What Should I Eat?
I'm a weight loss Dr. I treat people with the disease of Obesity and Overweight Syndrome. I treat the manageable factors associated with these disorders. We can't treat the underlying genetics of Obesity, but we can modify five key factors that can influence the expression of our genetics.
What we treat involves Nutritional changes, Physical activity changes, Metabolic Balance, Hormonal Balance and Psychological re-training. Today, in this show we want to focus on Nutrition. What should I eat? Anyone who has too many of the fat genes must pay close attention to What they eat on a regular basis. Not just today, not just until they lose weight, but forever. This requires re-training. We are programmed through our genes and our environmental conditioning to like certain foods.
We may have a preference for sweets, savory foods, or both. We also have variances in our eating and hunger signalling mechanisms. Some people feel full after a small amount of food and others don't get a full signal until long after they are so full they can't breath. The ability to re-train and develop healthier habits is a slow, methodical, long term process.
It is important to learn to eat foods that help us in staying leaner. Foods that are lower in sugar and are less dense in calories, and high in fiber all help our digestive tract to function and absorb properly. It's my opinion that there is no "bad" food. There are many "fun" foods that we eat too often and too much. With few exceptions most people will not eat a full plant based, non-GMO, organic diet. On the other hand, we must get away from consuming all of food from a bag, box, or other processed form.
It's easy to say avoid bread, potatoes, pasta, and rice, but there are even nuances in how these foods are prepared. Another key ingredient consuming these foods is how much we eat when we do choose to eat them. Pasta is an easy food to overeat. Check out the volume of a single serving of spaghetti. We are conditioned to eat 4-5 or more servings at a sitting.
Fruits are healthy, but when I hear a patient tell me they eat lots of fruit, I am concerned they are getting too many sugars in the diet. Sure, fruits are loaded with healthy nutrients and come with a good dose of fiber, but they are all carbohydrate (sugar). Fruits having peels that are not edible have the most sugar. Pineapple, melons, bananas are examples of these. Citrus except for Grapefruit have a medium amount of sugar, and fruits we can eat the peel of have the least amount of sugar. Yes, grapes. We just can't eat the whole stalk. Just 8-10 at a serving.
Most meats have a good supply of protein. Some are more fatty than others. Beef is a good source of protein, but certain cuts can provide mostly high levels of animal fats, which are not best for our health. Chicken without skin, other poultry, fish, shrimp, some cuts of lean pork, and lean beef are all beneficial to give us adequate protein and make us feel satisfied. Vegetarians and Vegans must find adequate sources of protein in other ways.
Dairy is praised and malaligned. For those that tolerate dairy, it can be a good source of calcium, protein, and many of the newer filtered milks contain higher levels of protein and less sugar and fat. Dairy can be over consumed and can give us too many calories when it comes concentrated as in cheese and creams. Small amounts are fine, but most people who consume cheese tend to overdue. Ice cream is a favorite of most, but eaten too often and too much and it can be a hallmark for weight gain.
Green plants and colorful vegetables should be on every plate with each meal. These provide a high amount of vitamins and nutrients as well as fiber. They assist our digestive tract with proper function and help fill our stomach without overloading on calories. Unfortunately, it seems that vegetables are the most avoided foods by choice. Try different veggies and get to like a few. Green beans, lettuce, cabbage, greens of all kinds, peppers, carrots, celery, and squash will enhance the weight loss process.
What about the "fun" foods? Pizza, alcohol, desserts, cookies, cakes, candy, pie, chips of all kinds, and all of the other processed confections and snacks are overeaten and eaten too often. Planning on when and how much of these to eat is a must if we want to keep our body size and shape normal. I tell my patients that these foods are not "bad". We just eat too much too often.
Nuts are interesting. They are quite healthy. They contain healthy fats, protein and limited sugar. Almonds have the highest amount of protein and the least carbohydrates. Cashews, though still healthy, have the lowest protein and the highest carbohydrate levels. The biggest problem most people have with nuts is that too many are consumed at one sitting. A handful of nuts is good. A bottle or can or bag is way too many calories.
I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't mention that we must avoid drinking our calories. Sodas, alcohol beverages, sports drinks, and most smoothies are laden with calories. They are full of sugars and the sugar is absorbed rapidly raising our blood sugar level. Athletes will drink high sugar sports drinks to give them energy, but there is a negative effect to this also. Excess sugars at one time turn on fat production. It's rare that even an athlete will burn off 200 to 300 calories of sugar before using it all in the activity.
Learning to eat a wider variety of foods is essential to overall weight control and health. Most people get comfortable eating the same foods over and over again. That will only serve us if they are healthy foods. If they are high calorie, high carbohydrate, or high simple sugar foods then we are destined for overweight and obesity. What we eat should become a thoughtful process rather than a spontaneous act. When we learn to control and enjoy our food, eat smaller portions, and less fun foods, we can live leaner, longer, and more satisfying lives. A helpful task is to write down everything you eat for a couple of days. Hopefully you're not shocked, but it's a good starting place to change What You Eat.