Four Golden Rules for Eating and Weight Loss

In 2009, I will be reviewing popular diet, weight loss, and fitness books published over the last few years. These reviews will give you a chance to preview books before buying them and allow you to compare different weight loss and fitness approaches to see what fits best with your lifestyle.

A SimpleWeight Review of I Can Make You Thin

Known as the “Dr. Phil of Britain”, Paul McKenna, PhD, has just released the US version of his weight loss/self help book, I Can Make You Thin: The Revolutionary System Used by More Than 3 Million People (Book and CD) (published December 2008). Although it reinforces much of what has already been published about dieting and weight loss, McKenna boils down most of the weight loss principles into Four Golden Rules of eating. By following these rules, McKenna is certain that dieters can change their eating behaviors and lose weight in the process. Below you will find the highlights of McKenna’s book:

McKenna’s Four Golden Rules for Eating
1. Eat when you’re hungry: Sounds simple enough but the trick is to listen to your body and learn your personal levels of hunger. McKenna provides a “hunger scale” with 1 being physically faint from hunger and 10 being nauseous from eating too much. He suggests eating when your hunger level is at 3 or 4 (fairly or slightly hungry) and stopping when you reach a level of 6 or 7 (pleasantly satisfied or full).

Bonus Tip – Thirst is sometimes masked as hunger. In other words, you may think you are hungry when you are actually thirsty. If you think you are hungry, McKenna suggests drinking a glass of water first, then if you are still hungry, eat.

2. Eat what you want and not what you think you should eat: McKenna stresses that there are no forbidden foods using his weight loss method and that you can eat whatever makes you happy. This approach works due to the checks and balances of the other three Golden Rules. By merely following the other rules, you can eat whatever you want as long as you are truly hungry, you enjoy every bite, and you stop when you are full.

Bonus Tip – McKenna encourages you to throw away any foods that do not inspire you to eat, like the low fat, low carb, no taste snacks in the pantry (unless you really like to eat cardboard).

3. Eat consciously and enjoy every mouthful: Point blank, eat SLOWLY and really taste and enjoy your food. When you eat slowly, your stomach has enough time to send a signal to the brain and the rest of your body that you are “full” and to stop eating. People who are overweight tend to eat fast, not allowing their stomachs time to send this “full” signal. As result, they will continue to eat until they are overfull or even stuffed. Slow eating also allows you to appreciate all of the flavors and textures of the food, helping you decide what foods you really enjoy and which you can pass up.

Bonus Tip – Slow your eating down to a quarter of what you are used to and chew each mouthful completely, setting down your utensil between bites.

4. When you think you’re full, stop eating: Knowing when you are truly “full” may be difficult for many people, but McKenna offers an easy way to tell when you are full. As soon as you’ve had your fill of food, every bite thereafter will be less enjoyable then the one before. Continuing to eat after this point will create an uncomfortable feeling in your solar plexus (nerves in the abdomen). At this point, you should stop eating no matter how much food is still left on your plate.

Bonus Tip – For card-carrying members of the clean your plate club, McKenna suggests giving up this mindset and only eating until you are full, leaving behind any food as leftovers or for the trash.

Strengths – McKenna’s Four Golden Rules are extremely simple to understand. He explains them in clear terms and offers sound and, for the most part, jargon-free reasoning behind each of the principles. McKenna also offers a no-nonsense summary of why our dieting patterns have failed and have actually reprogrammed our bodies to not lose weight. This actually becomes the premise for the book, setting the stage for readers to change their habits and adopt better eating behaviors for life.

Limitations – Although the Four Golden Rules are simple in theory, actually following through with them is a different story. For many of us, following these rules will mean overcoming years of poor eating behaviors, many of which are now part of our subconscious. If you can get past this huge obstacle – you’re Golden. McKenna also stresses that no food is off limits, yet pays no mind to the nutritional value of food. Although I don’t believe any food should be forbidden (because it just makes you want it more), nutrition should also be a factor in what you eat.

The Twist – McKenna provides a guided hypnosis CD which aims to reinforce his golden rules and other weight loss techniques mentioned in the book. The idea of using hypnosis to lose weight may scare away dieters from even reading the book. This would be a mistake, because the basic principles are sound and don’t necessarily need hypnosis to follow.

Have you read this book? Tell me your thoughts about I Can Make You Thin. What other health books would you like to see reviewed on

Lose Weight and Mosquito Bites

Mosquito picture from flickr

Mosquitoes Attracted to Obese

Big is definitely beautiful in the eyes of a mosquito. Research shows that obese people or even those who are overweight may be more likely to attract mosquitoes and, therefore, be subjected to more mosquito bites than those who are not obese. This does not bode well for people in the waterlogged Midwest or other areas of the US hit by recent flooding, where mosquitoes are out in greater numbers than usual.

According to Jerry Butler, PhD, professor emeritus at the University of Florida, one in 10 people are highly attractive to mosquitoes. Although genetics and the odors people exude play large roles in attracting mosquitoes, recent findings suggest that being overweight may make you more attractive to mosquitos for several reasons. In a June 2007 WebMD article, entomologist John Edman, PhD, and spokesman for the Entomological Society of America, explained that mosquitoes target people who produce excess amounts of uric acid. According to Mayo Clinic hematologists, one of causes of high uric acid levels in the blood is obesity.

Furthermore, Edman explains that mosquitoes can smell their targets from more than 150 feet away, a skill that can be troublesome for people who emit large quantities of carbon dioxide.

“Even over long distances, carbon dioxide is attractive to mosquitoes,” says Joe Conlon, PhD, technical advisor to the American Mosquito Control Association.

