How to improve your diet is a popular topic these days in magazine articles and on TV talk shows. It is a subject doctors often discuss with their patients. Nutrition experts, too, routinely conduct seminars and webinars on the subject of how to improve your diet for optimal health and weight.
Yet, hundreds of millions of people struggle with health and weight-loss issues. Despite all the advice they’ve received on the subject, “ how to improve your diet,” they have either been unable to make the recommended dietary changes, or they made the recommended changes without experiencing any improvements.
Perhaps you are one of these people. Whatever your issue with your health or weight, no matter how many times you’ve tried to follow dietary recommendations and failed to achieve results, know this…
You are NOT to blame.
You did not fail those diets. Those diets failed YOU. More about that in a few minutes.
There is a SANEr way to eat that will support your health and a healthy weight. We will tell you how to improve your diet for optimal health and weight that will really work. The SANE eating plan is easy to remember, easy to implement, and SO easy to live with for the rest of your life!
Why knowing how to improve your diet is crucial for your health
Knowing how to improve your diet is crucial for your health because almost every disease has a nutritional basis. Some of these diseases include:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Heart disease
The rates of these diseases are astronomical in the U.S. and globally. Heart disease is the #1 killer of men and women in the U.S., while obesity, a condition characterized by an excess accumulation of body fat sufficient to increase the risk of health problems, has reached epidemic proportions. Approximately 78 million adults and 13.7 children and adolescents in the U.S. are obese. As obesity and type 2 diabetes are interconnected, a condition called diabesity, the rates of diabetes have also spiraled out of control. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 100 million American adults have type 2 diabetes or prediabetes.
Prediabetes is a condition in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be classified as type 2 diabetes. Statistics show that if left untreated, prediabetes usually progresses to full-blown diabetes within 5-10 years. But learning how to improve your diet will help prevent this progression.
Why rates of obesity and chronic diseases are so high
The biggest reason the rates of obesity and chronic disease are so high is poor nutrition. Sadly, the majority of people around the world routinely consume poor-quality foods that throw their blood sugar levels out of whack, dysregulate their hormones, disturb the balance of gut bacteria, cause inflammation, and much more. All of these factors spur obesity, diabesity, and almost all illness and disease in the world today.
Here are the types of poor-quality foods that cause weight gain and health problems. Once you learn what these foods are, you will have a better idea about how to improve your diet for optimal health and weight. You’ll know which types of foods you should avoid.
Ultra-processed foods are industrial formulations. They not only contain high levels of fat, salt, and sugar, but they also contain substances not used in normal cooking practices. These substances include emulsifiers, preservatives, artificial colorings and flavorings, and other chemicals. These formulations make their products look, taste, and smell like real food, but they have few or no properties of real food.
Eating a steady diet of ultra-processed foods causes weight gain and damages health. And here’s another inescapable feature of ultra-processed foods — many of them have been given chemical properties that induce cravings, causing addictions to those foods so you’ll eat more of them.
Given the addictive nature of these foods, perhaps it is not surprising that a recent study found nearly half our daily calories and 90% of the added sugar we consume comes from ultra-processed foods. It is also not surprising that the rates of obesity and other diseases have increased significantly in the past couple of decades.
Examples of ultra-processed foods include microwave dinners, soups, pastries, doughnuts, baked goods, sodas, and breakfast cereals.
Added Sugar and Starchy Carbs
Studies show sugar and other processed carbs cause spikes in blood sugar levels that can lead to weight gain, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. Excess sugar consumption also disrupts normal hormonal operation, and since hormones are responsible for every bodily process, this can lead to sickness and disease. Sugar also promotes systemic inflammation, which many experts now consider the root cause of most health conditions.
The average American consumes at least 150 pounds of refined sugar each year. That is around 30 teaspoons of sugar per day, and that’s not difficult to consume when you consider the average 12-ounce can of soda contains around 8 teaspoons of sugar. Many people drink several cans of soda per day!
The American Heart Association recommends that women consume no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar per day, 9 teaspoons for men.
Why recommendations of how to improve your diet for health and weight have failed
There are several reasons why recommendations for how to improve your diet for health have failed — none of them your fault!
You have simply been given the wrong information about how to improve your diet. In fact, the information you were given was harmful, sabotaging your efforts to adequately prevent or treat health conditions.
Here are a few of the incorrect pieces of advice you received about how to improve your diet for health.
1. Whole grains are an essential part of a healthy diet.
In 1992, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) created the Food Pyramid, recommending the food groups necessary for optimal health. The USDA recommended we should eat 6-10 servings per day of grains, such as bread, pasta, and rice.
