More Advice from the Formerly Fat

[Woman looks at tall stack of donuts. Accompanying quote: 'Food is the most widely abused anti-anxiety drug in America, and exercise is the most potent yet underutilized antidepressant. ' --Bill Philips]

Dr. Pretlow has always emphasized the importance of identifying problem foods, and there is a very good reason for that recommendation. Many formerly obese patients, when faced with the seemingly overwhelming task of cutting down on food, have found an incredible advantage in narrowing the range by pinpointing the worst food villains. To work on eliminating them first gives a person an incredible head start toward achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.

This excerpt is from exercise physiologist Dean Kriellaars, who playfully characterizes a person’s problem food as a “Miss Vickie,” because that brand of potato chips used to be his particular downfall. He told a reporter:

She’s a lovely woman. She never says no to me. She smells great. But I had to kick her out. I broke up with her. Everybody’s got a Miss Vickie.

From what Kriellaars told a reporter about one of his former clients, another fallacy becomes obvious, and that is the human ability to fool oneself with words. This person’s “Miss Vickie” was something called a “skinny latte.” One of those concoctions only has 300 calories — what could go wrong? Turns out, drinking four of them every day removes any potential for “skinny.” Once that problem was identified, the client was able to shed nearly 90 pounds.

The website Reddit reliably supplies real-life anecdotes from real people like the formerly obese “roccala,” who used to weigh 300 pounds but got down to 175 and has maintained that weight for three years. This person made the bold choice to continue eating the same volume of food — “as much as I wanted” — but only if it was fresh and chemical-free. Within those parameters, a moment’s reflection will confirm how astonishingly few dining possibilities remain.

“Roccala” also concluded that sugar makes a lousy anti-depressant and began using exercise, instead of sweets, to banish the stress of daily life. Another suggestion is to chew more thoroughly because digestion is supposed to start in the mouth, as the beginning of a process that uses nutrients more efficiently. Of course, we all need to remember that the brain doesn’t immediately receive the “enough” message, and it’s always a good idea to finish a meal slightly hungry because the satiated feeling will arrive within 15 or 20 minutes.

This formerly obese person also counsels stomach shrinkage, a natural process that takes place over time, once you change habits and eat smaller amounts. Also, “Water — make it your best friend.” That is excellent advice for anyone, whether their “Miss Vickie” is soda or sweetened coffee or tea. Plain water is always a superior refreshment to any other fluid.

Not 100% on board

“Roccala” makes one sketchy suggestion, to have a cheat day on which you can eat anything you want. Granted, this does seem to work for some people. But Dr. Pretlow does not advise incorporating a cheat day into the program. If a problem food is truly an addictive substance, comparable to a drug, abstinence is the only way out. Recovering alcoholics don’t get to drink on one day a week, because it absolutely doesn’t work.

Adopting a consistently healthful diet does have the advantage of making a person lose the cravings that previously existed. Many formerly obese people are very enthusiastic about the “ketogenic diet,” which was originally developed to treat childhood epilepsy, testifying that it removes the craving for carbohydrates and sweets.

Many formerly obese people swear by the technique of calculating the cost, which can now be done with technological means. What price will you pay for indulging in an eclair? How many calories does that attractive nuisance contain, and how many minutes will you have to run to erase those calories? Does this sound like a good deal? Really?

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Tips for trimming the fat,”, 08/24/2013
Source: “Hello! HamPlanet Boogie2988 here sitting down the fried chicken long enough to answer your questions,”, 10/28/13
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OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

Food & Health Resources