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Your Weight and the Pandemic

During a recent interview on a talk radio show, a caller told me she had gained seven pounds since living in lockdown; her friends also had gained weight, she said. A few days later, a colleague who has been conducting what she calls “telephone clinics” with her obese patients wrote: “All were telling me how lockdown is causing further weight gain and how they feel unable to do anything about it.” She continued: “I think that the lockdown affects disproportionately people who were already struggling with obesity and unhealthy eating habits.”

As most of you know, it is not just select “obese patients” who are struggling with overeating and ensuing weight gain. This is because overweight and obese people are not a small subset of the population. Rather, almost 70% of Americans are overweight or obese; indeed, by 2030 the percentage is expected to be closer to 100%. This means that the lockdown may be speeding up our obesity stats, but it is not the cause of our overweight pandemic: The fat-track train left the station decades ago.

The Obesity Link to Covid-19

Today, with the threat of coronavirus infection, there is yet another reason to be concerned about being overweight: As Americans reel from the shocking and devastating health, mental, emotional, economic, and social impact the coronavirus pandemic has wrought, the virus continues to disproportionately harm those who are already struggling with obesity and other diet-related conditions — from heart disease and diabetes to high blood pressure and a weakened immune system. This is an alarming situation given that (1) almost 45% of adults in the United States are obese — we rank #1 in obesity among international OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) nations, (2) and one in two Americans — over 133 million people — suffer from chronic health conditions, many of which are linked to poor food choices.

In my opinion, the coronavirus pandemic is a wake-up call; a stunning event that is sounding the alarm we need to take action NOW to remedy the struggle that millions of overweight and obese people live with day-to-day. Clearly, we are being alerted to change — really, really change — what we eat and how we eat. Each day and every day. Starting now. For the rest of our lives. My vision is that we accomplish this by halting and turning around the obesity pandemic without dieting; rather, by losing weight and keeping it off with what I call a dietary lifestyle, meaning, a way of eating that leads naturally to weight loss, health, and healing…for life.

The Whole Person Integrative Eating (WPIE) Weight Loss Rx

What if…

…it were possible to overcome overeating and to lose weight and keep it off without traditional dieting? (Note: Almost 50% of Americans are “on a diet” at any one time; and typical dieters will try between 55-130 diets in their lifetime!)

…you could nourish yourself physically each time you eat? But also emotionally, spiritually, and socially?

…your relationship to food, eating, and weight was based on a way of eating that leads to a pleasurable relationship to food and eating—with weight loss as a natural “side effect?”

What I am describing is the Whole Person Integrative Eating (WPIE)® dietary lifestyle, an evidence-based, scientifically sound model and program that treats the root causes of overeating, overweight, and obesity. It is also a way of eating that may prepare your immune system to fight viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens.1-3 And the WPIE dietary lifestyle can also help you prevent and reverse a plethora of other diet-related chronic conditions.

After 25 years of research by behavioral scientist Larry Scherwitz, PhD (transparent disclosure: Larry’s my

husband) and me, the well-documented message in Whole Person Integrative Eating is that it is possible to overcome overeating, overweight, and obesity by replacing the newly identified, new-normal overeating styles Larry and I have discovered with their antidotes: the ancient/new, science-backed elements of our Whole Person Integrative Eating® model and program.4-6 FYI…WPIE is a “whole person” program that address both what you eat (your food choices) and how you eat (your eating behaviors); and in turn, how your food choices and eating behaviors nourish you physically, but also emotionally, spiritually, and socially. As a first step, this article offers the WPIE what-to-eat guidelines for weight loss.

What-to-Eat Rx: Fresh, Whole, Inverse

What Larry and I, and hundreds, perhaps thousands of other researchers have discovered, is that there’s a simple way to eat that provides the antidote to the Fast Foodism overeating style our WPIE research identified that leads to overeating and obesity. It is a time- and science-tested what-to-eat guideline that has nourished humankind for millennia—and it is how people who are naturally thin and healthier eat today: Eat fresh, whole food in its natural state as often as possible.Please keep in mind the phrase “as often as possible.” This means making fresh, whole foods your most-of-the-time way of eating; it is not a rigid, regimented way of eating you start, then stop.

To get you, and your waistline and immune system, started on the road to health and healing, here are the three words that describe the WPIE what-to-eat guidelines that lower odds of illness: Fresh. Whole. Inverse.7 This is what I mean.

