Baby Come Back, You Can Just Eat Naturally

The first step is improving how, when and why you eat.

Looking back, I realize it was eating that got me in trouble. Then food saved me.

Why Eat Naturally?

Diets don’t work. By obsessing over what you eat, you lose sight of how you eat, and in doing so, you don’t establish a proper relationship with the right foods. You can accomplish much more by focusing on when, why and how you eat rather than focusing on what you.

Weight loss and sustainable health is all about energy balance. If your goal is to lose weight, you want to create an energy deficit. In other words, you want your energy input to be less than the energy you burn.

We use calories to measure the estimated amount of energy in our foods. One of the benefits of eating a Plant First Diet is that plants are generally lower in calories – with the exception of nuts and oils – and higher in nutrients. The calorie-sparse, nutrient-dense nature of plant foods makes them harder to over eat, but it’s still not impossible to do.

If you are overeating all day long, no matter what you are overeating, because you are stressed or distracted while you eat, you are not going to create the energy deficit you need to lose weight.

Thus, before you get caught up in what to eat, you need to relearn how to eat. Your eating habits will pour the proper foundation for building a Plant First Diet.


My Story: A Big Eater’s Nature

She’s walking towards me, gliding across the room. I can’t look away. I could swear I waited forever for this moment. When she gets to me, she leans forward.

Her hands are shaking.  

I’m shaking too – in anticipation. She lays before me a big, heavy plate of food.

I love eating. Restaurants, – with detailed preparations and exceptional service – are great, but I love eating so much that I’m willing to do it any time, any where.

I weighed 10 pounds, 4 ounces the day I arrived in this world, and since that day, I can’t recall a day when I didn’t love to eat. I never considerd my romance with food a problem until the day I tipped the scale at 260 pounds.

I was 25.

The number shocked me. I was more than a quarter of a thousand pounds. How could that be my weight? I reached my breaking point. I reevaluated my love for food.

For the next 6 years, I spent my spare time reading books, studying in courses and meeting with experts on everything from cooking to nutrition to agriculture.  

One theme emerged: how and why we eat is more important than what we eat. If I could relearn to listen to my body, I could continue to eat all my favorite foods. I just needed to be mindful of the frequency, quantity and quality.


Create Your Own Cravings

The start of my weight loss journey was extremely frustrating.

It seemed like a blind squirrel would have better luck finding a nut than me, as a food lover, losing weight. There is no research on nut-hunting abilities of blind squirrels, but UCLA researchers concluded 83% of dieters will gain back more weight than they lost after more than two years.

I wasn’t alone. Weight loss is hard.

The internet is exploding with conflicting information. There are always new trends. Magic solutions keep popping up in headlines. Experts constantly produce an endless list of foods you can’t eat.

You can drown in all the information before you starve from following all the advice.

I was overwhelmed. I dreamed about the processed snacks and fast foods eliminated from my diet. I woke up wondering if it was worth living without them. The cravings were damn near impossible to ignore, and if I couldn’t ignore the cravings, I didn’t see how I would lose the weight.

Thankfully, humans are creatures of habits, and I found embracing habits accelerated my progress. I needed consistency to build momentum, and with that momentum, I could retrain my body to fight against homeostasis. I created little, simple routines that, over time, formed natural habits. The consistency created a strange side effect.

My cravings for fried food, greasy meat and rich sauces disappeared.  

I experienced a common phenomenon: you don’t crave the foods you love; you crave the foods you eat. You eat the wrong things. You crave the wrong things. You create a habit of eating the right things. You crave the right things.

Ten years ago, I would have never believed a salad craving is possible, but now I have them all the time.


Poor Health Isn’t All Food’s Fault

Food is complex. It’s multidimensional. Yes, we rely on food for nutrition, but we also build our identities around what we choose to eat and not eat. Our cultures are preserved through regional ingredients and traditional recipes. We socialize, celebrate and conduct business around meals. Industries are built around the art and science of cooking and flavors.

The purpose of food is much more than simply nutrition, so we need to embrace all the roles it plays in our life. A complete life includes a complete array of foods.

Our responsibility is not to control our foods. Our responsibility is to control the foods we eat.  

