The Food Tree is born out of ten years of treating weight and metabolic illness, incorporating emerging scientific advances in nutrition.
Dr Elvebakk discovered early on that weight loss was fraught with unworkable diets and food pyramids that left patients powerless to change.
Realizing that information is key, she parlayed this into a science based program that everyone can understand.
The Food Tree takes the guesswork out of nutrition and gives the reader a complete prescription for keeping the body lean and healthy, reversing weight related illness and allowing patients to come off chronic medications.
It takes nutrition a step further, addressing the role of our thoughts, emotions and environment in restoring our bodies to normal. This is even less understood than nutrition, and mostly ignored.
From the start, The Food Tree turned out to be a very empowering experience for patients, and brought the number of maintenance patients three to five fold higher that of most weight programs.
Her program has caught the attention of other physicians in the Bay Area and of patients from as far away as New York and Europe.
Though scientific in nature, the book is very accessible to the lay reader. It is a must for anyone who wants to understand what drives weight and health.
The final step of this book is a comprehensive view of nutrition as the basis of preventive health care that holds the keys to solving our obesity epidemic.
Whether your weight is optimal or you're overweight and struggling, you need to know this: From now on, you are granted diet amnesty! Dump the food pyramid. Dump dieting. Dump whatever you're doing if it isn't working for you. You can end the struggle and make peace with food and your weight.
This will become clear to you when you understand the basic principles of nutrition laid out for you in the Food Tree. If you are at your optimal weight, you'll stay there eating this way. If you need to lose weight, you'll gravitate toward normal weight effortlessly. If you're underweight, you need to know why, since many illnesses start with weight loss. If you're otherwise healthy, the Food Tree can be adjusted to help you move toward optimal weight in a healthy way.
Resetting Your Weight Thermostat
Your body has several internal thermostats that regulate hunger, weight, and health. Hunger/satiety is very complicated - some of it is beyond the scope of this book. The following basic components are included in your weight thermostat, which you deal with on a daily basis when you eat.
When you feel an empty, gnawing feeling from not eating enough, that may be stomach hunger for lack of volume. Eating adequate fiber is very important in turning off your stomach-volume hunger without consuming unnecessary calories.
Brain Transmitter Substance-related Hunger and Satiety
A host of brain transmitter substances affect your weight. The best-known ones are serotonin and nor-adrenalin. They also influence your mood, energy, and even migraines. We see this among patients who, taking serotonin-active drugs for depression or headaches, lose or gain weight. The relationship between these compounds is very complicated and beyond the scope of this book.
We can't show changes in the blood or brain level of these substances with what we eat. What we can show is an indirect effect. Good nutrition has a stabilizing effect on mood and can lessen or cure migraines, depression, and other mood disorders. Appetite suppressants influence these brain transmitter substances to regulate your hunger. The now-infamous Fen-Phen was an example of that. A series of newly discovered weight-related hormones are being studied in hope of finding new obesity drugs.
The problem with using medications to lose weight is that they won't teach you what's going wrong - nor will they allow you to work with the regulatory mechanisms your body makes available to you. They simply make you feel full, even if your blood sugar is low and your stomach empty. They obliterate your body's own efforts to protect its lean body mass. You may stop eating and lose weight fast, including muscle mass, but when you stop taking the appetite suppressant, your appetite goes back to where it was, and your struggle with food and your weight continues.
It's also possible to alter these brain-mechanism levels through surgery, but that's not a realistic option. Nutrition is without question the most effective way of curbing your appetite.
Insulin - The Master Regulator
The most important regulator is the one you deal with daily when you eat: your friend, foe, and master switch for all things metabolic, the major anabolic hormone insulin.
Understanding insulin is key to controlling your weight because insulin determines most things in your body, including your weight and health, and you determine the amount of insulin your body produces. We used to think insulin simply regulated our blood sugar - a gross underestimation. Insulin determines sugar regulation, the production and breakdown of almost every substance in your body, transportation, storage, and hunger. In short, it determines your cell growth and metabolic state of health. It does so not by itself, but by regulating most other hormones and messengers in the body. Insulin is made in your pancreas and is transported to your cells by your bloodstream.
Insulin is made in response to eating sugar, and sugar only. This is key.
Now that you have a working understanding of your body's weight thermostats, together with basic knowledge of what your body thinks of as food, it's time to create your own Food Tree.
The Structure of the Food Tree
The Food Tree is based on the body's daily nutritional requirements: Lean protein and low to moderate glycemic index (GI) foods that keep our glucose-insulin (G-I) curve within the frames of the glucose-insulin (G-I) window. The right fats complete the balance to keep us healthy in weight loss and maintenance modes. When you eat these foods, your blood sugar levels remain consistent throughout the day, you're not hungry, and you don't feel the ups and downs of a high-sugar diet. Eating this way will help put your body into balance with your health and weight.