Tag Archives: diet

Apology from a former weight loss consultant

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Excerpts from An Open Apology to All of My Weight Loss Clients, by Iris Higgins:
I’m sorry because I put you on a 1,200 calorie diet and told you that was healthy. I’m sorry because when you were running 5x a week, I encouraged you to switch from a 1,200 calorie diet to a 1,500 calorie diet, instead of telling you that you should be eating a hell of a lot more than that. I’m sorry because you were breastfeeding and there’s no way eating those 1,700 calories a day could have been enough for both you and your baby….
I’m sorry because it’s only years later that I realize just how unhealthy a 1,200 calorie diet was. I stayed on a 1,200-1,500 calorie diet for years, so I have the proof in myself. Thyroid issues, mood swings, depression, headaches… 
I’m sorry because you were in high school and an athlete, and I pray that you weren’t screwed up by that 1,500 calorie diet. Seriously, world? Seriously? A teenage girl walks in with no visible body fat and lots of muscle tone, tells you she’s a runner and is happy with her weight… but her mother says she’s fat and has to lose weight and so we help her do just that. As an individual, as women, as a company… as a nation, we don’t stand up for that girl? What is wrong with us?…
Because I’ve been played for years, and so have you, and inadvertently, I fed into the lies you’ve been told your whole life. The lies that say that being healthy means nothing unless you are also thin. The lies that say that you are never enough, that your body is not a beautiful work of art, but rather a piece of clay to be molded by society’s norms until it becomes a certain type of sculpture.
I owe you an apology, my former client and now friend, who I helped to lose too much weight. Who I watched gain the weight back, plus some. Because that’s what happens when you put someone on a 1,200 calorie diet. But I didn’t know. If you’re reading this, then I want you to know that you have always been beautiful. And that all these fad diets are crap meant to screw with your metabolism so that you have to keep buying into them. I think now that I was a really good weight loss consultant. Because I did exactly what the company wanted (but would never dare say). I helped you lose weight and then gain it back, so that you thought we were the solution and you were the failure. You became a repeat client and we kept you in the game. I guess I did my job really well.
And now I wonder, did I do more harm than good?…
I am sorry because many of you walked in healthy and walked out with disordered eating, disordered body image, and the feeling that you were a “failure.” None of you ever failed. Ever. I failed you. The weight loss company failed you. Our society is failing you.
Just eat food. Eat real food, be active, and live your life. Forget all the diet and weight loss nonsense. It’s really just that. Nonsense.

photo credit: madamepsychosis via photopin cc

Diet duel: the Mediterranean diet vs. the low-fat diet

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The Harvard School of Public Health recently conducted a study pitting the Mediterranean diet against a low fat diet. The results?

Weight change over 18 months:

  • Mediterranean dieters lost an average of 9 pounds.
  • Low-fat dieters gained (yes, gained) an average of 6 pounds.

Those who stuck with the diet:

  • Mediterranean dieters: 54% stuck with it the whole 18 months.
  • Low-fat dieters: 20% stuck with it.

Dr. Walter Willet, Chair of the Dept. of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health says:

“The real issue is not losing weight—people can cut back on calories and lose weight on almost any diet—but keeping weight off over the long run. Thus it is more important to find a way of eating that you can stay with for the rest of your life. For this reason, any eating plan you choose should be satisfying and allow variety, and should also be nutritionally sound.”

Here’s 12 Mediterranean recipes I want to try.

Quote source: Harvard School of Public Health website

Additional study: A small new study shows that following a Mediterranean Diet helped men at high risk for heart disease reduce their bad cholesterol, regardless of whether they lost weight.

Image source: The Boston Globe, “Mediterranean diet vs. low-fat Ornish plan,” April 15, 2013

Fructose is the new “Fat”

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So, last night, I picked up The Great Cholesterol Myth: Why Lowering Your Cholesterol Won’t Prevent Heart Disease and perused it in the book store. It’s by an MD and a PhD, and is backed up with lots of studies. In it, the authors explain why sugar, corn syrup and anything high in fructose are so harmful to our bodies in general and especially our heart health. The quick summary: because they’re processed first by the liver. (This article by the editor of Harvard Health Publications provides a quick and easy-to-understand summary of the subject.)

Which isn’t to say that ANY fructose is bad; it’s just the over-prevalence in the modern American diet that is problematic. A meta-analysis published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reached the conclusion that “obesity and diabetes rates were low when total [dietary] fructose intake was in the range of 25–40 g/d [grams per day],” adding the caution that, “Conclusions as to the safe and prudent amounts of fructose consumption will require carefully controlled dose-responses studies in different populations….”

This has prompted me to do some research on fructose found in various types of sweet substances. Here are some things I’ve discovered…

Here is a University of Vermont study (See Table 1) which found that higher grades of maple syrup — those that are lighter in color — may contain lower levels of fructose than their darker cousins.

