Why it’s so Difficult Breaking up with Food (Part Two) | Healthy Aging Series: Season 9, Episode 6

Keep It Simple Stupid

“What has been will be again. What has been done will be done again. There is nothing new under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 1:9

How many diets are there? Lots! Wikipedia has a page entitled, List of Diets.

 There are belief-based diets. Buddhist diet. Jain diet. Islamic diet. Kosher diet. 70 Adventist diet.
There are low-calorie diet. Time Restricted Eating. Cookie Diet. Nutrisystem’s. Weight Watchers.

Very low-calorie diets. The Last Chance Diet, I love that. Tongue patch diet.

Low fat diet. McDougall Starch Diet.

Crash diets. Beverly Hills Diet. Cabbage Soup Diet. New Trophic diets. Subway Diet.

Detox diets. Juice Diet, Master Cleanse Diet.

Geez. I could go on and on.

Four or five years ago, I read 75 to 100 books on nutrition, but really they were all about diets. 

I haven’t even mentioned, Paleo, Carnivore, Whole Food Diet, Keto, or Dash Diets. After reading many, many books on most of the diets that are out there, what did I learn? 

Two things: They all work and none of them work

Most of them have some truth, some effectiveness. Most of them help you lose weight. But all of them fail to help you sustain your weight loss. In other words, they help you break up with food, but failed to help you maintain that break up.

Honestly, the Diet Industrial Complex has confused the hell out of me and I’m sure you too.

Take eggs. I am so confused about eggs. Should I eat them? Should I avoid them? Thing is, eggs have almost every macro and micronutrient you need. 

That leads to the question about foods high in saturated fats like red meat. Eat, or avoid, or as some would say, limit red meat.

And there is a question about grains. Can I eat any kind of whole grain? Should I avoid them?

How about simplicity? I was reading an email from AllTrails about Global Dog Day. Who knew? It was entitled, Trails and Tails Belong Together.

They gave what they called petiqutte.

Three simple guidelines. 

1. Respect leashing rules for everyone’s safety. 2. Leave no trace means scoop that poop. (This reminds me of my hikes in Broad Run Park where I walk past flowerbeds and it smells like a dog toilet.) 3. Don’t forget to bring water for your dog. I’ve seen people break this rule when they’ve been attempting to climb The Incline in Manitou Springs, Colorado. It’s a 1-mile trail that gains 2000 feet of elevation. I would shake my head wondering what people were thinking when they brought their dog and no water.

What’s a simple way of looking at nutrition? Michael Pollan gives three rules that I think help simplify the matter. His rules are: 

Eat real food. Mostly plants. Not too much.

This past week I read, “Nature Wants Us to be Fat,” by Richard Johnson, MD.

Honestly, it had some good stuff, but it was a convoluted mess. In the interest of simplicity, I’ll share two takeaways.
Both takeaways are important in understanding why it’s difficult to break up with food, and stay broke up.

Just a reminder, this is part two of “Why is Breaking up with Food so Hard to Do?”

Here is my first take away in Johnson’s book:

The reason why it is so difficult to break up and stay, broke up with food is because we are genetically engineered as a species, to easily and quickly put on weight. And we are genetically designed to keep that weight on.
Imagine if that weren’t true. Humans would be extinct.

We had to be able to put on adipose tissue, which is fat, easily and keep it on during those times of famine or lack of food.

The human species spent six months a year putting on weight by seeking out calorie dense, rich food, which included fat and sugar in the form of fruit. This genetic predisposition also included having an appetite for those calorie dense foods.

Our bodies have a regulatory system comprised mainly of hormones. That system worked very well with our early ancestors. Today it is a curse!

Almost no civilization today in the modern world has to deal with famines. But because food is abundant year-round, it’s as if the “weight gaining function” of our survival system is stuck in the on position.

The survival system is so strong that most of us could put on 10 pounds in two weeks. It is so strong that it will overwhelm your willpower, your reason, and your moral values. Richard Johnson is right, we have a difficult time breaking up with food, and staying broke up because every part of your genetic engineering and evolutionary make up is working against us. “It wants us fat,” as Johnson states in his book,  “and it wants us to stay fat.”
That’s my first take away from Johnson’s book which he takes three chapters to describe.

My second take away: Johnson tells us to stop eating sugar

I’ve written a lot about sugar and all its forms, to include added sugar, in several blogs 3-4 years ago. I could not agree more with Dr. Johnson. If there is a culprit in the awful history of obesity, it’s sugar. Johnson traces the increased manufacture and consumption of sugar and its associated increase in obesity.

If our history was from The Lord of the Rings, sugar would be Sauron. Sauron is the stuff of nightmares throughout that trilogy.
Sugar is our Darth Vader, except sugar will never come back to the side of the Force like Vader did.
Sugar is the Anton Chigurh in “No Country for Old Men.” I cringed when I think of him.
Sugar is the Voldemort from the Harry Potter series. Voldemort’s command of dark magic is so complete he can fly without a broom. A bad dude.


Back in my Air Force days the acronym KISS came up a lot. There are several versions of what this acronym expresses. Maybe it’s not PC to express it in the USAF way, but it communicates well.

Keep it Simple Stupid

And so, here is my KISS diet, which could be stated in more simple terms, “Eat Real Food.”

1. Quit eating sugar in all its forms, except for fruit
2. Eat fruits, and vegetables. This is where we get micro-nutrients or vitamins and fiber. How much should we eat? I don’t think anyone gets enough, so eat as much as you want. How simple is that?
3. Easy lean protein. What kind of protein? Lean protein (Pork, chicken, beef, or plant-based). Most people don’t get enough protein. You should be getting .36 g for every pound. I weigh 195 pounds. That means I should be getting at least 70 g of protein. Keep it simple. Eat lean protein.
4. Get plenty of omega-3 fats. In other words, stay away from vegetable oils.
5. Stay away from processed food. All of it!

No sugar. Fruits and vegetables. Lean proteins. Omega-3 fatty acids.

Keep it Simple Stupid.

That’s the KISS Diet. It’s free. It’s been around for centuries and millennia.  You can tweak your diet with time-restricted eating. You can abstain from alcohol. You can do all kinds of things that you want to do to make your diet work, but keep it simple stupid!

Honestly, Johnson has a plan in his book that is very similar to the plan that I’ve just mentioned. It just took 270 pages to explain it. And $26.95.

It looks a lot like the Mediterranean diet. Check it out.

There is so much background noise and confusion out there about nutrition, and I believe Johnson contributes a little bit to that background noise.

One of the reasons we have a difficult time breaking up with food is all the noise and over-complication that’s been created because of peoples need for notoriety.

Everyone wants attention so they come up with a new diet.
Everyone wants a click or “like” so they come up with a novel nutritional idea and post it.
Everyone wants to make a buck so they write a book.
Everyone wants to be in the spotlight so they create a fine point that frustrates everyone, like telling you to not skip breakfast!

If you want to break up with food, and stay broke up, my recommendation is KISS!

Keep it Simple Stupid!

To read more entries in the Healthy Aging series, click here.

To purchase or view “Nature Wants Us to be Fat” by Richard J Johnson, MD at Carmichael’s Book Store, click here.