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  • Writer's pictureJennifer McCabe Lentz, MD

No "good" or "bad" foods? Medical Weight Loss: Embracing Real Food for Sustainable Wellness

woman holding donut and apple while weighing
Will my choice make a difference?

In recent weeks, there have been numerous articles about and social media posts by dietitian influencers advocating against traditional dieting, emphasizing that no foods should be off-limits, and questioning the assumption that weight automatically correlates with health. While I support these assertions, my reasons differ from those presented by these dietitians.

First, let's address the concept of dieting. It's time to abandon the idea of temporary, restrictive eating patterns aimed at short-term weight loss goals. Over the past five decades, our society has been entrenched in a cycle of dieting, yet we've only seen an increase in weight and chronic illness. Remember when we vilified fat in the late 70s and early 80s? Our subsequent shift towards low-fat diets coincided with a surge in obesity rates as we replaced fats with carbohydrates.

CBC rate of obesity 1960-2010

Instead of dieting, we should focus on adopting sustainable lifestyles that promote health, wellness, and longevity. Personally, I advocate for a protein prioritizing lower-carb, real-food approach, steering clear of processed grains, vegetable oils, and sugars, which often lead to insulin resistance and chronic disease.

Next, let's debunk the myth of "good" and "bad" foods. While I agree that no whole, unprocessed foods should be labeled as inherently "bad," I challenge you to scrutinize the ingredients list of many items found in grocery stores. Are these truly foods? Consider ingredients like 'Unbeached Enriched Flour, Sugar, Palm and/or Canola Oil, Cocoa, High Fructose Corn Syrup. Leavening, Salt, Soy Lecithin, Chocolate, artificial flavor' are you actually eating food? What about 'Corn, vegetable oil, salt, cheddar cheese, whey, monosodium glutamate, buttermilk, romano cheese, whey protein concentrate, onion powder, corn flour, natural and artificial flavor, dextrose, tomato powder, lactose, spices, artificial color, lactic acid, citric acid, sugar, garlic powder, skim milk, red and green bell pepper powder, disodium inosinate, and disodium guanylate' ? One more: 'whole grain oat flour, sugar, corn flour, whole wheat flour, rice flour, salt, calcium carbonate, disodium phosphate, reduced iron, niacinamide, BHT, yellow 5, yellow 6, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, pyridoxine hydrochloride, folic acid.' These processed concoctions (FYI: Oreos, Nacho Cheese Doritos, and Life Cereal) are staples of the Standard American Diet, consumed daily by many. They are all engineered in laboratories to maximize addictiveness and offer little in terms of real nutrition. Wouldn't it be preferable to savor the wholesome nourishment of real food?

chocolate sandwich cookies

Last, let's separate weight from health. While obesity is often scapegoated for various health issues, it's typically a symptom of underlying metabolic dysfunction. Insulin resistance, where cells fail to respond effectively to insulin, plays a central role in many of these conditions.

tree of insulin resistance

By minimizing foods that spike blood sugar levels—such as starches, sugars, and processed grains—we can reduce insulin resistance, often leading to improvements in health markers, sometimes even without significant weight loss. Adopting a lifestyle centered around real food and steering clear of processed food-like substances could drastically enhance metabolic health and reduce the risk of chronic diseases plaguing our society.

In conclusion, it is time to shift away from the futile cycle of dieting and embrace sustainable lifestyles centered around real, wholesome foods. By prioritizing metabolic health over weight-centric approaches, we can pave the way for a healthier future for ourselves and generations to come.

Jennifer McCabe Lentz, MD

Ideal Metabolic Health & Body

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