How to eat healthy when your day throws you a curveball

Question: what do you do when something unexpected comes up and you have to change your lunch plans at the last second?  If you’re like most people you probably a) don’t eat anything or b) eat a convenience food or meal that is high in calories and lacks nutrients.

For those of you who don’t know me, my husband is a Marine and I am also a former member of the Military.  As much as we love(d) our jobs in the service they are anything but predictable. Needless to say, we’ve had a lot of practice in dealing with unpredictable schedules.

When unexpected circumstances meet us in our day to day lives, we are forced to reorient our time and energy to focus on the emergency in front of us. We already have too much on our plates so we have to quickly shift gears and re-prioritize our finite resources. Something has to give and for most people diet and nutrition are among the first things that go.

My husband and I usually eat pretty healthy and with me being a “soon to be dietitian”, we have several built in advantages: I love to cook and make healthy meals, we don't have unhealthy snacks in the house, and we pack our lunches everyday. But when something comes up that we aren’t prepared for, we struggle.

The Marines do not work a normal 9-5 day. Sometimes my husband gets stuck at work without dinner until 10 PM. My heart aches for him when I get the “I am sooooo hungry” text. This a a screenshot of my husband, Isaac, pleading for dinner on one of his unexpected 24-hour duty days. When I’m not able to bring him something, those nights turn into vending machine dinners.

hungry text.PNG

It’s not just in the Military, everybody has work schedule changes, gets stuck at the office, or has unexpected deadlines. At those times, you don't think about cooking a healthy dinner. You’ve got more pressing issues to take care of and fires to put out.

And sometimes the circumstance isn't unexpected, but you just forget to fit food into the picture because you had so many other things to think about. These are the times when you get a pit in your stomach as you realize you left your lunch on the counter, you get back from a vacation to find a bare fridge, or your last three eggs you planned to make for dinner mysteriously ended up on your roommate’s plate...again.

We can't always anticipate when these circumstances will happen. But, they DO happen. And for some of us, they happen more often than we’d like. Since we know from past experience that our daily routines will be shook up from time to time, there are some things you can do to ensure that you’re not stuck eating out of a vending machine or being tempted to eat out and in the process make a poor food decision.

Your diet doesn't have to be be compromised. The key is to make a conscious effort to prepare--make the healthy choice the easy choice. Here are some strategies that have worked for me (also check out the table below for more specific ideas):

  1. Have back-up meals that are ready to throw together when you don’t have time to cook or go shopping. We have a few options that we fall back on, depending on how hangry I am. For days when no prep time is available, we have leftover MREs (Military issue camping food) or we pick up a rotisserie chicken from Walmart and microwave frozen broccoli. When, we can last ten minutes without eating, I always have a store of eggs and vegetables to make breakfast-for-dinner or precooked chicken and whole wheat bread for paninis. Alternatively, you could make your own freezer meals from leftovers, get grocery store meal kits, or even drink a meal replacement shake. I remember that my mom used to make huge batches of homemade sandwich pockets that we would take out of the freezer to eat for lunches or the occasional dinner when mom wasn’t around.

  2. Keep healthy snacks stashed in case you get stuck out longer than you plan. Anyone who hangs out with me knows that I am the snack lady. I’ve even been busted several times at sports games and theaters for sneaking snacks in where I’m not supposed to. I always stick an apple, cheerios, or protein bar in my purse before leaving the house.

  3. Fast food does not have to be unhealthy. Search the menus of places that you like for lower calorie options. All chain restaurants are required to have the nutrition information posted, and many have easy-to-use apps. My go-to item is the chili at Wendy’s. To make your trips to fast food places a little healthier, you could eat off the kids menu, just get the entree instead of the whole meal, or choose the grilled instead of fried options.

Here is a table with some additional ideas that you might want to print off and stick to the side of your fridge as a friendly reminder of some of the things you can do to prevent a diet meltdown.

solutionstable.PNG

Now, with all that being said, there is no way to anticipate all of the scenarios that life will throw at you, but what I have learned is that being prepared to expect the unexpected and having contingency plans helps me minimize the stress when things do happen.

As I dietitian, I am not going to tell you that having a healthy diet is the #1 priority. I'm going to tell you it is important. There are things that are more important in life. The best thing you can do is be as prepared as you can. If you have to make compromises sometimes, that’s okay. Don’t beat yourself up for it. I've learned that being okay with those compromises is the only way to stay sane. You can’t let the times you do have to make an allowance derail the good habits that you've already established.


Chelsea Torres




How I got into Dietetics and Why It isn’t what I Thought It Would Be

Hi, my name is Chelsea Torres and I’d like to tell you how I got into dietetics and why it isn’t quite what I thought it would be. I first became interested in nutrition my senior year in high school when I started training for a marathon.  My goal was pretty simple, all I wanted to do was finish the race, but as my training schedule picked up speed, I felt that my weight and stereotypical “high schooler diet” was slowing me down.

I thought,

“There must be a dieting secret that will fix all my problems.”

running pic.png

I was desperate to find the truth, but I had no idea where to turn or who to ask. I experimented with advice from some trusted individuals, but their recommendations only made me feel worse. One well-intentioned recommendation from my personal trainer led me to nearly pass out in the middle of a 10-mile trail run.

Long story short, I never found that secret nutrition solution. I was frustrated because I felt like there was something that I should have known but no one was telling me. This frustration led me to pursue a degree in dietetics.

That was in 2012.

Fast forward 7 years and I am about to graduate with my Master’s in Nutrition. I’ve been thinking about the “high school me” and what I would have told her as she struggled to discover THE nutrition secret, not just for running but for a healthy life.

“Eat your fruits and vegetables.”

“Eat reasonable portion sizes.”

“Stop eating when you are full.”

Aren’t those things that I already knew? What more was I looking for? Did I really learn anything in the past 7 years?

Most people generally know what a healthy diet looks like. But, if it is so simple, why is there so much diet confusion? What I’ve learned during the past seven years studying nutrition is that there is simply too much information out there. Too much information that (a) is not true (b) doesn’t really matter or (c) has no clear application or plan of execution.

stress pic.png

a. It is nearly impossible to know who is right and who is wrong. Any person can publish books, blogs, or podcasts promoting their personal philosophy on nutrition. No degree, credentials or formal training is required and the information isn’t vetted for accuracy. On the flip side, so many “credible” sources (degrees, credentials and training) also publish contradictory information. Who is the public supposed to believe?

b. So much nutrition research focuses on minute details that probably would not affect the average person. In isolation, would we really expect there to be a difference in your health when drinking 1% versus 2% milk or eating 50 grams of carbs versus 100 grams?  No disrespect to nutrition research but I think we’re all getting too caught up in the trees and missing the forest.

c. Finally, no one clearly tells you how these minute details translate into an actual diet plan. Each research study that dramatizes a single nutrient(s) shows that you need to eat more of that thing. I remember asking myself a long string of questions:

How do I get more of that thing that is so important?
How do I avoid those things that they say are so bad for me?
What about all the other things that people are saying are so important? How do I get those things too?

