Last but not least…this is the final post of a four-part series covering the nutrition experts I heard speak during my live class at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) in May. If you’re more interested in IIN, feel free to send me an email and I would be happy to tell you more about it.
Dr. Barry Sears is best known for creating The Zone Diet, a diet plan focused on reducing inflammation and eating to maintain sugar levels and prevent disease. After several men in Dr. Sears’ family died of heart attacks, he set out to find a diet that would improve his heart health and reduce his chances of developing heart disease.
In general, I am not really a fan of anything with “diet” in the title, as most people interpret the word “diet” to mean restriction, or changing eating habits in an unsustainable way. However, in this case, I do believe the principles on which The Zone Diet is based are excellent, and would hands-down recommend this way of eating to clients looking to lose weight and improve their health over many of the other nutritional theories I have studied this year.
Here is the basic idea behind the diet:
- “Inflammation” is the secret killer, and the underlying cause of disease and aging. We all know what inflammation looks like on the surface (when we burn ourselves, or have a cut or a sting). According to Dr. Sears, many of us are suffering from internal inflammation which is caused by a number of variables that are omnipresent in our western diet today: increased refined carbohydrates, increased vegetable oil consumption, and decreased omega 3 consumption.
- Remember in the 90′s when we were all convinced that fat is what is making us fat, and low-fat everything started showing up on store shelves? Well since then, as we started consuming more and more low-fat products, our obesity rate has gone up and up. So we now know that it is likely not fat that is making us fat, but rather the refined carbohydrates in all of these processed products that are contributing to the obesity epidemic.
- To combat inflammation, we should keep our glycemic load (basically, our sugar levels) steady. Dr. Sears recommends a diet that is based on the Mediterranean way of eating (my favorite) – lots of fruits and vegetables, some lean protein, whole grain carbohydrates, and a dash of healthy fats. Meat and oils should be used more of a seasoning than anything else. According to Dr. Sears, our plates should look like this: