A lot of intuitive eating bloggers, coaches, etc. believe we can’t do anything to influence our “natural weight” that we’ll maintain at with intuitive eating. They tell people who are overweight that they should just accept that that’s their natural weight and not even try to aim for a healthy weight. But based on the research, I disagree.
(I do, however, 100% agree with self-acceptance and self-love at every weight, and that you shouldn’t have to aim for a healthy weight if you don’t want to.)
Today I’m sharing something a little closer to my personal research interests (given that I’m getting my PhD in psychology/neuroscience): how your diet can affect your mood! In the video I quickly cover tryptophan, the amino acid that has antidepressant-like effects, and go over a study directly looking at how people’s symptoms of depression, anxiety, and overall mood are affected by being put on a high vs low tryptophan diet.
And the list of high-tryptophan foods from the study is below!
The media LOVES to talk about how great the Mediterranean diet is for health, weight loss, etc. compared to the standard American diet.
But honestly, pretty much anything is better than the standard American diet (aka the Western diet).
Very few studies have looked at the Mediterranean diet compared to other non-Western diets, but a new study came out recently comparing the Mediterranean diet to a low-ish fat vegan diet for health and weight loss. In this video, I go over the weight loss aspects; specifically, how much people lost in 16 weeks on each diet, without eating less or exercising more.
In today’s video, I cover a new study showing that if you’re on a plant-based diet (vegan or vegetarian), your chances of getting COVID and having symptoms are MUCH lower. The study also looked at how low carb/high protein diets affect COVID severity, with some really interesting results.
Hopefully this data will no longer be relevant as we all get vaccinated, BUT it might be important to know if the vaccines don’t protect well against the new strains. And at the very least, it’s nice to know that our plant-based diets likely gave us some protection!
I got a good question on a recent video, asking where the line is between intuitive eating and overeating. Given that intuitive eating involves eating whatever you want, whenever you want, as much as you want, I can see how from the outside, it would just seem like constant overeating!
But in fact, intuitive eating is one of the BEST ways to prevent overeating, and there’s a lot of great research backing it up. (See my how-to guide for more details, and to start eating intuitively)
In today’s video, I go over why overeating and intuitive eating are completely different.
The diet industry tries its best to convince you that you need them, but weight loss can be as easy as making small lifestyle changes… and unlike diets, lifestyle tweaks actually lead to sustainable weight loss and maintenance.
And bonus, these kinds of lifestyle changes also make you healthier & feel better.
A powerful example of this that I’ve found in studies is that just drinking more water can lead to a LOT of weight loss! So in today’s video, I go over studies on how you can use water to lose weight, with details on what’s optimal in terms of timing and quantity.
For most of my life, I HATED vegetables. But over the last few years, I’ve turned into a vegetable enthusiast. I often even enjoy them raw with nothing on them. (I can be seen biting into a plain beet or cauliflower, and even having plain arugula, on a regular basis…)
In today’s video, I go over how I went from hating to loving vegetables, and how you can too! Featuring the results of scientific studies (citations below).
As a kid, I HATED vegetables. My parents wouldn’t let me leave the dinner table until I finished my meals, and I often opted to sit for hours rather than eat my salad.
I only started eating vegetables in my undergrad years out of desperate attempts to lose weight, and even then I still didn’t actually like them. They felt more like a punishment.
I started to somewhat enjoy them about 6 years ago when I started eating a high carb low fat diet, and noticed that some foods (like sushi bowls) just happened to taste better with vegetables. And then ~5 years ago I magically started to find salads somewhat enjoyable rather than boring torture. (It also helped that I learned how to make vegetables more exciting with better recipes!)
And then, about 2 years ago, I started completely focusing on intuitive eating instead of following any diet. I stopped caring about weight loss, and started caring about having a healthy relationship with food. I just ate whatever I craved, whenever I wanted to.
And inexplicably, a huge chunk of the time, what I naturally craved was (and is)… VEGETABLES!
Now that I was fully eating according to my cravings, I could see just how much I craved healthy food. And I noticed I naturally stopped liking sugary or hyperpalatable things as much.
So how did I have such a dramatic shift in tastes?
Based on all the studies I’ve read on diet science, I have a feeling that it was because of gut bacteria.
First, we know that what we eat changes our gut microbiome, by changing the types and relative quantities of different types of bacteria. And those bacteria do a lot of our digesting for us. For example, studies show that eating more plants changes our gut microbiome to have more plant-digesting bacteria, which then makes us more efficient at digesting plants1.
Second, there is evidence that our gut microbiome can actually influence what we crave2, and even how much we eat3.
So what we end up with is a feedback loop where eating more vegetables changes your gut microbiome to have more veggie-loving bacteria, and those bacteria then make you crave more vegetables.
On the flip side, it can also be a vicious cycle, depending on the food: if you eat a lot of processed food, you get a gut full of processed-food-loving bacteria, which then makes you crave more of it.
The key is to get yourself into the cycle you WANT to be in. And to get into a vegetable-craving cycle, the first step is to just eat more vegetables. (A mix of both raw and cooked, ideally!)
I suggest doing this in the most palatable ways you can manage so that you’re not having to force yourself to eat them. You don’t want to associate vegetables with torture. For example, you can try hiding vegetables in other foods: add spinach to your smoothies, riced cauliflower to your normal rice, and greens in your chili. (If you want to get extra creative, you can add pureed mushrooms to soups, chilis, pasta, etc… that’s how I get my husband to eat them, since he hates their texture!) I have more suggestions in the video too.
And at some point, I bet you’ll naturally find yourself naturally liking vegetables even without having to hide or disguise them.
(Another tip: if you fall in love with vegetable gardening as much as I have, you’ll discover that vegetables are actually pretty magical 😛 )
Mainstream nutrition media loves to talk about how the type of omega 3 that comes from fish is way better than vegan sources of omega 3… but the actual science seems to say otherwise. I found a study that looked at blood levels of omega 3 in 5,000 vegans, vegetarians, fish eaters, and meat eaters, and go over it in my latest video!
Diet culture likes to demonize chocolate, but what if I told you that eating more chocolate can actually make you lose weight? There are a surprisingly large number of scientific studies on this (at least 35), finding that just adding chocolate to people’s diets made them lose weight–but it does depend on how long they ate the chocolate for, and the type and dose of chocolate.
I go over all the details in the video on how you can use chocolate to lose weight!
In my last video, I used scientific studies to explain why going on a diet or having a strict exercise routine usually backfires and causes binge eating + weight gain. In today’s follow-up video, I give 10 cognitive strategies to reach your weight loss and fitness goals in a way that works WITH your body and psychology, not against them.
Weight loss and fitness CAN be enjoyable and pretty effortless, rather than a chore you have to force yourself to do or a set of rules you have to stick to. You just need the right mindset and strategies.