Saturday, November 19, 2005

'Intuitive Eating' Rips Off 'Weigh Down Diet' Concepts, But Both Are Faulty

Steven Hawks' "intuitive eating" sounds like the Weigh Down Diet to me

There's a supposedly new diet plan out there now seeking to help people lose weight using a "hunger-based anti-dieting approach." It's called 'intuitive eating' and an extremely limited study found that it can help people find a permanent way to lose weight and keep it off forever.

Steven Hawks, a health science associate professor at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah who led the research, says the "intuitive eating" approach helped him shed 50 pounds and keep it off while improving his overall health and fitness over the long-term.

"The weight came off easily, and I have maintained a very stable weight," Hawks stated.

The results of this small research study were published in today's issue of the American Journal of Health Education.

In a nutshell, the "intuitive eating" plan allows you to determine when you eat and how much you eat depending on physiological indicators, namely hunger, to be your guide.

Hawks said "dieting" has led to weight gain rather than weight loss and that "people need to get into a more healthy relationship with food."

I agree with that statement. When you are on a "diet," you are miserable and want to get it over with as fast as possible so you can get back to your old way of eating. No wonder we still have an obesity problem in America!

But that "healthy relationship with food" that Hawks refers to is what I would describe as a lifestyle change where your thought processes about food are changed for the better. You no longer worry about being on a "diet" and rather focus your attention on those foods that are healthy for you and can bring you fulfillment without adding more pounds to your body. That's what livin' la vida low-carb did for me.

Hawks said the "intuitive eating" approach leads to lower cholesterol levels, a drop in body mass index and minimizing the risks of cardiovascular disease. Of course, each of these are also improved just by losing weight as well.

But Hawks believes he has found a unique way for people to lose weight without counting calories.

The study itself involved two groups of people: one group who followed the principles of "intuitive eating" and another group who allowed "external structure to determine how much they eat" (i.e. low-fat/low-calorie/portion control diets).

"It turned out intuitive eaters have a lower BMI than those who were not," Hawks explained. "About a third of the variance is a function of intuitive eating rather than people dieting or more external food-based plans."

The success of those who followed the "intuitive eating" plan centered on the fact that the participants did not feel like they were dieting. Again, that's what the low-carb lifestyle has done for me and why I have been so incredibly successful on it.

The health of those who followed "intuitive eating" principles greatly improved, Hawks added.

"We found HDL, the good cholesterol, tended to be higher, triglycerides tended to be lower," he noted. "Based on the overall blood lipid profiles, intuitive eaters have lower cardiovascular risk than nonintuitive eaters. It seems to be positively associated with the health measures we looked at."

Although the study was too small to be conclusive, Hawks is hopeful his research will spawn larger observations of the "intuitive eating" approach to see if they are as effective for permanent weight control as he believes.

But as I was reading about this "intuitive eating" concept by Hawks, I couldn't help but think back to a diet plan I was on in the mid to late-1990s called the Weigh Down Diet by Gwen Shamblin.

This faith-based weight loss program was strikingly similar to the one Hawks has developed except Shamblin puts an emphasis on God and how He can help you lose weight by only eating when you are hungry, savoring the food while you are eating it, and then stopping when you are "satisfied." Read more about this diet here.

I lost a good amount of weight on the Weigh Down Diet because I was allowed to eat WHATEVER I wanted to eat to satisfy my hunger. But my problem with these kind of hunger-based diets is they put the onus of control in the hands of the person trying to lose weight. That is a very risky strategy because these are the same people who allowed themselves to get overweight or obese in the first place. What makes you think they're going to act responsibly regarding the food they put in their mouths now? Ultimately I convinced myself that I was hungry and ate when in fact I was desiring more and more food to eat.

The only reason I lost any weight on the Weigh Down Diet, which was basically "intuitive eating," is because I forced myself to limit my portions (eating until "satisfied") which lowered the number of calories and fat I was ingesting as well. In other words, it was a low-fat/low-calorie/portion control diet plan. But I don't like having to stop eating when I'm not ready to. My success on low-carb has been a result of not limiting my calories, fat grams, or portions. I ate as much as I wanted to and simply kept my carbs down to a level where I could still see weight loss.

