Eat Your Way to Happiness, by Elizabeth Somer, MA, RD, is a fun read that is packed with good nutrition advice. There is no doubt our lifestyle and food choices can affect our mood. However, with my newfound Health at Every Size approach to health, I’m skeptical that this book will make you “blissfully thin,” a term to which the book constantly alludes. I think that self-acceptance, combined with the habits promoted in the book, will make you blissful at weight that’s healthy for you.
Nevertheless, I highly recommend this book for it’s terrific nutrition advice and explanation of how food affects our mood. Some of my favorite nutrition “secrets” in this book are:
- Eat Real 75% of the Time: “Eating real” means choosing foods that are as close to their natural form as possible, with minimal processing and refinement.
- Follow the 1-2-3 Rule for Breakfast:
- One to three servings of a quality, high-fiber carbohydrate
- Two servings of fruits or vegetables
- One protein or dairy
- Choose High Quality Carbs: As in whole grains, not refined.
- Adopt the 6% Solution: Aim for only 6% of your total calories to come from added sugar. Not 25%, which is where the average American is at right now. For a 2000-calorie diet, 6% translates to 30 grams (2 Tablespoons) of added sugar. This does not include sugar found naturally in fruit or dairy, so eat plenty of these!
- Sprinkle it with Super Mood Foods: Amp up your already healthy diet by sprinkling in some “super mood foods.” These include:
- Leafy greens
- Nuts and legumes
- Dark orange veggies
- Berries and citrus fruits
- And many more!
- The One Habit Your Must Embrace to Be Happy, Fit and Healthy: Exercise. Period. According to Somer, "Nothing you do will have as big an impact on your weight, as well as your mood and health both today and in the future, as exercise.” Exercise gives you a natural endorphin rush, boosts self-confidence, fights fatigue, soothes stress and enhances sleep, all which lead to improved mood.
Learn more at the book’s website: Eat Your Way To Happiness. Also available on Amazon.
Eat Your Way to Happiness Video
I recently finished reading Health at Every Size by Linda Bacon, PhD. Bacon agues that promoting weight loss is ineffective in improving health over the long-term. According to the book:
- The vast majority of dieters regain their weight. There is no method proven effective for weight loss maintenance.
- Research is emerging showing that fitness, not fatness, is associated more strongly with health and longevity (1,2,3).
- Preoccupation with weight can be psychologically damaging and may lead to disordered eating (4,5).
- People of any size can improve their health and reduce their risk of chronic disease by eating healthfully and being physically active, regardless of whether or not they lose weight (6,7)
- No study has ever shown that weight loss actually prolongs life.
The Health at Every Size (HAES) approach emphasizes:
- Self-acceptance regardless of weight, size, or shape
- Physical activity for enjoyment and enhanced quality of life
- Normalized eating in response to physiologic hunger and fullness cues rather than external guidelines or rules
- An approach to healthy living that does not necessarily involve weight loss for overweight individuals
With the HAES approach, the fundamental principles of nutrition remain the same. It’s still important to eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and unsaturated fats from mostly unprocessed sources. It’s still important to eat breakfast and drink water. If you follow these guidelines and lose weight, that’s fine. But if you follow these guidelines and don’t lose weight, that just may be fine too. What are your thoughts on HAES?
For additional information on HAES, check out:
Also check out this short clip by the Surgeon General, emphasizing a Health at Every Size approach:
- Barlow CE, Kohl HW, Gibbons LW, Blair SN. Physical fitness, mortality and obesity. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 1995;19(suppl4):S41-S44.
- Church TS, Cheng YJ, Earnest CP, et al. Exercise capacity and body composition as predictors of mortality among men with diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2004;27:83-88. Abstract
- Katzmarzyk PT, Church TS, Janssen I, Ross R, Blair SN. Metabolic syndrome, obesity, and mortality: impact of cardiorespiratory fitness. Diabetes Care. 2005;28:391-397. Abstract
- Gaesser GA. Big Fat Lies. Carlsbad, Calif: Gurze Books; 2002.
- Campos P. The Obesity Myth: Why America’s Obsession With Weight Is Hazardous to Your Health. New York: Gotham Books; 2004.
- Barnard RJ, Jung T, Inkeles SB. Diet and exercise in the treatment of non insulin dependent diabetes. Diabetes Care. 1994;17:1469-1472. Abstract
- Tremblay A, Despres JP, Maheux J, et al. Normalization of the metabolic profile in obese women by exercise and a low fat diet. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1991;23:1326-1331. Abstract