Monday, December 27, 2004

False Fat

Is False Fat Weighing You Down? Some excess weight isn't really fat, but what some clinicians such as Elson Haas, M.D., refer to as "false fat." That's the excess bloat and water retention that comes from hypersensitivity to many common foods -- it's weight we don't need to have, and we feel and look a lot better without it. It also comes off fastest -- the loss of false fat is one of the reasons people sometimes lose weight quickly at the beginning of a new diet.

Is false fat weighing you down? Take this quick quiz to find out, and learn whether a few diet changes could make a big difference in your life!

Quiz: (My answers are colored)

1. Your favorite glass is usually filled with:
Iced tea
2. Which dinner makes you drool?
Meatloaf and mashed potatoes
Grilled salmon with stir fried vegetables
Spaghetti and garlic bread
3. Before you head out the door in the morning, you eat:
A bagel
A banana and some yogurt
Scrambled eggs
4. You throw back a few drinks:
Once or twice a week
Almost never
Every night
5. How often do you visit the dairy aisle?
All the time -- I have a permanent milk mustache
Only when I have a rare grilled cheese craving
Never -- I head straight for the produce section
6. When snack time arrives, you reach for the:
Raw veggies
Box of fat-free pretzels

7. You do dessert:
On holidays, birthdays and special occasions
Only when my favorite fruit is in season
Every night -- Ben, Jerry and Sara Lee are always in my freezer!

These are my results:

False Fat probably isn't your problem
Your diet seems free of the problem foods that can bring on bloating, but stick to these strategies from Weight Loss Coach Jonny Bowden to stay bloat-free as can be:

1. Cut out wheat. Whenever I recommend that people try this as a strategy, I invariably get two kinds of responses. One is from irate dietitians who chastise me for going against the "wisdom" of the food pyramid and warn me of the dire consequences for human health if people actually followed such a crazy recommendation and stop eating bread, pasta and cereal for a while. The other response comes from people who say this recommendation changed their lives. Wheat is one of the seven top allergens, and untold numbers of people have undetected sensitivities to it. Dr. C. Leigh Broadhurst, one of the brightest researchers I've ever met and the author of the wonderful book Diabetes: Prevention and Cure, once told me that if she had to pick one strategy for weight loss and health, it would probably be cutting out wheat. Dr. Jeffrey Bland, also no intellectual slouch, has commented on the possible long-range implications of gluten or glidian sensitivity (both are components of wheat). Eliminating wheat (at least temporarily) is on the top 10 list of so many cutting-edge health professionals that it is foolish not to give it a try.

2. Eliminate dairy. Especially cow's milk. Interestingly, this is something that the high protein folks and the radical vegans such as Dr. Neal Barnard agree on, though for somewhat different reasons. I'm not talking, incidentally, about the wonderful, nutrient-rich, unprocessed certified raw milk that people such as Sally Fallon rave about, but unfortunately raw milk is just not widely available. I'm talking about that stuff on your grocer's shelf. No, you won't get osteoporosis (which has to do with a lot more than calcium), and yes, you can get your calcium from other sources. I wouldn't necessarily extend this recommendation to naturally fermented products such as yogurt and some raw-milk cheeses, by the way, though some people might want to try eliminating all dairy at first. If you're still skeptical, visit and then talk to me some more. And remember that the number one source of nutritional information in this country comes from the dairy industry.

3. Eliminate sugar. This one is really hard for most people but might pay off the most. And while you're at it, see what you can do about aspartame.

4. Try a fruit and vegetable "fast." Three days on a healthy, rich brew of vegetable soup plus some low-sugar, high-fiber fruits (berries, for example) and a daily portion or three of raw vegetables with a little olive oil never hurt anyone and will give your digestive system a needed vacation from most stressors and toxins.

5. Don't drink. The impact of this recommendation varies from situation to situation, but there are people who have lost significant amounts of weight and bloat simply by cutting out alcohol. Remember that alcohol is a kind of super-sugar and can be a very significant source of calories for some people. And there isn't a single health benefit in it that you can't get from fruits and vegetables.

6. Try counting calories. Just for a while, just as a strategy. Though I've said many times that calories are not the most important thing in a diet, they still count. Study after study has demonstrated that most people, especially those who are overweight, consistently underestimate their caloric intake. And even those who have learned to eat right for their type sometimes fall into the trap of thinking they can eat unlimited amounts as long as they're eating the "right" foods. Use this strategy as a reality check for a few days.

7. Try the old switcheroo. If you've been eating a high protein diet, try a vegan plan for a few days. If you've been eating vegan, try higher protein. Sometimes just a change is all it takes to move off a plateau, and sometimes hidden food sensitivities remain hidden because we tend to eat the same things all the time.

Let me say again that the above seven items are suggested strategies, not absolute commandments. Not everyone has to do all seven, and all seven won't be equally meaningful for every individual.

But when you're stuck, need a change or can't figure out what's going on, these are good starting points for experimentation.

As always, adapt what you read here to your own circumstances, but stay open-minded. None of the above strategies will hurt you, and you may be amazed at how much they will help.
You can chase a butterfly all over the field and never catch it. But if you sit quietly in the grass it will come and sit on your shoulder.

1 comment:

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