This is an LLD Production.
On this episode of "Shadow Gallery Seminars:" nutrition in the age of COVID-19 with Dr. Debbie Fetter of UC Davis.
In a year where physical health is paramount and we all strive to be in the best possible shape we can be and avoid disease, we take a look at the one aspect of health that rarely gets the spotlight.
What can we do to better our nutritional habits and, when COVID-19 eventually ends, how can we, as a people, make better choices and lead healthier lives, one mouthful at a time?
The answers to all that and more, when "Shadow Gallery Seminars" begins...now.
Hello from the SF Shadow Gallery, I'm your host, Armon Owlia.
There are many things in the world we cannot live without, such as air, shelter, clothing. However, the one thing we absolutely cannot live without and the one thing I, personally, am a huge fan of is food.
I think the amount of food variety in the United States alone is nothing short of fantastic, with great food being easy to spot if you know just where to look. Fortunately, I’m one of those people who has been around good food no matter where I am in the world.
However, that is not the case with all Americans. In part due to poor nutritional options and even poorer choices, we face a crisis of obesity in the United States, with about 140 million people being classified. It’s become something of a stereotype used by comedians and average world citizens to describe Americans.
The sad part is that we can all do better, and, for the most part, a lot of companies such as Chipotle have done their part to improve nutritional knowledge for its customers. However, it’s clear that not everyone is doing this.
And now, in the age of COVID-19, we are beginning, once again, to slip in our diligence. With the rise of COVID comes the rise in takeout, the rise in weight gain, and the fall in practices such as home cooking that, when done right, has proven to be one of the biggest detractors to obesity.
So, what exactly can we do at this point in time to improve our nutrition, and, when things get back to normal, what plans can we put in place to ensure proper nutrition is sustainable?
Joining me via satellite is Dr. Debbie Fetter, a professor of nutrition at UC Davis, one of the world’s leading agriculture and environmental science universities.
Dr. Fetter, welcome to the program.
Thank you so much for having me here, Armon. I'm excited to be here.
I'm glad, I'm excited to have you here. So, first to our audience, why don't you tell us a little about yourself? Why should we be listening to you?
Well, I've dedicated my entire life to nutrition, so I did my undergraduate in nutrition science at UC Davis. And then, I went on and did my Ph.D. in nutritional biology, again at UC Davis. And currently, I'm a Professor of Nutrition at UC Davis. So I'm what they call, "A Super Aggie" because I did my undergrad, grad, and now I work at UC Davis. So I spent a great deal of my life studying the science of nutrition and I'm here to share what I know and also be transparent with what we don't quite know yet in the field.
All right, so it's fair to say, you know quite a bit.
I hope so. I think so. But there's, also, that I feel like, I was just telling my students about this that the more that we're uncovering as we develop better research techniques and explore different research questions in nutrition science, it, the more that we're discovering, we keep unearthing more and more that we know, but at the same time we're discovering all these things and mechanisms that we don't quite know yet. So it's an exciting field to be in. It keeps evolving.
All right, so let's get started, shall we? Mark Twain made one of the greatest comments, I think, in human history when he said, "What gets us into trouble is not what we don't know, it's what we know for sure that just ain't so." So let's break down the concept of nutrition. We, on this show, always break it down into three specific categories: what we know that's proven, what we quote-unquote know that's actually either a misconception or just plain false, and what we don't know and need to figure out. So let's start with what we know that's proven.
All right. I mean, the key takeaway with what we know that's proven would be that eat your fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, incorporate healthful fats and find some movement that you enjoy. And those practices have all been linked to lowered risk of diet-related chronic diseases and a healthier life outcome.
Yeah, and then we hear about things like, for example, Atkins, we hear about these crash diets that, supposedly, is so, I mean, I'm personally the fan of the balanced diet, because it's, long-term, if you keep it, keep it going, you can't really lose, so….
Right? But it's not as marketable as something like Keto or Paleo or Atkins, which sort of was like the original Paleo/Keto.
But would you say imbalance is a better option than, let's say, Atkins or Paleo or Keto?
Oh, for sure. My whole food philosophy is to not remove a particular food group from your eating pattern, but more so that all foods can be incorporated into a healthful eating pattern and to find foods that are, contain a fair amount, a high amount of nutrients in relation to the amount of calories that they provide. Those are what we call nutrient-dense food options. To find nutrient-dense food options that work for your own cultural and taste preferences, so these are items under the categories of different fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein. So if you don't like steamed broccoli, don't force yourself to like steamed broccoli. You can try another vegetable out there or you can try preparing it in a different method. So, I think a lot of people are haunted by childhood memories of over-steamed vegetables when it comes to broccoli and brussel sprouts, but when they try them roasted in the oven, drizzling a little bit of olive oil, avocado oil, put some spices on that, they're blown away and they're like, "Wait, I actually do like broccoli and brussel sprouts." So, what I would encourage people to do is find those nutrient-dense foods that you like that work within your own culture, your own tastes, your own style, and then also leave room for what we call the more empty calorie foods. So these are the foods that don't supply much nutrition so much, they don't supply much essential nutrients and they tend to be more caloric, so higher in calories. But at the same time, these foods are good for our own enjoyment and social connection, and mental health. So, sometimes, at the end of the day, all you really need is a nice home-baked chocolate chip cookie. But finding the, those foods that you like, that you enjoy. So, when no foods are off-limits to you, you can find yourself gravitating more towards nutrient-dense choices and when the higher calorie, less essential nutrient options are available to you, you don't feel compelled that this is the only time you're going to have access to that, you have to consume it. So, an example that I like to use with my students is for myself, honestly, store-bought cookies, store-bought chocolate chip cookies don't do it for me. I would much rather have a home-baked cookie. And so, because I know in my own eating pattern that if the cookies were available, I can definitely, I give myself the freedom to go out and enjoy that cookie. But I know that I would much rather have the home-baked cookie. So when I encounter these store-bought cookies, I just don't really feel the need to consume it because I know it's just not as satisfying, based on my own taste preferences. And I'd rather hold off and wait and maybe like bake home-baked cookies in pre-COVID time with family and friends, now would be alone. So, that's when the "freezing the dough" method can come in handy for individual portions, otherwise, then I'll eat the whole batch by myself.
