Lose Weight Without Resolutions or “Diets”

I stopped making new year’s resolutions a while ago. Like weight loss diets, which have a start date, an end date, and an energy of holding your breath until the torture is over, new years’ resolutions are rarely successful. Neither are most “diets”.

According to some estimates, diets fail 95% of the time. Not only is long term weight loss rarely achieved, diets can result in weight gain over the long run. Restrictive eating can lead to loss of lean muscle mass, the slowing of metabolism and eventual disordered eating patterns that may trigger gorging and binging down the road.

Back in my younger days when I carried 40 extra pounds and peanut M&M’s were my oxygen, I went on a lot of diets. They were often preceded by a feast of Big Mac’s, greasy pizza and lots of chocolate. I rarely got through the first week before bailing. My bon voyage feast most likely totaled more calories than the calories I lost in the days that I white knuckled through the “diet”. I was probably in the hole each time I attempted to lose weight.

On January 1, 2012 I made a dietary change, quite spontaneously. I decided to stop eating meat after watching a film that expanded my consciousness about the ethics of eating animals. I felt so much compassion for abused farm animals and what they endure in our factory farming system that I lost my appetite for meat and never looked back.

That decision has taken me on the most amazing odyssey. In the years following, the expansion of my consciousness led me to a progression from a vegetarian way of eating, to vegan and eventually to a whole food, plant-based lifestyle.

What is the difference between vegan and a whole food plant-based “diet”? A vegan diet means you eat no animal foods or animal by-products. Like a vegan diet, a whole food, plant-based diet omits all meats, fish, dairy, and eggs as well as most refined and processed foods like refined white flours and overly refined grains, sugars and oils. A whole food plant-based diet is a healthier version of a vegan diet.

If you are not eating animal foods or heavily refined foods, what do you eat then?  Lots of things. Vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans move from the side of your plate to the center of your plate. There are literally hundreds of varieties of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans that can be eaten and prepared in ways that replicate the comfort foods you enjoy today.

Plant-based diets can help you lose weight and keep it off because they are packed with fiber, which helps fill you up. If you aim for 40 grams of fiber a day, you will be full, satisfied and will not need to count calories or go hungry. Studies have shown that when eating this way, a 16 percent increase in after-meal calorie-burning speed occurs, referred to as the thermic effect of food. This appears to be because the vegan diet improves insulin sensitivity by 24 percent. Improved insulin sensitivity allows nutrients to enter the cells of the body more rapidly and converted to heat, rather than to fat.

Still not sure? Why not try this way of eating for 21-Days and experience what it does for you? Think of it as a test drive, not a diet. The free, evidence-based 21-Day Vegan Kickstart has everything you need to get started on a plant-based diet: meal plans, recipes, grocery lists, daily videos, nutrition tips, cooking demonstrations, and more.  To learn more or sign up, visit kickstart.pcrm.org.

Veggies in A Blanket

Whenever I demo this recipe in a “PCRM” “Food For Life” class it is a hit. It’s a simple yet tasty snack, appetizer or light meal.

Makes 8 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup store-bought hummus or bean dip (or homemade using recipes in the guide)
  • 8 whole-wheat tortillas
  • 4 carrots, grated
  • 8 lettuce leaves, 1 cup baby spinach, or 1 5-ounce container sprouts

Optional: Add thin sticks of cucumber, red bell pepper or shredded red cabbage beforerolling.

Directions:

  • Shred carrots.
  • Spread hummus or bean spread thinly on tortillas
  • Add carrots and lettuce, spinach, or other veggies.
  • Roll up each tortilla, secure with 5 evenly placed toothpicks, and slice into 5 individuals rolls per tortilla (one toothpick per roll) if serving as appetizers.
  • For a meal, cut each tortilla in half.

Power Plate Meal – Veggie sauté with Baked Oven Fries

Keeping things simple is helpful when trying a new way of eating. Recipes that are fussy and that require lots of unfamiliar ingredients and spices can be overwhelming. Some of my favorite meals are whipped up by whatever I have in my refrigerator.

Veggie sauté

Chop and over medium heat, dry sauté whatever veggies you have on hand. Onion, mushroom and greens are my favorite combination. Dry sauteed means using no oil. You will be surprised to learn that oil is not needed to sauté vegetables. If they start to stick, just add water, 1 tablespoon at a time. You can also splash with veggie broth or tamari to add moisture and flavor. Season according to your taste, using the spices you have on hand.

Baked Oven Fries

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  • Cut 4 medium Yukon gold potatoes into fries, about ½ inch thick.
  • Place in saucepan, cover with water and bring to a boil
  • Boil for 5 minutes
  • Drain well and place in a bowl
  • Add salt and pepper to taste, toss until fully coated
  • Lay evenly on a cookie sheet or baking pan lined with parchment paper
  • Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy

Serve with ketchup, or your favorite oil free sauce.

Betsy Bruns
PBNM

Betsy Bruns is a plant-based health coach, “Food for Life” instructor with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), and an Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) practitioner. When she isn’t making healing food taste like comfort food or helping clients tap away stress and cravings with EFT, she’s soaking up nature and dreaming of ways to make life more delicious for all beings.