Can You Lose Weight (or Keep from Gaining Weight) When Eating Whole Foods?

weight

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.”

butter

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.

Cream Cheese Chicken

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:

  1. 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, Laura everyone, self-control.)
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Exercise:  For so many reasons, just do it. You will not regret it, and your body will love you for it.
  5. 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? 

Comments

  1. says

    Not only weight stays normal, but heart also. I had to take a stress test and nuclear whatever test a few years ago. The cardiologist said whatever I waa dong not to change. You are supposed to pump at least 50& of the blood out of the heart and I was pumping 85%. I am in my seventies. And I eat real butter, eggs, whole milk, red meatm etc. Not to mention that some vitamins are fat soluable and not metabolized on no-fat diets.

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  2. says

    Being healthy should be the goal always. You can be skinny and still be obese. I have trained several people who had super high percentages of body fat but looked skinny. I f eel better when on a whole foods diet with lots of fresh fruits and veggies.

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  3. Lisa says

    Just found you! Your site is lovely and I can’t wait to find time to read it! We have 4 boys also…and 4 girls but I can most certainly hear myself in your honest words…esp the lack of aim in the bathroom. LOL!

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  4. Erin Turner says

    I agree with you. Whole, real foods are the key to weight management. We are killing ourselves with all the processed, low-fat junk out there. I sat in a public place today and was astounded at all the obese people and so many people who looked like they had arthritis/joint pain. I think all of that is related to food! Whole food is the key to everything!

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  5. Darci says

    I so agree with you! I have been studying nutrition for over 20 years and had already come to that same conclusion. The low fat products contain man made preservatives that turn into bad free radicals in the body. The same with the hydrogenated margarines that we call butter nowadays. Just look at all the statistics on almost every disease which is known to man. In the last 60 years since all of this new fangled food has been coming out, the % of diseases has raised. Amazing that we still think we are eating healthy. Getting down off of my hobby horse now.

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  6. says

    I use Crisco vegetable shortening when I make pie crusts and buttermilk biscuits. What would you suggest using instead?

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    Kim Reply:

    Laura uses palm oil or butter in her pie crust (http://heavenlyhomemakers.com/whole-wheat-pie-crust) and butter for her biscuits (http://heavenlyhomemakers.com/whole-wheat-sourdough-biscuits)

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    Sheila H. Reply:

    Following Laura’s suggestions, I switched to real butter or palm
    shortening (sold as Spectrum in Publix supermartkets or by Tropical
    Traditions). Works great! Does great for biscuits too!

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    Laura Reply:

    I LOVE Palm Shortening from Tropical Traditions: http://secure.ttpurchase.com/welcome.cfm?ptuid=A724CED0-1E0B-90B3-0EC214B75FD9AAE6

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    GingeR Reply:

    Unfirtunately, you need to stop that altogether if you have issues with your weight. if you love your body shape, then God Bless. If you want to lose weight, understand that biscuits are not food – itis processed stuff. Whole Food is an ingredient always. Is biscuit an ingredients? No – it’s a dish. Biscuit grows up by itself in nature? No – it’s made up industrially (from flour substance, which does not exist in nature by itself either). You need to eat sweet stuff for sweet taste from mother nature: apples, bananas, some nuts, grapes, carrots……you don’t want it – than you are not hungry….wait 4, 5 hours – then try again – still don’t want it? Wait another 5 hours – then you’ll love all fruits and veggies naturally….. It’s like waking up early…….you think you can’t do it because you always want to sleep in the morning and naturally don’t feel sleepy at night. Well, force yourself to get up early – one day. Then, do it again another day…..if you still feel sleepy on the third day. force your self to get up early on the forth day…..On the fifth day, your body will naturally wake up early and will get sleepy at night – you just train it and it’ll get use to anything:)

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  7. tanya says

    yes, yes, yes.
    except, for the whole grains. I am currently reading the book Wheat Belly and experimenting w/ a grain free lifestyle to see how it goes.

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    Laura Reply:

    I haven’t read that book, and do feel like most Americans do get way too many grains! But I do feel that grains add to the balance of nutrition our bodies need.

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  8. Joanne says

    So agree with you. I cringe when I think f how I used to crave a McRib sandwich from McDonalds a while back. I am not judging anyone who wants that but for me…..all I can ask is what kind of meat it in there?

