7 Small (But Powerful!) Steps You Can Take to Make ‘Go on a Diet’ Resolutions Obsolete

Here's a 7-step, action-filled toolkit to overcome overeating and weight gain. Without dieting.

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— By Deborah Kesten, VIP Contributor at Thrive Global

Losing weight and eating more healthfully are two of the top, most common New Year’s resolutions that millions make each year.1 It’s understandable. Overeating and weight gain have been problematic for many for many years. Add the coronavirus pandemic—and ensuing anxiety, depression, and loneliness—and many of us are overeating comfort food to cope. And we’re gaining weight.2

Yet, despite the best of intentions, once the glow of a fresh new year wears off, many people continue to struggle with overeating and being overweight. 

What if you never again need to make a New Year’s resolution to lose weight or “go on a diet” because your most-of-the-time way of eating empowers you to eat and weigh less throughout the year? The science-backed Whole Person Integrative Eating® (WPIE) program by nutrition researcher Deborah Kesten, MPH—author of this article—and behavioral scientist Larry Scherwitz, PhD, reveals that replacing the complex reasons you overeat with the elements of our scientifically sound Whole Person Integrative Eating® dietary lifestyle may make weight-loss resolutions obsolete.3-5

The premise of our pioneering Whole Person Integrative Eating program is simple yet powerful: Identify the reasons you overeat (your overeating styles) and gain weight with the illuminating WPIE self-assessment quiz5—then overcome overeating and lose weight by replacing your overeating styles with the antidotes: the elements of the Whole Person Integrative Eating program.3-5

WPIE Weight Rx: What-and-How You Eat

What’s also groundbreaking about our WPIE findings is this: It turns out that the fresh, whole food what-you-eat WPIE guideline is just one of seven (statistically significant) “ingredients” that lessen overeating and overweight. The six WPIE how you eat elements—positive emotions, moment-to-moment mindfulness, heartfelt gratitude, loving regard, pleasant atmosphere, and sharing fare—also up your odds of eating less and weighing less.


“If people follow the revolutionary [WPIE] program…it may be the most helpful step they can take toward losing weight and keeping it off,” says Kenneth Pelletier, MD, PhD, clinical professor of medicine at University of California School of Medicine, San Francisco.

The 7-Step, Action-Filled, WPIE Toolkit

Here are the seven what-and-how to eat ingredients of the Whole Person Integrative Eating® program that can inspire you to re-envision your relationship with food, eating and weight, so that each time you eat, ‘all of you’ is nourished—physically, but also emotionally, spiritually, and socially. The end result: You up your odds of eating less and weighing less…for life:

WHAT TO EAT WPIE GUIDELINE

#1. GET FRESH

What do the Mediterranean Diet and the Blue Zones diet of people who live into their 90s and 100s have in common? Plant-based foods (fruit, veggies, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds) with small (or no) servings of fresh, unprocessed animal-based foods (dairy, fish, poultry, meat) are the staples of both diets. The secret? The naturally occurring vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, fiber, antioxidants, and more, in plant-based foods help you stay slim and keep you and your microbiome (organisms that can protect against infection) balanced and healthy.

Plant-based foods are the opposite of the WPIE Fast Foodism overeating style (lots of processed, high-fat, high-sugar, high-salt food products) that leads to overeating and overweight and an imbalanced microbiome.

HOW TO EAT WPIE GUIDELINES

#2. POSITIVE EMOTIONS

If you turn to high-carb, high-fat, high-sugar food—especially when you experience negative emotions such as anxiety, depression, or anger—it’s likely you’re an emotional eater. Emotional Eating was the #1 WPIE overeating style that leads to overeating and overweight. The serotonin that’s released when you consume high-carb food products may be soothing for a while, but they don’t work for the long-term. Enjoying food when you’re filled with positive emotions (such as serenity, gratitude, hope) and you have a healthy appetite is the WPIE antidote to Emotional Eating.5

#3. MOMENT-TO-MOMENT MINDFULNESS

Do you ever eat while doing other things, such as working at your computer, watching TV, or while driving? The WPIE Task Snacking overeating style leads to eating more and weighing more. The WPIE antidote: Bring moment-to-moment nonjudgmental awareness to every aspect of the meal. Research reveals that bringing a “mindfulness consciousness” to meals lessens overeating6 and the way in which food is metabolized,7 and in turn your health…and waistline.

#4. HEARTFELT GRATITUDE

For centuries, human beings said prayers of gratitude over food. And they blessed the food before them. Today, prayers of appreciation for the nourishment food provides aren’t too typical. Instead, most of us have learned to relate to food with the WPIE Food Fretting overeating style, meaning, we are often over-concerned about the “best” way to eat. Or we diet, and count calories, carbs, or fat grams. The WPIE antidote to Task Snacking asks that we go from our head to our heart when we eat: Appreciate food and its origins—from the heart. This calls for being “other aware,” 8meaning, focusing your attention of your food, while feeling authentic, heartfelt gratitude.

