Book Review: The Diet Cure by Julia Ross

Julia Ross's revised and updated edition of “The Diet Cure” came up today during my nutrition educator training. My fellow nutrition educators were raving about it. My initial thought was, “Ugh, not another diet book.” I have spent so much money on diet books in my life lived with fat, only for them to present such a narrow and incomplete picture of what it takes to lose weight for the long term.

Despite my reservations, I bought a copy, opened to the first page and read this:

“This is not going to be like any diet book you have ever read. I won't mention calories except to forbid you to eat too few! I won't tell you to tune in to your “real” appetite because I know that if you could have you would have long ago. I won't tell you to discipline yourself because I know that your weight and eating habits are not the result of laziness, gluttony, or weak willpower.

Julia Ross's, The Diet Cure

You are trapped inside a body that is malfunctioning, and that body needs help. Years of dieting, psychotherapy, and the best pep talks about fitness can't help much when what you really need is a biochemical overhaul.” –Julia Ross, The Diet Cure

I almost cried. “What if I had read this statement when the book came out in 1999?” I asked myself. I couldn't help but think that I could have started to get good information about the real, biochemical reasons for my obesity (I topped out at 270 lbs) a full decade earlier than I did. Would my weight have gotten so out of control had I known about this book? All the time I spent beating myself up over my weak will, would I have felt differently about why I was obese?

I highly recommend this book to you as you start or continue on your weight loss journey. It answers so many of the “whys” of compulsive eating and weight gain. It also includes an awesome section called, “Depleted Brain Chemistry: The Real Cause of 'Emotional' Eating.” I have always thought that the concept of “emotional eating” is code for “you're fat because you can't control yourself and you are weak willed.” Ross clearly outlines why will and emotion have nothing to do with compulsive eating.

Have you read the book? Let me know what you found helpful!

 


Holiday blogging hiatus

I am taking a brief 2-3 week hiatus from weekly blogging. I need to recharge and refocus my efforts (I am dealing with a stubborn 10 pounds, and need some fresh thoughts about how to think about it). While I am gone though, I will be taking lots of food pictures so I can do more posts about what I eat (mostly to keep me honest!).

So have a great, healthy holiday. Feel free to comment if you need some extra words of encouragement during this typically rough time for those of us who struggle with our weight.

Nell says, "Happy Holidays!"

Nell wishes you happy holidays!

 


Thoughts on how to navigate Turkey Day (or Carb Fest 2012)

As we head into the Thanksgiving Holiday weekend, I am thinking about and planning for how I am going to enjoy the holiday without gorging on carbs. I just don't want to lose any more ground, as I try to maintain my weight loss (it has been a struggle the last few months). I have done well the last few major holidays, but Thanksgiving has always been a challenge for me. I just love the food combinations present: sweet jellied cranberries with savory turkey; stuffing and mashed potatoes; and you all know my weakness for pie! I also got a question from a woman in my Nutrition for Weight Loss class about how to gracefully pass on the high-carb and gluten-ey items (she is gluten and dairy free, as am I).
Turkey

I double up on turkey and pass on the rolls.

So there are many pitfalls for us who are trying to eat real foods in balance, while watching the carbohydrates, to lose weight. Here are some things I do to handle the food choices gracefully:
  • Unless you have interfering aunts, or an overly-watchful mother, no one really notices what you're putting on your plate. Don't put anything on your plate to satisfy someone else (easier said than done, I know). For the interfering relatives, you can but out the old fashioned, “I'm watching my figure!” Works every time.
  • I typically double up on turkey, take a small amount of mashed potatoes, and load up on green veggies. I do have cranberries with my turkey. If I stick to this, I don't have the normal bloated, tired feeling after the meal.
  • Dessert is a mine field. I love pie, and there are usually five different kinds to choose from. I leave it to the day to decide if I will have a small piece. I gauge how I am feeling and whether or not I will feel too deprived if I pass on it. Usually, if I can get a nice cup of coffee with real whipping cream I am fine. Otherwise, I go for it. I just insist on a pie made with butter and not hydrogenated oils.

