Category: "Fad Diets"

4 Lessons I Learned From One Diet

December 9th, 2013 | no comments

It was the summer of 1997 and as a 21-year old college student without a care in the world, I was doing what oodles of college students across the country do on the weekends to decompress—PARTY! But I did a bit too much of it and before long, my clothes got a little tight. I really don’t know how the hell that happened…after all, doesn’t alcohol cancel out all calories consumed afterwards? 😉

Did I mention I was a broke college student? Investing in a new wardrobe wasn’t an option, so I made the more economical decision to go on a diet. It was a no-brainer! As a dietitian-in-training, I had all of the tools at my fingertips to create a sound meal plan and safely shed those extra pounds. Here are the four lessons I learned from that one safe and “innocent” little diet:

Lesson #1: I am human.

Human beings do not like restrictions. Human beings rebel against restrictions. Even if said restrictions are reasonable and otherwise healthy, human beings still do not like restrictions. Let’s say I prescribe you a 1500 calorie-a-day diet. How much do you want to bet you’ll want 1550 calories? If I feel generous and bump up those calories to 1800, how much do you want to bet you’ll want 1801? Even though 1800 calories may satisfy you physically, it won’t satisfy you mentally (word to the wise…mental always trumps physical…ALWAYS). It is human nature to want MORE than we are allowed to have. This is why I never prescribe diets. It’s like handing you a prescription for failure.

At one point, I allowed myself 2500 calories a day because surely 1500, 1600, 1800, 1900, 2000 and 2300 calories a day weren’t enough. I always wanted more. Guess what happened at the 2500-calorie level? Yep! I wanted more.

So what’s the answer? Remove the restrictions! Get rid of the limitations! And for Pete’s sake…please stop counting calories. Listen to your body instead. That’s what babies do, and they are brilliant eaters. YOU have a brilliant body today. If you slow down and listen—I mean really shut up and listen—it will tell you when it’s had enough. I haven’t counted calories in almost fourteen years. Do I know how many calories I eat? No. Do I care? No. Do I eat a balanced diet (including my all time favorite foods in moderation) and exercise my body most days of the week? Yes. Do I tune into my level of hunger and fullness? Yes. Do I sometimes ignore those levels and overeat? Hell yes. And the reason I know this is because I tune into my body. Do I beat myself up for overeating and eat the whole cake? Hell no. I just tune back in.

Lesson #2: How to have a sloppy love affair with doughnuts and obsess over food.

Never before did I obsess over food. Food was normal. It was part of life and living. But as soon as I placed the proverbial red “X” over the forbidden foods you aren’t supposed to eat when dieting (pretty much any food with taste), a dysfunctional relationship was born. Although I always loved doughnuts growing up, I never had a problem with them. We were friends. I would enjoy one every so often and be done with it. They were also at the top of Dieting 101’s “Forbidden-Food” list, which gave them a tremendous amount of power over me. When food has power…it wins! And boy did the doughnuts win. Like a maple-iced doughnut holding a gun to my head, forcing me behind the wheel of my car, at one point I drove to a 24-hour doughnut shop in the middle of the night to get my fix. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was because I wasn’t allowed to have them that I wanted them and would stop at nothing until I got my hands on one (or two, three or four).

So what’s the answer? Understand (and believe deep down in your gut) that NO food is off limits. Our favorite “sometimes” foods have a special place in our lives. Sure it’s a small place, but they still have a home. When you erase the red “X”, food no longer has power. YOU win.

Lesson #3: When I failed one diet, there was always another “new and improved” diet lurking in the darkness, waiting to suck me in.

After I failed my self-prescribed diet, I turned to Weight Watchers, then Richard Simmons “Deal-A-Meal”, then diet pills, then fat-free, then carb-free, then diet pills again (this time it was Metabolife, which has since been pulled from shelves due to reported serious health effects and yes, even death). None of them worked and in fact, helped support my three-year battle with Binge Eating Disorder.

Why didn’t they work? Can you say restrictions? How about limitations?

So what’s the answer? Remove the restrictions! Get rid of the limitations! And for Pete’s sake…please stop counting calories. Listen to your body instead.

Lesson #4: I didn’t fail the above diets. They failed me.

Recall from Lesson #1—Human beings do not like restrictions. We rebel against them. And since all diets are built upon restrictions, they fail us from the get-go.

So what’s the answer? Stop dieting! Don’t even think of trying another one, no matter how alluring and sexy it may be (and if you’re tempted to try one, send me an email at with the diet in question and I’ll give you a kick in the pants to set you straight!)

Instead, feed your body real food. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein (think poultry, fish, beans), nuts, olive oil…one-ingredient foods that are fresh, bright, fibrous… and give you gas! Click here to learn more. And here to learn even more!

Do you see yourself in any of these lessons? Have you learned from them or are you waiting to catch the next diet train? If you will, think back to your last diet. Remember that feeling you got when you derailed from it and ate a forbidden food? Despair. Hopeless. Lost. Disgusted. Angry. Depressed. Sad. Anxious. Guilty. Do you really want to hit the rewind button and do it all over again?

You are your solution. So set yourself free.

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Fact or Fiction? To lose weight, go gluten-free

June 20th, 2013 | no comments

Fiction! Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley and any processed foods containing these ingredients. Going ‘gluten-free’ is the latest diet craze, however, those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance have no choice and must follow a gluten-free diet for life. If eaten, they develop an immune reaction that creates inflammation and damages the intestine.

If you don’t suffer from celiac disease or gluten intolerance, simply eliminating gluten from your diet will not in itself help you lose weight. There are plenty of gluten-free, calorie-rich foods that can take their place (i.e. soda, butter, cream, gluten-free brownies, etc.) and actually cause you to gain weight if you overindulge.

