Decades counseling clients, who want to lose weight, have taught me that all weight loss diets work. The problem is they work only when one is on them, and no one wants to stay on a weight loss diet with their predictable restrictions. People may diet to fit into a dress or a pair of slacks for a special occasion, but once the event arrives, the caloric restrictions that resulted in weight loss, are often abandoned. It is common to then feel liberated, and entitled to dive into densely caloric, previously forbidden foods.
My suggestion is to eat like the people in the Blue Zones of the world, where they are rarely obese, and it is not unusual to live, relatively well, until their 90’s and even 100’s. The 5 areas of the world designated as Blue Zones are: Costa Rica, Okinawa [a Japanese island], Ikaria [a Greek island], Sardinia [an island off of Italy], and the city of Loma Linda, California. We can learn so much by exploring the lifestyles of the populations in those places, and eating their traditional meals, notable for their healthy balance.
All of the peoples in the Blue Zones consume more plant foods than animal products. They might occasionally have 2 ounces of red meat, or poultry, but it is used to flavor a vegetable dish or starch. They eat plenty of colorful vegetables, legumes, fruits, and because many of them live on islands, they do eat fish. Potatoes, sour dough or wholegrain breads, al dente pastas, and rice are featured often in their delicious meals prepared with many herbs and seasonings.
Fats, the most caloric macro-nutrient, are used sensibly- often in the form of olive oil. In Okinawa they would select canola oil. Cane sugar is used sparingly, with honey being the preferred sweetener among Mediterranean populations. Agave might be used in Costa Rica, in addition to honey, and cane sugar. Red wine, coffee, and teas are common drinks in the Blue Zones, with the wine used sparingly.
Eating like the people of the Blue Zones, while incorporating moderate exercise, and enjoying social interactions, can help us all to lead healthier, longer lives, without fretting about going on and off diets to manage an appropriate weight. This sounds like true liberation to me.
Here’s to a Healthy & Happy New Year!
Dateline: The Town of Colonie, Albany County, New York’s Capital Region