Based on the research of Dr. Susan Roberts, a researcher at Tufts University, the instinct diet is designed to help dieters understand and control cravings by becoming familiar with their own instincts to eat and how they cause overeating, binges and consumption of unhealthy foods. The basics of the instinct diet are meant to teach dieters to eat foods that are not only healthy, but help suppress cravings and overall appetite. It also helps them learn what their personal triggers are and how to manage them.
Like many diet programs, the instinct diet consists of three phases, with the earliest phase being the most restrictive. The types of foods to be avoided on the instinct diet depend on what stage of the diet you are in. By the third stage, restrictions are much more relaxed, and hopefully you’ve tamed your cravings and are on the way to permanent weight loss.
Five major foods to avoid on the instinct diet, especially during the first phase, include:
1. Refined Carbohydrates
Refined carbohydrates such as white sugar and white flower, pastries, candies or other similar foods should be avoided on the first phase of the instinct diet. In later phases, they can be added in as daily “treats,” but overall this kind of processed food is not the best dietary choice. The instinct diet recommends foods with a high glycemic index, such as high fiber cereals and vegetables, to help suppress hunger. Refined carbohydrates are more likely to trigger hunger cravings.
Alcohol also has a low glycemic index and usually contains sugars. It can also act as a stimulant, increasing appetite. Too much alcohol can make it difficult for a dieter to remember how much they have eaten and reduce inhibitions that might prevent overeating, especially in social situations.
3. High Calorie Foods
Most of the foods that we find most tempting are calorie dense and short on nutrition. These kinds of high calorie foods should be avoided in the first phase of the instinct diet, and consumed in limited quantities in later phases. The diet provides strategies for managing cravings for these kinds of foods, which are often comfort foods, making them that much more difficult to eliminate from the diet.
4. Snack Foods
One important part of the instinct diet, especially in the first stage, is structured eating. In the first phase, which lasts two weeks, dieters are limited to a rotation of three different menu plans. The food included in these menu plans is chosen based on its ability to suppress hunger. Because of the highly structured nature of this stage of the diet, it is important to avoid additional snacks or other foods that are not included in the plan.
5. Impulse Foods
Another major focus of the impulse diet is to learn to control how, when and what you eat. Impulsively giving in to cravings is understandable, but will greatly reduce the effectiveness of the diet. Sticking to the structured, appetite suppressing plan set up for the first two weeks will give you the best ammunition to resist these cravings in the future.
Overall, the instinct diet does not require the dieter to eliminate any particular family of foods on a permanent basis. But, in the long term, the diet will help you understand why you eat the way you do, and how to change bad habits into good.