Fresh. Whole. The optimal way to eat for weight loss, health, and healing is to consume mostly unrefined, unprocessed, real food that has all its constituents (such as the fiber and germ in grains) intact. This means choosing lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes (beans and peas), and nuts and seeds, with lesser—or no—amounts of free-range, grass-fed, and/or wild dairy, poultry, meat, and fish that is free of antibiotics, hormones, pesticides, herbicides, GMOs, and additives and chemicals (you often can’t pronounce).

Inverse eating. Along with “fresh” and “whole,” the third WPIE “ingredient” for optimal eating is to eat inversely. What do I mean by “inverse eating?” Whether you’re looking at the traditional diets of Mediterranean, Asian, South American, African, Indian, or Native American cultures, they all have one way of eating in common: meals are mostly plant-based foods (fruits, veggies, grains, beans and peas, and nuts and seeds), with lesser amounts of animal-based foods (dairy, fish, poultry, and meat). In other words, the diets of most cultures worldwide are—and have been for thousands of years—mostly plant-based foods as the centerpiece of the meal, and animal-based foods as a condiment or side dish.

Clearly, this is the inverse of the almost 40 percent—approximately 84.8 million Americans—who eat fast food every day and the 91 percent—at least 290 million Americans—who completely miss the mark of meeting the U.S. dietary guidelines of a half to two cups of vegetables per day. Same with fruit: only 12 percent of Americans consume one-and-a-half to two servings per day. In other words, most Americans eat the standard American diet (SAD) of mostly processed animal-based foods with few, or no plant-based foods.

With SAD as a starting point, I use the term inverse eating to describe the antithesis, or inverse, of the standard American diet: the opposite way of eating that evolved naturally over thousands of years and includes mostly fresh, whole, plant-based foods supplemented with small, occasional servings of fresh, whole, chemical-free animal-based foods.

The WPIE Dietary Lifestyle: If Not Now, When?

I know. Change isn’t easy. Especially when it comes to food and eating. I understand; truly. Since the social-isolation policy that has gone into effect for most of us, I’ve talked with people who are turning to high-carb, high-sugar, high-fat “comfort foods” to cope. And they are gaining weight. And weakening their immune system. And making themselves vulnerable to a plethora of diet-related conditions.

The antidote? Commit to, and adopt a dietary lifestyle that empowers you to eat to prevent, even reverse, a multitude of food-related ailments and increase odds of boosting immunity, which in turn may decrease your risk of becoming ill from the coronavirus. And it lowers odds of being overweight and obese. Or developing diabetes. And heart disease. And some cancers. And depression and anxiety. And other mind-body, diet-related chronic conditions.

In other words, we know that the WPIE fresh, wholeinverse way of eating ups the odds of helping you lose weight and keep it off, lessens the risk of Covid-19 symptoms, and can prevent and reverse food-related chronic conditions; that the Whole Person Integrative Eating® dietary lifestyle holds the key to transforming your relationship with food and eating so you can reclaim your health…for life. If not now, when?

 

Article originally printed on integrativeeating.com. Reprinted with permission from Deborah Kesten. 


Deborah Kesten, M.P.H., is an award-winning author, specializing in preventing and reversing obesity and heart disease. Her expertise includes the influence of epigenetics and diet on health, Lifestyle Medicine, and research on the Whole Person Integrative Eating dietary lifestyle to treat overeating, overweight, and obesity. She and her husband, behavioral scientist Larry Scherwitz, Ph.D., collaborate on research and writing projects. Her latest book, “Whole Person Integrative Eating” was named the “Winner” in the Health category by the 2020 Book Excellence Awards.

preparing-vegetable

Whole Person Integrative Eating: A Dietary Lifestyle for Attaining and Maintaining Weight Loss

At the beginning of our Whole Person Integrative Eating (WPIE) coaching sessions, Alison was a 64-year-old woman who weighed 235 pounds and wore a size 3x. A former businesswoman turned professional meditation practitioner, Alison’s obesity began as a teenager. She had tried many “diets-du-jour” over the decades. Each time she would lose some weight—sometimes a lot; then she would return to her preferred “go-to” foods and gain back the weight…

stress-emotional-eating

Stop Stress Eating with These 3 Simple Steps

Do you often eat as a reaction to stress, anxiety, and other unwelcome feelings? Do you turn to high-fat, sugary “comfort foods” to cope with negative emotions? Discover why you stress eat in the first place, why it works, and some simple steps for doing some damage control.