You know, I love the fact that you openly admit that you eat a whole batch of cookie dough, because I would do the same thing without even any question.
I mean, yes, I'm in nutrition, but does that mean that I eat salads for every meal? Definitely not. I love vegetables, am a big fan of vegetables and fruits and whole grains, but I give myself the freedom to enjoy those treats and delicacies and cheese. Cheese is one of my favorite foods and I can eat entire block of cheese if it was sitting in front of me. So, I'm a human, too. If I'm faced with a block of cheese, I will eat the whole thing. So, I have to practice what I preach. And when I want to eat cheese, what I'll do is I'll take a portion size off of that, put the rest of it in the fridge so that it's more difficult to go back to. And then I'll have that portion in front of me, I can see exactly what I'm eating. I can take the time to enjoy it and create a memorable experience. And then when it's done, that's the end. I'll check in with myself, "Am I hungry, am I not?" I usually give myself about 10 to 15 minutes after consuming a meal or snack to check in with my satiety cues, because there is a delay between our stomachs recognizing that we're full and our brain recognizing that we're full. And so especially in these COVID-19 pandemic times when we're all stuck at home, we have all of our snacks and food available to us. One of the things that I would really recommend is still creating as much routine as we can and also doing the whole portion size method like, serve yourself your portion of your meal, check in with yourself if you're hungry fifteen minutes later, then go back and serve yourself seconds and create meals that focus on those nutrient-dense food options, so a high amount of those vegetables, whole grains, a little bit of healthful fats like olive oil, avocado oil, vegetable oils, instead of incorporating a lot of saturated fat into your meal, a little bit of lean protein and some spices for, for the taste and seasoning.
But you wouldn't say that a balanced diet is a one size fits all thing? So it's, for different people, it's going to consist of something completely different?
For sure. Definitely. So something that I find especially irritating is a lot of nutrition and diet advice. So I guess now would be a great time to also introduce another one of my nutrition philosophy is, is I want to take back the word "diet." I think that "diet" has such a negative connotation to it, but really a diet just means any food that you're eating. So, I like to phrase "diet" as an eating pattern because that allows people more flexibility, more freedom to deciding what they're eating, what they're incorporating. And so, when I talk about eating patterns, it is very individual. And, a lot of times when nutrition advice is given, it's sort of like capturing only a handful of foods. And, it's not really catering to the wonderful diversity that we have in food dishes. And so, that's something that I know we're finally beginning to see more, cultural diversity incorporated into nutrition recommendations. But that's something really important that I think we have such a strong cultural and social connection to food and we don't want to lose that. And just tuning up food choices and making small tweaks to make healthier eating decisions. So, if there is a particular cultural dish that maybe is traditionally made in a style that incorporates a lot of, let's say, heavy and saturated fats, a lot of salt, maybe we can make some tweaks by using a different type of fat to cook with, maybe lowering the amount of fat. And, by doing this, I'm not saying that fat is bad. Like, I never refer to foods as good or bad. We just want to tweak the proportions that we're consuming. So just lowering the amount of fat cooked in that traditional dish, maybe incorporating a little bit more vegetables to add volume and nutrition, things like that. So, there's definitely no one size fits all eating pattern. It's up to the individual based on an individual's own tastes and culture and social connection to food. We don't want to feel isolated eating salads for every meal. And just because something's a salad does not necessarily mean that it's the more nutritious choice.
Yeah, I mean, I love, I love salads, but even then, I know if I go to a restaurant, we're going to get a green salad rather than the Caesar salad, so, one's going to have the unhealthy dressing and croutons. The other one is not. So, I wonder what the healthier option is?
Well, it would depend. So, I mean, if you're, one of your favorite salads is Caesar salad, and you really want it, there's some tweaks that you can adjust to that meal in order to make it a little bit more nutritious, so instead of the creamy dressing that typically comes with the Caesar salad, you can either ask for it on the side to have your own control over how much you're portioning out. Or you can ask for an oil-based dressing, which tends to be lower in saturated fat, as in other items that can fall in that. You can also ask for maybe, the croutons on the side, the cheese on the side, and maybe incorporate a lean protein like chicken or salmon onto the Caesar salad to make it a bit more filling and make it into a whole meal, instead of just a side salad or starting appetizer.
Now one of the things that I want to touch on first before we get into COVID-19 is that there are a lot of people who, like me, they tried to adjust their, their actual diets in terms of, you know, what they eat, and I'm going to go with your definition of diet, not the general negative definition. Not the Diet Coke definition, the actual, in terms of, we try to lose fat and gain muscle. So, it's possible to lose the body fat and gain muscle at the same time through a balanced diet, right?
