Eating good food helps to lose weight because you eat less

Dr Terry Simpson weight loss surgeon

You probably heard your mother say it, “you are what you eat.” It is one of the most ancient phrases used by mankind. So before I go too far down that road my coffee cup is begging me for a second cup. My morning routine is to get up, check email to see if anyone needs some attention, post the daily pollen count on the Facebook page for YourDoctorsOrders (which puts it on my Twitter account, then make a quick check of twitter, and Google plus. Seems like that takes time, but it is about one cup of coffee – then I turn my attention to a bit of writing. Writing in the morning is a peaceful time for me, although usually my son hears me and wants a bit of milk (he is 3 1/2). So, while I get my second cup- Peet’s, of course – I am a bit unimaginative when it comes to coffee – but coffee is kind of like friends, or community – I’m pretty loyal to it.

Since the Olympics are on you sometimes hear about how athletes have their favorite routines. One of them has been interrupted because of a trade dispute between Russia and the US over dairy products. Because of this, Chobani could not send yogurt to the US team it was helping to sponsor. Athletes who would have used this yogurt cannot, because the importation of dairy products from the US to Russia is at the heat of a long-running trade dispute.

Think back to the early Olympics, not those done at the turn of the 1900’s, but the first Olympics that were put on in Greece. Athletes then would eat deer liver hoping that the deer liver would give them the speed to compete in running games. Those who were in the wrestling games would value the “heart of a lion” to provide them with strength and bravery. The idea of “you are what you eat” was ever present then, as it is now.

I see this notion replayed endlessly on Facebook, showing photographs of junk food and asking if your body wants to be this junk or something more. My mom (the inventor of all myths) repeated this to me sometime when I was a child and she was trying to get me to eat vegetables. Being a precocious child I told her I didn’t want to be a vegetable — which led the famous “look” that parents give their children (the kind of look that says it is wise to stop being a smart aleck and eat the vegetables before the “enforcer mom” came out like the transformation of Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde). A look – by the way – I have yet to perfect for my son, but that’s another story. And I never had the smart aleck taken out of me – for those not use to my dry humor it creates other issues.

This notion of food having mysterious powers, of food being able to transform people to health is as old as the first doctors and pretty false.

The technical side of the myth is this: your body breaks down every protein (digests it) to its basic unit and absorbs it in about six hours. It breaks that protein down from hundreds of amino acids to small units of no more than four amino acids before it pulls the protein into the cell and then breaks it down to basic amino acids and sends it around the body where it might be used. Your guts don’t care if the protein came from a lion, a cow, hummus, bread, or beans. Six hours after the protein leaves your stomach it is completely digested and absorbed (another myth: red meat does not stay in your guts for days). The carbohydrates are likewise digested, and so are the fats and alcohols.

So why am I so insistent about good foods? Why do I tell my patients that most yogurts are simply not classic yogurt but warm ice cream and should be avoided as a daily routine if you want to lose weight? Why do I cringe when people eat pizza and hamburgers a lot?

I want to develop your taste in food– because the more food you taste, the less food you will consume. Thankfully in this country our problem isn’t malnutrition of calories, it is over nutrition. America’s restaurants (where I gained my excess weight so many years ago) serve heaping quantities of bland, calorie rich, fat-laden, over salted, over sweetened food.

When I have patients who have lost weight and kept it off for five years,there is one pattern among all – they do not eat the same things they use to eat, they have completely changed the foods they have eaten, and love the new foods they eat. When patients have lost weight for a year or two and “fall back” into their old ways of eating they will, every single time – regain some, or all, of the weight they have lost – regardless of which operation we have done to them.

  1. So why flavor? Why spices? Why a balanced approach to the taste buds? Why not drink diet Coke? Why not become a Vegan?

If you want to lose weight and be successful, you will not be eating the same foods you ate. Your “stand by” foods will change. So every month I ask my patients to bring me a recipe for a new food they have cooked. It is a simple challenge: every month work on a recipe you have found (doesn’t matter where). See how other people do it, and weekly work and change that recipe until you have perfected it for yourself. Make it so that you will enjoy that meal, and it is your creation. At the end of two years you will have 24 new recipes – things you have made. Some might be as simple as perfecting my favorite green beans with dijon mustard as a side dish (recipe here). Or you might try a new fish that you have never done- like Dover sole, or a preparation – like Sous VIde style cooking (my favorite way to cook). Re-purpose a favorite food.

For those who eat out a lot, it means finding new favorite dishes, new restaurants.

The food most of my patients eat is quantities of overly salted, but bland, overly fat, and overly sweet. Drink too much diet cola and you will want to balance that with more food to get rid of the flavor. Get away from it for a while and it loses its appeal, because you care more about taste and flavor than a mouthful of calorie bombs.

So, what new recipe have you perfected this month? If none – its time to find one, and when you perfect it, let me know. Because in two years your new favorite food will be one you haven’t even tried yet (if you want to be successful).

Have a great week. Don’t forget – check yourself – did you lose weight or maintain your weight or gain weight. If you didn’t make your goal this week take an honest look back at the foods you ate and see which ones were a bit too much. Do this every week – keep on the path, don’t let things get too far away from you.