Gain health, and solve your weight problem, intelligently!
There are over 100,000 books on diets, the last time I checked on Amazon. I believe all of them work to lose weight, but the real problem is not weight, it’s poor health, with being overweight as one of its symptoms. There are many other symptoms, but they are not as overt as being over-weight. The people who follow gimmicky, unreasonable, and unsustainable diets, are the ones always trying to lose weight, because once you achieve your goal, you are done and go back to doing what you were doing before, and you have just told your body you cannot be trusted to feed it regularly, so it stores fat at a higher rate. The irony is that storing fat allowed early humans to survive the feast and famine conditions of being in the wild! We are now exposed to calorie dense, nutrient deficient food all the time, without the famine conditions.
We were designed to defend and heal ourselves. We get cuts, and fractures, which heal on their own. We get over colds and flu, and other infections. It’s as if we all have a “doctor” within us who figures out what is wrong, and fixes it. Unfortunately, we expect it to do a great job, without the proper tools. We can support it by supplying the proper medicines (nutrient rich food), create a proper environment (exercise), and provide good ambience (relaxation, proper amount of quality sleep, and avoiding stress). The body has limited resources, and cannot perform all tasks all the time. Different hormones and enzymes are most active at different times of the day. Interestingly, in oriental medicine, qui (energy) flows in a different meridian (which correlate to different organs), at specific times throughout the day.
Nighttime is when the body does maintenance and repair, and when we have food in our stomach, OR the bloodstream, we force our bodies to try to process the food, and manage all that energy which will not be burned off, all that sugar floating around has to be removed, causing the pancreas to go crazy releasing insulin, stressing the system, and the resulting inflammation, which leads to many conditions. I believe eating late in the day is the real culprit in conditions such as metabolic syndrome (combination of belly fat, sugar handling problems, and cardiovascular disease), snoring, sleep apnea, autoimmune, and inflammatory conditions.
As far as hunger goes, it’s a conditioning, and it’s the way body gets ready to process food, as that is probably the time you always eat. Ivan Pavlov, a scientist, did an experiment on dogs. He rang a bell and then gave the dogs food; after a few repetitions, the dogs started to salivate in response to the bell. That is the intelligence of the body at work. We all take our lunch breaks at different times, and don’t feel hunger until it’s close to our lunchtime. It is more efficient for the body to start the process of digestion in anticipation of food (we turn a juicer on before we feed the fruit and vegetables through it). Stop eating late, and the body will stop anticipating food, stops releasing digestive enzymes, which usually makes you feel hungry. Then you allow your body to do its natural work of housekeeping, and cleaning and polishing you up for the next day!
I made the change in 2011, which has completely transformed my health and sense of well-being. I tried to eat all my food for the day within the first eight hours after I woke up in the morning. I eat breakfast at 7 am (oatmeal, or a PBJ sandwich, or a homemade muffin, and a cup of coffee), I have a midmorning snack at about 10 or 11 (a protein bar, fruit), at around 1 pm lunch (large), and at about 3 pm I have an afternoon snack (2 ounces of mixed nuts). There is no need to count calories, or avoid fat. But remember the “doctor” inside, and include as much nice veggies as possible with that (pizza). Within two weeks, my belly started to shrink, even though I had not lost significant amount of weight. My blood pressure had dropped to below 120 systolic, and below 80 diastolic. (Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you, I have been exercising for 30 years, and even did a marathon, but my blood pressure never dropped below 140/90, and my belly was big). When I started this eating pattern, I was really busy in the evenings, so I didn’t think about food too much. After a short while, I was not even hungry at night. I lost 20 pounds as well, over a few months, but that was just a side effect, and not a goal. I was so excited with the results, I started to talk to my patients about it, and few decided to try it. One patient was scheduled for a physical, and she was worried about her constant high cholesterol, so I suggested she try it for a week before her physical. She couldn’t wait for her next appointment to tell me, so she called me after getting her results. Her medical doctor told her that her cholesterol was too low. Her cholesterol had always been high! By the way, why is the cholesterol level high? Is it because our body is stupid, or is it because there is a high demand for it to patch up the arteries being damaged by the constant cracking and tearing under severe stress? After all, 70% of the cholesterol is not taken in, it’s made by our own livers.
Now there is new evidence that my approach is likely to be backed by science. A new study called “Time-Restricted Feeding Is a Preventative and Therapeutic Intervention against Diverse Nutritional Challenges” was published in the journal Cell Metabolism, in December 2014. It demonstrated, in mice, that feeding them within an eight-hour period (theirs was at night, their most active time), made obese mice less obese and fit. Skinny mice stayed skinny, and fit. But obese mice that were free to eat any time they wanted became morbidly obese. They even allowed the mice, which were on a restricted feeding time, two days off to eat any time, and they still did well. One of the authors, during an interview on public radio, indicated that they are in the process of designing a human study, which he said is very challenging to set up. A similar approach is also being tried with cancer patients on chemotherapy, and it appears to enhance the effects of the therapy. Cancer cells need a steady supply of nutrients to grow and divide.
This approach to eating, seems very harsh, and inconvenient to a lot of people. For most of us supper is not just about food, it’s about winding the day down, relaxing, and spending time with family. Also, it just seems impossible for some to go to bed without eating first. They think they won’t be able to sleep. What I say to that is, a better health will allow you to feel better, and have a better quality of life, which you can share with loved ones for much longer. You will break this cycle of bad habits for your next generation, and they won’t have to face the same problems later in their lives. And I know for a fact that my family appreciates the fact that this eating pattern has completely eliminated my life long snoring problem.
Abbas Heydari, DC