5 Diet Disasters and 5 Food Solutions

Fat-free foods, frozen diet meals, food scales – throw them all away! Weight-loss expert Dr. Joel Fuhrman believes the key to weight loss is learning to identify when you’re truly hungry. The first step? Forget everything you think you know about dieting! See the epic diet disasters you’re making, discover the signs of true hunger and learn what to eat in order to finally achieve your weight-loss goals.

Posted on | By Dr. Joel Fuhrman

If you’ve tried dieting and failed, Dr. Joel Fuhrman may have the answers you’ve been looking for. The author and weight-loss expert maintains that to really lose weight, women need to forget everything they know about dieting and completely change the way they eat. Could these common mistakes be sabotaging your weight-loss efforts and causing you to pack on the pounds? Learn what you’ve been doing wrong and get the simple answers you need to get it right.

Diet Disaster #1: Going on a Diet

Every Monday morning, countless women begin a diet. What’s the problem? The first step on these programs is usually cutting back the amount of calories and food you’re eating. The results of these diets can be disastrous. Although you may lose weight temporarily, your body will eventually crave the food it’s missing; many women yo-yo back and forth and wind up heavier than they started. Gaining weight back again after you’ve lost hurts the heart, putting you at greater risk of heart disease in the future.

The key to effective dieting is getting more nutrients – you don’t eat less food, but you eat more of the right food. By selecting nutrient-rich, satisfying foods, you can reshape your body without cutting back on calories or portion sizes. On this program, you won’t have to measure or weigh your food or count calories. You can eat as much as you want; because your body is getting adequate nutrients, you’ll naturally want to eat less.

Many of the superfoods you are familiar with fall under the nutrient-dense category. Examine Dr. Joel Fuhrman's Nutrition Density Chart to identify these satiating foods.

Diet Disaster #2: Food Addiction

Most popular diets are designed to lure you in with a trick or hook; they cater to people who are addicted to food. These programs require you to abstain from one type of food, which often leaves you deficient in specific nutrients. Over time, your body will start demanding what it’s missing through frequent and intense food cravings. Most people start wanting more sugar or salt, which they overeat, counteracting any weight loss they’ve attained.

Below are Dr. Fuhrman’s arguments against some of the most popular diets:

  • Gluten-free diet: While those with gluten sensitivity or Celiac disease should avoid eating gluten, Dr. Fuhrman believes that this diet’s success is grossly exaggerated. Most people on gluten-free diets end up eating high-glycemic foods, like potato flour or rice flour, that pump up your blood sugar and insulin, promoting weight gain.
  • High-protein diet: Certain studies have linked high-protein diets to an increased risk of diabetes and weight gain. Additionally, a high level of protein promotes the hormone called IGF-1, insulin-growth factor 1, which is linked to breast and colon cancers. Too much protein can also be hard on the kidneys.
  • Low-carb diet: A low-carb diet causes overeating because you’re never full or satisfied. According to Dr. Fuhrman, cutting out carbohydrates can be destructive for your overall health; it triggers the excess production of chemicals called ketone bodies, which leaves acids in your tissues and can trigger electrolyte shifts in your body, putting your heart at risk.
  • Fat-free diet: Because fat is essential to nutrient absorption, avoiding fat altogether can lead to more cravings and weight gain. 
  • Low-calorie diet: Dr. Fuhrman equates this kind of diet to asking your body to breathe less oxygen – it’s not sustainable and is a formula for failure. Cutting back on too many calories creates nutrient deficiencies, which causes a higher degree of cravings.

 Diet Disaster #3: Counting Calories

According to Dr. Fuhrman, counting every calorie you eat results in a diet of low-nutrient, toxic foods that trigger intense food cravings and subsequent binge eating. A better way to avoid overeating is by selecting the nutrient-rich foods and eating only when you’re truly hungry. (More on both later.)

Diet Disaster #4: Eating 6 Small Meals a Day

While many nutritionists and trainers endorse this tactic, Dr. Fuhrman maintains that eating several small meals throughout the day is a diet disaster. His reasoning has to do with the phases your body goes through during and after a meal. When you eat, your body enters a digestive phase. Afterward, you cycle into a catabolic phase where your body breaks down tissue, detoxifies and heals itself. When you’re having 6 meals a day, you never reach this repair phase, because when you stop eating, you experience withdrawal symptoms that you mistake as hunger. You end up eating continuously rather than cyclically, which leads to more calories consumed and results in weight gain.

Diet Disaster #5: Toxic Hunger

Headaches, stomach cramps, lightheadedness, growling stomach, irritability – these aren’t signs you’re hungry. According to Dr. Fuhrman, these are symptoms of the withdrawal that you experience from putting bad foods into your body. This state is the result of a diet comprised of low-nutrient, artificial foods. When you eat because of these signs of withdrawal rather than true hunger, it’s “toxic hunger” – Dr. Fuhrman’s top diet disaster.

Toxic hunger is especially dangerous because it creates a vicious cycle. After you eat, you begin to feel the symptoms of withdrawal, which is actually your body trying to repair the damage that’s been done by your inadequate diet. When you’re not eating foods rich in nutrients and antioxidants, your cells can’t effectively detoxify or remove wastes that build-up. As your body goes into its repair phase, it will attempt to mobilize these substances to remove them, which triggers discomfort. To alleviate the withdrawal symptoms, you eat again. Not only does consuming more food remedy the physical discomfort, but eating gives the brain a rush of dopamine, which perpetuates food addiction. With toxic hunger, you consume more calories than your body needs.

