My Exciting Partnership with the Oprah Network

Drumroll please.

Roll out the red carpet – I am one step closer to Oprah!

I am absolutely thrilled to announce that I am working with the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) on a series of short segments about health, wellness, and weight.  I’ll be sharing my thoughts and perspectives on what it means to be healthy, common dieting mistakes, and how to make time for your very OWN happy hour every week.

If you know anything about me, then you probably know how I feel about dieting and finding the best weight for yourself.  When OWN asked me to share the #1 mistake women make when dieting, it was pretty easy for me to narrow it down: the fact that they are on a diet in the first place!  Throughout these segments we identify the common mistakes people make to derail their diets efforts. I explain the facts about the downfalls of dieting and bring focus to the different ways people can change their perspective on health, wellness, and dieting.

DIET DERAIL–Learn How to Be Happy in Your Body

SIZE DIVERSITY–Find Your Healthy Size

Here are some key takeaways

  • Dieting is not the same as healthy eating.
  • When you deprive yourself from foods you love it can often lead to overeating.
  • When you under eat and over exercise your body’s metabolism slows down and tries to prevent fat loss for survival.
  • Our DNA is what makes us unique, and there is no one perfect size for everyBODY.  We are not all meant to look alike.
  • Size diversity comes down to science and our genetic footprint.
  • If you are trying unsuccessfully to lose weight and are wondering what the problem is, maybe there isn’t one.  Maybe your body is happy there and your challenge is to become happy there, too.
  • Focus on balanced and realistic plan and avoid drastic, quick fixes. Ask yourself can I do this for the rest of my life?
  • Check yourself. Would you recommend your diet to your daughter or best friend?

Make your voice heard

I know I am not the only one who feels strongly that finding your best health and wellness is about more than a size;  it’s about finding a healthy balance, learning how to cultivate healthy habits, and accepting ourselves as we are.

Lending your voice can have a powerful influence on those around you.  Please help to encourage this positive attitude and spread scientific evidence-based information by sharing this video and with those you know and love.  We all would benefit from a better understanding of size diversity.

Feel free to share your comments and questions on social media. We’re using these hashtags and handles:

#OWNShow

@OWNTV

@DanishaDanielle (the host who interviewed me)

and, of course, @ScritchfieldRD (that’s me!)

I look forward to sharing my opinions throughout this series.  I hope that my messages will educate viewers on the negative impact dieting has on our health, happiness, and well-being.  Is there something you’d like to learn more about?  Leave a comment or tweet to share your topic ideas for upcoming segments – the cameras will be rolling again in April!

Fasting for Weight Loss is NOT the Answer

I was recently on WJLA ABC 7 to discuss the fasting craze that’s become a popular method for weight loss for many people. Unfortunately, most of what I discussed about it in the segment ended up on the cutting room floor. (I’m used to that expected consequences of editing stories). I wanted to take the opportunity to clear up some things that weren’t covered. I felt that the segment makes it appear that fasting may look like a good idea, and I don’t think it’s fair that the last word should look come across in that way.

You can watch the full video here — but read on below for some additional points that didn’t make the final cut.

Honor hunger — don’t hide from it

The key point that I made in this interview is that we need to honor hunger, not avoid it. Think about this — would you ever tell your child or best friend “sorry, it’s breakfast and you are hungry, you need to skip and wait until 12 p.m. to eat.” It’s irrational to ignore your biological signs. You can’t just manipulate when you will be hungry…and actually through fasting you could end up feeling ravenous and then end up overeating.

Operating on an empty stomach? No way!

Think about this…do you want to be on the road with someone who is driving you around while fasting? Or, would you want a doctor operating on you when they are fasting? I don’t know about you, but I know that I wouldn’t! Anyone who’s skipped lunch knows that at some point your brains stops functioning properly, and it impairs your ability to think clearly. Anything that does that to us can’t possibly be good for our bodies.

How do you honestly think you will do when you need energy for work, family, and exercise without nourishment?

Some fasts are more biologically concerning to me than others. For example, ones where you have days of eating 500 calories, give or take, is not enough for your brain to function even lying down all day.

Fasting and a social life do not mix

During the interview, I also talked about how fasting can get in the way of social occasions. The next time a friend asks you to meet them out for a meal, are you really going to say “sorry guys, I can only attend the brunch if it is after 1 p.m.” Or “I can’t go on Sundays because that’s my 500 calorie day. Can you do Saturday? I can eat whatever I want that day.” Oh and heaven forbid when it’s a birthday – YOURS??? And you find yourself feeling guilty for cake and ice cream.