It is not practical or feasible to keep all these tiny details straight in your head let alone incorporate them into your everyday diet. How many people really have the time or patience for that?

Before I started studying nutrition I thought that I was setting out to unweave the tangle of information I was confronted with and expose the secrets to diet success. I believe that I did learn those secrets, but not in the way I expected.

I learned that the only supplement I needed to take was a giant chill-pill. It does no good to get stressed out about whether you are doing exactly the “right” thing. A healthy diet is about choosing foods that make you feel good, improve your health in the long term, and power the activities you do that make your life worth living.

Dietetics isn’t what I thought it would be when I chose to go into this field but I’m still really happy I chose this profession.  I’ve learned so much over the past seven years and will continue learning for years to come. I want to conclude my story by telling you that now it is my turn to be that trusted representative of sound nutrition information (for real though) for those who are searching for answers, just like I was seven years ago.  I’ll be your guide to decipher what information is right and wrong, help you focus on the forest rather than the trees, and help you execute a sound nutrition plan. I’ve found out that the perfect diet doesn’t exist but that doesn’t mean that I can’t help you find the best diet there is for you. I’m so excited to be your dietitian.  

Chelsea Torres





Killing Them With Kindness: Why You Might Be Ruining Your Friends' Diets

Who doesn’t love free food? I mean, honestly, a box of donuts in the break room may be the only thing that keeps you from going crazy on a Tuesday morning that really feels like it should be a Friday afternoon. But a little donut in the breakroom plus a pecan cluster that

“you just have to try”

Or a “thank you” cookie

for helping out with a project last week can all add up to another diet that goes plummeting down the drain.  

If this sounds like you, don’t worry, you’re not alone.  A recent survey found that food obtained at work:

“averaged 1277 kcal per person per week….and free food accounted for 71% of all calories acquired. The leading food types obtained include foods typically high in solid fat, added sugars, or sodium such as pizza, soft drinks, cookies/brownies, cakes and pies, and candy.”

It’s not just the office break room that is the problem. Potlucks, birthdays, holidays, thank yous, welcomes, goodbyes, get well soons, “I dropped in to say hi and felt like I had to bring something”, are also common culprits. There is no end to the occasions where we feel the need to share high calorie, low nutrient food.

Sharing food helps us feel connected. It brings a sense of community, shows affection, and occasionally shows off our master cooking skills. We like to give food that tastes good, so we often give unhealthy food. It can be easy to make and obtain, and is a sure-fire crowd pleaser.

This topic is particularly near and dear to my heart because I am guilty party #1.  I love to cook to show people that I appreciate them.

This topic is particularly near and dear to my heart because I am guilty party #1. I love to cook and one way I show people I love and appreciate them is by making them food. Boy am I a great cook and I know how to make things that people like: Banana foster cake for my husband, caramel popcorn balls for my mom, monkey bread for our game night group, and peanut butter cupcakes for my puppy Darla.

But I have to ask you this question.  Are we really helping anyone when we show affection through treats? While my husband tries so hard to stay healthy, lean, and fit for his career in the Marine Corp, I make him an entire banana foster cake to eat by himself.  I am essentially sabotaging his career--the person I love more than anybody in the world!

This is most likely the case with many people that we befriend with food. Considering that 45 million people go on a diet every year and 70% of adults are overweight, chances are that one of the people you smother with free food is trying their best to avoid such food.  Not only do they really want to accept your gift (because they want to eat it), but they will feel guilty for refusing. Essentially, we set our dieting friends up for failure.

Considering that 45 million people go on a diet every year and 70% of adults are overweight, chances are that one of the people you smother with free food is trying their best to avoid such food.

I am challenging myself to be more cognizant of the needs and long term goals of people I love. I challenge you to think more about the consequences of your well intentioned generosity too. Here are some tips to stop being the problem and start being part of the solution:

  • At work, parties, and potlucks, there is no shame in being the person who brought the veggie or fruit tray. Every party needs that person. Personally, I really appreciate that person, and I am sure other people do too.

  • If it kills you to “just” bring a veggie or fruit tray, use your creativity to make it a really beautiful display of fruits and veggies. Cut them in fancy shapes, make towers, use garnishes, whatever you can dream up. You can still impress the party.

  • Food is a quick, easy, and fool-proof gift. But, if you really want to show how much you care, take the time to think of something else they will really appreciate. Write a heartfelt note or spend quality time with the person.

  • If there is no way around giving food as a gift, choose healthier options. I think it is fun to give specialty items that are in flavors that you wouldn’t expect. I can spend hours at places like Trader Joe’s checking out the unique flavors of regular food items. A grapple (apple and grape hybrid), can of seasonal butternut squash soup, or buffalo flavored popcorn can be a healthy, and fun alternative.

  • If you must give unhealthy foods, give in reasonable portions. Rather than an entire plate of cookies, try wrapping a single cookie in a seasonal bag.

  • Finally, I think the most important thing to have is open communication with those that you are close with. Recently, my husband and I had a talk about how often treat gifts are acceptable. I know what his diet goals are and we are working together to achieve them. It can be difficult for me when I so badly want to spoil him with a surprise. But, it is important to both of us that we reach his long term goals rather than satisfying our impulsive cravings.

The world we live in is built for diet failure. Rather than complaining about it, it is time to become part of the solution. Hopefully our efforts to help other people achieve their diet goals will come full circle and we can develop a community that supports our healthy lifestyle as well.

Chelsea Torres

The Best Detox of All Time, Rejuvenza.

So, I was out sick with the flu all last week and in-between my 3:00am Siberian freezing sessions and daytime shirtless Sahara sweating sessions, I was too incapacitated to do any real work.  But I did do a lot of thinking.  And one of the random thoughts that popped into my mind that I thought I’d share with you is this: do you know what the best detox diet is of all time?