Identifying True Hunger

The secret to breaking this cycle is to learn to differentiate toxic hunger from true hunger, when your body is ready to eat again. True hunger demands the types of foods you need for optimum health. Eating when you’re only truly hungry allows you to enjoy food and realize the best amount of calories for your body. Once you’ve mastered true hunger, you’ll be able to listen to your body to know the exact amount of food you should eat. Learn to recognize the signs of true hunger to help you lose weight and keep it off for good!

 

3 Signs of True Hunger

 

1. Sensations in the Throat and Chest  

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t sense hunger in your stomach. Dr. Fuhrman says that genuine discomfort from hunger is felt in your throat and chest. Discomfort starts in the back of your throat where you swallow then travels to the top of neck. It moves under your chin, down in front of your neck, and finally all the way down to your breastbone. These areas directly signal to your brain that your body is ready for food.

 

2. Enhanced Taste

The more toxic, artificial foods you eat, the more you over-stimulate, desensitize and ultimately deaden your taste buds. Eventually, toxic hunger causes you to stop tasting the full flavors of foods. Your taste buds will only react to your favorite high-sugar, high-fat foods, and you’ll require more foods to feel satisfied. But after you cut out these processed foods and only eat when you’re truly hungry, the taste receptors on your tongue will become more sensitive. Ordinary foods will taste even better than expected, and you’ll instinctually know how much to eat to feel full without cravings.

3. Increased Salivation

When you’re truly hungry, your digestive glands and enzymes get ready to digest and your mouth begins to water. This is a natural sign that you’re ready to eat!

5 Food Essentials You Need to Get Rid of Toxic Hunger

Take the first step to vanquishing toxic hunger today with Dr. Fuhrman’s five food essentials. You’ll never feel deprived or hungry when you’re getting such a high nutritional bang for a lower caloric buck. In fact, Dr. Fuhrman maintains that within a week of eating this way, your cravings will disappear and you’ll be well on your way to successful weight loss.

 

1. Pomegranate

This powerful fruit is filled with antioxidants and nutrients that help you burn fat and boost your metabolism. Unlike many fruits, pomegranate won’t spike your blood sugar, which aids in achieving and maintaining weight loss. It’s also full of punicalagin, a nutrient that helps to lower your blood pressure and cholesterol.

There’s plenty of ways to eat this tasty fruit. Pomegranate juice is packed with antioxidants that research suggests may be especially beneficial in reducing the heart-related risks associated with diabetes. Pomegranate juice is naturally sweet, so make sure you chose a brand with no extra sugar added. You can also cut your pomegranate juice with water.

Pomegranates are in season from late summer to early winter. Buy a large batch during this time and deep freeze them so you’ll have a supply all year round. You can add the seeds to your oatmeal, cereal or eat them as a snack on their own! De-seed the fruit by slicing a quarter-inch deep cut all the way in the fruit. Then twist it open and tap the back of the fruit with a heavy spoon. The seeds will pop right out and you’ll be ready to enjoy the health benefits!

Try this Banana Oat Breakfast, made with pomegranate juice.

2. Cacao Powder

This is the only “sweet” Dr. Fuhrman wants in your pantry. It’s the most natural form of chocolate available. Cacao powder is not refined – there are no simple sugars or carbohydrates in it. It’s a powerful, nutrient-packed antioxidant, and it’s the perfect excuse to enjoy some sweet treats for breakfast. Use it in smoothies with bananas, or blend it with spinach to give your green drink a chocolaty twist.

3. Adzuki Beans

These small, red beans are loaded with protein, iron, potassium, folate and magnesium. They’re also full of soluble fiber, which keeps you fuller for longer and can help to lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels. Their low glycemic index makes them an optimal choice for individuals affected by diabetes and blood sugar management issues. Adzuki beans are high in resistant starch, which means many of the calories consumed from these beans can’t be absorbed by the body. As a result, adzuki beans have fewer calories for the same volume of food, making them a dieter’s best friend.

 

As an added bonus, these beans are easy to prepare! Called “simple beans” because they do not require soaking, adzuki take half the time to cook compared to other beans. It’s easy to find fresh and inexpensive adzuki beans. They make the perfect addition to soups, dips and chilis.

4. Squash

If you’re addicted to carbs, squash is going to be your new favorite food. About 90% of total calories in squash come from carbohydrates, but this vegetable is full of the good type of carbs that won’t raise your glucose levels, making it a smart choice for diabetics. Squash also contains the right type of fibers that induce weight loss. Eating this starchy vegetable will leave you just as satisfied as if you’d feasted on bread or pasta. Aim to eat about 1 cup of starchy vegetables like squash per day to feel full.

Try Dr. Fuhrman’s Roasted Vegetable Salad, made with squash and other nutrient-dense foods.

5. Cashews

Nuts and seeds are the best way to incorporate fat into your diet. Dr. Fuhrman recommends using full-fat nuts in place of oil in every salad dressing. Most people end up using close to 400 calories of olive oil per salad from dressings alone. Fat-free and low-fat salad dressings actually make you gain weight because they prevent your body from fully absorbing the nutrients in an otherwise healthy salad. The fat in cashews, conversely, will help you soak up all the health benefits from the other ingredients in the salad. They provide the healthy fat you need without the empty calories.

Using savory foods like cashews to make homemade dressings. You’ll eventually begin to crave the savory tastes of these salads. Create Dr. Fuhrman’s famous four-ingredient dressing by blending cashews, sesame seeds, white wine vinegar and oranges. Get the recipe.

You can also try Dr. Fuhrman’s version of Thousand Island dressing, also made with cashews and other healthful and savory ingredients.

Article written by Dr. Joel Fuhrman
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