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.

Enjoy this?

share it



  • Ahhh! What a breathe of fresh air. Thanks for your optimistic and simple approach to food Janet. I can’t say enough praise for this post as waayyy too many people are obsessively focused on food group elimination, detox plans, and overal dietary limitations. Thanks for this. ( :

    Jessica Plowman

  • Very interesting. I agree with Jessica. You have to find the right overall “lifestyle” of eating that is best for you and not blame any one thing that is making you heavy. Plus, everyone’s body is different and not any one thing will work for absolutely everyone.

  • It seems that more and more people are looking for an angle to promote weight loss. I agree with you. Stick to the fundamentals, lean meats, lots of fruits and green leafy veggies. Maybe I would add more berries such as blue berries with their antioxidant characteristics since there seems to be some evidence that free radicals might cause hormone imbalance leading to slower metabolisms.

    Over all exercise, eat a balanced diet, lower the amount of processed wheat based carbs and you should lose weight.

  • Such a great and informative post. Thanks for sharing and keep posting. This will help people to have a healthy body.

  • Thought you might be interested in the new Baby & Toddler Nutrition Guide, designed to help parents make the healthiest food choices for their little ones. You can find it here:

  • Great post! I agree that the public sees these celebrity figures as “role models” and knowledgeable about diet/wellness/etc. and are too quick to jump on board. This is just another fad and quick fix in disguise. Although, I think it’s absolutely necessary for those to get checked out if they suspect food intolerances, but to just “delete” food components out of the diet with the motivation to lose weight, something else needs to be addressed (i.e. overall intake, exercise, stress, etc.).

    Thanks for sharing this!

  • Its just another angle to sell a new craze.If people just simplified their lives which includes eating whole natural foods they would not be at the beck and call of the latest fads.

    I made the simple choice of not eating any food that comes in a package. The less a food is contaminated by human intervention the better.

  • This is an interesting trend you brought up – focusing on what you delete. Truth be told, I didn’t realize it’s even a trend and that many have jumped on this bandwagon, including Paltrow. It doesn’t sway me one bit. I just focus on eating well, and exercising regularly and that has worked for me. I’m hitting all my fitness goals this way. And yes, I enjoy my food very much each day.

Copyright 2020 Nutrition Unplugged
Design by cre8d