Dee McCaffrey, CDC, is an organic chemist by trade and became a nutritionist by fate. In 1992, she overcame a decades long battle with obesity—trimming 100 pounds from her petite body frame—and has kept it off for over twenty years.
She is the co-founder and director of nutrition programs at Processed-Free America, a non-profit organization dedicated to teaching children and adults the health consequences of eating processed foods and the health value of eating whole foods. She is also the co-owner and creator of Dee’s Naturals, a line of tasty food products that are free of processed ingredients. The Science of Skinny is a reformulation of Dee’s previous books, Plan-D The Amazing Anti-Diet and the accompanying Plan-D Cookbook. To learn more about Dee, go to www.processedfreeamerica.org.
1. Why did you choose this name “The Science of Skinny” and what motivated you to write this book?
As a person who struggled with obesity for many years, a responsibility was instilled in me early in my weight loss process to extend my hand and heart to all who share my struggle and to those who are suffering from the effects of ill health. I have dedicated myself to serving others in this capacity, and I find it highly rewarding to share my experience and knowledge with others. I have written my books because I want to help as many people as I can by sharing what worked for me and how it has worked for many others.
The book was first published in 2009 under a different title, and the overwhelming reader feedback has been that they loved the science. The content was based on a nutrition and weight loss course I developed to educate people on how to transition away from eating processed foods. Each week I explained the science behind the individual components of the plan, and also gave a cooking lesson featuring recipes from my books so that students could see how easy it is to prepare healthy food and taste for themselves the delicious cuisine. My students raved over the food, not to mention the success of their improved health and weight loss, but the one aspect they appreciated the most was the science explaining WHY it is important to eat foods in their closest to natural form.
As a nutritionist, my chemistry background has been extremely valuable in helping me to understand not only the inherent chemical nature of food itself, but also the many aspects of how foods interact with the body to create health or disease.
In the two decades that I have kept my weight off, obesity has become a chronic illness in the U.S. that has reached epidemic proportions. While I have continued to keep processed foods out of my life, the food industry has been adding more to everyone else’s. Highly refined carbohydrates, processed cooking oils, and an unbelievable myriad of food additives have been linked to unforeseen and powerful chemical reactions in the body and brain, inducing obesity at rapid and alarming rates. Additionally, the increasing rate of diet related illness in normal weight people is just as staggering. During these same two decades, scientific research is showing that whole natural foods are just as powerful at combating the effects of obesity and ill-health.
As a chemist, I understand this complicated food science and am able to explain it in easy-to-understand layman terms. When my publisher asked me to re-title my book, my husband was the one who conceived the new title, based on what has helped my clients, students, and readers achieve a more life-affirming relationship with their bodies and the foods they eat.
2. Why do you believe that eating foods in their closest-to-natural form is the true path to sustained weight loss? how does it leads to weight loss?
There are two important body systems that lead to weight loss—your pH and the health of your main fat-burning organ (your liver). When your body pH is too acidic, which is mainly due to eating sugar and processed foods, your body creates fat cells to protect your vital organs. This fat is very difficult to lose, because your body will not let it go if the foods you eat continue to create an acidic pH.
Also, if you’re the liver is overwhelmed with food additives, pesticides and other toxins, it can’t burn fat efficiently, leading to weight gain. Eating foods in their closest to natural form provides the body with the nutrients needed to balance the body’s pH, cleanse the liver of toxins, and easily restores the body to its natural size and weight.
There are some pretty amazing differences between whole natural foods and the processed, refined versions of those same foods. Two examples are white sugar and white flour. Consuming the same number of calories of whole sugar cane juice, and refined white sugar have marked differences on weight and health. Natural raw sugar cane juice has an amazing array of nutrients with startling health-protective properties. It contains an abundance of easily absorbable calcium and other minerals that creates the proper body pH, vitamin C and other cancer-fighting antioxidants, all of which can lead to weight loss and improved health when consumed regularly as part of a health-supportive diet.
However, scientific research shows that eating refined white sugar regularly, which has been stripped of all the nutrients originally present in the raw sugar cane, robs the body of important nutrients, creates an acidic pH, and leads to other health problems such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
Studies also show that eating refined grains, such as white flour, leads to weight gain, whereas eating the same number of calories of whole grains leads to weight loss. This is because whole grains contain nutrients that support the body’s natural balance, whereas refined grains are devoid of nutrients.
Healthy eating is about respecting how our bodies are designed. For the most part, we are all designed to eat vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, and untainted meats, fish, poultry, eggs, and dairy. How we put those foods together into beautiful, tasty meals is what The Science of Skinny is all about. It may sound complicated, but it’s really just about staying away from unnatural, processed foods. When we approach eating as intelligently as the foods themselves have been designed by nature, weight loss is effortless and sustainable.
3. What are your views or thoughts that causes the current state of obesity in America?
The state of obesity in America is obviously multifactorial. There are strong forces at work in our society that cause us to resort to quick and convenient processed food, and the evidence is clear that food additives and refined carbohydrates play a key role in weight gain. People are constantly told that it is a matter of personal responsibility, but it’s hard to take responsibility for your own health when you don’t understand why you gained weight in the first place. As I mentioned before, refined sugar, white food additives have been proven to interfere with our body’s normal functions.
