You know what I find funny? When an eating program claims to be a lifestyle change, but yet has the word “diet” in its title. Don’t get me wrong, diet has many different meanings. It can be used to talk about your actual eating intake overall, or used interchangeably when talking about food and nutrition. But, more times than not, the word diet is referring to an eating structure that displays many rules and restrictions.
That’s what Dr. Fuhrman’s Nutritarian Diet plan is all about – rules, restrictions and really bad ideas. The description of this diet is spun in a way that makes it sound like you are eating just whole foods and working on serving sizes. Sounds like the healthy route for weight loss, right?
But here’s the kicker – the list of foods that are off limits leaves you with basically just fruits, vegetables and nuts and seeds. The only way you will be successful with this program is by eating 1 large salad a day and focusing on fueling your body with micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) versus macronutrients (carbs, protein and fat) because they have less calories. Oh also, snacking is completely 100% out of your life.
The Dr. Fuhrman Plan: One Size Fits All
Let’s break it down. So what foods can and cannot be incorporated in your new Nutritarian diet plan? I will say, the one thing going for Dr. Fuhrman’s philosophy about food is his diet is focused on eating nutrient dense foods in proper servings. Eating whole foods to pump your body up with vital nutrition is always going to be the best way to eat, not only for weight loss, but for overall health, in my eyes. What his eating structure lacks is whole rounded nutrition and flexibility.
Break out the Calculator
The Nutritarian food pyramid (though, not sure who still uses a food pyramid today, as he compares it to the nonexisting USDA food pyramid) breaks down each food group approved by the diet, and how much should be consumed each day. The largest group in Dr. Fuhrman’s weight loss plan is vegetables, taking up 30-60% of your daily calories. One half of your vegetables should be raw, while the other half should be cooked, in zero fat I might add. Next up is fruit, consuming 10-40% of your daily calories, as well as beans/legumes being 10-40%. Seeds, nuts and avocados follow suit at 10-40% as well. Then, restrictions come into play with whole grains and potatoes needing to be 20% or less of daily calories. Followed by eggs, oil, fish, wild/naturally raised animal products and dairy limited to less than 10% of calories. Lastly, no commercially raised meats, sweets, cheese or processed foods.
That’s a lot of calculating what to eat at each meal. Again, the breakdown of the food starts off strong, focusing on nutrient dense categories and adjusting serving sizes. But the restrictions can turn out to be a never ending list, making dieters feel deprived and frustrated. We’ll get to those feelings in a minute.
A Salad a Day Does NOT Keep Pounds Away
As mentioned before, along with the list of approved and banned foods, it is recommended that people following Dr. Fuhrman’s weight loss plan eat 1 large salad a day when trying to lose weight. AKA, eating as many low calorie items as you can to suppress your hunger. Don’t get me wrong, salad can be an excellent way to rack in vital nutrients. But being forced to eat one a day not only sounds like it will get really boring, it also leads to missing out on getting that nutrition from a variety of sources. Vitamin K is not found only in kale and lettuce, you know. Also, the salad dressings can contain no oil. Just so we’re clear, the purpose of salad dressings is to add a source of fat to your meal. Yes, there are dressings out there, such as cream based, that contain lots of unnecessary ingredients, adding saturated fat and calories to the dish. But oil based dressings provide healthy fats your body needs to control cholesterol levels for heart health. This idea of you have to have a salad a day in order to achieve a healthy lifestyle is exactly what is wrong with the diet industry. The public is set to believe salads are the only way to be healthy, when really, more times than not, they add more calories to your day and you’re hungry in an hour.
What is a G-BOMB?
The main foods that should be incorporated as much as possible are G-BOMBS. This made-up Nutritarian category consists of greens, beans, onions, mushrooms, berries and seeds. The idea behind these foods is they are the “anti-cancer superfoods” of the earth. Superfood, another diet trigger word that makes you feel you’re doing your body right. These foods are chock full of optimal nutrition. But again, getting a va-ri-e-ty of foods gives your body the chance to have a well rounded, nutrient dense life – and that’s not happening on Dr. Fuhrman’s weight loss plan.
Don’t Even Think About Snacks
On top of all the foods you can and cannot eat comes the timing of your consumption. Snacking is a prohibited act for followers of Dr. Fuhrman’s Nutritarian plan. You are only to eat at meal times. The biggest kicker, there needs to be at least 13 hours between your last meal of the day and your first meal the next day. Allegedly, this will allow your body to participate in the “fat-burning” catabolic stage of digestion. If your last meal is around 6:00pm, and you don’t go to bed until 11 or 12:00, I don’t know about you, but I’d go to bed pretty hungry. What is satisfying about that?
