All About Alumni / Summer 2014
60 Seconds With Yoni Freedhoff

This doc prescribes chocolate


COURTESY OF YONI FREEDHOFF

A diet can be low in carbs, fat, or sodium – but above all else it should be enjoyable. That’s the advice of Ottawa-based weight management doctor Yoni Freedhoff (MD 1999) who says that human weakness just won’t let us endure too much deprivation. His new book, The Diet Fix, is full of tasty recipes, fun factoids (did you know that the first best-selling diet book was written by a British coffin maker in 1863?) and tips on how to make that diet last well beyond your high-school reunion. Cynthia Macdonald weighs in with the man many are calling one of “Canada’s foremost obesity experts.”

Is it true you actually write prescriptions for chocolate?
I do! Also for Chinese food, beer, pizza, you name it. Food is not just fuel: it’s comfort and celebration. The odds that you’re going to cut out something forever that regularly provides you with pleasure are very low. I’d rather people learn how to have the smallest amount of whatever it is they need to like their lives, than to eliminate it altogether.

I guess we all have our kryptonite. Mine is cake….
And mine is potato chips.

You’re a huge fan of food diaries.
My experience with literally thousands of patients is that people who use them well lose up to three times as much weight as people who don’t. One of the main benefits is learning your foodscape, as I call it. Knowing the calories in all the foods of your life will help in determining how often you choose them and how much of them you choose.

And diary apps can also tell us how many calories are in our food. We don’t really know, do we?
Calories are not intuitive – you can’t smell them, you can’t see them. Sometimes you want a lot of them, but you should know what you’re getting into. It’s like looking at price tags before you buy.

Many people don’t know that there’s a big caloric difference between fruits and vegetables, even though we always mention them in the same breath.
With vegetables you can almost do no wrong. But certain fruits, like grapes, really pack a punch. I’ve had pears that have the calories of Mars bars.

Back to those potato chips. One thing that’s nice about this book is you’re not preachy: you have weaknesses too.
There’s nothing I tell people to do in my book that I don’t actually do myself. I’ve kept a food diary every day since 2011, eat mostly home-cooked meals and make sure I’ve got protein everywhere. But yes, I will have potato chips and I enjoy my single-malt scotch. This is real life! If you’re caught up in trying to be perfect, you’ll create a lifestyle that isn’t sustainable in the long term.

Read an excerpt from The Diet Fix.

Excerpted from The Diet Fix: Why Diets Fail and How to Make Yours Work. Copyright © 2014 Dr. Jonathan Freedhoff. Published by Random House Canada, a division of Random House of Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.


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