You’ve got it all figured out. The key to losing weight: Control your cravings. Right?
Not so fast. Dawn Jackson Blatner, RDN, thinks we’ve got it all wrong. Instead of steering clear of bad-for-you food, she believes you should embrace our cravings — just do it with healthier ingredients. The Chicago-based nutritionist recently proved her approach is effective, too. She beat out six other celebrity weight loss experts to nab the crown on ABC’s My Diet is Better Than Yours. Using her Superfood Swap Diet, Blatner helped contestant Jasmin Queen lose 26.5 percent of her body weight, dropping 53 pounds total over the course of the show.
“If you’re not losing weight, your portions may be too big. Keep tweaking them.”
How the Superfood Swap Diet Works
The Superfood Swap Diet is based on an approach Blatner has honed over 20-years of nutrition counseling and involves three simple steps: 1) Identify what you want to eat, 2) Balance it in the right ratios on your plate, and 3) Swap in good ingredients. That’s it. No more hours spent weighing food or memorizing cumbersome lists of no-no foods.
“I was sick of people thinking that they had to eat super healthy, boring food to lose weight,” says Blatner. Instead of eating the same veggie stir-fry or dry chicken breast every day, she teaches her clients that weight loss can be fun. “It’s all about leaning in to what you crave. The only catch is, I’d like you to do it with superfoods,” she says. That means swapping a white English muffin for a sprouted whole grain one, or making mac and cheese with real cheese, cauliflower and brown rice pasta instead of reaching for the boxed variety.
Why This Diet Is More Than Just Hype
While there are no fancy rules, the Superfood Swap Diet works because it encourages long-term habit changes. According to Blatner, depriving yourself of certain foods will lead to a cycle of restricting and binging and ultimately, you’ll regain the weight. Instead, she eliminates all the ‘should’s” and “can’t have’s” associated with most weight loss plans. “I believe the magic is in the word ‘want’ because most of the time diets are about what you should do and what you have to do,” says Blatner. “You don’t have to become a mini-me of whoever the author is [to lose weight].” The plan is customized to you.
Mindset is also critical to Blatner’s plan. For example, she and Jasmin signed a contract at the start, which included provisions like no negative self-talk, no comparing to other contestants, and no emotional freak-outs over the scale. (Blatner encourages you to think of that number on the scale as just a scientific data point). “She understood I was there for way more than just eating less calories,” says Blatner.
As a result, Blatner says you’ll lose weight in a healthy way while potentially decreasing your risk for chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease. And, hey, for the first time, you might even enjoy the process, too.
How to Start Your Superfood Swap Diet
Ready to get your own reality TV-worthy results? Blatner offers these five tips to get you started.
1. Balance your wants.
This is the most important step. “Get in touch with what you want and get it into the right ratios on your plate,” says Blatner. Her general rule of thumb: Fill approximately a quarter of your plate with protein (here’s what 25 grams of protein looks like) and a quarter with whole grains like quinoa or brown rice. The remaining half of your plate should be filled with vegetables. “But not the same boring salad every day,” says Blatner. “Make sure you’re having a good time with them and it’s not just drudgery.”
2. Keep tweaking.
Blather doesn’t have hard and fast rules for a reason. “I have no idea how to feed your body. You do,” she says. You’ll start to develop what Blatner calls visual wisdom — the ability to eyeball your portions. If you’re not losing weight, your portions may be too big. Keep tweaking them.
3. Cut the CRAP.
Blather wants you to cut the crap from your kitchen — Chemicals you can’t pronounce or don’t use in your own kitchen, Refined sugars and flours, Artificial sweeteners, flavors and colors, Preservatives. “If you use this to read ingredients and you get rid of things that have a lot of CRAP, generally, you’re going to start eating a healthier diet,” says Blatner.
4. Mean it when you eat it.
That means sitting in a chair at a table and using a plate. No more eating out of takeout containers or on the run. “Use a table, plate and chair so you’re more mindful when you eat,” says Blatner.
5. Eat functional snacks.
“A lot of snack companies promote healthy versions of snacks, but none of these things are filling people up to get them from one meal to the next,” says Blatner. Her advice? Have a solid produce-and-protein snack like cherry tomatoes and string cheese or an apple and almonds. Good-bye, 100-calorie pack.
Most importantly: “Don’t make this hard. Don’t make this a struggle,” she says. “Just enjoy yourself when you’re making these changes.”