There is so much confusion around food these days. Are carbs in or out now? Is sugar actually evil? Why are egg white omelettes a thing?
Carly and I have huge personal interest in this area – Carly from a general health and weight management point of view, me because I’ve been an athlete, and also studied exercise science at University.
We’ve read everything pretty much everything there is to read on this topic so in this three-part series, we will attempt to simplify things as much as possible.
In today’s episode we cover:
- What the word ‘diet’ actually means
- Why it’s ok to feel hungry
- Why it’s probably the tiny little bit ‘extra’ you eat each day that’s holding you back from losing/maintaining weight rather than any big binges you’re having here and there
- Why calories do matter
- Why ‘moderation’ is the worst dietary advice ever
- Where alcohol fits in
- The difference between dietitians, nutritionists and doctors
Resources we mention
- Why A Little Hunger Can Be Healthy
- Just a few more bites: Defining moderate eating varies by individual, study finds
- Can you be ‘fat’ and still healthy?
- Alcohol guidelines: reducing the health risks
- Nutritionist or Dietitian – which is for me?
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Read the transcript …
Carly: Hi! And welcome to Straight and Curly. Today, we’re going to be talking about something I’m sure lots of people are confused about and that is the concept of food and dieting and making sense of all the crap that you hear about it on TV from fitness professionals, from health professionals, and even from your friends sitting next to you at the lunch table at work because everyone has an opinion on what you’re eating for lunch. So today, I just wanted to put a little bit of a warning at the beginning of today’s episode. Don’t worry guys. We’re not getting crazy controversial here. (Kelly is just like, don’t scare everyone!) But today we’re going to be speaking very honestly about diets, the dieting industry and human behaviour in this episode. We are research junkies so we make sure that we’ve researched everything to the best of our ability. But we aren’t dietitians or scientists. Kelly, you have a background in sports nutrition, right?
Kelly: Yes. I’ve got a Bachelor of Science in Human Movement and Exercise Science. So I have got some university background in this but this is going back like 20 years now. And this will come out in the episode – the fact that everything I learned at uni has pretty much since been turned on its head. So while I do have a background in this, I more have a lifelong background in that I, like you Carls, am a research junkie. This is a topic that is of huge interest to me so I’m constantly reading all the information out there about it. And because I’m able to process that information with the benefit of my university background, I do understand why people are just so confused and overwhelmed. Because if you’re reading all this research and all these things that get thrown out by the media, without the benefit of that university background, you must just be going, who the hell do I listen to? It’s so hard to process all that information.
Carly: Well that’s why we’re doing this episode because we both have that lifelong interest in health and nutrition and food and I don’t actually have formal qualifications like Kelly and I haven’t actually done any proper formalised training. But I do have a lot of experience with successful weight loss and successful weight loss management so I know everything there is to know about diets guys. But I just did want to put a warning out there that if you do have problems with disordered eating or if you suffer from any kind of food-related issues, it’s probably best not to listen to this episode. We won’t be saying anything controversial or anything that we don’t know to be true to the best of our ability but we’re not going to sugar coat this either. So if you don’t like tough love when it comes to food or if you have any kind of eating issues, it might just be best to skip this episode and come back to us in a little bit. On that note, I’d actually just like to start with the word ‘diet’. Kelly, do you want to talk about the word diet?
Kelly: Yes. Because a lot of people are like … a diet is – and I think this is kind of where you’re at Carls – is that a diet is something that you do to lose weight. And that’s certainly where I used to be in the past. If I used the word ‘diet’, it was describing something I was doing to lose weight. I’ve since really changed my thinking of that and I really want, and it’s probably unrealistic, but I really want this word ‘diet’ to shift back to actually what it means which is literally ‘the food that we eat’. So your diet, your everyday diet is the food that you eat. And when we’re talking about diet, I really want people to think about yeah, this is just the food that I eat and it’s a food that I eat every day. And if we are looking to change our diets, let’s look to change our diets to something that’s sustainable long term forever rather than doing a diet which is, ‘I do this diet to lose weight and then when I finish losing my weight, I go back to eating the way that I did before’ which is why hardly any diets work.
Carly: Exactly. Yeah. I’m similar on the diet train but to me, I do have a very healthy everyday existence and I do allow for occasional treats in moderation on the weekends and that kind of thing. But sometimes if I’ve let myself slip a bit and a few extra treats are creeping in or a few extra glasses of wine are starting to happen in the middle of the week, sometimes I don’t call it a diet but I will do a month of abstinence from that kind of stuff just to remind myself that they aren’t everyday items and shouldn’t be consumed every day. And I don’t call them diets but they kind of are diets and even though I’m not ever going to be on an eating plan where I never, ever eat chocolate again, I do periodically throughout the year refrain from eating chocolate for a set period of maybe 30 days just to reset my body. So I guess that’s kind of where I sit with the whole ‘doing things that are unsustainable’. I look at it as a resetting of my habits rather than as an unsustainable way of eating.