Some say it’s “stress eating.” Others call it “self-medicating.” Psychologists describe it as “emotional eating.” Whatever words are used, if you often (over)eat to self-soothe negative feelings such as boredom, stress, anxiety, or anger—in other words, for reasons other than hunger and having a healthy appetite—it’s likely you’re a stress eater. Not only does stress eating increase your odds of overeating, my own original research on overeating reveals that Emotional Eating is the #1 predictor of overeating and becoming overweight or obese.1,2

Here’s what stress eating might look like:

For Ann, stress-related overeating episodes often start after work, especially when she’s on deadline with a large project. First, she visits her local supermarket to buy a bag of potato chips, a pint of her favorite ice cream, and a bar of creamy dark chocolate. Then she heads home, changes into comfortable clothes, and turns on the TV. Settling into bed surrounded by her favorite comfort foods—and sometimes, a glass of red wine—Ann begins what she describes as “zoning out”—eating until she feels calmer—often to the point of falling in and out of sleep well before bedtime.

All the while, Ann remains vaguely anxious and distressed about her workload, and dependent on food to manage her darker moods. And she’s concerned her stress eating is keeping her overweight. At the same time, on a not-quite-conscious level, she senses the chips and chocolate allay her anxiety in some way. And she’s right: High-sugar, high-fat, high-carb food (products) do indeed relieve emotional tension. Here’s why.

The Food-Mood Connection

The idea that the food you eat can actually medicate your mood and vice versa—that your mood may motivate you to make certain food choices—was given the scientific stamp of approval in the 1970s when Judith Wurtman, PhD, a scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, uncovered a fascinating facet of the emotional eating enigma. Call it nutritional neuroscience, psychoneuroimmunology, or the study of food and mood, Wurtman launched a new field of nutrition research that has confirmed what many of us know intuitively: what you eat affects your mind and mood, your tendency to pile on pounds, even the quality of your life.

What Wurtman discovered is this: About twenty minutes after you eat a carbohydrate-rich food (such as bread, potatoes, cookies, or cake), your brain releases a naturally occurring substance called serotonin; in turn, you feel more relaxed and calm. Want to feel more perky? Consume a lean, high-protein food such as fish, and the substance that’s released (norepinephrine) lets you feel more awake and energetic (unlike the kick you get from caffeine, you’re not stimulated, just more alert). And certain fats in food end up as endorphins—substances in the brain that produce pleasurable feelings.3 More recent research, specifically on stress eating, reveals that women under stress experience strong sugar cravings that lead to overeating high-carb, high-sugar foods.4

The Food-Mood Syndrome: It Can Be a Vicious Cycle

Here is where the food-mood link really gets interesting. Since Wurtman’s discovery about the food-mood connection, we also know that the sugary, sweet, or crunchy and fried processed food products that emotional eaters most often choose to get a serotonin high actually contribute to deficiencies in certain vitamins and minerals that can cause your emotions to plummet, leading to a serious case of the doldrums.

In this way, the food-mood syndrome can become a vicious emotional cycle. You’re feeling down, so you reach for, say, a prepackaged brownie. Sure, the brownie’s sugar and white-flour carb content will soothe and calm you, but its high sugar content has a hidden side effect: it actually depletes some nutrients that could help combat depression. In other words, the sweet concoction may somehow soothe your soul, but isn’t it ironic that at the same time, it may also contribute to anxiety, depression, and other unpleasant emotions?

3 Smart Steps to Stop Stress Eating

Want to get the mood-calming, feel-good benefits of serotonin without the vitamin and mood-robbing downside inherent in high-sugar, highly processed foods? Here are three smart, simple, proactive steps you can take to curtail stress-related overeating episodes—without the downside.

Be “B” wise. From dreary doldrums to a deeper depression, various B vitamins—including B1, B2, niacin, folate, and B12—can help you bust the blues. But most B-family relatives are processed out of refined foods, such as white flour. To help defeat depression, “B” wise and consider some especially good B-abundant blues busters found in unprocessed, unrefined grains (oats, millet, brown rice, etc.), fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and seeds. Consuming vitamin B–rich greens such as spinach are especially good for overcoming overeating.

