- Rule #1: No snacking at all. Snacking throughout the day causes continuous insulin releases. This tells your muscle and fat cells to store all the fat and sugar you eat. This is how you gain weight. Also, more frequent insulin release leads to insulin resistance because your cells stop responding to the insulin produced. I always tell patients to stick to only 2 to 3 meals a day and no more than that. Only water in between. This is the reason that fasting diets are so successful- they take advantage of decreased insulin release throughout the day and this is how they contribute to weight loss.
- Rule #2: Stay away from processed foods: Anything that can survive in your refrigerator for more than 2 weeks is likely processed. Again, the emphasis is on refrigerator. Most things in your pantry other than dried spices are also processed. In general, processed foods are high in sugar, salt, and artificial everything. These foods were made in a laboratory somewhere and have an excessive amount of sugar, salt and flavor enhancers to encourage constant cravings. They are very calorie dense and nutrient poor. Start looking at nutrition labels on food and if you see things like MSG, natural flavoring, disodium guanylate, yeast extract, hydrolyzed protein, autolyzed yeast, aspartame, and other long chemical names that you can’t pronounce-don’t buy it or consume it. This is not real food. These are mostly chemicals manufactured in a laboratory that are high in calories and artificial flavors and packaged and then sold in a grocery store near you.
- Rule #3: Try to cook your own meals: This will help you stay away from processed foods and allow you to have control over how much sugar and salt you consume. I know this is time-consuming, but this is the only way to have control over your overall nutritional health. This will also save you lots of money.
- Rule #4: Try to stay away from chain restaurants. Oftentimes with these restaurants, the food is premade in some industrial place (again it is likely high in calories, low in actual nutrition and full of chemicals and artificial flavor enhancers to keep you coming back) and then shipped to the restaurant where it is simply reheated before serving. This is a just a recipe for gaining weight.
- Rule #5: Be wary of excessively fatty foods and diet fads. Diets like the Atkins diet are popular because they allow you to eat fatty foods like bacon and butter. The idea is that you can eat really yummy fatty foods and, as long as you restrict carbs, you will trick your body into seeking energy in stored fat. This sounds awesome in theory- you can eat fatty foods and lose weight. While patients do lose weight initially, most are unable to maintain such a low carb diet for long. In addition, eating a lot of fat puts a lot of oxidative stress on your body and is what contributes to metabolic syndrome and other chronic diseases of obesity. Unfortunately, the Atkins diet wasn’t even overly successful for its founder as Dr. Atkins was reported to weigh over 250 lbs when he passed away.