Ride To Life And Break The Cycle Of Obesity by Dr Gary Leong

An extract from the book by Dr Gary Leong

Ride to Life: a no-nonsense program for breaking your family’s cycle of obesity and connecting to a healthier, happier life

Stage 5 – You are what you eat: nutrition for making the change for good

Let food be thy Medicine and medicine be thy food

Hippocrates, Ancient Greek physician of Age of Pericles 460BCE–377BCE, regarded as father of practice of medicine as a rational science 

Principles of good nutrition

When I start working with patients on this aspect, I ask a simple question. If your great-grandparents saw the food you eat, would they recognise it as the real, living food they ate when they were children? 

I ask this question because in the time before the globalisation of fast-food brands like McDonalds, KFC, Pizza Hut and Hungry Jacks, takeaway or fast food was only available in a very limited way, if at all. Almost everybody prepared fresh food at home, and while this food may have been simple – meat and three vegetables – meals were nourishing, healthy and in no way supersized. Reflected in the physical size of people and their physique – generally lean and physically fit – food was regarded as sustenance, not something for self-soothing. 

In the same way, hunger was considered a normal daily sensation felt between main meals. Sweets were in short supply and baked at home from real ingredients. Often grown at home, fruit and vegetables formed an essential part of the normal daily diet. People knew where their food came from. Parents decided what would go on the table (i.e. they weren’t dictated to by kids), and children ate their food without complaint or if they did complain, parents generally ignored them. That was the way I was brought up. On special occasions (and there were always enough of those during the year to satisfy most kids), but not every day, my parents allowed us to indulge in a special ice cream or sweet, which we enjoyed more as we knew it was a special occasion! 

The principles of nutrition during that era were simple.

As someone who treats patients with obesity each day, I feel that people who are committed to breaking the cycle of obesity in their family need to go back to basic principles. And that’s what I’m going to share here in this book. These basic principles will provide a framework within which you can find what works for you and your family. Once you’re confident in these principles, you may wish to experiment, but for now, simple is best.

Time to build confidence in your food wisdom 

To reconnect with yourself, establish a healthy relationship with food, and break the cycle of obesity, you must find what works best for you and your family. This means slowing down enough to allow you to tune in and observe your family’s needs.

One important step in the process of building your food wisdom muscle is to recognise there is no ‘one size fits all’ food regimen. Part of breaking the cycle of obesity means you are also on a journey of discovery of food that gives life and vitality to your family. Having said that, I believe there are principles which create sensible food foundations for every person. Within the family unit, there may be individual preferences, but there is going to be a large area of overlap that allows you to cater to most people’s needs, most of the time, and to do this in a healthy way.

Remember, I’m not a diet dictator. I’m simply sharing the guiding principles I apply and know work for patients in my clinic.

Dr Gary’s food guidelines for breaking the cycle of obesity:

  • Substitute empty, fake, fast foods for nourishing real wholefoods – so called ‘rainbow’ fresh foods i.e. fresh fruit and vegetables, lentils, wholegrain and whole foods
  • Keep food simple and unprocessed
  • Incorporate as much plant food as possible into your diet
  • Moderate meal sizes at home and when eating out

Look at these other great family resources from NSW Western Sydney LHD


For further information about Dr Gary Leong’s Ride to Life book go to https://2020familyhealthchallenge.com

Gary Leong

Prof Gary Leong is a paediatric endocrinologist based in NSW and is passionate about educating the community about prevention of childhood obesity and has written a book called, ‘Ride to Life’.

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