Have a favorite tip for eating during the holidays? Leave a comment.

 

 

 


Blue Cross ads aimed at obesity: mean or necessary?

I am a little late to the party commenting on these Blue Cross Minnesota ads that address the obesity epidemic. First, a couple of statistics:

  • By 2019 obesity will become the leading cause of death.
  • By 2030 50% of Minnesotans will be obese.

In the face of these terrifying numbers, you can see how it seems like a good idea to highlight food choices and how these choices look to our kids. These ads have been roundly criticized for being too shaming and down right mean. See for yourself.


I think the ads would be appropriate if we had a consistent and coherent message about what people need to do to lose weight; if the people in the commercials knew better, they could do better. But we don’t have these consistent messages. We live in the land of “calories in, calories out,” “Move more!” and other overly simplistic maxims about how to lose weight. We also live in a land where heavily-subsidized foods (corn, soy) are promoted as healthy,  but they are making us fat.

It’s all about cravings

Anyone who reads this blog, and who is trying lose weight differently (something other than a one-size-fits-all diet), knows that losing weight takes more than this overly simplistic advice leads us to believe.  If we truly want to help people, like the ones in these ads, make better choices, we need to shake off the overly simplistic advice and get real about what it takes to lose weight for the LONG TERM. Until we address the issue of people’s biochemical cravings for the bad stuff, people cannot lose weight. If we are relying on people’s will power to lose weight, which much of the advice does, they will fail over and over like I did for 30 years. No number of ads will change that.

What are your thoughts on the ads? Leave a  comment.


Two hours of cooking made fun with recipe, music apps

I get many questions from people about how I maintain my 90-pound weight loss, and even better, lose weight. It's pretty simple and a bit boring–I plan, plan, plan, then cook, cook, cook. The key to my having healthy carbs, fats, and proteins at the ready is my weekly two-hour cooking session. Here's what I made today.

Wild rice meatballs, salmon patties, and healthy sloppy joes

Wild rice meatballs, salmon patties, healthy sloppy joes, cranberry wild rice salad, and zucchini supreme

I will use the food from these recipes to make: meals for my family, my son's lunches, my husband's snacks, and my ample snacks and meals (remember, I eat 5-6 times a day to keep my blood sugar balanced–the best way to lose weight for the long term).

How I make it fun and easy: apps, podcasts, music

Seems like a tall order–making food prep and cooking a fun activity and not a chore–since I have a long list of things I'd rather do. I use Paprika, an iPad/iPhone recipe manager app, to help me keep my recipes organized and easy to follow. I enter recipes into the app or load them from the browser, and then when I'm ready to shop I simply add the recipe to my grocery list. The app is also on my iPhone, which I use to shop and track what I buy.

I like to listen to nutrition podcasts while I cook (yes, I'm that much of a nutrition nerd). I use Downcast to download them and keep them all organized. If I'm in more of a music mood, I turn on the 70's station on Spotify.

Food planning is self care

This is what it all comes down to. When you make food that nourishes your body, you are caring for yourself and your family. I've found that unless it's fun, or at least enjoyable, I won't do it.

I hope you can use these tips and apps to inspire your self-care cooking session!

Have a favorite app that helps you plan? Share a comment now.

 