Definitely. And I would also incorporate the addition of exercise, too. So, if you are looking to change your body composition a bit and with changing your body composition, I do want to reiterate that we all have our own unique body composition. So that's the build up of our water and our muscles and fat. So, yes, we need body fat. Yes, it is important. No, do not be trying to strive for a zero percent body fat. Body fat provides a big structural role in the body as well as its metabolically active, so secretes and listens to different hormones signaling in our body. So, very important. We want body fat. If you're looking to make some tweaks to your body composition, I would always, before doing any new eating regimen or exercise activity, I would always caution people and consult with their physician first, just to make sure that, that they give it the OK and they know that you're trying this new thing because sometimes, with alterations, you can discover some underlying health condition. So you always just want to be in play by the book. Be very safe then. So if someone is looking to utilize more of their body fat and build up their muscle, it would take a combination of some eating changes as well as physical activity changes. What I would recommend doing is first figuring out how many calories. So how much energy are you in the form of calories does your body need in order to sustain its own bodily practices? So this is energy that's going into keeping us alive. So, our heart beating, lungs breathing, brain functioning, all requires calories, and then also to support the level of activity that someone's doing, as well as the energy needed to digest and assimilate our nutrients in our body. So, all of this takes energy, energy we get from food. And so, figuring out how many, how much, how many calories your body needs every day would be important. And there's different formulas and equations to go ahead and calculate that for yourself. And, if you're looking to decrease body weight a bit, then I would recommend deduction of anywhere, and it's going to be individual. It's going to depend on your own starting amount of calories, desired weight loss, which I would not recommend anything more than a maximum of about two pounds per week. Usually, I would typically, for a lot of people, we're looking at weight loss of about half a pound to one pound per week for sustainable weight loss. So, very small amounts. Oftentimes, you see people seeking out these diets that promise a weight loss of greater than five pounds in a week or ten pounds in a week. And that's just unsustainable. A lot of that's going to just be water loss. So you'll probably want to if you're looking to burn up body fat, lower your body weight, looking at a slight calorie deduction anywhere from maybe up to, 100 or 200 calories a day, it's all going to depend on your own, your own anthropometrics, your own body size, and formula and all that. And, for the actual eating pattern, you'll want to focus on some high-quality protein, so these are protein sources that supply all of our essential amino acids in digestible and proportional amounts that humans need. These typically can come from animal sources, as well as from soy. But you can also mix and match certain vegetarian or plant sources of protein in order to complete create a high-quality protein. Most common example would be rice and beans. Together, they can form a complete protein and you don't necessarily have to eat them in the same meal. You can just eat them throughout a day or two together. And that, inherently, can meet the high-quality protein need. And so, you'll want to focus on those high-quality protein because protein has been shown to help with muscle synthesis as well as repair, and for exercising, you'll want to also focus on a combination of some cardio exercises that raise your heart rate as well as resistance training. So resistance training, more strength-based exercises to develop your muscle groups, so you can train different parts of your body. But ultimately, you can't choose a specific area necessarily to blast fat. It's just sort of all around where you can work to develop different muscles. Is there a magic food out there that's going to blast fat in a certain area of your body? Absolutely not. So all the articles that you see out there that are like, "This food is going to blast belly fat, yada, yada," complete bogus.
Folks, you heard it here first, but I'm glad you mentioned those exercises because, in terms of COVID-19, nutrition has been put on the back burner, unfortunately, but it could actually be nutrition that could be the difference-maker between whether or not you end up in a hospital bed and whether or not you're going to be walking around fine.
It might. There's so much that we don't know about the COVID-19 pandemic. There's some emerging research that suggested that individuals that have lower levels of vitamin D, which is one of our essential nutrients, it's a vitamin that does a lot of hormone like functions. It's actually my favorite vitamin. But we learn more about vitamin D every day. And there was some emerging research suggesting that individuals with lower amounts of vitamin D were faring worse than others. But then there is some contradiction to that. And then at first when the pandemic happened, it was suggested that individuals with comorbidities, so things like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity were faring worse. But that's not necessarily the case with susceptibility to the virus. We really don't know how COVID-19 functions, and I, we're all at risk regardless of whether or not we have underlying health conditions.
But the one thing also I'm going to touch on before we move on is that, in COVID-19, as I mentioned in the intro, there's a lot more reliance on takeout and nutrition has been taking a backseat. So, we're seeing a lot of weight gain. We're seeing a lot of poor nutritional behaviors because everyone's not focusing on that. Everyone's focused on just surviving.
