Since the original G.I. Diet was published ten years ago, over two million copies have been sold in twenty-three countries and seventeen languages, making it the most successful diet and health book in Canadian publishing history.
Perhaps our biggest surprise was both the quantity and quality of feedback from our readers—some 70,000 e-mails! While most of the e-mails talked about how successful the G.I. Diet has been for them, it has become increasingly clear that long-term success depends a great deal on people’s ability or willingness to change eating behaviours and lifestyle. The most common refrain was “Please don’t call this a diet; it’s a lifestyle change.”
What also has become apparent is the importance of how personality traits can influence people’s approach to food and their long-term success in making a permanent change to a healthy eating lifestyle.
A simple example: Think about how you approach a buffet: do you plunge in and overload your plate without a second thought? Or do you think, “I’ll make up for it tomorrow?” Perhaps you think it doesn’t matter: “No matter what I do, I’ll fail,” or you analyze the buffet table then carefully select minute, carefully calculated samples, worrying that you have the precise correct amount? Each of these approaches to that buffet suggests specific personality traits.
Whether you are impulsive, wishful, helpless or controlling, there is little you can do to change your personality. However, this book will help you identify your specific personality traits, examine how they contribute to eating behaviours, and outline how you can use this knowledge to your advantage and modify the potentially negative influences of these characteristics.
The original G.I. Diet promised that you wouldn’t go hungry or feel deprived; it is a plan that is simple, not time consuming, and promotes wellness and boosting energy levels. The new, revised G.I. Diet couples all these benefits with a personalitydriven guide to changing food behaviours to help make permanent weight loss even easier.
Please visit our website www.gidiet.com for the latest updates and details of all the other books in the G.I. Diet series including:
- The G.I. Diet Cookbook
with over 200 delicious green-light recipes.
- The G.I. Diet Guide to Shopping and Eating Out,
which conveniently fits into pocket or purse.
- The G.I. Diet Express
for busy people.
- A series of books based on e-clinics we conducted: The G.I.Diet Clinic
(directed at “big people”), The G.I. Diet Menopause Clinic
and the G.I. Diet Diabetes Clinic.
You may also contact us through our website; we very much look forward to receiving your comments or suggestions.
Rick and Ruth Gallop The Problem
While I was waging my personal battle of the bulge, I couldn’t help but be struck by the number of people who were engaged in the same struggle. The statistics are truly astonishing: over 60 percent of Canadian adults today are overweight. That’s more than double what it was only ten years ago. Even more worrying is the tripling of the obesity rate among children over the past twenty years. What’s happened to us? Why have we gained so much weight in recent years?
The simple explanation is that people are eating too many calories. Unless one denies the basic laws of thermodynamics, the equation never changes: consume more calories than you expend and the surplus is stored in the body as fat. That’s the inescapable fact. But that doesn’t explain why people today are eating more calories than they used to. To answer that question we must first understand the three key components of any diet—carbohydrates, fats and proteins—and how they work in our digestive system. Since fats are probably the least understood part, let’s start with them.
Fat is definitely a bad word these days, and it engenders an enormous amount of confusion and contradiction. But are you aware that fats are absolutely essential for a nutritious diet? They contain various key elements that are crucial to the digestive process.
The next fact might also surprise you: fat does not necessarily make you fat. The quantity you consume does. And that’s something that’s often difficult to control, because your body loves fat. Non-fat foods require lots of processing to be transformed into those fat cells around your waist and hips; fatty foods just slide right in. Processing takes energy, and your body hates wasting energy. It needs to expend about 20 to 25 percent of the energy it gets from a non-fat food just to process it. So your body definitely prefers fat, and as we all know from personal experience, it will do everything it can to persuade us to eat more of it. That’s why fatty foods like juicy steaks, chocolate and decadent ice creams taste so good to us. But because fat contains twice as many calories per gram as carbohydrates and proteins, we really have to be careful about the amount of fat we eat.
In addition to limiting how much fat we consume, we must also pay attention to the type of fat. While the type of fat has no effect on our weight, it is critical to our health—especially heart health.
There are four types of fat: the best, the better, the bad and the really ugly. The “bad” fats are called saturated fats, and they are easily recognizable because they almost always come from animal sources and they solidify at room temperature. Butter, cheese and meat are all high in saturated fats. There are a couple of others you should be aware of too: coconut oil and palm oil are two vegetable oils that are saturated, and because they are cheap, they are used in many snack foods, especially cookies. Saturated fats are a principal cause of heart disease because they boost cholesterol, which in turn thickens arteries and causes heart attack and stroke. And recent research has demonstrated that several cancers—breast, colon and prostate—as well as Alzheimer’s are associated with diets high in saturated fat.
Check your labels.
The “really ugly” fats are potentially the most dangerous. They are vegetable oils that have been heat-treated to make them thicken. These hydrogenated oils take on the worst characteristics of saturated fats, so don’t use them, and avoid snack foods, baked goods and cereals that contain them. Check the label for “hydrogenated oils,” “partially hydrogenated oils” or “trans fat.”
The “better” fats are called polyunsaturated, and they are cholesterol free. Most vegetable oils, such as corn and sunflower, fall into this category. What you should really be using, however, are monounsaturated fats, the “best,” which are found in olives, peanuts, almonds, and olive and canola oils. Monounsaturated fats have a beneficial effect on cholesterol and are good for your heart. (See chapter 13 for more information on cholesterol and heart disease.) Though fancy olive oils are expensive, you can get the same health benefits from reasonably priced house brands at your supermarket.
Olive oil is used extensively in the famed Mediterranean diet, which is also rich in fruits and vegetables. Because of their diet, southern Europeans have some of the lowest rates of heart disease in the world, and obesity is not a problem in those countries. So look for monounsaturated fats and oils on food labels. Most manufacturers who use them will say so, because they know it’s a key selling point for informed consumers.
Another highly beneficial oil, which is in a category of its own, contains a wonderful ingredient called omega-3. This oil is found in deep-sea fish such as salmon and in flax and canola seed. It’s extremely good for your heart health (see page 176). So we know that it’s important to avoid the bad and the really ugly fats and to incorporate the best fats in our diets to make our hearts healthy. Many of us have tried to lower our fat intake by using leaner cuts of meat and drinking lower-fat milk. But even with these modifications our fat consumption hasn’t decreased. Why? Because many of our favourite foods—like crackers, muffins, cereals and fast foods—contain hidden fats. Detecting them often seems to require an advanced degree in nutrition.
So we’re not eating less fat, but contrary to popular belief, neither are we eating more. Fat consumption in this country has remained virtually constant over the past ten years, while obesity numbers have doubled. Obviously, fat isn’t the culprit. What has increased is our consumption of grain. Grain is a carbohydrate, so let’s look at how carbohydrates work.
Unfortunately there is a great deal of misinformation in the marketplace about carbohydrates. Much of it stems from the recent low-carb diet fad, which would have you believe that if you stick to low-carb foods, you’ll lose weight. If only it were that simple. The reality is that you need carbs for a healthy diet and you shouldn’t avoid them. The key is to choose the right, or good, carbs, like fruit, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts and low-fat dairy products. These foods are the primary source of energy for your body, which converts them into glucose.
The glucose dissolves in your bloodstream and is diverted to those parts of your body that use energy, like your muscles and your brain. (It may surprise you to know that when you are resting, your brain uses about two-thirds of the glucose in your system!)