Category Archives: Dietitian

Photo of Alexia making heart hands.

Compilation of Heart Health Blog Articles

Hi friends! I’ve recently rediscovered my love of writing and will be posting my blog articles related to heart health on my business’s website.

You learn more about the business at Keeping Healthy Simple Club (TM). We focus on helping adults who struggle with their health to live a heart-healthy lifestyle, so they can stop second-guessing what they do and finally be confident, healthy, and proud of themselves.

Alexia Lewis making heart hands with her quote "Life is better with science and delicious food" and icons of places she has been featured.

Hop over to these links to enjoy articles on the following topics.

TopicBlog Article (when available)YouTube (when available)
Risk Factors for Heart
Heart Attack Signs &
Nutrition for Heart Health
Heart Disease: Exercise, Stress, Depression, and Sleep
Flavoring Foods with Less
Does Sea Salt Have Less Sodium than Table Salt?
Cheers to Your Heart Health (alcohol and heart disease risk)
Coffee and Heart Health: Starbucks® Oleato™
Walking the Aisles Talking about Food

It is Okay to Shop in the Middle of the Grocery Store

Have you heard that you must shop the perimeter of the grocery store to be eat healthy? The idea is that all the healthy foods are on the outer circle of the store. Following that logic, the foods in the center aisles must be horrible for your health. I call bullshit.

I’m writing to you today from my home in Florida where “hurricane season” has come up on the 2020 Jumanji dice. In planning for the potential for a power-blip from the incoming storm, I ordered some shelf stable foods from Instacart for delivery today. Shelf-stable foods get a bad rap from health-promoters. While some deserve the unhealthy reputation, there are many health-promoting foods to be found in the aisles.

Besides, fearmongering about foods and the “health halo” judgment from those with food privilege pisses me off.

You can find plenty of articles on healthy-foods in the aisles, so let me share just a few of the shelf-stable foods that are typically a part of my heart-healthy, nom-focused eating style.

Walking the Aisles Talking about Food

Dried beans… every week.

Hubs and I have been enjoying chickpeas (garbanzo beans) in our salads for the past few months. Extra delicious when you toss in some feta cheese, sliced almonds, and top with a spicy vinaigrette! Black beans are another family favorite. Last weekend, I cooked up a pound of dried black beans, then portioned them into baggies in 1-cup servings and froze them. Now, I just grab a bag from the freezer each time I use one up and they are ready the next day.

I wrote about how amazing beans are a while ago. And for the cost – mon dieu – dried beans are the way to go! A 16-ounce can of beans has about 1 1/2 cups of beans. You can buy a store brand can for around $1.00. Dried beans though, that 16-ounce bag makes about 6 cups for the same price. I can do that math. Four times as much if you take the time to cook your own beans.

If we lose power, the beans will need to get eaten first since they’ve been cooked. Roll up black beans mashed with avocado from the countertop and some shelf-stable salsa in a thin flatbread and you have a tasty wrap.

Peanut Butter.

Not only do the dogs enjoy the natural peanut butter to get their daily pills down, hubs and I are huge peanut butter fans. I add some to my protein shakes for thickness and flavor, stir it into yogurt, mix it with salsa for a spicy sauce, top rice cakes with it (plus banana and a sprinkle of cinnamon), and eat it right off the spoon. If we lose power, we can just spread some peanut butter on a rice cake or banana and have a nice, filling snack.

Any nut butter will be a heart-healthy delicious choice so don’t get stuck wondering which nut or seed is the most nutritious, just choose what you enjoy. And check the label to make sure there is no sugar added or sugar alcohols (xylitol is toxic for dogs). It’s a winner if you see just the nut/seed and salt on the ingredients list.

Fruit Cups.

I’m on a mandarin oranges jag. These little beauties are great in yogurt, cottage cheese, tossed in those salads, or just straight out of the cup while leaning over the sink. I’m a macro-counter and when I need more carbs in my day, these work great. My hubs adds them to some bourbon drink he likes too. Look for the ones packed in their own juice or with no sugar added.

While these are found in the perimeter of the store (so I’m a little off topic), I am talking about foods to eat if you lose power. So, I will throw in that many fruits can be kept on the counter like bananas, apples, and peaches oranges as well as tomatoes and avocados.

Soup and Canned Chicken.

Not weekly staples but great if we lose power. Soup is easy to heat up on the propane grill. Canned chicken can be mixed with mayo and mustard packets and spread on a slice of bread with a tomato from the kitchen counter.

I hear you groaning “but the sodium, so much salt!” I would agree.

We choose the lower-sodium versions. You could also rinse of the chicken if sodium is a concern (but we don’t). And remember, if you eat a high sodium lunch, that will balance out if you eat a low sodium dinner. Your health isn’t broken by the healthfulness of one meal. Nutrition gives us the grace of time and cumulative effects.

Via Packs & Shelf-Stable Almond Milk.

A storm is coming and I won’t be without coffee. Enough said.

Plus for protein, I use the almond milk as a base for a protein shake – made with some shelf-stable protein powder – and grab a handful of walnuts to keep my macros balanced.

I could go on and on because I love food. Why else would I do what I do for a living? But I will stop here and instead ask, what are your favorite healthy finds in the aisles?

Share in the comments and let’s all help each other find those shelf-stable foods so we can get rid of the food fear and just start enjoying the fact that we have safe, readily available, and healthy options for everyone.

Yours in good health,

-Coach Alexia Lewis RD

Alexia with Big Bag of Flour

The Great Baking Escapade Begins

One of the initial issues of the 2020 Pandemic was a shortage of toilet paper, flour, and yeast. I am now the proud owner of 97 rolls of TP from a restaurant supplier and a 25-pound bag of flour from Costco. Yeast is still a touch-and-go situation. This is the first in a series of blogs of baking my way through 25 pounds of flour. So you know, I’m not much of a baker.

Alexia with Big Bag of Flour

My experience with baking is mostly limited to my time in Food Lab while an undergrad nutrition student. For some reason, an RD’s education including many hours devoted to baking. There is a lot of chemistry involved in cooking foods and this is especially true for baking. A lot happens from the initial mixing to the final cooking of quick breads and yeast breads. After my schooling, I have only made the occasional muffins.

I’m a well-educated novice.

My first two recipes were both for my husband’s birthday. I made cornbread as a side dish to his requested ribs. I followed that up with a mini-cake.

The cornbread recipe is here courtesy of Ina Garten and the Food Network. Trust me on this, you do NOT want to know the nutrition info on this one. It’s a bunch of cheesy, jalapeno-ey deliciousness. Just let all those nutrition concerns go and enjoy this recipe.

Cornbread in Pan and Sliced on Cutting Board

This was a very simple recipe. Not much to report baking-wise. The cornbread turned out okay, but it was more of a southern-style cakey-cornbread (due to the 3:1 ratio of flour to cornmeal). While delicious and a huge portion, I will not be making this one again.

Next up was a mini-cake with this recipe from Dessert for Two.

