QUESTION: I am tired of dieting and gaining back all the weight I lost. What diet can I follow to really lose weight?
ANSWER: Let’s start right now by removing the word “diet” from our vocabulary. You don’t need to diet. You might need to lose or gain weight to improve your health, but that is done by making healthy food choices with professional guidance and addressing any brain chemistry that might be behind cravings for the wrong foods.
- Your needs are unique and your solution should be, too. Being overweight or underweight are recognized risk factors for many diseases, including hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, and certain types of cancers.
- Yo-yo dieting damages many systems in your body. Some systems can start to shut down or function at far less than optimum levels. The thyroid, your basic metabolic furnace, is especially hard hit by weight swings.
- Most diets are too hard to stick to and often cause a loss of lean muscle mass rather than fat. You might look thin on the outside but inside actually be over-fat, with a too-high fat to muscle ratio.
- Your ideal weight might not be the “Hollywood” ideal, which is almost universally decried as being too thin and setting unrealistic and unhealthy models of body size.
- Diets don’t work. If they did there would not be a new “bestseller” hot fad diet hitting the airwaves and bestseller lists every other day.
What works for you is personal and individual for you, and only you. Also, it is not a static goal but changes as you age and circumstances in your life change. What is needed is a lifetime, lifestyle make-over that is periodically monitored.
QUESTION: I am interested in eating more organic produce to reduce my risk of exposure to pesticide and herbicide reside, but it is kind of expensive. What do you recommend that I absolutely should buy organic?
According to the Environmental Working Group (http://www.ewg.org/), if you need to buy conventionally grown produce, there is definitely some produce that is more contaminated. Since the list changes a bit every year, it is best to check with their recommendations regularly.
If you have children or are pregnant or thinking of getting pregnant, your safest bet is to go strictly organic. Many chemicals mimic estrogen in the body, which can have very harmful effects on health, immunity, growth, and hormone functioning of you and your developing baby.
QUESTION: Everyone talks about eating more fruit and vegetables. I know it is important, but can’t I get the same benefit from taking a multi-vitamin?
ANSWER: In a word: NO! You have probably heard it from many sources and you’ll hear it from me, too. There are many reasons to eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables every day.
In addition to various types of fiber, vitamins, and minerals necessary for health, fruits and vegetables contain a wealth of necessary nutrients and nutrient co-factors, many of which might be unfamiliar to you—and scientists are finding more almost daily. This is just one reason why a high-quality, varied diet is so important and why you can’t get it from a pill. I have found most people buy the cheapest vitamin they can and use a one-a-day. If you buy your vitamins from the drug store or the warehouse discounters, you are missing at least the following, and usually a whole lot more.
Orange/yellow (beta carotene, beta cryptoxanthin) = helps maintain vision, healthy immune system
Red produce (lycopene, resveratrol, capsanthin) = helps maintain heart and circulation, urinary tract health, and memory
Black, blue, and purple (quercetin, anthocyanins) = helps maintain healthy aging, heart health, urinary tract health, and memory
Green (chlorophyll, lutein) = helps maintain strong bones and teeth, vision
White (allicin, flavanols, isothiocyanates) = helps maintain heart health, healthy cholesterol levels, reduce inflammation