Whether Hawks will admit it or not, "intuitive eating" is a low-calorie/portion control diet and may or may not work for everyone over the long-term. Changing the mindset of someone who has been overweight their entire life is a very large obstacle to overcome. There are a myriad of reasons why people can let themselves weigh 250, 300, 400 or more than 500 pounds, including emotional, environmental, and social circumstances.

Hawks understands that and believes "intuitive eating" can help. He contends that people enjoy their food more and eliminate the cravings that come from dieting.

"People with a lot of food taboos and rules have a lot of cravings and when they give into it, they go overboard," Hawks contended.

Not necessarily. When I first started livin' la vida low-carb, I gave up sugar, white flour and starchy foods immediately. No more! See ya! History. They were no longer going to be a part of my life and I have not missed them one bit. Part of the reason I don't miss them is the fact that there are many other foods that have taken the place of those foods I once thought I couldn't live without.

It goes back to that lifestyle change I referred to earlier. Once you realize how detrimental eating excessive carbohydrates can be to your health, you make the appropriate changes to not only get your weight under control but also to improve every aspect of your overall health. In fact, new research suggests that a controlled-carb eating plan can improve metabolic syndrome better than any other "diet" plan out there, including "intuitive eating."

While I don't agree with the "intuitive eating" approach championed by Hawks, I think I am closer in thinking with him than I am with those who heavily promote the government-recommended failed low-fat/low-calorie/portion control diets that have plagued us for decades.

"If you go to any Web site, you'll quickly find articles about counting calories," Hawks said. "I hope we can begin to open a new way, that restrictive dieting is not necessarily the best approach to take, since it seems to compound the problem."

Professor Hawks, you can't put that label on just ANY web site because you won't find anything at "Livin' La Vida Low-Carb" that talks about restricting your calories, fat or portion sizes to lose weight. Nope, not here. All I tell people to count is the net carbs. That's it.

Hawks concluded that these other dieting methods have actually led to weight gain over the years and it is time to create a "nurturing approach to nutrition, health and fitness as opposed to a regulated, coercive, restrictive approach."

That's what I love about livin' la vida low-carb. It does all of that and more.

One final thought: What about exercise? Strikingly silent on the subject, don't you think? Shamblin openly and proudly shuns exercise in the Weigh Down Diet approach and Hawks makes no mention of the role of exercise in discussing "intuitive eating." If you're going to be serious about losing weight and keep it off, then you have to talk about exercise. It has been an instrumental part of my success on the low-carb lifestyle. That's why I devote an entire chapter to it in my book.

You can e-mail Steven Hawks about his research on "intuitive eating" at


Blogger Cambi said...

Interesting post. There are 2 comments I would like to make. 1)Gwen Shamblin of Weigh Down Workshop actually ripped off a program called "Thin Within" that was started in the 70's and had a book published in 1985 also titled "Thin Within" by Judi Halliday and someone else who's name I cannot recall. I am sure there was another program with similar ideas before that one as well. Most ideas about eating are based on previous ideas. Atkins and other low carb plans are eerily similar to plans touted in the 60's (Dr. Herman "Calories Don't Count" and Irwin Stillman's "Doctor's Quick Weight Loss Diet"). 2)Other intuitive eating/ hunger and fullness programs do encourage exercise (see "Intuitive Eating" by Tribole & Resch).

Sometimes it seems to me that there are just soooooo many plans that seem to work for some peope and not at all for others. I wonder if each individual just needs to find what seems to work best for them. What do you think? Do you think low carb would work for everyone?
Donna :)

11/22/2006 6:29 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

THANKS, Cambi! You're exactly right that these diets do seem to cycle themselves and that a testament to the originals. But everyone likes "new and exciting" so they repackage it every decade or so.

As for low-carb, I DON'T BELIEVE IT IS FOR EVERYONE as I have stated many times in the past. But I do think many people would benefit from trying it.

Here's my philosophy:

1. Make up your mind to lose weight seriously.

2. Find a plan that works for you.

3. Implement that plan exactly as the author prescribed.

4. Keep doing it for the rest of your life.

5. NEVER give up!

That's it. Whatever you choose to do, just follow that plan and you can't help but succeed. If you struggle, then try another plan.

The point of "Livin' La Vida Low-Carb" isn't just to peddle low-carb, but to actually help people find a way out of their seemingly hopeless obesity problem. I've been there and it can be done.

THANKS for your comments! Come back to my blog anytime! Take care!

11/23/2006 8:31 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home