This was a more detailed recipe and all did not go as well as planned! The final product was very good – nice flavor, good crumb, perfect amount of sweetness that makes you go mmmmm without being too overpowering.

My biggest lesson from this recipe was that it does no good to melt butter for a recipe if your next step is to mix it with cold milk. The melted butter turns right back into solid butter! This could absolutely have been anticipated… yet I did not anticipate it. Next time I make this, because this one is a good recipe, I will make sure my milk is not cold before I start!

I should add that this was my first attempt at trying to actually decorate a cake. Don’t judge!

And while my husband liked the frosting, I prefer a frosting with cream cheese.

Follow my blog for more posts about the Great Baking Escapade and learn along with me!

Picture of looking through a glass ball showing the landscape upside down with text Perception is Reality. How Does this Impact RDs?

Perception Is Reality

There have been a lot of opinions flying around after it became more widely known that HB1193 added an exemption to the Florida Dietetics and Nutrition Practice Law under the Occupational Freedom and Opportunity Act. See more about this exemption.

One thing I firmly believe is that the laws are designed to stop the honest people and the rule-followers. People have been providing nutrition advice without a license in Florida. This is illegal and it is not new.

RDs have been focused on “playing defense” as the nutrition license laws are systematically challenged state by state. Our associations have been working hard on this task with some success and some compromise. I do not want to downplay their efforts. They are working hard for what they believe is right. I respect that. More people should do the same.

My belief is that we should stop wasting resources, time, and money, on fighting attacks on the nutrition license laws. There are states without nutrition license laws and the sky has yet to fall. Let others onto the playing field. Competition is good for us all. It makes us be creative and grow. It fills the needs of the public – and they need help with nutrition and health.    

See this idea through.

Some people will provide excellent, well-researched, and appropriate nutrition advice and people will thrive and those providers will be rewarded with referrals and reputation-building.

Others will provide crap advice, trigger or glorify disordered eating, and make people sicker and those providers will not survive for long.

Yes, people may be harmed as this sorts itself out – but people have a right to make their own choices. And no law is going to prevent them from seeking out the latest BS MLM shakes or miracle pills anyway. If you believe, as an RD, it is your job to protect everyone from harmful nutrition advice – well, that will be tiring and frustrating and I wish you luck.

In the end, those who provide the best service and solve people’s nutrition problems will be the ones who thrive.

Yes, you absolutely need to be an RD to calculate a tube feeding.

No, you absolutely do not need to be an RD to coach a generally healthy person on nutrition.

In fact, RDs who calculate tube feeds are typically lousy coaches. But that’s okay. Good coaches probably suck at calculating tube feeds.

So… I propose to you that perception is reality and RDs need to focus on MARKETING what differentiates RDs from other health providers and coaches.

Picture of looking through a glass ball showing the landscape upside down with text Perception is Reality. How Does this Impact RDs?

I think that RDs have buried their heads in the sand about their (our) reputation. Sadly, I refer to myself as an RD very rarely offline because I have been listening to what people think in the wellness and fitness arenas.

I asked a kick-ass, supportive Facebook group that focuses on exercise with a CrossFit leaning about their perceptions of RDs. While far from being a methodologically sound study, it provides some information us RDs would be wise to pay attention to.

My post request: Would like to do an informal request for info: What is your opinion of Registered Dietitians? Do you think you need to see an RD to get valuable nutrition advice? Disclosure – I’m an RD fighting to change our organizations, so we work more with others… and am hoping to show my peers the truth about how we are perceived. I want the good, the bad, and the ugly!

In 8 hours, there were 76 comments and responses. I stopped counting at that point. Here is what those 8 hours reflect. There were 25 (33%) positive opinions, 16 (21%) neutral or no opinions, and 35 (46%) negative opinions.

There is no amount of legislation that is going to make 46% of people say, “I really need help with food and I think RDs suck but since it’s the law I’ll go to the RD who won’t help me instead of the nutrition coach who will help me.”

THIS is the problem. It is in how RDs are perceived not how nutrition advice is legislated. We need a marketing campaign, not another lobbyist.

Let’s look at some of the comments. RDs there are a lot of things we can learn from here.

Positive Comments

I think it sounds cool but also expensive. It would be great to sit down with someone and go over meal plans, goals, macros, etc. BUT there is so much info online, it’s hard to justify spending the money.

I honestly would totally use the hell out of the services of a registered dietitian, but I can’t afford it. I would love to see all insurance companies covering this service.

 I’m one who would work with someone. I was looking into it before all the lockdowns started. I know all the info is online, but I have no desire to figure it out. The amount of information can be overwhelming. I also like the idea of someone checking in on me. That helps me to keep at it.

 I think that RDs could make a HUGE impact within the fitness community if they marketed themselves right. I firmly believe that abs are made in the kitchen, and a lot of people fall victim to unhealthy dieting and/or eating habits. I hate seeing personal trainers with no formal nutritional training trying to play the role of an RD. Basically, I think there is a place for RDs in the fitness world, but it would take a lot of effort to get a strong foothold and get the public to truly recognize your value (because y’all are worth your weight in gold IMO).

We are working with one right now since my daughter is struggling with her IBS. We tried a low FODMAP diet on our own but struggled when trying to reintroduce foods. We needed advice about what and how to add foods back into her diet. This is a time when common sense and self-education weren’t enough and a dietician was definitely needed.

 I’ve been meeting with an RD for a bit over a year. She’s free to me through my employer which is awesome. She’s helped me transition from weight loss into eating for performance and weight maintenance. She’s not pushed any specific diet plans to me, just giving me advice like how to adjust my food intake before half marathons and longer training runs and what I needed to do nutritionally to avoid muscle cramps during runs. She’s done metabolism testing on me (again, free to me) to get a baseline of how much food I really need to be eating and found I was severely under eating.

I’ve used weight watchers, nutritionists and registered dietitian. RD worked more in my mindset, which will help me more in the long run.

I have been seeing an RD for a little over a year now at the recommendation of my doctor. She has helped me. She keeps me in check and I have been successful.

 Nutritional intake are the basic building blocks for these beautiful body machines. RDs are the best asset to help get the most from your efforts.

I had a great experience with a dietician in my health plan when I went in with really detailed questions and wanted recommendations about how I could increase protein as a vegetarian without going over my carb limit or eating too much fat. If I had just gone for a basic education appointment that was planned I would have felt like I already knew the information, but I took so many specific questions. The dietician gave me a lot of suggestions and some free hacks like use the information she gave to go to the local grocery store that offers a shopping trip with a dietician and some blogs that have super simple recipes that combined foods I already liked. I really wish that part of my yearly checkup included a referral back to the dietician.

 I have met one twice and due to her limitations in time she could give me (a state sponsored one) I was impressed with how much she gave me personalized advice. So overall I’m positive. I’m not sure I would want to pay for the service though without someone who I trust recommending them as I feel I have a lot of knowledge myself and if someone isn’t knowledgeable enough and try to sell me a one size fit all I would not feel like it’s worth it at all.