Fasting is just not smart, rational, realistic or sustainable.

What’s the bottom line?

Fasting is a diet — and a dangerous one at that. The large body of science on diets (NOT just one or two studies) show that diets fail, and that 95% of people regain any weight lost. Many even end up gaining MORE weight than before they started. It’s like a doctor telling you, “take this pill, I guarantee you it won’t work long term.” You would not take that pill, would you?

Finally, fasting is disordered eating. It is a slippery slope between someone developing disordered eating habits and a clinical eating disorder. If your goal is health, you should not fast. You should work on behaviors you can do realistically for the rest of your life. The people in this segment were already exercising (a health move everyone should do) and they say they “fill their plates with protein, veggies and healthy fats, they feel satiated”. You can and SHOULD do that without having to fast and fight hunger.

Biologically fasting leads to increased risk of overeating so their claims that they avoid overeating, seem in contrast to what we know about human biology.  Again, you CAN and SHOULD avoid overeating without having to follow a fast and ignore normal hunger cues.

They say they maintain “a balanced diet” — yet they don’t mention carbohydrates, beans, or whole grains. I don’t know if it was an error or if they avoid those foods intentionally. I have shocking news: Carbohydrates are not the devil and they are needed to TRULY be balanced in your eating.

In addition, you can eat balanced without eating perfectly. You mean to tell me nobody who does this fast ever has a cookie, or ice cream — ever? Sounds too perfect to me, and perfect is the enemy of life long success.

If you want to get healthy, eat better, and exercise more, you should do it. But you don’t need a fast to get healthy. You need a food and nutrition expert – a dietitian who is actually trained to help you work with your body and become your best you! If you want to lose weight, make it permanent and that means working WITH your body, not against it. If you can’t do it the rest of your life, or would not wholeheartedly recommend it to family and friends, stay away.

Eating Disorders Coalition Hill Briefing: “Fear of Fat and Weight Stigma: The Intersection of Obesity and Eating Disorders”

Blank-Dummy-Small1

Last week the Eating Disorders Coalition held a briefing on Capital Hill that addressed issues around the negative health outcomes that can result from weight-based stigma and discrimination. They also discussed how important it is to take the focus off of obesity and size, and instead shift the focus to healthy behaviors. The panel of speakers included:photo 1

Below is a summary of their presentations:

Health Consequences of Weight Stigmatization and the Contribution to Obesity and Eating Disorders (Rebecca Puhl, PhD)photo 3    

Rebecca talked about what weight stigma actually is — people being treated negatively based on their weight. At one time or another, we’ve probably all witnessed some kind of negative images and words associated with people of larger size. It’s become a pervasive problem in our society. They’re often categorized as lazy, sloppy, and lacking the self control to just be a smaller size. It can happen at any age, whether it’s a child being picked on at school, or an adult being denied adequate health care at work. For women especially, it’s one of the most reported forms of discrimination, along with gender, race and age.

People who are victims of weight bias become more vulnerable for depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, poor body image, and are even more likely to commit suicide. In addition to the psychological trauma, they also experience poorer academic performance, inequitable hiring practices, and lower wages.

What many people don’t realize is that many people of larger size who are criticized for their weight, may actually be suffering from an undiagnosed eating disorder, like binge eating disorder, (BED) the most common eating disorder.

Many times the stigmatization isn’t  intentional. It’s coming from a place of wanting to guide a person towards health, but they don’t realize the negative implications that shaming a person to lose weight can have. Especially on children. She shared a number of examples of these misguided campaigns, for example:

georgiafatShe mentioned that research has actually found that ads like these that stigmatize larger-size people are less motivating and make them feel less confident about improving their health.

Campaigns were seen as the most motivating focused on healthy behavior changes instead of body weight and obesity.

She listed a number of other diseases/conditions that also had a stigma attached to them, for example leprosy, drug addiction and mental illness. However for these conditions (and many others) it’s been acknowledged that the stigma was a barrier to a person’s treatment, and as a result more research and funding was given to reducing that stigma.

The same needs to happen for obesity and eating disorders, so that proper treatment can be provided to the millions of people that need it. The key will be finding a way to shift our society’s focus to health as the ultimate goal, and not a specific body weight.

