Wednesday, March 25, 2009

6 Diet Tips from Dr. Weil

Growing up in a large family with a modest income, we didn't always have a lot of food around. My mother was sort of a health food nut who frequently bought bulk ingredients to make homemade bread and exciting things like Brunswick Stew. Well, let's just say it was not exciting to me at the time. My dad was sort of the opposite. When he would get his paycheck each Friday, he would frequently bring home hot dogs, chips and coke or pizza and soda. Whenever I would go out on work calls with him, he would always let me buy a Snickers bar which became my favorite indulgence. Those were the types of food that equaled celebration in my mind. I would hate the healthy foods we frequently had around and would look forward to each paycheck. Not only that, since I had a lot of competing mouths around me, I would have to eat as much as I could before my brothers and sisters could get their hands on the treats that were left.

As you can imagine, this sort of mindset about food was not very beneficial as I started to care about my health and weight. While I've made a lot of good adjustments to my diet, I still find myself living out this pattern in my life. I will eat well all week long, and then I get bored and want to celebrate. And you can imagine what celebration still means to me. Well, my tastes have broadened beyond hot dogs but it's still fattening foods that tempt me, and lots of it! I have a friend who orders fish or chicken every time we go out, while I just can't help but order the lasagna or the steak frites. I'm paying good money for this food and I want to enjoy it. Pour me another glass of wine please!

So how do I reconcile the conflicting desires to maintain a healthy body and my warped view of fattening food as a means of celebration? In Dr. Andrew Weil's Guide to Eating Well, Dr. Weil says "it's important to maintain the pleasurable aspect of eating. If you eat in a way that deprives you of pleasure, it will inevitably end in failure." But for him, there is no opposition between healthy food and food that gives you pleasure. The myth that eating in a healthy manner means giving up the food that you like- that's absolutely not true! He claims there are some common misconceptions in what we've been taught about carbs and low fat diets. Below are a couple of tips that I found interesting:

  • The majority of our calories SHOULD come from carbs. We've been in an anti-carb era... this is wrong, but there are better and worse carbs.

  • In general try to eat carbs that are lower on the Glycemic Load Scale. Whole wheat bread is not a whole grain food. When you pulverize the starch of a grain, you get huge surface area, which rapidly converts to blood sugar and can lead to insulin resistance and other health problems.

  • Fats are misunderstood -- good fats are the mono-unsaturated fats: olive, nut, avocado. Extra-virgin olive oil should be your main cooking oil, particularly good quality, since the phenols it includes are protective. Canola oil is also good. Avoid saturated and polyunsaturated oils, which promote inflammation and cancer.

  • You should also focus on sources of Omega 3's: oily fish; fortified eggs, walnuts, flax seeds, and hemp seeds, or take a supplement.

  • The problem with low fat diets is that fat is a main source of flavor. Without adequate fat, food becomes uninteresting.

  • We need less protein than people think. People eat protein in excess and it overburdens our liver and kidneys. Eat more vegetable protein than animal protein because animal protein often has other things in it like concentrated environmental toxins.

Download his video for more great tips on eating well without sacrificing pleasure. Now if I could only learn some portion control!

Do you have any nutritional tips you would like to share with us? We would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below

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