely one of the main reasons I was fat and unhealthy. Processed foods is at the root of our nation’s health care crisis.
The next step is to say, okay, so how to I get rid of this food?
Well, you can bring a big trash can in and clear the shelves and start over. But most likely your family will protest and you will have a big mess on your hands.
When we went through this process, we were focused on just ourselves at first. We were of the belief that the kids were young, they could still eat those things and still be okay. So, our motivation was really that if we fell off the wagon of our diet-of-the-month, we wanted our available snacks to at least be somewhat healthy — meaning, void of a lot of the unneeded artificial ingredients that you find in most processed snack foods.
STEP 1: The Abracadabra
Want to see that fruit in the bottom drawer of your fridge disappear? Get a huge fruit bowl and set it right in the middle of the kitchen (or most obvious place) and fill it each week with seasonal and unique fruit. We used to buy a lot of fruit, but it would always go bad in the bottom of the refrigerator because we never made it past the chips. Now, when you want a snack, always look to the fruit bowl first. Do not just get apples and bananas, that is boring. Let your kids help you pick fruit. They will usually go for the more interesting choices and that is okay. They will learn what they like and don’t like. If it is their choice, they will be more likely to eat the fruit.
STEP 2: The Ol Switcheroo
Replace your current snacks with similar healthier versions. What is healthier? Just look at the ingredients list and make sure you can pronounce and understand all the ingredients as edible food. Ideally, there should be no more than 5 ingredients. The only exception is if they are very clearly whole food ingredients (then it is okay to have more than 5). There are usually healthier versions of all your common snacks. Yes, they will be more expensive! But, it’s worth it. (See below)
*Side note – As you begin the process of transitioning from a lot of processed foods to a whole foods, nutrition it gets more expensive. The reason is because much of the “better” foods are made up of whole organic ingredients on smaller scale and are not filled with cheaper (subsidized) ingredients. Plus you are still buying pre-made foods, they are just made better and you have to pay for the labor of that.
The good news is, once you get there, it is much less expensive. There is a learning curve and a phase your body has to go through to transition to a new way of eating. You can go direct, but it might feel extreme for many. Just know that you won’t be paying these higher prices forever. It’s a transition phase.
You will not likely to find these healthier options in your local chain grocery store. You will have to find a local health food store in your area. If you have kids, involve them in the process and let them explore and pick out some new healthy snacks. They will have fun and if they make the choices they are more likely to eat them. If you can find a true health food store (where most of the choices are good), you can let them have more freedom with their choices.
STEP 3: The Ol’ In Your Face
Always have the things you want you yourself (and your family) to eat ready and in your face as you open the refrigerator. Make the less healthy choices harder to access. That means, have fresh veggies, fruit, hummus, hard boiled eggs — right there at eye level, front and center, easy to eat and access.
The golden rule with snacks is this,
“If it is there, you will eat it. If you do not want to eat it, don’t buy it.”
The trick is to train your body to not want the bad stuff. This takes time, but even after you reprogram your brain, it still has neural pathways that will want those unhealthy items. Science is showing that we cannot really remove those old pathways. The trick is to make the new pathways more powerful. We will cover this in more detail in the Mindset lesson (so stay tuned for that).
STEP 4: Patience
If you were like us going from being a Mac-n-Cheese household to a whole foods household, you will need patience. It will not happen overnight.
“Making small (maintainable) changes over time, will result in massive (maintainable) changes.”
Steps 1-3 are to slowly start the process of moving you way from highly processed (calorically-dense & nutrient-poor) foods to more nutrient-dense foods, rich in all the things your body needs to function properly.
STEP 5: The O’l Tip Toe Through The Tulips
We could tell you what we eat for snacks in our household and what you should buy to start snacking on, but that would do you no good. Why? Because your body is not used to it and has not gone through the process. You may at one point in your journey end up eating what we eat. But the only way that will be maintainable for you is if you take your body through the process of getting there. And by that time, we may have changed what we snack on to something totally different (based on where we are at in our process).
So what is this process you speak of? Good question. The process simply this:
Start with what you like to eat, what you are familiar with, and slowly change those items to healthier options by following the steps above. Layer these small changes on top of each other over time and before you know it, you will be snacking in a whole new way.
At the same time, you have to respect and enjoy the process. To be successful, you have to go through all the steps that are right for your body. Don’t expect 100% perfection. Baby steps. One small change at a time and you’ll have more frequent successes, which will motivate further change.
STEP 6: Go with your Gut
Learn as much as you can about food. The more you know at the core of your being, the easier it will be for you to make changes in your eating and purchasing habits. If you are just kind of convinced of things just because someone told you so, permanent change will be much harder to reach in your household.
There was a specific turning point for processed snacks in our house. What I had found was that I was shopping at 3 grocery stores each week, Trader Joe’s, Jimbo’s (a local health food store) and then Albertson’s (my local big chain store). Each week, I would buy the best organic food money could buy and then I would stop in at my big chain store and get the “junk food” for the kids.
One day, as I was walking through my big chain store with my cart full of all the name- brand processed snacks, this deep rooted feeling came over me. It is hard to put into words, but here were some of the feelings were:
Embarrassment – walking by all my neighbors with a cart full of processed snacks and nothing else looked really bad. Especially, knowing that my car just outside was loaded with the best food money could buy.
Illness – I felt a little ill that I would even consider giving my kids these things (knowing what I know and how it will change their health down the road). I felt like I was being a bad parent.
So that day, I nicely placed everything back on the shelves where I found it and walked out.
When I got home, I sat down with the kids and explained what was going on. I told them that I was spending a ton of money on the best food I could find and then I was stopping on the way home and spending another $40 on their processed snacks – which I knew was the cheapest, lowest-quality food available.
So I made a deal with them. “Each week, instead of stopping and buying the junk, I will just give you each $20 (the money I was spending anyway) and you can use that to go to the store and buy whatever you want.” That sounded good to them because now they had the freedom to get the junk they REALLY wanted.
The funny thing about it is, they only went to the store and bought junk a couples times. After that, they pocketed the $20 bucks and just ate what we bought. They are still getting that $20 in their allowance and I am okay with that.
The more you truly know the dangers of processed foods at the gut level, the easier changes will happen naturally.
- Start replacing the thing you have in your refrigerator and cupboards with healthier options or versions of the same things.
- Just read the labels and make sure the list is very short and you recognize everything as a whole food.
- Here is a list of some common foods swaps you can make.
FOOD Inc. – watch the documentary Food Inc.
Note: You can watch free online here.