Cutting Edge: Fighting The Fat. It’s Not How Much You Eat But What You Eat.

Eat a variety of whole natural foodsCutting Edge: Fighting Fat is one of three prime-time health specials produced by Gannett Broadcast, airing across the country.  It investigates the causes, concerns and solutions of America’s current obesity crisis.  One solution, Heather Van Nest, Gannett Broadcasting’s Natural Health and Nutrition Correspondent has discovered is that it’s not only how much you eat but what you eat that makes the difference in any long-term weight loss program. Eating natural whole foods is the way to sustain weight loss and a healthy lifestyle. So she came up with a five-day meal plan of eating natural whole foods and challenged a family ready to make some healthy changes to see how much weight they could loose in just 5 days!

Heather reports that fighting fat can be a lifelong battle, especially if you are addicted to sugar, processed and fast foods. Christine Gerbstadt, M.D., Registered Dietician and Author of  Doctor’s Detox Diet tells says that Americans are a sugar seeking people.  Sugar addictions are very widespread.  How do we break that?

Dr. Gerbstadt says that reducing sugar is one way to cut back. Any processed food is going to have sugar in it in one form or another.   So reading the labels is the best way to see it.  The labels of  processed foods in most cases will show the sugar type in the first few items in nearly all foods.

She wants us to eat more whole pure, simple foods that don’t have added sugar.  She says we can train our taste buds to appreciate the natural sweetness in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and dairy products.  Baby steps are okay.  Start by eating an apple instead of a candy bar.

With that in mind, Dr. Gerbstadt and Heather challenged Chad and Chastity, a working couple who has been struggling with being overweight for years. They have three kids and now wants to stop eating fast food and set a good example for their children.

The challenge is for them to follow a 5 Day Plan eating whole natural foods and see how much weight they lose in less than a week. Dr. Gerbstadt and Heather designed the plan with easy to make meals that would be healthy for the whole family, and with leftovers so they wouldn’t have to cook every single day.

So, for five days they ate meals containing natural foods such as whole wheat bread, non-fat Greek yogurt, low fat cheese, boiled eggs, tuna, mixed greens salad, fresh fruit like strawberries, apples, pineapples, and good oils like almond butter. They tried new recipes swaping out red meat for lower calorie versions of turkey burgers and turkey chili. While some things were challenging to the taste buds like the plain non-fat yogurt,  all in all most foods tasted good and they learned they needed to change their attitute from “live to eat” to “eat to live.”

At the end of 5 days, Chastity lost 5 pounds and Chad lost 9!

If you want to start your own meal plan challenge here is the strategy used by Dr. Gerbstadt and Heather Van Nest for their plan.

  • Eat more whole grains by switching from white flour to whole grain flour products. For example, choose whole grain pasta over white pasta. Dr. Gerbstadt showed us that the white pasta she picked up in the supermarket had 2 g of fiber where the whole grain pasta had 5 g of fiber, that is more than double. Fiber helps soak up cholesterol and makes you feel full longer which will help you lose weight. Add the super grain quinoa to your diet. It’s actually a seed that contains amino acids, iron, B vitamins, vitamin E and more. It’s a complete plant protein that is eaten in South America.
  • Have frozen meals on hand for emergencies and in case there’s nothing else to eat.. Today, there are some leaner and healthier frozen meals but you really need to read the label to make sure you are getting something convenient but healthy. Look for meals that are less than 500 calories, less than 500 mg of sodium, at least 5 g of dietary fiber, and at least 20 g of protein. (You can even freeze single portion sizes of your own homemade healthy chili, soups and stews in plastic serving containers.)
  • Make your own healthy snacks and trail mix with things like dried cranberries, dried banana chips, nuts and seeds, and even a little dark chocolate chips. Adding proteins like nuts and seeds helps control and balance your blood sugar throughout the day.  Plus from these natural foods you will get some needed antioxidants, vitamin E and healthy natural oils. (Put them in little single serving zip lock snack bags to control portion size. Your can find them next to the plastic sandwich bags.)
  • Stock up on foods from the produce section of the supermarket like whole ripe fruits and vegetables. Look for produce that’s in season. They will be fresher and more economical.
  • Use ground turkey instead of ground beef. And to make it flavorful and moist, mix in lots of chopped onions, garlic and chopped vegetables like zucchini, grated carrots and chopped green peppers. Turkey burgers can be as little as 1 g of fat compared to a beef hamburger which can be as much as 20 g of fat and that would be the saturated fat, the kind that clog your arteries! (Note**Onions are a superfood that contain cancer fighting antioxidants. Use it in generous portions as a vegetable, not just as a garnish or seasoning.)

Making switches are easier said than done. Remember, baby steps are ok.  It’s the “sticking with it” that makes you lose weight, feel healthier, and have more energy.

Ultimately a balanced approach to weight loss seems to be the most favored by weight-loss experts.  For the everyday person, a well-balanced diet with the key elements of nutrients and daily moderate exercise is still your best bet to fight off weight gain. Motivate yourself by checking your BMI on a regular basis to monitor your weight status. Stay under 25 for a normal weight, under 30 for overweight, but over 30 is considered obese.

You may want to use a free online nutrient calculator such as The The will calculate your BMI and your Recommended Daily Allowances(RDA) for over 30 nutrients. It will also calculate the nutrients in the foods you select to make sure you are getting your recommended amount of nutrients. Spend some time on the site and do several food searches. You will quickly learn what favorite foods give you the most “Nutrient Bang for Your Buck!”

Related Sites:

Christine Gerbstadt, MD, MPH, RD, LDN, CSSD, CDE

The Nutrient Calculator and BMI

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