Having an RD has definitely helped me. Even though I am now post-bariatric, even before having surgery it definitely helped change my mental mindset to help me make better choices and allow me to educate myself better with certain foods.

I think RDs are invaluable. Having said that, it is very difficult where I live to find one that understands fitness nutrition. I’ve talked to several, but they seem focused on weight loss rather than fuel for fitness. It’s frustrating.

Depends on the dietitian. Mine is amazing and covered as preventative care (zero copay) by my insurance. He specializes in working with athletes, ed folks, and special diets. He is rated as one of the best in the city to boot. Just make sure they have credentials and a good reputation.

I saw one. She seemed really strange. Had my proteins stupid low (70 g). But she helped me realize I have a body that can’t handle a lot of fat! So once I kept my fat macro under 38 g, the weight has been flying off. I did up my proteins because I was in so much pain and really hungry. I wasn’t eating enough carbs! So that was upped and man I feel a lot better. I’m glad I was open minded enough to try what she had to say.

Neutral Comments

I’ve worked with 3 different dietitians: the first gave me a standard meal plan; the second gave me a macro plan; the third and current one actually started with some simple habits and exploring the deeply rooted issues I have with food. The third time was the charm.

I did WW and lost 30 pounds. But, got stuck. I am now working with a coach at EAT TO PERFORM. I love the program. That being said I don’t know if I would go to just any RD.

In this day where you can find any information online – the good, the bad, and the fake, RDs are where I turn for a way to sort through the bs. We get free access to them, sometimes you just have to wait awhile for an appointment. And I’m seriously contemplating becoming one.

 I have had great nutritionists and bad nutritionists… for my goals. Some nutritionists (most of them) didn’t hear my goals and famished me trying to make me reach fat percentages in a short span of time, which was extremely frustrating. I wanted to be healthier, not stop living entirely.

When I had gestational diabetes I was referred to a RD. I already tracked everything I ate and worked out daily. Our conversation was eat more veggies, less bread, drink diet soda instead on coke… this is prior to her knowing or asking about my current diet. I asked her if I could show her my food journal, she looked at it, looked at me and said, “keep doing what you’re doing.” End of session.

 I honestly can’t decide how I feel about RDs. I don’t know how or if an RD is different from a nutritionist and I don’t really understand what they do. Are they covered by insurance? Are they medical professionals? I sort of view them as being on the fringes of health and medicine with a mix of voodoo nonsense and science mixed in. I prefer science and evidence-based studies, to someone telling me what I *should* be doing. I want to know why I should be doing what you’re telling me to do and how to eat. Obviously, nutrition is important. I know I’m supposed to eat fruits, veggies and real food. So what would be the point in seeing a nutritionist/RD for them to tell me to eat more fruits, veggies and real food? I’m sorry if that sounds harsh – I really don’t mean it to be, but it’s the truth from my perspective. Maybe I just don’t know enough about them.

I think RDs are vital for those that are on tricky meditation, after surgery, cancer treatment, etc. However the vast majority of people just want to lose weight and keep it off. That is less about counting calories/macros and more about teaching habits and getting to the bottom the whys (why they do what they do with food and moving forward) to develop new strategies. This can be done with a certified nutrition coach (a good one). *Just like in any field you will find people that are good/exceptional at their job and others that give that profession a bad rap – do your research and go to someone with good referrals

I think for coaching after something like weight loss surgery, it’s important. I feel like helping someone in general, it depends on their age and where they went to school… If they still live by the food pyramid and pass that shit out, then it’s useless.

 I am split down the middle as to whether or not we need them for valuable advice because I do think RD’s have the knowledge and the background/education to help, but I also think we are capable of finding most answers without them. Of course, this changes with different conditions a person might have or inherit. I’m currently in school and before starting I was really considering a local dietetics program, but decided that I’d rather go into the educational side of nutrition and health for varying reasons including having a better grasp on helping people from a different angle when it comes to healthy lifestyles.

I think you need an RD for certain medical conditions. My diet coach has a Ph.D. In sports physiology and he’s been amazing and I’ve had way more success with him then I ever had with the 3 RD’s I sought out at first. The RD’s gave me a basic AF “meal” plan, lectured me, and EVERYTHING was super restrictive. I don’t do well that way. I was honestly not excited when my son had to see a metabolic nutritionist the first time due to my experiences with an RD (he has a metabolic disease, so it’s necessary and she’s actually amazing).

Most RD I meet are locked in a cycle of standard American diet advice. The majority are stuck because of the healthcare system they work in. It’s always interesting when you meet an RD that will not follow their own advice because they know it doesn’t work for them. I’ve also met a few that actually we’re able to design a eating plan that was helpful to their client’s needs without sticking to SAD. It’s such a mixed bag and most are full of good intentions. But no one wants the liability of suggesting or prescribing food that might not work.

Honestly, I don’t think the designation is worth all much in the fitness industry. There are so many programs and certifications now. This coming from someone who went to grad school for nutrition.

 I’m currently using Macrostax. Before I started that I had an appointment with a RD. I was kind of underwhelmed. I felt like I got the “my plate” handout and nothing I didn’t already know, and no idea what to change to actually start making progress where I’d been stalling. That said I’m sure RDs have different specialty areas and the one I met with probably just wasn’t the right fit for me and what I already knew (which is prob more than your average person). The other side to this coin is there are so many people out there spewing absolute BS and I would love to see RDs out there more. There’s an RD behind Macrostax and I have been very happy with that program

Negative Comments

 I don’t really trust the recommendations of registered dieticians. There have been so many past cases of medical doctors and dieticians recommending specific diets based on assumptions with inadequate research that later turned out to be false. I absolutely believe that it’s not done intentionally or maliciously, and y’all are following your training, but I don’t really trust your training, and I don’t want to pay for a service I don’t trust, you know?

I had to see a registered dietitian when I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. The sample meal plans were so bunk (like have milk or orange juice with each meal or do jello or 7 grapes – pure silliness for blood sugar control). It was super unhelpful and I found better info online (like carb to protein pairing and the awesomeness of fiber).

I’ve only seen one so I don’t have a ton of experience, but my frustration was I paid a good amount of money to get a boilerplate plan she gave everyone, nothing personalized. Even when I told her I don’t do well on carbs and wanted to balance more towards proteins and fats (I’m insulin resistant and me + carbs just don’t work well, but I also know I need a little before I work out). She gave no options and said that this was what her clients were successful on.

I have only had interactions with a registered dietitian for my high cholesterol and possible diabetes. Unfortunately, I was just told the foods to avoid.

 I’ve only met with a dietician once. And the diet was so strict, I couldn’t maintain it.

I don’t want to pay a ton of money to be ordered around.

