Admittedly, not everyone is comfortable being fat and sick. But
that is no reason to forsake the Fat for Life program. If you don't
like carrying the extra weight, you can get your doctor to give
you appetite suppressing drugs, or to staple your stomach.
"But," you ask," doesn't research indicate that
it may be more likely that my doctor can cure cancer than cure obesity?"
Well, ask yourself this question: Why do you have to be so negative?
Just think positive thoughts. Everything is exactly the way it is
supposed to be. Go with the flow.
Diet no laughing matter
By now, you can tell that we have been writing tongue-in-cheek.
But doesn't what we have written sound all too familiar? Most people,
even most physicians, are really in the dark when it comes to diet
and nutrition. Fortunately, there is an easy-to-understand approach
to weight loss, and it doesn't involve any pills, powders, potions,
or other gimmicks. It does involve learning how to eat and to exercise
in ways that are consistent with our natural history. That means
eating a diet consisting of whole natural foods. It also means engaging
in frequent, moderate exercise.
Does our program work? At the Center for Conservative Therapy,
we have helped many people lose unneeded and unwanted fat, and keep
it off, by following a few sensible guidelines. But before we describe
our approach, let's look at why conventional diets don't work. One
reason that diets don't work is that they contain foods that were
never present in the natural environment! As a result, these foods
- such as bread, cheese, crackers, "low-fat" chocolate
shakes, margarine, and "light" beer - have the ability
to fool the brain's natural appetite mechanisms. When this happens,
people tend to over-consume, and that over-consumption is stored
as fat. It is just about as simple as that.
Fooling our nature
Our brains are built to sense the caloric value of foods we eat.
When we've eaten enough, our hunger drive is designed to shut down
naturally. Notice that you have never "accidentally" eaten
50 apples. Your body "keeps count" and shuts your hunger
down at the appropriate time. The brain mechanism that organizes
this feat is called the satiety mechanism. It was built into our
psychology over countless generations, as part of our natural biological
heritage. All creatures need to know both when they are "hungry"
and when they are "full," so that they can live most effectively.
The satiety mechanism appears to depend upon two types of receptors
in our mouths and stomachs. These are stretch receptors, which give
our brain information about how "stretched out" our stomach
is, and nutrient receptors, which tell us the caloric density of
the food we have eaten. Notice that if you eat four pounds of raw
salad, you may feel "full" in terms of being "stretched
out," but the nutrient receptors in your stomach also will
be saying, "Hey, that was 'OK,' but it wasn't nearly enough!
Get me some calories, or I'm going to continue to complain!"
You might feel stretched out" but still hungry. To be satiated,
or hunger-satisfied, we have to have our stomach both stretched
out and filled with some "real" calories. In the environment
of our ancestors, the foods had moderate caloric density - that
is, those foods both stretched the stomach and also caused significant
nutrient signaling to the brain. People couldn't easily overeat
on foods of moderate density because the stretching of their stomachs
would hurt. Our ancestors ate everything they could, until they
felt full, and then stopped eating! They never worried about overeating
and getting fat (which might have been dangerous in a natural setting).
They didn't need to be concerned about this because on a natural
diet people rarely get fat.
Modern, processed foods tend to be more calorically dense than
natural foods, and can fool our satiety mechanism! When people eat
substantial quantities of processed foods, it is quite natural for
them to overeat, because the stretch receptors in their stomachs
are not getting much chance to signal "enough" - until
too much has been eaten.
Let's look at the caloric density of some popular foods. Raw vegetables,
such as salads, contain about 100 calories per pound. Cooked vegetables,
such as carrots, contain about 200 calories per pound. Fresh fruits
contain about 300 calories per pound, and starchy vegetables and
grains contain about 500 calories per pound. (See chart on p.12.)
But breads, pizza, ice cream, and other processed products are usually
between 1000 and 1500 calories per pound!
Easy to overeat
A pound of bread, for example, has about 1200 calories! Because
of processing, bread is a more concentrated product than grains
or starchy vegetables. Therefore, when eating bread, there will
be less stretch receptor activity in the stomach signaling for satiety
than when eating grains, given the same caloric intake! Some examples
might make this easier to understand. Which is easier to eat: a
pint of ice cream, or five pounds of cooked carrots? Which is more
likely to make you feel full: a pound of pizza, or eight pounds
of cooked broccoli? Four ounces of chocolate, or three large baked
potatoes? You can see that overeating is easy to do if concentrated,
processed foods are prominent in the diet. Meats are also very concentrated
- one of the few naturally concentrated sources of calories. Meat
consumption was probably relatively unusual in the natural environment,
and it packed a big punch at about 1200 calories per pound.
In today's world, the Fat for Life crowd is eating a diet that
predominately consists of processed foods and meat, fish, fowl,
eggs, and dairy products. This guarantees that the caloric density
of the average American's diet is much, much greater than their
appetite machinery is built to handle! Any creature given a diet
that is more concentrated than is appropriate for its design will
tend to overeat - and get fat. Birds eating processed foods, for
example, may fatten to the point that they can no longer fly. Given
this perspective, it is hardly a surprise that over 50% of U.S.
adults are obese; and another significant percentage are well above
their optimum weight.