Shake the sugar habit. Consuming a lot of refined white sugar both damages and destroys B vitamins in the body; in this way, it contributes to deficiencies. Cut down on, or eliminate sugar from your diet, and depression often lifts—although why this is so isn’t well understood. One theory is that the “high” a person derives from sugar is due to elevated glucose (blood sugar) and feel-good endorphins, which produce feelings of relaxation and euphoria. Conversely, when a diet is low in sugar and high in B vitamins, levels of B vitamins, glucose, and endorphins remain stable, reducing odds of depression.

Sip some tea. Consuming too much alcohol to relax and de-stress can cause the loss of certain B vitamins—and deficiencies of vitamins B6 and niacin, especially, can bring you down. Not only does excessive alcohol consumption reduce the absorption of B vitamins, but it also contributes to protein and mineral deficiencies. The operative words here are “too much” and “excessive,” meaning, the tipping point is different for different people. Consider this: In place of wine to de-stress, try sipping some soothing herbal tea.

Stopping Stress Eating

The science that studies nutrients in the foods we consume, and the way they influence our brain chemistry and emotions, provides a peek into how food and the mind and body work together. By being aware of whether you “feel” like eating to assuage stress or to appease a healthy appetite, each food you choose to eat may be looked at as an opportunity to fine-tune your moods and emotions, while nourishing your body.

In other words, the key to being a success at stopping stress eating is making a commitment to eating for feel-good feelings, when you have a healthy, authentic appetite for food, and when you’re anticipating the pleasure and experience of true mind-body nourishment.

 

Article originally printed on integrativeeating.com. Reprinted with permission from Deborah Kesten. 


Deborah Kesten, M.P.H., is an award-winning author, specializing in preventing and reversing obesity and heart disease. Her expertise includes the influence of epigenetics and diet on health, Lifestyle Medicine, and research on the Whole Person Integrative Eating dietary lifestyle to treat overeating, overweight, and obesity. She and her husband, behavioral scientist Larry Scherwitz, Ph.D., collaborate on research and writing projects. Her latest book, “Whole Person Integrative Eating” was named the “Winner” in the Health category by the 2020 Book Excellence Awards.

 

References:

  1. Larry Scherwitz and Deborah Kesten, “Seven Eating Styles Linked to Overeating, Over- weight, and Obesity,” Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing 1, no. 5 (2005): 342–59.
  2. Deborah Kesten and Larry Scherwitz, “Whole Person Integrative Eating: A Program for Treating Overeating, Overweight, and Obesity,” Integrative Medicine: A Clinician’s Journal 14, no. 5 (October/November 2015): 42–50.
  3. Judith J. Wurtman, Managing Your Mind and Mood through Food (New York: Rawson Associ- ates, 1986).
  4. Danielle Marques, et al, “Sweet craving and ghrelin and leptin levels in women during stress” Appetite, Vol 80, September 1, 2014, 264-270.
Split-Screen-Immunity-Nutrition

How to Eat for a Strong Immune System that Lessens Risk for the Coronavirus

The coronavirus is the #1 headline worldwide, and it is impacting all of us in many ways. For prevention and protection, the key advice is to wash our hands as often as possible, avoid touching our face, and of course, steer clear of those who are ill. All of these are smart steps; however, as smart is to proactively strengthen your immune system by including certain foods in your daily diet—and conversely, avoiding foods that weaken your immune system and make you more susceptible to infection.

Here’s why a strong immune system is a major ally in thwarting illness and keeping us healthy.

The bottom line: Your immune system fights off pathogens such as viruses and bacteria that can cause infection or disease. The “internal warrior” in your immune system is antibodies, which your immune system releases to fight against infection and viruses. And it is the nutrients (vitamins and minerals) in real foods that keep your immune system balanced and poised to ward off unwelcome pathogens.

In other words, we don’t have control over other risk factors such as age and existing conditions that make us more vulnerable to the virus, but we can choose foods that cultivate a healthy gut, and in this way, build our immune system and make ourselves less vulnerable to illness.

Rx: Fresh, Whole, Plant-Based Foods

There’s a simple way to eat to strengthen your immune system. It’s a time- and science-tested guideline that has nourished humankind for millennia. The secret of eating to ward off illness is to eat fresh, whole food in its natural state as often as possible. This means eating organic, plant-based foods—fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and peas, and nuts and seeds—because they are packed with the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytonutrients, and more, you need for healthy immune function.