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    Jen Reply:

    I too used to love McRibs. I would still have one when they were available, even after switching to whole foods. Then, 2 things happened. First, I got sick… really sick after eating one. For 2 days, I was either in bed, or the bathroom. Secondly, I saw an article entitled ” 11 Amazing Facts about the McDonald’s McRib” on Yahoo Finance. That’s all it took (70 ingredients in one sandwich… REALLY?!). McRib cravings are gone and I’m completely cured. :)

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  9. Emma says

    I have lost 50 pounds in 9 months after switching to real food, I couldn’t agree more.

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    Amber Reply:

    Wonderful! Congratulations on your success! :)

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  10. louise says

    just beginning to substitute stuff in my pantry. kids are coming round slowly! but what do I substitute for marg on sandwiches etc? we dont do mayo etc (brits abroad!). this is a life choice I am making for us all and I do feel so much better. keep on encouraging us! bought the nourishing traditions book – thank u for recommending it! telling all my friends!

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    Laura Reply:

    Use butter on sandwiches! Yum! My kids (one in particular)were not excited about the switch to real food. Now (about 2 yrs later) he is the biggest advocate to keep it up! They come around. :-)

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    anonymous Reply:

    For a margarine subsitute, I let sticks of butter get to room temp., then I whip it together with olive oil (the ratio is according to taste, but I don’t use quite half and half – usually a little more butter than oil). Then I pour this mixture into dishes with lids (those little glass Pyrex bowls with plastic lids work great). Once this is refrigerated, it gets firmer, but it is easy to spread on bread or toast (unlike pure butter).

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    Laura Reply:

    I just used softened butter. Love that stuff! :)

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    Robin Reply:

    Another option for a creamy nice topping is avocado and a few seasonings smeared on the sandwich.

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  11. Gina says

    You read my mind!This is exactly what I’ve been thinking about. I have about 30 to 35 lbs. to lose as that is when I felt my best. I think my biggest weakness. Been eating so much better and going light on sweets and at first lost 5 lbs.,but now gained it back. Just can’t seem to lose weight no matter what I do. My husband said he lost 5 lbs which is great and he attributes to the non GMO Wheat Montana we’ve been using. My biggest frustration is I found out that it is illegal to get raw milk here in WI so I have no idea what to do now. Is there anything that is second best(that is that might be less processed than the random milk you pick up at Aldi’s say?) We live in a townhome and we can’t possibly have our own goat or cow here! So that encompasses my sour cream,whipping cream,buttermilk,yogurt,etc! Huge chunk of what we eat! We can get raw milk cheese if it has been aged for 6 months.

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    Laura Reply:

    I would just try to find the dairy products (organic if possible) that have the least amount of “junk” added. For instance, Daisy sour cream is only cream, nothing else added, so that is a decent choice.

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    Rebecca Reply:

    Try finding locally produced dairy if you can, quite a few are sold even in local supermarkets. All milk in WI is Pasturized but there are a few that are organic and non homogenized and in glass jars. Many local farmers sell under small labels and have primarily pastured animals, atleast in the summmer so check around. Here in Madison I get Sassy Cow milk from Woodmans, but the CO Op has options too.

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    Amy G. Reply:

    We don’t use much milk at our home, so I buy pasteurized cream, not ultra
    pasteurized, and mix it half cream half water to use as milk.

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  12. Nikki says

    With all the hype out there it’s so hard to know which is the right way to eat….the proof is in the eating!! My husband and I have started out this year committed to eating healthy whole food, after the first month we both feel so much better, and down 5lbs each! We ate some junk at a Superbowl party and immediately felt the change…..back to striving to be healthy! Try it, you will be amazed!!!

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  13. Maggielou says

    Laura, have you done any research on lard? We raise our own pigs and when I get the lard back I render it for use. I believe it is better for us(than shortening)because it is a naturally occurring fat, but I sometimes worry I am deluding myself. Anyway I was wondering what, if anything, you have read about it.

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    I have researched it just a little bit. It seems that lard is a decent choice since it is naturally occurring. :)

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    Jen Reply:

    Lard, especially from pastured pigs that are out in the sunshine is a great source of Vitamin D. It’s a very healthy fat, if the animals are cared for properly!

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  14. Sheila H. says

    I agree with you and can say that I have always been thin but had a lot of belly jiggle until I switched to real food and eating “clean.”

    I started walking and then added light weight training and good body exercises (push ups, jumping jacks, skipping!). My muffin top is gone and I don’t feel tired in the afternoons.