 I was referred to an RD when I was Dx’d with gestational diabetes. I realize it is a specialized field BUT I absolutely couldn’t follow her dietary advice. I would have ended up on insulin. Too many net carbs. T2/GD/IR is different than T1 (unless you’re a T2 burnout) and they don’t seem to get that. I did my own thing and managed my numbers quite well through to 41wks. I’d probably use one if I could pick my own vs insurance assigned.

I have seen 3 different RDs and none of them listened. All three told me to eat things I am allergic to (yes they were told in advance what my allergies are) and I also need to follow a low oxalate diet due to my body not processing things correctly which causes all sorts of mineral deposits including kidney stones.
Well all three of them told me to eat more dark leafy greens and switch to soy or nut “dairies”. All things that will put me in the hospital. As soon as they start with that shit I’m done. I can’t trust another thing that comes out of their mouths. I know I’m a difficult case that’s why I wanted to find expert help but well that’s apparently not going to work. Obviously I have to just figure it out on my own.

I was referred to an RD after I was diagnosed with celiac disease years ago. I worked with her for a while and while she helped me figure out what foods were gluten free, she also helped me make my undereating worse. After a couple of months gluten free, I started gaining weight. She had me eating 1,000 calories a day, while I continued running 3 times, 2 strength training days, 2 dance classes, 2 days running 100 flights of stairs each week plus just every day walk everywhere NYC life. I was exhausted and afraid to eat more because I didn’t want to gain weight. It was a bad experience for both my mental and physical health, and that makes me not trust RDs and not willing to pay the money to try again.

I have a very negative opinion of RDs. When I was 5 years old, I was diagnosed with hypercholesterolemia. It’s genetic (thanks Dad) and rather than immediately going on meds I was told to try diet first. So off to the RD we went. She was nice enough, but the eating plan was boiler plate. I spent the next decade on a low-fat diet, terrified of meat and fats of all kinds. I developed eating disorders I’m only now starting to get past. It was one meeting and done. No follow up, no checking in, no tailoring anything. Nutrition is such a personal thing, especially as a child, and I felt like this was just a stamp in my file to say they tried it. I know this is just one experience and not all RDs will be like this. But the issues I was left with have made me never want to try again. I would love to have somebody able to work with me and help me get past some of my food issues but this isn’t the route I would take.

 I’ve only been to one, once and I’ve never been back. She printed out a plate image off the USDA website and gave generic advice. All for $225 an hour which was really 40 minutes. I had been hoping to get guidance on how to build a meal plan and was clear in that when I made the appt so waste of money for my experience. I know there are great ones out there I just don’t know how to find one

I had a couple appointments with an RD. I felt like she didn’t really listen to me. Her recommendations were basically what I was already doing and she was spoon feeding me chapters of The 10 Principles of Intuited Eating (one chapter per appt). The book from which she was directly providing the info was $14.99 on Amazon, which is significantly less than RD appointments. The book has some good points, but most of which I already had a good grasp. I expressed concern, but felt like she wasn’t really listening, so I didn’t go back.

When I went to see one after I went to my doctor asking for a hormone panel because I have PCOS I was referred to a dietitian instead. I am a vegan and I eat very clean yet I am 230 lbs and I log my food daily and I’m still not losing weight. When I met with one, she told me I was unhealthy and told me I needed to eat meat and dairy products even though I am getting all the vitamins and protein I need. She then told me she had no idea why I wasn’t losing weight after looking at over 3 months of food logs and gave up on me. After one meeting. I never went back.

Unfortunately, I think that the idea forced upon us that from a legal standpoint, only doctors and nutritionists, or registered dietitians, can give nutrition advice, breeds the idea they are infallible. I have seen them push artificial sugars, care more for calories than vegetables and also have no idea (or maybe just not interest) in working with and for people who are athletes.

I have seen one several times for myself and my child, but they never go past the basics everyone knows. They have never asked our goals or tried to tailor instruction. I had one just show the My Fitness Pal app.

For me personally, I’m in a different situation than most people. I have my PhD in biochemistry and cell biology and have studied metabolism for years. So I know what my body needs to thrive. My problem has never been what to eat, or even how much to eat, it’s to follow it. That is on me. No one can force me to do that. I do think RDs are good for people that are not knowledgeable in what to do or how to eat. And I do think it gives a level of accountability to people when they first start a healthy eating lifestyle. But the biggest thing is people need to find a good one that will not just give a cookie cutter diet plan. The plans need to be tailored to each person, their needs, and their preferences, which from what I have heard from friends, never happens.

Every RD I have spoken to has looked at my list of food allergies and given up. “Good luck” is the only response I’ve received, which felt discouraging and dismissive each of the 3 times I saw someone. I know my allergies make things challenging, that’s why I was seeing someone who was knowledgeable, or so I thought.

I’ve seen a couple RDs and they both put me on plans that were too low calorie for me that left me constantly hungry and pushed shitty processed foods at me. I’ve steered clear of them ever since.

My totally honest opinion-I am an RN and have gotten better advice from non-RDs. RD training is antiquated, many push the same ADA, AHA diets that are showing to not work (I.e. low fat). I saw an RD when I was pregnant for gestational diabetes. It was the worst thing I could have done and in hindsight, knowing what I know now, I would not do it again. I was shamed and told I wasn’t eating enough carbs and was hurting my baby. I followed their recommendations to a T-kept a daily food journal with carbs. I gained 40 lbs and my blood sugar was worse and ended up on meds. The best person I saw was trained in functional nutrition. He was going to sit for RD boards, but he customized and worked with me as individual and didn’t blame me when things didn’t work. We just changed courses and tried something until it worked.

 I went to see a RD once and was told that my food is fine and balanced and that was pretty much it even though I asked about eating for fat loss I was told maybe my body likes this weight and was sent on my way. I never went back.

 Rd only know what they are taught, most of it is false info bought and paid for.

I’ve been to 4 RDs. NOT ONE could tell me about PCOS, high testosterone or Metformin. Every single one said, “I don’t believe in Metformin for anything except diabetes.”

 I’ve been to 2. One wanted me to eat real food, which I already did but wouldn’t give me any guidance in amounts. The second one lowered me to 1100-1200 calories a day, only green veggies, minimal carbs. I was already working out 6 days a week, she told me to add an extra 150 mins cardio a week on top of 6 hours I was already in the gym. I did see results and then stalled to which she lowered my calories again and suggested fasting. I was exhausted and starving ALL the time. I loved her don’t get me wrong but not sure 1200 calories is sustainable long term.

 I have had terrible experiences with RDs. In general, it’s that even five years ago I was getting the advice to eat a bagel with no butter or cream cheese for breakfast (for example) and do like 60-70 percent carbs, 20 percent protein and as little fat as possible. My fitness coaches have me on a 40/30/30 plan which is much easier to follow and seems to work. I am thrilled with the idea that RDs are out there who are open to change but just have not personally met one who is.

Nope. I do not agree with the pyramid with cereal and grain at the bottom.

I honestly have never used a RD, but I have had several friends who had. There was nothing positive said. They said they never really learned anything. They were just told to cut calories very low and received lectures. Very restrictive type eating and told certain foods were 100% off limits. Never explained proper combinations ie protein/carb/fat, just calorie intake.