Binge Eating Disorder and DSM-5 (B. Timothy Walsh, MD)photo 4

As of May of this year, binge eating disorder is included as its own diagnosis code in the DSM-5. Dr. Walsh was able to share with us a little history behind how it came to be it’s own code, instead of continuing to fall under the umbrella of “Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified” (EDNOS).

Until this year, binge eating disorder was categorized under EDNOS, along with purging disorder and night eating syndrome. Binge eating disorder is defined as recurrent episodes of binging (without compensatory measures like purging), at least once per week for a period of 3 months. A binge episode is associated with at least 3 of the following: eating faster than normal, eating until uncomfortably full, eating large amounts even when not hungry, eating alone, or feeling guilt afterwards.

He shared the overwhelming evidence that supported BED as its own diagnosis, including, not limited to the over 1000 scientific articles published since the DSM-4, the lab testing that’s been done showing that binge eating behavior is abnormal, and the fact that people with BED don’t respond to routine weight loss treatments. This last piece being extremely important, as I’ve seen in my own counseling practice, because focusing on weight loss (for those with BED) actually can drive them deeper into their eating disorder.

Since it has become its own diagnosis in the DSM-5, one study that he shared shows the frequency of EDNOS has decreased from around 40% to around 15%, with BED coming in around 20%.

Why We Must Address the Intersection of Obesity and Eating Disorders (Chevese Turner)

photo 5Chevese started by pointing out that it’s first important to recognize that eating disorders are not rare. They affect around 20 million women, and 10 million men at some point in their lives, falling at different points in the “spectrum”. The perception that eating disorders can be seen as “rare”, yet obesity is an “epidemic” is just not true. In fact this “battle” that is going on against obesity, is actually happening at the expense of people’s lives (those people dying due to complications from eating disorders). She explained why it’s so dangerous to perceive eating disorders are so rare — that it’s due to the health complications that result from them going untreated, like:

  • abnormal heart rate
  • electrolyte imbalances
  • decreased bone density
  • muscle loss
  • tooth decay
  • high blood pressure and cholesterol
  • type 2 diabetes
  • depression
  • death

Around 70% of people with BED are considered overweight or obese, while 30% are considered a “normal” weight. Many people who struggle with it have suffered through countless weight loss treatments that not only didn’t work, but they actually exacerbate their disorder.

She called for people to have the courage to stop and look at programs that target people based on their size (whether it’s intentional or unintentional) like school BMI report cards or work wellness programs. The unintentional side effects are too damaging to ignore. 50% of kids who are overweight go onto have eating disorders later in life.

NIH spent $843 million on research related to obesity vs. $34 million on research related to eating disorders. In a perfect world she’d like those budgets to match, dollar for dollar, but that just isn’t the reality right now. The best thing we can do now, is to try and stop the stigma, so we can stop the shame, and the eating disorder cycle that can result from it.

The Invisible Eating Disorder (April Winslow, MS, RD)

April shared her very touching story about her struggle with and recovery from bulimia and binge eating disorder. Her binging started when she was younger, and then dieting/weight cycling as she got older. She was ridiculed at school, and pressured to lose weight by her family. During her constant losing and gaining, she talked about the fact that non one ever approached her about an eating disorder. The conversation was either “you’re too big, you need to lose weight”, or “you lose so much weight you look amazing” and then felt the pressure to maintain that new size. The latter was what led to the purging.

She recalled a doctor’s appointment while in the midst of her purging, when she was commended for her weight loss, and when she sought treatment and help, was turned away. It wasn’t until a close friend called her out on her purging that she began to acknowledge it, and then eventually could comes to terms with it to stop it. She changed her attitude about herself, and her behaviors. She started small, just walking a few minutes each night, and she started journaling to help work through her emotions.

Now, she’s a psychiatric dietitian, and celebrates food, friends and all life has to offer. Her story was so inspirational, and yet spoke so well to the need for changes about how we think about a person’s size and their health.

Carrot Cake Recipe from Green Mountain At Fox Run

GMFR_final_logo1-e1364240612911For many people trying to reach a healthy natural weight, a retreat can be a great way to step outside of your environment, so you can learn new behaviors without the distraction of everyday life. While there are a number of weight loss-focused retreat options out there (and some are certainly better than others), I’ve personally been to Green Mountain At Fox Run and can tell you it’s different.