    Love your site and then you led me to Carrie Vitt and my recipes are completely transformed.

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  15. Stacy says

    I agree! I have six kids and had gained and lost over the years with those pregenancies. I have been eating a pure diet of healthly meats, fruits and veggies for 92 days and have lost 33.5 pounds! I feel great and don’t ever want to go back. It is not hard to look around us and see the epidemic of bad eating! Too much, the wrong kinds of food, lack of exercise. It is rampant. I changed my eating and now the whole family is eating loads of fruits and veggies too! WOw! As Mom goes so goes the house….ouch! But so true!

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  16. Jill says

    To your list, Laura, I would also add #6:
    Make better use of herbs and spices. So many “diet” or “low fat” recipes NEVER include any herbs or spices beyond salt and pepper. One of the best ways to add flavor to food without adding unhealthy fats or sugar is to use spices and herbs.

    And I don’t mean a miniscule, barely there pinch. Three tablespoons of dried dill in your potato soup! A teaspoon of cumin in that chili! A palmful of parsely in that chicken casserole! Don’t fear the herbs and spices – they make all the difference when it comes to flavor!

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  17. Chris says

    I want to second the post about fat-soluble vitamins. I, too, bought into the low-fat, high fiber myth for probably 25 years and thought I was so healthy, but as I got into my 40s, my joints started hurting, my teeth started shattering, and my skin was so dry I couldn’t stand it. In trying to save my teeth, I stumbled onto Ramiel Nagel’s research on Weston Price and began reading about so many things and switched about a year ago to raw milk, making my own yogurt and sour cream and eating lots of butter. My teeth are recovering, my skin is loving the fats, and my joints don’t hurt anymore. I’m still carrying the extra 60 pounds from my pregnancies (the youngest child now being 10), but I’m seeing a lot of positive changes. I can run with my dogs and children and carry large loads of laundry from the basement to the second floor without breathing hard, and I love the energy I have. I know I am getting healthy, even if the weight isn’t just dropping off. And I do see my kids following my lead, which is exciting. My daughter is a ballerina and on swim team, and she uses A LOT of food for a 10 year old, and she loves green smoothies and asks me to make all her snacks according to our new knowledge. It’s so wonderful to see my kids embracing healthy habits.

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  18. Jen says

    I’ll start by saying I’m certainly not 100% in my efforts, but I do a lot better than I used to. I’ve dropped the weight I needed to drop, my skin is better, and I don’t want to fall asleep every day at 3:00. You used to be able to set your watch by my nap needs! Thank you so much for what you share on your blog; it’s been a very encouraging part of my journey.

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  19. Amanda says

    How do I know how many servings of vegetables and fruits I should be eating per day? Since so much of what the USDA has presented has been false or untested (ie the food pyriamid)what resource can I use to know that I am serving enough fruits and veggies. We have been eating this way for over a year now but I haven’t felt a drastic change in energy and I’ve put on about 20 pounds. We love fruits and veggies and eat them everyday of course but apparently I am doing something wrong. :(

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    We try to eat 4-6 servings per day, focusing on having some with each meal and sometimes for snacks.

    All I can think of since you’re struggling to find energy and have been gaining weight is that your portion sizes may be bigger than what your body needs. In addition, you may need a little more exercise than you are currently getting right now. That will definitely help with your energy levels!

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    Abbie Reply:

    It could also be low thyroid. A few years back I gained 20 pounds in a two month period and came to find out that my thyroid wasn’t working properly. Thanks to some herbs and exercise I was able to start loosing weight. Also, definitely cutting back on
    portion sizes too!

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  20. Jen Daley says

    I have been on a similiar journey to Laura’s and, I’m sure, a lot of people striving to eat a wholesome diet. I have a background in Registered Nursing, so over the years I’ve had to expel the common myths (for my family’s well-being) of what “healthy food” is. I’ve always been physically active and a normal weight, but since incorporating raw milk, grass-fed beef, and many other real foods, into my family and I’s diet, I have lost more weight than ever and maintained it! Of course I have also noticed many of the other benefits that other peole have mentioned (setting an example for my family, more energy, clearer skin. Relatives and friends never believe the “real food diet” we’re on :) We try to share with them as much as possible, but know they have to be in a spot ready to receive the information. That’s one of the reasons I love your site Laura…it’s like having a long-distance, like-minded friend. Keep up the great work!