 

The Stomach Flu

  

I know, I know, let the hate mail and comments section below fill up with verbal abuse, but hear me out.  When you think about it, outside of the jokes that health professionals like to make about how you have a liver and two kidneys to detoxify your body, there is no other programmed bodily response/mechanism that will clean out your body any better.

There is no other programmed bodily response/mechanism that will clean your body out any better than its response to the stomach flu

All flus are bad but the people that get the worst of the flu are those that vomit AND have diarrhea, the proverbial, “it’s coming out of both ends”.  Vomiting cleans out the stomach and proximal (first) part of the small intestine, while diarrhea will help clean out the remainder of the small intestine, large intestine, and rectum.

At the same time, you’re not going to consume any food or drink for at least 24 - 36 hours and when you do start back, it’s usually a very elemental, chicken soup type diet.  Furthermore, there’s likely never a time where your body and its appetite feel more “reset”.  You really do feel like you’re starting over with eating.

Now, with all that being said, no one in their right state of mind would ever consider voluntarily giving themselves the flu!  Not even Dr. Oz and Gwyneth Paltrow’s lovechild would consider doing something so radical.......or would they (cough, clear throat, ah hum... placenta eating).

In our extremist health and wellness culture it is fascinating to think about where the lines are drawn for being extreme and then being too extreme.  Eating your placenta, oh yeah, that’s cool don’t worry about it, but giving yourself the stomach flu?  Are you crazy, who in their right mind would do such a thing?

And yet, I don’t really see that much difference between these two examples.  If I had millions of marketing dollars and celebrity status I bet I could convince more than a few nit wits out there to voluntarily give themselves the stomach flu.  Only we couldn’t call it the stomach flu, we’d have to rebrand it, giving it some special name like REJUVENZA (rejuvenate and influenza).

Rejuvena, a great way to detoxify, reset, and rejuvenate your body and mind.

Rejuvena, a great way to detoxify, reset, and rejuvenate your body and mind.

Once a year, and maybe more often (if you’re hardcore) you schedule some time to “detoxify, reset, and rejuvenate your body and mind with rejuvenza”.........only this will never happen.  People will do all kinds of crazy things, THAT ARE EASY, and because many (but not all) of them don’t necessarily do any good but they also don’t do any harm or cause any pain.

For me, I guess the bottom line is this, for anyone wanting to “detox” their bodies, do your best to shift your dietary patterns towards a whole foods, plant based diet and try to get 30 - 60 minutes of exercise each day. If you work towards these two things, you’ll never need a detox.  If, on the other hand, you’d like to follow the foolish advice of some celebrity profiting off your foolishness, then forget the cayenne pepper and lemon juice, man up and go to the best detox there is, the stomach flu.

  

Todd M. Weber PhD, RD

Intermittent Fasting, the Next in a Long List of Fads or Actually Useful?

Article Highlights:

  • Recent interest in the Paleo diet has sparked public interest in eating based upon hunter-gatherer evolution.
  • Interest in the Paleo diet has led to the adoption of the more extreme, Ketogenic Diet.
  • In turn, the Ketogenic diet renewed the public’s interest in fasting (intermittent fasting, alternate-day fasting, and time restricted feeding).
  • We encourage some (but not all) principles of the Paleo diet, some forms of intermittent fasting, and time-restricted feeding be adopted by modern day man.
  • In our opinion, the Ketogenic diet and Alternate Day Fasting (ADF) have no place in public health; we believe these diets are passing fads.
  • In this review we address the things you should consider before trying intermittent fasting (IF) or time-restricted feeding (TRF).
  • We explain why, more than ever, there is a need for the modern-day consumer to create his/her own “Nutrition Rules” to build sustainable dietary patterns.

Introduction: Fasting, defined as prolonged periods of abstaining from eating or drinking anything containing calories has been practiced for millennia to cleanse the mind, body, and spirit.  Therapeutic fasting for weeks and months at a time became a popular treatment of obesity in the 1950’s and 60’s before falling out of favor.  In recent years, fasting has regained public interest in the form of intermittent fasting (IF) and time-restricted feeding (TRF).  Fasting comes in many forms (see Table 1) but one of the more popular modern-day applications of it is alternate-day fasting (ADF).

Table 1. Definitions of Different Types of Eating Patterns .  Reference: Anton, SD; 2018 Obesity

Table 1. Definitions of Different Types of Eating Patterns.  Reference: Anton, SD; 2018 Obesity

In ADF, one alternates between eating one day and fasting the next, thereby eating 2 days-worth of calories in one day and eating zero calories the other.  In time-restricted feeding, one consumes all of his/her calories within a pre-determined time period.  For example, in 10-hour TRF if your first meal comes at 8am, you are allowed to eat what you want, when you want until a set time point, let’s say 6pm.  Thereafter, you’re not allowed to eat or drink anything containing calories.  There may be some health benefits to IF and TRF; however, before we get into those we would like to explain how IF and TRF entered the mainstream as a way of eating.  In short, IF and TRF didn’t just spring up out of nowhere.  In our opinion, they are the offspring of the Paleo diet. 

The Rise of the Paleo Diet: Unless you’ve been living under a rock (pardon our pun), you’ve likely heard something about the Paleo diet.  The Paleo diet first entered the medical literature in 1985 as part of Eaton & Konner’s New England Journal of Medicine article, Paleolithic Nutrition: A Consideration of Its Nature and Current Implications.  The Paleo diet laid dormant in the medical field for ~15 years until the early 2000s when Colorado State professor, Loren Cordain published a series of articles on the Paleolithic way of eating.  It wasn’t until recently (the past five years or so) that the Paleo diet truly entered mainstream America.

In short, the Paleo diet is based upon what our ancestors during the Paleolithic era (2 million years ago to 10,000 years ago) had access to.  This time period was long before farming, agriculture, or caring for livestock.  Our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate wild game and scavenged for berries, nuts, and seeds.  There was no industrialized food production or dairy products and there certainly weren’t any (farmed) grains. 

The modern-day Paleo diet and its advocates do a fantastic job of pointing out how crazy, how insane, our food environment has become.  The amount of ultra-processed, refined carbohydrate in today’s food environment is just staggering and one of the Paleo diet’s principles is to cut these out completely.  This, for the most part, is a good thing. 

However, with that being said, we are not fans of the Paleo diet as it tends to be overly restrictive.  Reducing carbohydrate consumption in our modern-day world is probably a good thing for most people (more on this later) but completely cutting out all whole grain products, beans, and dairy is, pardon us, but just plain stupid.  For this reason, we love, love, love, when people say that they eat based on Paleo principles or Paleo(ish) indicating that they reserve the right to some flexibility in their diets but in general follow the Paleo principles.

