Could it be that we have been looking for slimness in all the wrong places?

It’s that time of year again and most of us have eaten too much, exercised too little, and may be all around sluggish.  The calorie counting books may be opened once more as we resolve to get more exercise and burn off those calories.  Jonathan Bailor, in his new book, The Calorie Myth, says that everything you always thought you knew about weight loss is wrong.  He says there is a way to eat more, exercise less, lose weight and live better.  Could it be that we have been looking for slimness in all the wrong places?

            Bailor’s book is due to be released December 31 and it is expected to be a best seller.  There have been hundreds, maybe even thousands, of diet books written over the past decade or two while Americans continue to get fatter.  Something must be wrong with the way we are thinking.  It is true some have lost weight but nothing compared to the number of books and products that have been sold promising weight loss.  The Calorie Myth makes sense.

            Who is this Jon Bailor?  He certainly has the credentials to give advice.  He has collaborated with top scientists for over 10 years, analyzing over 1,300 studies, garnering endorsements by top doctors from Harvard Medical School, Johns Hopkins, Yale, and UCLA.  He is a preeminent nutrition and exercise expert and former personal trainer who specializes in using high-quality food and exercise to simplify health and fitness.

            I am not going to waste my $29.95 on information that has come out in at least a dozen other books: Real Food: What to eat and Why; Skinny Chicks Eat Real Food: Kick your Fake Food Habit; 10 Ways to Eat Real Food on a Budget.  These are just a few of the books that are telling you the same thing.  Jamie Oliver came all the way from England to give us this message.  If you have been reading this column, you have heard it for over eight years right here in Heber Springs. Eat real food!  Cut out the junk, fast, and processed substitutes that Americans have come to accept as “normal” food.  This stuff is not normal and it will make you fat and/or sick. Why do we have to have 1300 studies to tell us what we could learn from just a little bit of common sense?

            Dr. Mark Hyman, who has been working to educate us about nutrition, has said for years; when it comes to calories, it’s the quality, not the quantity that counts.  He is introducing Jonathan Bailor’s book to his readers through his email newsletters.  He says the book explains why counting calories is the wrong approach to weight loss.

Editorial review of the book:  “Bailor shows that the key to long-term weight-loss is not the number of calories consumed but rather what kinds of calories. Some foods are used to repair tissue, boost brain power, and fuel our metabolism—while others are stored as fat. The human body has a set point—the weight it naturally ‘wants’ to be—that is regulated by hormones. When we eat the right foods—plants, lean proteins, nuts, and legumes—our body is naturally able to maintain a healthy set point weight. But when we eat sugar, starches, fats, and other poor quality foods, our body's regulatory system becomes "clogged" and prevents us from burning extra calories.”  Bailor says those extra pounds we have been carrying around for years are the result of eating the wrong, hormone-clogging foods.                                                

Dr. Hyman says Bailor exposes the fundamental myth upon which the diet industry has been built:  eat less plus exercise more equals more weight loss.  He says the equation simply doesn’t add up and he thinks it is time we forever change the way we think about fat loss and robust lifelong health.

Is there one of us who doesn’t know we need to eat lean protein, nuts, legumes, vegetables and fruits?  It may be a lack of knowledge with some people, but it is doubtful that is the primary problem with obesity and all the diseases that go with it.  Are we still looking in the wrong places? It is true that there are fast food joints everywhere and supermarkets are primarily junk convenience foods; they are there is because that is what Americans want to buy as they tell themselves they are harmless.  After all, much like the teenagers, we say, “everyone else does (eats) it”. 

The fact is, we can always rationalize our addictions.  It seems to me we need support groups for people to break the junk food addiction.  However, as with alcoholic anonymous, we first have to admit the addiction.  It is so widespread that is has become acceptable and “normal”.  There may be a hopeful movement to deal with the addiction, known as the “Daniel Plan” which was started in a church, of all places.  Next week we will explore this possibility.  

(Janice Norris lives in Heber Springs, has a B.S. in home economics from Murray State University, owned and operated health food stores in Illinois and Heber Springs, and wrote a weekly column in Illinois for 15 years. She can be reached at