Balanced Eating with Weight Loss

January 12, 2019

Deprivation diets don't work but yet people continue to gain weight, and are more confused than ever. Two dietitians share how to eat to avoid weight gain and understand the best diet for them to follow.

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MELANIE: Welcome to Dishing Up Nutrition. I'm Melanie Beasley and I'm in studio morning with Carolyn Hudson. We are both registered and licensed dieticians with many years of experience helping people with their nutrition and their weight loss. I personally have about 30 years of experience as a Dietitian and I've worked in a lot of different types of settings. Part of my career was working in the Colorado state penitentiary as a dietician and I also did a lot of my training in the navy as a dietician, so I have indeed worked with a wide variety of clientele. And Carolyn, you received your training in Canada, right?

CAROLYN: Right. I went to school in Toronto, Ontario, so I loved my education there. It was kind of different from some of the nutrition programs here. It was very hands on and we actually did things like this like we're doing here in studio today, so we got to practice speaking in front of people and giving a lot of presentations and doing some radio work as well. So, I went to school in Canada and I actually spent a number of years working as a Dietitian, not just in remote villages, but I also worked in large metropolitan areas. I went to school in Toronto, so I actually worked a number of years in Toronto as well. So I too have seen a wide variety of clients with unique and varied diets.

MELANIE: And I think we still see a wide variety of clients in different places. It's always interesting to hear their stories and between the two of us we've counseled a lot of clients struggling to lose weight.

CAROLYN: And I don't know if a lot of people realize that we do a lot of skype and telephone work. So, I have a client in India and one in the Channel Islands off the coast of England. So, we talk to people all over the world.

MELANIE: And I have one in England and I just love listening to her talk. Between my southern accent and her English accent we have a time, but it's a good time. According to the National Institute of Health, three out of four men are either overweight or obese and two out of three women are either overweight or obese. Roughly 21 percent of adolescents are overweight.

CAROLYN: That's startling, isn't it? And today we're gonna be talking about balanced eating for weight loss. So here's some more startling news. It is predicted by 2020, 3/4 of Americans will be overweight. Whew, that's a lot. Most people, unless you're like a sumo wrestler or something, don’t want to be carrying around that extra weight on our body and we certainly don't want to be buying large or close every time we go to the store. So, generally I've found that most people want to know how to eat to avoid that weight gain. And they want to know what is the best diet for them to follow.

MELANIE: Carolyn, I find that many of my clients are so tired of hearing the word Diet that as soon as they hear that they sort of shut down, their eyes glaze over and they stop listening. So I try to never use that word when I'm talking to them because they already know that low calorie, low fat diets just don't work for long term weight loss. And we also agree that diets don't work. They're just a temporary solution to a long-term problem. Unfortunately the reality is most people today continue to gain weight. So I want to repeat what Carolyn said. It's predicted that in just one year, 3/4 of Americans will either be overweight or obese.

CAROLYN: And Melanie, I want to go back to that word Diet. I really hate that word because that's not what we do at Nutritional Weight & Wellness. And I tell that to my clients very first thing. This is not about a diet, this is how we're supposed to be eating. This is a way of life and we want to drop that guilt because I think the word Diet automatically imposes some guilt on people because they're restricting what they eat.

MELANIE: You're so right, so many clients come in completely guilt ridden and shame-based.

CAROLYN: So we kind of lift that guilt and sometimes it takes a little while, because we teach people that you get to eat and you get to eat healthy food and it's supposed to taste good and you're supposed to like to eat.

MELANIE: It’s supposed to be fun to eat your meals.

CAROLYN: Yes. So I bet you're kind of thinking why there is an increase in that weight gain and obesity and it's continuing on and on. So previously on many of our other Dishing Up Nutrition shows, we've talked about a variety of reasons for that weight gain. There are a number of lifestyle and environmental factors that can certainly slow down people's metabolism, which can lead to that weight gain. So it's a lot more complex than just those calories in and calories out. We really need to think more about the quality of those calories, the quality of the food that we're eating. So many clients have told me that they stopped getting their annual checkups even because they didn't even want to step on the scale. And then of course, what happens? They have that guilt again. They're told, oh, you need to lose weight. Oh, you're obese, or you definitely need to lose at least 10 or 20 or 30 pounds. And that induces that guilt, right? So again, helping people maintain a healthy weight is very complex and especially in this day and age when we've got so many different foods, especially those process foods to choose from.

