With this New Year I would like to offer you a new definition of the word ‘Diet’ which has become heavy laden with uncomfortable and often unspoken associations like starvation, deprivation, sacrifice, guilt, failure, weight loss, rules and short term pain. Perhaps you can even feel a knot in your stomach or develop sweaty palms as you read that list and think about your past diet experiences. Maybe you can even recall some of the crazy diets like the Tapeworm diet, Lucky Strike cigarette diet, and the Lemonade diet. The original root word of Diet comes from the Greek word, ‘Diaitasthal’ meaning to leads ones life. Now that is a definition that sounds much more inspiring, hopeful, and abundant; and assigns food to the proper foundational position in our lives. Health promoting, delicious food should be elevated to a key central position and place of honor in our lives that will naturally yield fulfillment today and optimal health for the body tomorrow.
A comprehensive Danish study reviewed the results of more than 900 diet studies from 1931-1999 to evaluate the long-term success rate of dieting determined to be the maintenance of a 20-24 pound weight loss at 5 years. They found that approximately 15% of people successfully kept the weight off for 5 years. Now contrast that success rate with the fact that an estimated 108 million Americans diet annually and contribute $40 billion dollars to the diet related industry. I often ask my patients if they would take on a very challenging and somewhat painful project that will require hours every day with a guaranteed success rate of 15%. As you can imagine I get a look of disbelief and sharp retort of “no way Doc!” So then I ask, “Why do so many Americans take on a new diet every year hoping for a different outcome?” I have come to believe that most people just don’t have all of the information needed to make a truly educated decision that leads a successful lifetime lifestyle change and they are simply hoping that somehow this new shiny diet will be the one that works for them- because the science is “new.” However, short-term dieting strategies fail to address the critical drivers of eating beyond the oversimplified calorie counting and manipulation of protein, carbohydrate, and fat. Some key drivers are the dopamine reward system in our brains that are readily activated by sugar, fat, and salt (and cocaine, nicotine, and heroin), emotional eating, convenience/time, habits, eating in isolation, the western culture, and marketing.
The elegant solution of a plant-based lifestyle overcomes many of these challenges within just a few weeks and provides a scientifically solid foundation for a lifetime of healthy eating and eating healthy. It infuses abundance, freedom, healing, vitality, fulfillment, community, hope, and life all wrapped up in one nutritious and delicious meal after another. Make 2016 the year of the plant based diet and celebrate your new found freedom from dieting and vibrant health.
Dr. Scott Stoll, M.D.