Fresh, whole, plant-based foods—especially fruits and veggies—have the whole package of nutrients needed for optimal health and well-being and to boost the immune system. Here’s a sampling of some immune-boosting foods, and an example of the “natural-pharmacy” nutrients they contain that can keep you healthy.

A caveat: Healing is more likely when you consume lots of plant-based foods because they contain a cornucopia of health-filled nutrients. Targeting a single nutrient or taking a supplement isn’t the goal.

Here are some immune-boosting foods and beverages that can truly make a difference to the “inner health” of your immune system. Consider including them along with other fruits, veggies, and spices you consume each day.

  • Blueberries. Recent research reveals that a particular flavonoid in blueberries, called anthocyanin, plays an essential role in boosting the immune defense system in the respiratory tract. The bottom line: Flavonoid-rich foods may reduce the odds of getting an upper respiratory tract infection or the common cold.
  • Dark chocolate. Chocolate with a cocoa content of 70% or higher is rich in an antioxidant called theobromine. And theobromine may boost the immune system by protecting the body against free radicals that can damage cells and weaken the immune system. About an ounce—think, about the size of a credit card—is enough to reap the rewards.
  • Spinach. Some essential nutrients and antioxidants in spinach—such as flavonoids, carotenoids, and vitamins C and E—can help support the immune system. Include spinach and other nutrient-dense greens, such as kale and collards, in salads and smoothies.
  • Green tea. As with blueberries, the high flavonoid content in green tea may strengthen the immune system and reduce the risk of a cold.
  • Kefir. A fermented drink filled with many beneficial live cultures of “good” bacteria, regular consumption of kefir may boost the immune system in three ways. It fights bacteria, reduces inflammation, and enhances antioxidants.
  • Specific spices.
    • Garlic. The allicin in garlic reduces odds of getting a cold.
    • Tumeric. A yellow-red spice abundant in antioxidants, the curcumin in turmeric may improve your immune response and be anti-inflammatory.
    • Ginger. Abundant in antioxidants, ginger is an anti-inflammatory that may boost the immune system.

The Takeaway: Lifestyle, Lifestyle, Lifestyle

Consuming an abundance of fresh, whole fruits and veggies and other plant-based foods—and avoiding their opposite: processed, fried, de-natured, sugar-and-chemical laden foods—is critical to boosting your immune system, and lessening your risk for viral infections. In other words, you are fully armed to fight the coronavirus and other infectious agents if you integrate eating well into your everyday lifestyle—along with de-stressing, restorative sleep, regular physical activity, and social support. The bottom line: Your everyday lifestyle is the answer to a strong immune system and staying healthy.


Deborah Kesten, M.P.H., is an award-winning author, specializing in preventing and reversing obesity and heart disease. Her expertise includes the influence of epigenetics and diet on health, Lifestyle Medicine, and research on the Whole Person Integrative Eating dietary lifestyle to treat overeating, overweight, and obesity. She and her husband, behavioral scientist Larry Scherwitz, Ph.D., collaborate on research and writing projects. Her latest book, “Whole Person Integrative Eating” was named the “Winner” in the Health category by the 2020 Book Excellence Awards.

Article originally printed on integrativeeating.com. Reprinted with permission from Deborah Kesten. 

fresh foods

Jumpstart: 10 Quick Weight-Loss Tips

If you’ve ever lost and then regained weight, what’s the best way to stop overeating and keep weight off for good?

Rather than starting yet another diet, try tasting, really tasting your food—or meditating for a moment before eating. In other words, think outside the diet.

Welcome to the wonderful world of overeating research!

Our original research on Whole Person Integrative Eating (WPIE)1,2 unlocks some truly remarkable reasons you overeat and gain weight—and, conversely, how to overcome overeating, overweight, and obesity. Want to reap the rewards? Here are 10 tips—from our research and that of others—that could help you overcome overeating and reduce odds of being overweight or obese.