MELANIE: And I would say that we have a lot of other things in life we feel guilty about. Food should be simple and should be just be about enjoyment, about nourishment and it shouldn't be this source of shame. So on Dishing Up Nutrition, we've addressed many of those complex reasons. Just a couple of weeks ago, we shared information about how stress can lead to excess cortisol being released, resulting in weight gain. Many people today are certainly under chronic ongoing stress between traffic. Caregiving is a big one these days. Poor food and eating habits all create stress. And think of stress each of you have compared to the stress our grandparents had back in the 1940’s. Remember that when you are under stress, such as being stuck in traffic like on the way to the studio this morning.

CAROLYN: And if you're late for an important meeting or something, those adrenal glands release that cortisol. And Cortisol is a fat making hormone. I think that's really important for people to understand. They don't connect stress with weight gain. So ongoing stress at a job or at a workplace that you really aren't enjoying very much is going to eventually add on that weight. And because of the cortisol and that fat making hormone, we know you can't avoid some of those stressful situations, but we like to teach our clients how to eat to manage that stress better. So things like coffee and sugar, that increases your stress. Skipping meals increases stress, and that leads to the cortisol and the weight gain. Again, weight loss and weight maintenance are very complex and most people need help with managing all of those different lifestyle factors, which is all part of nutritional counseling. So let's look at some other factors you need to consider when you're losing weight.

MELANIE: And I always tell my clients, especially ones in Nutrition 4 Weight Loss classes, is that we like to really cater what they're eating to that personal individual because they are complex and they're individualized. So it's really important.

CAROLYN: Yeah, we listen to them.

MELANIE: We do. We recently had a show that focused on how refined vegetable oils such as corn oil, soybean oil, cottonseed oil, and canola oil can all lead to weight gain. Those fats interfere with the functioning of your cell membranes. The result is poor cell function that can lead to weight gain and disease.

CAROLYN: Yeah, and I want to just expand on that just a little bit about cell function. A lot of people don't think that they have to heal their cells and then heal their body before they can really lose weight. So we have the opportunity to heal ourselves all the time. So guess what, it's already time for our first break. So you are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. We are discussing which diet plan or food plan or eating plan I think is best to follow for term weight loss. Research from the Harvard medical school found that restrictive diets such as low fat or low carb were impossible to maintain long term. However they discovered four simple changes that help people avoid falling back to unhealthy heating. When we come back from break, Melanie and I will share those recommendations with you.


MELANIE: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. The Harvard medical school research found that low fat or low carb diets don't work for long term weight loss. I think there's a lot of listeners out there that can definitely agree with that. Here are some simple changes they found do work. Change number one, eat as many vegetables as possible. At Nutritional Weight & Wellness we also encourage this change and we teach you how to make vegetables so they taste great.

CAROLYN: One of those tricks is add some butter or bacon. Change number two, choose high quality, nutritious, whole foods and limit those processed foods. We believe in this so much that we even have grocery store tours to help you know which products are safe and contain no additives.

MELANIE: Change number three, prepare foods at home. It's a lost art and we can help you with that. If you are not a cook, we help you become one by sharing with some simple tips and techniques for you and there are things that we do at home.

CAROLYN: I'm always amazed that I'll just share something that I think is pretty mundane or whatever and my clients will go, “Oh, I never thought of that!” So yeah, we help clients prepare foods and actually get back to cooking. Change number four, avoid bad fats, added sugars and refined carbs like flour. As our long time listeners really know we repeat this information over and over and over on Dishing Up Nutrition and in all of our classes. We’re really firm believers in this concept.

MELANIE: We're happy to say that each and every change the Harvard School of Medicine recommended as a result of the research has really always been part of Nutrition 4 Weight Loss plan. At Nutritional Weight & Wellness, we believe in these concepts and that's what we teach.