When my husband was in end stage renal failure and starting hemodialysis we had a RD stop by the hospital room and go over his diet and tell him all the things he couldn’t eat or had to restrict, hand us a bunch of papers for detail and ask us if we had any questions. That lasted 10-15 mins.

I’ve been to two RD’s. One pushed a strict vegan lifestyle. She had great ideas for whole food subs for meat, but I had/have no desire to be vegan and to fit her plan it was all or nothing. The other preached that only the quantity of calories mattered, not the quality. With both I could not get the scale to move and I felt like garbage more often than not. We worked with an RD when I was caregiving for my mother in law as well. She mostly gave us “eat this, not that” pamphlets and minimally answered questions. I was very disappointed with all of them and honestly haven’t taken most seriously since.

Hubs saw a RD for diabetic nutrition and the advice was not good. Eat whatever and take metformin.

 I’ve had 5 try to help me lose weight. 3 flat-out quit on me because my body doesn’t lose weight easily/at all and they thought I was cheating on the plans we had set up. 2 I had to stop seeing because after 6 months of only losing 7 pounds and then the scale going up again, my mental stability couldn’t handle it anymore.

I saw one for a while and she did nothing for me. I am now on a program with a great “coach” who has done more for me than anything else I’ve ever tried.

I saw one that was a total waste of my time and money! I have a severe intolerance to salicylates… and week after week I was lectured that I wasn’t eating enough green vegetables and I needed to eat more fruit and to cut out sugar! It was either dump her sorry ass or get really really sick…. so her ass got dumped!

 I got sick many years ago with a rare disease (Porphyria). I lost a lot of weight due to not being able to eat, spent two months in the hospital, had to relearn how to walk, etc.. After the hospital, I started gaining weight. 50 pounds one month, then another 20, then another 20; I went from 135 to 215 in a very short time. My doctor sent me to a dietitian who had me keep food diaries. Then she told me I was lying, that I couldn’t gain weight with what I was eating! Turns out that my medications had a lot to do with my weight gain. I will never forget her calling me a liar.

Image of one slice of pie in pie tin.

Occupational Freedom and Opportunity Act (HB1193) in Florida

Florida just updated the Dietetics and Nutrition Practice Law to add another exception to the need to be a licensed nutritionist. I know some RDs who are upset about this. We have been cautioned to “share and compromise” or else we will “lose it all.”

Ummm. WTF?

Legally allowing others to be able to help people get well with nutrition is something that we should be celebrating. RDs do not own the rights to nutrition practice.

It’s not pie.

Sharing this so-very-needed work does not take anything away from the RD. There is no shortage of people who need help with nutrition.

Image of one slice of pie in pie tin.

I am one of a small contingent of RDs who welcome the inclusion of other experts into this realm. Old-school RDs cling to the idea of ONLY RDs being “the food experts” and work behind the scenes to write letters to politicians and work with lobbyists.

How’s that working out for you RDs?

I say – who cares if the law allows everyone talk and provide guidance on nutrition? RDs should welcome this friendly competition and focus on building relationships for collaboration and strengthening our marketing to showcase the things that make RDs different.

Notice the word: different. Not the word: better.

The one place that RDs level of education and internship and experience IS a necessary thing is in the hospital and medical clinics. Tube feedings, parental nutrition, kidney dialysis, healing burn victims and pressure ulcers – These things needs more than a nutrition certification. This is the medical life-and-death level of nutrition care.

I don’t think anyone is saying that a CrossFit coach should be the one calculating your parental nutrition needs. Pretty sure hospitals aren’t going to start hiring them. This will regulate itself.

So now let’s shift our focus to the new paragraph added to the Florida Statutes.

DISCLAIMER. I’m an RD, not a lawyer. This is conversational and one person’s interpretation of the law. It is NOT meant to be legal guidance and you should NOT do anything without consulting with your own lawyer or based off your own interpretation and judgment.

It says: 468.505 Exemptions; exceptions.

(1) Nothing in this part may be construed as prohibiting or restricting the practice, services, or activities of:

(n) Any person who provides information, wellness recommendations, or advice concerning nutrition, or who markets food, food materials, or dietary supplements for remuneration, if such person does not provide such services to a person under the direct care and supervision of a medical doctor for a disease or medical condition requiring nutrition intervention, not including obesity or weight loss, and does not represent himself or herself as a dietitian, licensed dietitian, registered dietitian, nutritionist, licensed nutritionist, nutrition counselor, or licensed nutrition counselor, or use any word, letter, symbol, or insignia indicating or implying that he or she is a dietitian, nutritionist, or nutrition counselor.

Let’s break this down.

This is an exemptions paragraph. That means that people described in the paragraph are free to provide services or activities without being a licensed dietitian/nutritionist by the State of Florida.

Se let’s see who can do what under this new exemption paragraph.

The first part states that this exemption is for people who give nutrition information, advice, or wellness recommendations OR for people who sell food or dietary supplements for money.

Ah but there’s a caveat. The word “if” provides some limitations.

You can do this IF the person you are giving this info or advice to is not seeing a medical doctor for a disease or medical condition that requires nutrition intervention. Oh – but we aren’t counting obesity or weight loss as a disease or condition.

So, first, let’s define nutrition intervention. Oh. Whoops. It is not defined under the statute.

Okay so, let’s think about this. I would wager that most Floridians are seeing a medical doctor for a disease or medical condition that would benefit from nutrition intervention. We have to exclude weight management so think about the big ones: pre-diabetes, diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. These are diseases so if someone is seeing a doctor for these – even annually – they are under a doctor’s care and supervision.

So, I would expect to see a yes/no question asked by people who want to offer services and activities under this exemption. If someone check yes, they have a disease and they see a doctor, then the person cannot practice under this exemption. If they check no, then they are a generally healthy person who would benefit from help with nutrition. Great! Let’s get them to work with whoever they feel comfortable with to improve their nutrition!

And there’s one last part to this exemption, hang on!

Finally, if you aren’t licensed, don’t act like you are or make people think you are. This statute just claimed the title of nutritionist and nutrition counselor for the licensed professionals. If you are not licensed, you may still call yourself a nutrition coach or nutrionalist (who ever came up with that crazy word? LOL).

TLDR: you can now offer services and activities to people who are generally healthy and not under a doctor’s care as long as you are careful about how you represent yourself.

This is pretty awesome. Yes, I say this as a registered dietitian and licensed dietitian/nutritionist.

People – if you don’t have medical conditions, then please…

Go see your CrossFit coach for your macros diet…

Go see your stay-at-home mom starting her business to learn about planning healthy meals for your family,…

And go see your holistic nutrition coach to learn about an organic, clean diet.

If that’s your thing, go learn about it.

And I want to end this by pointing out when it’s a good idea to see that licensed nutritionist.

