Remember? I LOVE lists. I’m all giddy & weird right now about doing a top 10 list- even though I am so mad I could punch a hippogriff. I’m currently watching an episode of Chopped on the Food Network- a show I love and adore, and watch rather frequently. It is also a show that has made me a food snob, and flares of up my competitive side and “forces” me to yell compulsively at my tv- “How dare you add truffle oil as an afterthought you insolent fool!” (Yeah it gets ugly- and a little weird- no judgements).
The episode I am currently watching is about 4 people who at one point were very overweight- and facing some very scary health problems, but they all found a passion for cooking and found a way to be healthy with cooking and exercise. Very inspiring right? I was super pumped about this approximately 16 minutes ago.
Because they all started off taking about “moderation”, and “finding balance”- all phrases I genuinely enjoy and use daily. But then… one of the chefs said he was going to add some chili powder because “it’s a great metabolism booster” and I immediately made this face:
But I let it slide. Then in the next round they were making kale and the same little dweeb was yamming on about how kale and asparagus are “super foods” and he has been known to eat 3-5 lbs of either per day. And then I was just like:
I have a little self-diagnosed rage problem. But this really made me want to punch this guy…or the tv. This guy is openly discussing things that have little/no evidence and completely negate the initial message of “balance” and “moderation”, and being in the position he is- he comes off as an expert, and people out there think “Oh it’s normal to eat 3-5 lbs of anything per day”……
And then I started to get good and ticked off. I’m an RD. I’m a real life nutrition professional. And people like Dr. Oz, “nutritionists”, trainers, and little shits like this guy poo all over it by allowing themselves to be on a public/media platform and preach about things they do not have the [sound] evidence to substantiate.
So here we go- here are my top 10 Nutrition /health/Red Flags/Swears/No-no phrases:
1) Dr. Oz. He is a respected cardiologist- but that is where my respect ends. He is not a nutrition professional. He is a snake oil salesman. I truly die a little inside when any of patients utter the words “Well I saw on Dr. Oz…”
He is NOTORIOUS for taking one seed of fact, and whipping it into a sensational frenzy that rockets away from the initial shred of fact. He gets paid handsomely to do so- and bring others on his show to do the same thing. I mean he got famous because of Oprah. Are we really taking nutritional advice from HER?! COME ON.
2.) “Fat burning”. Hi so yeah. Healthy people do not burn fat or use fat as a primary fuel source. But people who are sick do. You shrink fat. This is an important distinction. Watching your diet, eating clean, getting regular physical activity that includes both anaerobic and aerobic activity is how you shrink fat, and build and define muscles.
This is also a good phrase to be mindful of ESPECIALLY in terms of “supplements” as there is no magic pill that will just burn off your fat. Save your money, and put it towards purchasing healthier foods, or a treating yourself to a gym membership.
3.) “So that’s a bad food” This is another patient favorite. I don’t distinguish between good and bad. I prefer to distinguish as “nutrient dense” vs “empty calories” and “every day eats” versus “Indulgences”. Finding balance between these is essential.
4.) “Metabolism Boosting”- This is a controversial subject that I’ll dedicate some real life time to in a separate post. There is no one magic food/supplement/herb/powder/oil/extract out there that will improve your metabolism. Think as your health and metabolism as a game of Jenga. You don’t just fall apart by taking one block out (unless you’re having a seizure you usually don’t make the Jenga tower fall in the first move)- you take and shift multiple blocks until you have a weakened structure. Then by removing one fatal block it all falls to pieces. NOW. Think of those blocks as components of your health: diet [food choices, clean eating vs poor eating], stress, sleep. Your metabolism is acutally heavily regulated by hormones that are dependent on the regulation and equilibrium of your endocrine system/adrenals/thyroid etc.
The bottom line- an ideal recipe for an optimal metabolism includes: physical activity, adequate sleep, stress management (both internal and external), a nutritional plan that is adequate in protein, limits simple carbs/sugars and emphasizes complex/unrefined carbs- in an amount appropriate for your activity level. And enough QUALITY FAT. Mix in equal parts and enjoy.
5.) “Superfoods” To me this one is on the borderline, it really depends on the context of use. I think many people use the term superfood to tout that it is something very nutrient dense. Meaning for the calories you take in there are a lot of nutrients that come along with it. When I hear this term being used in a way to promote a specific property or fix a specific ailment is when I become suspicious.
Buyer beware. There are no magic foods. Eat a colorful array of fruits and veggies (even white!) and you will have a super diet. Maybe not this super:
6.) Any regimen that touts fast weight loss or “super slim downs”
When losing weight the most realistic approach is to consider how long it took you to get to your current weight? Then anticipate a similar time frame to be at your goal weight. Weight management and loss is about lifestyle changes and doing things you enjoy. Slim downs, and restrictive diets that have you eliminating entire foods groups (Paleo, Atkins, Dukan, etc.) do you really expect to not eat carbs for the rest of your life?
Didn’t think so.
7.) “I don’t have the time or the money to be healthy”
Being healthy is an investment. I am not disputing that. But it doesn’t have to break your bank. You do not need to eat all Organic, and have a gym membership at the fanciest health club. You do not need to spend hours getting in physical activity. For most of my patients we start them working towards 150 minutes per week, and break that down any way they want. To save money at the store you can buy in season, purchase frozen over fresh, and go flexitarian- meaning some meals out of the week are plant protein based- which will save you a few extra $$ at the store.
8.) “Celeb diets”
Where do I begin? January Jones noshing on her placenta. Gwyneth Paltrow and her raw foods. Doing the master cleanse (hi, yeah that’s called the starvation diet). Juice only diet? (yup same thing). These cleanses are typically extremely low in calories and border near starvation. Please remember: celebrities have much more time and money than the average human- they also have access to a delightful invention of photoshop/photo editing. So when a celeb said they trained for 5 hours a day in the gym for a role- the average person does not have that time. Nor does the average person hire a personal chef to oversee healthy cooking. Sorry guys- that’s on us.
9.) “But my trainer told me”
If you say this to me I might physically hurt you. The only thing your trainer should tell you how to do is squat in the right form. They are trained on how the body moves (sometimes I find that training questionable). THEY ARE NOT TRAINED TO DEAL WITH DISEASE STATES OR MAKE NUTRITION RECOMMENDATIONS EVEN IF THEY SAY THEY ARE A NUTRITIONIST. Go ahead ask them how they became a nutritionist. I once had a very sick patient who was a pretty big guy- he came in with very poor blood sugars and severe episodes of low blood sugars- because his trainer recommened a 1200 calorie diet, and went on about how protein is great, and carbs aren’t healthy. True story. I know this may not be true with all- but it’s not like a wear a sign that says I’m an RD. They come up to me in the gym too, and I let them give me their little speech. Then if I’m in a good mood I just say “no thanks”, if I’m feeling evil- I will tell them what parts of their little speech were incorrect. Then they get sad. And I feel better.
10.) “Being healthy is easy”- This is more of a health of a health profession faux pas. Because as RDs/Health professionals we need to remember that the habbits we formed for ourselves took awhile for us to form, or we grew up with and were ingrained into us. So when we educate and teach we need to remember to give people with less education or understanding than us- time to adjust to our recommendations, and give encouragement to try new things.
That was so cathartic. I hope you all enjoyed my list. I’m not sure how educational this blog was, but I did make a few promises of blogs to come so please stay tuned. I’m off to do my last jog before my half mary this weekend.