The Skinny on Overweight

I’m moved by the genuineness of our readers.  A bit overweight?  Well, it’s right out there in your comments.  Summer is coming—school will be out in about 100 days and swimming suit season follows.  Thinking about dieting?  Forget it.  Diets are temporary and Word of Wisdom Living is about permanent, healthful change.  Fortunately, a healthy lifestyle usually leads to a healthy body.  I say usually because we’re all different, but eating right is the place to start.   

A heavy guilt trip has been put on the overweight and obese in our society.  This is counterproductive; it just doesn’t work, as evidenced by the continuing national weight gain.  So lets do something smarter.  The common wisdom says weight gain occurs because we eat too much and move too little—excess calories become excess fat.  So, shame on the overweight?  Maybe not.   

W of W Living suggests a different theory:

This theory removes self-starvation—but not a little self-discipline—from the cure for overweight.  The hunger impulse is too strong to ignore for long, so we need a better strategy.  Here’s a new plan, based on the sugar-insulin theory of weight control: Simply eat a reasonable amount of healthy food and you’re on your way to a good weight.  Real food is rich in nutrients and filling fiber, but low in calories.  And don’t forget to exercise, get plenty of sleep, enjoy a little sunshine, and deal with whatever stress is making you snack.

Lest you credit me with too much genius, I must acknowledge the sugar-insulin theory has been around for a while.  Unfortunately, society tends to solutions that place guilt rather than enlighten—so the worn-out “eat less, move more” mantra persists in the media.  We’ll deal more thoroughly with being overweight in a later post, but here are a couple of suggestions from the Word of Wisdom on eating:

1. Lower your blood sugar and insulin levels by avoiding factory food.  Factory food is high in refined carbs (the white stuff—sugar, flour, white rice, plus HFCS) that raise your blood sugar and insulin levels.  Insulin moves the excess blood sugar into our fat cells and keeps it there.  If you don’t significantly reduce the refined carbs in your diet your waistline will keep growing.

2. Farm food has a low glycemic index (G.I.)—a measure of its ability to spike your blood sugar level.  A diet with a low G.I. lowers your insulin level and results in smaller fat cells.  Smaller fat cells mean a smaller waistline.  So enjoy some fruit and nuts along with lots of vegetables, whole grains, legumes, with a little meat and dairy.

3. If you buy factory food you’ll eat it.  So avoid the center aisles in the grocery store that offer sugary drinks, cookies, candy, chips, and bakery goods.  (Ever noticed that the baked goods in stores don't even taste that good?  If you're really craving apple pie, make your own!)

4. Life is to be enjoyed, but get your guilty pleasures in the smallest possible dose.  I like See’s candy, but I follow Healthy Change #8.  If I see a store in the mall I get my favorite piece.  But we don’t bring boxes or bags of candy into the house.  Sad experience has taught that if it’s in the house it’ll get eaten.

5. Besides sugary drinks, avoid diet drinks too.  They’re less healthy than water for a number of reasons, but there is another problem:  Studies show that diet drinks DO NOT result in you eating less sugar.  In fact, they seem to reinforce the infantile desire for sugar so you get extra sugar in other forms (more to come on this topic).  Per Healthy Change #6, drink lots of water.

Lifestyle change works best if your friends join in, so pass the word.  And please share your weight loss experience by adding a comment, so we can learn together. 

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Reader Comments (12)

Loved this! I shared it on my FB. I have seen this change in my own life. Since eating real foods and following the Word of Wisdom more closely, I have easily and effortlessly dropped 40 pounds. I don't deprive myself but I am disciplined and recognize that I feel better when I eat better (making it very easy to eat a real food diet). Sugar is the #1 thing I recommend to anyone wanting to lose weight - watch your sugar (refined flours too) and watch the pounds melt away.

February 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKami

I've been working on weight loss for about a year and a half. I've been doing intensive tracking and study. I'd lose weight, then plateau, then gain it back. Even by limiting calories and exercising to produce a big deficiency in calories didn't seem to work that well.

After a year, I decided to seriously analyze the information I'd kept. An interesting trend was obvious: weight loss was proportional to reduction in carbohydrates. I've made the transition to a more paleo-diet nutritional approach and it's helped a LOT in the weight loss; plus I feel a lot more energy and am losing body fat at a greater weight (before I'd lose weight, but sometimes gain body fat percentage).

Now, unlike most paleo dieters, I haven't completely removed grains. I will have some cracked wheat in the morning, or muesli, or something. But, I limit myself to around 100grams of carbs a day. I make sure NONE of those come from refined sources like flour.

As for meat, I eat more than "a little" meat. Trying to square this with the whole "eat meat sparingly" thing has been a brain-buster, but researching I've seen that it's probably true that claims of horrors of saturated fats and red meat are unjustified. I eat a lot of grass-fed beef and pork.

I guess I'm wondering how you account for all the success of paleo dieters who cut out grain, and how that may or may not fly int he face of the word of wisdom.