Registered dietitian and celiac expert Shelley Case says “Studies have shown that people following a gluten-free diet, especially when relying heavily on commercially prepared gluten-free foods, can have diets low in iron, fiber, B vitamins, calcium, and vitamin D.”

The bottom line: Gluten-free diets aren’t a magic weight loss bullet and can be difficult to follow for the long haul (ever read a food label and not see ‘wheat’ as an ingredient?) When choosing foods with wheat, rye or barley look for those with the first ingredient listed as ‘whole’ followed by wheat, rye or barley. Remember to chose foods in their natural form when possible (i.e. whole barley) and be sure to keep your portions in check!

Product shout-out!
Wasa crackers are one of my favorite! With only two ingredients (whole grain rye flour and salt), they are the perfect accompaniment to soup, tuna salad or a fresh garden salad!

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Fact or Fiction? Carbs make you fat

June 13th, 2013 | no comments



A big fat lie! Eating too much of any food will cause you to pack on the pounds. Protein rich foods like beef and chicken and fat-rich foods like oils and nuts can both tip the energy balance in favor of weight gain when you overeat them.

For some reason, carbohydrates are unfairly demonized. Maybe it’s because the truly health-promoting carbohydrates get lumped into the same category as the not-so-healthy ones like doughnuts, potato chips, candy and cookies. Not fair! The truth is, you can’t live without carbs. They provide key vitamins and minerals for general health and are your body and brain’s primary source of fuel. Carbohydrate-rich foods include:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Grains (bread, cereal, rice, pasta, crackers, etc.)
  • Milk and yogurt
  • Beans and legumes (pinto, kidney, lentils, etc.)
  • Sweets (sugar, jam, jelly, honey, soda, cakes, candy, cookies, etc.)

Sweets and refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and rice, are less satisfying and can trigger overeating. They are typically low in fiber—an indigestible carbohydrate that adds bulk to food, slows digestion and keeps you feeling full! Stick with healthy, fiber-rich carbs like fruits, vegetables, whole grains (brown rice, oatmeal, barley, whole grain bread and crackers) beans and legumes. Don’t forget to round out your meals with a serving of low-fat milk (almond and soy are my favs!) or yogurt!

Healthy eating is about balance and variety. Make a point to eat from all foods groups, keep your portions in check and you will soon achieve a healthier weight without feeling deprived.

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How to spot a FAD diet

February 25th, 2013 | no comments

charliebrownJuicing. Fasting. Low-carb. No-carb. No sugar. No white foods. No fruit. No fat. High fat. Low cal. No cal. Pills. Powders. Herbs. Extracts. Creams. Gels. Lotions. Potions. Feeding tubes (yes…feeding tubes).

AAUGH!! Don’t you just want to scream like Charlie Brown?! The thought of putting yourself through yet another fad diet is enough to make you crazy, isn’t it? My wish for you is that you vow to never diet again. But if you are tempted to try the ‘latest and greatest’, lose-5-pounds-in-5 days, crazy new diet of the month, at least read on to learn what makes a diet a fad diet.

You can feel pretty confident that it’s a fad diet if it:

  • Eliminates or strictly limits entire food groups (i.e. fruits, grains, fats, etc.)
  • Sounds too good to be true (i.e. ‘Lose weight without exercise!’)
  • Drastically cuts calories
  • Requires you to take special pills, powders or herbs
  • Promises rapid weight loss (i.e. ‘Lose 5 pounds in 5 days!’)
  • Requires you to replace meals with special food bars or drinks

The best weight reduction plan is one that:

  • You can safely follow for the rest of your life
  • Doesn’t require you to ‘give up’ any food or food group
  • Makes room for a variety of food (yes, even chocolate)
  • Doesn’t leave you feeling deprived
  • Fills you with energy!
  • Focuses on health, NOT weight
  • Fuels your body and soul

I don’t think it’s any coincidence that the first three letters of the word ‘diet’, spell DIE. Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

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Does the flat belly diet work?

September 14th, 2011 | no comments

flat bellyIn case you haven’t heard about the Flat Belly Diet, it’s a weight loss plan that focuses on including monounsaturated fats (like olives, avocados, nuts and seeds, and oils such as soybean, flax, sunflower and olive) with each of your meals. Does it work? Sure– you can lose weight on this diet, but it’s not because monounsaturated fat has special fat-burning powers!

Here’s why the Flat Belly Diet works:

  • It’s a sound meal plan—A Mediterranean-style diet emphasizing fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, lean protein and whole grains.
  • It encourages you to eat about 1600 calories per day—which, for most people, is low enough to promote weight loss.
  • It emphasizes eating every four hours and getting plenty of exercise—both effective strategies for weight control.
  • Adding a little bit of monounsaturated fat to each of your meals helps to satisfy your hunger so you’ll actually eat less.

Beware of the following Flat Belly Diet claims:

  • Lose 15 pounds in 32 days– One pound of body fat equals 3500 calories, so to lose 15 pounds in 32 days would require you to burn off 1640 calories per day. This is highly unlikely!
  • Eat certain foods and banish your belly fat- When you lose weight, you’re likely to lose it in your mid-section. This has nothing to do with monounsaturated fat and everything to do with regular exercise and moderate calorie restriction.

So what should you do?

  • Eat less
  • Move more
  • Build your diet around wholesome foods like whole grains, lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, beans, and small amounts of healthy fats with each of your meals
  • Have some patience! Slow weight loss (1-2 pounds per week) is more likely to stick

Make it an energizing day!



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