First, and foremost, it’s not focused on weight loss — it’s focused on self care. It’s definitely a place worth checking out, if you haven’t already. For more information about their programs and services you can visit their website at www.fitwoman.com. They help you to learn more about yourself in order to improve your self care, and to help you achieve real wellness (not just in terms of your scale weight).

I encourage anyone to  subscribe to their newsletter or check out their blog — both are worthwhile reads. One of their latest newsletters featured this carrot cake recipe that sounded too delicious not to share. The recipe can be found below, or you can visit their website — enjoy!

Carrot Cake Recipe (Serves 18)

Dry Ingredients:Carrot Cake

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4  cup whole wheat flour
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½  teaspoon salt
  •  2 ½  teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon

Wet Ingredients:

  • 1 ¾ cups sugar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar, packed
  • ¾ cups canola oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 cups grated carrots

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375° F.
  2. Prepare an 8 by 13 inch glass pan with cooking spray.
  3. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl and set aside.
  4. In separate bowl, mix sugar, brown sugar, and oil well.  Slowly mix in eggs and vanilla.
  5. Blend wet and dry ingredients together, being careful to not over mix.
  6. Once blended, fold in the carrots.
  7. Pour batter into prepared pan
  8. Bake in oven at 375° F for 30 to 35 minutes.
  9. Let the cake cool completely before cutting.

Do you have a favorite recipe you’d like to share?

Leave a comment below and tell me what recipe you love to make when you’re craving something sweet. Maybe I will feature it in my next e-newsletter…coming soon!

Weight-loss Frauds top FTC survey — excerpt from Consumer Health Digest

I’ve been an advocate for intuitive eating and take a weight-neutral, non-diet approach with all my clients. I’d rather help someone make changes they can maintain forever instead of promising a “quick fix” that would likely lead to weight cycling. It’s about self-care after all.

I saw this article in a recent Consumer Health Digest e-newsletter and wanted to pass it on. It sheds light on fraudulent marketing claims that many weight-loss products make, and the author suggests measures that can be taken to avoid this. Read on and let me know what you think.

Consumer Health Digest #13-16; April 18, 2013 
Consumer Health Digest is a free weekly e-mail newsletter edited by Stephen Barrett, M.D., with help from William M. London, Ed.D. It summarizes scientific reports; legislative developments; enforcement actions; news reports; Web site evaluations; recommended and nonrecommended books; and other information relevant to consumer protection and consumer decision-making.

A major FTC survey conducted in 2011 has found that consumers were victimized by fraudulent weight-loss products more than by any of the other marketing frauds covered by the survey. [Consumer Fraud in the United States, 2011: The Third FTC Survey. April 2013]

The products included nonprescription drugs, dietary supplements, skin patches, creams, wraps, and earrings. They were considered fraudulent if

(a) they were promoted as enabling users to easily lose a substantial amount of weight or to lose weight without diet or exercise and

(b) users lost a little of the weight anticipated or lost no weight. The study estimated that 5.1 million people age 18 or older (2.1% of U.S. adults) bought and used such products However, if purchasers who didn’t use the products were added, the percentage was 4.1%.

The survey also examined correlations between education, economic status, and risk-taking propensity and the extent of victimization. Overall, the study found that 10.8% of U.S. adults—25.6 million people—reported awareness of at least one incident of victimization.

The other areas noted in the report included prize promotions, buyers’ clubs, work-at-home programs, credit repair, debt relief, credit card insurance, business opportunities, mortgage relief, advance-fee loans, pyramid schemes, government job offers, counterfeit checks, and grants.

Fraudulent marketing in our society cannot be reduced unless scams are made less lucrative. Dr. Stephen Barrett believes that the following measures are needed:

  • Appointment of a task force whose members include regulators, consumer advocates, and legislators who can develop and promote model laws and regulations to combat fraud.

  • Finding ways to hold credit card companies, media outlets, and communication channels that enable and profit from the frauds responsible for the losses suffered by victims.

  • Multiplying government regulatory power by authorizing state attorneys general to obtain court orders that apply to the entire country instead of just their own state.

  • Forcing multilevel companies to disclose complete and truthful information about income prospects.

What do you think?

Leave a comment below and let me know if you think these marketing practices are ethical.

