The Diet That Has Just One Rule: A Doctor Explains

There's a lot of overpowering, contradictory information out there about diet. Too many carbs? Not enough protein? Should I read labels? I shouldn't count calories?

People become so overwhelmed with information that they tend to revert to their old habits.

That's why I've devised this one-rule diet. Well ... I wouldn't call it a diet. It's more like an eating concept that has just one rule:

Avoid hyper-palatable (or HP) foods.

Before I get into the details, let me start with the fact that some foods create neurochemical, biological, and addictive responses similar to drugs.

Food companies have gotten hold of this data and manipulated foods so that you eat more, feel less satisfied, and get addicted. Gaining weight is sometimes linked to losing our internal sensors of satiety. In other words, you can't tell when you're full.

Therefore you eat for pleasure, you eat for soothing, you eat for suppression of your stress and other negative feelings. When you lose internal sensors, and you have NO IDEA when to stop eating.

Food manufacturers have long known the secret of HP foods. This New York Times article reported the testing of a new Dr. Pepper line in which Cadbury Schweppes conducted 3,904 tastings to see which flavor combinations made it most HP.

What Are HP Foods?

These are "domino" foods that you can't stop eating after just one serving. No one gorges on a bucket of apples, but they do gorge on cookies.

With an HP food, it takes A LOT of willpower to eat just one, or two or three for that matter.

Potato chips, doughnuts, French fries ... essentially anything made in a factory or sold in bright packaging.

The combination of fat and sugar or fat and salt usually makes the food HP. David A. Kessler, physician and former FDA president, said, "Restaurant chains like Chili's serve hyper-palatable food that requires little chewing and goes down easily."

Another example, a Snickers bar, is "extraordinarily well engineered." As we chew it, he says, "the sugar dissolves, the fat melts and the caramel traps the peanuts so the entire combination of flavors is blissfully experienced in the mouth at the same time."

Kessler struggled with his own weight for many years until he understood this concept.

What to Do Instead

So, what I'm proposing is simply avoiding foods that are hyper-palatable (HP). It's actually a very simple concept; in fact, you can start with your next meal or snack.

If you surround yourself with non-HP foods, making the right choices will become easier, and you can reserve HP foods for special occasions.

Some examples of foods you can eat instead of HP foods:

  • Raw fruits
  • Fresh vegetables
  • Cooked beans
  • Baked potatoes
  • Oatmeal (without added sugar, preservatives, etc.)
  • Raw, unsalted nuts and seeds
  • Salads
  • Soups
  • Dark chocolate (70 percent or more)
  • Yogurt (not the sweetened, artificially colored kind)
  • Cottage cheese
  • Eggs
  • Organic meats (not cured or lunch meats)
  • Wild fish

Steer clear of sugary, processed sauces, marinades, and coatings.

I taught my mom this concept two weeks ago and just checked in with her. She said it was simple, and now she's more mindful of the power of these HP foods.

In fact, today she said she ate healthfully all day and saved a special HP food (an Indian sweet called chikki) as a dessert for Diwali.

I think she's getting it.

For more information on eating well, check out:

Amy Shah, M.D.
Amy Shah, M.D.
Amy Shah, M.D. is a double board certified MD with training from Cornell, Columbia and Harvard...
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Amy Shah, M.D.
Amy Shah, M.D.
Amy Shah, M.D. is a double board certified MD with training from...
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