“My 600-lb Life” is one of those shows that I watch when I’m flipping around the channels and always manage to get sucked in and end up watching like 5 in a row. Dr. Younan Nowzaradan aka Dr. Now doesn’t put up with anyone’s sh*t! He knows when you’ve been sneaking fast food and he’s not afraid to call out the spouses or family members for enabling (because many of the patients featured are too heavy to be mobile and get their own bad food). It’s compelling TV although I think part of me watches it as a cautionary tale because I have a relative on one side of my family who is extremely obese and I worry about genetics as well as how easy it is to pack on pounds if you let it get away from you.
Dr. Now says obesity is "a worldwide epidemic" that affects nearly one third of the earth's population. "The Scale Does Not Lie, People Do" talks about the many different factors that cause weight gain and gives his diet advice. There aren’t many reviews out since the book is new, but some praise the advice as sound while others complain the book is too short and repetitive. Here’s Dr. Now’s 22 diet tips.
1. It’s genetic - Obesity is caused by several things, but can mostly be attributed to a genetic predisposition, combined with epigenetics, which is affected by the environment, Dr. Now says. Basically, you may be predisposed to gain weight thanks to your genes and to make it even worse, some genes may express themselves based on your environment and experiences.
2. Economics play a part - This isn’t discussed as much as it should be, but fast food is cheap. Healthy food often isn’t. If you are poor, you aren’t going to waste money on organic fruits and vegetables or grass-fed beef.
3. Remember "FAT" - FAT stands for Frequency, Amount of food and Type of food. Don’t eat so often, practice portion control, and make good choices. It’s the sensible advice he gives on the show.
4. Frequency - Limit your eating to two or three times a day. As a grazer, this has been one of my struggles, especially at night. Keto does make me more satisfied so I’ve learned to just not keep snackable foods like cheese around.
5. Snacking - Avoid snacking - there is no such thing as healthy snacks! I think a lot of people will struggle with this because snacking is so ingrained in American culture and we’ve often been told to eat a bunch of small meals throughout the day. The problem is that many people aren’t eating small snacks. They’re just eating regular meals or high-calorie “snacks” that just add weight in the end.
6. Stay from sugary drinks - I’ve never had much of a sweet tooth and I grew up drinking Diet Coke in my family (caffiene-free Diet Coke is absolutely the most useless beverage on earth) so I never developed a real taste for soda, but I did go through a juice phase in college where I was drinking tons of orange juice and other juices, but they are just so full of sugar!
7. Amount of food - Limit the amount of calories per meal. If you’re eating three meals a day, eat 400 calories at every sitting. Two meals a day should be 600 calories per meal. This is what I aim for while doing Keto. While people often say you don’t need to track calories on low carb or keto, I find that I lose weight best when I do track what I’m eating.
8. Numbers are your friend - Always read the calorie content of the food or look it up on the web. You will be surprised what a difference this can make. Now, I check if I don’t know because there are tons of foods that may seem okay but actually aren’t! PF Changs has a bunch of choices that seem okay because they are just meat and vegetables but when you look up the numbers, they are super high in carbs thanks to sauces. Starbucks was a big one for me because I would choose the “skinny” mocha or caramel macchiato, but they’re still full of sugar. On my most recent trip, I switched to the Cold Brew with just cream or just a coffee where I’d add my own cream.
9. Type of foods - Eat healthy types of foods that are low in carbohydrates and low in fat, but high in protein. This is pretty basic advice and I’d argue a bit that higher fat helps keep you satiated, but for the patients Dr. Now is dealing with, this is probably a big enough change.
10. Fiber is your friend - Include fiber in your diet. It helps with digestion. I have noticed a difference in my weight loss since I have added the high fiber, low carb GG Crackers to my diet.
11. Stay away from fads - For the most part, I agree. Some people say Keto is a fad, although keto and low carb in general are more ways of eating that are a lifestyle change. Things like the Cabbage Soup Diet may be more fad-ish because once you stop the diet, you’re back to eating the way you were before.
12. Avoid restrictive diets - Diets that restrict food choices are temporary solutions to permanent problems. I get what he’s saying here. At some point, you’ll be faced with a birthday cake or whatever so avoiding things like carbs aren’t offering a permanent solution. However, I think people who are leading a keto or low carb (or even vegetarian) lifestyle, are just choosing to avoid that one aspect (whether it’s carbs or meat or whatever). For me, weight loss has ALWAYS involved some sort of restriction of foods. You can’t get to your goals doing what you have been doing.
13. Exercise - Even with limited mobility, there are exercises you can do. Many of Dr. Now’s patients start with limited walking and work up to walking longer and longer.
14. Concerning numbers - Obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes were the most chronic health problems affecting county residents where Dr. Now is based.
15. Secretly unhealthy - Some foods that many believe are “healthy” actually aren’t. Most fruits are actually very high in sugar. I remember talking to a guy at the gym who was eating like 20 fruits a day and was complaining that he wasn’t losing weight and I was like “dude, you are eating over 2000 calories just in fruit” not to mention how much sugar that was. He probably would have eaten less calories and carbs by having 1 cupcake a day versus 20 fruits!
16. The scale doesn't lie. People do - Weigh yourself once a week, to avoid disappointment when your weight fluctuates every day. The scale is the best indicator for whether you’re on track. It’s best to do it naked, first thing in the morning at the same hour each time. I follow this advice although I do weigh every day. I only “count” my weekly weigh-in though and I pick one day to be the official weigh-in day.
17. Put down the sweets - Avoid high sugar foods, such as sugar, candy, cookies, cake, and donuts. I’ve never struggled with sweets but I know many people who do!
18. Honesty is the best policy - Be honest about the calories you’re consuming. I know I have a tendency to underestimate the amounts of food I eat. Tracking your food as you eat it is a way of being honest about what’s going in.
19. Watch calories - The best way to maintain healthy eating is to choose your own diet that includes the foods you love, but still accounts for caloric intake. I agree that you need to find a way to eat the foods you love, whether it’s portion control or finding substitutes like zoodles for pasta. Some people, like my girlfriend, can do a diet where they may save up calories so they can have pizza at night. For me, that doesn’t work as well because I get hungry and would rather eat normal meals than save up for one “splurge” meal.
20. Vitamin power - Take daily vitamins. I make sure to take a multivitamin as well as Super B Complex, which helped when I had aura migraines due to stress. I kept taking them because I feel good when I do!
21. It's not easy - Sadly, there is no magic pill, no miracle diet, and no easy fix. It comes down to finding a plan that you can stick with and just sticking to it!
22. Take accountability - Dr. Now says, "it's our own responsibility to understand what the problems are and what the solutions are.” I think a lot of people avoid taking responsibility for their weight gain and loss and put too much blame on outside factors. You have to take a hard look at the reasons why you gained weight and work to fix those reasons. In some cases, they’re emotional. I know I am an emotional eater if given the chance so I work to find other ways to handle stress that don’t involve food. If you have medical issues keeping you from losing weight, it’s important to work with a doctor to see if you can get those under control instead of just feeling like it’s pointless. I think that’s the part that people often get mad at Dr. Now for - he makes them take responsibility for their own health and choices. He can come off as a bit of a curmudgeon, but you can tell he does care deeply for his patients and wants them to succeed.
So there you go! I agree with a lot of Dr. Now’s advice with a few exceptions that I personally have had different experiences, but overall, these are good general guidelines for anyone wanting to lose weight.