What would you say if I told you that you could lose weight and improve your overall health all without ever counting calories or even being on a diet? Would you think I was crazy? Would you think I was going to try to sell you some kind of miracle pill, or perhaps a new piece of exercise equipment? Now what would you say if I told you that you could do all of this without ever feeling like you were being deprived and you didn’t need any help from a doctor? Would you believe me?
If your answer is “NO,” don’t feel bad. Before beginning my own journey a couple years ago I didn’t believe it either. I spent more than a decade and a half jumping from diet plan to diet plan. What I found was that no matter how hard I tried, I could never seem to sustain any of the results I achieved, long term. I spent years stuck in a vicious cycle of “starve, eat, repeat.” I would go on a diet, starve myself to lose a bit of weight. Then as soon as I went off of my diet and began to eat regularly again, I would gain back the weight I lost and more. This was my life for years. All the while I thought something was wrong with me. I thought I was failing over and over again because I was weak. I thought I just didn’t have enough will-power to succeed. I could not have been more wrong.
When you look up the word “diet” in the dictionary, the definition is: (VERB) Restrict oneself to small amounts or special kinds of food in order to lose weight.
The very definition screams NOT SUSTAINABLE! Anytime you are restricting or depriving yourself of something for a short period of time to achieve a specific result, the minute you go back to your normal behavior you will likely undo the results you have achieved. You may be asking yourself, “Then how do you achieve all of the amazing things mentioned above?” It’s really quite simple. If you want to change your life you must change your lifestyle!
People say the definition of “crazy” is as follows: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. You know, kind of like dieting. Every year millions of people all over the world start diets only to have them fail. I suggest you do something different if you want different results.
By now, you are probably thinking that changing your lifestyle means bland and boring? Think again! Imagine eating lots of amazing foods on a daily basis. I am not just talking about three square meals a day either. I am talking about awesome meals and fantastic snacks to boot! Now, imagine doing all of this without ever causing harm to another living creature. Does this also sound too good to be true? Well it’s not! If you turn to a whole food plant-based diet you can achieve, not some, but ALL of what I mentioned earlier.
Yep, all this, and you save the lives of countless other earthlings along the way. This is truly a triple win! It’s good for you. It’s great for the planet, and all the other earthlings. You may be thinking that there has to be a catch to this. Surely, it can’t be this simple. Well, it really is this simple.
You see, when you turn to a whole food plant-based diet your body receives all the nutrients it needs to keep you operating at optimal levels. Some of the side effects of eating this way include but are not limited to—weight loss, healthy skin, brighter eyes, increased energy, a sharper mind, and dare I say it— YOU MIGHT EVEN GET YOUR SEXY BACK!
The only catch is you have to be willing to change your lifestyle. So, what’s it going to be? Is this year truly the year that you change your life? Are you ready to get your sexy back? If you are, then eat your fruits and veggies and leave all the crazy calorie-counting, miracle pills and new exercise equipment to late night TV.
THE DOCTOR’S CORNER
I would like to offer you a new definition of the word “diet” —a word that has become heavy-laden with uncomfortable and often unspoken associations like starvation, deprivation, sacrifice, guilt, failure, weight loss, rules and short term pain. Perhaps you even feel a knot in your stomach or develop sweaty palms as you read that list and think about your past diet experiences. Maybe you can even recall some of the crazy diets like The Tapeworm Diet, Lucky Strike Cigarette Diet, and the Lemonade Diet. The original root word of “diet” comes from the Greek word, Diaitasthal meaning “to lead one’s life.” Now that is a definition that sounds much more inspiring, hopeful, and abundant, assigning food to the proper foundational position in our lives. Health-promoting, delicious food should be elevated to a key central position, a place of honor in our lives, that will naturally yield fulfillment today, and optimal health for the body tomorrow.
A comprehensive Danish study reviewed the results of more than 900 diet studies from 1931-1999 to evaluate the long-term success rate of dieting, determined by the maintenance of a 20-24 pound weight loss at five years. They found that approximately 15-percent of people successfully kept the weight off for five years. (Ayyad, C. and Anderson, T. (2000), Long-term efficacy of dietary treatment of obesity: a systematic review of studies published between 1931 and 1999. Obesity Reviews, 1: 113-119.) Now contrast that success rate with the fact that an estimated 108 million Americans diet annually and contribute $40 billion dollars to the “diet-related” industry. I often ask my patients if they would take on a very challenging and somewhat painful project that will require hours every day with a guaranteed success rate of 15-percent.
As you can imagine, I get a look of disbelief and sharp retort of “no way Doc!” So then I ask, “Why do so many Americans take on a new diet every year hoping for a different outcome?” I have come to believe that most people just don’t have all of the information needed to make a truly educated decision that leads to a successful lifestyle change that lasts a lifetime. They are simply hoping that somehow this new shiny diet will be the one that works for them— because the science is “new.” However, short-term dieting strategies fail to address the critical drivers of eating beyond the oversimplified calorie-counting and manipulations of protein, carbohydrate, and fat. Some key drivers are the dopamine reward system in our brains that are readily activated by sugar, fat, and salt (as well as cocaine, nicotine, and heroin), emotional eating, convenience/time, habits, eating in isolation, culture, and marketing.
The elegant solution of a plant-based lifestyle overcomes many of these challenges within just a few weeks and provides a scientifically solid foundation for a lifetime of eating healthy. It infuses abundance, freedom, healing, vitality, fulfillment, community, hope, and life, all wrapped up in one nutritious and delicious meal after another. Make this your year of the plant-based diet and celebrate your new found freedom from “dieting” with vibrant health.