Interviewer: You're an expert in nutrition and weight loss as well. What are some of the biggest mistakes people make in trying to lose weight? We're in mid-December; January 1st is coming, where everybody is going to start their resolutions. What are some of the big mistakes people are going to make?
Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS: Wow. That is some topic. Well, let's start with the dietary advice. I'm going to try to condense a lifetime. I mean, I could talk about this for two hours. Let's start with the information. There's two things to losing weight. There's the information and putting it into practice. I used to start a lot of talks when I'd say, "How many of you people out there would like to lose five or ten pounds?" Entire group. "How many of you know exactly what you need to do?" The whole audience. "How many are doing it?" And everybody laughed.
So information's the first part. Putting it into action's the second part. It's where the psychology comes in. So let's first talk about the first part. First of all, most of us don't know what to do. Part of the audience will say low fat diet, high carb- it's not the right advice. And this is where it kind of dovetails with my interest in the whole cholesterol thing. Because if you ask most of those people, they'll say, "Yeah. What's my perfect breakfast? I know what I should be eating: Special K and orange juice and a bagel, because it's low fat." And you know, no. That's the worst breakfast possible, because that's going to send your blood sugar and your insulin through the roof, and it's going to start fat storage; especially in people who are susceptible to that. And that's a huge number of us.
So first thing is to get the right information. Part of the reason we have such bad information - not the whole reason, but part of the reason - is because of this fear of cholesterol. So we've been told, "Don't eat saturated fat. Don't eat fat at all." Well, now they've modified it and you can eat some fat. No. The fear of fat has informed these dietary prescriptions and they're wrong. The American Dietetic Association as I wrote on the Huffington Post, though it was censored, is probably the most destructive organization in America when it comes to . . . When I hear a spokesperson from the American Dietetic Association says this, I run the other way.
So the information about high carb, low fat diets has been wrong. And it has been very insulinogenic. It's been an eating style that is bound and determined to drive your fat storing hormone, insulin, through the roof. So we need to go back to a more traditional way of eating. Again those four food groups. The foods you could hunt, fish, gather, or . . . Buffalo burger for breakfast or full eggs, and God, these cockamamie egg white omelets. The yolk has got all the good stuff in it. So the stuff that satiates, the stuff that really has protein and fat and fiber, lots of vegetables. A different style of eating, number one. So that's one of the first mistakes people make.
The second mistake they make is thinking that one diet fits all. And getting our dietary information from People Magazine. And go, "Well, Beyonce was on that diet. I guess it'll work for me." Well, it worked for Beyonce. It doesn't mean it's going to work for you. Not everyone does well with greens, not everybody does well with dairy, not everybody does well with a high protein diet. Most people do better with that, but not everybody. There are people who will do quite well with . . . I talked to one of my, the Bantu of South Africa, 80% carbohydrate diet; they're the leanest people in the world. But they wouldn't recognize what we eat as carbs, what they eat as carbs. So that's a big factor as well.
So people are genetically metabolically different. There is no one diet that works for everybody. So that's the second mistake, and the third mistake is thinking this doesn't have a psychology component. We have brain chemistry that compels us to eat. We have hormones that compel us to eat. If we're left in resistance, our brain isn't getting the signal, "Hey, dude. You're full, stop." It doesn't get there. So there are hormonal reasons. I think we have to break the chains, some of the ties that these foods have over us. If you read David Kessler's wonderful book, "The End of Overeating", he was the former FDA Commissioner. It details how the food industry has done what the tobacco industry did.
Nicotine's addictive, but it isn't that addictive. What the cigarette companies did is they added chemical after chemical after chemical to these cigarettes to increase the addictiveness of nicotine. This isn't controversial, it's out there; we know this. Food companies did they same thing. They scientifically layer the food with just the right amounts of salt, fat, and sugar in just the right conditions, and then you wind up with an ad campaign that's truthful that says, "Bet you can't eat just one." And you can't, because that stuff is addictive.
So we need to start treating ourselves as the food addicts that we are. And that means stealing a lot of material from AA, because we have become powerless over the smell of a Cinnabon in the food court. And just knowing that you're not supposed to eat it . . . and I have never seen anybody in my life, nor has anyone listening to this, who threw their cigarettes away and said, "I never knew. You mean, this stuff causes lung cancer? Oh, my God. get these out of here!" No. Nobody's smoking today because they didn't get the memo on lung cancer, and nobody's eating high sugar foods because they didn't get the memo that they're not good for you. So there's something going on in brain chemistry. Dopamine gets fired and goes, "Gotta' have it, gotta' have it, gotta' have it." We have to find a way to disable that.
I did a diet program; first one I've ever done in 20 years that one-third of the program is about breaking those addictive ties. If you don't treat that, if you just give people a diet to eat, they will be done in three weeks. They will not stick to it. You've got to disable that. And my program, shameless plug, "Unleash Your Thin You", and see it on my website, has an entire section just about, "What are my trigger foods?" And how do I . . . and it doesn't mean you'll never be able to eat them again, or that you won't be able to enjoy them recreationally.
My God, if I couldn't have Ben and Jerry's once in awhile . . . the point is, that they're no longer addictive substances that you can't be without, that you use for every stressful event in your life to self-medicate. And if we don't treat that part of the diet equation, we're kind of doomed because we're going to be addicts sent back into a bar. This is a toxic food environment and the odds are, the deck is loaded against us. To me, it's a miracle anyone loses weight and keeps it off at all, given the odds of what we have to deal with in the toxic food environment. So I think those are some of the mistakes that we make when it comes to dieting and weight loss.