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Do Diets Work?
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Here we go again. Another opinion on arguably the biggest uncertainty in modern culture that affects most adults across our nation. Yes, the proverbial “diet” culture that plagues the average American with confusion, ambiguity and, of course, the maddening assault hasn’t put a dent into our expanding waistlines. Let’s get one thing very clear – most diets work. Dieting strategies support and promote weight loss, plain and simple. The popular medical community, fitness culture and other experts in the field would have us believe that diets don’t work and that most structured weight loss strategies aren’t sustainable. Again, I’m certain – as the sky is blue – that mainstream diets work. The caveat is that you must follow the guidelines and use common sense.

What’s not working? We collectively are eating too much of the wrong things for various reasons, and we are bombarded with too much information that complicates our efforts.

For the record, I am not a nutritionist, nor do I claim expertise in bioenergetics or understand the impact of the pentose-classified sugar, Ribose and its effects on reducing coronary artery disease. I overcame childhood obesity 20 years ago and have strong opinions and convictions on dieting. This advice is based on several years experience with my own struggles, dealing with other overweight people, scientific scrutiny and the judicious advice of my colleagues. My goal is to simplify things and create a clear path of understanding for you.

Diets in the popular sense are nothing more than managing food intake to reduce calories and alter your hormonal state to effect weight loss. I don’t care whether it’s the Paleo Diet, Enter the Zone, Atkins, South Beach, Weight Watchers, Velocity, Master Cleans or the “eat-nothing–but-carrot-sticks” for two weeks. All of them, on some level, reduce your overall intake of food, or manage and possibly eliminate certain food groups to alter your physiological state to support weight loss.

The simplest, clearest advice I can give is: Don’t get overweight in the first place. However, if you are looking for that nugget of intel that promises results and will finally help you achieve your ideal weight that has eluded you for years, read on and repeat after me. Stop eating so much. Eat less food in general. It is that stupid simple. Science has hypothesized this for years and our itching ears are yearning to hear something else. We desperately want to justify following a specific diet that reinforces our values of what we think will get us on track. The pendulum keeps swinging back and forth. Fats are bad, carbs are good. No wait a minute, carbs are bad, fats are good. Maybe a high protein diet like the cavemen ate is good. Actually, being a vegan is hip, and gluten will cause an abrupt eruption of health problems. It’s all slightly ridiculous.

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I’m not suggesting that there aren’t some very valuable guidelines that can be learned from popular dietary ideology floating around on bookshelves. Again, all diets work on some level. But to suggest that one dietary strategy fits all is silly because we all have different levels of willpower, biological makeups, metabolic rates, and other variables that affect how food interacts with our body. Furthermore, food is a very powerful drug that can promote vitality or shipwreck your life into obesity, type II diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, cancer, arthritis and a host of other disorders. The dosage, timing and type of food ingested will have a very different response depending on the person ingesting it. That’s all great, but you still want to know what to eat, how to eat and will that advice get you into your skinny jeans?  I’ll say it again – eat less food. But I get it, you heard that cutting calories is bad, so I will give you more details.

Here’s what you need to know. First, we are fat because we abuse the drug (food) more than any other drug in our society. We abuse food for a host of reasons including, but not limited to, convenience, stress, anxiety, depression, boredom,  social acceptance and grieving. People don’t make it onto the Biggest Loser because they were hungry, lazy, or because of a slow metabolism. There are greater issues going on. Stop abusing food to cope with life’s issues. Eat to sustain yourself, not to deal with your problems.

Secondly, consider the pioneering studies of Dr. Weston Price. Dr. Price documented the most thorough investigation of dietary variations among primitive peoples in his book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration. In the 1930s, Dr. Price examined the health and dietary structures of 16 diverse cultures around the world. Dr. Price found that of all the cultures he studied, they all had robust health and shared common dietary characteristics. All of them ate organic whole foods (minimally processed) and animal products. Some cultures ate more or less meat or vegetation based on availability because of climate. But regardless, each society ate whole foods and meat. When in doubt, eat more naturally occurring foods such as fruits and vegetables and don’t be scared to eat a steak every once in a while.

Third, minimize sugar and other starchy carbohydrates such as bagels, pastries, white bread. There are no facts to date to suggest these items are good for anyone. Note that I suggested minimizing sugar, not eliminating it. All foods can be incorporated into a healthy lifestyle. Eliminating favorite foods is unsustainable. Do the best you can here.

Finally, even though this is article is about diet, I need to mention the total accumulation of health. A strong spiritual life, good sleep, relationship bonds, proper exercise and a healthy work-life balance all play a crucial role in optimizing vitality. Don’t underestimate any of these qualities in your life if you’re trying to achieve an ideal weight.

There you have it. You are now fully equipped to fight the battle of the bulge. I said it twice, and I’ll say it again: Eat less food in general and don’t forget the other details that promote healthy living.

Have a great summer!

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