Professor Loses Weight With No-Diet Diet
Monday, December 5, 2005; 9:21 PM
SALT LAKE CITY -- When Steven Hawks is tempted by ice cream bars, M&Ms and toffee-covered almonds at the grocery store, he doesn't pass them by. He fills up his shopping cart.
It's the no-diet diet, an approach the Brigham Young University health science professor used to lose 50 pounds and to keep it off for more than five years.
Hawks calls his plan "intuitive eating" and thinks the rest of the country would be better off if people stopped counting calories, started paying attention to hunger pangs and ate whatever they wanted.
As part of intuitive eating, Hawks surrounds himself with unhealthy foods he especially craves. He says having an overabundance of what's taboo helps him lose his desire to gorge.
There is a catch to this no-diet diet, however: Intuitive eaters only eat when they're hungry and stop when they're full.
That means not eating a box of chocolates when you're feeling blue or digging into a big plate of nachos just because everyone else at the table is.
The trade-off is the opportunity to eat whatever your heart desires when you are actually hungry.
"One of the advantages of intuitive eating is you're always eating things that are most appealing to you, not out of emotional reasons, not because it's there and tastes good," he said. "Whenever you feel the physical urge to eat something, accept it and eat it. The cravings tend to subside. I don't have anywhere near the cravings I would as a 'restrained eater.'"
Hawks should know. In 1989, the Utah native had a job at North Carolina State University in Raleigh and wanted to return to his home state. But at 210 pounds, he didn't think a fat person could get a job teaching students how to be healthy, so his calorie-counting began.
He lost weight and got the job at Utah State University. But the pounds soon came back.
For several years his weight fluctuated, until he eventually gave up on being a restrained eater and the weight stayed on.
"You definitely lose weight on a diet, but resisting biological pressures is ultimately doomed," Hawks said.