A short list of the highest offenders, from the Wheat Belly Blog by Dr. William Davis:

Where do you find fructose? Fructose can be found in (roughly in order from most to least):

  • Agave
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Sucrose (white sugar)
  • Honey
  • Molasses
  • Maple syrup
Self Magazine’s incredibly helpful nutrition database has a page listing more than 700 foods highest in fructose.
And here’s the opinion of one Paleo dieter, from a forum thread on PaleoHacks:

The monosaccharide form of fructose, which is found in corn syrup, is supposed to be the most harmful. Surprisingly, the honey has about 42gm of monosaccharide fructose per 100gm serving, while molasses has about 13gm and maple syrup has about 4gm (source). So with regard to monosaccharide fructose, maple syrup would appear to be the least toxic.
However, in the previous thread on honey, studies are cited which show that honey does not have the same harmful effects as other sweeteners, and may even be beneficial. This is probably because honey is a whole food whose ingredients have complex interactions that somehow mitigate some of the possible harm from the fructose.

(Update, 3/12/13) And here’s a great post on Green Lite Bites, exploring the nutritional aspects of several natural sweeteners.

Probably more info to come…

I am not a health professional and this post is not intended to be professional medical advice.

photo credit: Wikimedia

Cholesterol vs. Inflammation

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What you think you know about cholesterol could hurt you.

Twenty years ago, doctors told us to stay away from high-fat foods like eggs, bacon, and butter because they raised cholesterol and could lead to heart disease.

America responded and stopped eating fat. In its place, however, we ate more sugar and other carbohydrates.

How did that work out? Not great.

As a whole, Americans grew fatter and sicker than before. Scientists back then may have reached the wrong conclusion.

As more research uncovers the role diet plays in cardiovascular disease, it’s becoming obvious that fats aren’t the only villains in the picture. Increasingly, scientists are recognizing that you should also watch out for some carbohydrates—specifically, sugars and refined grains. “I believe that a diet containing moderate amounts of saturated fat is OK, and possibly better, than a low-saturated-fat diet that is rich in sugars and refined carbohydrates,” says Ronald Krauss, M.D., director of atherosclerosis research at Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute.

Now a growing number of medical experts say weight gain, heart disease, and other illnesses are not caused by high cholesterol, but by something different: inflammation.

Dr. Beverly Teter, a lipid biochemist at the University of Maryland, said scientists wrongly blamed cholesterol for heart disease when they saw high levels of it at a damaged blood vessel. Teter believes the body put the cholesterol there to fix the problem, which was actually caused by inflammation.
“It’s the inflammation in the vessels that start the lesion,” she explained. “The body then sends the cholesterol like a scab to cover over it to protect the blood system and the vessel wall from further damage.”

Good things cholesterol does in your body:

– can protect against respiratory and gastrointestinal problems.
– helps create vitamin D.
– the brain contains more cholesterol than any other organ and needs it in order to send messages from one brain cell to another.

Foods that fight inflammation:

– that are high in Omega 3 fats
– olive oil
– avocados
– cold water fish
– coconut oil (fights colds and the flu and has even reversed the symptoms of Alzheimers, ALS and Parkinson’s Disease in some people.)
– walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, and pecans.
– pumpkin and sesame seeds
– natural saturated fats (maybe; science is still sorting this one out).

Foods which, in excess, cause inflammation:

– Omega 6 fats
– vegetable oils
– mayonnaise
– margarine
– anything containing high fructose corn syrup or other sugars
– white bread, white pasta, white rice

Foods which, in any amount, cause inflammation:

– trans fats (Which is a man-made fat, and for which the Harvard School of Public Health says there is no safe level to consume.)
– any packaged food containing the word “hydrogenated” on the label.

Condensed from an article by Lorie Johnson at CBN and an article by Rachel Johnson, Ph.D, M.P.H., R.D., at Eating Well.

I am not a health professional and this post is not intended to be professional medical advice.

photo credit: Nicola since 1972 via photopin cc

Yes, sugary drinks interact with weight-related genes (and how to kick the pop habit)

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This AP photo shows how many cubes of sugar are in popular soft drinks.
The Associated Press reports that “A huge, decades-long study involving more than 33,000 Americans has yielded the first clear proof that drinking sugary beverages interacts with genes that affect weight, amplifying a person’s risk of obesity beyond what it would be from heredity alone.” Full story here.
Are you hooked on pop? Here’s a “baby steps” approach to weaning yourself off the sweet stuff. Try taking one or two weeks to adjust to each step.
  1. Switch to diet pop, same amount. Update, 9/28/12: If you have a serious sugar addiction, you may need to do this step in phases. See this article for info about sugar withdrawal symptoms and how to manage them.
  2. Replace one pop a day with coffee, tea or juice. No added sugar or artificial creamers. You may use other sweeteners. Do some research and experimentation to find a sweetener that you feel is healthy, and that doesn’t cause any troubling side effects for you. 
  3. Continue replacing servings until you are off pop completely.
  4. Replace one drink a day with water or green tea. Flavor with real fruit or a splash of juice, if you want. (Note: if you’re going off of coffee or strong tea, you’ll need to do the replacement slowly to avoid caffeine withdrawal symptoms such as headaches and sluggishness.)
  5. Continue replacing until water is all you drink all day (with fruit, if you like). Or green tea till 3 pm; water after.