Americans followed that advice because it came from the government. They didn’t consider that the USDA was looking out for the health of the agriculture industry, not the health of the American citizens!
Evidently discovering refined grains present health problems, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture prepared new Dietary Guidelines for Americans in 2005, specifically stating that whole grains were an important part of the diet. They updated the guideline in 2015, and whole grains are still front and center, with a recommendation that Americans eat 3-5 servings per day.
The truth is that whole grains are not a SANE food to eat. They do not fill you up calorie for calorie when compared to non-starchy vegetables and protein. They make blood sugar levels skyrocket, which can lead to obesity and type 2 diabetes. They do not contain as many nutrients calorie for calorie compared to non-starchy vegetables and protein. And you’ll get way more fiber by eating non-starchy vegetables than by eating whole grains.
2. Eating ultra-processed foods in moderation is okay
As previously discussed, ultra-processed foods contain dangerous chemicals and added sugars that damage your health. Though it’s okay to eat them in moderation, that’s difficult to do because many of them have been created specifically to induce cravings, causing you to eat more of that food. The best way to improve your diet for optimal health is to avoid eating ultra-processed foods as much as possible.
3. A low-fat diet is the best way to protect your health
This piece of incorrect advice starting in the 1970s persuaded people to cut almost all fat out of their diets, which automatically meant they had to eat a high-carb diet because there wasn’t much of a choice. Protein and fat go together. And they had a lot of low-fat choices from which to choose.
Food manufacturers created a wide variety of low-fat and fat-free foods, and they raked in huge profits. But they also replaced the fat they removed from these foods with sugar to make them taste better.
Overconsumption of carbs and sugar contributed to weight gain, heart disease, and other health conditions. Underconsumption of fat also causes health conditions and disease because our bodies need dietary fat to function properly. The body uses dietary fat to manufacture hormones and make tissue. Dietary fat is essential to your metabolism, brain, bones, and much more.
Why recommendations of how to improve your diet for weight have failed
There are a few reasons why recommendations of how to improve your diet for weight have failed. Again, none of these failures were your fault. You were simply given incorrect information about how to improve your diet to lose or maintain your weight. Here are a few of the most important ones.
1. You need to consciously restrict your calories to lose weight.
Many studies show this is absolutely wrong. Your body regulates your calorie intake and energy usage around your setpoint weight. Your setpoint weight is the level of fat your body thinks you should have based upon information from your brain, digestive system, and hormones. When the system functions properly, your body will burn more when you eat more. This ensures you can never become too fat or too thin.
But if the hormonal system becomes clogged, the hormones cannot send or receive proper messages. Your body doesn’t know how much fat you need, so it gives you more. Your setpoint weight goes up, and this is the weight your body will try to maintain no matter how hard you try to lose weight.
Cutting calories only causes your body to hold onto your fat, and it slows your metabolism. You’ll lose weight short term with a crash diet, but few people keep the weight off because of their elevated setpoint weight. The only way you can lose weight long term is to lower your setpoint weight. Then your body will fight to keep your weight at your lower setpoint weight.
2. A calorie is the same as any other calorie.
This is also incorrect. Calories have different effects on your body depending upon the foods from which they come. Starchy carbs, for instance, are easily stored as fat. Fiber and protein are impossible to store as fat. It also takes more calories to digest protein than any other macronutrient.
The body also digests sugar differently. In fact, studies show sugar raises setpoint weight even if it is consumed within the bounds of a calorie-restricted diet. So, the “experts” who told you that you could eat anything as long as you stayed within a certain total number of calorie per day is totally responsible for that failure.
3. You must concentrate on losing weight.
Concentrating on losing weight causes stress, triggering a release of cortisol, which triggers a release of insulin. This causes weight gain and prevents weight loss. The best way to lose weight is to let your body handle the details. You don’t have to do anything but eat delicious SANE foods.
How to improve your diet for optimal health and weight with the SANE Diet
The SANE diet is easy to remember and implement. All you really need to know to improve your diet for optimal health and weight is to simply choose foods high in water, protein, and fiber.
The four SANE food groups that meet those criteria are non-starchy vegetables, nutrient-dense proteins, whole-food fats, and low-fructose fruits. At each main meal, fill half your plate with nutrient-dense vegetables, a third of your plate with nutrient-dense protein, and the remainder of your plate with whole-food fats. You can fit in 0-3 servings of low-fructose fruits at whichever meal or time of day suits you.
SANE eating is the best way to achieve your optimal health and weight. Try it and see for yourself!
Next step: Learn how to improve your diet with SANE
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