It all hinges on that medical condition/disease thing. That is important. I’ve witnessed a dietary supplement seller in a gym tell a woman that his company’s shakes are totally okay and would be great for her husband who is under-going chemotherapy. That’s a problem. Even the general “eat more veggies!” mantra can be dangerous advice to someone whose kidneys are failing. And that low-carb/keto diet that we all loved (until the pandemic – anyone have yeast and flour yet?) may put a person with diabetes on insulin into the hospital.

Most of the time, nutrition advice is harmless for the majority. But there are times when it should be given by someone who understands the intricacies of medical diseases and nutritional biochemistry and health. This, my RD friends, is where you fit in.

There is enough pie for everyone.


FL FL State Statutes definitions for dietetics and nutrition practice.

FL State Statutes on exemptions and exceptions to licensed dietetics and nutrition practice

Overview of bill:

Language of bill:

Are Kodiak Cups Good For A Quick Breakfast?

So, first, thank you to Kodiak Cakes for the RD Kit containing free products. I have been wanting to sample Kodiak cakes. As a regular macro-tracker, the higher amount of protein in Kodiak products intrigued me. I jumped at the chance when I found out they offered an RD Kit with some samples. I received four products in my kit. Two were grab-and-go (Kodiak Cups) and two flour mixes (Flapjack and Waffle Mixes).

To be transparent, there are no strings attached to the kit. The company shares these kits with RDs in the hopes that we will like their products and share our preference with our clients. You can see on my disclosure page that I give honest reviews of products and would never let receiving a free product or training influence my review.

I tried the Kodiak oatmeal first and was happy to see they sent my favorite flavor: maple and brown sugar.

In terms of ease of breakfast, this is a big winner. I used my electric tea kettle to heat water, added, and let it sit covered for the recommended two minutes. You can also add water and microwave. It does not get any easier than that.

On the positive side, the oatmeal has a good flavor, a good consistency, no aftertaste, and a nice ingredients list. I was concerned about the very small portion and it only has about half of the calories of my typical breakfast. This little cup of oatmeal kept me full until lunchtime which surprised me.

If you take a look at the nutrition facts, I’m sure you can figure out that the staying power was due to the carbohydrates and protein. I personally would like to see a little more fiber in an oatmeal product, but the small amount of fiber is most likely due to the small serving size.

When it comes to grains, always look for a product that lists the first ingredient as whole grain – which this one does. The protein was increased in this product by adding pea and milk proteins. I’m not one who is afraid of long complicated words on an ingredients list but this one keeps it very simple and I’m sure many “clean eaters” would give this product a thumbs up.

Overall thoughts?

Two Forks up! This is delicious, filling, and heart healthy.

Next, I tried the flapjacks in the Kodiak Cup. This serving size made my eyes much happier as it filled up more of the container. It smells amazing and has a good crumb; but I do recommend a spoon instead of a fork as it ends up getting very crumbly as it is eaten. Per my husband, this tastes like smushed up pancakes and it is true the finished product was a little bit dense.

This is also lower calorie for a breakfast for me, so I added some butter, which made it taste even better. If you’re looking to add calories. you could also add some syrup (but it totally isn’t needed) or top it with an egg.

Nutritionally my one concern was the high amount of saturated fat and this is due to the use of palm oil.

So let’s talk about that for a minute. In the big picture of a day’s eating, 4.5 grams of saturated fat at breakfast is not going to put you over any recommendations. The recommendations are to keep saturated fats to anywhere between 7% – 10% of total calories. What concerns me about the saturated fat makes up more than half of the total fats in the product.

Wait a minute… let’s think about this a little more and take a look at the ingredients. I will first say that nothing in the ingredients list concerns me in any way. I’m investigating why there’s such a high ratio of saturated fat to total fat in the product. It is because they use palm and palm kernel oil, which are both saturated fats. My guess is this is to prevent the product from going bad too quickly. Unsaturated fats are less stable and will go rancid more quickly, so I am guessing that they balanced out the need for shelf stability with the desire for a nice nutrition profile.

Big picture – 4.5 grams of saturated fat at one meal is not going to put anyone over the recommendations; but it is something to be aware of if you are watching your saturated fats for heart health.

I would also like to see just a little bit more protein in this product to give it a little more staying power.

Overall thoughts?

One Fork up! This is also delicious but it’s just a little less filling and has a little too much saturated fat for my preference. However… if you compare this to traditional pancakes you’re going to find that this has a nicer nutrition profile.

This RD says Kodiak Cups are dietitian approved for a filling, nutritious breakfast. Give these a try and let me know what you think!

How To Make Your New Year’s Resolutions Stick… No Willpower Needed

This blog was originally published at N.E.W. Motivation Coaching in December 2019. NMC has closed and blogs are now posted here. Blog follows…

In 21 days, half of the people who make a New Year’s resolution will have relapsed and given up on their new goals. This is according to Dr. James Prochaska, who was a driving force behind the Transtheoretical Model of Behavior Change. If you are in any field that works with people on changing behaviors, you know him and this model well.

Many people have stopped making New Year’s resolutions because they realize they won’t stick to them. They prefer to make goals. And, they make goals all year long. If you want to make big changes in your lifestyle, this is the way to go.

Other people continue to make resolutions, and this can also work. We are chock-full of willpower because it is a brand-new year! If this motivates you, then run with it! But… before January 1, this group typically trys to cram in as much of the thing they are going change.

If they want to lose weight, they will eat like crazy until New Year’s Day. Because on January 1, can’t do that anymore.

If they want to exercise more, they will couch-surf until January 1. Because on January 1, no time for this anymore.

If they want to sleep better, they will stay up late until January 1. Because on January 1, an early bedtime is a new rule.

In other words, they backslide away from their goals because it is their “last chance” to do the things they are getting ready to go cold turkey on.

Back up a moment. Does this make sense?

Let’s look at the weight loss example. If you want to lose 10 pounds, and you eat like an 8-year old for half of December, won’t you then have 15-20 pound to lose on January 1? Probably! And, if half of people stop their resolutions before February, isn’t there a 50/50 chance you will actually end up heavier in February than you were in December?

Why do people do this? Seriously, if you do this, post a comment and let me know why!

Let me share something from the Weight Management Specialist program I just completed. “When it comes to weight loss, it does not matter so much what diet a person follows, as long as he or she can stick with it.”

Consider the diet you are planning to start January 1.

If it is low-carb or keto and you love carbs or were brought up with pasta or rice as a part of your culture or comfort foods… can you really never eat carbs again for a lifetime?

If you want to follow go vegan because of all the documentaries (or let’s be real, highly financed super-long advertisements!), and you love a big juicy burger, can you really never eat meat again?

And for exercise, if you want to run a 5k and you really hate running, are you really going to get up and run when it’s time to train?

To be clear, I don’t care which diet you want to follow. I know that diets do not work for the long-term and the main reason is adherence – people cannot stick to them. That is a problem with the DIETS, not the PEOPLE.

