Author Archive for: ‘Sherri Meyer, Corporate Dietitian’
Recently, I had the privilege of speaking to a group of educators about nutrition. My focus was on “wellness’ and what that actually means. We live in an era of diet culture (often masked as wellness) and one of the biggest challenges is navigating our way through the misinformation. Over the years, my stance on diets has evolved and I would now consider myself an “anti-diet” dietitian. I work with clients to support body positivity & intuitive eating. I encourage clients to shun dieting “rules” and focus on nourishing their body with good food. This philosophy is certainly not meant to oversimplify the challenge of weight loss (39.8 % of Americans are considered obese), but to accept the reality that our current culture of dieting is not working. The following opinion piece Why You Can’t Lose Weight on A Diet is a must-read for anyone who has struggled with their weight and/or eating.
Diets don’t work for sustainable for weight loss.
In the past, I have written about diet culture & the challenges of weight loss maintenance. It’s no surprise that in 2019, diet culture continues to persist with the promise of easy, long-term weight loss success. While there is ample research that shows diets (i.e. a calorie deficit) result in weight loss, long-term adherence is challenging. Fad diets are difficult to maintain and eventually resumption of former eating habits is pretty much guaranteed. Subsequently, the weight returns, often more than the original amount lost.
The current diet trends aren’t actually new or cutting edge, just “recycled” versions of diets in years past. Remember Atkins? Currently rebranded as the Keto diet. The Keto diet has brought the return of the high fat, low carbohydrate meal plans. While this diet can certainly result in weight loss, long term maintenance of this diet is unsustainable & a long term low carbohydrate diet can have health consequences. Other diets such as Whole 30 & Paleo, cut out whole food groups, which automatically eliminates essential nutrients. Despite rebranding as “lifestyle” changes, they are in fact diets.
The best diet for a for a healthy lifestyle is really no diet at all. Consuming fruits & vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, nuts/seeds, plant oils & water is the way to go.
Yet, will you continue to gravitate toward the promise of quick weight loss? What are you willing to sacrifice in terms of your lifestyle & physical well-being in order to attain thinness? Ask yourself these 5 points (courtesy of Lisa Andrews, Med, RD, LD) the next time you decide to embark on the next fad diet.
- Does this plan exclude one or more major food groups?
- Would it be impossible to follow if you went out to eat or traveled?
- Do you need to take a handful of supplements to meet your nutritional needs?
- Is the meal plan short term or long terms? Can you sustain this way of eating?
- What will the plan cost you? Not just in terms of financial cost, but consider your physical, mental & social health.
Adapted from Food & Health Communications
Lisa Andrews, MEd, RD, LD
According to the latest editorials in lay papers, the puzzle of weight loss is one step closer to being solved. A new, complex research study has lead to promising headlines such as “A low carbohydrate diets leads to greater weight loss.”
Before you clear your pantry of carbohydrates, you may want to rethink your strategy. First, this was a study about body metabolism, not weight loss. Second, study participants dietary intake was carefully controlled & monitored, certainly not an accurate depiction of our westernized lifestyle.
Bottom line, more research still needs to be done to truly determine if we metabolize calories differently from fat, carbohydrates or protein. And as Dr. Katz so bluntly puts it “If you are a seeker of dietary magic, you aren’t going to like the answer: the people most successful at maintaining weight loss for the long haul eat sensible, balanced, carefully portion-controlled diets, and exercise routinely. “
Some food for thought editorial:
Last month’s blog discussed how Intuitive Eating has completely changed the way I approach nutrition education with clients. Intuitive eating features 10 principles. I was reminded of Principle # 4 (Challenge the Food Police) when I came across this article titled “Guilt Free Foods are a Lie”. It’s no secret that food advertisers manipulate our emotions when selling their products: ‘”eat this, not that” “guilt free indulgence” the list is exhaustive. Advertisers have taught us to believe that food is a moral choice and sadly we have fallen for it. Many of my client session’s focus on the intense guilt felt when a “bad” food choice is made & how they want “do better next time.” We should nourish our bodies with good food because it makes us feel good, guilt should never be a motivator for healthy eating (and exercise). Food is essential for life; lets make peace it & enjoy every bite.
* Intuitive Eating Principle # 4 Challenge the Food Police. Scream a loud “NO” to thoughts in your head that declare you’re “good” for eating minimal calories or “bad” because you ate a piece of chocolate cake. The Food Police monitor the unreasonable rules that dieting has created. The police station is housed deep in your psyche, and its loud speaker shouts negative barbs, hopeless phrases, and guilt-provoking indictments. Chasing the Food Police away is a critical step in returning to Intuitive Eating.