Finally, it must be noted that a) eating for health and b) eating for weight loss aren’t necessarily the same thing.  When one becomes so wrapped up into thinking about what our Paleolithic ancestors used to eat, we lose sight of what, for many is our primary goal: to lose weight.  Weight loss is about energy balance.  Less calories in than calories out = weight loss.  Although nice, it is not absolutely necessary to eat healthy to lose weight.  No matter how much window dressing you put on a diet, the reason it works is because it helps you induce a negative energy balance (see Table 2). 

Table 2. How Named Diets Work for Weight Loss.  Despite their differences in name and appearance, any weight loss diet that actually works does so by creating a caloric deficit (negative energy balance).

Table 2. How Named Diets Work for Weight Loss. Despite their differences in name and appearance, any weight loss diet that actually works does so by creating a caloric deficit (negative energy balance).

Paleo’s Not Extreme Enough: Ketogenic Here We Come: As crazy as it is to hear, for many people the Paleo diet just wasn’t extreme enough…so they moved on to the ketogenic diet.  In layman’s terms, the ketogenic diet is like the most extreme version of the Atkins diet on steroids (high fat, near zero carbs).  The ketogenic diet doesn’t just restrict carbohydrate (again, the grain haters), it eliminates them!  A true ketogenic diet also greatly reduces protein intake because protein (gluconeogenic amino acids) can be broken down to produce glucose, which the ketogenic diet seeks to severely limit through eliminating dietary carbohydrates (side note of importance: even if you haven’t eaten food containing calories for several weeks, your body will fight to maintain blood glucose; without blood glucose, you will die). 

Table 3. There are Two Ways of Achieving Ketosis: eliminating carbohydrate from the diet or fasting .  Each takes between 12-36 hours depending on your previous day’s diet and exercise.

Table 3. There are Two Ways of Achieving Ketosis: eliminating carbohydrate from the diet or fasting.  Each takes between 12-36 hours depending on your previous day’s diet and exercise.

By eliminating carbohydrates and/or fasting for prolonged periods of time, the body can enter a state of ketosis.  Ketones (ketone bodies) are produced when there isn’t sufficient carbohydrate available to help the body burn fat.  You can think of ketosis as

Excessive_Fat_Breakdown_2.png

Evolutionary Underpinnings of the Hunter-Gatherer Diet: So why in the world would someone look to eliminate carbohydrate from their diets?  Answer: in an attempt to mimic hunter-gatherer metabolism of the past.  If we go back to the story of the hunter-gatherer, most people know that there were times of feasting when food was plentiful and fasting when food was scarce.  Alternating between feasting (the fed condition) and fasting (fasting condition) leads the body’s metabolism to switch between glucose metabolism in the fed condition and fat metabolism in the fasted condition.  Throughout our evolutionary past it was highly likely that our body’s metabolism had to remain highly flexible, that is, our metabolisms switched back and forth between glucose as our preferred fuel and fat as our preferred fuel, multiple times/day and hundreds, if not thousands of times per year. 

Figure 1. Metabolic Flexibility.  The body’s normal metabolism is highly flexible and responsive to carbohydrate intake. For the first two to three hours immediately after consuming carbohydrate, the body primarily burns glucose as a fuel. Thereafter the body switches to its backup fuel, fat, until another meal containing carbohydrate is consumed.  Your body’s metabolism switches/flexes over to carbohydrate/glucose once again as carbs/glucose become the preferred fuel source. Only in starvation (2+ days without eating or total carbohydrate restriction (Table 3) does the body enter ketosis.

Figure 1. Metabolic Flexibility. The body’s normal metabolism is highly flexible and responsive to carbohydrate intake. For the first two to three hours immediately after consuming carbohydrate, the body primarily burns glucose as a fuel. Thereafter the body switches to its backup fuel, fat, until another meal containing carbohydrate is consumed.  Your body’s metabolism switches/flexes over to carbohydrate/glucose once again as carbs/glucose become the preferred fuel source. Only in starvation (2+ days without eating or total carbohydrate restriction (Table 3) does the body enter ketosis.

On the other hand, modern man never stops eating, therefore, modern day man never switches between glucose as a preferred fuel source or fat as a preferred fuel source (Figure 1).  Forcing the body to switch between fuel sources seems to be good for metabolic health.  Allowing the body to predominately use glucose and never have to switch between fuel sources is bad for metabolic health (heart disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, etc.).

As typical in our modern society of extremes, knowing that eating too many carbohydrates and/or eating too often can lead to energy excess and metabolic disease, people have swung the pendulum to the complete other side of the equation.  This is completely unnecessary and carries no special “metabolic” benefit, but hey, that’s our society.

Before we move on, and in the interest of being balanced we would also like to state that it is possible to burn predominately carbohydrate (>70% calories) or predominately fat (>70% of calories) with limited metabolic switching and remain healthy.  In his 2002, European Journal of Clinical Nutrition paper, Loren Cordain points out that our hunter-gather ancestors' diets were quite diverse depending upon geographic region and food availability.  For example, in Table 3 you can see that the aboriginal Nunamiut of Alaska consume 99% of their calories from animal sources (protein and fat) compared to the Gwi of Africa, who consume upwards of 74% of their calories from plant sources (mostly carbohydrate).  With all that being said, with the exception of the Nunamiut of Alaska and the Eskimos of Greenland, who live in far northern, short summer climates, the remainder of the aboriginal tribes likely exhibit metabolic flexibility as indicated by their diets.

Table 3. Proportions of Plant and Animal Food in Hunter-Gatherer Diets.

Table 3. Proportions of Plant and Animal Food in Hunter-Gatherer Diets.

What Effect Does the Hunter-Gatherer Type Way of Eating Have on Modern Man? Unless you are eating every 3-4 hours, your body is going to alternate between glucose (fed condition) and fat (fasted condition) multiple times/day (Figure 1).  If, on the other hand, someone is eating every 3-4 hours, it’s true, the body will never be forced to alternate between fuels (Figure 1. This is bad).  Alternate-day fasting and time-restricted eating are just slightly greater extremes of what we already do (Figure 2, Normal Meal Pattern).