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  21. pegg koch says

    Eating less sugar along with eating real foods is the key to losing weight. When you eat sugar your insulin goes up and you store fat. If you keep your insulin levels stable you burn fat. We are so conditioned to eat sugar that it is a difficult one to control. But in my own experience as little sugar as possible is key. I lose weight easily when I do not eat sugar. I am just getting back on track now after the holidays. Trying to eat no sugar except what naturally occurs in food ie fruit, milk etc. (no added honey or maple suger either. I use stevia.)

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  22. pegg koch says

    Eating less sugar along with eating real foods is the key to losing weight. When you eat sugar your insulin goes up and you store fat. If you keep your insulin levels stable you burn fat. We are so conditioned to eat sugar that it is a difficult one to control. But in my own experience as little sugar as possible is key. I lose weight easily when I do not eat sugar. I am just getting back on track now after the holidays. Trying to eat no sugar except what naturally occurs in food ie fruit, milk etc. (no added honey or maple suger either. I use stevia.)

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  23. says

    Agree 110% Laura! I wrote about my journey to how eating real, whole foods got me past my body’s “set point” that I had been at my entire adult life!! I thought that was just how I was made – lo and behold, it was what the medical establishment was telling me to eat! Well, after I stopped eating all the junk I used to eat in my 20s, that is. ;)

    Ha – I just ignore all the so-called “healthy” recipes I see so much of this time of year. And I never, ever throw out the egg yolks anymore (gah- can you believe we did that at one time? and that some still do…).

    Here’s my story if you’re interested: http://www.anoregoncottage.com/2012/05/how-i-lost-weight-eating-real-food-more/

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  24. Juli says

    AMEN Sister! Case in point- 2 years ago my best friend and I went on a weight loss journey, both successfully losing weight, me 50 lbs and her 25 lbs. Since then I do not work out, I do lead an active lifestyle but I quit working out July 2011. I have not gained back a pound and CANNOT. I’ve tried! A couple of times I’ve gained 4 lbs or so but within a week its back off with no effort on my part. My best friend however has gained her weight back even though she still works out 3 days a week. When I asked what she’d been eating, her reply “Poptarts.” Obviously that isn’t all she eats and she’s not a junk food junkie but she got sucked back into packaged foods and is unhappy because she gained her weight back!

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  25. Trudi says

    Making the switch to eating real, whole foods impacts us far more than we realize, at least for me. I knew I felt better, but there’s more to it. For anyone who may still be on the fence as to the importance of eating real, whole foods, I recommend the book “The Schwarzbein Principle” (written by Diana Schwarzbein, MD). I purchased it twelve years ago in an effort to help my father-in-law, a Type II diabetic. I’d always believed in eating real, whole foods as opposed to processed foods, but wasn’t always good about it. All I knew is that I felt better eating whole foods than when I “indulged” in processed foods and sugary sweets, so I tried to stay with it as much as possible. Once I found out about the health effects of grinding your own grains I started trying to learn as much as I could about everything we eat, and that’s when I found out about this book. I knew something in our diets had to be wrong because people ate whole foods for thousands of years and there was never the epidemic of cancers, diseases and diabetes that we see today. This book explains so much! It explains in detail WHY you need to eat real foods, and what happens to your body when you don’t. It explains for us laymen why diets higher in NATURAL fats will absolutely NOT make you fat (it’s physically impossible because your body will not turn natural fats you eat into fat in your body), and also explains how and why low-fat diets are actually harmful to your body. It explains what foods make you insulin resistant and make you gain weight, and the metabolic process that take place in your body when this happens. The USDA recommends the food “pyramid”, but she emphasizes a “cube” where the types of foods we eat should be balanced each day: proteins, carbs, vegetables, fruits and fats. A lot of times we think we’re eating a balance of foods, but certain foods change when they’re cooked and that may change the balance. For example, she explains how something like RAW carrots are not a carb and we can eat as much as we want, but when we COOK them they become a starchy vegetable, have now become a carb, and we should be careful how much we eat at one time.

    Dr. Schwarzbein started her practice working with diabetics, and explains in her book how she discovered why the diet endorsed by the American Diabetic Association actually is making diabetics worse. She discusses diabetes, insulin resistance, weight gain, metabolic aging, etc. in a way that will make you want to eat real foods foods if you don’t, or keep it up if you do. She also has lists of foods to avoid and their replacements, includes some recipes, and has a diet schedule to get you started. This book definitely helped me in making the switch to all real foods, and helped my hubby to understand why and accept the changes. (Of course once he started feeling better he didn’t need a book to convince him anymore!) And when you add a website like Laura’s to help you in converting your old recipes and give you additional ideas, you can’t go wrong!