Over the years, I have had the privilege of working with many different types of clients as they journeyed toward weight loss & wellness. I was self-motivated to eat well & exercise, so I made the naïve assumption that empowering people with knowledge would naturally lead to better choices and hence weight loss. Sadly, this assumption has been proven wrong time and time again in my personal experience. The great majority of clients actually possess quite a bit of nutrition knowledge, however, knowledge does not always translate into action. A person struggling with obesity does not want to be told how to count calories when they have been doing it unsuccessfully for years. There are actually many examples of this “preaching to the choir” type nutritional education, but at some point in my career, I assumed that perhaps I just wasn’t teaching them right & nevertheless, I persisted.
My epiphany came when I attended an eating disorders conference and learned about Intuitive Eating. Intuitive Eating is an evidenced-based, mind-body health approach, comprised of 10 Principles and created by two dietitians, one of whom lead the conference session. I walked away from this conference feeling completely inspired and ready to change the way I approach nutrition education. The transition to an intuitive eating approach has not been easy; changing your relationship with food and your body is certainly scary. And despite my best attempts I still get many requests for “strict meal plans” and “tell me what to eat since I don’t trust myself.”
To date, my most successful outcome was with an overweight client who learned to love herself. While she may not have lost many pounds on the scale, she learned how to embrace her genetic blueprint & focus on the strength of not only her body but also her mind. “Healthy” eating & exercise” came as a natural consequence to the more internal changes she made in her life.
Lastly, I wanted to share these points made by an RD who embraces the philosophy of Intuitive Eating.
Enjoy food..all food
- Tap into your intuition and listening to what you need. If that means that meal prep stresses you out or you have to choose to take a nap over going to the gym, that’s ok!
- Believe that people of all shapes and sizes can be healthy and that you don’t need to lose weight in order to improve your health
- Believe that you can feel calm and confident around food without counting calories, weighing or measuring anything
- Believe that in order to truly heal your relationship with food, you have to completely leave nutrition out of it (at least to start with)
- Believe that any kind of external factor including diets, meal plans or calorie restriction of any sort will result in diet backlash including guilt, shame, stress, overeating and binging.
- Don’t believe in labeling food as “good”, “bad” or “forbidden”
- Don’t believe that it is your lack of willpower that has caused you to “fail” at dieting or losing weight (hint: it’s the diets fault)
- Don’t believe that there is any good diet
- Don’t believe in shaming people into making changes to their eating
As a dietitian, I am always on the lookout for science-based research regarding health and nutrition. The search almost always leads to obesity and how to treat/prevent this epidemic; but recently I was led to something quite different. “Everything You Know About Obesity Is Wrong” is both a horrifying and thought-provoking article. Though not technically a science-based read, it certainly has merits in regards to how we treat this severe public health crisis. I encourage everyone to take the time to read this important article.
“For decades, the medical community has ignored the mountains of evidence to wage a cruel and futile war on fat people, poisoning public perceptions and ruining millions of lives”
*Note: This article includes raw interviews and limited strong language
“Counting macros” appears to have become the latest and greatest diet trend everyone is talking about. When I first heard “counting macros” I assumed it was some complicated mathematical formula; turns out this formula is basic nutrition 101. Macros are an abbreviated term for macronutrients- carbohydrates, protein & fat. These 3 nutrients provide calories, along with a whole host of other bodily functions. Quite simply we cannot survive without them.
To count your macros, your calorie goal is determined and then broken down into how many grams of each macronutrient you should get. This calculation takes into account sex, age, height, weight, daily activity level and daily exercise. There are online tools available to do this.
One purported benefit of this type of diet is that it teaches you how to include all foods & balance portions (something lacking in the typical diet). The long-term goal is to transition into a less rigid eating style, relying on your prior nutrition knowledge & your own personal hunger cues.
For those of you who simply want to enjoy eating intuitively & are satisfied with your current weight, this is not the plan for you. For others who need guidance on what to eat & how much, this may be a good starting point. That said, ultimately, eating should be pleasurable & enjoyable, and if you are constantly weighing, measuring & recording your food intake, the innate pleasure of food is lost.
“We eat food, not macros. Food should be one of life’s pleasures and not a mathematical struggle. While one or two days of educating oneself about macros in a daily menu can be helpful, constant counting can become obsessive and eating should be more intuitive.”
