TBR: The Instinct Diet

This January, I got back from vacation and hopped on the scale, and was horrified to see a number that I had previously only seen when pregnant — yes, I really did weigh more than I did immediately postpartum.  It shouldn't have surprised me — all my pants were too tight.  Somewhere along the way, I had added an extra 10 pounds to the usual "I could really stand to lose 10 pounds."  So I started looking around for a diet plan that I could follow.  I'm pretty skeptical of diets, but I also know that all of these "lifestyle" approaches that claim that you can lose weight effortlessly by making simple substitutions don't work for me, because I already drink skim milk, don't drink soda, rarely have chips, etc.

Over at US Food Policy, Parke spoke highly of The Instinct Diet: Use Your Five Food Instincts to Lose Weight and Keep It Off, by Susan Roberts, so I decided to give it a try.  Eight weeks later, I've lost the "extra" 10 pounds, and am finding it painless enough that I'm going to keep going and try to get rid of the "could stand to lose" weight.

Roberts goes through a whole explanation of the different "instincts" that make us overeat, but fundamentally, the diet is about eating a nutritionally balanced diet, restricting calories, and using a bunch of "tricks" so that you don't feel deprived and hungry along the way.  So, you eat lots of soup and salad, because they're high volume.  You put the most fattening flavorful things on the outside (chocolate on strawberries, dressing on salad) so you maximize the taste punch.  You eat mostly whole grain or high fiber carbs so they digest slowly and make you feel full.  You eat a wide variety of veggies, but rotate through a limited set of main dishes, and have a choice of a starch with dinner or dessert, but not both.

The book includes both recipes and suggestions for how to follow the diet using mostly packaged foods.  In general, the recipes are quite good — the thai peanut dressing for salad is amazing, and all the soups have been good enough that I'd make them even when I wasn't trying to watch my weight.  However, the "pizza" base was all but inedible — possibly because I couldn't find the white wheat bran she recommended anywhere, either online or looking at health stores.  But the no-cook alternative is to use a low-carb pita bread, which worked out ok for me.  I thought the "I-diet bread" was awful the first time I had it, but it's grown on me over time.  (And one of Roberts' instincts is indeed familiarity.)

So, I don't think the diet is perfect, but it's working for me.  And the Amazon reviews are overwhelmingly positive.  This may be the best diet book you've never heard of.

Sorry, this post is attracting too much spam.  I'm going to close it to comments.

5 Responses to “TBR: The Instinct Diet”

  1. Madeleine Says:


  2. nigelmoose Says:

    Congrats on the 10 lb loss–that’s awesome! Hope the remaining pounds that you’d like to lose come off painlessly as well.
    This is timely for me, too. I jumped on the scale this morning for the first time in a while and immediately vowed to start watching my calories and to get back to the gym. I also drink skim milk, rarely drink soda or eat “junk” food…but I do have issues with portion control and too-frequent desserts. I’ll check this out; perhaps it’s the new approach I’ve been looking for.

  3. merseydotes Says:

    As we’re still regulating my thryoid levels, I am battling a seroius bulge. Unclear how much of it is me and how much of it is my wild swinging hormone levels, but I am 7 pounds away from my non-pregnancy highest weight ever and only 12 pounds away from my pregnancy highest weight ever. I think I am ready for an honest-to-goodness diet plan, and this sounds like a winner. I drink skim milk, don’t drink soda, don’t buy chips, hardly buy ice cream anymore, etc. But I have a weak spot for chocolate so the “calorie density” piece sounds really intriguing to me. I’ll have to pick it up.

  4. merseydotes Says:

    …and congrats on your weight loss!

  5. kathy a. Says:

    congrats on your weight loss!
    i’m kinda working on it, but with the twist of needing to restrict sodium first, and also lose the weight. think i’m doing pretty well on the sodium front. most prepared foods are really awful in terms of sodium. i’m bad about diets of any sort, and so not into preparing everything myself.