    [Reply]

    Susan Reply:

    Trudi,
    I believe Dr. Schwarzbein was the doctor that Suzanne Sommers plugged in her book. Suzanne talked about eating real food too (and apparently was going to be a chef before being discovered and went to Hollywood). But she talked about getting rid of sugar, and eating meats, whole dairy and veggies and fruits. Funny you mention Dr. Schwazbein. I am still trying to get off sugar and white bread – little by little getting there….BABYSTEPS!

    Susan

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    Trudi Reply:

    Baby steps is exactly what it takes! Unless you have an extreme situation or illness that demands you make drastic changes overnight, it’s really hard to get rid of those foods we’ve grown so accustomed to. Baby steps is the only thing that helped my husband. He’s 100% Italian and was raised on pasta, Italian bread, and lots of sugary sweets. In fact he still won’t give up the bakery donuts! But at least he only indulges occasionally. Hang in there. Do what you can when you can. The more changes you make and the better you feel, the more incentive you’ll have to keep it up!

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  26. Morgan says

    Here is my ‘testimony': I began eating ‘whole, real foods’ about 3 years ago when my weight was at its highest (210 lbs). It was an imperfect diet since I was new to it all and didn’t know a whole lot about it. But I lost 20 lbs very quickly. I stumbled for a year or so while pregnant but got back on track and lost the pregnancy weight plus probably 5 lbs. Then my 4th pregnancy tripped me up again. But after girl #4 was born I re-committed myself to ‘whole, real foods’ and even cleaned up the imperfections from before (well it wasn’t perfect but sooo much closer than before). I lost another 20 lbs in about 3 months time. I have slowly let sugar (natural sugar but still sugar) creep back in and my portion sizes have gotten a little bigger during the winter (why does that happen?!) but I have continued to lose 5 lbs despite the holidays and all that. So my weight now is 160 lbs (which if you do the math is 50 lb weight loss just by switching to real food). I feel so much better and have a lot more energy. I am happier too! I still have more to lose and really think I need to kick sugar out to do that (and exercise). I eat full fat everything. And red meat. And bacon. And butter. So believe Laura when she says not to be afraid of fat!

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  27. Birdie says

    Wonderful Laura! Fat fills you, protein moderates your blood sugars, and number one is moving the body. “Light food” never feels you and makes one believe that they can eat more because of that. I love my meat, vegi’s, home made bread, ect. The way my grandmother and aunts cook(ed) I’ve just started using lard for my pie crusts because the crust is so easy to roll and flaky. A little cream goes on my slices of fruit, a time or two a week. Yumm! I cannot stand the thought that I have to fear everything that goes on my fork. God gave us real food to enjoy and appreciate.

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  28. Jennifer says

    A few things : nutrition is 80% of weight loss. EIGHTY PERCENT! I read a pin once that said “Abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym.” What you eat makes the biggest difference in your health. Many people have slowed or even reversed diseases by proper nutrition

    When you eat real food your body works harder to digest. This means that often times you expend more calories digesting food than consuming them. Perfect examples are :: oatmeal, apples, celery, tomatoes, eggs just to name a few.

    Your BMR rate will increase. You may be consuming higher calories but you ae burning more at rest and in activity because your body has a place to put them. BONUS, healthy fats (consumed in moderation) can actually be used as energy in your body!

    The more fruits and vegetables you eat the lower the calories/ higher digestive calorie burn you will have. This is true no matter what life style, budget, season of life you are in.

    Hope this was a helpful post :-)

    What we know as whole foods, from nature the way God intended us to eat, people are now calling ‘clean eating’ which has proven to help tons of people to loose weight

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  29. Lisa says

    I’ve been eating whole foods for about 4 years now and 2 years ago switched to eating plant-based whole foods. (yes, vegan) I can’t believe the energy I have, and how I’ve easily maintained my 45 lb weight loss. For those who are skeptical about getting enough protein without eating animal products, it’s easier than you think and I feel amazing!(I run or walk 5k most days!) Say “no” to processed food and “yes” to whole food!!!

