Obesity – A Practical Approach

There is no calorie counting or portion measuring on this approach, it’s based on centring our diet around the following food groups, which basically is what the World Health Organisation also recommends, but with a few added touches. Vegetable

  1. Fruits
  2. Legumes
  3. Wholegrains
  4. Nuts/Seeds

If we based our diet in whole plant foods, we’ll provide our bodies with all the essential nutrients (except Vit B12), and we’ll gradually get to our normal body weight in a healthy way, without calorie counting or portion measuring, without being hungry, with no rebound effect or side effects. It’s very simple but not easy, as we have seen in the previous post (Obesity – What Are We Up Against?).

In order to fight the pleasure trap and consequently overeating, we must “avoid” rather than “limit” all oils and sugars, refined grains, processed foods, fried foods, fast food and animal based foods. Beware the salt, it enhances the flavour of foods and makes us want to eat more. Don’t allow hunger to build up, fighting our drive for higher density caloric foods will be much more difficult. The quantity of meals and snacks a day should ideally be two or three meals plus one or two snacks of fruits, veggies or nuts. Don’t eat late dinners and allow a minimum of 12 hours between the last meal of the day and the first meal of the next. Drink plenty of water.  

Due to their high caloric content, nuts, seeds, avocados and coconuts should be limited but not removed, as they are very rich in essential fatty acids (omega 3 and 6), fibre, minerals, vitamins and phytonutrients. A tablespoon of ground flax seeds or chia seeds a day will provide all the omega 3 fatty acids required. A handful (about 30gr) of nuts a day offer essential nutrients like zinc, selenium, magnesium, calcium, vit E etc…, and studies consistently show that people who eat nuts everyday stay trimmer than people who don’t. Try not to include avocados and coconuts on your daily meals but use them only every now and then in small quantities.         

Let’s stuff ourselves with vegetable; greens and cruciferous are the most nutrient dense foods per calorie, so eat gigantic salads to start with. We can add onions, tomatoes, cucumber, corn, carrots etc… We can make excellent main dishes daily with cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, kale, brussel sprouts etc…) and root vegetables (sweet potatoes, potatoes, carrots, beetroot etc…). Once we have eaten your salads and veggies, we can have your legumes (beans, chickpeas, lentils…) and wholegrains (rice, pasta, quinoa…), or we can add these to our salads or vegetables and make a single dish. We can eat fruits as snacks and before or after the meals, whenever we prefer, as long as we eat them.

We can make delicious salads, they will fill us up and leave less room for higher caloric dense foods. So, always eat a big salad before any other dish. However, do not even dare to look at the oils, not even olive oil. Best to dress the salads with lemon, vinegar and pepper or other spices that we may like. A single tablespoon of oil (15gr=135Kcal) may have as many calories as a salad and a couple of sides (cucumber 100gr=20Kcal, brocoli 50gr=17Kcal and garlic 3gr=6Kcal, Salad; greens 75gr=15Kcal, tomatoes 100gr=25Kcal, onion 75gr=17Kcal, carrot 50gr=25Kcal, lemon juice 15gr=10Kcal. Total Calories 135). See comparison image below.  

Obesity - salad vs olive oil

Which of both do you think is more likely to feel us up and offer our bodies more nutrients? It goes without saying…. In fact, our stomachs can hold approximately between 500-800 Kcal of whole plant foods. Then, it signals the brain that it’s full. Consequently the brain commands to stop eating by signalling our body to release the appropriate hormones that make us stop feeling hungry. But, if we eat caloric dense foods with very little or no fibre, like oils, sugars, refined grains, processed foods, fried foods, fast foods and animal based foods, the amount of calories our stomach can hold will be much, much higher without having to inform our brains that we have already had enough calories (see image below as illustration).

Obesity - caloric density and sataiety

There are plenty of tasty options on a whole foods plant based diet that will satisfy our taste buds, will offer us all the nutrition we need, will make us lose weight in a healthy way, will lead us towards health and make us feel much better about ourselves.

Three weeks is the time one needs to adopt a new habit. Three weeks without eating added salt, will adapt our taste buds to the natural flavours of foods. Then, eating foods with added salt will feel too salty. After quitting smoking, food tastes like never before, three weeks later, the taste of food is the same as it used to be before quitting. It’s all about adopting new habits and adapting our senses to them. We just need a bit of discipline and the desire of change. After all, what are three weeks in our lifetime? – Not even a blink.

This is just the beginning. Once we have adopted the new eating habits and we realised how good they make us feel, we will be delighted to accept them as part or our new lifestyle that will bring us health and well being for days to come, rather than guilt and sickness.

I lost 2,7 stone by adopting a whole foods plant based diet. I went from 14,6 to 11,9 stone, and now I keep at this weight without any effort. You can do it too…

This post is inspired by the works of Dr. Alan Goldhamer, Dr. Douglas Lisle, Dr. Michael Greger, Dr. Colin Campbell, Dr. Neal Barnard, Dr. Garth Davis, Dr. John McDougall, Dr. Joel Fuhrman, The Naturopath and Nutritionist Pam Popper, The Nutritionist Brenda Davis and others.  

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