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Food First

Bethany Klug DO is a physician

for whom food is a doorway to

personal, community and

planetary health. Learn more

about how she helps people live a lifespan of health at


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Overcoming the Veggie Challenge

by Bethany Klug, D.O. 


Last month I outlined a Food First strategy for weight loss, particularly that stubborn menopausal weight gain. I call it the Metabolic Reset. It is effective for anyone not just menopausal women. I like this approach because it teaches through experience the foods stall weight loss or cause weight gain, as well as the foods that promote weight loss and well-being. The end result is a way of eating that maintains not only a healthier body weight, but a healthier you!


A challenge for some with the Metabolic Reset is eating six fistfuls or fist-sized servings vegetables every day, measured before cooking. Yet many have no trouble eating six fistfuls or fist-sized servings of fruit every day. There is a reason for this. For most of human history, fruit was available only during the summer season. We gorged ourselves on it and gained weight that we would burn off during the winter when food was scarce. Thus, eating fruit sends the signal to get fat for the winter. Eating high fructose corn syrup sends the same signal, but many times louder. 


We now know about leptin, a hormone secreted by fat cells that tells us we are full and to stop eating. It literally takes the pleasure out of eating. However, eating a lot of sweet foods causes leptin resistance, that is it takes more leptin to make us push the plate away. So we eat more. Leptin also causes us to slow down, another way hold on to weight for the winter. For these reasons I call leptin the hibernation hormone.


So by eating six fistfuls or fist-sized servings of green & white vegetables per day and, at least initially, limiting other colored vegetables, fruits, grains and other sweet tasting foods, the Metabolic Reset can give your body the winter it needs to burn off fat and can reverse leptin resistance.


The easiest way to get six fistfuls or fist-sized servings of vegetables daily is to eat two at every meal. Vegetables for breakfast? Yes! In many cultures around the world breakfast is no different than any other meal and includes vegetables. It was the same way here until around 1880, when equipment to roll oats and make flakes was invented. The breakfast industry was born and thanks to them, most of us today start our day with a bowl of flakes. Now that’s a ticket to leptin resistance!


Green smoothies are another excellent ways to up your veggie intake at breakfast.


Also consider having dinner for breakfast. Make some extra and warm it up the next morning. I love eggs and leafy green salad with walnuts, avocado and balsamic vinaigrette. Fresh tomato, cucumber and avocado slices drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper is a great start to a summer day.  Remember celery boats, celery with nut butter spread on them? Skip the raisins and enjoy them as a easy breakfast to go. Veggies dipped in cashew cheese is another delicious breakfast on the run. Enjoy this recipe for cashew cheese. You won’t miss the dairy.




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