#5. LOVING REGARD

For millennia, Eastern healing systems, such as India’s Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), perceived optimal nourishment based on whether the meal contained the 6 tastes: bitter, sweet, salty, sour, pungent, astringent—which is not typical of how most of us have learned to relate to food today.5 The WPIE Sensory Disregard overeating style wasn’t expected. We were surprised to discover that not taking the time to enjoy the colors, flavors, and the sensory elements of the dining experience lead to eating more and weighing more. The WPIE Rx for Sensory Disregard: Savor and “flavor” food with loving regard.9

#6. APPETIZING ATMOSPHERE

Both an emotional and aesthetic Unappetizing Atmosphere was another unexpected, surprising WPIE overeating style. This means that eating while, say, someone nearby is arguing; or you’re taking bites of your sandwich while pumping gas, the unpleasant emotional and surrounding environment may contribute to overeating and weight gain. The WPIE antidote: Eat in pleasing emotional and aesthetic surroundings.5

#7. SHARE FARE

Even before Covid and the ensuing lockdown lifestyle and social isolation, more and more of us were eating alone. The WPIE Solo Dining overeating style is quite a contrast to sitting around a fire while eating with our tribe; or enjoying fresh, homemade food with family and friends at a table. More and more research links eating alone with the Fast Foodism overeating style and obesity.10,11 The WPIE antidote: Share fare with others as often as possible. Given the work-at-home isolation that has become the norm for more and more of us, consider taking online food breaks or sharing virtual meals with friends, coworkers, or family members.

The takeaway

By shedding light on the root causes of overeating, Whole Person Integrative Eating® presents a program that empowers you with a personalized plan, and in turn new hope and new choices to help you reduce overeating, lose weight, and keep it off. 

To reap the rewards of WPIE:

#1. Discover your overeating styles by taking the “What’s Your Overeating Style? Self-Assessment Quiz.5

#2. Prioritize your overeating styles and decide which one you want to work on first. Start with what is important—and manageable—for you, personally.

#3. Put WPIE into action by practicing “The WPIE Guided Meal Meditation.” I created it to empower you to infuse each meal with all the ingredients of Whole Person Integrative Eating each time you eat,5 so you can up your odds of losing weight and keeping it off. 

Ask for support…

For help practicing the WPIE dietary lifestyle, please visit “Find a Certified WPIE Specialist”  at https://integrativeeating.com/specialists/ on www.IntegrativeEating.com.

References:

  1. Jamie Ballard, “Exercising and sticking to a healthy diet are the most common 2021 New Year’s resolutions,” YouGovAmerica, https://today.yougov.com/topics/lifestyle/articles-reports/2020/12/23/2021-new-years-resolutions-poll (Accessed December 30, 2021).
  2. Yuki Noguchi, “Obesity Rates Rise During Pandemic, Fueled by Stress, Job Loss, Sedentary Lifestyle, npr.com,    https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2021/09/29/1041515129/obesity-rates-rise-during-pandemic-fueled-by-stress-job-loss-sedentary-lifestyle (Accessed December 30, 2021)
  3. Larry Scherwitz and Deborah Kesten, “Seven Eating Styles Linked to Overeating, Over- weight, and Obesity,” Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing 1, no. 5 (2005): 342–59. 
  4. Deborah Kesten and Larry Scherwitz, “Whole Person Integrative Eating: A Program for Treating Overeating, Overweight, and Obesity,” Integrative Medicine: A Clinician’s Journal 14, no. 5 (October/November 2015): 42–50. 
  5. Deborah Kesten and Larry Scherwitz, Whole Person Integrative Eating: A Breakthrough Dietary Lifestyle for Treating Overeating, Overweight, and Obesity (Amherst, MA: White River Press, 2020).
  6. J. Daubenmier, G. Weidner, M. Sumner, N. Mendell, et al., “The Contribution of Chang- es in Diet, Exercise, and Stress Management to Changes in Coronary Risk in Women and Men in the Multisite Cardiac Lifestyle Intervention Program,” Annals of Behavioral Medicine 33 (January 2007) 57–68. 
  7. D. Morse and M. Furst, “Meditation: An In-depth Study,” Journal of the American Society of Psychosomatic Dentistry and Medicine 29, no. 5 (1982): 1–96. 
  8. Larry Scherwitz, “Type A behavior, self-involvement, and coronary atherosclerosis,” Psychosomatic Medicine 45, no.1 (1983): 47–57. 
  9. R. Nerem, J. Murina, J. Levesque, and J. Cornhill, “Social Environment as a Factor in Diet-Induced Atherosclerosis,” Science New Series 208, no. 4451 (1980): 1475–76.
  10. Y. Tani, N. Kondo, et al., “Combined effects of eating alone and living alone on un- healthy dietary behaviors, obesity and underweight in older Japanese adults: results of the JAGES,” Appetite 95 (December 2015): 1–8. 
  11. Choi Won-woo and Lee Ki-hun, “People Who Eat Alone More Vulnerable to Obesity,” Chosunilbo & Chosun.com, February 15, 2018, http://english.chosun.com/site/data /html_dir/2018/02/15/2018021500536.html. 
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