Foodist: Using Real Food and Real Science to Lose Weight without Dieting is definitely one of the most interesting books I have read on weight loss. As someone who spent a lot of time reading diet books and absorbing the underlying scientific reasoning, I can certainly say that this book is as refreshing a change as was French Women Don’t Get Fat.
Of course, both of these books were designed to be refreshing–they focus not on weight loss, but on eating high quality, delicious food and losing weight as a result. I know that sounds too good to be true, but it totally happened to me at one point, but more on that in a minute.
In Foodist, Darya Pino Rose (of the website Summer Tomato) lays out first why diets fail, then why you should eat good food, and ends on how to go about doing that. She starts with a discussion about how difficult diets are, how much they suck, and how much easier it is to lose weight eating delicious food. Hold up, you say, What is this about delicious food?
See, diets require a huge amount of willpower and willpower really does have a finite supply (this has to do with decision-making skills requiring glucose and if you have to make too many decisions, you’re brain will inevitably want that double chocolate cookie–it’s full of easy-access sugar). Additionally, we make many food choices habitually. Rose suggests that we use these habits to our advantage (eat off smaller plates, for instance) or make new ones (chewing every bite at least 20 times).
She goes on to talk about healthstyle, a term she coined in order to avoid the word “diet” on her site (this is a bit of a pet peeve of mine–everyone has a diet all the time, but some people are on a weight loss diet. In anycase…). Healthstyle could be summed up as what you like to feel like and look like and what you eat normally, how many times you can splurge, and how much excercise you need to maintain that feeling/image. I rather like the term, since it is all about personalization–some people don’t want to eat meat, some have food allergies, and some are trying to lose weight and get healthy at the same time, and that’s okay.
Rose goes on to recommend whole foods–vegetables, grains, legumes, meat (if you are so inclined), and some dairy–and especially from the farmers market or are locally produced. Skip the added sugar. Remember to make your indulgences count (for instance–if someone brings in a cake from that awesome french bakery around the corner, awesome. If it is a mass-produced grocery store cake, think about passing). And don’t forget to start by adding: for example, add in more vegetables before you start cutting things out (by then it won’t be cutting out, it will be getting rid of excess that you aren’t even so keen on).
She dispels myths about farmers markets sky-high prices (the culprit is fruit–those ought to be splurges) and explains how she was able to make the transition to eating whole as a graduate student in San Fransisco (and if that doesn’t scream, If I could do it, you can too! I don’t know what does). She finishes off with how to do the whole healthy eating thing and how to sell it to friends and family (or at least get them off your back). Food is inherently communal and builds relationships with friends and family. If you start to shop locally, whether from the farmer or a vendor (like a butcher for example), you build relationships with them, too, and your health (and maybe your family’s health) will benefit as a result.
Throughout Foodist, she talks about eating well and loosing weight. She was a successful dieter until she became a foodist, she says. But never had she weighed so little as when she started eating real food. And when you eat real food, you want to exercise! I know it sounds ridiculous. I know. But it sincerely did happen to me.
Early in my high school career, I went on a diet and exercise regimen, and though I lost weight, I couldn’t get below 123 pounds (my goal was 120). I eventually quit it when I realized the diet mentality was quite literally hurting me. I stopped using scales. I wasn’t until I came back from a couple of weeks in Germany before my senior year that I stepped back on a scale. I weighed 118 pounds. I fully and completely blame it on whole foods and exercise. While I was there, nearly everything I ate was home cooked or from a bakery down the block, and everyday there was swimming or walking.
It wasn’t until college application deadlines started rolling up that I started stressing myself into oblivion–but before that, for several months, I maintained my new figure. It’s been a while since then, and I am on a new journey to get back to a healthy lifestyle. I am adding slowly, green vegetables here, a weekly hike there, and I do hope to soon be my own best and a practicing foodist.