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Losing Weight Without Even Trying: An Unintentional (but welcome!) Side Effect

I did not start this diet to lose weight. But somewhere along the way I seem to have misplaced 20 pounds.

Twenty. Pounds. In three months!

Gone, without even trying.

I have not been counting calories. I have not been avoiding fat. (In fact, I eat more butter, cream, and whole milk now than I did before.) I have not been exercising. I eat all day long and never, ever let myself get hungry. I don’t spend a single second thinking things like “is this fattening” but just eat whatever sounds good to me at the time and is “legal” on this diet.

Did you catch everything in that last paragraph? Go back and read it again if you need to. Take a moment to be shocked. Think “but how can that be?!” It’s all true, I swear!

The only thing that is different is that I’m eating real, whole, natural foods. And, it seems, eating real, whole, natural foods has this great side effect of dropping the pounds. It’s been coming off gradually, at a rate of about 1-2 pounds a week. I assume that I’ll continue to lose weight until my body reaches the weight it’s supposed to be, and then it’ll even out. I’m guessing, based on my height, that that’ll be after another 10 pounds.

What this says to me is that my body is basically working now the way it’s SUPPOSED to. All the systems and hormones and whatnot are healthy and happy, and as a result I’m not only feeling better, but I’m looking better too.

Pictures always illustrate things better than words in cases like this, but I don’t really have any good “before” pictures because – as I said – weight loss wasn’t remotely on my mind when I started this. So I’ve had to just pick the best I could find from old snapshots to get front and profile “before” pictures. Here they are.

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And after….

IMG_4901 IMG_4898

And here’s the thing….While I do occasionally have a craving for something I used to eat (as seen in the disastrous peppermint bark debacle), I feel in general completely satisfied. I make sure to have lots of yummy, filling, satiating foods handy at all times, and as long as I don’t let myself get hungry I’m perfectly happy about it.

After all, these are the kinds of things I’ve been eating:

rib roast creamed chicken chocolate ice cream IMG_1776 banana bread with chocolate pb IMG_1914 raw apple pie  IMG_1594 baked cookie smoothie cauliflower soup cooked stew IMG_1272 - Version 2 milkshake chocolate chip cookie apples

I don’t seem to be very deprived, do I?

So, while I don’t at all recommend doing this diet for weight loss purposes (it’s a lifestyle change based on wanting to be healthy, not skinny), this is a very nice side effect. I thought I’d detail some of the reasons I think this has worked, and some of the things I’ve been doing that I think has helped. Maybe they can help others too.

1. Early on I made a habit of replacing one meal a day with a Super Smoothie. I did this mainly because it was easy, I knew it was nutritious, and I found it easier to stay on the diet if I didn’t have to think too hard about what to eat. “It’s lunch – time for a smoothie” is much easier than “It’s lunch – what on earth should I eat?”

2. I switched to eating only butter, coconut oil, and olive oil as cooking fats, and completely eliminated all vegetable oils. We’ve been conditioned to believe that vegetable oils are healthy, when in fact they’re not. A recent study found that diets high in omega 6 fatty acids (like vegetable oils) increases appetite and leads to obesity.

3. I completely eliminated sugar and refined flours from my diet. In the first month and a half, I was very strict about avoiding all sweeteners at all, but now I will occasionally have treats sweetened with maple syrup, honey, or coconut sugar. This excellent article gives a great description of the role insulin in our bodies plays in weight gain, and as long as we have sugar and refined flours in our diet we have insulin in our blood stream. Reducing the amount of insulin our bodies have to produce results in our bodies burning fat for energy!

4. I use real, whole, satisfying, filing ingredients in the foods I eat. I smear pasture butter on top of browned butter banana bread. I eat Homemade Nutella and bananas with a large glass of whole milk. I have pastured eggs and meat. I use filling whole grain spelt and nut flours. As a result, I find I need less to feel satiated. Using good, wholesome ingredients results in me eating less.

5. I keep tempting, satisfying foods I’m allowed to eat on hand and easily accessible at all times. For me, this means homemade nutella, banana bread, fruit salads, stewed apples, and cold left-over meats. I make huge batches of Homemade Nutella and banana bread, because I find that to be an incredibly satisfying snack. If I have to work to find something satisfying, I’m much more likely to cheat.

6. I’ve noticed a pattern between the rate of weight loss and what I’m eating. If I stay clear of all sweeteners and refined carbs, I steadily lose weight. If I have a couple maple syrup- or honey-sweetened treats in a week, my weight stays the same. If I cheat and have sugar or refined flours, I gain a pound or two. Noticing this helps me know what to do to stay on track.

7. I don’t have cravings to overeat when I only eat treats with natural, whole sweeteners. I’m able to eat something and completely enjoy it, but not feel the need for more when I’m done. For example, when I eat the chocolate pudding ice cream, which is one of the most delicious things I’ve eaten in my whole life, one or two moderate scoops is more than enough. I’m in bliss while I eat it, but I can easily say no to more. I find that the uncontrollable “I have to have more!” feeling is something that goes along with refined flours and sugars, and when I cheat with one of them (ahem…see again the peppermint bark debacle) it’s really hard to stop myself from having more than I should.

So, eating on this diet does not have to make you feel deprived, and losing weight doesn’t either! Once you shift your thinking around to using different ingredients and foods, and once you start keeping different foods on hand, it’s really easy to completely enjoy eating, and be healthy, and lose weight at the same time. That sounds like some sort of miracle, but it’s true! So if you’re struggling with a sugar addiction (as pretty much everyone is), be encouraged that after you get through withdrawal, not only will you feel and look better than ever, but you’ll also still be able to love food. You just have to get used to thinking differently about food, but it’s worth it!

(This post is part of the Real Food Wednesday and Fight Back Friday blog carnivals.)

2 thoughts on “Losing Weight Without Even Trying: An Unintentional (but welcome!) Side Effect

  1. elaine

    Hi~ Found you at KKK Real Food Wednesday and have really enjoyed your blog. I have to say, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen a recipe that inspired me, but I found FOUR right here on your blog! I can’t wait to try the Creamed Chicken over Mashed Potatoes and Hungarian Beef Stew — I’m slobbering just thinking about it! I totally agree with your philosophy of having good food available … that is my downfall and you have really inspired me to get in the kitchen and stock my frige with some delicious food! Thanks~

    1. Rachel Post author

      I’m so happy you’ve gotten some inspiration here! Because, after all, that’s kind of the whole point! Thanks for letting me know. :)

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