According to the American Psychological Association’s annual stress report, “Stress in America”, 42% of adults in the United States reported that they experienced unintended weight gain since the start of the pandemic. Due to the impact of ongoing pandemic-related stress, which includes but is not limited to postponing health services, trouble sleeping, parenting and educational concerns, the grieving process, and uncertainty about the future, citizens are having a difficult time finding ways to manage their health, including body weight and other wellness markers.
Physician and New York Times best-selling author, Dr. Michael Greger, the founder of the nonprofit organization NutritionFacts.org, explains, “Health is multi-faceted; adequate sleep, stress management, a healthy whole food plant-predominate diet, daily exercise, sufficient hydration, and a sense of community are all important components. The pandemic interfered with routines and simultaneously increased fear and uncertainty, therefore it had a significant impact on mental health in the United States and globally.”
It is commonplace for unsustainable diets and weight loss gimmicks to be marketed as the go-to way to achieve weight loss, especially to emotionally-vulnerable groups who are hoping to achieve fast results. But science suggests this approach is not long-lasting.
According to Dr. Greger, “Any diet that results in reduced calorie intake can result in weight loss. Dropping pounds isn’t so much the issue. The problem is keeping them off. A key difference between plant-based nutrition and more traditional approaches to weight loss is that people are encouraged, on plant-based diets, to eat ad libitum, meaning eat as much as they want. No calorie counting, no portion control. The strategy is to improve the quality of the food rather than restricting the quantity of the food.”
The ‘crowding out approach’ can be an effective strategy to reprioritize health goals and move towards eating more plant-based. This approach focuses on what foods and habits to add in to achieve a healthier lifestyle, rather than what needs to be taken away.
Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen, a list of healthy foods to consume daily, and accompanying 21 Tweaks list for weight loss support, can help individuals achieve the crowding out effect with the side benefit of natural and sustainable weight loss. The list includes foods, such as berries, cruciferous vegetables, and whole grains, and can be tracked daily with a free app available for Apple or Android devices.
“Permanent weight loss requires permanent dietary changes—healthier habits just have to become a way of life. And if it’s going to be life-long, you want it to lead to a long life. Thankfully, the single best diet proven for weight loss may just so happen to be the safest, cheapest way to eat, for the longest, healthiest life,” says Greger.
More information regarding evidence-based health can be found at www.nutritionfacts.org.