Alternate-day fasting and time restricted eating do make more sense than a ketogenic diet.  In a ketogenic diet, your body is in a constant state of ketosis (Figure 1).  In evolutionary parlance we have a term for this, it is called starvation.  No ancestor in their right state of mind would voluntarily a) chose to go ketogenic and b) remain ketogenic when a food supply (carbohydrate) is available.  People wishing to go ketogenic should stop messing around and go full on ketogenic like our ancestors during winter months when food is scarce and then eat normal during the spring, summer, and fall months.  That would make much more evolutionary sense, but we digress.

We’ve Seen the Manipulation of Meal Timing Before: Intermittent fasting and time-restricted feeding feel very much like a recent dietary fad manipulating the variable of meal timing and frequency.  Do you all remember the advice to eat 5-6 small meals a day to keep your metabolism high?  Well, there isn’t a shred of scientific evidence indicating 5-6 meals/day actually helps you lose weight over the long term.  It feels to us that the health & wellness pendulum overshot eating at normal meal times (2-3 meals/day) and swung to the other extreme, eat 1-2 meals/day or zero meals on one day and an unspecified number the other day.  This is really an individualized timing preference.  If you are hungry eat just enough to appease your hunger and if you are not hungry then don’t eat.  For the most part, it really is that simple. The trick again is more about calories in and calories out than timing or the number of meals per day.

Figure 2. The Effect of Feeding Patterns on the Number of Hours Spent Fasting During a 24-Hour Period.  Prototypical eating patterns. The red bar represents frequent eating occasions (5-6/day) and 0 day-time fasting, the green bar represents a normal overnight fasting period of 12 hours and several day time fasting periods between meals (3) allowing for metabolic flexibility to occur, and the yellow bar represents time-restricted feeding and likely limited fasts during the day.

Figure 2. The Effect of Feeding Patterns on the Number of Hours Spent Fasting During a 24-Hour Period. Prototypical eating patterns. The red bar represents frequent eating occasions (5-6/day) and 0 day-time fasting, the green bar represents a normal overnight fasting period of 12 hours and several day time fasting periods between meals (3) allowing for metabolic flexibility to occur, and the yellow bar represents time-restricted feeding and likely limited fasts during the day.

Energy Needs and Distribution are far Different in Modern Man versus Paleolithic Man: The IF and TRF dietary approaches don’t take into account the type of work many of us do, that is, intellectual deep thinking and critical analysis.  This type of thinking takes a great deal of brain power and is exhaustive. The brain prefers to run on glucose so in a (prolonged) fasted state your brain may not be running on all cylinders (your brain can adapt to using ketones as its primary fuel but this takes time, during which you may be a little groggy).  Although neither of us have tried these dietary approaches (for more than a day or two) and anecdotally, we’re positive that you can find people who swear that their energy doesn’t vary throughout the day or between fed and fasted days, this type of eating just doesn’t seem compatible with the type of work we do these days.  Not to say that physical labor isn’t difficult.  It sure as hell is difficult but it’s just different.  You’re active, you’re doing.  You have less time to think about how hungry you are or how you can’t concentrate.  Our ancestors likely didn’t utilize the type of brain power we do on a daily basis and they certainly moved around a lot more than we do now as part of their hunting and gathering.

We Understand the Allure of Intermittent Fasting: We know that IF is lucrative because it contains only one set of rules.  Time governs eating, nothing else.  IF and TRF minimizes planning and the amount of time that you must dedicate to meal planning.  You either eat or you don’t.  This binary approach is very similar to other fad diets that eliminate or limit fat or carbohydrate by removing grains, gluten, beans, fruits, starchy vegetables, fatty meats, processed carbohydrates, and so on.  These approaches are easy because they are so black and white, so simple.  Yet, what do they all have in common?  1) They typically induce a negative energy balance, which leads to weight loss (Table 2) and 2) they typically fail after a few months. It is difficult to build consistency around black and white rules.  Eating healthy is more nuanced than this.  We have traveling, work lunches, happy hours, etc.  These restrictive diets don’t allow for eating in all situations in life.

What should you do instead?  We’re not going to give you the same old dietitian/health coach talking points of

  • Drink eight, 8-ounce glasses of water/day
  • Eat 5 fruits and veggies/day
  • Eat 6-10 servings of whole grains
  • Eat lean meats, mostly fish
  • Eat nuts and legumes

Well, yes, we see the importance of these recommendations but we also recommend you

  1. Establish your own set of nutrition rules (however arbitrary they may seem)
  2. Take the time to find out what works for you by food logging/journaling. 
  3. Build meals out of individual taste (and timing) preferences.
  4. Identify your obstacles to healthy eating and generate solutions to overcome them. 

No one can tell you the answers to these questions but a health coach or dietitian can help guide you towards discovering these answers.  Unfortunately, there is no healthy eating template.  That’s what makes healthy eating so damn hard.  If you don’t know where to start, start by logging your meals.  You’ll quickly see what is and is not healthy.  Then determine strategies to keep the healthy parts and improve the unhealthy parts.  Nutrition is the easiest and the most complicated thing at the same time.

Who Shouldn’t do IF or TRF or Keto diets? We want to point out that a select group should not try these diets. If you have Type 1 or 2 Diabetes we would strongly discourage you from trying these diets (unless you are already well managed).  Your goal is to maintain the balance between eating (glucose) and the insulin your body produces/you inject.  Also some medications work best when taken with food.  There are also a small set of studies that have looked at people with Thyroid issues.  They too should be careful when on these diets as the main hormone, TSH requires glucose to be generated by the body.  Without glucose available TSH is not made and therefore your metabolism will slow down causing further weight gain.  People who are pregnant and children should probably also avoid these dietary practices.  The best advice, if you have a pre-existing condition, please check with your Doctor or RD before making dietary changes.

Practical Implications: Like other dieting strategies, Intermittent Fasting (IF) and Time Restricted Feeding (TRF) are methods to induce a negative energy balance to lose weight.  In our opinion these strategies represent extremes that are not feasible for the vast majority of individuals looking to either eat healthier or lose weight.  However, less extreme versions of IF and TRF should be utilized to minimize unnecessary eating occasions.  The practical implications of these interventions would include

  • Eliminating Night Time Snacking
  • Eliminating/Reducing Day Time Snacking
  • Compressing Eating Hours to reduce calorie intake

Each of these strategies represent an opportunity to 1) reduce total caloric intake, 2) more fully establish your body’s natural rhythms that more closely represent our ancestral past, and 3) induce metabolic flexibility. Together, this represents metabolic health at its finest.

 

Todd Weber PhD, RD

Janel Schrader MS, MCHES

Anything the Fitness Nut Tries Will Work for Him/Her, But Will It Work for You?