When, and if, you find a diet that does not leave you hungry or cut out the foods you like to eat, that’s when you have a fair shot at making it a lifetime plan. Only you know which diet (or let’s call it an eating pattern because strict food rules suck) is the best fit for you.

I want you to be successful with WHATEVER your New Year’s Resolutions, or goals, are this year.

Here are your tips to make your resolutions stick.

1. Start right now.

Do not backslide by over-doing it between now and New Year’s Day.

2. Make your goal REALISTIC for your lifestyle and preferences.

If it is too difficult or too far out of your comfort zone, it’s going to be so much harder to reach the goal.

3. Make it flexible.

It’s okay if you don’t hit your goal for a day, or a few days, as long as you reflect on what happened to take you off-course and make a plan for when it happens again.

What if…

What if you could reach your goals without having to rely on willpower and white-knuckle it through the hard times?

Can you imagine eating meals that are satisfying and filling, finding an easier way to fit in exercise, and knowing that you found a plan that you can do for a lifetime? What a relief, right?

It will be so much easier when you try an approach that doesn’t force you to rely on willpower.

The truth is that WILLPOWER RUNS OUT. Any plan that requires you to use a lot of willpower is not the right plan. 

The Power of Gratitude

This blog was originally published at N.E.W. Motivation Coaching in November 2019. NMC has closed and blogs are now posted here. Blog follows…

Gratitude (noun): the quality or feeling of being grateful of thankful.

Gratitude is not a new concept; but it is one that has gone out of fashion over the years. Cue the Rockwell illustrations as I wander back to a time when kindness was our default and people were more appreciative of what they had and of others.

Image - woman looking out over mountain range with caption The Power of Gratitude

My first memory of being introduced to a gratitude practice was when I was in mental health counseling. Yes, as a patient.

I was going through the process of obtaining my second degree (yay nutrition!) at the ripe old age of 38 and realized the university offered no-charge counseling to students. I thought, hey, I could use a tune-up and some tools to work on some things in my life that I wish were better. It was life changing.

Let me tell you, therapy is not for the weak. It takes courage to admit to needing help and it takes commitment to put do the hard work and learn to use new tools and strategies. 

One of my therapist’s recommendations was to find three things every day for which I was grateful. Some days this came easily. Some days I could barely think of one thing, let alone three. But out of that first practice, came the idea that there was always something to be grateful for if I looked hard enough… if I chose to be grateful.

Image - Enjoy the Little Things

The next time gratitude came up for me in a big way was when I was in a health coaching program. Yes, as a client. I mean, really, how in the world could I tell all of you about the value of health coaches if I am not willing to seek the services for myself? I do not promote anything I do not believe in wholeheartedly. And yes, even coaches need coaches.

A big part of the coaching program I joined was a gratitude practice. Sessions started with expressing gratitude. In fact, gratitude took up about half of the coaching time. Sometimes it was easy to be grateful and express it. Other times, it was still difficult. But over the next year as I got in the habit of practicing gratitude at least weekly – if not more often – gratitude started to become a habit.

In difficult times, with job responsibility changes and lack of time and the state of overwhelm that I am always dancing with, gratitude has made the difference. When I get mired into the negativity, I tell myself to come up with five things I am grateful for.

Yes, I upped the ante from 3 to 5. And I can come up with the first 3 easily most times. The last 2 can be a struggle. But after I say it out loud – something changes.

That is the POWER of gratitude. It can turn the most horrible of days into one with a glimmer of hope, thanks, and love. It can keep you focused on the good things. And where your focus goes, energy flows!

Image - woman walking against yellow background with message: make up your mind and your body will follow

So, let’s talk about the research. That’s kinda my jam.

I’m going to quote an introduction to a study as the authors sum up what we know about gratitude briefly and thoroughly. They say, “Positive emotion has been associated with enhanced self-regulation and resilience as well as promoting self-motivation. In particular, expressing gratitude is known to promote positive mind-sets and reduce stress levels. Gratitude is an important component of mental healthiness throughout life, and it contributes to mental well-being. Gratitude has been associated with a lower risk for psychiatric disorders, higher life satisfaction, and wisdom.”

Oh, and they found heart rate went down significantly with gratitude (as compared to with resentment).

Image - Daises in shape of heart with caption saying Gratitude Enjoy the Little Things

More recently, Harvard Health published an article on “Giving Thanks Can Make You Happier.” They summarize the impact of gratitude by saying, “In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.” They also provide a list of ways to practice gratitude.

References: Definition of Gratitude:

Effects of gratitude meditation on neural network functional connectivity and brain-heart coupling. Syeong S et al., 2017.

Harvard, Giving thanks can make you happier.

How To Break Your Sugar Addiction

This blog was originally published at N.E.W. Motivation Coaching in October 2019. NMC has closed and blogs are now posted here. Blog follows…

The most harmful thing about your sugar addiction is the story you tell yourself about being addicted to sugar.

Who cares if sugar is addictive or not? I say this because it’s not the type of addiction that forces you to make poor decisions that ruin your life.

This means you have more control over the addiction than it does over you. Therefore, the words you use to describe how you feel about sugar and that delicious sweet flavor are powerful. It is where you give away control over your choices (easy path because I’m addicted) or you take control of your choices (difficult path because I’m making a choice). You can read the full blog here.

Welcome to the onset of the Holiday Eating Season. Hello Halloween! I see you and your big bowl of candy is on my kitchen counter waiting (hoping!) for all the kiddos!

How to manage the big bowl of addiction sitting in your house?

We all know to buy candy we don’t like so we aren’t tempted to eat it. Which… is another argument that sugar is not addictive or you wouldn’t care what candy was in the bowl. If you can pass over a gummy candy but not a peanut butter cup, then you are in control of the impulse. It’s not an addiction.

We all know to wait until the last minute to buy the candy. The hope is that it doesn’t tempt us for so long that we eat it all before Halloween… then buy more for the trick-or-treaters.

We all know to keep candy out of sight, so we are less likely to see it and decide to eat it. The concept is to put the foods we want to choose more often in our line of sight and the ones we want to choose less often out of sight. We know they are still there; but not having them in our face can help us think about them less often.

I want share with you what I hear from many of my clients who are trying to lose – or maintain – weight over the holidays. This story may sound familiar to you.

It starts with a bowl of candy on the counter for Halloween. You tell yourself you cannot have any of that candy. And, well, you really love candy. Who doesn’t? It’s sweet and delicious.

So, what happens?

All you can think about is how you cannot have any candy. In other words, your Inner Voice keeps yelling CANDY, CANDY, CANDY to you all day long.

Listen, there is not enough will power in the world to avoid something you love 24/7 for a few days.

You hold out as long as you can before you give in to that voice. What happens? You scarf down as much candy as you can since this is your one-and-only time to eat candy. You are being “bad” so it can only happen once. You better make the most of it!

Then what happens after the candy-binge? Yep. Guilt and shame come over you like a tidal wave. You resolve to never eat candy again.

