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healthy-older-womanI don’t know about you, but I’m a veteran of diets. I think I started in my teens, and finally gave up in my 50’s.

Diets all work.

It’s just that they don’t work for long. You can look up all the numbers, and they are appalling. Less than one percent of all people who diet successfully keep the weight off.

Most regain all and then some.

So why the plethora of diet books? Diets don’t work in the sense that they end your needs to diet in the future. The industry doesn’t care about that, in fact they count on that. It’s how they make money.

Ditto the food industry. The could make nutritious food, but when they can make food that will make you gain weight and crave this food at the same time, what’s not to like?

Two books have taught me a lot. One is the China Study. The other is Healthy at Every Size. They are worth your time to read. The first makes a great case that we would all be healthier should we give up meat and dairy and stick to plants. It makes a great case that the food industry works very hard to hide that fact, and mostly succeeds.

But unfortunately, unless you were brought up this way, it’s very hard to change. Most of us cannot give up all the foods we love, forever. And many of us don’t want to relearn how to cook with all kinds of new ingredients to substitute for milk and cheese and meat.

I’m not here to tout some diet as a lifestyle. I lost weight on most all of them. I just didn’t keep it off. I learned why in the second book.

Healthy at Every Size explains how the body’s internal mechanisms for taking care of our food consumption are completely unhinged when we diet. And the body fights to regain the weight after the diet because it feels it was being starved. As we diet again and again, we lose touch with our body’s natural mechanisms for telling us what to eat, when and how much. We get more off the track.

But the real importance of this book is in explaining that when you look at the legitimate studies about weight and its effects on the body, you find that there is little real evidence that being overweight is a health risk. In fact somewhat overweight people live longer than people who deliberately maintain an underweight body. And severely obese people don’t do all that badly against normal weight people.

Weight is more a function of genes. It has a mind of its own. It will find its own level if we relearn how to listen to it and respond appropriately.

Now you may not believe me, which is perfectly fine. As I said, I’m not trying to promote anything. I’m just telling you what I am doing at age sixty-two.

I’m not dieting any more.

I am, however, changing permanently the way I think about food and what kind of food I eat. Simply put, I’m discarding artificial foods (prepackaged) and additives (high fructose corn syrup) in exchange for real food. I’m eating more vegetables and fruits. I’m cutting back on meat.

I’m paying attention to my food, instead of eating while doing something else. I’m paying attention to how I feel an hour or two after. Hungry again? Well eat. Still feeling stuffed? Eat a bit less. How is the first bite? How about the eighth? If the eighth is no big deal, then maybe seven is enough?

What does it feel like to be hungry? What is full? What does my body tell me?

I cook a lot. My husband truly appreciates that, and so do I. If I want chocolate cake, then it’s going to be a good chocolate cake and not a ding-dong. You catch my drift?

I make pancakes. I don’t open a box and add milk. I make soup, I don’t open a can. The food is better, and the additives are not healthy, I’m convinced. They actually in some cases (HFC) actually turn off your satiety alarms and turn on your cravings for more. That is certainly not helping.

I may not lose a pound. I depends when my “set point” is reset to its proper place. If it’s too high from all these years of yo-yo dieting, then it should come down, and I’ll drop some weight. In any case I will be eating better.

The second part of the equation is exercise, and we’ll look at that next time.

Share with us your ideas on healthy eating! What have you learned?