Chocolate-flavored foods, as well as other sweet and fatty dessert foods, are designed to turn on appetite even when your hunger has been satisfied. When such foods appear, you begin to salivate, and your pancreas begins to secrete extra insulin in preparation for dealing with the sugar in the food. Both of these reactions actually make you feel hungry, even though you have already eaten. Indeed, every cell in your body seems to turn on all over again and scream, "Eat, eat!"

Candy and most other foods that fall into what is called the "junk-food" category are very hard to resist because of their "supernormal" status. If you have a choice of one of these foods (candy, cake, pie, cookies) or a more natural food, such as fruit, the supernormal food is almost certain to win out. Thus, it becomes very hard for an overweight person to exercise an appropriate choice of foods for weight control when "supernormal" foods are present to compete with normal foods at any given meal or at snack-time.

After I hand out the bar of chocolate to our group of weight-management participants, I ask them whether they can, even in their imagination, see themselves doing exactly what it will take to live with that candy (or whatever food tempts them the most to overeat) and not eat it when it is constantly present in their environments. You might take a moment and do the same thing: can you, in your imagination, see yourself in situations with all of the foods that tempt you the most doing exactly what you are going to need to do for the rest of your life to control your weight?

If you can't even imagine yourself doing what you need to do to deal with these situations effectively, how can you ever expect to do it in reality?

Because it is a natural physiological reaction to "turn on" in the presence of "supernormal" foods, the very best strategy for permanent weight management is to control their presence, that is, rarely allow yourself to be in their presence so that you do not have to battle constantly with temptation.

But such control over yourself or your environment is not always possible. I know many of you will have families that bring junk food in unexpectedly, and you may feel that the persons in your family who do not have a problem with their weight should not have to be inconvenienced by your desire to eliminate junk food in the home. Besides, wouldn't it feel great to know that you can control your "binging" without gaining weight? Although we normally do not keep quantities of high-calorie foods around the house, right now we have been celebrating the Christmas holidays with visiting house guests and dinner parties. We have one of my wife's incomparable chocolate cheesecakes in the refrigerator, one of my daughter's delicious pumpkin pies right out on the kitchen table, and a quart of my own homemade rum-raisin ice cream in the freezer. (The ice cream is pretty good, too.) Twenty-two years ago I might have overeaten and gained weight with all of these delicious desserts around the house, but not today. I am enjoying these creations - every single one of them - but in moderation.



Portuguese Italian Spanish English French German


Monthly cycles, pregnancy, lactation, and menopause cause estrogen levels to swing upward, and copper increases along with the estrogen. Women who have used birth control pills for any length of time often experience elevated copper levels with typical symptoms of depression, frequent headaches, fatigue, constipation, emotional volatility, weight gain, and raging food cravings (particularly for sweets, breads, and pastas).

In the last trimester of pregnancy, both copper and estrogen levels soar, but after the baby has been delivered, copper levels are supposed to level out to balance zinc to the natural 8:1 balance.

Estrogen's opposing hormone is progesterone, the hormone that helps sustain the pregnancy. Progesterone is an extremely beneficial hormone. Adequate levels of it increase body temperature, possibly increasing enzymatic activity. It increases thermogenesis, or the "wasting" of excess calories, helps calm the brain, and prepares the body for pregnancy.

Upon withdrawal of progesterone (or upon an increase in estrogen), the mother goes into labor and delivers the child. If estrogen levels remain high because the woman's hormonal system has become unbalanced or because copper levels remain elevated, progesterone levels will remain low. Think of it as a double seesaw. When estrogen is high, progesterone is low; when copper is high, zinc is low.

"After I lose the weight, I want to be here for my children. I want to go hiking again, and do family things without feeling like I'm going to have a heart attack!"


The opposite imbalance rarely occurs, since the American diet is deficient in zinc-rich foods—red meat, oysters, and other seafoods and greens. Because we don't eat many of these foods, the delicate balancing act never takes place. The game to see which can rise higher, estrogen or progesterone, copper or zinc, plays on and on. The result? Postpartum depression and all the symptoms mentioned above in regard to birth control pills, including increased weight.

Resolving the zinc and copper issue is not difficult. Simply increase the amount of zinc in the diet for a few months and the excess copper is typically chelated—washed out of the body. Zinc and copper levels then return to normal and relieve the symptoms caused by the imbalance. Resolving the estrogen/ progesterone issue may not be so easy. Women need to work with a nutritionally aware physician for tips on balancing their female hormones through the use of herbs and natural hormones.

This is where real confusion and frustration sets in. Virtually every woman who opts for estrogen replacement therapy to balance these hormones experiences weight gain. No question about it. This gain can range anywhere from just a few excess pounds of water to over twenty pounds of excess water and fat. Natural hormone-balancing agents, such as herbs, do not have this weight-enhancing effect. While they may take a little longer to become therapeutic, they can work effectively in balancing the female system.


Weight loss