The HD Diet: Achieve Lifelong Weight Loss with Chia Seeds and Nature's Water-Absorbent Foods

The HD Diet: Achieve Lifelong Weight Loss with Chia Seeds and Nature's Water-Absorbent Foods

by Keren Gilbert
The HD Diet: Achieve Lifelong Weight Loss with Chia Seeds and Nature's Water-Absorbent Foods

The HD Diet: Achieve Lifelong Weight Loss with Chia Seeds and Nature's Water-Absorbent Foods

by Keren Gilbert


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HD is in high demand these days. It's only natural to want everything in sharp focus. But what about health in HD? The HD Diet shows readers how to choose the right foods to ensure a high-definition life.

This 12-week plan provides guidelines on incorporating hydrophilic ("water-loving") foods like oats, beans, artichokes, spinach, and apples, along with nutrient-dense hydro-boosters like chia seeds, into a well-balanced diet. When digested, these foods diminish cravings, maintain digestive health, and encourage weight loss. Keren Gilbert also encourages readers to phase out "IF" foods—infrequent foods such as white bread, processed foods, and refined sugar. Readers will find delicious recipes like Cinnamon-Chia Oatmeal, Scallop Stir-Fry Shirataki, and Pumpkin Yogurt Parfait.

The HD Diet focuses on a mind-body approach to weight loss that is both pleasurable and sustainable. With motivational stories from clients (some have lost up to 30 pounds in 12 weeks), detailed shopping lists, daily menu templates, and a strong emphasis on making healthy decisions for life, The HD Diet ensures that every reader will live life in high definition.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781623362935
Publisher: Potter/Ten Speed/Harmony/Rodale
Publication date: 12/23/2014
Pages: 272
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Keren Gilbert, MS, RD, is the founder of Decision Nutrition, and has been counseling patients since 1998. She holds a master's degree in nutrition and food studies from New York University and completed her dietetic residency at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. She has been featured in Self, Shape, Redbook, US Weekly, and on Fox and Friends, among others. She lives in Roslyn Heights, NY.

Read an Excerpt



"Let your medicine be your food and your food be your medicine."


Isn't it unbelievable that the Greek doctor Hippocrates wrote the quote above more than 2,000 years ago? I picture Hippocrates watching his overweight peers suffer from heart attacks and diabetes and hypothesizing that their ill health might not be caused by a curse from the gods but rather a lifestyle of meat, cheese, and wine orgies. Given all the knowledge we've gathered since then, it's amazing that we still struggle with the idea of food as healing. The Internet puts information about lifestyle and diet right at our fingertips, but so many of us resist the simple truth that our decisions about what to put in our bodies has a tremendous impact on our health, weight, and happiness.

Let's also not forget that we are constantly confronted by food decisions in our daily routines. Believe me, this occurs many more times than you might think! A study at Cornell University addressed exactly this issue. When 139 participants were asked how many food decisions they made in a typical day, the average answer given was 14. But when asked to consider daily choices as to when, what, how much, where, and who with to eat for every meal, snack, and drink, the number came out to a staggering 226 food decisions a day.1

As a nutritionist and registered dietitian, I take Hippocrates's words to heart. My vision has always been to help people improve their lives through the food decisions they make. Hey, we make so many food decisions that knowing what to eat can really be an overwhelming task for some people. It's my hope that by the end of this book, you won't feel overwhelmed, you'll understand how to incorporate hydrophilic foods into your diet, and you'll be living in HD.

Now what do I mean by hydrophilic foods? It was during my research to find the optimum healthy, beneficial foods to recommend to my clients (an ongoing quest!) that I first came across the word. Hydrophilic originates from the Greek words for water (hydro) and friendship (philia).

The word made me think of waves crashing on the shore and children frolicking in turquoise pools. It sounded fresh, clean, and hopeful. When applied to food, it is equally positive. A food is hydrophilic if it is "water loving," meaning it has a strong affinity for water. Hydrophilic foods fill up with water, and in turn, they fill you up, leaving you feeling satisfied.

I loved the idea, but I wanted a more in-depth understanding of how the science related to foods we ingest every day. I soon discovered that foods with a high hydrophilic quality contain an aquatic fiber known more commonly as soluble fiber. Now, we have been told over and over again to increase our fiber intake. But all fiber is not created equal. All fiber comes from the edible portion of plant cell walls. (I'm talking about foods like grains, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables.) And all fiber is resistant to digestion to some degree. But there are two kinds of fiber: insoluble and soluble.

Understanding the distinction between water-insoluble and water-soluble (or hydrophilic) fiber is what led to my revolutionary HD plan.


Hippocrates may have been one of the first on record to stress how food affects our health, but in the 1970s the surgeon Denis P. Burkitt pointed out some new angles. He compared the pattern of diseases in African hospitals with Western diseases and concluded that many diseases seen infrequently in Africa were the result of Western diets and lifestyles.2 He noted that in cultures with diets rich in plant foods and fiber—like those in Africa—the medical conditions of diverticulitis, gallbladder disease, irritable bowel syndrome, heart disease, constipation, and colon polyps were rarely seen. His 1979 book, Don't Forget Fibre in Your Diet, became a bestseller.