Experience Umami “The Fifth Taste” with this Ratatouille Recipe

How Humans Experience Taste

If I asked you to name a food you’ve had that fits into each of the categories of sweet, sour, bitter, and salty, you could do it with ease. But what about umami? (ewww-mom-e)

Umami is the least known taste in our culture and satisfies the heading of savory flavors. Asian countries celebrate this wonderful flavor with fermented beans and grains, as well as shiitake mushrooms. The most common umami product is soy sauce, a fermented condiment. Glutamate (an amino acid) is responsible for the unique umami taste.

You’ve probably had umami before, perhaps without realizing it. Examples include meat like ham, fish, and some vegetables like tomatoes, spinach, and mushrooms. Although your first experience may have come very early – it’s in breastmilk! We’re born to love umamai.

Umamai Lovin’ Ratatouille

Why not share the ‘ummami’ flavor with the family? This recipe for Ratatouille from UmamiInfo.com, is abundant in seasonal vegetables like tomatoes, egg plant (which can be swapped out for zucchini), and peppers.

Ratatouille

“This healthy dish makes the most of an array of colourful vegetables. The tomatoes are bursting with natural umami flavour, and because it can be enjoyed cold, it is the perfect dish for a summer garden party!”

Serve 4

Ingredients:

  • 3 large tomatoes
  • 2 1/2 aubergines/eggplants
  • 4 courgettes
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1/2 yellow pepper
  • 2 medium onions
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 red chillies
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • fresh basil or parsley to taste
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil

Method:

Cut the vegetables into fairly large bite-sized chunks. Crush the garlic with the flat blade of a knife.

Heat some olive oil in a deep saucepan, and add the crushed garlic, chillies, bay leaves and chopped vegetables. Stir, and when everything has been coated in oil, put the lid on and leave to cook, stirring occasionally, until the courgette has softened.

Add the salt, pepper and basil or parsley. If there seems to be too much liquid in the pan, decant it to another pan and boil to reduce it before returning it to the vegetables.

Arrange the mixture on plates, and add salt to taste.

“Accident”

I don’t do much with guest bloggers, but when people are willing to share their story, I want to give them a platform. Let’s all support Adele and thank her for her insight and courage.

Guest blog By: Adele Schroder

It’s funny how perspective is everything. Looking back now I see how completely ridiculous what I believed to be true then actually was, but at the time it made so much sense, I was doing what was right, what was healthy. There was nothing wrong with eating about 500 calories per day – so many diets out there suggest it – smart people, famous people, doctors even, all support the idea that the best way to lose weight was to reduce what you eat and some even go so far to suggest that those who are lower calorie diets live longer. Skinny at any cost is the healthy thing to do.

The truth at the time, I was over weight. I know I was, but I was healthy, I ate fairly balanced, exercised, my cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar I dowere all fine, but my doctor was still pushing me to lose weight. Truth is, she made me feel horrible about myself and at one point even said that if I couldn’t control what I was eating myself, then she would give me a prescription for appetite suppressants. It was that comment that began the slippery slope that would eventually become a case of accidental anorexia.

I started restricting what I ate – I went from eating balanced to eating one thing per meal – one yogurt, one piece of skinless chicken, one piece of cucumber. There was nothing balanced or healthy about it, but the weight started to come off and my doctor, family, friends, and anyone else who saw me started praising me for “looking so good”. I read about all the latest fad diets – it didn’t seem like anything I was doing was wrong – so many people ate like this, limiting there intake to a few select “safe” foods to make yourself healthy again. It was great – I was getting skinny and everyone was proud of how much “will-power” I had to stick with it.

A year, and almost 90lbs later, things started to change. I was always tired, my hair was falling out, I had passed out a couple times – but I was skinny, “beautiful” and “healthy”. Staying that way was all that I could think about – an Ana brain inside of me had taken over – nothing was more important than self-control and skinniness – skinniness at any cost. I was working at a place that insisted everyone eat lunch in the lunchroom. Didn’t take long before people started to talk and I remember that day that I got pulled into the meeting room. All of upper management was standing there and they simply said, “we want you to see a dietitian, you don’t look well”. I was royally pissed off – some of these people were the same people who just months before had been telling me how great I looked….they must be jealous, that was it, I was convinced! They were just jealous at the self control I had.

I sat in the waiting room of the dietitian’s office going over what I was going to say – figured it would be easy – just tell her what diet I was following, what my doctor had said when I was fat – how I was just being healthy…she would just sign that stupid thing for work and I could put this whole embarrassing “you need help” crap behind me. It’s not like I wasn’t doing something that so many other people weren’t doing – and I wasn’t one of those skinny-little-nut-jobs you see on those reality help shows – I was a well off business person who just took control of a problem (being over weight) and fixed it. Nothing was wrong with that.