Research shows that larger people give off more carbon dioxide than smaller people. So, when given a choice, mosquitos will choose an adult to bite over a child or an obese person over a nonobese person. Pregnant women are also at increased risk, as they produce a greater-than-normal amount of exhaled carbon dioxide.

In addition to being overweight, Mayo Clinic lists additional factors that may attract mosquitoes, including:

  • Movement
  • Heat
  • Having type O blood
  • Being a Man

Want to lose some weight this summer and fend off mosquitoes in the process?

Check out these simple summer weight-loss strategies.

Visit WebMD for more suggestions on how to avoid mosquito bites.

Dear Food Diary: Please Help Me Lose Weight

Image: \'Pencils and Moleskines 04\'

Using a food diary to track what you eat may be the secret to weight loss. New research published in the August issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, shows that keeping a food diary can double a person’s weight loss.

“The more food records people kept, the more weight they lost,” said lead author Jack Hollis Ph.D., a researcher at Kaiser Permanente’s Center for Health Research in Portland, OR. “Those who kept daily food records lost twice as much weight as those who kept no records.”

In addition to keeping food diaries and turning them in at weekly support group meetings, the 1,700 participants were asked to follow a heart-healthy DASH (a Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet rich in fruits and vegetables and low-fat or non-fat dairy, attend weekly group sessions, and exercise at moderate intensity levels for at least 30 minutes a day. After six months, the average weight loss was approximately 13 pounds and more than two-thirds of the participants (69 percent) lost at least nine pounds.

Researchers note that keeping a food journal does not have to be formal or time-intensive. It can be as simple as using a pen and paper to write down what you’ve eaten for the day, or typing your meals into an online food journaling program.

“It’s the process of reflecting on what you eat that helps us become aware of our habits, and hopefully change our behavior,” says Keith Bachman, MD, a Weight Management Initiative member. He adds that food journaling in conjunction with a weight management program is the ideal combination of tools and support.

The SimpleWeight Food Diary

Many weight management Web sites can help you start a food journal, but select sites, such as, offer more advanced options to help with weight loss.

“Writing down what you eat makes you accountable for the calories you are consuming,” said co-creator Scott Stawarz. “Seeing what we eat day after day, and sharing that information with others influences us to make better decisions about what we eat.”

Stawarz adds that offers a comprehensive approach to food journaling and weight management. This comprehensive approach, known as The SimpleWeight Solution, provides:

  • A Food Journaling Program to track what you eat and drink on a daily basis
  • A Food Database that breaks down the calories, fat, and nutrients in foods and beverages, allowing you to see your total intake of calories, etc. for the day
  • An Exercise Database that estimates how many calories you’ve burned based on your weight and length of activity
  • A Weight Tracking System that allows you to input your weight each day and monitors your weight loss/gain trend over time
  • A Social Network to share your weight-loss triumphs and challenges with others

Make weight loss simple – Join Simpleweight to start your own food diary today!

5 Summer Weight Loss Strategies

Summer is the easiest time of year to lose weight, especially for those of us who endure long, cold winters. With summer’s abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables, not to mention, warmer weather, there’s no excuse for us not to be eating healthy and exercising. Adopting these simple weight-loss strategies into your summer plans may leave you more than a few pounds lighter come October.

Here are 5 Summer Weight-Loss Strategies to try this summer:

1) Get moving – self explanatory, but for those of you who see exercise as a big scary monster and run screaming when faced with it, think of exercise as a time to reenergize yourself. Exercise does not have to result in a pool of sweat (you know who you are). It can be as simple as a brisk walk with your spouse, playing tag with your kids, or biking to/from work a few times a week. Anything that gets you moving for at least 20 to 30 minutes a day is worthwhile.

2) Eat au natural – I’m not suggesting you eat naked, although some people may like to try this, but rather try to eat foods with the fewest ingredients and limit the amount of processed foods you eat. Processed foods can pack on the pounds, because they tend to offer less fiber and won’t fill you up as much as natural foods. One rule is to eat food with ingredients you actually know and can pronounce.

3) MUFA Me, MUFA You – Monounsaturated fat, or MUFA, is known as the “healthy” fat. MUFA keeps you feeling fuller for longer and studies show that MUFA may also help us stave off chronic diseases, including heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and depression. There are five main MUFA food groups:

* Oils that include canola, flaxseed, and olive oil
* Nuts and seeds that include walnuts, macadamia nuts, and sunflower seeds
* Avocados
* Olives, particularly the green variety
* Dark chocolate

Check out these great ideas to add a little MUFA to breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Also, make it a habit to eat MUFA snacks whenever possible. Keep in mind, MUFA is still high in calories, but a little goes a long way.

4) Divide and Conquer – Think of your plate as a clock – fill the space between 12 and 6 with fresh or steamed veggies; the space between 6 and 9 with whole grains and 9 and 12 with protein/fish. Throw in a little low-fat dairy and you’ll be good to go. By adopting this strategy, it should be easy to eat meals that are low-calorie, high nutrient foods, and to keep portions in control – just make sure you are using normal size plates!

5) Limit simple sugars – Simple sugars or simple carbohydrates refer to foods made with refined sugars or table sugar. Most foods made with simple sugars are essentially “empty calories”, providing very few vitamins, minerals, or fiber but remaining high in calories. They tend to leave us feeling unsatisfied and/or less full, prompting us to eat more. Simple sugars can also lead to a spike in blood sugar levels, giving us a short boost of energy, but leaving us sluggish and energy-zapped for hours on end. Simple sugars can be seen in foods under the names of corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, and glucose, among others. Foods high in simple sugars include sweets like cookies, cakes, and candy. Simple sugars also are found naturally in fruit and milk, but, unlike other simple sugar foods, these provide essential nutrients.

Have another great summer weight loss tip? Let’s hear it….