#1. Choose Chocolate

Savoring some chocolate might remind you of something you’d like to overeat—but don’t write off chocolate just yet as a (heavenly) food that could help you lose weight (yes, you read that right). In a study published in Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers showed that it’s possible to eat chocolate and weigh less if you choose the right kind—a cocoa content that’s 70% or higher, and the right amount—an ounce a day, about the size of a credit card. (Sorry, but more isn’t better `cause if you overeat chocolate, the calorie-count climbs too high to reap the rewards.) The secret to chocolate’s metabolic mystery? The antioxidant epicatechin, which revs up your metabolism.

#2. Feed Your Senses

Here’s your excuse to buy that favorite gourmet olive oil you’ve sniffed in one of those fancy olive-oil boutiques. Scientists in Germany have linked an aroma—specifically, the scent of olive oil—to eating and weighing less. Somehow, the scent of olive oil lead research participants to feel satiated sooner than those in the canola-oil scented group. And it gets better: those in the olive-oil group lost weight, while the canola-oil folks gained weight. Can “sense-filled” dining really up your odds of eating less? Yes, according to my research on Whole Person Integrative Eating,1,2“Sensory Disregard” is one of the 7 overeating styles we identified. To find out if aroma is a stay-slim tool that works for you, try your own experiment with scent-sory olive oil and other scintillating scents. 

#3. Nix Night Eating 

Call it nighttime hunger, nocturnal eating, or night eating syndrome (NES). Regardless of what it’s called, if you do a lot of overeating after you’ve had dinner or well into the wee small hours, it’s a triple weight-gain whammy! Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania reveal why: 1) your metabolic rate and digestion slow down at night; 2) consuming a lot of food at night wreaks havoc with hormones that control appetite, and; 3) eating when your body is meant to relax and restore itself busts your body’s built-in biological clock. The take-away: Simply put, human beings aren’t meant to eat a lot in the evening hours. It’s a formula for gaining weight and making it hard to lose weight.

#4. Dine by Design

When you eat in emotionally (think eating while surrounded with angry people) and aesthetically (visualize eating in your car in a traffic jam) unpleasant surroundings, my Whole Person Integrative Eating research1,2revealed you’re more likely to overeat. So think about the atmosphere in which you’ll be eating ahead of time. As often as possible, each time you eat, design a pleasing dining experience by creating an emotional and physical atmosphere that’s as pleasant as possible.

Which leads to…

#5. Pay Attention to How You Feel

Emotional eating—turning to food to soothe negative emotions or out-of-control food cravings—is the #1 predictor of overeating and weight gain, according to my Whole Person Integrative Eating research.1,2 To get control, try this: First, commit to getting in touch with your feelings before, during, and after eating. Next, make a conscious choice to eat when your emotions are balanced—not negative. Then recognize that one of the best reasons for eating is a healthy appetite, meaning, don’t let yourself get too hungry. The bottom line: Commit to eating for pleasure, with a healthy desire for food, and experience feel-good emotions when you eat and enjoy!

#6. Eat with Others

A famous study that began in the early 1960s in the small town of Roseto, Pennsylvania, explores the influence of human relationships and social support on the metabolism of high-fat, high-cholesterol, calorie-dense foods. Amazingly, this study suggests that when social support is present in our lives, especially when we eat, what we eat is somehow metabolized differently—so much so that it can keep you from getting sick. My more recent research on overeating1,2 revealed that eating alone more often than not—what I call Solo Dining—is yet another “new normal” eating style that strongly increases the odds of overeating. When it’s time to eat a meal, invite others to join you. Share mealtimes with friends, family, or coworkers as often as possible. Or if you have a pet, consider eating at the same time as your furry friend!

#7. Don’t Diet

Although dieting, judging food as “good” or “bad,” and thinking a lot about the “best” way to eat may not seem to have much in common, they are all characteristics of the overeating style I describe as “Food Fretting.”1,2If you see yourself in the food-fretter scenario, you’re at increased odds of overeating and weight gain. To get off the food-fretting treadmill, first and foremost, stop dieting. Instead, perceive food and eating as one of life’s greatest pleasures, and choose Integrative Eating as your most-of-the-time dietary lifestyle. Choose wisely (see “Get Fresh,” below) and enjoy.

#8. Get Fresh

If your most-of-the-time way of eating is, say, a donut and coffee for breakfast; a burger, fries, and coke for lunch; pizza for dinner; and chips as a snack, my research on Whole Person Integrative eating suggests that “fast foodism” is your main overeating style.1,2If a diet of mostly fast and processed foods is typical for you, consider getting in touch with your inner fresh-food fairy. You can do this by replacing sugar-, fat-, and salt-laden foodish foods—ingredients that can amp up your “overeating engine”—with more fresh fruits, veggies, whole grains, beans, and nuts and seeds, and lean, free-range, chemical-free animal foods. Worth a try, don’t you think?

