Profile: Dr. Alan Hirsch says program works with body's impulses
February 17, 2010
By: Sandy Thorn Clark
Knowing that most dieters are searching for a magic pill that will help them shed pounds, while not enduring the pain of giving up their favorite foods; weight-loss expert Dr. Alan Hirsch sought safe weapons to combat obesity or what he calls "the major public health problem in America."
Hirsch's groundbreaking search resulted in an accidental discovery-based on correlation between diminished ability to smell and taste food and weight gain — that led to the creation of SENSA® Tastants, weight fighting product described more as magic fairy dust than a pill, and SENSA® Weight Loss Program (Hilton Publishing), his recently published book that promotes high-satiety foods as key to weight loss.
Followers of Hirsch's six month SENSA® Weight Loss Program (he despises the terms diet) liberally sprinkle the sodium, calorie, and gluten- free crystals known as SENSA® Tastants on all solid and semi-solid foods they eat (from cereal to salads and even chocolate chip cookies, potato chips, and hard candy), eat slowly, and stop eating as soon as they feel full. Hirsch believes that along their journey, followers will learn to practice moderation while increasing their exercise as they shed pounds.
Packaged in shakers, SENSA® Tastants, which sell online (www.trysensa.com) for $59.00 per month or $235.00 for the recommended six-month supply, contain no stimulants, drugs, or MSG. No flavors are derived from meat sources, mushrooms, nutmeg, cinnamon, fish or garlic; some flavors may contain milk and soy-derived ingredients, but in small traces. As a food product, SENSA® does not require FDA approval.
Hirsch, who has focused on the care and treatment of people with smell and taste disorders for 25 years at his Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago, describes the scientific principle behind SENSA® as "remarkably simple."
"As you eat, smell and taste receptors send messages to your brain, which release hormones that tell your body it's time to stop eating. This is a phenomenon we call Sensory Specific Satiety," he explains. "By enhancing smell, SENSA® Tastants were designed to help speed up the process and trigger your "I feel full" signal so you eat less and feel more satisfied. Because SENSA® works with your body's natural impulses, rather than against them, there are no feelings of hunger or intense cravings."
Followers of Hirsch's plan also are taught the benefits of high-satiety foods that leave the dieter feeling fuller, faster and for a longer period of time. "For example, boiled potatoes and brown pasta are better to eat than brown rice, and ice cream has a higher satiety than yogurt," states Hirsch, who also recommends eating cookies rather than croissants, jelly beans rather than peanuts, oatmeal rather than muesli and oranges rather than bananas.
"It's a totally different approach. For people who have tried diets without success, this is a good alternative," says Hirsch, 53, who conducted one of the largest clinical studies ever performed on a non-prescription weight-loss product. Over a six-month period, 1,436 women and men sprinkled the scented, flavorless SENSA® crystals on everything they ate and were instructed not to change their existing diet or exercise program. Hirsh says those who completed the program lost an average of 30.5 pounds, nearly 15 percent of their total body weight.
Those results were "very rewarding" for Hirsch who dedicated his book to the memory of his gather, Milton Hirsch, whose lifetime struggle with obesity, including diabetes caused leg amputation, inspired Hirsch's life work.
Exercise? Hirsch's recommended activities for beginners include the usual: parking your car in the farthest parking space, walking up stairs rather than taking the elevator, walking on your lunch break.
Hirsch himself enjoys more strenuous exercise, including climbing stairs at Willis Tower and the Hancock Center, running and bicycling.