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We overeat because we’re fat

New York Times article asserts what might be a game changer in fighting obesity. Hope?!

LoriSchaefer-BeforeandAfterMost people you talk to about the obesity epidemic in America, or their own personal struggle to lose weight, subscribe to the theory that it’s a “calories in, calories out” formula that determines our weight. It’s simple, they assert, to lose weight, eat fewer calories than your body burns. It then becomes a test of willpower.

I used to subscribe to that theory because that’s what we as a society are taught. And I used to feel like a failure for not being able to assert enough willpower to stop overeating and lose weight.

Then, I got healthy. I lost 200+ pounds with the help of a crack nutrition and wellness team, and learned that it DOES absolutely matter what’s in those calories. Quality matters as much or more than quantity — along with a host of other factors. It’s NOT that “a calorie is a calorie is a calorie.” Our bodies react to certain calories and types of food way differently, and the hormone insulin is a/the leading culprit in our skyrocketing obesity rates.

When I started my transformation journey 3.5 years ago, I had to relearn everything I thought I knew about nutrition and losing weight. I entrusted my nutrition and wellness coaches to guide the ship and help me learn how to eat for weight loss. Then, I did what I was told, and it worked! That’s the gift that continues today for me. From coaches Leif Anderson and Sandra Swami, I learned that a QUALITY diet of whole, non-processed foods with good carbohydrates and a moderate dose of healthy fats is key.

But the truth is, most Americans still don’t buy it. And we’re still eating TONS of processed foods drowning in hidden sugars. I’m hopeful that the New York Times article titled, “Always Hungry? Here’s Why, will make a difference. The piece sheds light on this important fact and because of its reach it just might begin to transform how America thinks about and treats obesity. Let’s hope.

The article asserts a hypothesis with some great evidence: “What if we’ve confused cause and effect? What if it’s not overeating that causes us to get fat, but the process of getting fatter causes us to overeat?”

If you have a weight problem or love someone who does and you’ve tried everything, I URGE you to take five minutes and read this piece. It is very accessible and easy to understand. It not only provides a hypothesis that challenges our current way of thinking but strong evidence to support it. But mostly, it makes you think and question, like I did, my approach to a healthy diet and losing weight. And if that’s all it does, it matters.

Here’s what stood out for me in Always Hungry? Here’s Why

  • “…Many biological factors affect the storage of calories in fat cells, including genetics, levels of physical activity, sleep and stress. But one has an indisputably dominant role: the hormone insulin.
  • We know that excess insulin treatment for diabetes causes weight gain, and insulin deficiency causes weight loss. And of everything we eat, highly refined and rapidly digestible carbohydrates produce the most insulin.”
  • …”The increasing amount and processing of carbohydrates in the American diet has increased insulin levels, put fat cells into storage overdrive and elicited obesity-promoting biological responses in a large number of people.”
  • “One reason we consume so many refined carbohydrates today is because they have been added to processed foods in place of fats — which have been the main target of calorie reduction efforts since the 1970s.”
  • “With the annual economic burden of diabetes — just one obesity-related complication — predicted to approach half a trillion dollars by 2020, a few billion dollars for state-of-the-art nutrition research would make a good investment.
  • “But obesity treatment would more appropriately focus on diet quality rather than calorie quantity.”
  • “These ideas aren’t entirely new. The notion that we overeat because we’re getting fat has been around for at least a century, as described by Gary Taubes in his book “Good Calories, Bad Calories.”

Another stat in the piece that helps me appreciate even more what I have accomplished in maintaining my -200 lb weight loss for 2 years. I have defied the odds! “Only one in six overweight and obese adults in a nationwide survey reports ever having maintained a 10 percent weight loss for at least a year.”


**Special thanks to Sandra Swami for posting this article on Facebook and alerting me to it.

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4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Megan Kaduce #

    Lori- when you spoke to the LDPhi group in Cannon Falls I retold your story to several friends- the part that struck home with me the most is how you are maintaining your weight loss rather than fall into the yoyo weight gain pattern. Your goal of “never never give up,” instead of “I want to lose x many pounds,” is now my new mantra. This article makes sense. Thanks for posting. Keep blogging. Love your insights.

    May 18, 2014
    • Hi Megan, that is so cool. For sure it is an ongoing daily process. I didn’t necessarily appreciate the magnitude of that until I was “in it,” and that said, I wouldn’t give up one day – good or bad. Rock on sister. Thanks so much for your encouraging note, and for reading the blog!

      May 19, 2014
  2. Lori, this is a very interesting article and thanks for your well-stated point about processed foods. I really get frustrated when people say they can’t eat “carbs” because carbs are a necessary part of an optimal eating plan. However NO ONE NEEDS processed foods – candy, soft drinks, crackers, most breads, even juices. These so-called “foods” are devoid of almost any nutritional value BUT make a person CRAVE more, because they taste GREAT! That is why General Mills, Pillsbury, etc., are all multi-billion dollar industries. Everyone should see the movie “Fed Up” which goes into great detail about what is in our toxic food supply. They might get their fill of good information and motivation to change their food habits (all pun intended).

    May 18, 2014
    • I like the pun, thanks Sandra for weighing in. I am grateful for your advice, help always! Not surprisingly because it is NY Times and because of the header, this is quickly becoming one of my top read blogs. That’s a good thing. Thanks.

      May 19, 2014

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