#9. When You Eat, Eat

Do you ever eat while watching TV? Or while working at your computer? Or when you’re driving? If you eat while doing other things, you’re doing “task snacking,” a Whole Person Integrative Eating overeating style that is linked with overeating and increased odds of weight gain.1,2The antidote? Mindfulness eating. Give up eating while doing other activities. Instead, stay mindful, keep focused on your food, and do one thing at a time. In other words, eat when you eat!

#10. Quit Chemical Cuisine

Obesogens are the manmade chemicals—plastics and pesticides—which have found their way into our food supply and beverages. They wreak their havoc on both appetite and weight by mimicking estrogen, a hormone that can make you fat. The solution? One quick tip for avoiding “chemical cuisine” is to stay away from bisphenol A (BPA) found in canned foods, bottled beverages, meat packed in plastic, and more.

The key take-away is this: To attain and maintain weight loss…for life, think outside the diet by changing beliefs you have about dieting, losing weight, and keeping it off. Replace limiting weight-loss “think” with insights into the underlying reasons you overeat and gain weight—some of the overeating styles we just told you about. The 10 key weight-loss solutions are your first step in jump-starting a relationship to food and eating that can help you turn overeating into optimal, whole person integrative eating…and attaining and maintaining weight loss…for life.

Visit Deborah’s websitemakeweightlosslast.com, for free evidence-based, credible information and education about optimal eating for weight loss and well-being. You can also visit her blog, integrativeeating.com.


Originally printed on integrativeeating.com. Reprinted with permission from Deborah Kesten. 

Deborah Kesten, M.P.H., is an award-winning author, specializing in preventing and reversing obesity and heart disease. Her expertise includes the influence of epigenetics and diet on health, Lifestyle Medicine, and research on the Whole Person Integrative Eating dietary lifestyle to treat overeating, overweight, and obesity. She and her husband, behavioral scientist Larry Scherwitz, Ph.D., collaborate on research and writing projects. 

References:

  1. Scherwitz L, Kesten D, “Seven Eating Styles Linked to Overeating, Overweight, and Obesity,” Explore: The   Journal of Science and Healing 1, no. 5 (2005): 342–59.
  2. Kesten D, Scherwitz L. “Whole Person Integrative Eating: A Program for Treating Overeating, Overweight, and Obesity,” Integrative Medicine: A Clinician’s Journal 14, no. 5 (October/November 2015): 42-50.
Junk Food Concept

Blues-Busting Foods: Rx For Emotional Eating

For many, negative feelings, such as anxiety and depression, lead to out-of-control eating…and ensuing weight gain. Knowing which foods can bust the blues, without weight gain, could reduce the odds of emotional eating episodes. Meet the foods that may help.

Mac and cheese. Chocolate chip cookies. A pint of Ben and Jerry’s. Some call it “comfort food”; others say it’s “food as friend.” However you phrase it, turning to food to soothe unpleasant feelings—from depression and anxiety to anger, loneliness, even fatigue—is the key cause of Emotional Eating. As a matter of fact, our research revealed that eating to cope with negative feelings is the #1 reason we overeat; and the key cause of weight gain.

Theories abound about the causes of out-of-control eating. Is it linked to brain chemistry? Or is it a behavioral addiction? Or both? What is clear is that when some people experience unwelcomed feelings such as fear, anger, anxiety, or depression— because of physical (such as back pain), emotional (negative feelings), mental (stress-filled thoughts), or spiritual (emptiness) distress, they may turn to food to feel better. Why? Because food does, indeed, have the power to bust the blues! Here’s why.

Anatomy of Emotional Eating

Have you ever felt frustrated, and turned to carbohydrate-dense fries, cake, cookies, or potato chips—seemingly unable to stop until the whole bag (or bags) is gone? If so, it’s possible you’re self-medicating unpleasant feelings with food. How so? Certain hormones—naturally occurring “chemical messengers” released when you consume certain nutrients (such as carbohydrates, protein, fat, and so on) in food—have the power to “replace” negative emotions with feel-good feelings. This is because high-carb foods, such as chips, stimulate the production of serotonin, an emotion-friendly hormone that calms and soothes the psyche.

