Focus On What You Eat, Not Delete

What’s going on?  When did “food intolerances” become the next big diet craze?  Why are so many people blaming hidden food sensitivities for America’s obesity problem.  There are several new books — including some best-sellers — who are championing this idea.  Even actress Gwyneth Paltrow has written a book that’s based on this premise. That’s the topic of my latest blog post for WebMD:  You Are What You Eat, Not What You Delete, which I hope you’ll check out.

I received a pitch to review a new diet book that boldly declared “you are what you delete.” The author blames hidden food sensitivities for America’s obesity problem and claims you can lose 7 pounds in 7 days if you just drop 7 foods. The diet deletes everything from eggs and dairy to corn, soy and peanuts – claiming that these foods are sabotaging your weight loss.

Another best-selling diet book takes a similar approach. It claims that surprising “healthy” foods are what’s making you fat. “Foods that are revered by traditional weight loss programs, such as turkey, eggs, cauliflower, beans, and tomatoes, may be healthy in a vacuum, but when combined with each person’s unique chemistry, they can cause a toxic reaction that triggers weight gain, premature aging, inflammation, and a host of health problems….”

Even the actress Gwyneth Paltrow has jumped on the food intolerance bandwagon. She’s written a new cookbook that’s based on a similar premise. It’s an “elimination diet” that allows no eggs, no dairy, no shellfish, no deep-water fish, no wheat, no meat, no sugar, and no soy. That’s a lot of deleting.

When did food intolerances become the next big villain in our battle of the bulge? If you suspect you have a food intolerance or allergy, absolutely go check it out by your physician. Don’t self-diagnose, and don’t be so quick to blame food intolerances for those extra pounds you want to lose.

HH_cover_asp1106_FNL.inddI would much rather have folks focus on what they should be adding to their diet, instead of avoiding.  That’s what my new book with the editors of Cooking Light is all about. The Food Lover’s Healthy Habits Cookbook helps you establish 12 healthy habits. These are all positive changes, or foods to eat rather than delete. You’ll find strategies for eating more vegetables, whole grains, seafood, and healthy fats.  One habit is all about starting each day with a healthy breakfast (and yes, you’ll find eggs and dairy), and others are about cooking more at home, portion control and eating mindfully. The book is about enjoying and savoring food, not fearing it.

It’s also based on science. I’ve not seen any convincing evidence that food intolerances have a major impact on weight loss. Sure, if you’re getting rid of the “junk,” you’ll lose weight. But it’s not “magical” like some of these authors claim, and it’s certainly not going to be enjoyable in the long haul if you have a big list of foods you must avoid.

No single food is to blame. Just like no single food is a savior. Unless you are truly allergic or intolerant, there’s no need for you to avoid certain foods – especially whole categories of foods. You’ll be eliminating a lot of essential nutrients when you do that. Instead, focus on what you can add. Studies show that people who eat lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and those who regularly fit in a healthy breakfast, tend to be leaner. Lowfat or fat free dairy and lean meats can absolutely fit into a healthy diet.  When you focus on adding these wondrous, nutrient-packed foods – you’ll have less room for those not-so-great choices.

So my hope is that you’ll enjoy the foods you eat, rather than focus on what you must delete.

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