Let’s be honest here, how many of you have been on diets throughout your life? I ask because this industry is raking in billions with all kinds of tantalizing ways you can drop weight and drop it fast. But the reality is that very few who lose weight can actually keep it off long term.
As a physician, I talk about food all day long and my patients are always asking my opinion on all the different types of diets around. So I’ll tell you exactly what I tell them. Please don’t diet. I actually feel this word should not exist because it’s a prescription for failure. I want you to give up this mentality that you can drop a certain number of pounds in a short period of time; we all know this backfires and can lead to yo-yo dieting.
Joining me in this episode is a great lineup of experts who are ready to share the right mindset we all need to have when it comes to food. We’ll also discuss sugar addiction, the mind-gut connection, and mindful eating.
Julia and Jenny are true health heroes. At one point they both weighed over 200 pounds and had tried numerous diets. Julia had high blood pressure, high cholesterol and was pre-diabetic. Fearful of having a heart attack or stroke, she knew she needed a different mindset when it came to eating. For Jenny, life was very difficult. She was unhappy with her weight and consumed with thoughts of food. Her doctor suggested cholesterol medications and that spurred her on to make lifestyle changes.
Both of them tried everything, yet still ended up eating entire pizzas, eating in secret, and being obsessed with candy. Then they went to Bright Line Eating where Susan Peirce Thompson explained what sugar does to the brain. A light went on and they got on the right path for them. I bet many of you will be able to relate to their personal stories, especially when they talk about the role of willpower in dieting.
Dr. Nicole Avena is a research neuroscientist and an expert in the field of nutrition, diet, and addiction. She tells us that when it comes to sugar’s effect on our brain, there’s been a lot of research over the past several years that helps us understand it better.
It’s likely no surprise to hear that Americans are consuming way too much sugar. The World Health Organization (WHO) suggests that we eat between 6 and 8 teaspoons a day, but instead, we’re eating almost 22 teaspoons of added sugar each day! That’s a huge difference in numbers! So we really need to eat much less. Now there are many studies that have found when we overconsume sugar, it affects our brains in ways that resemble addiction. Dr. Avena tells us that it can cause changes in neurochemicals, like dopamine and the opioids in areas of the brain that are associated with pleasure and reward – just like what we see with drug addicts. She shares a startling image that shows how similar an obese brain is to a cocaine addict. And she tells me, “It’s not something that you can simply just wake up one day and say, ‘Hey, I’m gonna quit eating this today,’ just like an alcoholic can’t wake up always and say, ‘Hey, I’m gonna stop drinking.’” Dr. Avena provides some great scientific information when it comes to food. She also talks about natural sugars vs added sugars, how to find out if you’re a sugar addict, and how your palate pleasantly changes when you kick sugar to the curb.
Sarah Morgan is a functional nutrition expert. She’s the author of Buddies in My Belly, a book that’s geared towards children to explain how bacteria plays an important role in our health.
We have about 100 trillion bacteria in our gut and Sarah talks about how having healthy bacteria can lead to a healthy weight. Two to four pounds of who we are when we step on the scale is the healthy bacteria that live in our digestive tract. And when we talk about weight, one of the things that she wants people to know is that, “the buddies are the secret weapon to weight loss”. So this is two to four pounds that you don’t want to lose because the good bacteria, the healthy bacteria, will actually help set our weight in our brain. Sarah says, “We can kinda vary our calories throughout the days and weeks and our weight doesn’t change that much if we have the good ones in our belly.” But, if we have the bad germs, they can regulate inflammation that can lead to insulin resistance. And if we don’t use our food as an energy source, it gets stored as fat and we have a really hard time losing weight. It becomes a vicious cycle that so many people find themselves in. Sarah has great advice when it comes to what foods to eat to feed your “buddies”, what types of foods you should fill your plate with, and how good and bad fats affect us.
Restrictive diets can lead to nutritional deficiencies and yo-yo dieting. They can also wreak havoc on your metabolism and immune system. So what is the right mindset to have when it comes to weight loss? Dr. Mitali Kapila joins me to discuss this, she’s a functional medicine practitioner and registered dietician.
Dr. Kapila shares that a healthy mindset for weight loss is not just temporary weight loss. Diets have an end. And then what? You have to be realistic because so many of these diets are restrictive. And then it becomes all about self-deprivation which is not a way to live long term. Dr. Kapila says it’s important to look “deep into the root cause of what the issue really is so that it gives you long-term weight loss or weight management versus just a short-term goal”. And what can happen if your needs aren’t being met, is that you can turn to food to feel better. So is your root cause emotional, physical or something else? Dr. Kapila provides excellent examples of these and also talks about the impact of mindfulness and the importance of a peaceful positive environment.
Yoga can be an important part of weight loss. And Bethany Perry, a yoga instructor and an intuitive weight loss coach explains that yoga is a lot more than the asana or the poses.
Bethany shares how important it is to connect with the breath. She says, “When we start to connect to the breath, then a spiritual aspect comes into play, where we connect with who we are.” The “monkey mind” or our left brain begins to stop chattering. And when you connect to who you really are, who you’re meant to be, you can release emotions that get stuck in the body. She tells us, “They get stuck so we end up eating them and we shove them down and then it affects our intestines, it affects our brain, it affects everything. When we practice yoga…we’re creating this beautiful connecting and the body begins to release old things.” And when we release all of those emotions we feel freer. And the freer we are as a person, just to be who we are, we won’t need to choose foods that don’t really serve us. Bethany shares more about how emotions and little traumas can affect our body and how yoga ties into weight loss.
My last guest is Marywell Bray. She holds a masters degree in psychology, specializing in behavioral science. She’s also the author of six books, including the bestselling book, The Swiss Chocolate Diet.
Marywell shares that when it comes to diets, we’ve tried no carbs, we’ve tried no fat, we’ve tried counting calories, we’ve tried eating next to nothing, skipping breakfast, and skipping lunch. But she says, “I really feel that mindfulness has to be the number one issue before we even begin to start to lose weight.” Marywell believes that we should sit down, all alone, somewhere quiet. “And you take 15 minutes, 20 minutes and you sit there and say to yourself, ‘What is it that I really, really want? What do I really want?’ and you’ll get an answer if you wait.” And when you figure out how you want to feel, then you should do everything in your life to replicate that. That means not just what foods you eat, but how you move, the relationships that you have with your loved ones because if you have toxic relationships and no support, you struggle to be healthy.