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  30. says

    I’m trying to make the switch to more real foods, but I know the biggest issues for me is portion size and sugar. I love sweets. When I eat a lot of commercial sweets, all I crave is more sweets. We I eat more homemade, real food sweets, my craving isn’t as intense. But the portion sizes, ugh, I just like to eat. :) It’s a work in progress I guess.

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  31. Carolyn says

    I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. I’ve been eating unprocessed food for several years now. I make nearly everything from scratch. Raw milk is illegal in Ohio so I can’t use that, but I do make my own yogurt and buttermilk. I’m waiting for my first foray into lacto-fermentation to be complete.
    Last August I gave up gluten and wheat to support my daughter as she deals w/ intestinal issues that presents itself as scalp psoriasis. Going gluten-free helped her w/o a doubt. Recently I also gave up dairy completely, along with eggs, corn, peanuts, and sugar in ALL forms in order to see if I had a food intolerance. LOL — I have not lost one measly pound. Not one. It doesn’t matter what I eat or don’t eat. It doesn’t matter if I work out or not. It doesn’t matter how much I read or research or how much knowledge I gain and put into practice. Nothing is moving this weight. Now – am I overweight? On my frame I should be down at least 15 pounds. I’ve not had cravings for anything. I’ve even begun drinking hot tea w/o my stevia – blech! I have no more energy than I did before. My skin and hair are just fine and always have been. My joints don’t ache and I don’t deal with headaches. I don’t see how my portions could possibly be too much – I’m eating lots of salads – lots of veggies! I haven’t had any fruit but fresh apples. I only use olive and coconut oils. My beef is from grass-fed cows. I’ve not had a lot of chicken (at least over the last few weeks) since I have to special order the “good ones” from a farmer who raises free-range hens. I’ve eaten steel-cut oats, and drunk vegan protein shakes.
    So as I read these testimonies I don’t know whether to laugh or cry… or scream in frustration. I have broken down and bawled. I’ve also confessed and repented because my focus was all on me instead of on Jesus – and that needs to change. I know the goal is to be healthy and not skinny. I’m not looking for skinny. Skinny was 98 pounds when I was in high school 30-odd years ago. I’d be more than thrilled with 125 right now. I also know that whereas I used to enjoy food – both preparing and eating it – I have now developed not-necessarily-irrational fears about next to every food item I buy. I’ve developed some O-C tendencies. All in the name of wanting to be healthy. You gotta wonder.
    I believe it was Abbie who mentioned low thyroid. I haven’t gained a lot of weight in a short amount of time, but maybe it’s something I should check into. It can’t hurt, can it?
    Sorry for the rant. Thanks for listening! (and caring)

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    Thank you so much for venting here and sharing your story. I can imagine you must be FRUSTRATED!!

    All I can think of is that there must be something else going on in your body to prevent you from losing the weight and from feeling your best. Stress could even be a factor. You may want to search out a natural (homeopathic) doctor nearby to look into this. Also, do you do any form of exercise? That will help with all of the stress, weight management, frustration, etc.

    Praying for you to find some answers, to no longer be so frustrated, and to find peace with this! Hopefully some of my readers will have some helpful suggestions for you based on their experiences too. :)

    [Reply]

    Carolyn Reply:

    LOL – Actually, Laura, I spent $100 early last summer on a great set of workout dvd’s. I managed to gain 3 lbs. Oh my word! I’m laughing right now, but it truly is not funny. I used to work out more than I do now, but that never made a difference either.
    I honestly don’t believe I have any stress in my life. Okay, other than the fat clinging stubbornly to my inner thighs – that definitely causes stress!
    My daughter goes to a naturopath (it’s how we discovered the root cause of her scalp psoriasis) and told my husband the other day that I’d like to see her myself to see if she can do anything. I hate that insurance doesn’t cover it, but I know he won’t mind spending the money. Thank God for my husband!
    Thank you for your prayers!

    [Reply]

    Robin Reply:

    It has been proven that people slightly outside of their bmi are at a lower cardiovascular risk than
    thinner
    People. Our standards are a bit off. My “healthy” bmi is 130 but I can easily be healthier at 140 to 150.

    [Reply]

    Amy G. Reply:

    Carolyn –

    I empathize with you! Your story is almost exactly my story. I don’t
    know why this way of eating doesn’t “work” for everyone, but it is
    very frustrating!

    Amy G.

