How Many People Are Making This “Health” Mistake?

“Diet.” Just reading that word probably gives you flashbacks to all the magazine and diet book promises that failed … and brings up a running list in your head of popular diet trends, and celebrity-sponsored programs we can’t seem to escape when we turn on the TV or log onto Facebook. Many people (maybe you?) think the only way to manage your weight is to go on one of these diets. Wrong.

I’ve been on tons of diets in my heydey. They all made me feel like crap. The only thing that worked was me changing my habits in a realistic way that I could live with forever. But don’t just take my word for it, check out the science.


What You Lose When You Diet

According to research, the weight-loss industry brings in at least $55.4 billion in revenue per year [Marketdata Enterprises 2007] yet it is reported that a staggering 95% of all dieters will regain their lost weight in 1-5 years (Grodstein, Levine, Spencer, Colditz, &Stampfer, 1996; Neumark-Sztainer, Haines, Wall, & Eisenberg, 2007).

With such a high percentage of people regaining all of that lost weight, it makes you wonder what the point of dieting was in the first place. Cutting out foods you love, or refusing to give your body the nutrients it needs is not only be damaging to your body, but also can lower your self-esteem, have a negative impact on your sleep, and end up causing other issues like binge-eating or even more unwanted weight gain.

Even Rock Stars Can’t Avoid Body Bashing

Our societal standards for thinness are so bad that even mega (super strong) rock star Pink can’t avoid the body bullies. Girl does acrobatics on her tours and clearly has the physical capabilities to entertain. I love her response score one for happiness and two for “leave me alone.”


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Ditch Dieting Wednesday May 6, 2015 (and Every Day)

Join me in celebrating International No Diet Day. It’s a day to celebrate the way you love to eat, move, and live your life. Give yourself a break from all the restrictions you might have set on yourself and commit to finding new, realistic, and sustainable habits you love.

5 Ways to Celebrate No Diet Day:

  1. Take a break from the scale. If you’re still fitting into, and rocking your favorite outfits, why bother stepping on the scale? Seeing a certain unwanted number can easily lower our self-esteem and ruin our day.Break out of scale jail with me today and celebrate your body! No Diet Day is a day to celebrate all parts of you, so why give something as insignificant as “a number” so much power? (And if you’re saying, it’s not the number, I just want the cellulite to go away. I’m calling that the same thing. Your value is based on weight or shape.)
  1. Nothing is off limits! For today, eat exactly what you want. Throughout the day, notice how good it feels to give yourself permission to eat that ice cream from your freezer or that fresh banana bread you’ve been meaning to try at the local coffee shop. (resource: my mindful eating blog post). If you normally live under “food rules” don’t be surprised if you say “yes” to cravings more often than you would like. You’ll simmer down once you realize you can enjoy all foods. (Note: my clients who struggle with compulsive eating report they actually decrease the “guilt foods” because they stop saying “screw it, let’s go big…” and they just eat like they expect everyone else enjoys chips – a few handfuls, not a bag.

Emma Stone

  1. Keep a journal. No diet day is a great day for you to take a break from that calorie counter app and reflect on all of the ways you take care of yourself. Write down some examples all day long, and after reading them over, reflect on how they make you feel.
  • Did you enjoy your exercise?
  • Did you get a good nights sleep?
  • Are you taking a break to focus on your meal instead of shoving something in your mouth while running to your 5th meeting – and it’s only 10 a.m.???? (I can’t be the only one who gets stuck rushing.)
  1. Do a detox (just kidding). Today is definitely not about detoxing from that banana bread we talked about. However, today is the perfect excuse to take a step back and detox from the entire dieting world. We all have those blogs and magazines we follow which leave us feeling like what we’re doing and who we are isn’t enough. Today, take the time today to question whether or not repeatedly checking these resources is a healthy habit. If you find that these blogs are doing nothing but worsening your problems and the way you feel about yourself, spend some time during the day to seek out more positive resources that will help you feel good about your choices.
  1. Make peace with you. While taking care of your health is definitely a great priority to have, it is also important to realize that health is not about dieting or looking like the photoshopped models in magazines. As women, we are constantly being bombarded by different opinions on how we should look, and what size jeans we should be fitting into at a certain age. These external opinions can make it very hard to remember that you are not just a dress size or number on a scale. You are a real human being with feelings. Today, try to focus on thinking of yourself in a compassionate, and accepting light. What else is more important than loving yourself for exactly who you are?

For more on National No Diet Day, join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag: #NoDietDay.

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Sorting Out Fact From Fiction: The Gluten-Free Diet Craze

Gluten free diets have become the latest weight loss “fad”. I think one of the reasons this trendy way of eating has evolved is that rather than working on incorporating balance and moderation into meals and snacks, it can be easier to cut something out altogether – whether that’s wheat, dairy or something else. What people may not know who are following a gluten-free diet for weight control, is that many times when gluten is removed from processed foods, sugar, fat and butter are often added to improve the taste.

wheat For most of us, there really is no medical reason to eliminate gluten. In fact, many gluten-containing foods can be very nourishing (ex: whole grain bread and barley). As this article summarizes, there really are only three true reasons to avoid gluten (and I’m sure it’s no surprise to hear that none of them are weight loss related):

  1. An autoimmune condition like celiac disease in which the presence of gluten actually alters the intestine and causes malabsorption and other GI issues like pain and diarrhea. This diagnosis can be made by a biopsy and blood test.
  2. An allergy, which would have symptoms that might appear similar to any other allergy – hives, sneezing, etc. This can’t be tested easily, but is evaluated similar to other allergies based on visible symptoms.
  3. An intolerance/sensitivity which may have symptoms like abdominal bloating, but can’t be accurately tested for.

I recently did a series of videos with the #OWNshow and @OWNTV which covered a number of gluten-related topics, including an overview of what gluten is, if going gluten-free makes sense for weight loss, identifying hidden sources of gluten in some foods, and uncovering some sneaky truths about some gluten-free products that are on the market today. Watch each video below: Can You Lose Weight By Going Gluten-Free?  Weight Loss Gluten Free

The Sneaky Truth of Some Gluten-Free Products  Sneaky Truth Gluten Free Products Could You Be Eating Gluten and Not Know It?  Hidden Gluten The Gluten Guide: What is Gluten Really? Gluten Guide  What do you think about the gluten-free diet trend? To join the conversation about going gluten-free, leave a comment below, use the hashtag #OWNSHOW on twitter, or check out the OWN TV Facebook page.

Debunking Cleanse and Detox Diets

It is a million dollar question: Are detoxes and cleanses all they’re cracked up to be? The idea that drinking juice or taking a magic pill is going to do a better job than our own organs is very misleading to consumers.  I recently sat down with ABC7‘s Suzanne Kennedy to explain why detox diets and cleanses are a waste of money, and could actually be doing more harm than good to your health. Check out the video clip below and be sure to read on to learn the truth behind the hype.

Continue reading

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:



@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.