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The weight loss industry knows we have caught on to them, especially commercial weight loss programs such as Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig, often thought of as your mother’s and grandma’s diet which they have become lifelong members with- why is that? Because they do NOT work!  And gone are the days of fat free foods and 100 calorie pack snacks, those just leave us feeling hangry (hungry and angry).

Restrictive diets in effort to lose weight and quick, results in increased cravings and urges  for food.  90-95% of people who lose weight on diets, regain the weight back  and many result with weight higher than they started at!  We have the before diet, after diet, then there is the after, after diet!   And it is not because you failed!  Restrictive diet’s cause you to gain weight in the end!

Diets cause many biological and health damage including; teaching the body to retain more fat, slows rate of weight loss with each attempt of dieting, lowers metabolism, and increases binges and cravings.

Dieting also provides psychological and emotional damage; eating disorders,  increased stress, social anxiety.  Dieting gradually erodes confidence and self-trust.

Since the diet industry knows that millennials have caught on, they are coming at us from a different angle. They are reinventing themselves as Wellness. They are coming at us from a sneaky way to continue the dieting rollercoaster, but presenting it as health and wellness (and sustaining the multi billion $$ diet industry). These are in the form of clean eating, cleanses, Whole30, detoxes, Paleo, Ketogenic Diet, Intermittent Fasting.  Again, giving you more food rules and pushing you further away from intuitive eating, which really hones in on your hunger and satiety cues.  Resulting in not eating when we are hungry and then eating past satiety.

I admit it is so hard to go against the grain and start trusting your body to tell you what, when, and how much to eat.  Especially when you are constantly inundated with social media posts regarding diets.  The only thing you should detox are the social media accounts that make you feel not good enough!  It’s time to retrain our minds on nourishing our bodies for physical and mental satisfaction as well as balancing our appetite and weight regulating hormones after dieting has disrupted the balance.  Diets that consistently have us taking in too few calories than we expend through our resting metabolic rate (RMR) and activity, result in our bodies responding by increasing or decreasing certain appetite stimulating and satiety hormones.  Let’s take a look at hormones that effect our appetites and weight – Leptin, Ghrelin, Cortisol, and Insulin. 

Leptin is the ‘master’ hormone that regulates weight and is produced by fat cells.  It tells us when we have enough food and can burn energy.  It also influences our fertility and immunity.  Its primary goal is energy balance and it influences how much we eat, expend, and store.  Weight loss decreases leptin, then the brain tries to gain weight back.  We can have leptin resistance!  This is when the brain isn’t listening.  No drop in appetite, no increased metabolism.  Your brain can even think you’re starving, because it doesn’t think that there’s not enough leptin. So it makes you even hungrier!

So the vicious cycle starts:

  1. increased body fat = more leptin
  2. too much body fat = leptin signal disrupted
  3. brain thinks you are starving, so you eat more
  4. and it repeats

Ghrelin is the ‘hunger’ hormone, which is produced in the stomach and tells the brain to eat!  It’s primary role is to increase appetite, increase food intake, and store fat. Ghrelin rises during dieting and increases hunger.  The more restrictive you eat, the higher the ghrelin. Yikes!! So, how do we decrease ghrelin? Avoid restrictive dieting, ensure adequate sleep, increase muscle mass, and  increase protein intake throughout the day.

Cortisol is increased with STRESS!  I know, we all have stress in our lives, but, if we have chronic high stress resulting in high cortisol levels for long periods of time, this can result in high blood pressure, weight gain, fatigue, disrupted sleep, impaired memory (brain fog), and suppress immunity.

Insulin is the ‘storage’ hormone. High spikes in insulin from peaks of blood sugar tells our body to store fat. The goal is to control blood sugar peaks to prevent high spikes in insulin. Which results in decreased cravings, increased energy, and better mood : )

The end goal with all my clients is Intuitive Eating.  Intuitive – using or based on what one feels to be true even without conscious reasoning; instinctive.  BUT, for many, we need to reverse the damage that restrictive dieting has done to their metabolism, hormones, mental thoughts regarding food, and depleted energy levels.  So, how do we get these hormones regulated?!  First off, ensuring you are not eating BELOW your RMR!  Then begin eating balance meals based on macronutrients – PFC (protein, fat, carbs) and make sure you are ‘pairing’ your foods to contain all 3. To begin regulating your hormones, you need to trust nutrient dense foods and forgo the fear of calories.  Remember, limiting calories ultimately increases cravings by increasing ghrelin, resulting in overeating in the later part of the day, and then the guilt sets in.  One should never feel guilty or bad about eating!

Here are the 5 Keys to Health to focus on to help regulate your hormones;

1.  REST (Lack of sleep leads to more ghrelin, less leptin, and disrupted glucose and insulin metabolism)

2.  NUTRITION (eating PFC throughout the day)

3. MOVEMENT (find ways to enjoy movement throughout the day)

4. MINDFULNESS  (calmly accept your feeling’s and thoughts and aware of eating)

5. SELF CARE – decrease stress!

The health and fitness world can be a confusing place.  A Registered Dietitian can help cut out the noise and guide you to the best eating and lifestyle strategies that are individualized to you and your personal goals. Visits with a Registered Dietitian are often covered by your medical insurance.

~ Suzanne

Building Better Nutrition



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