Nancy Clark, MS, RD, CSSD
Sports nutrition expert
Sources: If It Fits Your Macros
Recently my young son asked me “do people get fat from eating French fries?” innocently reiterating our society’s simplistic notion that we are overweight from eating too much food. Even as a healthcare professional, I was taught that being overweight is a simple matter of eating too much food; never taking into account that thin isn’t always equivalent to healthy. Furthermore, with over 95% of diets failing (and we all know someone who is on a “diet”) we clearly are not accomplishing our goal of everlasting thinness. While I have witnessed great improvements in our society’s false belief that thinness is the only way to a life of health & happiness, we still have a long way to go. As a dietitian, I have worked with numerous athletes; while in the best shape of their life, still strive to achieve a weight that will be counterproductive to their athletic performance. This theory of thinness has troubled me for some time, leading me to search for science-based information regarding weight & health. My search for body acceptance led me to the HAES organization-Health at Every Size. HAES is a science (i.e. evidence) based approach to supporting the inherent diversity of body shapes and sizes, while rejecting the notion that weight is the only indicator of health. I fully support this movement that celebrates the health & diversity of our bodies, breaking us free from the never-ending struggle to achieve a body habitus that is simply unachievable.
The Health At Every Size® Principles are:
1. Weight Inclusivity:
Accept and respect the inherent diversity of body shapes and sizes and reject the idealizing or pathologizing of specific weights.
2. Health Enhancement:
Support health policies that improve and equalize access to information and services, and personal practices that improve human well-being, including attention to individual physical, economic, social, spiritual, emotional, and other needs.
3. Respectful Care:
Acknowledge our biases and work to end weight discrimination, weight stigma, and weight bias. Provide information and services from an understanding that socio-economic status, race, gender, sexual orientation, age, and other identities impact weight stigma, and support environments that address these inequities.
4. Eating for Well-being:
Promote flexible, individualized eating based on hunger, satiety, nutritional needs, and pleasure, rather than any externally regulated eating plan focused on weight control.
5. Life-Enhancing Movement:
Support physical activities that allow people of all sizes, abilities, and interests to engage in enjoyable movement, to the degree that they choose.
Sources: Empowered Eating Health at Every Size
As I sit here on this dreary rainy day, I am dreaming of sunshine and spring menu planning. Fresh strawberries, crisp lettuce & of course asparagus, just to name a few of my spring favorites. Last week at the farmer’s market I saw signs of spring popping up with fresh ripe strawberries for sale (granted, they were from North Carolina, not Virginia, but it is a sign of what is to come). As I have gotten older, I have developed a much greater appreciation for the simplicity of fresh, local food. Additionally, fresh produce is loaded with vitamins & minerals & offers a whole host of health benefits. This recipe will most definitely be prepared in my house after the first sighting of asparagus at the Lynchburg Farmer’s Market.
Roasted Asparagus with Lemon Zest & Cheese
· 1 pound asparagus (skinnier may be better)
· 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
· 1-2 tablespoons finely grated hard cheese, such as 3-year gouda or parmesan
· 1 tablespoon lemon zest, plus lemon slices for garnish
· Salt & pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Fit a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Cut the last inch from each stalk of asparagus and discard. Spread stalks out on prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, using a pastry brush to coat each stalk, or simply turning the stalks over with a fork until they are well coated. Sprinkle with cheese and lemon zest, and then season with salt & pepper.
3. Bake for 10-13 minutes, until tops of the asparagus, start to turn crisp and stalks are bright green. They should be tender through. Serve hot, with lemon slices for garnish.
Source: Foraged Dish
Driving in a car with four children with varying musical tastes doesn’t give me much time for educational podcasts; however, there are a few stolen moments where I can listen to topics of interest without background commentary. This recent podcast by the Foodist really peaked my interest. How to Stop Moralizing Your Food Choices by Darya Rose. This is topic is something I believe many of us can relate too, how many times have we deemed our food choices “good” or “bad”. Demoralized ourself for eating too much or making the wrong food choice. Additionally, Rose talks about not demonizing real food (she uses the example of sweet potatoes and oatmeal). This is a topic that comes up all too frequently in the world of nutrition. Many diet plans mislead consumers to believe that certain whole, plant based foods are not beneficial, perhaps even harmful. Nutritious real foods should never be avoided unless one has a food intolerance of allergy. Additionally, avoiding real food in favor of weight loss shakes or other food substitutes takes away the pleasure that we should all derive from eating food.
Check out this podcast next time you have a free moment (or in the car with a child, who knows you may bring out the budding scientist in them).