Dr. Burkitt also illustrated that the diseases just mentioned largely emerged—and became big public health problems—in the United States and England after 1890. He concluded that this seemed to be associated with a new milling process that yielded a refined white flour—one that, you guessed it, is low in both soluble and insoluble fiber. A lot of research done in the past several decades confirms Dr. Burkitt's theory that consuming too much refined flour is detrimental to your health. (More to come on that when I talk about processed foods and how we need to stay away, in Chapter 7.)

Profound evidence that fiber is important for our health was also demonstrated in the work of the biochemist T. Colin Campbell in The China Study, coauthored with his son Thomas M. Campbell II. They found the average fiber intake in China to be about three times higher than in the United States. China also has lower incidences of colon and rectal cancers, and cholesterol levels are lower there as well. The lesson Dr. Campbell stresses is that the incredible abundance of processed and fast foods we enjoy in America has dire consequences for our overall well-being.

We have so many food decisions to make each day that it's hard to be consistently smart about what we eat, and it's easy to literally eat ourselves sick. The US health care system can attest to that. The medical care costs of obesity in the United States are astonishing. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2008 these costs totaled about $147 billion.

So I am pretty certain that if one of the participants in Dr. Campbell's study hopped on a plane to the United States and started eating like we do, this person would likely put on an extra 20 £ds pretty quickly. The point is, we need to start eating more mindfully, with a focus on whole, healthful, hydrophilic foods that help us feel and look better inside and out.

How Much Fiber Do You Need?

How much fiber is ideal? The Institute of Medicine gives the following daily recommendations for adults.


Men 38 grams 30 grams

Women 25 grams 21 grams

Most of us in the United States get 15 grams a day, according to the USDA. That's 10 grams less than the daily recommendation for women age 50 and under and more than 20 grams less for men in the same age range! I see this below-average intake of fiber with my clients when they first sit down with me to talk about their current dietary habits. They have been educated about fiber and know it can be associated with health benefits, including weight loss. But they still struggle to lose those stubborn £ds.

So what's the problem? First, there's some confusion about what foods contain fiber. I can't tell you how many times I have been asked how much fiber is in a serving of milk or a piece of fish. Here's the answer: No animal products contain fiber! Second, as mentioned earlier, there are two kinds of fiber—insoluble and soluble—and they each contribute to different health benefits. While people know about fiber generally, they don't know much about what kind of fiber to up their intake of. There are no USDA guidelines to tell you if your daily diet needs more insoluble fiber, soluble fiber, or both. I think this is the culprit of ongoing weight struggles for so many people.

To keep £ds away, you need to focus on the hydrophilic (water-loving) fiber. This will lead to what I call HD satiation, which leads to shedding those excess £ds. Satiety is the key to long-term weight management success.

Insoluble Fiber: Sweepers and Water-Phobes

These are fibers that do not dissolve in water. They pass through our digestive system close to their original form. The scientific names for insoluble fibers include cellulose and lignins, and most of them come from the bran layers of cereal grains.

When I interview new clients and they tell me they've already upped their fiber uptake, this is usually the kind of fiber they're talking about. I like to call them "water-phobe" fibers. I also refer to insoluble fibers as sweepers because they make their way through our digestive systems like a broom. They remain intact and pick up other foods along the way (while making the stool softer and bulkier). Everyone likes a thorough "clean out" to feel thin and flat-tummied.

Sweepers are an important component of healthy diets, but they cannot be your sole source of fiber. Clients often find it easy to eat more sweepers because they come in easy-access forms, like bran flakes, bran crackers, wheat crackers, and whole wheat bread. Simply adding these foods to your diet will surely send you to the bathroom. They will combat constipation and may increase regularity, both of which are great results. But will they fill you up and keep you satisfied?

Personally, I've never found a lunch of a bran cracker with butter spray all that satisfying. Stressing insoluble fiber while ignoring soluble fiber isn't sustainable, and it only gets you halfway there. You can eat all the nutrition bars or fiber-enriched yogurts you want, and down Metamucil like it's going out of style, but these habits won't promote weight loss, especially if the fiber is just an added ingredient in what is otherwise a high-calorie, high-sugar product. The only substantial weight-loss results I've seen in more than 10 years as a nutritionist comes from eating real, whole, hydrophilic foods.

Soluble Fiber: Sponges and Water-Loving Hydrophilics

Think about a kitchen sponge. You know the one—the dry, hard sponge that sits on the top corner of your sink. Place it under running water and it's instantly revitalized. It's filled up and ready to use, and all from a little water. The hydrophilic foods introduced in this plan will have the same effect on you.