Unfortunately my appointment didn’t go that way – instead I was bluntly told that how I was eating was dangerous, completely unacceptable, and that if I didn’t stop I would die. I told the dietitian she was crazy, rolled my eyes and must have told her I was fine at least 20 times. But the hardest part came at the end of the appointment – all she asked me to do was have an extra yogurt at lunch – one 80-calorie yogurt – and I lost it. There were tears, begging, saying I wouldn’t do it and that she wasn’t listening to me – I wasn’t doing anything wrong I was just doing what Dr X said to do and following Y diet – I didn’t have a problem, I was just trying to be healthy and why was she trying to make me fat again.

She stayed calm through all of it – repeated that what I was doing was not ok, not healthy and that I was going to die if I didn’t stop – then told me she would see me next week. I refused – she shrugged and said that it “wasn’t a suggestion” then walked with me to reception to make the next appointment.  I hated her – she didn’t know me – so how could she judge me. But I knew I at least had some saving grace – she was pregnant – so I figured that if I couldn’t fight her I would play her silly little game for 3 months and she would be gone. And being honest, I probably did at the time – but something else happened – I started to respect her, if for no other reason than she was consistent in what she said, “you can’t keep eating like this, it is not healthy, you will die”. Three very simple and blunt comments that stuck with me.

My eating did get a little better when she was away on maternity leave that year – not because I wanted to get healthy but because I was told that if I lost more weight then a hospital stay would no longer be up to me (I had mandatory monthly check ins with an ED psychologist that year, I played along with the stupid game) – I wasn’t better by any stretch of the imagination – I still thought that barely eating was the right thing to do – I just wasn’t willing to give up everything I had accomplished and end up in the hospital – so I ate the bare minimum I had to to avoid that consequence.

It was a year later that I ended up getting a new family doctor – and with that change came the routine “base-line” blood work workup. I got a call I never expected, “the doctor wants to see you back in her office today regarding your blood tests, how soon can you be here?”. I sat in her office looking at line after line of abnormalities – high cholesterol, high liver enzymes, poor kidney function, a large amount of ketones in my urine, and electrolytes that were all over the place. She was questioning me on how I felt, if I had been on any medications etc etc and I sat there thinking, “the dietitian was right, I’m hurting myself…” I felt so confused – why were there so many diets out there saying what I did was right? Why did my old doctor praise me? Why was my blood work normal when I was fat but so abnormal now that I was skinny…why wasn’t skinny healthy? I wasn’t “dangerously thin” – my BMI was fine – so why wasn’t I healthier than when I was over weight? Isn’t that what we are taught? Skinny is healthy…my whole world came crashing down that day. Everything that I had believed regarding what it was to be healthy – everything that I had read and seen in the media was wrong – and because I believed it, I was now sick.

The next day I swallowed my pride and sent a “you were right” email and asked for help. This time was different – I tried not to fight as much (hard to give up the fight completely) and I worked towards a goal – I wanted to be healthy – I wanted normal blood work. I wanted to learn to eat well and enjoy food again. I learned that I had to start putting my health first, my body first – it was all in my control to be healthy.

Today I can say that I am healthy – I eat well – and I eat anything and everything without worrying so much about if the food is “good” or “bad”. But there is one thing that still bothers me: how is it that even though I am well educated and a professional person I was able to believe that what I was doing was right? I accidently became anorexic, not because I was trying to gain control over my life or any of the other things that you hear about when you think of eating disorders – I became anorexic because I honestly did not know that what I was doing was harmful or wrong. And what was the worst part of this whole thing? Even if being anorexic was not your intent, once Ana brain sets in, there’s no escaping it, no controlling it, no seeing any other opinion. It is far easier to believe what you see every day than believing the truth: skinny does not always equal healthy.

Perspective is everything – and mine has now changed. I put me and my health first and realize that the number on the scale doesn’t always have anything to do with health.

*****

Thanks, Adele!

If you are intrigued by what you read here, you may want to check out the “Health at Every Size” principles and community.