CAROLYN: And before we were going to break, we were talking about our topic today which is balanced eating for weight loss. So, we're just talking about some of the things that really impede our weight loss, right? So we were talking a little bit about cortisol and stress. Now, I want to discuss how something as simple as drinking soda, soda loaded with sugar, or even that Diet soda can lead to that weight gain. So one very simple weight loss trick is to stop drinking that soda and start drinking eight to 10 glasses of filtered water. I always think about the clients that we have that stopped drinking diet soda. And most people think, okay, well diet soda is not so bad, doesn't add any calories. But that diet soda damages our cells so it will stop us from losing weight. And we have a story about one of our clients who all he did was stop drinking diet soda and he lost weight. That's the only thing he did. Amazing.

MELANIE: And if you get sort of a mile high above this and you look at it, we are a nation that consumes a lot of diet soda. And we are a nation that really struggles with obesity, so some listeners would say that we've talked over and over about how sugar and processed carbs lead to insulin resistance and weight gain.

CAROLYN: Yeah. So we've also discussed how many medications such as antidepressants, mood stabilizers, anti-seizure meds, and cortisone meds such as prednisone can lead to weight gain. So medications are a big one. Most of our clients come in taking quite a number of medications and I'm always surprised at how many some people take.

MELANIE: And when they work with their doctor, there are times when they lose weight and they're eating well, that some of those medications become obsolete and they don't have to make them anymore. And we've talked about how thyroid dysfunction can lead to weight and fatigue. The statistics state that one in eight women will develop a thyroid condition and 60 percent of them don't even know they have a thyroid problem.

CAROLYN: In our other shows, we’ve talked about how toxins or additives in our food supply can lead to weight gain and inflammation. We've mentioned MSG and that can be hiding in a number of different foods. A lot of the processed and fast foods have forms of MSG in it, so we really want you to look at those labels because those additives can cause us to be hungry and slow our metabolism. So again, you gotta look at the labels, look at the ingredients, try to eat as clean as possible. And I think a general rule that I always tell people, if you can't pronounce that ingredient on the label, you shouldn't be putting it in your mouth, right Melanie?

MELANIE: Yes, I call them Frankenfood.

CAROLYN: There you go. I love it.

MELANIE: We've spent a lot of time going over the harmful effects of skipping meals too. And when you skip meals, we talk about how it slows your metabolism and creates out of control eating. We've also spent many hours discussing insulin resistance, elevated blood sugars, and prediabetes as major causes of weight gain. Many, many of our listeners and clients have frequently asked us, “What's the best diet plan for me?” There's that word “diet.” Or they're so overwhelmed. They ask, “Should I do a low fat or low carb? Paleo, Keto.” There's a lot of nutrition noise out there.

CAROLYN: Yeah, and we keep going back to the. “You should be eating in balance.” Balanced eating. Real food. So when you look at all of the factors that influence metabolism and weight gain, research points out that the one factor is the lack of good blood sugar control, so we keep our blood sugar controlled by eating in balance. So for example, maybe have a chicken leg or a chicken thigh with some green beans and add some butter to the green beans and maybe a clementine for your dessert. That would be balanced eating and delicious.

MELANIE: Again, I want to repeat, there are many, many lifestyle factors which affect blood sugar control. Do you know that lack of sleep affects your blood sugar control? We're a sleep deprived nation right now. The truth is lack of sleep increases glucose levels and cravings.

CAROLYN: And I remember reading in the book Why We Sleep, that it actually increases our cells’ resistance to insulin. Just one night of bad sleep. I was shocked when I read that. So do you realize that every time you give in and drink a beer or soda or glass of wine, you are affecting your blood sugar control? So sumo wrestlers actually intentionally drink beer with their meals so that they will gain weight. So beer and soda affect blood sugar, creating more insulin resistance, which of course then can cause that weight gain.

MELANIE: I think many of us understand that eating a bowl of cereal a day after day with 80 grams of carbs, which turns into 20 teaspoons of sugar, will eventually lead to weight gain for most of us. And I know most of us back in the day when I would have a bowl of cereal, I pour on skim milk and then some sugar and you get to the bottom, you got a little milk, more cereal.