Fitness Nut swears that his/her program is the bee’s knees, the be all end all, greatest program that you need to be on to get fit.  Truth is you don’t have to follow Fitness Nut’s program because there are one million different ways to become fit…

walking, running, bike commuting, road cycling, mountain biking, various team sports, kayaking, canoeing, hiking, mountain climbing, skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, weight lifting, CrossFit, circuit training, Pilates, yoga, barre, swimming, body weight workouts, TRX, resistance bands, machines, free weights, plyometrics, surfing, kickboxing, spin class, hip hop dancing, karate/martial arts, high intensity interval training, gymnastics, lightning tag, capture the flag, obstacle course races, parkour, skateboarding, roller blading, tennis, squash, badminton, paintball, you name it.

programmed+exercise.jpeg

Well, maybe there aren’t one million ways to become fit but there are hundreds of combinations.  Add in the nearly unlimited types of diets you can go on…

good calories/bad calories, paleo/primal diets, detox, brain food, raw foods, juicing, metabolism boosting foods, food for your body type, anti-sugar, blood sugar/glycemic, anti-grain, anti-fat, anti-dairy, optimal macronutrient blends, calorie counting, fighting food addiction, pH-based diets, fasting/alternative day fasting, time restricted eating, superfoods, meal replacement, small frequent meals, plant-based, Atkins, Weight Watchers, Mediterranean, Ketogenic, Zone, South Beach, Whole 30, Beach Body, and on and on...

and voila, you’ve got a nearly unlimited number of ways to meet your diet and exercise needs.  What I just listed is a tiny fraction of the most popular diets/dietary habits of the past several years.  If you chose one way to become fit and one way to eat from these lists, you would have 1,320 options available to choose from!  It can be extremely confusing trying to figure out what exercise routine and diet type are right for you. 

If you talk to a personal trainer, nutritionist or Instagram celebrity you may be lead to believe that -insert diet and exercise routine here- is the best program.  The Instagram pictures/profiles/stories are pretty compelling.  I mean, have you seen some of these people?!  Many of them have a particular diet or exercise routine that they absolutely swear by.  They got that way by ‘such and such’ diet.  They are now the product they are selling.  But, the thing of it is…

Fitness_Nut_2.png

Why do I say this?  Because I know that the Instagram Fitness Nut has two things going for him that you may or may not have:

1) Strict adherence: It doesn’t matter how extreme, how crazy, mundane or otherwise difficult, Fitness Nut is going to be able to adhere to that program.  That program is (likely) their life, their number one priority.  You don’t just get that way by accident.  It is the adherence and not the routine itself that is of critical importance.  In fact, he could probably use completely opposing diet regimens such as the very low carbohydrate ketogenic diet OR the low fat high-carbohydrate diet to get to that coveted six pack.

The program that Fitness Nut follows is his hobby, his job, his livelihood, his passion, his everything.  He has dedicated hours upon hours to his program.  He’s constantly thinking about it, planning out meals and workouts, fantasizing/dreaming about getting even bigger and better, gaining more fame and grabbing more “likes” and views. He became famous due to the adoption of his program and trying to convince others that this particular program is your golden ticket, your path to success.  Fame is a powerful tool.  Fitness Nut has thousands and most likely hundreds of thousands of followers.  He can’t disappoint them by “falling off the wagon”.  You’re watching him and keeping him honest.

2) Genetics: there is also a very good chance that Fitness Nut is genetically gifted.  He is likely in the top percentile in terms of response to exercise.  We know that people’s response to exercise differs dramatically due to unknown genetic factors. See figure 1 for an example of this.

Figure 1. Individual Changes in Muscle Strength (a) and Muscle Size (b) due to a 20-24-week resistance training program.  Black bars represent males and grey bars, females. In response to training, strength changes vary between -6% to +60% for the same training. Reference: Ahtianen, JP, 2016, AGE.

Figure 1. Individual Changes in Muscle Strength (a) and Muscle Size (b) due to a 20-24-week resistance training program. Black bars represent males and grey bars, females. In response to training, strength changes vary between -6% to +60% for the same training. Reference: Ahtianen, JP, 2016, AGE.

When I first saw this data, I thought what you are probably thinking. 

“The people that didn’t respond as well to exercise probably didn’t exercise as intensely.”

Nope, exercise sessions were monitored closely.  Non-responders (i.e., those that did not exhibit an increase in muscle strength/size) exercised at the same intensity as the responders.

“Well, they must not have attended as many exercise sessions”

Nope, wrong again.  They exercised as many days as the high responders.

It turns out that some people simply have a more robust response to exercise than others.  Now, what if you happen to be one of those individuals that just doesn’t seem to respond to exercise?  Are you a hopeless cause?  Nope, but you might have to exercise harder or longer to achieve the response you are aiming for.

Figure 2. Individuals Labeled “Non-Responders” by a Lack of a Training Response to 6 Weeks of Moderate Intensity Aerobic Training, underwent an Additional 6 Weeks of Training Sessions (and Responded Robustly).   The shaded purple area represents a “non-response” to the first 6 weeks of training.  Individuals that responded to the initial 6 weeks of exercise training are excluded from this graph.  There were 3 groups that did not respond to the first 6-week training session.  Groups 1, 2, and 3 exercised for 1, 2 or 3 sixty-minute exercise sessions/week, totaling 60, 120, or 180 total minutes of exercise each week.  In the second, six-week training session (weeks 7-12), each group increased their weekly exercise time by 2 exercise sessions (1 + 2, 2 + 2, and 3 + 2 respectively).  X-axis = training sessions per week, Y-axis = % change in power increase expressed in Watts; this measurement represents their increase in aerobic capacity and fitness. Reference: Montero & Lundby, 2017, J PHYSIOL.

Figure 2. Individuals Labeled “Non-Responders” by a Lack of a Training Response to 6 Weeks of Moderate Intensity Aerobic Training, underwent an Additional 6 Weeks of Training Sessions (and Responded Robustly).  The shaded purple area represents a “non-response” to the first 6 weeks of training.  Individuals that responded to the initial 6 weeks of exercise training are excluded from this graph.  There were 3 groups that did not respond to the first 6-week training session.  Groups 1, 2, and 3 exercised for 1, 2 or 3 sixty-minute exercise sessions/week, totaling 60, 120, or 180 total minutes of exercise each week.  In the second, six-week training session (weeks 7-12), each group increased their weekly exercise time by 2 exercise sessions (1 + 2, 2 + 2, and 3 + 2 respectively).  X-axis = training sessions per week, Y-axis = % change in power increase expressed in Watts; this measurement represents their increase in aerobic capacity and fitness. Reference: Montero & Lundby, 2017, J PHYSIOL.