When we ingest soluble fibers, they dissolve and form a gel in our intestines. This gel is the key to:

Steadying blood sugar and thus diminishing cravings. The gel created by high-hydrophilic foods improves the way your body processes carbohydrates, and it decreases insulin response by slowing down glucose absorption. Have you ever longed for a vending machine pick-me-up only an hour after your morning bowl of Lucky Charms? This is because your breakfast lacked hydrophilic fiber. When you ingest foods with soluble fiber, it stops nasty cravings by keeping blood sugar levels steady.

Keeping you feeling full. Hunger is the enemy when you're trying to lose weight (as I will discuss in subsequent chapters).

Maintaining digestive health. When your digestive system is working optimally, your body responds by absorbing and burning the foods you eat more efficiently, which makes you lose weight more easily. The fiber gel helps food absorb your digestive juices and keeps your digestive mucosa in good condition. Here is one analogy I like to use with clients: If you saw patches of dry skin on your face, you'd buy creams to give your skin the moisture it's lacking; well, just as your face needs moisture, your digestive system also needs it to function correctly.

Gel-forming hydrophilic fibers can be split into two categories: pectin and mucilage.

Pectin is a complex carbohydrate found both in the cell walls of plants and between those cell walls, where it helps to regulate the flow of water to and from cells. Foods that are high in pectin include pears, apples, oranges, apricots, carrots, and beans.

In cooking, pectin is used as a natural thickening agent (because it gels!). In the body, pectin acts as a detoxifier, a gastrointestinal tract regulator, and an immune system stimulant. It also contains com£ds that protect against ulcers and kidney injury. Pectin helps prevent a surge in blood glucose levels by promoting satiety and possibly by reducing the rate of glucose uptake following the consumption of glycemic carbohydrates, so it is good for people with diabetes. It also has been suggested that pectin can reduce heart disease and gallstones.

Several studies have reported a significant decrease in serum cholesterol (the total amount of cholesterol in your blood) and LDL (bad) cholesterol and an increase or no change in HDL (good) cholesterol in people taking pectin supplements. This cholesterol-lowering benefit may be a result of pectin's role in increasing the excretion of fecal cholesterol, fecal fat, sterols, or bile acids.

Mucilage is really just a fancy word for slime. Remember the movie Ghostbusters, where the goal was not to be slimed by ghosts? Well, in the HD plan, slime is good. Mucilage is a thick, gluey substance produced by nearly all plants. It is created by large polysaccharides (sugars) that form a semisoluble, viscous fiber in water. In plants, mucilage helps with holding water, storing food, and germinating seeds; it also serves as a membrane thickener and stabilizer. So foods high in mucilage are—you guessed it—hydrophilic!

The first pectin available for purchase was derived from apples, which have a high amount of it. The properties of pectin were first identified by the French chemist and pharmacist Henri Braconnot, and his discovery soon led to pectin manufacturers making deals with apple juice makers for the remains of pressed apples.

There are many mucilaginous herbs and foods that you can add to your diet to help promote a leaner, healthier you. They play an important role in immunity support, mainly by helping to hydrate the mucosal cells that line your mouth, eyes, nose, throat, and intestines. Some mucilaginous herbs are aloe, arnica, nettle, sage, basil, slippery elm, and parsley. Familiar mucilaginous foods are okra, figs, green beans, chia seeds, and seaweeds (like agar and kelp).

The plants commonly known as soapworts have so much mucilage they were used as soap. Early American colonists and pioneers used the sudsy plant to clean everything from homemade lace to pewter cups. And it was used for generations by farmers' wives on washday. Today, soapwort is still used as a "natural" soap and to clean delicate fabrics.


The extensive HD plan food lists are provided in Chapter 5 along with a detailed outline of your 12-week journey into forever living in HD. However, I wanted to share with you now some favorites that have been staples in my practice. These foods love water, and I love them for it! While the HD plan will introduce you to many new foods and how to prepare and incorporate them into your diet, here are my top 10!


Often I am asked how I began to explore the hydrophilic properties of different foods. The answer is, it was my dad who started me on this expedition, and it started with chia. My dad has a thirst for knowledge. He wants to know everything. As a kid, I found it very annoying to have a dad who was always quizzing us on the facts and history of everything! But as an adult, I came to appreciate his resourcefulness.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction xi

1 Your Decision

Chapter 1 Hydrate and Satiate: The HD Philosophy 3

Chapter 2 Deciding to Live in HD 21

Chapter 3 Daily HD Decisions-Uncovering Your Current Habits 27

Chapter 4 Put It in Writing-Your HD Work 43

2 The 12-Week HD Plan

Chapter 5 Eating in HD-The HD Plan Guidelines and Core Foods 45

Chapter 6 Start Strong in HD-Daily Checklists and Menus 89

Chapter 7 Still Focused and Adding IFs 109

3 Living in HD

Chapter 8 Healthy HD Alterations 131

Chapter 9 Curing Excusitis 143

Chapter 10 Meal Prep in HD

Chapter 11 The HD Recipes


Appendix A My HD Contract

Appendix B HD Food Log 240

Appendix C Weekly Goal Tracker 242

Appendix D Navigating the Supermarket 243

Endnotes 251

Acknowledgments 252

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