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This article is part of a series on the Word of Wisdom. To view all the articles in this series, see Discovering the Word of Wisdom.

Last time in Discovering the Word of Wisdom I asked readers Is This the Year to Radically Improve Your Diet? If you have felt impressed to make a radical change in your diet, there is no better time than the present. No matter what our age, the earlier we improve our diets, the better our health will be in the long run.

Do You Really Want to Be THIN?

Most of us know by now that we can lose weight on almost any diet. As long as we reduce calories consumed below calories used, weight loss will naturally occur. However, many diets are (1) unsustainable and/or (2) not healthy for the body. Moreover, while many diets can help us successfully lose weight, most can’t melt those last few pounds off our bodies without a regime of genuine hunger. But what if you really want to be both THIN and HEALTHY without going hungry?

I hesitate to address this topic because I do not believe any of us need to be as thin as many of us want to be. Most of us are simply not designed to have the body measurements of models, and believing that we should, can lead to a disastrous self-image and seriously unwise choices. Eating disorders and various food obsessions and fetishes are serious concerns. Obsessing about our weight is NOT healthy. It is so much more important to have a healthy relationship with food than to reach a certain BMI. For this reason, I advocate eating a genuinely healthy diet and accepting (and appreciating) the resulting size of our bodies.

However, if you feel you truly would be at your best if you lost those last few pounds, I do have some proven strategies to share from a whole food, plant-based (WFPB) perspective.

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Proven Strategies

I’ve written extensively about how a WFPB diet can help us lose and maintain weight loss without forcing us to go hungry (see: “The Word of Wisdom Way to Weight Loss”). The key to this approach is in reducing the calorie density of the foods we eat. Calorie density is simply the amount of calories per unit of measurement (e.g. gram or ounce). By replacing the less nutritious high calorie dense foods of the Standard American Diet with the very nutritious low calorie dense foods of a whole food, plant-based diet, we can lose weight while increasing our health and still not go hungry. Typically, people who faithfully follow this lifestyle can get down to the weight they were when they graduated from high school (or lower if they had a weight problem at that age).

Still, there are some who struggle to lose those last few pounds. While being obsessed about weight is not healthy, there are good reasons for being at a lower weight. For example, in their guidelines for cancer prevention, the American Institute for Cancer Resources recommends “Be as lean as possible without becoming underweight.” Carrying extra pounds is a risk factor for most chronic diseases, and let’s face it: most of us simply feel better without the extra baggage.

A WFPB diet is the healthiest way to be “as lean as possible without becoming underweight.” Many people can do this on a standard WFPB diet and so the place to start is with these guidelines: WFPB Guidelines. Beyond carefully following the WFPB guidelines, some people will need to avoid most of the high calorie dense foods that are permissible on a WFPB diet, like dried fruit, nuts, seeds, flour, and various WFPB treats. These are healthy foods, but they are packed with a large number of easily consumed calories. Much as we may wish it were not true, most people can’t be regularly indulging in the richest WFPB foods and treats and get to their lowest weight. That doesn’t mean that the food has to be boring! As we eat differently, our palate changes, and we find new delights in the wholesome food the Lord has ordained for our use.

In addition, if you want to be both thin and healthy, you’ll also need to overcome any fear you have of wholesome carbs and starches, such as corn, rice, and beans. These are the foods the Lord ordained as the foundation of our diet (see D&C 89:14). They turn out to be KEY to healthy weight loss because they are the healthiest source of the most essential nutritional need of our bodies: sufficient calories. We add to them a variety of cooked and raw vegetables and fruits to create an excellent human diet.

Below are video presentations that can help you if you are serious about being as lean as possible. I recommend you study them carefully. You’ll find repetition in the messages, which can help you better understand the principles. (For a more concise statement, I summarize all of the “maximum weight loss” principles used by various WFPB experts in Maximum Weight Loss Principles. I highly recommend the videos, however, as they add much more detail and make these principles come to life.)

Video Presentations on Key Principles for Ultimate Weight Loss

(1) How to Lose Weight – Vegan HCLF (High Carbohydrate Low Fat). In this 26-minute video, Jeff Nelson (VegSource), describes what he did to get down to his leanest weight. He also introduces an excellent weight loss philosophy and great weight loss strategies.

(2) Chef AJ Tells Her Story. This one-hour video by Chef AJ is well worth watching. Her life story is one of the most incredible I’ve heard in a long time. Everyone interested in weight loss should hear it. Skip to minute 35 if you just want to learn how she finally loses the weight, but you’ll appreciate it much more if you listen to her life story in the first 35 minutes (unfortunately, she uses a few unsavory words you’ll have to look past).

More from Chef AJ:

(3) Chef AJ Interviews Dr. Doug Lisle. In this excellent interview, Dr. Doug Lisle describes the key factors that control weight loss and weight gain. Dr. Lisle is a secular evolutionary psychologist, but don’t let that stop you from appreciating his message! We understand it is God who designed our bodies, but He designed our bodies just as He designed the animals with the proper feedback mechanisms to always be at the proper weight . . . if we are eating natural whole foods. It is only when we consume unnaturally rich foods that these mechanisms are thrown off. The key to proper weight is to focus on our environment. When we are surrounded with whole plant foods, that is what we eat.

More from Doug Lisle:

(4) The Starch Solution “Secrets” Webinar by Dr. John McDougall. If you are still afraid of carbs/starches, I recommend this webinar with Dr. McDougall. Start at minute 11:30. This presentation is much more technical, but it will help you gain an understanding and testimony of why the Lord ordained grains as the “staff of life” (D&C 89:14). Remember: grains are the primary starch foods of the human diet.

See also Dr. McDougall’s excellent book: The Starch Solution

(5) “Mary’s Mini” is a quick weight loss diet from Dr. John McDougall’s wife and partner, Mary McDougall. It is the fastest WFPB way to lose weight. (The podcast is the most up-to-date version of the diet, but you can find a useful printed version here: Mary’s Mini-McDougall Diet.)

Note on Food Addiction

Some people who struggle to lose weight may experience unusually strong cravings for unhealthy foods. It is important to realize that hunger and attraction to rich foods are both physical and psychological in nature. For some people, simply trying to change one’s diet may not be enough; more work needs to be done to address the underlying reasons for any dysfunctional relationship with food. For more ideas and resources for addressing food addiction, see: Overcoming Food Addiction.

Getting Started

To learn more about whole food, plant-based nutrition and how to get started, see: Getting Started.

Jane Birch is the author of Discovering the Word of Wisdom: Surprising Insights from a Whole Food, Plant-based Perspective and many articles on the Word of Wisdom. She can be contacted on her website, Discovering the Word of Wisdom. Watch the video “Discovering the Word of Wisdom: A Short Film.”