Nutritionist Esther Blum, MS, RD, isn't exactly a fan of New Year's resolutions to go on a fad diet -- with good reason! As she explains in her new book, Cavewomen Don't Get Fat: The Paleo Chic Diet for Rapid Results, our cultural obsession with dieting "makes us vulnerable to counting points or calories, having low-calorie meals delivered to our doors, or drinking 'cleansing' drinks five times a day. Yet we're still overweight, stressed out, unhealthy, and exhausted." Sounds about right! We're caught in a perpetual cycle of searching for the secret to effective, lasting, healthy weight control.
But after catching up with Esther and checking out her book, I'm positive her "Paleo chic" plan is a brilliant way to put the brakes on runaway yo-yo dieting.
I'll be the first to admit I initially blew the Paleo diet off as way too high in meat, far too low carb, or just for guys who do CrossFit. But Esther's high-protein, complex carb-packed, clean way of eating gears the popular plan to women specifically, to help target our unique bodies and hormones. Here, Esther's take on some of the biggest weight loss trends and traps and what women can do to succeed in 2014 ...
On the best way to "detox": "People want to do these detoxes, and you're not going to detox 30 years of chemicals in five days. That just doesn't happen. The best way to detoxtify is daily. Treat your body as if every day is a detox day. Just eating vegetables. It's so simple! We don't eat enough. ... I like to add things in before I take away. Adding in some chlorella or spirulina or freshly-juiced greens, making juices from spinach and beet leaves and kale and ginger and garlic. All of those help raise sulfur in the body, which is a wonderful detoxifier. Also, cooking with fresh herbs and garlic and onions is really wonderful for detoxification. Start by increasing your vegetables and your protein from grass-fed meats and wild Alaskan salmon. Also, farm-fresh eggs or whey protein derived from grass-fed cows, which is a great detoxifier, if you tolerate dairy."
On the big secret to weight loss: "The secret to weight loss is consistency. A lot of people are what I like to call consistently inconsistently. If you can eat on a Saturday night the way you eat on a Monday night, you're going to be fine."
On setting yourself up for success: "Stock yourself up with nuts and protein and grass-fed jerky and avocados and fresh fruit and vegetables, and do a little prep work where you cut them up and put them in Tupperwares."
On why it is okay to "cheat": "If you do 'preemptive cheating,' you can save yourself a lot of trouble down the road. There are at least three things we will not give up, right? For some people, it's cream in their coffee; for other people, it's dark chocolate, a couple squares a week ... a cookie. Find the things that you won't give up and schedule them into your eating. Say [you'll have] a cocktail Thursday night, and it keeps you honest because you're fulfilled and satisfied emotionally."
On the biggest hurdle women face with weight loss: "The biggest challenge of weight loss is the psychological aspect. It's the fear of losing pleasure. It's the fear of restriction, that we won't have enough, that we won't be satisfied. Taking charge of your eating, rather than feeling victimized by your choices, you feel empowered and say, 'I can have this anytime that I want, but I choose to eat this.'"
On feeling guilty about "bad" foods: "If you have a cookie, so what? Move on. It doesn't cause you to gain five pounds, and there's no reason to beat yourself up over it! Dieters have the highest cortisol levels. The people who are the leanest don't believe they're on a diet. They just know what their choices are and stick to it."
On self-acceptance: "Perfection is the enemy of progress. ... Your body is your body, and criticizing your body is not going to change your shape or make you drop five pounds overnight. It's your house and your temple. You may as well hunker down, settle in, and be present every day."
Here's Esther's appearance on TODAY for more info on her plan ...
Have you ever tried a Paleo-style diet? What do you think about Esther Blum's advice?