Low and Slow – And There’s More…

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Low And Slow May Be The Way To Go When It Comes To Dieting  This was a piece that ran on NPR recently. I like it. It’s a catchy title on  many levels. It conjures up the tortoise and the hare – and in this fast paced, overstimulating, highly stressful world, the tortoise – low and slow – have much appeal.

David Ludwig of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center is definitely honing in on an important piece: “high glycemic foods cause a surge in blood sugar and release of hormones that stimulate hunger.”

High glycemic foods have a powerful effect on our bodies. It’s like a drug for some of us. Understanding what is happening when we consume high carbohydrate or high glycemic foods is motivating. It can help us find our inspiration to be able to choose foods that promote health. For an easy to understand explanation of what happens in our bodies when we consume high carbohydrate foods, check out my recent post, How Sugar Affects Our Bodies.

I do believe Ludwig’s plan can help. But the question is, how long will people stick to it? There are so many sensible “diets” out there, yet clearly obesity is on the rise.

Ludwig and colleagues recently published a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association that offers some tools you might use to fight back. Researchers compared the low-carb, low-fat and low-glycemic diets to see which one burned the most calories per day. The low-carb diet was the clear winner. The low-fat diet was the loser. But it was the diet in the middle, the low-glycemic index diet, that Ludwig suggests is more promising. “It burned more calories per day than the low-fat diet and proved easier to stick to over the long term than the low-carb diet.”

Several things ring true to me about the low-glycemic index diet. It’s not as extreme as the other plans. And, it’s about choosing foods that don’t throw off your blood chemistry. Plus, vegetables (especially the non-starchy ones) are extremely low glycemic – and I love those veggies! Refined carbohydrates are definitely not low glycemic, so this approach encourages whole foods, not processed ones. All good.

As a health behaviorist, I’m a great enthusiast for spreading the word about useful tools that help people lose weight. If only that was enough. But clearly, obesity is rising along with the myriad of “diets” and eating plans. Most attempts to lose weight result in gaining all the weight back (and more) within one to two years.

So what’s the solution?

To start with, people need on-going weekly support coupled with skilled guidance about nutrition. But that’s not enough by itself.

We turn to food because we are attempting to care for ourselves. In the moment, it is the wisest thing we know to do. Yet we suffer grave consequences, in terms of health, weight gain, and despair. I am a believer in long term support. Yo-yo dieting is a painful process – and I don’t ever want to go there again. Surrounding ourselves with people we can relate to and those we want to emulate is the key to incorporating long term lifestyle changes into our lives. So many of us know what to do, yet it’s doing it that’s the challenge. Over time, with repetitive exposure of new ideas, we become less resistant and more willing, especially when accompanied by skilled, compassionate, professional guidance.

Healing The Hunger offers a different way forward by providing a full spectrum of support. We support deepening relationships in the group, coupled with skilled guidance about nutrition and digestion, and caring exploration of earlier experiences of nurturance – all offered within a safe, warm environment wherein your challenges, true capacities and needs can be voiced, heard, and valued. This approach can revive the inspiration, meaning and sense of connection necessary to finally reach your goals and sustain your vision for your overall health.