Get Out of Diet Fads and Into Real Solutions
by Marcus Antebi
I could amass an incalculable fortune by simply writing ridiculous concepts about absurd diets. But I won’t do so.
Experts often knowingly deceive people for the purpose of economic profit – this is a tremendous problem in our society. But it’s also a huge problem that people trying to make names for themselves promote fad diets after doing only a minor amount of research, subsequently declaring themselves experts, This makes me angry because I’ve seen many people suffer from the results of this. When I owned a very large chain of juice bars, I encountered many people who were essentially searching for the ‘Holy Grail’ of diets. They were susceptible to unhealthy fad diets and practices that were popular at any given time.
At the juice bars that I owned, we tried to teach and preach lifestyle changes that were sustainable over the long haul. We wanted to make healthy, highly nutritious products accessible and delicious. And it wasn’t cheap to do so. Our operations and production costs in big cities like New York made it very difficult to serve products at a price points that everyone would be comfortable with.
It’s a great milestone in a person’s life when he or she becomes committed to getting into their desired degree of physical conditioning. This takes considerable momentum along with good intentions. If you’re at that stage, that’s great. But having said that, I contend that anyone who’s at that point needs to pause and ensure that they’re not getting on an unwise health-related path that will lead to a bad destination.
Unfortunately, ‘quick fix, drop a few pounds’ diets are the rage in our culture. One reason is we have a binge and purge mentality regarding food: Even if either tendency is mild, not to the degree of being a bulimic disorder, we have tendencies to behave in such dietary mannerers. There are emotional and psychological components to why we use food addictively, leading to weight gain and other health issues over time.
So many in our society suffer from obesity. Suffering is the appropriate term; it’s a form suffering when you don’t love your body type, when you don’t feel good, and when you feel disconnected from your feelings.
Additionally, anxiety lingers in the background when we fear various diseases. And we might feel depressed because we are not at the weight that is right for our body. This isn’t an issue of judgment about beauty or vanity; it’s a question of what is healthy for your physical body and for your emotional realm.
The problem with us in modern society is that we have short attention spans and limited motivation. Even when the truth is right in front of us, and we’re given shovels for the task of digging ourselves out of the ruts we’re in, we resist.
It’s not just that we are lazy or incapable. It’s also that our highest, deepest subconscious mind has a tendency to encourage behaviors that we have ingrained in our cells since youth. There’s a deep belief that behaving in certain ways (dietary and otherwise) will keep us safe and connected to the things we wish to stay connected to. And for a time this belief may have served us. But a time comes when we have to let such beliefs go.
Certain behaviors stop serving us at certain points in our lives; we have to recognize this and then we have to create processes for letting such detrimental behaviors go. This is not easy, and we avoid doing it - we prefer quick fix, simple solutions. Many who create fad diets recognize this, and this is why fad diets are popular and profitable for their creators.
Please understand that I’m not trying to sell a particular diet. I just have a strong desire to share many truths I’ve learned about healthy dietary practices – things I’ve successfully applied to my own life and things that have been of tremendous benefit to many others.
The first step to a healthy dietary lifestyle destination is ‘soul searching.’ We have to recognize unhealthy dietary practices and patterns. We have to realize that they are disrupting our body chemistry and might be leading us toward disorders or diseases.
There are no free rides regarding your body chemistry. Every action you take will have an equal and opposite reaction. For every action you take will have a reaction – even if it’s far down the road.
A person who realizes this in youth might be considered to be enlightened. Generally speaking, the rest of us who suffer with food problems are doing because we’re walking paths that were shown to us by our ancestors, our parents, our society, or our friends.
A human’s first addiction will be towards anything that makes them feel good. And food makes us feel good, so immediately we will make emotional connections to all aspects of the eating experience. For us to recover, put ourselves back in a sustainable long-term position, and not fall back on unhealthy dietary practices, we have reprogram ourselves and reorganize our behaviors.
It is the case that the first detoxifications in a diet are often from foods that are very sumptuous. Some categories of unhealthy foods set up very strong cravings. For example, eating rich and heavy sauces make it difficult to transition to eating healthier, blander foods. So for a period of time we need to wean ourselves off of rich, heavy, creamy, overly salted, and/or sugary sauces.
We have to first imagine a scenario in which the sauces we might put on some of our foods are things that are plant-based and blended rather than cooked. These sauces have to be nutritionally intact - meaning not processed in a way that destroys their nutritional value.
Next, we have to learn how to control our appetite, sometimes needing to experience hunger for short periods. We have to learn how often to eat, and when we shouldn’t be eating. We have to learn what staple foods should be in our diet. And we have to have a ‘game plan’ on how we deviate for social events.
We have to prepare ourselves to let go of foods that have processed sugars, such as candies, cakes and other kinds of junk food. These foods are devoid of integrity. They fill us, but we are never full. We eat these foods, and because they’re empty they leave us searching for the next meal or something else to eat to make us feel happy.
The human diet should consist of a rainbow of plant-based foods. The option to have an entirely plant-based diet is available to anyone. But if your choice is to eat flesh foods in your diet, you must understand how your body can deal with this mistake. That’s correct – I’m stating that flesh foods in the human diet are a mistake. But the body is able to handle a percentage of dietary mistakes as long as you compensate for them.