To demonstrate this point, please take a look at figure 2.  I know this graph is a little difficult to interpret but please try to stick with me as this is very important.  This graph only includes “non-responders” to a 6-week aerobic exercise training program. The participants who responded to the 6-week program with an increase in aerobic fitness (i.e., “responders”) were excluded from further study.

There were three separate training regimens used in the first 6 weeks of the study (all at a moderate intensity):

  • Group 1 exercised for 60 minutes 1x/week (60 min total)
  • Group 2 exercised for 60 minutes 2x/week (120 min total)
  • Group 3 exercised for 60 minutes 3x/week (180 min total)

The open circles (group 1), squares (group 2), and triangles (group 3) show the individual responses people had to the initial 6 weeks of training. The shaded purple area represents their “non-response” to the first 6 weeks of training. 

The “non-responders” were then asked to complete a second, 6-week training session (weeks 7-12).  In weeks 7-12 each group increased their weekly exercise time by 2 exercise sessions/week:

  • Group 1 (1 + 2) exercised for 60 minutes 3x/week (180 min total)
  • Group 2 (2 + 2) exercised for 60 minutes 4x/week (240 min total)
  • Group 3 (3 + 2) exercised for 60 minutes 5x/week (300 min total)

The results from weeks 7-12 (represented by shaded circles, squares, and triangles), show that each group responded like “responders”, increasing their aerobic fitness!!  In summary: Exercise works, some people just need a little more stimulus to adapt.

The Bottom Line: The bottom line is, there are one million different ways to be fit and healthy.  Your mission is to find the one that is right for you.  The program that you like and can stick to.  For the majority of the general population, there is no “right” or “wrong” way, provided you aren’t doing something extreme, you’re unlikely to hurt yourself.  Find the combination that works for you.  Don’t be afraid to experiment.  And stop being so concerned about what “the best” diet or exercise plan is and just do it.

Remember, consistency is king!!!!!  Whatever it is that you choose to do, do it consistently for at least 4-6 weeks.  Log your workouts and if necessary, log your food intake as well.  Be honest with yourself.  If you’ve been consistent with your new routine and haven’t seen the results you want to see, one of three things are going on:

  1. your expectations are too high.
  2. you are a low to moderate responder.
  3. you need to increase the amount of effort you are putting into your diet and exercise routine.

So, the next time an Instagram Fitness Nut (or your co-worker for that matter) tells you that diet and exercise plan “xyz” is just the greatest.  Shake your head up and down in agreement and say, “oh yeah, that’s great Bob, I’ll have to try that sometime," while knowing that any diet and exercise plan can work, you just need to find the one that is right for you.

 

Todd Weber PhD, RD

Eating Healthy Doesn't Happen Overnight: It's a Lifelong Process, Here's My Story

Eating healthy doesn’t happen overnight, it’s a life-long process of trial and error.  For anyone who tells you otherwise, they're wrong.  You’re not going to fix your diet in one fell swoop.  It takes time.  It takes energy.  It takes effort.  But you know what, it’s totally worth it.  Once you’ve got your dietary system in place, eating healthy becomes so much easier.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say that it is effortless but it is much easier.  I like to tell people that if they put in the work now and establish a good foundation that later on they won’t have to focus so much time and energy on eating healthy.  This allows them to focus on the more important things in life: friends, family, experiences, and good times.

The long and winding road of healthy eating.

The long and winding road of healthy eating.

To illustrate what I’m talking about I’d like to share my healthy eating journey with you.  I still don’t eat as well as I should, but I’ve come a long, long ways.  I’ve built my foundation and now I don’t have to spend as much time, energy, and effort in eating healthy.  

Despite becoming a registered dietitian my dietary habits didn’t really change from high school through my Master’s degree at Iowa State.  My diet consisted primarily of peanut butter and jelly or lunch meat sandwiches, cereal, black bean salsa, and frozen pizzas along with “healthy” snacks such as string cheese, yogurt, carrots, and nuts.  My diet during this time wasn’t necessarily unhealthy, it was just extremely limited.

From high school to the beginning of my time at East Carolina University (ECU) I was extremely physically active, which helped me get away with poor dietary practices.  The first semester at ECU I stopped riding my road bike (as a result of a chronic back injury), ate the same diet I was accustomed to eating as an athlete, studied all day, drank too much alcohol, and gained 20 pounds….my freshman 15 came during the “freshman” year of my PhD.

After my first semester at ECU I transformed myself back into the weight lifter I was during my undergraduate days.  I hadn’t seriously lifted weights since college but with my back not cooperating and no longer having hours and hours to ride my road bike anyways, the transition to weight training was a necessity.  During this time, I also had to “unlearn” all the poor dietary habits that I had previously undertaken as a road cyclist to maintain my body weight.  The high sugar yogurt, eating bagels instead of bread, and other high calorie dietary habits that I had previously adopted to maintain my weight needed to be changed.

One of the advantages I had at ECU was that we were connected to a medical school with a hospital cafeteria.  This provided me with an entrée and two vegetables every day for lunch.  It was during this time that I also finally started making tacos and a few other meals at home on my own.  During my last year at ECU my girlfriend (now wife), Kathleen and I moved in together.  She cooked far more than I did and I picked up a few of her recipes.  I probably only really knew how to cook around 10 meals at the time but it was a start.

In January of 2013 I moved to Denver, CO with Kathleen.  In Denver, Kathleen and I slowly started cooking more and more meals.  To be honest, part of this was for health reasons but the major reason we started cooking more was to save money.  Between my unsteady job prospects and my wife’s post-doctoral fellowship salary, we didn’t have a lot of money to eat out.  We slowly and progressively added more and more meals to our repertoire.  I don’t have exact numbers on how many meals we added each year we’ve lived in Denver but today we have 103 recipes in our recipe manager (Paprika).  To be fair, I recently went through our recipe manager and deleted out 50 or so recipes that we either a) downloaded from the internet and never made b) made the recipe but didn’t like it or c) decided it was far too much work to make again.

During our time in Denver we’ve also branched out and learned how to make several vegetarian based dishes such as quinoa, couscous, quiche, and a variety of bean-based dishes that are now staples of our diets.  We have ditched regular yogurt for Greek yogurt, tried to eat more nuts, and eat quite a few hard-boiled eggs.