Oh, definitely! So, for everyone, we are all uprooted in our usual routine, our usual eating, our usual activity for sure. And for many of us, it's not the primary focus. Right now, many people are focusing on a source of income, a place to live and staying safe from the virus. And so, there's just so much stress going on right now. It's a very stressful time. There are some great memes that have been floating around out there about, "In the time of the pandemic, I've gotten in and out of shape," and I relate to that. There's another meme floating around saying that you're a stand-up citizen by ordering takeout and delivery because you're supporting the business, all these types of things. So, now that we're all pretty much quarantined at home, shelter in place, definitely there's been a big adjustment to everyone's eating and activity. We're certainly moving around a lot less, if you were previously a gym-goer or group exercise, or you walk to work or walked between meetings and everything. We're no longer doing that. So people have to get creative with finding ways to incorporate exercise and activity and, I mean, also for our mental health, for myself personally, I find that days that I go outside for a socially distant walk or some sort of outside world interaction with my mask on, of course, and away from other people, I am so much happier just getting out there and walking. So, I think there was some research recently published that showed some differences in self-reported activity level. So, it seems that people are still that the people surveyed are still finding ways to be active, but they're having to be more diligent about the period of time that they're being active. So, scheduling the exercise and the level of intensity tends to be lower intensity exercises as opposed to the more higher intensity exercises. So, people are, for instance, choosing to walk more for exercise than they were previously. So definitely, activity, habits have had changed all the little movements that we used to do throughout the day, from walking to even our car to get to work and walk around walking around work and just, you know, moving around in general, interacting with others during meetings may be like taking a lunch break or something. All those little activities added up. And now, many of us are rolling out of bed, turning on the computer, turning on Zoom, and then, we are there for about at least eight hours a day. So, Zoom fatigue is real. You're not really moving around as much. So, what I've noticed people have started doing now that we know that this is what's happening for a while as people are ending meetings about 10 minutes earlier just to give people time to walk around and move around between meetings, or if the meeting is a really long meeting, they'll have like some sort of activity break in the middle of it. And that's useful. I know for myself, I had to find different ways to be to be active. I, I find social support is really helpful for me with being active. I am terrible or used to be terrible at designing my own workouts. I was a group exercise workout person. I would go to group exercise classes. I ran with a track group that met every week. So big, big social activity for me. And so, I had to find new ways to keep up activity. Something that was helpful for me at first was I set different alarms throughout the day that reminded me to do some exercises for just a few minutes. And so that helped add up. So, things like I would do some squats, I would do some jumping jacks, some mountain climbers, just something to move and then just finding new ways to be active. So, going on runs by myself. Instead of meeting with my track group with my mask outside, I found the disposable mass are really great for those outdoor activities. You can wear it, sweating it, and then you can toss it out there. And then there's a lot of online workouts as well with that.
Wow, quite a lot, wow, you definitely do more workouts than I do, um, anyway. Let's move on a little bit from there, shall we? So, what we quote-unquote know that is either false, a misconception, or just outdated. And already my mind wanders to something developed by the Department of Agriculture. I'm not sure if you heard, but it's called "The Food Pyramid?"
Oh, yes, there used to be a Food Pyramid.
I remember as a kid, we sit in nutrition class, we sit in health class, they said, "Kids, you follow the Food Pyramid, you do what, you do the whole steps thing, you follow the Food Pyramid, you will be in great health." Well, I followed the Food Pyramid. I followed the steps. I'm not in great health.
That's the trouble with making recommendations that are supposed to encompass an entire population in the United States, yet alone. And we're just one country of very so many countries in the world. It is so difficult to make these generalizations and essentially these recommendations with telling people how they should be eating and moving as a whole. And so, a lot of it tends to be really generalized. And with the role of the USDA and the Department of Human Health Services, those agencies. Essentially issue guidelines every five years, they put together a scientific advisory committee full of experts in nutrition and related fields. It's a volunteer position and they come together; they have a series of meetings. They come up with a scientific advisory committee report that summarizes all the research that we know in terms of these guidelines. So, what's something new that we've learned with, let's say, saturated fat, for instance, or cholesterol? And they talk about the quality of the research. It's a very rigorous process, rigorous and time-intensive process. And from UC Davis, we've had quite a few faculty that have gotten to be on that committee. And it's definitely, it's a dream of mine to be on that committee one day and help look at the research to help inform decisions, because this, the dietary guidelines, informs the government programs related to food and nutrition so that they follow these guidelines. But again, it's there's so much that gets lost with making generalizations for a huge group of people. And so, each, every five years they look at the new evidence and they make adjustments based on the research of what we currently know and how strong that evidence is. They rate the different studies in terms of weak and moderate and strong. So, for instance, in the latest version of the guidelines that was published in the twenty fifteen ones, we're getting a new issue soon, the 2020-2025. And we have some recommendations there. But the report, the guidelines are not officially out yet, but there has been some additional changes. But going back to the 2015-2020 guidelines, one of the biggest changes was they removed the recommendation for dietary cholesterol because the emerging research was showing that actually dietary cholesterol alone for individuals without underlying health conditions related to cholesterol was not linked to an increase in different risk factors related to cardiovascular disease, that it was more so keeping a limit on the saturated fat consumption. But what we know is that a lot of food sources that contain cholesterol also contain saturated fat as well. So that's where nutrition science gets a little muddied is because it's really difficult to isolate foods down to its individual component because there's a synergistic effect that happens with all the different nutrients within a food. And so that's why the advice, variety and moderation, a little bit of this, a little bit of that data can help to optimize nutrients. Where am I going with this? We may have to cut this, but yeah, so essentially the Food Pyramid, has since, the Food Pyramid, the idea of that visual is geared for consumers to give them a visual representation of what these dietary guidelines are proposing. And so, with each issue, there tends to be an update, or a new graphic provided. So after, the Food Pyramid, the next edition had a,
Had MyPlate, so...
Oh, before MyPlate there was the Food Pyramid, with the, with the person running up the stairs with this exercise.