CAROLYN: So believe it or not, it's already time for our second break. You are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. If you want an easy to follow a cookbook to show you how to eat and balance, I suggest the Weight & Wellness Way Cookbook and Nutrition Guide. It is an excellent tool to help you understand how to use balanced eating to stop thinking diet, and start thinking health. One of my favorite recipes in the cookbook is beef and wild rice meatballs. Stop into one of our seven Nutritional Weight & Wellness offices to purchase a cookbook or order a copy online at


CAROLYN: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. So, before we went to break, we were talking about some of the foods that we eat that are full of sugar. Melanie was mentioning cereal as a big one. So, the other thing that we don't really want to forget about his drinking, some of those high end coffees, the special coffees. They are loaded with sugar. And many people think of it as a special treat in the afternoon, but that can really lead to a lot of weight gain. So here is an interesting fact to ponder. One of those medium pumpkin spice lattes contains 50 grams of sugar. So that converts to like 12 and a half teaspoons of sugar. Now, Melanie, do you know anyone that's going to put 12 and a half teaspoons of sugar in a cup of coffee? No. So here's another interesting fact. You would think that the piece of Pumpkin Pie is more than that coffee, but it has only like 25 grams of sugar or about six and a quarter teaspoons of sugar. So half the sugar that's in that pumpkin spice latte. So definitely that's something to really think about.

MELANIE: And you think you just had a beverage.

CAROLYN: Yeah, a lot of people don't even count beverages. They don't even think that those beverages are causing part of their weight problem or their inflammation.

MELANIE: So the question everyone's asking is, what diet plan is best for long term weight loss? There’s that word again, “diet.” Most people can go on a crash diet and lose weight. I'm not saying that that's not possible, but it is often short lived. In just a matter of time, the weight will come back right back and will bring some additional pounds with it. Our bodies weren't designed to crash. So recently at one of our training meetings, Nell, our client turned nutrition educator who lost 90 pounds in eight years was sharing her long history of dieting, which started when she was in the third grade. The dieting part ended when she signed up for Nutrition 4 Weight Loss program and learned how to eat to lose the weight. After years and years of dieting, it took months and months for Nell to really understand that in order to lose that weight and not regain it, in a few short weeks, she must eat protein and vegetables and good fat five to six times a day. She needs to stay ahead of her hunger and she needs to stay ahead of her cravings so she's not dipping in to the candy dish that’s always on your coworker's desk. She needs to be mindful of her eating and we teach that. At Nutritional Weight & Wellness, we believe a balanced eating approach is the best long term weight loss and weight maintenance plan for most people.

CAROLYN: Our balanced eating plan is based on the understanding that the number one cause of weight gain for the majority of people is that insulin resistance, which of course is developed from eating too much sugar, usually too many processed carbs for way too long. So, many of our clients have been eating foods or drinking beverages that are high in carbs and sugar for many years, so this has really created insulin resistance and that insulin resistance has like a coating that covers the receptors on the cells and then the cells can't even get that glucose in into the cell where it's supposed to be. So, really this insulin resistance thing is a bad, bad thing and we got to kill those cells.

MELANIE: Definitely have to heal them before the weight begins to come off. But insulin resistance blocks the sugar or glucose from entering the cells for energy. So your energy tanks and instead, guess what, it gets stored as body fat. Balanced eating, which we talk about a lot with fewer carbohydrates and no bad fats, also allows for the healing of insulin resistance to occur. The goal is to eat five to six times a day and at each of these meals or snacks, two to four ounces of protein, a variety of vegetables and good beneficial fat to restore the function of those insulin receptors that you were talking about, Carolyn. So for some clients it's pretty easy and it's a rapid process, but for other clients it can be a very slow process. They didn't get there overnight and they're not going to heal overnight. But that's how we heal the metabolism so you can have sustained energy and weight loss.

CAROLYN: Yeah. I don't think a lot of people really understand that they have to heal their cells or heal their metabolism before they can really, really start feeling better and losing weight. So when a client has had years and years of eating or drinking those excessive amounts of sugar and processed carbs, the insulin receptors can be and are very often damaged and it frequently shows up on blood tests as prediabetes or diabetes.

MELANIE: Yes, some, some clients have become so sensitive to carbohydrates, especially sensitive to grain carbohydrates that as soon as they eat a cracker, a slice of bread or some rice, they lose control of their eating and they can't stop at six crackers. This was me for a while. Or one slice of bread or half a cup of rice. They just can't stop. As dieticians, we understand that biochemically, they're just sensitive to those grain type carbs and they do much better on a plan that contains no grain types. That's what we help them figure out. The good news is they can maintain control of their eating when they just eat meat or fish and vegetables and good fats. They can make that delicious. I sort of lived this way and I always look forward to my meals.