February 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGdub

I like what I read here. I've started taking better care of my body about two years ago and it shows. I almost never buy factory food and I bake my own sweets, of which I always only eat a small piece a day, for the sugar craving.

I don't feel like I'm starving myself, on the contrary. Plus I like to know that buying less factory food means that all that plastic won't go to a landfill.

It works. There is no secret, it's out there but the media and society are trying to make peopl think that they don't have the time to cook. Everything is about making dinner quickly, when a little bit more of planning and an hour away from the TV could give eveyone enough time to plan their healthy meals...

February 24, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterkanmuri

Oh my dear, I love you so. Thank you for putting together this very succinct post on an issue I have tried and tried to tell people about. I struggled for YEARS with my weight and tried every diet program imaginable (most utilize the factory food you mention above). I used to weigh 350 pounds, but in the past four years, which included the birth of my now 20-month-old son, I've lost about 150 pounds. Everyone wants to know what miracle diet I used. There was no miracle diet. I simply stopped eating processed foods, and steered toward whole grains, vegetables, fruit and meat as a side rather than a main course. The best way I've come up with the explain it to anyone is that food is fuel. Would you put sugar or dirt in your car's gas tank? Of course not, you give it the proper fuel it needs to run. Your body is exactly the same. Give it the right fuel and it will run good for many years to come.

Keep up the incredible work you're doing with your blog! I read every post and just love it.

February 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterToni

thank you for your website! our young family was motivated to make some changes in our health, because we were sick all through the winter. we started "green smoothies" in may and then made some major changes this fall leading us toward a whole foods 50% raw diet. the health benefits have been amazing and as a side note my husband lost 40 pounds. it was a natural consequence of whole foods naturally pushing out the processed and fast foods. now i am part of a group of young moms working together to support each other as we move toward a whole foods lifestyle--meeting together once a month and sharing recipes and ideas on a group blog. eight months later and not a single doctor visit or prescription. i have learned that the right foods nourish and heal.

February 24, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterbrook

Gdub, thanks for raising the Paleo diet. As you probably know, it is a fact that any diet brings a new discipline that will work for a while. Long-term weight management that is healthful is the real goal. Paleo diets are based on the pre-historic "hunter-gatherer" model and avoid farmed products like grains but include lots of meat, For concerns about a diet high in meat, see Colin Campbell's book, "The China Study". The amount of grain you eat (100 grams) is not unreasonable, about two servings. The big issue here is not about grains, but about refined carbs vs. whole carbs. Minimizing sugar in our diet and returning to a diet of whole grains is a vital start to healthful living. It's clear that you are giving attention to healthful eating so I expect you'll do fine.

February 24, 2011 | Registered CommenterSkip Hellewell

My big problem is that I like to bake and I love sweets so Michael Pollan's rule of only eating junk food if you make it yourself just gives me more of an excuse to bake!

February 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterWhistlepea

Whistlepea, one thing that might help is every recipe can be made more healthy without ruining the taste. In a later post we'll talk about some guidelines for "healthing up" those favorite recipes.

February 24, 2011 | Registered CommenterSkip Hellewell

This is a great post, and it rings so true to me. I have been on my WOW diet for 3 weeks now and I have found that I don't have to eat less to lose weight. In fact, the more fruits and veggies and beans I eat, the more I lose. The days I don't eat very much, the scale does not move. If I can get a pound of raw veggies in, and 4 or 5 servings of fruit, I'm sure to see some weight drop off. It is easy to stick with a lifestyle that doesn't require you to be hungry all the time.

February 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle

I've been meaning to write for a while and thank you for taking the time to put together this blog. I am a big believer in the Word of Wisdom type diet and love the books by Colin Campbell and Micheal Pollan. However, I have a lot of family members that are stuck on the traditional american diet and it kills me to watch them get more unhealthy by the day. I have started forwarding your healty changes to them weekly and have had some positive feedback which makes me so, super happy. So, thank you for making a big difference in people's lives.

February 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCassie

I would encourage you to not focus on weight at all. If you choose to eat whole foods and stay active, your body will be the shape it should be. Some bodies will be rounder than others and that's okay. Each of us is unique and we don't need to look like everyone else.

March 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterWendy

I read recently that Weight Watchers dropped their recommended servings of fruits and vegetables in favor of an "eat as much as you want." just give them a good washing, though. Fairly recently Consumer Reports studied chemical residues in both organic and conventional produce, and found that organics have only slightly less contaminants than conventional. A good washing is usually sufficient, they report, and the remainder are tolerable to most healthy people.

This is reassuring, considering the price difference and how expen$I've a whole-food regimen can be. Also, I have found organics to be more suseptible to quick spoilage--another health risk and cost factor.

My recommendation: keep a bowl of washed, ripe fruit in the kitchen, always putting the older produce on top. Don't hesitate to cut out damaged or spoiled partsand eat (or cook) the rest of a piece of fruit, and:

Always eat an apple 20 minutes before a meal!

March 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterFollowingHim

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