Skip the Dieting & Become a Qualitarian.

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Editor’s Note: This website is not designed to, and should not be construed to, provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion or treatment to you or any other individual, and is not intended as a substitute for medical or professional care and treatment. For serious.

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Skip the Dieting and Become a Qualitarian

The “calorie is a calorie” myth is woefully outdated and one of nutrition’s biggest fallacies. To understand why, let’s compare a Double Gulp from 7-Eleven with 21 cups of broccoli, both of which contain 750 calories.

That hulking soda delivers those calories as 46 teaspoons of sugar. Hormonal havoc ensues as sugar elevates insulin, blocks the appetite-control hormone leptin, and activates our pleasure-based reward center to consume more sugar and fuel our addiction. Chronic inflammation, insulin resistance, and weight gain are the inevitable results.

Those 750 calories of broccoli, on the other hand, provide 67 grams of fiber (far more than the average American eats) yet only about one and a half teaspoons of sugar. If we ate that much broccoli (unlikely!), none of the hormonal chaos would occur. In fact, we would optimize metabolism, lower cholesterol, reduce inflammation and boost detoxification.

The take home is that quantity does matter—too much healthy food becomes unhealthy—but quality matters far more. Rather than count calories or anything else, we want to be qualitarians in our diet. The rest takes care of itself.

Eight Ways to Become a Qualitarian

The most important thing we can do to heal our body is focus on food quality. Americans spend less than 10 percent of their income on food, while Europeans spend about 20 percent.

When it comes to calories, quality matters more than quantity. Focusing on calories helps us feel satisfied while naturally avoiding cravings and attraction to food that won’t nourish us. Here are eight ways to do that:

  1. Avoid highly processed, factory-manufactured Frankenfoods. Choose fresh vegetables, fruit, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds and lean animal protein such as fish, chicken and eggs.
  2. Buy high-quality animal foods. Look for animal products that are pasture-raised, grass-fed, antibiotic-free, hormone-free and pesticide-free. Go on a low-mercury diet by sticking with small, wild or sustainably farmed fish.
  3. Go organic. Pesticides and chemical fertilizers poison our metabolism, thyroid function, sex hormones and our planet. Whenever possible, buy organic. If buying only organic isn’t an option, consider the “Dirty Dozen” and buy those foods organic.
  4. Stay local. Seasonal, local foods we find at farmers’ markets or community-supported agriculture projects (CSAs) are healthier, taste better, are typically sustainably grown and help us recognize the intimate relationship between the ecosystem of our body and the broader ecosystem in which we all live.
  5. Eat the right fats. Steer clear of vegetable oils like soybean oil, which now comprises about 10 percent of our calories. Focus instead on omega 3 fats, nuts, coconut, avocados, and yes, even saturated fat from grass-fed or sustainably raised animals.
  6. Eat mostly plants. Plants should form 75 percent of our diet and our plate.
  7. Avoid dairy. Dairy is great for growing calves into cows, but not for humans. Try organic goat or sheep products, but only as a treat.
  8. Avoid gluten. Most is from Franken Wheat, so look for heirloom wheat (Einkorn). Not gluten sensitive? Consider it an occasional treat.

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What other strategies would you add to be a qualitarian rather than a calorie counter? Share how your perspective has changed below or on my Facebook fan page.

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References

Gibson S. Sugar-sweetened soft drinks and obesity: a systematic review of the evidence from observational studies and interventions. Nutr Res Rev. 2008 Dec;21(2):134-47. doi: 10.1017/S0954422408110976.

Lustig RH, et al. Obesity, leptin resistance, and the effects of insulin reduction. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2004 Oct;28(10):1344-8.

Shoelson SE, et al. Inflammation and insulin resistance. J Clin Invest. 2006 Jul;116(7):1793-801.

Vasanthi SR, et al. Potential health benefits of broccoli- a chemico-biological overview. Mini Rev Med Chem. 2009 Jun;9(6):749-59.

http://www.fns.usda.gov/sites/default/files/110282_BroccoliFlorets_June2013.pdf

http://www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/emptycalories_count_table.html

https://www.fatsecret.com/calories-nutrition/7-eleven/double-gulp-fountain-drinks

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Relephant:

A Nutrition Myth that Keeps us Fat, Sick & Tired.

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Author: Mark Hyman

Editor: Rachel Nussbaum

Photo: Google Images for Reuse

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Mark Hyman

Mark Hyman, MD, believes that we all deserve a life of vitality—and that we have the potential to create it for ourselves. That’s why he is dedicated to tackling the root causes of chronic disease by harnessing the power of Functional Medicine to transform healthcare. Dr. Hyman and his team work every day to empower people, organizations, and communities to heal their bodies and minds, and improve our social and economic resilience.
Dr. Hyman is a practicing family physician, a nine-time #1 New York Times bestselling author, and an internationally recognized leader, speaker, educator, and advocate in his field. He is the Director of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine. He is also the founder and medical director of The UltraWellness Center, chairman of the board of the Institute for Functional Medicine, a medical editor of The Huffington Post, and has been a regular medical contributor on many television shows including CBS This Morning, the Today Show, CNN, The View, the Katie Couric show and The Dr. Oz Show.
Dr. Hyman works with individuals and organizations, as well as policy makers and influencers. He has testified before both the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine and the Senate Working Group on Health Care Reform on Functional Medicine. He has consulted with the Surgeon General on diabetes prevention, and participated in the 2009 White House Forum on Prevention and Wellness. Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa nominated Dr. Hyman for the President’s Advisory Group on Prevention, Health Promotion, and Integrative and Public Health. In addition, Dr. Hyman has worked with President Clinton, presenting at the Clinton Foundation’s Health MattersAchieving Wellness in Every Generation conference and the Clinton Global Initiative, as well as with the World Economic Forum on global health issues.
Dr. Hyman also works with fellow leaders in his field to help people and communities thrive—with Rick Warren, Dr. Mehmet Oz, and Dr. Daniel Amen,he created The Daniel Plan, a faith-based initiative that helped The Saddleback Church congregation collectively lose 250,000 pounds.  He is an advisor and guest co-host on The Dr. Oz Show and is on the board of Dr. Oz’s HealthCorps, which tackles the obesity epidemic by educating American students about nutrition. With Drs. Dean Ornish and Michael Roizen, Dr. Hyman crafted and helped introduce the Take Back Your Health Act of 2009 to the United States Senate to provide for reimbursement of lifestyle treatment of chronic disease. Dr. Hyman plays a substantial role in a major documentary, produced by Laurie David and Katie Couric, called Fed Up (Atlas Films, September 2014)which addresses childhood obesity. Please join him in helping us all take back our health at his website, follow him on Twitter and on Facebook and Instagram.

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anonymous Apr 15, 2015 1:15pm

Not all calories are created equal. By choosing the appropriate diet to match the body and personality of the individual is the best way for one to achieve a healthy lifestyle. Thank you Dr. Mark for the 8 tips. They are appreciated.

anonymous Apr 3, 2015 10:26am

As a biochemist, I find a lot of this mindset frustrating. It's important to also look at what "organic" actually means… It certainly isn't "chemical-free." I think there a lot of issues with food production and quality today (and I definitely agree with buying locally and paying close attention to where your meat comes from, if that's your thing), but I also think that a lot of the avoidance of Franken-foods stems from fear due to a lack of understanding of what they actually are. Everything natural is made of chemicals. Just because something has a long scientific name doesn't mean that it's bad for you.