My mission for healthy plant-based weight loss
I have been on a mission to find a way to stay on a healthy diet and have the energy for life, for a very long time.
I have a history of depression and chronic fatigue so I knew nutrition was the key to feeling better.
But I had tried so many healthy diets: macrobiotics, Raw foods diets, vegan and plant-based diets, zone diets, fasting, juicing, “smoothying” and more.
My eating became very disordered indeed
But without knowing the brain science behind cravings and addictions It was a losing battle. I had been starving myself without knowing it and then binging on junk food once my willpower wore out.
Every time I would try a new way of eating and fall of the wagon the cravings grew stronger and I would reinforce my addiction once again.
What I didn’t know was keeping me fat
I didn’t know was that my brain was addicted to all processed foods including whole grain flours Even smoothies were hitting my bloodstream way to fast. I needed to eat my plant fibers intact not ground by blender blades.
My brain was craving sugar and processed foods because of the smoothies and whole grain pasta and bread I was having now and then.
Every hit of processed or blended food was driving me to eat sugary junk foods just to feel “normal”. any time I wasn’t getting a fix my brain was craving one.
JUST LIKE A DRUG!
I had turned myself into a very susceptible junk food addict by dieting and being low in nutrients for years.
The good news is
It only takes three about weeks to grow completely new taste buds on the tongue so if you can hold out for three weeks the cravings usually diminish or go away and the new healthier foods taste great!
Before and After
I was always very active with dance, running, and yoga, so I was never more than a few pounds overweight until ten years ago when I gained 40 pounds rapidly and then gained another 36 gradually over the ten years of struggle to lose the initial weight.
Every time I would try to lose I would end up gaining another pound or two until I was up to 186 pounds. At 5 foot 3, I was officially obese with high blood pressure.
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How my fat nightmare began
I had just come off a raw foods diet where I had lost 40 pounds in a few months. I was rail thin but still didn’t feel well and had incessant cravings for cooked food and high-calorie foods.
I didn’t want to live my life in a constant state of exhaustion and craving for cooked processed foods. Plus all the food prep and juicing and dehydrating and grating and chopping took a lot of time. And the diet was expensive. I knew there had to be a better way.
I kept trying and failing to lose weight for ten long years
I just couldn’t seem to find a way to get the process going and keep it going.
No matter what I did after that raw food diet where I lost so much weight so quickly, I was unable to take off much weight or keep it off for long.
Plus I had gained even more weight by going to a fruitarian diet after the high-fat gourmet raw diet thinking this would be healthier than eating all those avocados and nuts.
Raw sounded so sensible, but for humans, we have evolved to eat cooked starches and legumes to round out our caloric needs. The book Whole by T. Collin Campbell, explains this very well.
I craved heavier foods besides veggies but the high fruit diet was all wrong for me and I gained weight more rapidly than ever. I had messed up my metabolism with too many diets.
Finally a solution with plant-based low-fat high fiber foods
All this food is only about 500 calories if that because it is high in fiber and full of low starch veggies as well as starchy high fiber beans and sweet potatoes.
This year I decided to delve into everything I could find out about healthy weight loss and I am happy to say I have learned a lot about what causes cravings, binging and weight gain and have lost 30 pounds so far.
I have a long way to go but I already feel better. I am sleeping a little better and the snoring that used to startle me awake all night long is gone.
My clothes fit better and I can get into yoga poses that I had long since given up on.
Find out how I started my healthy weight loss with my FREE junk food cravings freedom checklist
How I got started with healthy weight loss
I knew a plant-based diet without refined foods was best but I just couldn’t stick to it. I watched videos and read Dr. Fhurman’s books faithfully but cravings would sideswipe me before I could really get started.
I really wanted to be like those happy thin people in the before and after pictures on his site.
Finally, I found Lilly Hawaii and watched all of her videos. She spoke about the McDougall method which added tons of starch veggies and left out the oils and fats. She introduced me to Nutrition Facts and the book How Not to Die.
This was a start and got my cravings to go away for a few weeks. This was an amazing experience. But then they came back and soon I was eating ice cream or cookies every evening without being able to stop myself again.
Something was still missing in my understanding of healthy weight loss
I kept watching videos and reading. I found Dr. Kelly Brogan but she and many people I liked and admired kept talking about “Ancestral Paleo diets”, high in fat, animal products, bone broth, and raw egg yolks.
I found High Carb Hannah and really wanted to follow her diet but the smoothies and flour in her recipes were throwing me back into cravings.
Now I know what to leave out for my particular addictions and triggers. So I can go back and use some of her recipes.
I discovered Spudfit next and lost a little weight with that right away. But gained some of it right back again once I went off the mono diet a few weeks later.
I knew I needed something that was sustainable. Spudfit helped get my mindset away from food as entertainment and addictive habits but I wanted to learn how to eat for life.
Then I discovered Chef AJ and she filled in some of the missing pieces about flour and sugar being addictive and about food volume.
She just had such a clear way of explaining things. Her videos and visual charts are excellent. Next, I want to take her online program.
I was brainwashed by the diet industry into starving myself
I had been brainwashed to think it was normal to starve myself, with small portions and exercising to the point of exhaustion with few results.
I had messed up my metabolism by doing this for years and years.
