Before I begin this post, I want to say this: Being “skinny” is not the goal when it comes to eating a whole foods diet. Our goal is to be healthy, not to have a Barbie doll figure (who, by the way, is made of plastic and is susceptible to having an arm or leg snapped off, just ask my brother). Now let’s begin:
I often receive emails from readers asking me: “I have some pounds to lose. Can I lose weight while eating whole foods?” or “How do you stay slim while eating such a high fat diet?” or “I want to start eating real foods, but I’m afraid of gaining weight.”
Can I lose weight while eating whole foods?
These questions and fears are very valid and I understand why these emails are coming in. I was afraid of the very same things when I first learned about eating whole foods. For as long as I can remember, we have been told from experts that eating a high fat diet is bad for us. That drinking whole milk and consuming other full fat dairy products is terrible. That butter is a huge no-no. That we needed to eat fat-free yogurt. That we should avoid red meat and focus on lean, white meat. That eggs were horrible and full of cholesterol.
To replace each of these, we were provided with “low fat” and “fat free” substitutes of sour cream, cheese, and milk. We were offered “egg-beaters” to replace eggs in recipes. Margarine became the “healthier choice” because it was lower in saturated fat. And most other processed high fat food companies came out with “low fat” varieties for those who were “health conscious”. (Fat free mayonnaise, anyone?)
I bought into it for years. I think many people did. Most nutrition books on the market still suggest that eating “low fat” varieties of food is the healthier way to go.
Here’s what I learned while eating a “low fat or fat free” diet for many years: Any time I got into patterns of over-eating – even if it was food that was low in fat – I struggled with maintaining a healthy weight. In addition, I craved more sugar since many low fat foods have sugar added to make up for the loss of flavor that happens when you take naturally occurring fat out of food.
Once I began eating a real food diet, which is higher in real fat – real butter, real cream, whole milk, real sour cream, whole milk yogurt, eggs, beef, lamb (along with whole grains and lots of fruits and veggies) – I found that these foods are so satisfying that my body wasn’t consistently craving what it wasn’t getting! I found that the food tasted so good that I wasn’t constantly disappointed with dry, tasteless food. I found that I had more energy and healthier skin. I found that overall, because I was eating whole food in its original form, I felt so much better than I’d ever felt when I had been eating food that had been stripped of its natural fat.
So can you eat whole foods that are naturally high in fat and maintain a healthy weight, or even lose weight if you need to? Yes! I’ve watched friends arrive at a healthy weight once they began eating a real food diet. Once they gave up eating processed foods, and even “low fat foods” and began to instead eat a diet of unprocessed, whole foods – the extra pounds just fell off! And I can tell you that for myself, after 15 years of following the latest diet trends (low fat, calorie counting, etc) in an effort to “not gain weight” – eating a diet of real, whole foods (going on eight years now) has been the easiest way I’ve experienced to maintain a healthy weight.
I’m going to say this again: None of us should have being “skinny” as the goal as we look at this subject. We should be focused on being “healthy”. Eating a well balanced whole foods diet is healthy. And wow does it ever taste good!
Here are my top five tips (besides eating a whole foods diet) for maintaining a healthy weight:
- Don’t Over-Eat: Too much healthy food is still too much food. Eat when you are hungry. Stop eating when you are full. It’s really quite simple. (Except for when it’s chocolate. Then it is difficult. Self control,
- Be Balanced: Sure, I love butter and believe wholeheartedly that it is a healthy fat. But man (or Laura) shall not live on butter alone. Eat a wide variety of whole foods for a healthy balance that will meet all of your body’s needs.
- Go Easy on the Sugar: Yes, even natural sugars like honey, sucanat, and maple syrup. And desserts made with chocolate. But I covered that already.
- Exercise: For so many reasons, just do it. You will not regret it, and your body will love you for it.
- Eat Healthy Fats: Avoid processed, manufactured fats like vegetable oils, crisco, and margarine. Our bodies don’t recognize them, can’t utilize them, and therefore store them in our bodies as fat. Coconut oil, real butter, and palm oil are all fats our bodies can break down and utilize for energy and nourishment.
I hope you will all feel comfortable leaving a comment to share how this journey has been for you. Have you found that eating real, whole foods has helped you achieve a healthy weight? Are you afraid to eat a whole foods diet? Have you been eating a whole foods diet and been happy with the results?