A book review for your health: Wheat Belly

For many months now I have been obsessed with how unhealthy everyone looks. It logically started when warm weather hit and I was at the pool a lot. I couldn't help but notice all of the teenage girls in bikinis, thin everywhere but a protruding stomach. And all of the men with large, very hard bellies. Or, shopping at Target and seeing so many people looking pale, tired and, well, very large. Having been overweight most of my life, I used to feel very alone. If I were obese now, I would have lots of company.
Which brings me to reknowned cardiologist Dr. William Davis's book, Wheat Belly. My interest in his book was piqued when I first heard him on Dishing Up Nutrition. When I read the book's intro, I was struck by his memory of when women and men, in the Mad Men era, were effortlessly thin. The most exercise he ever saw his size 4 mother do was vacuum the stairs. Women and men with large bellies were rare. He also remarks that today, even marathon runners and triathletes carry extra weight–America, where even the thin people are fat–and despite all of their working out can't maintain a healthy weight.
Apollo 11 Astronauts eating breakfast before launch in 1969
What's the difference between then and now? The abundance of wheat and “healthy whole grains” in our diets that's what. Look at this photo of the APOLLO 11 astronauts the morning before launch. They are eating steak and eggs (cooked in butter no doubt). The toast was likely an afterthought because they would have been so full from a protein and fat-rich breakfast. Bread was used like a condiment. Today, it is often the main course. And my guess is that these guys didn't work out nearly as strenuously as today's weekend warrior triathlete. And yet they are lean and healthy.
Dr. Davis asks, “Your dad called his rudimentary mid-twentieth-century equivalent a beer belly. But what are soccer moms, kids, and half of your friends and neighbors who don't drink beer doing with a beer belly?” He calls it a wheat belly, and it results from years of consuming foods that trigger insulin, the hormone that stores fat. He goes on to talk about how the negative effects of consuming wheat show up in every organ of the body, including the brain and skin.
I hope you check out the podcast and the book. I know so many people who are suffering needlessly because of gluten (the protein in wheat) intolerance, manifesting in joint deterioration, brain fog, obesity, and more. Remember Dr. Davis is a cardiologist, and he has observed amazing changes in people's health and improvement in heart disease at his practice in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
I commend Dr. Davis for his book. Coming out against wheat and “healthy whole grains” (the food companies way of grasping at straws to make health claim) is sacrileage in this country. When I tell people that I don't eat wheat I get the “You're crazy” look or the “But, it's the staff of life!” comment. I have lost weight because of giving up wheat among other changes. I think when it comes to our health, we need to question what we are being told is healthy and stay open to changes that may scare us.

Resist the urge to chase the quick fix especially when trying to lose weight

For over 25 years, I searched for a quick fix to my weight problem. I chased so many different diet plans and pills that promised quick and effortless weight loss: the cabbage soup diet, appetite suppressants, herbal supplements, etc. My plan of choice for many of those years, Weight Watchers, trained me to expect Quick fix pillspredictable and steady weight loss with very few ups and downs (side note: A shout out to all Weight Watcher alums–remember the look you would get from the weigher lady when you would lose weight, as opposed to the look you would get when you either stayed the same or gained? I do. I would open my little weight tracking book with a pit in my stomach every time. Yuck!)

What did I get for the 25-year, quick-fix chase? An extra 110 pounds and a sense of hopelessness about the problem.

In my last post, I talk about Dr. Amr Barrada’s sage guidance around processing the emotions around weight loss. He taught me to be very wary of the quick fix. He also taught me a way to think about weight loss that, when paired with a great approach to nutrition, led to my losing 90 pounds. So, by choosing a slower more mindful approach, as opposed to the “lose 30 pounds by summer” approach, I lost 90 pounds in 2 1/2 years. That’s a much better result than the quick-fix chase I was on for 25 years.

Here are five of the items Dr. Barrada taught me about how to approach weight loss differently:

  1. Set out on a course to lose weight in a quiet, gentle way. Take an easy going approach and try to accept imperfection. As opposed to the high-effort, all-consuming plans that yield poor results (Slimgenics, Jenny Craig, etc.).
  2. Have low, reasonable expectations. Maybe you will only lose small amounts of weight, but over time those losses will add up.
  3. Try to accept your current weight and like yourself as you are. This will take time and practice.
  4. Try to be okay with uncertainty with your weight loss. Tell yourself to “see how it goes.”
  5. Listen to your body and try to accept the rhythm of slow weight loss. Losing weight slowing definitely has its own rhythm. It is not a straight line down, but more of a wavy line of small weight losses and gains with a downward trend.

I have more of these ideas and will continue to keep this conversation going. I hope this new way of thinking about weight loss helps you find your own way.