What if I told you that you could lose weight by eating bread and cheese? It happened to me. And I've never felt better in my life. To make a long story short: I was feeling sluggish and bloated, and while I was constantly eating "healthy" (no gluten or dairy for weeks!), the scale didn't budge and my jeans never fit right. It was frustrating.
Then, I met Dr. Keith Berkowitz, and my life changed (I know it sounds dramatic, but getting to have carbs and cheese again really felt that way). Dr. Berkowitz is an MD who specializes in how diet affects your overall wellness, and he even worked directly with Dr. Robert C. Atkins (as in the famous Atkins diet) for six years.
"You're bloated," Dr. Berkowitz said within minutes of meeting me.
Instead of being offended, I was relieved. "I've been saying this for years!" I responded.
After I walked him through my diet and issues, he determined I might have something called reactive hypoglycemia. This means I process sugar abnormally fast. For instance, if a normal person drank a glass of glucose water, it would take him or her about four hours to process it. I'd burn through it in an hour or so, go on a "sugar high," and then crash (and ultimately crave more sugar). It explains my addiction to fruit and chocolate — and why I can't just take one bite of dessert.
An official glucose test, tons of blood work, and an analysis of my lab results led me back to his office about a month later. It was confirmed that I do have reactive hypoglycemia. Dr. Berkowitz considers this condition to be an undiagnosed epidemic. I also had some hormonal imbalances and an iodine deficiency. So he put me on a few supplements and tweaked my diet.
What baffled me was how slight the food and drink changes were, but how much better they could instantly make me feel (and look!). For instance, I could only eat kale cooked, never raw. ("Everyone pushed the raw food diet, but it's much harder to digest," he told me. "We weren't raised on raw foods.")
He added a flaxseed bread into my roster (but only one piece at a time!) to avoid loading up on too many carbs. Instead of supposedly good-for-you red wine, he told me to stick to white, which has just as many antioxidants but is less likely to cause a hangover. And while I was told to stay away from cow milk products, I got to eat goat cheese again, which is a low-lactose, delicious protein.
"It is important that you eat three meals and one snack every day," he explained of his general diet philosophy. "Skipping meals and not drinking water enough can inhibit your success. The plan works best when you eat when hungry to the point that you feel satisfied or full. Create balance by combining carbohydrates (including vegetables and fruits) with either high-fiber foods or some fat/protein. Remember eating balanced meals will minimize fluctuations in blood sugar and increases in insulin levels."
I'm also a night owl and struggle to fall asleep before 1 a.m. After sticking to this diet, I started passing out at 11 p.m. and waking up at 7 a.m. on a consistent basis — even weekends! Anyone who has sleep issues knows this is amazing.
Within three weeks, my bloating went down in both my face and body, and the scale is slowly dropping. (To be honest, I only wanted to lose a few pounds.)
It's about six months later, and I am still feeling amazing (also my skin cleared up, which you can read about here.) And the pounds I lost have stayed off.
Part of what makes it so easy to do is that Dr. Berkowitz suggest sticking to the 80/20 rule. According to him, if you are consistent 80 percent of the time, you will have 100 percent success. Because I can indulge 20 percent, I never feel deprived. I've learned make choices, such as picking either alcohol or dessert when I'm out to dinner.
Because I believe in this eating plan so strongly, I interviewed Dr. Berkowitz on 11 simple dietary swaps you can make to feel overall more energized, slimmer, and happier.