Listen to David Ludwig’s story.
For most of his life he was in good shape, which he attributed to eating “right” and getting enough exercise. His diet included very little fat, lots of whole grain products, multiple servings of fruits and veggies and very little sugar.
Then his 30s came along and he realized that despite doing what we all think we’re supposed to do to stay at a proper weight, he was gaining. Oh, not a lot, but a couple pounds a year until those few pounds started to add up.
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
And we know what the rest of us have done when that happens. We get frustrated and disheartened.
Not David Ludwig. (Well, maybe he was a teensy bit discouraged.) That’s because he’s Dr. David Ludwig, an endocrinologist, researcher and professor at Harvard Medical School. He turned himself and his eating style into his first clinical research study. He doubled the amount of fat he was eating, relying a lot on avocados, nuts and nut butter, full-fat dairy. He upped his protein intake a bit and cut out starchy foods such as pasta, bread and cereal. He didn’t cut his calories or deprive himself, which is the opposite of how most diets operate.
Dr. David Ludwig~Boston Children’s Hospital
Well, guess what? Barely a week had passed and already he was feeling more energetic and, as he describes it in his book “Always Hungry” (Grand Central Life & Style, $28 hardcover, $14.99 ebook): “… as if some previously unknown but important metabolic switch had finally been flipped on.” He lost a good 20 pounds and as he points out, did it without the cravings and deprivation we experience on most diets.
With his book, “Always Hungry,” you can do it too.
In the first part, Ludwig explains in a very approachable manner why we’ll have more success at achieving a good weight if we spend more time looking at the quality of the foods we eat. He’s all for abandoning calorie counting and explains why diets that leave us constantly hungry are only dooming us to failure. He explains how a person can reprogram fat cells — or calm them down, as he describes it. Basically you eat foods that lower your insulin levels. That reduces inflammation and when that happens fat cells start to let go of the excess calories they’re holding onto.
But what good is knowing how you should be eating without an eating plan, right? Ludwig spells out a three-phase program, telling which foods to eat when and which to avoid. There’s all sorts of valuable information. For instance, he starts out the program with a countdown to when it actually begins. During that time he’s got you collecting your baseline health metrics, cleaning out your pantry, restocking your cupboard and doing things like roasting nuts and making sauces so you can get ready. I really like the idea of getting a person ready for Ludwig’s style of eating. It’s best not to embark on a new plan without having the tools ready, when you think about it.
Peppered throughout the book are what he calls “My Always Hungry Story,” snippets from real people (including not only how much weight they lost but the decrease in their waist size) telling their experience with Ludwig’s eating plan. (Oops, forgot to tell you he is the founding director of the Optimal Weight for Life program at Boston Children’s Hospital, a family-based weight management program. I’m telling you, this guy knows his stuff.) Their words are more than encouraging.
I’m including one of Ludwig’s recipes here. It comes together quickly and I think you’ll like the crunchiness of it. I did.
As a former food editor, I like the tweaks he gives recipes to up the tastiness of the dish. Toasting nuts always enhances their flavor. Chicken thighs are more full-bodied than chicken breast, thus making the salad taste richer. See if you don’t agree.
CHICKEN SALAD WITH GRAPES AND WALNUTS
MAKES 2 SERVINGS
8 ounces cooked chicken thigh or leg, skin discarded, meat cut into strips or bite-size pieces
½ cup cooked garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained and rinsed
1 cup chopped celery (about 2 stalks)
½ to 1 cup shredded carrots (1 to 2 medium carrots)
2 cups grapes, halved (about 1 pound)
3 to 5 tablespoons mayonnaise (make sure it has no added sugar)
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
¼ teaspoon salt
2 to 3 cups chopped romaine lettuce
Freshly ground black pepper
In a medium bowl, combine the chicken, garbanzo beans, celery, carrots, grapes, walnuts, mayonnaise, lemon juice and salt. Toss until thoroughly combined. Gently toss in the lettuce. Garnish with freshly ground black pepper.
TIP: Make sure the chicken is seasoned before you add it to the salad (which can be leftover chicken from dinner or store-bought rotisserie chicken). This salad is better made ahead to allow the flavors to fully develop for an hour or more before adding the lettuce. Add the romaine just before serving. (
If you want a vegetarian version, substitute 4 ounces of pan-fried tempeh or tofu strips, cut into bite-size pieces or crumbled tempeh for the chicken.
From “Always Hungry” by Dr. David Ludwig