Metabolic Syndrome – Not Simply a “Spare Tire” Issue

I recently read an article called “Metabolic Breakdown: How a spare tire leads to diabetes and heart disease” published in Nutrition Action Health Letter. The expert interviewed for this article was Doctor Michael Miller, the director of the Center for Preventative Cardiology and a professor of medicine, epidemiology, and public health and the University Of Maryland School Of Medicine. I subscribe this newsletter and I think it’s a very useful source, but I wanted to add my opinion about the metabolic syndrome issue because I think the article had some good points, along with some very off-based points.

Cool it with the body bashing, please

My main problem here is a big one; I disagree with the article’s weight and body image focus. The subtitle of the article reads, “How a spare tire leads to diabetes and heart disease.” This sends the wrong message to readers. A “spare tire” does not automatically mean you are unhealthy. And also- why use the term “spare tire?” That is an offensive term for something that a lot of people genetically have, healthy or not. I’ve done many endurance trail races with men and women with a so-called “spare tire” who clearly know how to crush out a run.

You cannot tell by looking at someone that they don’t exercise, eat right, or have health risks just because they have fat on their belly area. We all have different genetic make-ups that give us different shapes and sizes. I have plenty of clients that eat well, exercise, and have lowered their cholesterol and triglyceride numbers, but still have what you would call a “spare tire.”

It is also harmful to use this term because it gives “thinner” people the idea that because they don’t have belly fat that they are metabolically healthy, when that is not true whatsoever and there is research data to prove it. If this idea piques your interest, I highly recommend a look into the research and the movement “Health at Every Size”.

If not your size, then what?

Individual trends are the most important indicator of your health, not the shape of your body. Trends are so important because they are a product of habits and lifestyle changes. If you have three more inches on your gut than you did ten years ago, is it possible that your habits have changed? If so, what do you want to change back? Lack of exercise or increased unhealthy food consumption can change your cholesterol, triglycerides, and insulin response.

Healthy Habits Matter in Reducing Metabolic Syndrome Risk – Regardless of Size

The reason I want to not focus on the “spare tire” aspect of metabolic syndrome is the fact that the context of changing this syndrome is healthy habits. This should be the main point because people who decide they want to start making healthy changes but don’t see results in body fat might stop trying to be healthy.

Three Out of Five Possible Conditions Needed for “Metabolic Syndrome”

Belly fat is known to generate factors that increase inflammation and heart disease risk. But, let me give you some background. Metabolic syndrome effects one out of four Americans and is diagnosable when a person has at least three of these five features:

  1. a large waist,
  2. low HDL cholesterol (the “good” kind,) and
  3. higher than normal blood sugar,
  4. higher than normal triglycerides and
  5. higher than normal blood pressure.

A large waist is only one of the five criteria for metabolic syndrome, so it is confusing to me why the waist is the focus and the only criteria mentioned in the title.

Another Miss… What to Do to Lose Weight Reduce Metabolic Syndrome Risk

Seeing hundreds of clients has given me perspective on the wide range of nutritional needs people have. However, in the article, an established health practitioner gave an oversimplified piece of advice for those who would like to lose weight and decrease their metabolic syndrome risk: Cut out two slices of bread or 1 bagel every day.

How many of you find this advice laughable? First of all… what if you don’t eat bread or bagels daily? Or what if you eat cake for breakfast, but decide to cut out the tuna sandwich at lunch.

This, to me, reinforces the idea that doctors might not know exactly what a dietitian does because it is very rare that advice is that simple for a person. Many carbohydrates are good for our bodies – it is fuel for our brain and our muscles – especially with exercise. Cutting a serving out doesn’t automatically improve health. Some people are already eating lower carbs and don’t have 2 pieces of bread to cut out. Dietitians work with a person to find a realistic approach to obtain their goals.

What You Can Really Do to Decrease Metabolic Syndrome Risk

If you take out body size, there are several things you can do to evaluate your risk for metabolic syndrome. Here is what you can do:

  1. Be honest with yourself. Think about your eating, exercise, and stress habits and decide if there is room for improvement.
  2. Get accurate fasting labs done. Know your numbers and watch for trends throughout the years.
  3. Reflect on your body’s trend. Have you noticed some weight gain around your belly area that has coincided with a bad habit like stopping exercise or going out to eat more?

A High Point in the Article – Even Thinner People Should Know Where They Stand Metabolically

As much as I take issue with negative body image aspect of the article, I really resonate with the part of the article that reads, “even though you may appear normal, you may still not be metabolically normal.”  The media throw the idea at us that “skinny is healthy” and “fat is unhealthy.” These are misconceptions and there is scientific evidence that proves you can be healthy at any size. Linda Bacon’s book Healthy At Every Size has evidence that shows that “overweight” people live longer than “normal” weight people. This isn’t an excuse to go run for a bag of chips, but it shows that even if you have a normal BMI, you can be metabolically unhealthy and more at risk for metabolic syndrome than someone with an overweight BMI this is metabolically healthy.