Kelly: Yeah, that is actually quite similar to what I do as well. So I know what to eat. I know how to eat well. I know how to eat to maintain a healthy weight. But I too will slip. Like I’ll go away and it always starts with, ‘I’ll just have a little bit of this and a little bit of that’. In other words, I get on the ‘moderation’ train (and we’re talking about ‘moderation’ a bit later). Then my ‘moderation’ pushes out and of a sudden I’m just kind of eating crap all the time. And I just go, ‘right it’s time for a reset’ and I’d do exactly what you do. I’ll have a month where I pull things right back to what some people would call a restricted diet but which is actually just an ‘eating well’ diet because I just need to reset things to where they need to be.
Carly: Ben and I had a similar thing this week where we saw that they have these little portion packets of Nutella at the shops and I was like, ‘woo Nutella on toast!’. Especially as the fact that the Nutella came in these convenient single serve packets, I figured this was handy portion control and we’d be rude not to buy them. We just have to. So we bought them. And then for one week, we had like a piece of toast with Nutella on it after dinner. And then randomly, we just did it again. We bought them a week later. Next thing I knew Ben was making our now nightly Nutella on toast and it was just like ‘oh my god. We just totally normalised the treat foodies. This is not cool’. And so we started calling it treat creep where you have a treat once and then it creeps up on you and then all of a sudden you’re just like, ‘Nutella every day’. So that’s just a thing that we want to be able to be aware of the whole treat creep thing.
Kelly: Definitely. So let’s start off. We’ve got several topics that we’re going to work through over the course of this podcast of this episode and the first one we’re going to talk about is the fact that it’s okay to be hungry. Interestingly, just about everything that we’re going to talk about today and in the next episode is something I’ve had to change my thinking on over the years. I was at uni during the grazing generatio n…
Carly: Early 90’s? Was that sort of when that was?
Kelly: Yep around that time for sure. I started and finished Uni in the mid to late 90’s and that was when grazing was the thing and it was all about not letting yourself get hungry because when you get hungry, you make bad food decisions and you eat too much food. So it’s a bit like going to the shops when you’re hungry – you’ll likely just buy bad stuff and you’d buy too much of it. So that was the grazing generation and everything that we learned at that time and preached was around maintaining stable blood sugar over the course of the day. ie ‘Don’t let yourself get hungry because then your blood sugar plummets’. In a similar vein, back then, you never ever skipped breakfastif you wanted to lose weight …
Carly: That’s a huge one, isn’t it?
Kelly: Yeah, and so we must have the three meals a day and then you graze in between those meals so you never get hungry. And I stuck with that belief until around 4-5 years ago. Remember you went away to that Bali retreat where you guys ate three meals a day and three quite small meals? Was that…
Carly: Absolutely tiny. They were the smallest you will ever see.
Kelly: Yeah, and it was around that time that I read a few things around that whole hunger mindset and that it’s okay to be hungry and I really pushed back and I was like, ‘no way. It’s not okay to be hungry. This is what leads us to make bad decisions and bad decisions around food in particular’. And then I read that post that you wrote around doing that retreat where you said it really changed a lot of thinking for you and then once I read that from you, I went, ‘okay you know what, I’m going to give this thing a go where I do the same thing – where I have a solid three to four hours between my meals and only eat three meals a day. And just see how I go with that’. And I was fine. The first day was like, oh I’m so hungry one hour after eating. But then I realised it was less of physiological thing and much more a habit-related thing. I guess maybe you quickly talk about that retreat that you did.
Carly: For me, it wasn’t that big a deal not going for those big chunks of time without eating because I used to be a teacher. And teaching and nursing are two professions that come to mind as being the type of jobs where you can’t just eat anytime you like. So when you’re a teacher, you start work at maybe 8:30 when you’re doing your rounds at the playground and then you might not eat until 11 in the morning and that’s unusual for a lot of people. If you work in a desk job, you can duck out and grab a biscuit or you can grab a muffin with your coffee or something like that. So when I did this retreat, I’d been working as a writer and I had started doing that snacking thing where you just eat whatever you want because I’m just sitting at the desk, get a bit bored, go to the fridge. That kind of thing. So it was a real eye opener for me and I actually just really quite liked that kind of light, clean feeling that came from properly digesting my food.
Kelly: And I think that’s what really caught my attention when you mentioned that because I was thinking I’ve never felt that light, clean feeling I guess because my body was always, always processing food because I was eating every 60 to 90 minutes.
Carly: Also because you’re a very active person and you come from an athletic lifestyle, you do actually need to eat more food when you are burning that kind of energy. It’s like when you see, the kids that were really hardcore athletes in high school and then they stopped doing their hardcore training and they pack on weight really, really quickly because they’re not burning off those ten meals they’re eating everyday.