And then, we had the, we got rid of the Food Pyramid and we decided, you know, maybe we'll, we'll take a look at it like an individual meal instead of all the issues like serving sizes and components can be really difficult for anyone to visualize. What the heck does this mean? And we put MyPlate and MyPlate gives us a visual representation of what this optimal plate would look like based on the guidelines. But with anything, there's issues. So, first off, no pressure. Your every meal does not need to look exactly like the MyPlate plate. Fine. If some meals are maybe a bit more protein on them or you don't have a fruit with that meal, you don't need a dairy sauce with every meal, things like that, that's completely fine. Yeah.
Wow. I mean, look, I'm glad you mentioned that, but there's one other thing I'm going to mention. One of my favorite shows, when it was still on NBC, was a little show called "The Biggest Loser." And the thing is, I think so many people have many misconceptions about weight loss in general, just from "The Biggest Loser," I mean.
I can see that. Yes.
I mean, look at Bob Harper, for example. He said, "You know, it's as simple as calories in, calories out. That's all there is to it. Weight loss is easy."
You would think, but it's so much more complicated.
The sad part is these are people who desperately need weight loss. I'll be the first one to say, they desperately need it in order to stay healthy. But I remember one guy, I think the first week he was there, he lost 39 pounds in a single week, which is not healthy.
That is extreme weight loss, that when you lose that amount of weight within such a short period of time, it's too fast. It's mainly water weight that's being lost. And soon the body readjust to its baseline, its homeostasis, and that weight's regained. And also, with a lot of extreme forms of dieting and physical activity, it's unsustainable. We can't keep that going. And so, with going on, for instance, cutting calories so low, many people begin to feel really fatigued and lethargic and so that eventually when they're faced in a situation where they're given a, you know, encountering a meal, maybe they're going out to eat with friends and pre-COVID times, of course, or, you know, ordering takeout, they may end up overeating because they've been so undernourished for this period of time. And this can be associated with feelings of guilt. And so, for many people, what can tend to happen is people feel like they have to be not some people can feel like they have to be doing everything, quote unquote, perfectly when it comes to weight loss, the weight loss period. So, if they don't abide by this diet, then they so-called failed and whatever, it doesn't matter anymore. I'm just going to go back to the way I was eating person. And it can be difficult to get back on track with incorporating some healthier food choices. So, shows like The Biggest Loser are essentially a reality show. They're meant to be designed to be sensational, draw the consumers in, get the advertising dollars. And so, they want to create all this drama and everything like, oh, my gosh, I can't believe they lost 39 pounds in a week, how'd they do that? But there's actually been research done on contestants from "The Biggest Loser" and they found that pretty much all of them regained the weight that they lost and more than when they were on the show. And that's because when they were on the show, they were in this unrealistic environment. They had personal trainers, personal nutritionists. All they were doing was focusing on losing this weight. And they were put in this environment where they were losing a drastic amount of weight. That would be too much for a sustainable, healthier weight loss within a period of time for this sensational reality show. And so, when they return to their usual lives after the show where they were going into work, they didn't have a personal trainer. They didn't have any personal nutritionists necessarily where there were other factors in life. They had a different food environment, food access, and they weren't in this high-pressure situation of where they were just focusing on losing this drastic amount of weight to win the competition. And so, what happens is that usually people would revert to their usual eating practices, and especially because they were consuming so much less calories. And previously, many people would tend to overeat after the show. And that's where the increased the regaining the weight and more comes in. And this is a trend that we can see when it has the label yo yo dieting, where someone will adopt an eating regimen that's usually very strict and low in calories that's very difficult to sustain. And they'll go on this eating regimen. Or what we tend to think of is the negative connotation diet for a period of time, lose whatever, whatever their goal weight was in that short period of time, most of that weight being water loss from this very strict eating regimen, which tends to be usually some sort of. Form of a low carbohydrate diet disguised in one way or the other, and that's because when our body stores carbohydrates in the form of glycogen and it's associated with water and with these strict diets, that's where a lot of the water gets flushed out. But our body readjust homeostasis. And so, someone will go on a very strict diet for a period of time, lose that drastic amount of weight. So, this is more than the body suggested about on average one to two pounds for a week or half a pound, two pounds a week. And then they'll go back and eat how they were eating before this diet and regain the weight. And that's my personal issue that I have with a lot of these eating diets that are being marketed out there is that they're very drastic and they tend to cut out different food groups. And ultimately, it's about kind of it stems back to nutrition education. So, teaching people how to navigate their food environment, how to pick and choose the foods that work for you in terms of nutrient density, allowing yourself to have that piece of chocolate cake when it's someone's birthday or especially when it's your birthday and having it be a more enjoyable eating experience because we all have to eat to live. And so, let's try and make it, and eating is one of the greatest pleasures that we have in life, so let's find a way to make it enjoyable and create community around that.
So, let's move on to what we don't know and need to find out, because as you mentioned at the beginning, there is a lot we still don't know.
So, like, for example, dieting in general, like even if it's a balanced diet, is there any negative impact on the body that we don't know about?