Back to square one. You just started the typical dieter’s cycle all over again.

It’s probably the worst way to approach the situation if you stop to think about it. Yet, many of us go through this starting with Halloween and ending with the New Year’s Celebrations.

Here is one of my favorite tips that you may not have heard before. It’s from the Holiday Survival Guide: How to Enjoy a Guilt-Free Holiday without Sabotaging Your Health. It is Tip 11: Eat What you Want, Just Not as Much as You Want.  

Break your sugar addiction

Eat some damn candy. Yes, go ahead. Eat some candy. Every day.

When you Inner Voice knows that you are going to allow yourself to enjoy a small piece of candy every day, it calms down. It stops yelling CANDY and it starts to relax knowing that you are not depriving yourself of something you love to eat. Even better, choose a time of day to have the candy. That way you can talk back to your Inner Voice and tell it, “I got you baby. Just wait until 4pm.”

Then you eat candy. Wait – you ENJOY the candy with no guilt or shame because this IS your plan. You are no longer being “bad.”

If weight loss is your goal, try to stick to something that is around 100 calories. In theory, that should give you an amount that satisfies your craving for something sweet without derailing your weight loss efforts or giving you too much added sugar to put your health is at risk.

What this tip does is take the power back from the food.

It shows you that your sugar addiction is really just a preference for sweet foods coupled with a habit to pick them over other types of foods.

Your personal story about addiction doesn’t even give you a chance to overcome the addiction. It lets you off the hook so you can keep making choices that, while delicious in the moment, you know are not good for your health and do not move you closer to the goals that are really more important to you.

Here is how I know that. Let me ask you: Do you want to lose weight, be healthy, reduce heart disease risk (insert your big health goal here)… or be able to eat candy?

I bet you believe your weight and health are more important. What makes this difficult is that these goals take time and patience to achieve.

You are worth making the hard choices.

And you deserve to enjoy foods you love even if they have (gasp) sugar in them.

The Surprising Way Your Sugar Addiction is Harming You

This blog was originally published at N.E.W. Motivation Coaching in October 2019. NMC has closed and blogs are now posted here. Blog follows…

Yes, it’s true. Sugar lights up the same neurological pathways as addictive drugs giving us that happy dopamine feeling. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter which is basically just a messenger that tells our brain that we are feeling fine. The idea behind sugar addiction is this:

We eat sugar, dopamine makes us happy, it wears off, we aren’t as happy, we eat more sugar.

We are also hard-wired genetically to seek out sugar. If we go way back in time, our taste buds served a purpose. Before our foods came in pretty packages, our taste buds helped us know which foods were safe.

Bitter. Might be poison.

Sweet. Probably safe.  

Fast forward to today and we still know that sugary foods are delicious. Food manufacturers also know this and have loaded foods with sugar. As a society, our preference for sweet foods is getting stronger and stronger because we are getting more accustomed to that sweet flavor.

Don’t believe me? Think you love yogurt? Well, sure, a flavored yogurt with a little cup in the top to sprinkle in more sweet goodies. Now go try a plain yogurt and get back to me.

I’ll wait.

Now, there are some limitations to this and I have listed them at the end of this blog article. Be sure to jump there before you jump to conclusions about what I’m saying.

Back to it.

We know that sugary foods ramp up our dopamine and we know that sugary foods helped us survive and we know that the amount of sugar in our foods has gone up drastically.

Therefore, sugary foods are addictive.

Well, slow down partner.

When my clients tell me that they have a sugar addiction, I nicely tell them to knock it off.

Oh, but I can’t stop eating it, they tell me. I’m truly addicted.

Really? So then, tell me about the last time you knocked over a liquor store for your sugar fix. Didn’t happen.

Okay, then tell me about that time you stole money from your grandmother’s purse for your sugar fix. Oh. Haven’t done that either?

Okay, well, how about that time that you spent money on candy bars instead of paying your electric bill. No?


So can we now agree that sugar is NOT addictive in the same way that drugs are addictive?

 Good. That’s a start.

Now I want to ask what telling yourself sugar is addictive is doing for you?

I usually hear something along the lines of sugar is wrecking my health or I’m gaining weight.

Nope. That is what eating too much sugar is doing to you. I’m asking what you are getting out of telling yourself the story that you are addicted to sugar?

Now, I get a pause. I love to sit in that silence while my clients think about things in a new way. I wait.

Usually, the answer is that it’s not doing anything for them.

Again, not true. It is absolutely doing something for you.

And here it is – the surprising way your sugar addition is harming you – it’s letting you off the hook.

Telling yourself that you have a sugar addiction is giving ALL your power to the food. It makes it okay to binge-eat a whole cake or eat a big candy bar every day at 3pm. It gives you permission to make the choice that you know is moving you away from your goals because “I’m addicted.”

I call bullshit.

You know why? Let me tell you a few other things that light up dopamine pathways.

  • A good night’s sleep
  • Exercise
  • Sex
  • Likes and Retweets

I have yet to have a client tell me that they are addicted to running and just can’t stop. If you love that “runner’s high” then you run, you get happy, you stop running and rest up until you can do it again. You don’t run and run and run because you’re addicted. No one has ever told me “I just can’t stop running.”

Running stops. Eating sugar can also stop.

So here’s your takeaway.

You sugar addiction is harming you because you are telling yourself that you have a sugar addiction.

I don’t care what the science says about sugar addiction and neither should you. What matters for you, for your health, for your goals, is the story you tell yourself. Words have power. If you decide that sugar is addictive, then you just gave away your power.

And if you want to stay right where you are, then continue telling yourself that same old story.

When you are ready to make a change and take your power back from the food, try this instead.

  • Every time your automatic thought pop up that says “I have a sugar addiction; I can’t help it” tell that thought to go to hell.
  • Tell yourself something like this instead, “I really love sweet foods and I can choose what I eat and when I eat it. I am in control of the food. The food is not in control of me.”
  • Then breathe. Seriously, like take 20 deep breaths.
  • Get up if you can and take a short walk or do 10 jumping jacks.
  • Ask yourself if that sugary food is moving you towards your goals or away from your goals.
  • Make a conscious decision about eating it.

You can still eat – and enjoy – sugar without guilt, without shame, and without declaring yourself a sugar addict.

Just do so consciously and with the power of choice firmly in your hands.


1. The actual neurochemistry is way more complex and nuanced and beyond the scope of this article. This is kept simple and big picture to illustrate a point.

2. If you have dopamine deficiency, other medical or psychological concerns, or struggle with addictions, then there is a lot more to it than simply taking your power back from food and struggling through the difficult times. That is WAY beyond the scope of this blog and remember, I am A dietitian but I am not YOUR dietitian so please seek help from your medical and mental health providers.

The rest of you. Put down the candy bar and back away slowly.


Lennerz B, Lennerz JK. Food Addiction, High-Glycemic-Index Carbohydrates, and Obesity. Clin Chem. 2018;64(1):64–71.

Dopamine. Psychology Today.