    [Reply]

    Carolyn Reply:

    It stinks, doesn’t it, Amy? Not that I’m glad you’re going through the same stuff, I must confess to being glad I’m not the only one :)
    Hugs from me to you!
    Carolyn

    [Reply]

    Amy G. Reply:

    Carolyn –

    Hugs to you, too! We’re not alone – I see lots of women say this on
    WAPF-type blogs. On the bright side, I guess we have a little more
    leeway in life (cause it doesn’t seem to matter anyway!) Ha.

    Amy

    Jessie Reply:

    Do you feel healthy? You *cannot* determine a person’s health just by looking at them and seeing how fat they are. If you feel healthy, and you’ve seen a health professional and checked for thyroid problems, etc, you should try to feel comfortable with the fact that your body wants that weight for some reason. If you’re healthy, then it *is* “working for you”!

    [Reply]

    Trudi Reply:

    Carolyn – I would definitely look into whether or not it’s your thyroid. I had a dear aunt that, like you, couldn’t lose weight no matter what she did. Turned out she had a problem with her thyroid: (rapid weight gain in a short amount of time during her first pregnancy 20 years earlier was the culprit). My naturopath put me on extra iodine only last year because evidently women need more iodine the older they get (I’m in my late 40’s). I’ve really noticed a difference in how I feel, and REALLY feel a difference if I forget to take it! I pray you can find out if or what is going on. Take care!

    [Reply]

    Trudi Reply:

    Sorry – I meant to say that women need extra iodine to support their thyroid the older they get . . .

    [Reply]

    hlalle Reply:

    BEWARE: It could be the olive oil.

    While numerous studies have shown the beneficial effect of olive oil in the diet likely due to the anti-inflammatory nature of the phenols, it is advisable to go easy on this traditional fat if weight loss is your goal.

    The chemical structure of monounsaturated oils could be part of the problem. Monounsaturates like those found in olive oil are composed of longer chain fatty acids unlike the short and medium chain fatty acids found in coconut oil, palm oil, butter and other animal fats. Short and medium chain fatty acids are absorbed quickly and directly by the body for immediate energy whereas the longer chain fatty acids must be acted upon by bile salts to be digested. For this reason, longer chain fatty acids are more likely to contribute to weight gain.

    [Reply]

    Diane Reply:

    Hey, Carolyn! I’m in the same boat and also from Ohio (I did find a place to get a cowshare but it depends on where you are located to see if it would be worthwhile for you to get one. There is also Hartzler’s Dairy and Snowville Creamery who don’t homogenize their milk and do low temp pasturization for their grass fed milk if you want to go back to dairy.

    I also have had my knee stop aching, my hair appears thicker, feel awesome and after a brief loss of about 5 lbs have gained that back as well as a few more. I am not a total exerciser with the weather the way it is but last wee walked 4 of the 5 work days. It’s very frustrating for this 58 year old who has been off and on Weight Watchers (more times than I care to count), Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem (once each). I’m hping that maybe my body needs to heal and eventually things will even oout. My next step is to try lipase to see if my body is just not digesting fats properly (as recommendedin WAP). Sigh!!

    [Reply]

  32. Rebecca B says

    I love your site and this is a great article. I was wondering about palm oil. I just ordered palm shortening and was wondering is it the same and if not, is it still real food? I was hoping to use it as a replacement for butter in some things as we are a dairy free household due to allergies. I was using earth balance but thought this would be more whole.

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    Palm shortening is AWESOME!! It is a real food, digests well, and is a great sub for dairy. :)

    [Reply]

  33. Rhetta says

    I’m excited about switching to real foods! My dad ate a well-balanced diet that included real butter, real cream, red meat, etc., was an active man, never had a weight problem, and lived to be 101. I don’t discount ‘good genes’ but now I think his diet helped tremendously. He never ingested a ‘diet’ food that I know of.

    I was concerned about feeding real foods to my husband, who has Type II diabetes, but I read Trudi’s comment, above, so am feeling better about that as well.

    Thanks so much for all the helpful–perhaps life-saving–information you provide. And by the way, I made the best sausage gravy EVER in 35 years of marriage, following your recipe. Hubs had no idea there was whole wheat flour in it!

    No more fat-free half and half around here! So liberating.

    [Reply]

  34. Susan says

    Laura,
    I have looked on Tropical Traditions, what is Palm oil and Palm shortening from – where does it come from (ie; grapeseed oil from grapeseeds, corn oil – corn).

    And do you ever use olive oil when cooking? I don’t see it in many recipes, or is that where palm oil comes in?