That's a good question. I think the term balance can be really difficult to put into practice because I think there's not necessarily something that that. Is ever going to be truly balanced for, say, it's more like I like to think of it like the ebbs and flows of eating and activity, so maybe one day you eat a little bit more than you usually would the next day. Maybe it's a little bit less. Maybe one day you're active the next day or not. Kind of just like a pattern with that. You don't have to be necessarily like what you think of as balanced every day, every meal, every activity, because I would just be exhausting to just, like, allow yourself the flexibility with, hey, you know what? I don't feel like moving around today. I'm going to rest and relax and enjoy myself with. Dieting, I think that the word diet gets a really negative connotation associated with it, and if someone is frequently. Following these very strict dieting regimens throughout their life, what tends to happen with those plans is that they could be missing and some key nutrients that the body would need. And so, for instance, many of these strict diets can be low in nutrients like vitamin D and calcium, which are really important for bone health. So, people following these very strict diets. For a period of time in their life can miss out on building up their bone mineral density and then encounter problems with osteoporosis later in life, which is a long-term calcium deficiency leading to these weak and porous bones and can lead to an osteoporotic related fracture, which is very high, very common.
And then, as I mentioned at the beginning, I mean, it's not a "one size fits all" thing when it comes to the balanced diet, but what is the best way to figure out what is going to fit best for your body type or your metabolism if you want to, for example, lose weight?
That's a great question. It kind of it goes back to determining your own body's nutrient needs. So how many calories does your body need to survive and thrive and support the level of activity that you engage in? So, doing those calculations, they're also talking with your doctor as well, just letting them know, hey, I'm looking to lose a little bit of weight. How much would you recommend for sustainable weight loss that I should be aiming for and someone else that would that's a medical professional who would be great to consult with is a registered dietitian. So registered dietitians have extensive nutrition training, and they complete a dietetic internship, which is very competitive and very hard to match until they have to complete a series of clinical nutrition hours and pass the accredited exam in order to be accredited as a registered dietitian. And they have to maintain their accreditation by engaging in a certain number of professional courses each year and work. So those would be your best bet if you're if someone is looking to lose some weight or adjust their eating pattern. Those would be the individuals I would recommend having a consultation with. And many are covered by insurance plans as well. And so, figuring out your body's needs because you don't want to starve yourself. I think the biggest mistake that people tend to make when embarking on a weight loss journey is to cut calories so low. So, these are typically calories less than one thousand calories per day. I think for a while it was wrongly recommended and different media and magazines that that keeping your calories to under twelve hundred calories a day, which is very low for most of us. Many of us need much more calories than that in order to survive and thrive, not feel fatigued and dizzy, and support our activity. So, figuring out your calories and then making the slight deduction based on the amount of weight that fits your body to lose each week for a sustainable and healthy weight loss. So, if someone is looking to lose one pound per week, that would be creating an energy deficit of around 500 calories a day. And so that can be done by reducing your intake a little bit and also increasing your activity. So that would be the method I would recommend for most people. So instead of being like, OK, I guess I'll eat 500 less calories a day, which is a lot I would recommend somewhere maybe you know, cutting 250 or less calories in terms of that, so that's like around two and a half small cookies, something like that, and then engaging in some exercises. So maybe taking a walk for an hour and there you go. There you go. If you cut out two and a half cookies, do an hour walk, you've just created that 500 calorie energy deficit by not doing anything drastic or extreme.
And with that, I think it is time to take a quick commercial break. When we come back, Dr. Fetter will be answering some of your questions. Do not go away.
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We're back with Dr. Debbie Fetter. Now, as everyone who listens to the show knows, the one thing I love to do is to go on social media and ask you guys to contribute questions. Why? I don't know. I like audience participation. That's probably why. But you guys came up with some really good questions, and Dr. Fetter is going to answer them and I may contribute a thing or two, but we'll see. So, first things first. The first question. What do you think of Keto and Paleo dieting? Are these healthy lifestyle options?
Great questions. So, I feel like Paleo was really popular for a while and now, Keto has sort of replaced the popularity. But inherently, both of them are known to be low-carbohydrate diets. So Paleo is a high-protein, low-carb diet, whereas Keto is a high-fat, low-carb diet. So, with anything that I would recommend, I would encourage people to not cut entire food groups out of their eating patterns. So, with Paleo, as well as Keto, you can be missing out on some vital nutrients because of the elimination of certain food groups. So, poor carbohydrates are really taking the hit here. And we know that complex carbohydrates, so, whole grains and also your vegetables and your legumes and your beans, supply a lot of health benefits. And so, I would encourage people to still incorporate these into your own eating pattern. The focus on incorporating a lot of vegetables and lean protein is great, but I would advise against eliminating whole food groups and different foods that you enjoy in your eating pattern for long-term sustainability. And in terms of the research about these two eating patterns related to different health risks, there really hasn't been a full consensus to support one over the other or just for the typical healthful eating pattern, as recommended by the dietary guidelines of incorporating all those different food groups in. I think, what I would recommend is for people to focus on vegetables, whole grains, fruits, and lean protein sources as well as healthful oils, rather than trying to do Keto or Paleo and then, especially talking about Keto specifically, many people that have adopted the Keto diet don't actually do it correctly. It's an extremely high-fat, low-carb diet that many people don't even hit the low-carb involved in the amount of high-fat. And we know that dietary patterns that are high in fat and including saturated fat have been linked to an increased risk of different diet-related chronic diseases. So I would advise against incorporating that as a method for improving health.
Plus, it's a bit counterintuitive to the balanced diet mindset, so….
Exactly. And if you're someone like me that really enjoys a nice, freshly baked piece of bread or a good slice of pizza could be extremely hard to follow Paleo or Keto.
