Darya Pino Rose is an online buddy of mine, a highly regarded nutrition blogger, and a real-life neuroscientist (or as she says, a PhDork). Her new book Foodist: Using Real Food and Real Science to Lose Weight Without Dieting is out and I highly recommend giving it a read. Darya shares a lot of the same weight loss philosophies that I do, which is one reason I interviewed her for my own upcoming book Weight Hacking.
Darya was kind enough to spend some time talking to me about Foodist and answering my questions about the book. Here’s how it went:
Foodist is a cool title. Er, what does it mean?
A foodist is someone who understands that the purpose of food is to make life awesome. Real food (not the overly processed fake stuff) should nourish you to health, bring you pleasure by tasting amazing, and bring you closer to friends, family and community.
A foodist is the opposite of a dieter, who is usually at war with food. My main goal with the book is to teach people how to transition from dieters to foodists. However, Foodist can help anyone, even non-dieters, learn to get healthy using real food.
What sets Foodist apart from all the other weight loss books out there?
Before becoming a foodist I tried every diet under the sun. The one thing they all had in common is that they only worked for a limited amount of time. They are also all based on restriction, which makes life more difficult and not more awesome.
One of the reasons most diets fail is because they focus on what we should and shouldn’t eat instead of why we make the decisions we make. In Foodist, I talk a lot about the brain (I have a Ph.D in neuroscience) and why it’s important to know how it works if we want to make the best food decisions. When we work with our brain instead of against it, we have a much better chance at success. Foodist is therefore more of a long-term plan to get healthy and lose weight, and is very different from the short-term suffer-parties that most diets resemble.
A few things intrigued me about the subtitle of Foodist, which is “Using Real Food and Real Science to Lose Weight Without Dieting.” Let’s talk about that:
1) What do you mean by “real food”?
I love the way Michael Pollan defines “real food” in his book In Defense of Food. He says real food is anything your great grandmother would recognize as food. That means fresh food and ingredients that look and sound like they come from the earth (soil, sea or air). It excludes packaged foods filled with ingredients that were made in a lab.
Real food is more tasty and nourishing than processed foods, even the ones labelled “healthy.” When you fill yourself with a diverse array of nutrients and eat food that satisfies your palate you’ll naturally eat less and enjoy your food more. Cravings will diminish and you’ll wonder why you ever settled for the monotonous, predictable flavors of processed foods.
2) Give me an example of the science in the book?
I spend an entire chapter of Foodist debunking the myth that willpower can help you eat less and lose weight. We tend to assume willpower is something we can summon whenever we choose, but that isn’t the case. This kind of decision making is incredibly costly from a brain energy perspective, and as a result willpower can be depleted when overused. Dieting is an extreme example of overusing your willpower, which is one reason it isn’t reliable for long-term weight loss. A more effective method is to spend your mental energy creating healthy habits, which ultimately occur automatically and without the use of willpower.
3) Lose weight without dieting? What sorcery is this?
When you build habits that are healthy you can automate a huge part of your weight loss effort. Think about it. If you just choose a simple, healthy breakfast you enjoy (I like muesli) and eat it every day, bring a healthy lunch to work 4 out of 5 weekdays, and cook dinner at home 3 times per week, you’ve taken care of 14 out of 21 of your weekly meals. If you get good at ordering healthy and tasty food in restaurants too, you can get up to about 80% of your meals helping rather than hurting your weight loss efforts. When you eat this way, you can still have a few meals a week that are a bit indulgent and it won’t hurt your progress. This is definitely not the same as dieting.
In the book and on your blog you talk a lot about “healthstyle” vs. “diet.” What’s going on there?
One of the issues I ran into right away when writing about food, health and weight loss is the word “diet.” It really has two meanings. The one I wanted it to mean was describing an eating pattern, like a “healthy diet,” or “vegetarian diet,” or “canine diet.” But when you use it that way, people tend to mix it up with the more popular definition of restrictive dieting for weight loss. I needed a new word to make it less confusing.
I chose the word “healthstyle” for a few reasons. The first is that like the word “lifestyle,” healthstyle sounds like something you live with, not something that is temporary like a restrictive diet. You can have a good one or a bad one, but everyone has a healthstyle. I also like the word because the “-style” implies that everyone’s healthstyle is unique, and there is more than one way to achieve good health. Diets tend to be rigid, a healthstyle is not.
Okay, as presumably the No. 1 Foodist out there, give me an idea of what kind of food you eat. For instance, what’s your typical breakfast like?
I typically have muesli either warm or on yogurt in the morning, because it is super easy. When I’m feeing more ambitious I may scramble some eggs and \have them with a side of kimchi. On weekends I often go out to brunch with my husband and our friends, or cook something more elaborate at home.
Things get more interesting when we talk about lunch and dinner. I love to shop at the farmers market, because the produce is so fresh, seasonal and delicious. I had no idea how sweet and crisp broccoli could be before buying it direct from a farmer. The real secret of being a foodist is that when you get real, fresh food, eating healthy feels like an indulgence instead of a sacrifice. It’s amazing!
Okay, flip that one around. What don’t Foodists eat, and why?
When people ask I say I eat whatever I want, which is true. However there are foods I prefer not to eat, including most packaged and highly processed foods. I also avoid industrial meat and dairy if I can help it (hormones, antibiotics and food poisoning aren’t very appetizing to me). I save sugar and other refined carbohydrates for special occasions (maybe once or twice per week). I try not to have too many rules when it comes to food.
All right, brass tacks time. Give me three examples of great weight loss advice that potential readers will get from Foodist.
1) Chew each bite 25 times – Chewing more helps you slow down and eat more mindfully. It also increases the sensation of fullness, so you’re satisfied with less food. If eating lots of fresh produce is new to you, chewing more will also reduce your risk of stomach aches and other GI problems. Processed food is basically pre-chewed for you. When you switch to real food, more chewing is required.
2) Walk 10,000 steps per day – Get a small pedometer and make an effort to walk 10,000 steps per day. This is a game changer for weight loss. It isn’t hard to do, but you will need to make a little extra effort to hit your goal. I recommend 10,000 steps per day even if you go to the gym or workout regularly.
3) Keep a food journal for two weeks – It’s amazing how little we know about what we actually eat. Start writing down everything you eat (what, when and how much) and paying more attention. This act alone will help most people make better choices and eat less.
Say someone’s on the fence or not about getting the book. Give me your best, most convincing reason for them to buy it?
My entire philosophy about food and health can be summed up in one sentence: Life should be awesome. If you’re one of the millions of people who wants to eat healthier, but have had trouble finding the balance between health and happiness, then Foodist will change your life. This isn’t about telling you what to eat and what not to eat, it’s about helping you find the formula that works for you. You’ll feel great, look great, eat amazing food, and never need to diet again. What could be better?
You can buy the book here: