The Instinct Diet: Use Your Five Food Instincts to Lose Weight and Keep it Off

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Satisfying our hardwired instincts has been critical to our survival for as long as we have been human. That's why we eat when food is available, choose the most calorie-dense foods, and hate the feeling of hunger. Today, these same drives are leading millions down the path of obesity. But Dr. Susan B. Roberts, an internationally recognized nutrition researcher at Tufts University, shows how to turn our food instincts into an engine for permanent, healthy weight loss.

The Instinct Diet—the "I" diet—is a pleasure to follow: a diet based on impeccable research, a diet where the dieter never goes hungry, a diet that's unequivocally healthy, thoroughly grounded in the metabolic, genetic, and psychological workings of the human body. Essentially, it shows how you can control the controls. Through its focus on delicious, deeply satisfying dishes like Orange Crumbed French Toast, Pork and Lemongrass Soup, Watercress and Citrus Salad with Parmesan Toast, and Chocolate Bread Pudding, plus proven behavioral modifications (Dr. Roberts is a professor of nutrition and professor of psychiatry), the diet is a fat-burning marvel. At Tufts, 85 percent of participants in Dr. Roberts' research program lost 10 to 50 pounds in the first six months, and 90 percent of them kept the weight off for at least a year. The Instinct Diet shares everything learned by Dr. Roberts over 17 years and more: better ways to lose weight whatever you eat; also a three-stage diet plan; over 100 recipes; eight weeks of menus (with vegetarian and "non-cook" options throughout); and dozens of ideas and strategies for how to retrain our bodies—how to combat the "Gulping Syndrome," use the "Sandwich Technique," why tapping your forehead is an emergency measure to reduce food cravings, and more.

Customer Reviews:

  • Great food, great results
    I have been on this diet for two weeks, and I have been losing weight steadily. There is much to love about this program!

    First, it is reassuring that Dr. Roberts has very good credentials in the medical field and is a professor of nutrition and psychiatry at Tufts University, so I know that the eating plan is healthy.

    Second, the plan is so easy to follow -- the guidelines are straightforward, and there is a lot of variety possible within the allowed guidelines to allow for personal taste.

    Third, the recipes are DELICIOUS (the author used to work as a chef!) with lots of options for vegetarians like me. The food is also very economical to make. The soda bread is fantastic, as is the chocolate "snack attack" pack!

    Fourth -- IT WORKS! My hunger is curbed all day so long as I follow the guidelines (not at all hard to do, once you realize that often a person eats for psychological comfort, not hunger), and I have lost the amount of weight I expected to (about 2 lbs per week). I will report back with further results.

    Thank you, Dr. Roberts!...more info
  • Working with nature instead of against it
    Others have tried to explain why we overeat, often saying that cravings for rich, comforting food are our way of filling some underlying emotional or psychological void. They imply that if we could only satisfy these emotional or psychological needs, the need to stuff our stomachs would miraculously disappear.

    This never rang true for me. Try as I may, I could never figure out why, when I saw a plate of baked brie, I couldn't resist having some even if I had just eaten six other appetizers. I really tried to identify those deeply hidden emotional or psychological deficiencies, but I kept drawing blanks.

    Perhaps it's true that some people overeat in an attempt to sooth their damaged souls, but I think that most of us overeat for the reason Susan Roberts gives: we are programmed to eat for survival in a world where the food supply is scarce or at best spotty. To eat the same way in a world where food is every-present and plentiful is to eat too much.

    Hunger is our most basic food instinct, but Roberts identifies four others that help ensure that we eat enough food - and the right food - to survive. Availability causes us to eat food when we see it, since we may not see it again any time soon. Familiarity causes us to choose foods we know, since foods we've never eaten before may not be safe. We choose foods high in calories because they provide the most energy. And we seek out variety to maximize our chances of getting all the nutrients we need.

    So, even though my hunger may be satisfied, I find it hard to resist the baked brie because it's there, because I've enjoyed it many times before, because it's loaded with calories, and because it's different from the other six appetizers.

    Understanding these instincts is almost all you need to reprogram your eating habits. It's almost enough to say, "Okay, I'm not a caveman. I don't need this brie." But what Roberts does is provide menus that satisfy all five instincts while maintaining a calorie level that will result in a weight loss of 10 to 15 pounds over the course of eight weeks. The regime brings you to understand those instincts in a physical as well as intellectual way.

    I'm halfway through my eight weeks and I'm getting these "home at last" feelings about my eating habits. I feel subtle changes forming in my attitude toward food. Fruits and vegetables are starting to look much more attractive. A single tablespoon of peanuts is starting to look perfectly adequate. The leftovers on the dinner dishes are starting to look like garbage instead of food that will be wasted unless someone eats it.

    I've lost seven pounds so far, but this feels oddly incidental. What seems more important is that I'm eating healthy food, that I don't feel hungry or deprived, and that I'm working with nature instead of struggling against it....more info
  • Great Plan - Easy to stick with - Awesome healthy results
    Totally reasonable "diet" plan. Great recipies. The plan is very simple and easy to follow with starving yourself. I've had great results and am not suffereing or staving. I could stay on this diet forever. ...more info
  • It's not magic, but it works.
    I HATE reviews of diet books that start out, "This is a fantastic book! Common sense, delicious food! I haven't started this diet yet, but I can't wait to see what is going to happen!"

    Well, this isn't one of those. I have been on the Instict Diet for 8 weeks now and have lost 10 pounds. I have been trying to lose this weight for 15 years, since the birth of my older daughter, and I now I finally made significant progress. I still have a way to go, but feel confident I can do it with the Instinct Diet.

    Don't get me wrong, this is not a magic bullet, it is still a diet. But there are a couple of things about this diet that make it really different and make it work. First and foremost, if you eat what Dr. Roberts tells you to eat when you are supposed to eat it, YOU WILL NOT BE HUNGRY. That made all the difference to me. I started lots of diets but always failed because I was simply too hungry. That is not the case with the Instinct Diet. I definitely feel satisfied all day, even on fewer calories.

    The second important difference is that it really reduces crvings. I lost weight on one of the high-protein, no carb-diets, but I started craving bread so badly after the 2nd week, there was no way I could stick with it. While there is some restriction of variety on Phase I, there is still a little bit of something from all food groups (even dessert!), so I never feel deprived.

    Third, the food really is good. I love the Chicken Parm recipe from Phase 1 and eat it often. It's not only delicious, it's so easy that its the perfect food for a busy weeknight. The Instinct Ice Cream Sundae is a staple in our house. The Instinct Hamburger is great, too. I love the Spicy Chili Soup (super easy), the Tanzanian Chicken Kabobs, and the North African Stew. Much to my surprise, I think my favorite is the Vegetables and Tofu with Peanut Sauce. I'm not big tofu fan, but this is filling and delicious (I grill rather than steam the tofu).

    Try it, it really is different!...more info
  • just do it!
    Susan Roberts approach to dieting is based on scientific research, training as a chef as well as the personal experience of being overweight herself many years ago. Don't let he word "diet" stop you from trying this approach. This program is both for the short term and long. It makes it easy to lose weight in a healthy way and gives detailed instruction on how to maintain your weight loss. I have lost 10 pounds in 8 weeks and feel it is "real" weight loss. The recipes are delicious and easy to create. The other positive effects of the diet are that you will feel more in control and healthy and full because of all of the fiber in the diet. It is life changing. It is the best lifestyle change I have ever made. Susan is brilliant and committed to helping people lose weight and keep it off in a healthy way....more info
  • A way of living not just a diet! And I lost over 15 lbs!
    I have been on the Instinct Diet for the last 6 weeks and have lost 15.5 lbs! I am not hungry, I love the foods that I am eating, and now I know my portion sizes, how to deal with going out to restaurants, and how to handle situations at work (you know, donuts, bagels, and cream cheese :). What a refreshing way to look at food instincts. Once I understood the science behind these instincts I had an aha moment, and I feel so much more in control of my environments, and what, and how much I eat. The recipes are great, and I love the variety. And yes, don't forget the fiber. If you want to lose weight AND keep it off this is the book to buy....more info
  • Best diet book
    I am a medical practioner at a family practice clinic that utilizes a medical weight loss program developed at Columbia University. I have read several medical research driven weight loss books and by far this is the most accessable and easy to follow for patients while not degrading the facts or confusing them with half truths. In the past month several of my patients have read the book and used the information very effectively....more info
  • This is healthy??
    I have to admit I haven't started the diet yet. What stopped me in my tracks was some of the products she recommends. One of her highly recommended fiber cereals has as its second and third ingredients not only sugar, but High Fructose Corn Syrup, which is getting a rather bad rap lately in spite of the Corn Refiners Association panicked rebuttal ads.
    In order to get the recommended calorie/fiber ratio in the fiber bars you're supposed to eat during the first few days, you have to pick ones that have all sorts of artificial sweeteners in them. She is recommending foods I have been studiously trying to avoid, and I can't think of any good reason for her to do this.
    As for meals, all I can find is her own recipes, and I know my family won't go for most of those. So this is another diet that, if I wanted to follow it, would mean cooking separate meals for me and family. ...more info
  • Great Diet To Live On
    My husband and I have been "I" dieting for 7 weeks. He's down 20 lbs and I'm down 16. The program is an exceptionally well reseached guide to planning, preparing and enjoying wholesome meals and dialing down calories for weight loss and ultimately, life long weight maintenance. It works and works with all we're programmed to enjoy about food and food preferences. The recipes are delicious and straightforward to prepare. We've enjoyed (actually enjoyed!) eating Dr. Robert's menus -- and we feel not only thinner, but more energetic and upbeat. Hunger has not been an issue nor have food cravings or temptations. The science suggests your body actually adapts to appreciate the good things you're eating. After just days on the Instinct Diet I came to see how true that is as high calorie buffet items looked toxic. This is a program for eating for life. ...more info
  • More than satisfied!!
    It worked! I feel better than I have in years, and lost all my weight without hunger. As God is my witness, I'll never be hungry again!...more info


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