Shout out to Acme Bakery and Tony's Pizza here in San Francisco. Next question. Thoughts about mushrooms?
Mushrooms. I love mushrooms. I know a lot of people that don't like mushrooms, but personally, I think they're delicious. You love them?
I love them. And just for the record, folks, we're not talking about the magic ones.
Oh, yes. I should have clarified this.
Just for the record, we're not talking about magic mushrooms. We are talking about the ones that make you a "fungi."
We're talking about "food" mushrooms, right?
Just making sure.
And my students are going to listen to this and be like, oh, did our professor just say that she loves magic mushrooms? No!
Just to clarify, she is not Jimi Hendrix.
Ok, yes. I'm not talking about yeah, I'm talking about food mushrooms, but they are a great addition to any eating pattern. They supply a lot of different nutrients in them, like different B vitamins. They're antioxidants. There's antioxidants in them. And especially if you're someone following more of a plant-based eating pattern, they can sort of stimulate a lot of the umami taste and feel that you would get associated with a meat product as well. So, for me personally, I love incorporating mushrooms into dishes. I do like a balsamic-roasted mushroom quite often. And then especially if you buy pre-sliced mushrooms, it's an easy pack to make something real fast. Some mushrooms have been known to be natural mutagens, which are essentially these compounds found naturally that have been linked to carcinogenic potential. But you would have to be eating these particular mushrooms every meal of the day. So like, mushroom soup for breakfast, lunch, dinner for years and years in order to see maybe any sort of significant effect on your health risk. So really, no need to worry about mushrooms being a natural mutagen.
Next question: For people that find food prep overwhelming, how can it be broken down and made more manageable while still getting what you need to be healthy?
Oh, I love this question. So, meal prep…
I love my audience. They're, they're amazing with the questions.
That's great. These are great. Meal prep is definitely, I feel like, social media is showing a whole new light on it. I love seeing everyone's images of different meal prep. So Meal Prep Monday, Meal Prep Sunday. And I think it can certainly definitely be pretty overwhelming to make a whole batch of food for an entire week. So what I would recommend doing is taking the time to plan ahead for the week before going to the grocery store, looking at what you already have on hand and your fridge and your pantry and creating a couple different meals based around that. And once you go to the store, what I would recommend doing, maybe even before putting all the groceries away, is take out any of the produce items that you've purchased and chop them up right away and put them away that way. That will help cooking with them easier as well as if you want fresh produce to snack on. Like, I love having bell peppers on hand to snack on or cucumbers or my favorite, carrots, just in the fridge so that when I'm feeling like I, I love to eat, so, but sometimes I will go to eat when I know I'm not hungry and so it's just nice to have something that's nutrient-dense and fairly low in calories to go to in the fridge using a hand to snack on, and then to make meal prep an enjoyable experience. So, put on your favorite podcast like this one, put on some music, set up the mood, and to make simple meal prep meals. So, usually what I would recommend is choose one type of whole grain to make for the week. So something like maybe a big pot of quinoa, a big pot of brown rice, maybe you're feeling ambitious and going to bake some fresh bread to have on hand for the week, some sort of complex carbohydrate. And then, with, I'm a big fan of sheet pan meals, so you can chop veggies and roast them in the oven with a little bit of olive oil or avocado oil. And then, also at the same time, you can be cooking some sort of lean protein source like chicken or steak, pork, tofu in the oven or in a stir pan on the oven, kind of getting it all together at once to just kind of do it, do it that way, but not doing anything extreme in terms of recipes.
Yeah. So next question. We sort of touched on this before the commercial, but let's touch on this a little bit again. Does dieting have a negative impact on your body than positive that we don't know about?
I think it's important for all of us to reframe the whole concept of "diet" and really think about that in terms of the improvements that we want to make for our health, in relation to the foods that we eat and our movement, that this is a lifestyle change. So this is all not something that you do for a week and then it's done and you can go back to whatever you were doing before. So, making those small changes in order for them to be sustainable changes and not making everything all at once. So I think dieting can definitely have a negative connotation because the concept of dieting that we think of is asking an individual to make this drastic overhaul to their eating and activity all at once. And so it can, we're left with bad feelings, especially when a lot of times these diets are not sustainable and after the period of dieting, weight is regained, and then some that we've seen with contestants on "The Biggest Loser." And so, I think what would be more positive is just reframing like, "what are some improvements I can make for my eating pattern?" and "What goals can I set for myself? How can I track them?" So research has shown that tracking different changes and goals has led to greater success and tracking can be done a variety of ways. Anything as simple as a pen and paper to anything more complex, like some sort of smartphone application or website.
Final question. Why do health companies make fad trends? Oh, I can even answer that one. We need a little cold, hard cash.
Let's, let's hear your answer first.
I mean, obviously, you're going to know more about this than me, at this point, it seems like a profitable industry, you know? Everyone's fat, they don't like how they look, and they're willing to pay X amount of money to do these fad trends that don't work just for the hope that they're going to lose weight.
No, you are completely right. I got, I got nothing to add. You hit the nail on the head that it comes down to these companies want to make some money.
They want to get some green and not the leafy ones.
