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Bill Phillips Weighs In On Eating Right For Life

By Mike Falcon, Spotlight Health
With medical adviser Stephen A. Shoop, M.D.

With renewed resolve, millions of American's are once again chanting their annual January "D"-word mantra, restricting their calories in a tortuous attempt to shed pounds. But fitness guru Bill Phillips says their faith is misplaced.

"I don't believe in diets," states Phillips, who has helped millions of readers lose weight and get fit through his best-selling Body for Life books. "The premise of dieting is that you'll find a certain plan or certain metabolic 'trick' that will allow you to succeed in this war against food. The trouble with this is that food is not your enemy. You cannot win a fight with food or banish it, because you will always need it."

In his newest book, Eating for Life, Phillips details why diets don't work, establishes a simple eating plan, and provides klutz-proof recipes for appealing, nutritious meals.

The facts support Phillips' anti-diet philosophy.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, over 95% of people who begin a weight-loss diet each year regain their pre-diet weight or put on more pounds. Despite the availability of more fitness clubs, exercise programs, special diet foods, and information than ever before, one can only wonder why Americans aren't achieving better results.

Phillips says the only thing dieting is good for is to sustain a growing $40-billion weight-loss industry.

That's really bad news for Americans because:

  • Almost two-thirds of US adults, about 130 million people, are overweight, according to data from the 1999-2000 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

  • The number of obese individuals, those who are overweight and carry unusually large and dangerous amounts of body fat, has risen to 30.9% in 2000, according to the same survey. That's more than double the 13.3% seen in 1960.

  • In 1991, only four states saw obese people making up 15% of the population, and none had more than 16%. In 2000, every state except Colorado has obesity rates of more than 15%, with 22 having rates of 20% or more.

These statistics combined with the legions of people who diet without sustainable weight loss forecast pitiful success in improving our waistlines or our health.

"I'm not a big fan of the saying, 'where there's a will, there's a way,'" Phillips observes. "The tenacity of dieters who come back again and again to diets that are supposed to work and help them lose weight, but do not, is proof that where there is will, the right way may or may not surface."

Food Facts

If we're not going to diet, how can we lose weight and become more fit?

"It's a lifestyle," states Phillips, who languished 30 pounds overweight for years before developing his Body for Life program. "If you can't live the lifestyle, it's just not going to be sustained. Theory is great, but if you can't comfortably live the program, it just remains theory."

Phillips' "lifestyle" is not a landscape of scarily small salads adorned with an eensy-teensy slice of some esoteric tropical fruit. Quite the contrary, the fundamental dynamic underlying Phillips' lifestyle is diametrically opposed to starvation-style dieting.

According to Phillips, any healthy nutritional program must embrace two concepts: the enjoyment inherent in eating and eating often.

While more frequent eating is counterintuitive to a person trying to lose weight, Phillips says it is a critical component of an interdependent four-step program he calls FACTs. These include:

Foods - Phillips emphasizes that fats, carbohydrates, protein, and water all need to be consumed in a successful lifestyle plan. "We have yet to see the end result of diets where people are, in essence, given a life sentence without certain foods," Phillips says, "but we know that the vast majority of people on these diets cannot sustain the programs, and feel emotionally and physically miserable as well."

Amounts - Americans have actually been conditioned to demand large amounts of unhealthy, fattening foods because of our pervasive dieting and fast food culture, notes Phillips. "Eating smaller, balanced, easy-to-prepare foods more often is one of the best ways to steer clear of the fast-food feeding frenzy that occurs when you've neglected a meal and are ravenous enough to throw caution to the winds."

Combinations - Phillips has reduced meal plans to a protein source and a carbohydrate food at each small meal, accompanied by vegetable at least twice a day. "There's a lot more to nutrition than simply cutting out one component, like carbohydrates," Phillips says.

Times - Phillips suggests five or six small meals a day in order to deter hunger and, more importantly, burn fat. This concept is supported by research at Georgia State University and a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. "These are not snacks, but small balanced meals that really satisfy," he emphasizes.

Proof in the Pudding

Since many people just don't know how to quickly prepare attractive, satisfying, healthy fare, Phillips has detailed 240 pages of simple, easy-to-prepare recipes.

"They have to be truly satisfying on a number of levels if we're really going to make a lifestyle change," Phillips explains. "Most importantly, they have to be 'doable' by people just like you and me because examples that stay examples -- rather than becoming a part of someone's lifestyle -- are valueless if they haven't closed the gap between dream and reality."

Part of the lifestyle challenge is that many yo-yo dieters simply never learned to cook well, notes Phillips. Consequently, he spent two years creating and refining the recipes in this book so that "people who don't know how to really feed themselves or who don't normally cook could see appealing nutritious foods and then easily prepare them in a limited amount of time."

Towards that end, here are some of Phillips' tasty and satisfying substitutions for those foods we usually can't live without:

  • A gravy-drenched turkey meatloaf and potatoes dinner that keeps "bad" fats at bay
  • A mouth-watering, thick and creamy malted milk shake that uses real malt -- taboo in some diet plans.
  • A low-fat strawberry cheesecake that looks and tastes amazingly like the full-fat version we've been craving since January 1st.
  • A protein-rich butterscotch pudding that proves that preparation ease, satisfying taste, and good nutritional values are entirely compatible.

"What I wanted was for people to realize that a successful, satisfying, nutritious way to eat is something anyone can accomplish," Phillips says. "I didn't want them to rely on 'faith' or 'will.' I wanted them to have a plan that details just what you do and shows how easy it is to do just that. I wanted to show them precisely how to succeed."

Spotlight Health is the leading creator of celebrity-featured health-issue awareness campaigns, connecting consumers with impassioned celebrities whose personal health battles can open eyes, dispel myths and change lives. Spotlight Health helps sufferers and caregivers meet the challenges of difficult health circumstances with understandable, in-depth medical information, compassionate support and the inspiration needed to make informed healthcare choices.

Created: 1/10/2004  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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