Our newest meal-planning endeavor is to plan our meals for an entire month at a time.  This will prevent us from needing to plan meals out each week prior to grocery shopping.  Neither one of us enjoy this task, so only having to complete it once per month or once every 2 months is a welcome change.  To help with our monthly planning we have also developed the following weekly system to guide our recipe selection and grocery shopping:

1) Breakfast:

  • Individualized options, Kathleen and I tend to have different preferences for weekday breakfast (i.e., bagel with cream cheese/peanut butter, oatmeal or smoothie)
  • One weekend morning brunch meal (e.g., eggs, potatoes, breakfast burritos)

2) Lunch: vegetarian based recipe

  • Usually a single main dish supplemented with snacks (e.g., fruit, yogurt, string cheese, nuts, cut up veggies, and granola bars)
  • Vegetarian emphasis: 8 out of 10 of our current lunch specific meal recipes are vegetarian

3) Dinner:

  • Pre-plan 4 meals/week
  • At least 2-3 of these meals have to make enough to have leftovers, which supplement the other 3 dinner meals of the week
  • We have ~40 consistent recipe options that we choose from with the goal of trying at least 2 new recipes per month
  • Of the 4 dinner meals we are making a concerted effort to eat at least one vegetarian meal, one fish-based meal and the other two can be meat based
  • We use our crockpot at least once, if not twice, per week
  • We usually cook at least 1 of our 4 pre-planned meals on Saturday/Sunday to allow for recipes that are more complex or have longer cooking times can’t be done during the week

We’ve come a long, long way since my college days of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches but these changes didn’t just happen overnight, they took over 5 years and are still a work in progress.  In the process of making all of these dietary changes we have:

  • tried ~50 recipes that just didn’t stick
  • still don’t have great fish recipes
  • need to find more good vegetarian dishes
  • have tried Blue Apron and didn’t really like it (If you want to know why it didn’t work for us, let me know and I’d be happy to share my thoughts. Our dislike wasn’t with Blue Apron specifically, it’s just the brand we happened to try)
  • struggled with finding time to grocery shop and prepare meals
  • ignored planning weekend lunches (we need to tackle this next!)

But you know what?  We’re pretty happy with where our diets are today and someday soon we’re going to (finally) get to a place where we have our routine down.  We like the foods we eat and the rest of our lives have become so much easier (or unburdened) by being able to eat healthy, remain healthy and active, lean, and when we do go out or want to have some cookies or ice cream, we can easily fit them into our diets without feeling one bit of guilt.  We have never sacrificed taste for health. 

Instead of trying to make several grandiose changes that you and I both know aren’t going to stick, make a commitment to sustainable, lifelong changes.  Start to change the small things in your diet that can make you healthier today.  Realize that to be successful, you will need to commit to it for the long term.  In the end, you’ll be so much happier that you did.

Not everyone has to follow our template, the way we do things is only a suggestion and is still evolving.  However, we have developed a system that works for us.  In 2018, I hope that you take a little time, energy, and effort to develop or refine a system that works for you.  In 2019 and beyond, you’ll be glad you did!

 

 Todd M. Weber PhD, RD

The Blessed Trinity of Weight Loss Needs a New Member

In Christianity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit make up the Blessed Trinity.  They are all God, yet they are all distinct “beings” holding equal power and responsibility.

Figure 1. The Blessed Trinity   (courtesy Alchetron)

Figure 1. The Blessed Trinity (courtesy Alchetron)

In the world of weight loss, the Blessed Trinity can be likened to:

1) Nutrition

2) Physical Activity

3) Behavior Change/Modification

Although many people rank these elements differently in terms of importance, research (and experience) has shown that we require all three to be successful.  Yet, this Blessed Trinity is still somehow incomplete.  There is another leg that’s missing. 

If you think about the blessed trinity of weight loss, dietitians are in charge of nutrition, personal trainers are in charge of physical activity, and behavioral psychologists or another health professional are in charge of behavior change/modification.  All three professionals’ roles and responsibilities overlap with one another to some degree; however, no one professional is solely responsible for helping to control the client’s environment.

In biblical terms, the 21st century food environment is currently akin to the Blessed Trinity’s arch nemesis, Satan.  There are an infinite number of food temptations around every corner, everywhere you look, everywhere you are, everywhere you plan to be.  Whether you’re at work, home, commuting, on social media or watching television, it is impossible to escape the temptation of food.

Figure 2. Food Environment Flooded with Food.

Figure 2. Food Environment Flooded with Food.

We need someone to either fight Satan, or convert him to our side.  Unlike the true Blessed Trinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, which can “manage” Satan, dietitians, personal trainers, and behavioral psychologists are no match for our current food environment. 

There is no amount of nutrition education, calories burned at the gym, or behavior modification/willpower/cognitive training that is going to overcome our food environments.  Despite our best efforts, our current food environment is an unstoppable force.  Merely being in its presence will cause you to overeat.  However, there is a solution:

 

Fix the food environment = fix the problem.

 

With our biological drive to eat tasty, salty, fatty, sugary foods, coupled with an excessive amount and opportunity to eat, overeating is the inevitable result.  Our biological drive to eat isn’t going to change (much); however, we can change our (personal) food environments to decrease both the amount we eat and the opportunities we have to eat.

The food environment is too important to continue to rely on dietitians, personal trainers, and psychologists to manage in addition to the other roles they play.  I’m not trying to understate the importance of these professionals.  They all do great and important work.  But the problem is, their work and where you, the client, live, work, and play (your environment) are in completely different galaxies.  This is why we need someone to monitor your food environment and to see the world as you see it in your day-to-day life.    

We need to add a fourth member to the Blessed Trinity, someone whose sole purpose is to help you monitor/manage your food environment.  I’m not exactly sure what to call this person or if this occupation even exists; however, the name that comes to my mind is a Food Environment Manager (FEM).  If you fix the food environment, there isn’t as much of a need for extensive nutrition education, knowing the number of calories consumed versus calories expended, and you don’t have to rely on willpower to guard against overeating.  You take care of your food environment and your food environment takes care of you.

Continuing to address weight management in our current three-pronged approach is only going to result in more long term failure.  Knowing what to do is far different from knowing how to do it and eating healthy is no exception.  If we can control your food environment, eating healthy becomes much more routine, sustainable, and automatic.

 

Todd M. Weber PhD, MS, RD