Remarkable new approach to weight loss
A key strategy in any successful weight loss program is to treat
your body in the way it was meant to be utilized. A top priority
of this strategy is to eat a diet consisting of whole natural foods
- fresh fruits and vegetables, and the variable addition of whole
grains, raw nuts and seeds, and legumes. In addition to the many
other health benefits, this dietary strategy will provide sufficient
stretch receptor activity, resulting in satiety. With this dietary
strategy, significant overeating is much less likely to occur. At
the Center, for lunch and dinner, we recommend that meals be eaten
in a particular order. First, eat a large, raw vegetable salad.
Steamed vegetables should be eaten next.
Finally, eat starchy vegetables and whole grains. There is a reason
for this recommendation. We have observed that once a person gets
a taste of higher-calorie foods (such as cooked grains), lower-calorie
foods (such as raw salad) are suddenly less appealing. This can
result in less salad and vegetable consumption, which, in turn,
can cause an overall increase of the meal's caloric density. By
starting with the least caloric foods - when we are the most hungry
- more low-density food is consumed. This results in more stretching
of the stomach, which helps us to feel full and thus less likely
Using this strategy, there is little need to be concerned about
portion size. There is truly no need to "go hungry." By
consuming the majority of calories from moderately concentrated,
unprocessed, whole, natural foods, most of the "fat battle"
is easily won. Combined with a moderate exercise program, this strategy
really works - just as nature intended. We have found that our overweight
patients tend to lose about two pounds per week using this strategy.
Most medical researchers would consider our patients' successes
to be "miraculous." We don't, but we are very pleased
to see our patients consistently rewarded for following this "uncommon
sense" approach to weight loss.
We should add a few comments about exercise because some people
place so much emphasis on it. We have seen people who exercise almost
constantly, but still fail to lose weight. Exercise is a useful
and important adjunct to healthful living and to weight control,
but exercise alone is not enough. We recommend that our patients
engage in moderate exercise 4-5 times per week. Actually, we think
it is a good idea to exercise moderately almost every day, if you
have the time. By "moderate" exercise, we mean an activity
that causes you to have to work at it a bit. If you are an Olympic
marathoner, it might mean a five-mile run. For most of our overweight
patients, however, it probably means a brisk 20-30 minute walk.
If our program seems "too good to be true," we're not
surprised. While our diet and exercise strategies are very simple
and easy to understand, they are sometimes difficult to implement.
Many factors can get in the way, but the most potent obstacle that
you face in conquering the Fat for Life challenge is your built-in
"energy conservation programming. "Programmed for convenience
foods All animals, including humans, have energy conservation programming
built into their nervous systems. The nature of this programming
differs from species to species, but it is always there, nonetheless.
Migratory birds, for example, will fly in a characteristic "V"
pattern, so that they can use each other's bodies to break the wind
- and save calories. Many fish swim in schools, saving calories
riding in each other's wake. And predators, all over the world,
are found to pick on the "weak," so that they get the
greatest number of calories for the least amount of effort expended.
Humans, too, have this type of programming as part of human nature.
We are programmed to want to get as many calories as we can, with
the least possible effort! This is great programming for humans
living in an environment of scarcity, which is where almost all
humans lived until just the last few decades. Now, however, most
of us in the modern Western world are no longer living in an environment
of scarcity. But our natural programming is still with us - encouraging
us to eat as much as we can with as little effort as possible! Is
it any wonder that obesity is an epidemic within industrialized
societies? Your "natural" tendencies may be to eat the
most concentrated foods available - and to exercise as little as
possible. But you needn't be a slave to these tendencies. People
are often able to over-ride them with some moderate effort. You
can "use your head" to think ahead when it comes to your
health and fitness. Plan ahead to have plenty of whole natural foods
available at all times so that it is convenient, and schedule time
to engage in regular, moderate exercise. No need for miracles You
do not need a "miracle" to have a healthy, trim body.
But you need to understand and respect how you were naturally designed
You were designed to consume a diet of whole natural foods - and
engage in moderate, regular exercise. Your energy conservation programming
may make it seem "unnatural" to live this way, but that
is only because of the modern environment. Progress has made unhealthful
living all too easy. You do not need to follow the herd, which is
headed toward fatness and failure. By implementing these simple
strategies, you can join the fortunate few who are fit - not fat
- for life.
Alan Goldhamer, D.C., is director of the Center for Conservative
Therapy in Penngrove, California. Psychologist Douglas Lisle, Ph.D.,
is the Center's director of research. For more information visit
Send your comments to Dr. Goldhamer at DrGoldhamer@vegsource.com
A fast way to get a head start on your weight-loss program
Give yourself a boost!
Sometimes people need a "boost" to get their weight-loss
program going in the right direction. Fortunately, there is a "fast"
way for you to quickly gain momentum in your pursuit of optimum
weight and health. A stay at a health promotion center that offers
supervised fasting can be a helpful first step.
At the Center for Conservative Therapy, we specialize in the supervision
of water-only fasting. While most of our patients do not come for
weight loss, it is often a pleasant, additional benefit to the other
health improvements that they seek. A properly conducted fast can
help to quickly restore normal metabolic functioning, which can
help you on your way to your optimal weight.
Patients at the Center participate in our educational programs,
consisting of lectures and group therapy workshops. These experiences
are devoted to helping people make the transition to healthful living.
For people interested in weight loss, this experience can be especially
valuable, particularly for those who have lost their self-confidence
after "failing" at other weight-loss strategies. We help
these patients to understand that they have not failed! They have
merely been using an ineffective strategy.
At the Center, we understand that weight problems are solvable
- and that with a few new skills, habits, and some diligence, anyone
can be fit for life. That's the way we are all designed to be.
Douglas Lisle, Ph.D.