It seems so easy: load up on carbs, feel better. But you pay a price for this feel-good fix. This is because processed, sugar- and fat-laden junk food—from donuts, cookies, and cake, to chips, fries, candy bars, and soda—ultimately, are “downer” foods. This means these often tasty, high-carb foods may provide some short-term comfort by releasing soothing serotonin, but you won’t get long-term relief. Rather, sugar-laden comfort foods could worsen negative feelings, because after they drive up insulin (a hormone that controls blood sugar and energy absorption), your blood-sugar levels inevitably plummet, leaving you even more depressed and fatigued then prior to eating them.

Damage Control: Calming Carbs Without the Crash

If you’re an emotional eater—if you cope with unpleasant emotions by overeating and bingeing on high-carb, super-sweet foods—there are many proactive steps you can take to turn the tide. For starters, consider consuming some blues-busting foods that bring the benefits of serotonin—without the downside of the emotional “crash” and the weight gain that bingeing on processed, high-calorie, “downer” food (products) can cause.

Here are some quick-fix, mood-friendly foods and snacks that not only may bust the blues, they may crush cravings and curb your urge to splurge.

FLASH TIP: BE SURE TO WAIT AT LEAST 20 MINUTES AFTER YOU EAT TO GET THE CALMING AFFECTS OF SEROTONIN. THIS IS HOW LONG IT TAKES FOR YOUR BRAIN TO REGISTER THAT SEROTONIN IS WORKING ITS WONDERS.

Smoothie. Combine 2 cups chopped dark leafy greens, 1 cup blueberries, 3 walnut halves, 1 cup milk of choice (cow, soy, almond, rice), ½ cup juice of choice, 3 walnut halves, 1 teaspoon flax oil. Blend.

Avocado spread. Toast a piece of multi-grain bread or choose whole-grain rice crackers. Mash ½ avocado, add salt and pepper to taste. Spread the avocado on the bread. Or a tablespoon of nut butter (peanut, tahini, etc.) on it.

Popcorn. Pop some air-popped popcorn. Spritz lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle with a dash of salt and pepper. Toss.

Cereal. Enjoy a bowl of cracked oatmeal with a handful of blueberries and milk of choice.

Nuts/Seeds. Try a ¼ cup of raw, unroasted nuts or seeds of choice. A sampling: walnuts, cashews, almonds, pumpkin or sunflower seeds.

Veggies. Munch some carrots, celery, cherry tomatoes; crunch kale or Romaine lettuce leaves. Optional: Use the nut butter blend, above, as a dip or spread for your veggies.

Fish. Enjoy a tuna or salmon salad. Mix together water-packed tuna fish, 2 tablespoons mayonnaise, diced celery and red onion, juice from ½ lemon, salt and pepper.

Fruit. Have an apple, papaya, orange, frozen grapes, banana, kiwi, cherries, pineapple pieces, tangerine, or any other fruit you like.

Chocolate. Savor a piece or two of dark chocolate with 70% or higher cocoa content. Or make hot chocolate with 100% cocoa powder and milk of choice.

The take-away: Enhancing emotions by consuming fresh, whole, blues-busting foods—instead of processed foods that are high in sugar, fat, and calories—is a sound step toward overcoming Emotional Eating, the #1 overeating style our research on Whole Person Integrative Eating has revealed.

In other words, if you turn to food that enhances feel-good feelings, but that also nourishes your mind and body—without the “downer” crash—you’re more likely to lower your odds of Emotional Eating episodes. How so? You’ll keep your mind-body in balance.

Visit Deborah’s websitemakeweightlosslast.com, for free evidence-based, credible information and education about optimal eating for weight loss and well-being. You can also visit her blog, integrativeeating.com.


Originally printed on integrativeeating.com. Reprinted with permission from Deborah Kesten. 

Deborah Kesten, M.P.H., is an award-winning author, specializing in preventing and reversing obesity and heart disease. Her expertise includes the influence of epigenetics and diet on health, Lifestyle Medicine, and research on the Whole Person Integrative Eating dietary lifestyle to treat overeating, overweight, and obesity. She and her husband, behavioral scientist Larry Scherwitz, Ph.D., collaborate on research and writing projects.