Foods you love
I was just looking at an ad for a diet program, one of the type that provides you with all your food. The headline says, “Lose weight eating the foods you love.”
Here’s what the photos show:
A whoopie pie; quiche; cookies; an ice cream bar; pasta; a bigger whoopie pie; lasagna; a plate with rice and some kind of stuffed dough; a muffin; brownies; a plate with some kind of meat (meatloaf?), mashed potatoes, and green beans; a cupcake; tacos; and a hamburger on a bun.
Now I’m sure that when the food arrives, the participants discover that the portions are tiny. And of course tiny portions are one way to lose weight.
But what struck me was that every single one of these foods is high in carbohydrate. Half are desserts.
It’s possible to lose weight by eating tiny portions of almost anything. But once you’ve reached your goal weight and return to fairly normal eating, if you haven’t lost your taste for desserts and pasta, you’re almost guaranteed to regain all the weight you’ve lost. Of course this is beneficial for the diet program. You’ll buy their product again.
But you’re smarter than that. You know that the secret to keeping weight off is to learn to like more nutritious, less fattening foods and to avoid the bread and pasta and desserts you thought you loved except maybe on special occasions.
I find that when I take a few tastes of something I used to like, like white bread, I think, “Why did I ever like that so much? It’s almost tasteless.”
Right now, my raspberry bushes are so prolific I can’t eat them all, even after freezing a few quarts, making sugarfree raspberry jam, and making sugarfree raspberry ice cream frozen on popsicle sticks because it gets rock hard in the freezer.
I eat a bowl of raspberries and heavy cream with almost every meal during raspberry season, and last week I had the lowest hemoglobin A1c reading ever: 5.1. So it can’t be doing me a lot of harm.
And the taste of fresh raspberries and cream with a little fake sugar is so much more complex and delicious than the overwhelmingly sweet taste of a whoopie pie. I don’t feel deprived. I feel blessed.
I realize that raspberries are extremely expensive, even in season, so not everyone can afford the luxury of eating a lot as I do in season (anyone passing my house in Halifax, Vermont, is welcome to stop by and pick some). But there are other real food treats that are almost as good. And the trick to keeping lost weight off is to find high-fiber, low calorie treats that you enjoy and to savor them.
If you want to lose weight, don’t keep eating high-sweetness treats like whoopie pies! Even tiny portions will maintain your craving for foods like that. When you dump that junk, you’ll find that it no longer looks so tasty. When you dump the high-sugar foods, you’ll discover sweetness in foods you never dreamed were sweet, like some vegetables and nuts.
Yes, our genes tell us to love sweet foods because in a primitive environment, sweetness was a signal that the food was safe; the toxic foods were often bitter. But we don’t need that safeguard today. So dump the sweets, lose the weight, and keep it off. Don’t let clever marketing fool you. You’re smarter than they are.