Tricking Your Brain Into Thinness – Dieting Gimmick or Gimmicky Diet?

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Flavor_point_dietDid anyone catch ABC’s 20/20 last Friday?  Titled The Fat Factor, the producers must have figured FAT would be an interesting topic as millions of American’s sat in front of their TV sets feeling overfed and perhaps a little bit guilty about their late night turkey sandwich.

After talking to Wynonna Judd and Carnie Wilson about their trials and tribulations as weight struggling women, the focus turned to the newest diet book, The Flavor Point Diet written by Dr. David Katz. (It doesn’t go unnoticed that Katz is the senior medical correspondent for ‘ABC’, as well  as the diet doc from ‘Celebrity Fit Club’ fame, and a featured columnist at O Magazine).  A pretty media savvy doc, I’d say. 

Described by Rodale (his publisher), as a “groundbreaking diet drawn from cutting-edge science that maximizes your eating pleasure, optimizes your health, and guarantees permanent weight loss, by combining foods selected by flavor,” Katz believes you can meet your weight loss goals by tricking your brain into being satisfied for very long periods of time.  You won’t eat when you’re not hungry and therefore lose lots of weight, faster. 

Sounds revolutionary, doesn’t it?  However, I’m not sure how this diet satisfies the plethora of other problems people face when struggling with their weight, like emotionally eating, managing their stress, time and management issues and competing priorities, just to name a few. 

Nevertheless, the strategy is to follow ‘flavor themes’ by week, day, meal and dish, to eventually reach your ‘flavor point’ where you feel full and satisfied. According to Dr. Katz, too many flavors (variety) offered to your brain and the less successful your dieting will be.  “The concept is very, very simple. An excess of flavor variety over-stimulates the appetite center in the brain,” says Katz.

The research offered to back up his theory comes from research conducted at Yale’s Prevention Research Center, where Dr. Katz is director.

It’s important to note I haven’t read the book (it comes out this week), but it does sound like the premise may not lend itself easily to the lifestyle of a typical busy American woman.  Themed weeks, days and meals sound awfully challenging.  Not that you can’t lose weight on this ‘diet’ or any other ‘diet’ for the short term, but can you live with it?  Is it a lifestyle and/or a healthy lifestyle? How long can you really eat this way or any other rigidly described way?  Will you be set up for failre is you’re currently managing binge eating?

Isn’t it more important to understand how to achieve long-term weight loss success with mindful and intuitive eating techniques and healthy eating and weight management without dieting? We think so. A healthy weight loss program is more than just about food.

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3 Responses (Add Yours)

  • david says:

    As someone who tried it I wanted to post a reply to some of the concerns mentioned above. First, the gimmick here is not how to lose weight. Flavor Point and Dr Katz emphasize good, balanced nutrition, exercise and reducing calories to lose weight – without giving up major food groups like low-fat and low-carb diets do. The “gimmick” here is how “not” to feel hungry while reducing calories. Dr Katz uses flavor themes. Having tried it I can say they work. I am less hungry on fewer calories. Second, while it may increase a little shopping time for a while (a lot of the products were not regularly in my pantry), the meals were mostly simple and fast to prepare. Lunches do take some planning, so if you pack it, prepare it the night before. Other than that it’s easy. Plus, the good thing is that the plan doesn’t need to be followed exactly. There are substitutes mentioned throughout. If you need a fast meal, chose a different theme that night. If you have the time – the roasted chicken with currant sauce is great. As for a lifestyle – that is the emphasis of Dr. Katz’s book (and his other book as well). A diet is for the family and the way we eat every day. If you wouldn’t recommend it for the whole family, then it isn’t a good choice. Because it emphasizes healthy food throughout this is the book you want if you are old, middle-aged, young, have kids, don’t have kids. In addition it’s appropriate if you want to lose weight, or to maintain your current weight if you are already where you need to be – It is appropriate for everyone.

  • Cindy says:

    David. Thanks for your thoughtful reply. I’m glad this eating plan is working for you. If you go back and read Marsha’s post of last week (re: intuitive eating), you’ll see she mentions that having more taste choices can lead to over eating. I’m always concerned about any eating plan that creates too many restrictions – b/c they are just simply more difficult to follow long term. On the flip side,(as you’re probably aware), there is a general belief that deprivation leads to overeating. So, hopefully you’re able to enjoy the foods you love in moderation. Please keep us posted on your progress. Good luck!

  • Dieting Gal says:

    One more fad diet? The key to normal, healthy weight is your genetics and good traditional nutrition (not dieting!). If you eat what you ancestors were eating for centuries, you will be lean and energetic. If you fall succumb to newfangled products and “diets”, you are most likely to disrupt your metabolism and health.

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