Yeah, so, it's, it's a way to tap into a consumer's desire with the promise, like, "Purchase this diet plan, buy this product, take our miracle ingredient and you will have the body that you've always that you're desiring." But society has created this picture of, which is, it is not meant, like we're all not meant to look the same. We all have different body sizes and shapes and we are all beautiful people. We all do not need to look a certain way. Yet society has ingrained in so many of us that we need to look a certain way. If we look this way, then we will be happy. And I think that's what it comes down to, is that if you change your body to look like this, then that will bring happiness. And that's not the case. The thing that will bring happiness is being true to yourself and being true to your own culture and tastes and social connections when it comes to eating. That will bring happiness. So, I always advise people, save your money, don't buy that diet plan. Don't buy that product out there. It comes down to figuring out the whole food choices that work well for yourself based on your culture, your taste preferences, and give yourself the freedom to have the cookie.
We're coming now towards the end of the show. Just a few final bits of housekeeping to do before we let you go. So, first thing's first, it's the recommended reading, or, the Book of the Month. Normally, we were both pick a book. In your case, I know you didn't, but I'm going to go first.
I'm sorry, I failed the assignment!
No, it's OK! It's OK! It's OK! It's OK. We'll make it "Media of the Month" this week, "Media Of The Month" for this episode, I chose the book, "Aging Backwards" by Miranda Esmonde-White. I read this a few years ago and it helped me out in terms of at least getting somewhat into shape before I came back for quarantine and ended up losing 30 pounds. But it has some great nutritional tips, some great exercise tips, all scientifically based. They are pretty damn accurate. And yeah, I mean, I think it's a recommended read for anyone, not just those who want to change their lives, adjust their, adjust their lifestyles. It's a good read for everybody. So, you mentioned there was a podcast besides ours that you think people should listen to.
I really enjoy listening to the, "Nutrition Diva" podcast from time to time. I think that she does a good job at consolidating some more complicated nutrition topics into bite-size pieces. And each of the podcasts are anywhere from about ten minutes to twenty minutes in length, so it's really, really short. And she covers a variety of nutrition topics. So it could be enjoyable.
Yeah. So, one last question for you. What do you think is the best and most sustainable course of action for improvement? I mean, right now during COVID there are probably lots of tips you can give us, so how about, during COVID, after COVID, what can we do to improve nutrition?
I mean, I think the first thing in relation to COVID is, is recognizing that we're all living in the midst of a global pandemic and we have to be kind to ourselves. Just getting through the day is a big challenge for many of us right now. Now is not the time to drastically overhaul your whole eating and activity levels. And I would advise people to focus on small goals. So, one thing that we can all do, myself included, is to write a list to ourselves about the goals that we want to accomplish in terms of our health and activity and eating. What changes can we make? And write them down, just write down a brainstorm a list, any goal, big or small, and then identify a small goal to work on. So, for instance, for myself, I too am not immune to the changes that the pandemic has had on our eating and activity, and I find myself sitting at a couple pounds heavier than I usually am. And so, I set the goal for myself to find a way to be active every day for at least one hour for myself. So, whether that is incorporating some exercise along with a walk or just moving around, some sort of goal, and I've been tracking that in my planner, and I feel really, much more accomplished with setting that that small goal for myself.
So, basically, setting goals and increasing our self-awareness.
Wonderful. Any final things you want to add that we didn't cover? Anything that we might have missed out on?
I think we've covered quite a bit in our conversation. And I know I talked for a bit. You'll probably have some editing to go in and do, but it was really wonderful to come and chat with you and your listeners. And I really appreciate you having me on.
Dr. Debbie Fetter of UC Davis, thank you so much for your time and patience.
Yes, there's been quite a lot of information throughout this entire episode. We talked about how fad diets are, just what they are, fads. We talked about "The Biggest Loser," and how it's not really as accurate. We talked about how lifestyle changes, such as nutritional diets are not one size fits all. We've reclaimed the word "diet." So many things throughout this episode that we have done. Just as a reminder for my Book of the Month, I chose, "Aging Backwards" by Miranda Esmonde-White. How do you find the book? How do you find the podcast that Debbie Fetter mentioned in the show? It's very, very simple. You go to our website, www.shadowgallsemis.com, then you click on the "Book Of The Month" tab and yes, the podcast will be there as well. You'll be able to purchase them via Amazon in hardback, paperback, Kindle, and Audible. And by the way, Audible now offers podcasts. How do I possibly know that? It's because Shadow Gallery Seminars, the orange podcast, is now on the Orange Brand. That's right. Shadow Gallery Seminars, as of a couple of weeks ago, has officially joined Audible. While you listen to the show on Audible, you can check out our beautiful website, www.shadowgallsemis.com, follow us on social media @ShadowGallSemis, after that, if you haven't yet, subscribe to the show via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts and, oh yeah, Audible, if I didn't mention that already. You can leave us a written review and maybe even five stars. Folks, that would be amazing if you did. If you thought the episodes we did in 2020 were some great episodes, and I know probably a few people have, folks, I can't wait for you guys to tune in in January for what I hope to be a great 2021, but that will all begin on January 8th. Right now, I want to thank everyone involved in the making of this episode and the series, including Dr. Fetter and in particular Kieren Brereton, who allowed us to use the fantastic remix of Dave Brubeck's "Take Five" as our opening that you're hearing right now. Folks, thank you for listening. Remember, in an age where awareness is paramount, Scientia Potentia. Have a very Happy Holidays and amazing New Year. Let's Learn Together. We'll see you next time from the Gallery.
This has been an LLD Production.