My mentor had a “80/20 rule,” difficult to measure but useful as a concept. Specifically, is 80% of your diet was pristine, your body could handle about 20% of dietary mistakes. This concept would likely not be applicable for a person suffering with an illness. If you intend to include flesh foods in your diet, then you should eat the flesh foods with a large leafy green salad. And you should not combine animal protein with starchy vegetables or starches; doing so is a bad combination which will likely lead to indigestion.
The next thing we must understand is that when we’re feeling empty in some way, whether it’s caused by loneliness, lack of love, or anxieties, it’s likely that food will be the thing that anesthetizes us. It will make us feel all right for that moment while we’re eating, and maybe a bit afterwards when we feel numb. Food has the ability to ‘numb the nerve endings of anxiety,’ so to speak. That’s why we use food for emotional comfort.
There are optimal times of the day to eat. When we wake up on the morning we should begin with various cleansing processes such as drinking water, closed eye meditation, some form of exercise to warm up the body, and some practice that states our intention to recognize opportunities for gratitude in our life. All of this pertains to diet in an indirect way but it’s all interconnected if you take the holistic approach to self-improvement. You must recognize that these things cannot live independently of each other. The diet is the most fundamental aspect of life, and if our emotional world is in disarray it will be difficult to keep other facets of our life in control.
Human beings are not supposed to be grazing animals like cattle; our stomachs were not designed in the same manner. We’re not meant to be eating all day long in this type of lifestyle pattern because of fermentation or indigestion of food. This could lead to various gases leaking from the digestive system into the bloodstream. These types of gases cause inflammation on a cellular level, and chronic inflammation is the precursor to most diseases.
With that in mind, we should eat no more than three meals a day with one and a half snacks, We should leave plenty of time between meals before eating again we should feel a little hungry.
Intermittent fasting is a misnomer. It should just be called a lifestyle pattern of not eating all the time - but that doesn’t sell tickets. So we put a weird name on the practice of fasting. This confuses people, as most things in science confuse those who aren’t scientists.
Intermitting fasting is an excellent way to get control over your chemistry. Combined with other lifestyle changes, if you fast you will more than likely lose weight and improve your overall body chemistry in the process. The idea behind fasting is first and foremost not to eat all the time and also not to eat after sunset. You can eat upon waking, but more strict fasters will wait a few hours before they begin eating. The shorter the window of your fasting, the more your body chemistry has free reign over itself to clean up problems each day. (This is a very general description of things that are quite specific; one specific example is just allowing your body to release all gas pressure that comes from your dietary mistakes.
Usually when a person does intermittent fasts they change other important things in their diet for the better. So sometimes it’s hard to tell which single thing is making the biggest difference. But suppose you left your diet exactly the same way and just shortened the window regarding times between eating – e.g., 11 AM to 5 PM. If you ate the same number of calories and had the same level of activity, you would somehow slowly lose weight. It would not be because you were speeding up your metabolism. Some people think it would be because your metabolism, along with mechanisms of the body, would have a longer period of time each day to detox and heal.
That brings us to the next subject, the word “detox” as it pertains to the word “heal.”
Some in the medical profession get disgusted when they hear laymen use the word “detox.” II only say this because there are many naysayers who denounced the idea that you can take part in your own healing/detoxification process. Your body is actually detoxing 24 hours a day – it’s constantly removing toxins. The overall detox process, then, can be considered a healing process. Not the same healing process as recovering from a terrible illness, but a healing process that keeps us from becoming ill in the first place.
Our dietary and lifestyle patterns either impede our regular healing detox process or they enable it. You can spend decades trying to decide whether or not it’s true, or you can just work on it and get ahead of the game. I would never recommend that people do radical things to improve their body chemistry unless I knew of the truth or falsehood of those particular things. So I cannot tell a person to consume Superfoods as part of the detox and healing process unless there are extremely well-documented scientific studies backing them up. Studies can be carefully examined for their accuracy.
One thing is often missed or overlooked in diet books and other dietary information sources. Specifically, it’s what not to do – e.g., what foods you should not eat – regarding your dietary patterns. It seems so simple, but it astounds me the degree to which this is overlooked. Diet books are almost always focused on telling you what you should consume. There should be a great deal more information disseminated about what should be left out of the diet.
I was taught this by my mentor Fred Bisci, who practically invented this concept and made me a dedicated believer in it. There are very few people in the diet and wellness industries who have stated that concept so clearly, and I am dedicated to reinforcing that concept repeatedly through my business practices and my writing.
In a nutshell – please understand that there are no silver bullets or magic pills that will change your diet karma. I’m sorry if I seem to be the bearer of bad news. This is not my intention. Rather, I’m intending to bring concepts of grounded reality to this subject matter. The Keto diet, the Paleo diet, the Atkins diet, the Zone diet; they have some good points in them, but for the most part they are erroneous and intoxicating. A seriously ill person could die in the process of some of these dietary practices. Someone with cancer or any debilitating inflammatory disease would have disastrous results with a highly inflammatory diet.
Nothing is less inflammatory than water fasting and a plant-based moderate calorie diet with short daily durations of eating. Add to this no processed food, inclusion of green juices, fresh fruit juices, smoothies, lots of salads, plenty of exercise, lots of clean water, and elimination of stress-related lifestyle patterns.
Having said all this, it’s very admirable for a person to buy cookbooks and eat foods with recipes centered on living this type of lifestyle. But it’s necessary to do more in terms of getting to the root of the unhealthy emotional patterns that lead to poor eating practices. To effect positive, long term dietary lifestyle change, addressing emotional issues and making good choices about what to eat and what not to eat must be done simultaneously.