Lasting weight loss thanks to Chef AJ
Once I started to eat a lot of non-starchy low-calorie, high fiber, nutrient dense, water-rich plant foods to the point of satiation I began to heal my metabolism and the weight began to come off.
I had never really allowed myself to eat enough food because I had thought I was supposed to eat just a fist-sized portion at each meal.
But with whole high-fiber plant-based diets, you need to eat about twice the amount you are used to eating volume wise than you would on a SAD diet (Standard American Diet of processed foods).
Vegetables for Breakfast
400 calorie meal is huge, water, fiber and phytonutrient rich
I know it sounds weird but the greens need to be eaten first if you can get yourself in the habit because the phytonutrients and bitter taste cut down cravings in their path!
Chef AJ found that people in her program who were eating veggies for breakfast instead of just fruit or grain lost weight much faster.
Don’t be afraid of whole high-fiber carbs
Banana pumpkin, date, peach, muffins, no sugar oil or flour but delicious
I also eat high starch whole grains and sweet potatoes and beans but limited those to around 12 t 1 cup per meal each. Starches like potatoes and quinoa have around 250 calories per pound.
The goal is to eat at least half a pound to one pound per meal of non-starchy, leafy greens, peppers, zucchini, carrots, tomatoes, etc because these have only about 100 calories per pound and are extremely high in nutrients. While fruits have a bit more calories you can also eat 3 to six pieces of juicier lower glycemic fruits.
Beans top the chart for calories at around 350 to 400 calories per pound. So beans and starches would cover about one-quarter of your plate respectively, at each meal with a huge heap of non-starchy veggies or salad filling the other half of the plate.
Have no fear about getting enough protein on a plant-based diet
The world health organization has put protein requirements at 10 percent of your daily macronutrient needs. All plant foods have some protein and many of them have up to 30 or 40 percent protein so as long as you eat a wide variety you are more than set on protein.
Eating too much protein has been found to be detrimental rather than too little. Fractionalized protein powders or tons of chicken breasts, eggs, and other animal products can make the body acidic and rob you of calcium as the body tries to buffer the protein coming in at too rapid a rate.
Too much protein can lead to osteoporosis, kidney stones, and many chronic diseases. A diet high in animal foods may help you lose weight in the short term but long term it has too many negative side effects.
Stick with foods that are under 400 calories per pound and eat around 3 or 4 pounds of food per day
High-fat foods, like nuts and avocados, are way more than 400 calories per pound must be limited to small portions. Avocado and nuts can really make you fat fast if you eat a ton of them.
Also concentrated dried fruits, like dates can make you gain weight fast if you overdo them. When you are in the weight-loss phase it might be easier to just stay away from dried fruits.
Try to cut out oils and other processed foods like flour, sugar, protein powders and other hugely concentrated foods. I know that sounds weird and impossible but real food steamed or water sauteed tastes great when you are hungry.
The reason to ditch oil is that it damages the endothelial lining of the cells throughout the body. This is a totally unnecessary food because all the fiber and phytonutrients have been removed from the olives, or walnuts or flax seed leaving just the high-calorie oil.
Instead of olive oil or walnut oil eat the whole food version sparingly and get all the benefits. Nutrition Facts explains the difference.
The simplicity of volumetric eating
There are so many taboos against eating large amounts of food. This is because our modern diet of refined foods makes it impossible to stay slim eating more than a tiny portion of most of the foods available to us in mainstream society.
This is how many diet systems make money by serving small portions of high caloric foods. Then when you fall off the diet you feel it is your fault.
But it isn’t your fault…
You naturally want and need higher quantities of food because that is the way the human body is designed.
But it has to be the right food
Humans naturally want to eat by weight and volume, and we want to eat about same amount every day, around 3 to 4 pounds. So if we don’t get that amount we tend to prowl around late at night looking for more in the fridge.
With modern highly concentrated foods this leads to weight gain.
Most people are genetically unable to sense high fat and high-calorie content in the foods they eat. There are a few naturally slender people who have more fat receptors in their gut lining.
Genetically thin people naturally stop eating after a small handful of high-calorie food because they are full. They have extra calorie receptors in their gut lining.
The rest of us just feel hungry until we have eaten 3 or 4 pounds of food.
And that is one reason so many people are fat, with over 40 percent of us teetering onto the obesity charts.
But with real natural low fat, high fiber plant foods, this leads to happiness and weight loss for good!
Watch this Video by Chef AJ to understand high-volume low caloric eating:
Brightlines eating Bootcamp
Susan Peirce Thompson supplied a lot of missing brain science. But I found her program a bit restrictive. the mindset was all about eating small portions for weight loss mode which she admits lowers the metabolism.
I decided to up my portions and lose the weight a little slower and stick with the chef AJ protocols.
Now I am exploring The Pleasure Trap by Douglas J. Lisle and Alan Goldhammer from True North Health Center.
I have a lot more to learn but this time I know I will get there.
I will be posting more details about how I am learning to eat differently in future Food Addiction Freedom posts so sign up for my newsletter to get occasional updates.
It is so easy to be led astray by mainstream thinking about health and diet.
Share your food struggles
What have you found to be helpful for healthy weight loss?
Please leave me a comment below. I am always looking for more resources to share with you all!