CAROLYN: And I think eating this way increases your satiety so you feel full. You don't overeat, so that's really, really important.

MELANIE: It is. I think we give the gift of food back to people.

CAROLYN: That's a really nice way to put it, isn't it? Get rid of that guilt. Start eating again, in balance, and eat good food, whole foods. So it's really interesting to note that research reported in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that 17% of people starting a weight loss program had excess abdominal adipose tissue. Of course, that means stored fat around their middle. Excess belly fat. So binge eating and extra belly fat may well be an indication that you have insulin resistance and as Melanie said, rather than sugar and carbs giving you energy, the sugar and carbs are getting stored as body fat. Particularly that belly fat.

MELANIE: We see it so much just driving down the road. You can sort of pick out insulin resistance from people just walking, not in judgment, but just an understanding of what's going on. So at Nutritional Weight & Wellness, we believe balanced eating is the best approach, but as experienced Dietitians and nutritionists, we also understand that everyone has unique biochemistry. So some people need to eliminate all grains to lose weight while others need to limit their fruit consumption to half a cup serving once or twice a day because they become so insulin resistant.

CAROLYN: Yeah, I think a lot of people think, “Oh, fruit’s really, really good for you.” Yes, fruit is good for you, but let’s not overdo it. Have small portions of fruit at any one time. So if you were someone wanting to lose weight and you have insulin resistance, it may quite be possible to take months to heal your metabolism and heal your addictive eating behavior as well. So, small steps.

MELANIE: That sounds discouraging. I had a client and she was discouraged that she lost just a few pounds in the past month. And I like to go back to when she first came in and we looked at all of the things she healed along the way. So, you're getting better along the way. I mean, her acid reflux went away, her gerd went away. And many of our clients have addictive eating behavior and frankly, it doesn't go away overnight. Just like a person with an addiction to alcohol. I find a person with an addiction to sugar and processed carbs need ongoing support and classes to heal and avoiding relapse.

CAROLYN: Well, it's time for our last break. So you're listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. I want to share some other features in our Weight & Wellness Way Cookbook and Nutrition Guide. We have a section on kid friendly recipes, a section on stocking your kitchen, and a simple tool to check your level of wellness. We call it our wellness check. We believe it is time to think “wellness” and the weight loss will follow. Knowing how to eat the right thing.


CAROLYN: So before we were going to break, Melanie, you were talking about addictive behavior and you shared a story with me earlier. Do you want to share that with some of our listeners?

MELANIE: Sure. I had a delightful client and she came in. She had a lot of shame about her addictive behavior to sugar, which is very common, but she felt like she ought to be able to conquer this because she was in counseling and one of the things that she told me was in the Nutrition 4 Weight Loss classes, many times we show the class how much sugar they're eating, like in a Bagel, and she said you'd hold out to that big pile of sugar and I think to myself silently, “Man, that looks delicious!” I thought it's good that she recognized that, but after she went through the program and we worked and tweaked her diet she could walk right past the candy dish at work and she was so proud of herself.

CAROLYN: Again, at Nutritional Weight & Wellness, we call this acceptance of our own biochemistry. And I like to say, it is your biochemistry and it's not your willpower or your character. It's about chemistry. Chemistry in your brain, chemistry and your gut. It's about your biochemistry. So Gary Taubes, the author of Good Calories, Bad Calories, points out that the best diet for long term weight loss and weight maintenance is a balanced eating plan of real food. So maybe Melanie, what's one of your favorite snacks for balanced eating?

MELANIE: One of my favorite snacks is I love sliced cucumbers as my cracker. And then I put on there, slices of avocado and smoked salmon. It’s delicious.

CAROLYN: Sometimes I use cream cheese on the cucumber, and the smoked salmon. I love that. Really, really, really good. And I found a number of different beef jerkies out there that are grass fed, no additives, and no nitrates. So that's now becoming one of my favorite snacks; beef Jerky, apple and some peanut butter. So again, there's the protein, the apple is our carb, and the peanut butter is our fat.