Eating Triggers Attack Us All Day Long

Hunger is not the exclusive motivation for eating. We are conditioned by social expectations to eat at certain points of the day. Food’s ability to please our sense can seduce us when we are seeking comfort. We are surrounded by advertisements whispering to munch on their products.

All day long, little triggers are pushing us to eat – even if we don’t need to.

Just wake up? Time for breakfast. Colleagues birthday? Not leaving the break room until the cupcakes are gone. Date night at the movies? Can you even see the screen without butter-soaked popcorn in your lap?

We live with an abundance of food, and we become so accustomed to these triggers that we forget what if feels like to be hungry. We eat meals when we anticipate hunger rather than actually feel hungry. Our wants are disconnected from our body’s needs. We forget nature provides us food to satiate hunger.

And when do actually feel the tightness of hunger in our bellies, we eat what we desire from our available choicesven – if what we desire has nothing to do with what our body actually needs.

Processed foods are hard to stop eating. They are designed to be desirable and irresistible. They are pumped with sugar, salt and textures because expensive research revealed these forms of food will hijack our biology. We don’t get hungry for calories. We get hungry for nutrients. So we don’t stop eating processed food once we’ve acquired all the calories. We stop when we’ve acquired the nutrients – which they often remove.


Principle 1) Eat Naturally: Relearning how and why you eat

We are all different. If you eat exactly what I do, it might not help you, so it’s important to appreciate outcome-based decision making.

The goal here is not to adopt all these eating practices. The goal is to listen to your body. You will want to try different things along the way, measure how your body reacts and decide if you should make changes or continue.

This little testing process is called a feedback loop, and feedback loops will be your best friend on your journey down the Plant First Diet.


The primary objective here is to listen to your body. Our bodies communicate all sorts of wants and needs during the day, but we are often too busy and unaccustomed to paying attention.

I use the 3 F’s for listening to my body, esppeically when I want to lose weight.

1. Fasting

Fasting is helpful. Hunger is a guide. You can ignore the guidance if you choose.

By measuring and tracking your hunger, you will start to understand what your body is communicating about a need for nutrients and food.

Intermittent fasting is my favorite way to control hunger’s guidance. There are few different ways to experiment with IMF. You can learn more about the benefits of fasting and why I FASTercise here.

2. Feelings

Emotions can motivate eating. If you’re concerned about this, practice self awareness by journaling your feelings before and after you it. This can help you recognize if you’re depending on food to fill an emotional void.

I also found exercise can play an important role in processing feels and balance emotions. It’s another reason I workout first thing in the morning: clears my mind and keeps me stable through the day.

3. Focus

As little kids, it is not uncommon for parents to encourage their kids to finish their plates. We are taught we can’t waste food, so from a young age, we forget the goal of eating is to statiate your hunger – not to quickly finish all the available food.

In Japan, they practice hara hachi bu,eating until they feel 80% full. This is a great habit to retrain your body to eat until satisfied – not stuffed. Give it a try.

I found slowly eating and appreciating the process of chewing and savoring my food really helps me stay within 80% fullness

Focus on the food as you eat. This requires undistracted eating. If you love to eat, truly immerse yourself in the experience. Don’t eat while you’re watching TV. Don’t nibble on your lunch while you read emails. Focus on your food and then get back to the rest of your life.

3. 1. A Note On Focus Regarding Alcohol

I’m no stranger to boozing. I love wine, beer, whiskey, and if I’m being honest, I really love anything fermented that can lead to a fun time.

Unfortunately, the science is clear: alcohol leads to overeating. And it makes sense. When you’re under the influence, it’s much harder to listen to your body, so when I’m focusing on weight loss, I avoid alcohol.


You are made of water. You need to keep high quality water in your system to keep your system working for you – an not against you.

Drinking water is important for a few key reasons:

  1. Hunger is often confused for thirst
  2. Water is critical to digestion
  3. Water can help you feel full when hunger hits during fasts


Sleep is underrated. We need sleep to function. If you’re not getting enough sleep, your body will overcompensating in ways you may not realize. You need to make sleep a priority for the following reasons:

  1. Lack of sleep drives hunger
  2. Lack of sleep drives hormone imbalance
  3. Sleep is critical to exercise and stress recovery
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