Dieting and Emotions: A Recipe for Disaster on Dr. Fuhrman’s Plan
So after combining fat-burning foods, calculating out the right ratios and portions, making sure each meal incorporates G-BOMBS and you time your meals perfectly, you will definitely begin to experience headaches, feelings of unwell and probably lots of depriving, frustrating emotions. Yes, this program actually warns you of the irritability feelings and upset stomachs you will experience. Sounds like a blast, right? It is suggested you will feel this way in the first couple of weeks because you are riding your body of all the “toxins” from all those banned foods. Funny, thought that was the role our livers played?
Going through stages of deprivation, as mentioned above, is what drives dieters to throw in the towel. Most people don’t make it to the “metabolism ramping, energizing, feeling good phase”. Why? Because changing your eating habits drastically overnight teaches you nothing but deprivation. Yes, there are some foods that should be eaten in limited quantities to maintain weight and have a healthy life. But easing into proper serving sizes of those foods, sets you up for success.
Noom: Time to Thrive!
A place where you can still enjoy your favorite treats and snacks, while losing weight – does that exist? I am here to tell you it does! Noom does not pry on telling app users what they can and cannot eat every single day. Noom thrives on the fact that you can learn how to enjoy your favs in a more healthful, mindful way!
Nothing is Off Limits
First of all, there’s no lists. No approved foods, no banned foods, no rules on meal times or what foods must be present at every meal. There’s just living. By logging your food in the app, you’re able to analyze areas you need a little extra help. Finding what foods you eat at different times of the day, how emotions play a role in your decisions, what serving sizes your body reacts to and so much more. Breaking down the food into red, yellow and green categories opens up the idea of calorie density and making sure you are getting a variety of food each day. There’s that key word again – variety. Eating a salad every single day won’t magically help you lose weight, and it will definitely get old. Noom encourages clients to eat a little bit of everything!
Support in the Palm of Your Hand
The other great component about logging in the app is that you are not the only one analyzing and guessing about how you are progressing. With the support of a goal specialist, your coach is able to follow along with you in your journey. This coach’s role guides you to create goals on a weekly basis. By doing so, that big daunting goal of losing a certain amount of weight, gets broken down into smaller, achievable goals to help ease the stress and anxiety of the overall one. It is the small changes that add up to big success.
Along with a goal specialist comes the group interaction of the app. Not only are you paired with 1 coach, but a second one comes along to bring daily interaction with other Noomers. That’s right; support and encouragement is right at your fingertips. Interacting with other app users gives you the chance to really connect on the successes and challenges of this journey. The group coach’s role is to help facilitate those interactions by posting fun challenges, conversation starters and educating the group on relevant topics. Many Noomers have found the group to be that missing puzzle piece in other weight loss programs. This unique feature will celebrate your wins and pick you up when you fall, all while having fun!
Education Beyond the Scale
With the encouragement and support from coaches and other Noomers comes the educational piece of the app. Noom’s daily content takes you on a journey about learning your body’s needs. Each person is very different, and not everyone loses weight the same way. What works for some, will not work for all. Noom is not a one-size-fits-all program like most others, including Dr. Fuhrman’s Nutritarian diet plan. This curriculum is backed by science and written in a way that will engage you to want to learn. The whitty content is jam packed with facts about nutrition, physical activity, hydration, sleep and so many other topics that you’d never even think impact your weight. Educating yourself on various topics that influence weight not only will help you reach your goals, but set you up for long term success of maintaining that goal weight.
Nutritarian Nonsense or No-Limits-Noom?
Now let’s recap and weigh the options. You can either spend your days indulging in the same meals over and over and depriving yourself of your favorite foods. Or, you can find ways to incorporate those items into your life in a mindful way that fights feelings of deprivation. Which will you choose? Remember, one good meal will not conquer your goal, just like one bad meal won’t completely derail your entire progress.
Weight loss is an intimidating, vulnerable task. Without the proper guidance and support, those negative feelings will consume you and steer you off course. Learning what your body truly needs and how it responds to different scenarios won’t only help you right now, but in the future as well. Weight loss does not happen overnight, just like eating habits don’t change overnight. Dr. Fuhrman’s Nutritarian diet claims to be a lifestyle change, but what is a life without enjoyment of food? A lifestyle is about having flexibility, fun and forgiveness. Had a salad for lunch? Good for you! Had some fries with dinner? Don’t sweat it! We’re only human, we all have good days and bad days. It’s about learning how to prevent turning those bad days into weeks, months or even years. Throw those G-BOMBS out the window and bring variety back into your life!
What are you waiting for?
Lose weight for good
Author: Maggie Hudspeth, RDN