MELANIE: And that's what we mean by balance. It's balanced. So when working with a client, we always look at their biochemistry, to help them to understand themselves. And then it's always workable. We can always find solutions. However, at the same time, we understand that the quality of the food also makes a difference, a huge difference. And it isn't always easy to change those addictive type behaviors we've been doing for years. We believe for successful, long term weight loss and weight maintenance, it takes a true understanding of the cause and the real commitment to change. And most of all, it takes that ongoing support. I love what Nell shared at our meeting. She said that although she's lost 90 pounds eight years ago, she's maintained that 90 pound weight loss, but every single day she makes that commitment to her health and she continues to see her nutritionist to get the support. She needs that support in order to be continually successful. But she didn't say it's a tremendous struggle anymore because she understands it.

CAROLYN: Yeah, she understands and it's about, again, I want to go back to that biochemistry. A lot of people don't realize that you make some of those neurotransmitters for your brain in your gut. So, if you're not eating properly or you don't have good gut health, so any of those GI type symptoms, the gas, the bloating, if you have diarrhea or constipation, all of those things are going to affect your biochemistry and it's going to affect how many neurotransmitters you're making and the quantity of it. So if you don't have the right gut flora and gut health, you are not going to make those neurotransmitters and it's those neurotransmitters that are going to help you resist the candy dish on your neighbor’s desk or whatever. But then the other thing that we've been talking about is balanced blood sugar, right?

MELANIE:            So how do we balance our blood sugar? And that's something else to think about is when you're making those neurotransmitters that help you to resist the candy dish or the pie or the latte, what really is also happening is you're making neurotransmitter's that decrease anxiety and stress in your life. So it's a big perk.

CAROLYN: It's a win, win, right? Everyone wants to be calm.

CAROLYN: Yeah. So again, we've got to balance those blood sugars as well. And we talked about that earlier in the program. If you're going up and down, let's say you're eating a lot of carbs, so then your body starts putting out some insulin, but unfortunately your body isn't exactly perfect when it comes to that insulin. So it's gonna shoot out insulin and then all of a sudden your blood sugar actually goes low. And what do we hear from clients when their sugar is low?

MELANIE: They're hangry, hungry and angry. And they'll just grab whatever it is that's near them. And we've all had that feeling of coming home, we haven't had a snack or a decent lunch and wanting to rip the cupboard door off and eat whatever is within reach.

CAROLYN: So then that's when our blood sugar is really low, right? And then then we grab and then our blood sugar goes up again and then it shoots back down. And we're on this roller coaster blood sugar ride. Miserable. But if you're doing that, that is contributing to your weight gain. It's like game over people. You have got to start thinking about what you're putting in your mouth so that you have the right biochemistry to feed your body and to be healthy and to lose weight.

MELANIE:            Carolyn, I tell my clients that they have to think about every bite matters. Every bite is either harming and causing weight gain or healing and helping you to lose the weight and heal that metabolism. Every single bite matters. So when I have clients that come in and they say, “Well, I just had a little.” I call it the nibbles and bits. “I just had a little of this or a little of that.” We can always tie it back to their struggle to lose weight. So I say, get rid of the nibbles and bits, why not try this? You've tried everything else. And I always say our company should be Wellness & Weight, not Weight & Wellness because we start with healing of the metabolism. Then we see the wonderful results.

CAROLYN: And we spend time with our clients, right? We talk about that support. That's one of the things that we do in our 12 week Nutrition 4 Weight Loss class. You have the support of the entire class and the teachers for 12 whole weeks. And then you also get two hours with a nutritionist. So, that again is support. And we always tell people after we're done, after the 12 weeks is over, how about you continue to listen to our podcasts and get support. Come back in for follow-up nutrition classes. The Facebook group. So all of that said, a balanced diet of good protein, lots of vegetables, and beneficial fat is the structure that supports long term weight loss and health. We understand there is no magic answer, it's about eating real food in balance that brings great success. So our goal here at Nutritional Weight & Wellness is to help each and every person experience better health through eating real food. It's a simple yet very powerful message. Eating real food is life changing. Thank you all for listening and have a wonderful day.

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