Like a lot of women (myself included), Kate Northrup‘s struggles with her weight starting from a young age–despite being raised on a diet that, for all intents and purposes, was about as healthy as it gets. But it was one book (and one single diet concept) that finally turned it all around. No more hours in the gym, no more white-knuckle dieting…just a healthy, happy body–and a new insight into the way we look at weight loss and diet.
So many Americans spend so much time hunting for the silver bullet to weight loss-and for Northrup, who’s an author, an entrepreneur, a certified yoga and fitness instructor, and the creator of the Foxy Bod Program, it actually kind of existed, in the form of a low glycemic index diet, inspired by Healthy For Life by Dr. Ray Strand. But, she says, she had to try a lot of things and listen to her gut before she found what actually worked for her.
Inspired by a blog post she wrote on the subject (which you really should read), I called Northrup to ask her a few questions about about finding the diet that worked, and how other women can do it, too. Here’s our interview.
I was an overweight kid growing up, and it was the worst feeling–but for me, it was because my parents didn’t really know that much about nutrition. It seems like your parents were actually doing what most people would consider healthy–macrobiotic and vegan. Why do you think that diet didn’t work for you?
I think it’s because my metabolism is designed for a situation where, if there was an apocalypse and there was no food for months and months, I would survive. I’m just one of those types of people. And so what happens with my type of people–and my mom is the same type, and she also didn’t do well on the macrobiotic vegan diet, even though she thought at the time that it was the best way to go, and she was constantly struggling with her weight as well–when you eat a lot of grains like that, and you have a very grain-based diet, your body has so much extra in the blood sugar arena that it stores it up. It spikes your blood sugar, and then you start to store up for the long winter.
Now, my sister and my dad, interestingly enough, are of very different metabolic type and did really well on that diet, and still eat largely that same way.
How did you come to find the diet that eventually worked for you?
I struggled a lot. After the macrobiotic vegan thing, I started to incorporate some animal products and some dairy–always grass-fed and local and organic when possible–and I did much better with that. But at that point, it was the 90s, and everyone was obsessed with low-fat everything. And this was when I was in middle school or high school, so I ate a lot of low-fat crackers and cookies. I was really into SnackWells–do you remember that brand?
Oh God, yes!
Right! And because it was low-fat, at that time, I thought it was good for me. So that was a whole second string of me being misguided. And I had started leaning out, as a result of puberty, but really at that time, my exercise level was high. I worked out a lot to stay relatively slim, and I constantly obsessed about what I ate.
And then finally, my junior year of college, I read the book Healthy for Life, which talked about low-gylcemic eating. And everything suddenly made sense. It made sense to me why I’d gained so much weight on the macrobiotic vegan diet, and why the low-fat thing didn’t work. I started eating that way, and I’ve stuck to it ever since. It’s been about nine years, and it’s been great.
I mean, I can’t say I don’t have my moments, but I’ve found that when I eat this way, I don’t have sugar and carb cravings, and eating becomes about flavor and color and enjoying the process, instead of keeping myself from eating something I don’t think I should have.