My main point is to take out the body image part and focus on genetics and habits. Healthy habits will not only cut your risk for metabolic syndrome, but also help you sleep better and have more energy. My clients that have made healthy behavioral habits feel great and have forever ditched dieting. This article and its focus on body shape may make my clients think that they aren’t doing enough or that their progress is not having an impact- but that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Overcoming the Habit of “Rationalizing” Reasons to Eat

For my latest U.S. News Eat+Run blog post, I chose a seemingly simple topic that many people struggle with: eating when hungry… or shall I say, not hungry… or even more specifically rationalizing reasons to eat that may have nothing to do with real physical hunger.

What is Hunger, Anyway?

Hunger is our intuitive signal that tells us we need to eat. That little rumble we feel in our stomachs, a dip in energy, as well as the growl we hear, is hunger speaking to us. These feelings and noises are a good thing because they helps us regulate our food intake and our body’s digestion process.

Hunger for Food or Something Else?

However, many of us ignore our intuition and instead listen to other factors that lead to self-sabotage. We most often eat for reasons other than hunger because we justify excuses to ourselves. It is important to realize that telling yourself that you can eat whatever you want because you had a bad day or because you already ate something unhealthy is only hurting yourself.

If you are reading this and realizing that you have used self-sabotage in the past, here are some ways to squash it:

  • Make a list of all the “rationales” you have told yourself about reasons to eat. Write down next to each one whether it is realistic for positive self care or if it allows you to pursue bad habits.
  • Whenever you begin to think one of these rationales, pause, write it down again and ask yourself if it is the best choice you could make right now.
  • Pay attention to your hunger signs! Be able to decipher if you want a certain food because you are hungry or if you are just craving it or trying to avoid something uncomfortable. If you are actually hungry, then go eat. Your body needs nourishment. If not, address what emotions you are feeling.
  • Be patient! It takes time to change but finally learning to listen to your hunger will help you live a healthy life!

For more tips on how to help squash self-sabotage and listen to your hunger read the full article here!

Resources: Check out the book Intuitive Eating if you really want to build different eating skills. I studied under one of the authors, Evelyn Tribole for nutrition supervision and it completely changed my outlook on eating habits.

Don’t Waste Your Time With Consumer Reports Diet Rankings

Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers as health foods? Seriously? This NPR Health blogger “get’s it” – she argues there are profits to be made from their selling of processed foods. She says, of the “savory” steak and ranch flatbread …

But there was nothing very whole or natural to be found among the ingredients. We counted no fewer than 80 distinct substances on the list from salt and soybean oil to titanium dioxide and ammonium chloride.

Hmmm… makes you “think”. How can they promote healthy eating and sell you THAT food-like substance?

If anyone gets the allure of dieting, it’s me. I swear if you could get a PhD in diets, I’d have at least five. I actually have more experience dieting (started at 12) than I do as a registered dietitian!

But as you’ve heard me say a million times, dieting is bad (mmm kaaaay?). I’m not going to list all the negative aspects in this post… although I’d LOVE to see them in the comments :) I’ll just say this: diets promote thinness, science says thinness is not health, our culture says we need to be thin to be worth a damn (that’s discrimination we should not tolerate). As long as weight loss is the goal and primary focus VS health and wellness, behavior change, quality of life, absence of disease, all we’re doing is delaying the freedom, flexibility, knowledge, and empowerment that comes with living a truly #mefirst balanced life.

I’m going to take every chance I get to lay the “smack down” on diets and diet-mindedness. That’s why when Fox 5 wanted me to stay up past my bedtime to do a late night TV appearance on the Consumer Reports diet rankings, I said YES. I didn’t care that I’d lose sleep. This topic is too important. YOU are too important for me to keep my mouth shut.

So, here’s what I said… Sound off in the comments. What do you think? Agree? Disagree? What points would YOU have made if you were on there?

http://www.myfoxdc.com/video/videoplayer.swf?dppversion=8705

Consumer Reports Names Jenny Craig Best Diet: MyFoxDC.com

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 10,573 other followers

%d bloggers like this: