I’ll take the bacon. I am not a diet person. I don’t have the will power, nor the will, to forego foods that I like Big Mac’s and cheesecake, so when I read about the iDiet weight loss program I was certainly intrigued.
We don’t wake up hard-wired to prefer broccoli over french fries. As a matter of fact we start unlearning that the moment we start to eat solid foods.
We learn to prefer the bad stuff through a lifetime of reward training. “If you’re good I’ll take you to McDonald’s” or “Eat your peas and you get dessert”. American society has learned to categorize fatty foods as a reward and healthier foods as what needs to be tolerated in order to get the reward.
See how that works? So what if we could actually rewire our brains to prefer the healthy foods? To prefer fish to fries? Sounds impossible right? Well, maybe not. Read on…
What is the iDiet?
The iDiet theory is based on the 5 Basic Food instincts:
- Hunger – It is innate for us to seek out food in order to survive.
- Availability – We eat food that is readily available. The more food that is available at a sitting, the more we eat. We are wired that way for survival. Also, humans have been found eat more food when it’s free (um, we’ve all lost control at a wedding buffet – don’t lie)
- Calorie Density – We’ve been trained since we were wee, to choose high calorie foods as a reward. Also, in our innate need to survive, the more calories the better.
- Familiarity – We tend to eat foods that we learned to eat growing up and that make us feel safe and comforted.
- Variety – The more choices we have, the more food we eat. You don’t know what to choose so you eat a little bit of everything. (I’ve had a LOT of gatherings and I’ve seen this theory in action)
The iDiet focuses on keeping you full enough so that you don’t find yourself popping through the drive-thru for fries since they’re easy to get and they make you feel good. But not only that, Roberts promises that by making certain small changes in your diet you can physically change which foods make you feel good!
She does this by providing healthy, tasty recipes. Consider this: in one hand you have french fries and the other, grilled asparagus with a little bit of seasoning. Eat one of each. Be honest, do the fries really taste better? NOooo. They don’t. Not if the asparagus is tasty. Most the time I find myself shoveling fries down my throat when I would enjoy a yummy, tasty, grilled veggie just as much. And I’ve noticed these types of changes in my diet since reading the book.
How is iDiet Unique?
Maybe this still sounds like every other diet but here’s the difference. Susan B. Roberts, Ph.D., founder of theiDiet.com, myiDiet.com, professor of both nutrition and psychiatry at Tufts University, and ALSO a chef (overachiever?), has spent years researching cognitive restructuring, or teaching your brain to form new neuronal connections, so you can create pathways that trains your brain to crave foods that are good for you as opposed to the bad stuff.
It takes 2-4 weeks for cognitive restructuring to take place so, according to this reasoning, if you simply limit your diet strictly to healthy foods for 2 – 4 weeks you can rewire your brain to crave those healthy foods.
The Science of the iDiet
The research to back this theory up is pretty interesting. Tufts University researchers, led by Dr. Roberts, the brain function, using an MRI, in 13 participants. Eight adhered to the iDiet using group support and hunger control, while the remaining five were simply asked to keep their caloric content down.
Both groups underwent MRI brain scans at the beginning and at the end of the study. They found that, after a six months period, those that participated in the iDiet group and diet, showed a heightened activity in the pleasure area of the brain when being presented with healthy foods vs the control group who showed no changes at all.
Foods You Can Eat on the iDiet
The recipes on the iDiet are scientifically formulated to work with your food instincts adn to keep you free of hunger. Some foods on the diet are hamburgers, chocolate pudding, Tanzanian Chicken Kabobs… the list goes on. There are a number of free recipes offered on their website. A kind of teaser of what is to come.
So that’s all well and good but how much can you actually eat on this diet, right? Here is a sample of a day on the iDiet in Phase I which is the first two weeks and designed to drop the pounds fast:
- 2 slices of low-carb toast with 2 table spoons of cream cheese or peanut butter or jelly
- 1/2 grapefuit
- coffee with low-fat milk
- 1 apple and 4 pecan halves OR
- iDiet hot or cold chocolate
- 3 cups of salad greens
- 1/2 cup of legumes
- 1 tsp of bacon or sunflower seeds
- 2 slices of turkey breast &
- 2 tbs of low-fat dressing OR
- iDiet’s Crispy Taco Pinto Bean Salad OR
- iDiet’s Thai Chicken Salad with warm peanut sauce
- Sugar-free Gelatin
- 2 part-skim mozzarella cheese sticks
- 4oz.s grilled fish or shellfish with 2tbs of low-cal sauce
- 1 1/2 cups cooked green beans
- 1 sliced tomato with drizzle of olive and vinegar
- 1 Small baked sweet potato with 1 tsp of low-fat sour cream (instead of dessert)
- Chocolate-tipped strawberries and cream OR
- iDiet’s ice cream sundae
How many of you think you could eat all that and still be hungry? You have GOT to see some of the iDiet recipes they have in their cookbook.
BUT, if you do still feel hungry, then you canalways add any of these ‘free’ foods and still stay on the diet.
- High-fiber cereal with 1% milk
- iDiet cereal desserts such as Fiber One with melted dark chocolate and mint extract (or even add high bran cereal to a little bit of lowfat ice cream
- Cooked green vegetables with 1/2 tsp of margarine, or low-fat sour cream and lemon juice (actually sounds YUMMY!)
- Extra salad with a bit of oil and vinegar or nonfat dressing
- Sugar free gelatin desserts (only artificial sweeteners)
Getting Started on the iDiet
There is a book you can follow by the smart lady who came up with all the happiness called the “i’ diet, or for extra support you can join an online community for 2, 3 or 6 month intervals. In the online community you get full usage of the iDiet site tools, you get to set up your own personal “iDiet Mantra” and earn “iDiet Badges” as you learn better eating strategies.
Additionally you can plan your meals with the MenuPlanner which allows you to select from more than 120 recipes that are designed for maximum flavor and satisfaction (did I mention that the founder is also a chef?).
You also get advice by email from the iDiet group leader as well as ‘special advice'(not sure what that means) from Dr. Roberts herself. Finally you get to become a member of the iDietDelicious Recipes group and Community Forum.
Cost of iDiet
To join go to myidiet.com. The rates are as outlined above but basically, the cheapest one is two months (8 classes) for $149. I’m not quite sure how the rate scale is figured since 6 month enrollment (or 24 classes) is $599. Kinda like buy one for 10 cents, two for a quarter right?
The best ‘deal’ is the 3 month for $299 which gives you all the access of the 6 month and is about the equivalent to two of the 2 month memberships.
So, I’ve decided to check out the book first. My idea is to first clear out our pantry so there is nothing but goodness (healthy goodness) in there, but that’s today. I’ll let you know how I feel after I get the book.