    Still learning from your website and reading alot.
    Susan

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    “Palm oil comes from a tropical palm tree (elaeis guineensis – NOT the same as coconut palm trees), which is native to the tropical areas of Africa, where it grows wild.” according to Tropical Traditions. I do use olive oil some – mostly for salad dressings. ;)

    [Reply]

  35. Amanda Yoder says

    I agree that I think a whole foods diet is healthiest, but in a very frustrating manner, neither my husband nor I have lost weight despite phasing in whole foods over the past 2 or so years and being exclusively whole foods for about 6 months. We eat smallish portions and are light on the sugar, and I am gluten free, yet we both are quite heavy. Our blood test numbers are pretty good, except blood pressure that creeps up a little sometimes. I admit I don’t exercise enough, but my husband does through his job and still no improvement. Help?

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    Hmm, very frustrating! I don’t have any great suggestions. As one commenter stated above, it could be that something else is going on, like thyroid issues. Maybe others will have some ideas. :)

    [Reply]

  36. Jocelyn says

    So true! I was always overweight until I started a whole foods lifestyle about 5 years ago. I now am at a very healthy weight and I didn’t even have to try to get here, it just happened! People are always complimenting me and asking me how I do it. I always answer, I just eat real foods. It’s really simple…unfortunately, many people don’t believe me. It truly surprises me how many people look at me and say, no that wouldn’t work, I’m going to continue counting calories and eating lowfat…It’s sad. I eat cookies (like your breakfast cookies) and use real butter and don’t even worry about gaining weight. It’s very freeing after 20 something years of dieting and worrying!

    [Reply]

  37. Jill says

    I have a two month old daughter and during my pregnancy I ate a hole food diet and met all my nutritional needs, I never had to take prenatal vitamins. My daughter is only two months and I am back to my prepregnacy weight eating a whole food diet.

    [Reply]

  38. Melinda says

    I am slowly incorporating whole foods into my family’s diet. I use olive oil for frying my foods, but sometimes the flavor is overpowering. My question is, what kind of oil to you recommend for frying foods like fried potatoes? Any help you could give me would be greatly appreciated!

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    I love the flavor butter gives when I fry potatoes. Or, for french fries, I use expeller pressed coconut oil or palm shortening (both flavorless).

    [Reply]

  39. janel says

    This is a great article.

    I lost a lot of weight 160 pounds…eatnig diet foods), kept it off for 5 years. Add in a lot of stress and grief from the death of a loved one and I gained 60 pounds. A year later I still couldn’t lose it.

    Am currently pregnant, and focusing so much on health (though concerned about weight gain, as is my doctor, because of the pregnancy)…but I find that the more processed food I eat the more junk I want which leads to weigh gain, and cycles of over eating and emotional guilt with food.

    I’ve been reading ALL of your posts over the last two days and find them so inspiring. i even made your whole wheat pizza last night and it came out great (my husband loves take out pizza so he still wishes it had been made with white flour, but he did eat it. lol and I loved it).

    Looking forward to phasing out all processed foods and making more of your recipes. :)

    [Reply]

  40. Lauren says

    Thanks so much Laura for this post, and everyone else for the encouraging comments! I have lost 10 pounds since Jan 1 eating a whole foods, full fat, low carb diet. I am now adding in more coconut oil, and feel great! I’ve had two bad days where I ate out on impulse, but the rest of the time have stuck with it pretty well! Praise God! I have about 30 more pounds to lose (was on prednisone for15 months plus being pregnant!) but I’m confident that by God’s grace I’ll get there!

    [Reply]

  41. Amanda says

    I have a question about coconut oil. Can you use virgin coconut oil to replace every oil in the kitchen?? Like olive oil, canola oil(like in cakes/recipes) , in pies…

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    Yes, you can. I use virgin coconut oil when I want a mild coconut flavor, and expeller pressed coconut oil when I want a flavorless oil. :)

    [Reply]

  42. Elaine says

    BUT…..what about those people like me that have GAINED weight by eating Real Food? Why do some people lose and some gain? Anything to do with blood sugar? HELP!

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    Yes, I believe it has a lot to do with blood sugar issues. I would suggest cutting out as many grains and sugars as possible (even whole grains and natural sugars) for a while to see if that helps. Don’t be discouraged! You’re not alone. Focus on good meats, good fats, and lots of veggies. I believe you’ll feel better and notice a big difference. :)

    [Reply]

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