In 2011, researchers at the University of California found that cooking oils used in starchy foods such as French fries and potato chips trigger the body to produce natural marijuana-like chemicals that make these foods irresistible and stimulate a biological mechanism that encourages gluttonous behavior. It has long been known that another common food additive, monosodium glutamate (MSG), creates a biochemical disturbance that triples the amount of insulin the pancreas creates, leading to a change in metabolism and fat storing mechanisms—inducing obesity in a very short amount of time.
The obesity-effect of MSG is so reproducible that scientists purposefully use MSG to induce obesity in laboratory animals to study the effects of obesity and diabetes. These are only two examples of how food additives and food processing wreak havoc on our normal body chemistry. Regular consumption of refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup create different, yet equally devastating, routes to quick obesity. The synergistic effect has not been studied, but we can see that this type of obesity is aggressive, stubborn, and more deadly than ever.
However, science has also proven that our nation’s weight crisis can be reversed through healthful eating, support, education, and exercise.
4. Your book includes kick-start plans, what is the basic premise of this diet/eating plan?
The Processed-Free Eating Plan in my book focuses on the two important body systems mentioned earlier that lead to weight loss and improved health—proper body pH and the health of our body’s main fat-burning organ (the liver). The premise is to include an abundance of delicious healthy foods and beverages that support these two systems. The book includes meal plans, food guidelines, tips for eating out, cooking tips, and over 50 recipes. Readers may be delighted to discover that healthy fats, such as avocadoes and butter are part of the plan, and even the right kind of chocolate can be enjoyed regularly! I have included meal plans for both omnivores and vegetarians, and the plan can be adapted for diabetics and those with gluten sensitivities.
5. What makes “The Science of Skinny” a unique approach to weight loss from a gaggle of diets currently in the market?
The Science of Skinny is not a diet book. It is a natural, organic health plan to help readers get their body to the place where it functions best. The book sets readers on a path of lifelong learning about nutrition and the healing effects of whole foods. People learn how to eat for long term health, not short term weight loss, and they learn to do it in a way that is tasty and enjoyable—without reliance on calorie counting or other dieting tactics. The book presents new concepts and scientific truths about food, fat, and healing.
6. What other positive results should a person expect to experience following “The Science of Skinny” diet? Is it for everyone?
Cravings for sugar and flour typically leave within 30 days. Physically, they will have more energy, and many are alleviated of allergies. Skin becomes softer, clearer and younger-looking. Other noticeable are normalized cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar levels, relief of arthritis symptoms, better sleep quality, and emotionally stability.
The personal stories included in the book illustrate how each person’s experience with processed-free living is unique. The plan can work for everyone, as it is not a plan to be approached with black and white thinking or a lofty goal for perfection. The willingness to strive for progress, not perfection, brings about results simply by eating processed-free foods to the best of one’s ability. The state of one’s health is all about choices, and readers are encouraged to make health their number one priority.
7. Could you share with us on average how much weight does your readers usually lose while following on the lifestyle you advocate? And what is the ONE thing that helps them to lose weight with “The Science of Skinny”?
As each person who follows a processed-free lifestyle begins at a different age, weight and level of health, results vary accordingly. Men typically lose faster than women, and people who are severely overweight typically experience a larger weight loss initially, than do those who have less than 20 pounds to lose. At age 30 and 100 pounds overweight, I lost 20 pounds in the first 30 days with moderate exercise. After a year, I had lost 100 pounds. Clients and readers have lost most or all of their excess weight—anywhere from 10 pounds to 100 pounds, depending on their goals.
Weight loss is a significant life change that requires ongoing support, education and commitment. Those who are committed to educating themselves and acting on what they learn, are the most successful.
8. What are the difficult aspects for a person to switch from their normal diet to “The Science of Skinny’s way? Could you share some of the experiences that your clients gone through with the diet? (if it’s not confidential)
Giving up sugar and sodas are often the most difficult aspects of making the switch to processed-free eating. Many food additives can create addictions that people are not even aware of until they stop eating them. Some people may experience temporary withdrawal symptoms that can range from mild to briefly uncomfortable. Headaches and fatigue are normal in the first few days, as are cravings for sugar and carbs.
In the book, I offer ways to help readers get through these uncomfortable days. It is important to get more rest and sleep than normal during this time, and drink plenty of water. Withdrawal symptoms typically pass after five days, as the body begins to normalize to a new level of heath. As more healthy foods are introduced, people begin to feel even better than when they started.
9. Do you have anything specific or advice that you want to say to the readers who are struggling to lose weight to help them shed the fats?
Processed-free eating may seem like a tall order for some people, but those who have been willing to give it an honest try have found the improvements in their health astounding and remarkable. Our body needs whole foods, as close as possible to the way nature provides them, to function well. The Science of Skinny will show you how to enjoy nature’s bounty in a way that is satisfying and delicious.
Finally, while my own weight loss journey has been personal and unique, at the core I am just like those who are struggling now. I was once a morbidly obese junk food junkie who couldn’t see past the next mouthful of M&M’s. I know what it’s like to be standing in your shoes. The only difference between you and me is that I have more experience with processed-free eating. But my experience was hard won. You have an advantage I didn’t have twenty years ago: the proven science, advice, wisdom, recipes, and practical tools offered in my book. If I can change, anyone can.