Kelly: Yeah, let’s just talk about that very quickly because as Carly mentioned, I was a triathlete for around 10 years and I was elite/semi-elite for about six of those years. And it was in those six years that I was training 20 hours a week and eating as much as my six foot six, hundred kilo boyfriend (now husband) who was an elite level basketballer at the time.
Carly: So for those of you that haven’t seen Kelly in real life, she’s tiny. She’s a very, very slender small person so just to put that into perspective.
Kelly: Ha. Thanks. Yeah, it was just really inappropriate how much I was eating but I was getting away with it because of the sheer amount of training I was doing. But I tell you what, the triathlon off-season thankfully lasts one month before you have to start training again. But in that four weeks, I put on three to four kilos and then…
Carly: So quickly.
Kelly: Yeah, in a heartbeat. And that’s even though in my head, I was like, ‘I can’t keep eating like this. I can’t. I’m not training as much right now. I need to cut back on my food.’ But when you are used to eating so frequently and when you’re used to eating anything that you feel like and I was, yeah, it’s a hard habit to break. And I guess that was the thing about the whole fasting thing, or what you wrote about your retreat Carls, is it really made me realise how much it was more habitual than actually necessary. The tiniest little grumble in my tummy? Bang! I was like, hmmm must eat. And then when I started to push through and go, okay shut up stomach. I’d have a glass of water instead of going and grabbing something to eat. I quickly realised how much that actual grumbling in my stomach was more habitual than physiological.
Carly : I’m so glad you mentioned the glass of water thing because I’ve had so many nutritionist and dietitian say, ‘have a glass of water’. Have a glass of water? I’m like ‘Screw you, I’m hungry. Water is not going to do anything’. But I take it back now. Water is the best. It’s so good.
Kelly: It is. It really is. And you know water just does great things for you. Although here’s another common way of thinking that’s since been debunked – that thing where ‘We all have to drink eight glasses of water a day’ or something like that. But even though that’s been debunked, it’s still good to drink water and lots of it in a day. And if you do get that first pangs of hunger and it’s like absolutely nowhere near meal time, having a glass of water often does take that away. Because often we think we’re hungry when we’re actually thirsty because we haven’t drunk any water. So do always go for the glass of water before you go for the crackers.
Carly: And I did find an article by a dietitian called Cynthia Sass that she wrote for Shape magazine. And she says that “Many of my clients eat on a schedule which is great but they’re never really hungry which is an indication that they’re eating too much. And the little extra food day after day can be what’s causing them to hang on to those unwanted pounds.” In other words, even when you’re eating super healthy meals in the right balance at the right times, if you’re never hungry, you’re probably eating more than your body needs to reach or maintain your ideal weight.
Carly: I have. I did 5:2 for most of last year and I actually really, really like it. I think most people’s bodies respond quite well to going for longer periods of time without food, I actually quite like the theory. I don’t know how scientifically sound it is and this is something that is brought up a lot around fasting. The fact that our bodies, prehistorically, aren’t designed to eat food as regularly as we do because we were really hunters and gatherers, so we were designed to hunt and feed, then fast and then hunt and then feed and then fast again because food just wasn’t as readily available back then so it’s not actually something our bodies are designed to deal with – this constant grazing of food. Again, I don’t know all the science behind that but I don’t hate that theory. I think it makes quite a bit of sense.
So I did the 5:2 last year and I did it for quite a few months and it’s so good for maintaining my weight. I fluctuate like a mofo but when I’m on 5:2, my weight is just steady and then it just slowly and gradually declines and it’s fabulous. And the good thing about it is I just fast two days during the week and then I can have a couple of glasses of wine on a Saturday without completely ruining what I’ve done in the previous week. The problem I had with the 5:2 is it absolutely screwed with my productivity. On fast days, I’d get to after lunch and I wasn’t angry and I wasn’t grumpy. I just felt really stoned. But in a really heightened sort of a way so I’d be really hyper aware of everything that was going on but then I also felt like I was moving through jelly. So I got to the point where I was like ‘this is silly. It’s affecting my productivity’. And the difference between me being on the 5:2 and not being on the 5:2 is like 2 kilos. I don’t care that much. So I’ve stopped doing the 5:2. I still keep big chunks in between my meals and I try really hard to not eat at night but it’s currently winter in Melbourne and eating at night is my favorite thing in the world when it’s cold.
Kelly: And you go to bed late as well.
Carly: I do. I do.
Kelly: That’s what makes it really hard. I’ve tried the 5:2 not to lose weight but more out of curiosity because so many people were doing it and swearing by it and I wanted to be part of the informed conversation.
Carly: Oh you sound like me. So FOMO. Like ‘I want to play the 5:2 diet too’.
Kelly: (Laughter) Yeah, ‘I want to be able to talk about this thing!’. And yeah, I found the same as you. It wasn’t as difficult as I thought but man my brain did not work on the fasting days. And also I couldn’t exercise. I couldn’t do anything other than a gentle walk and I’m used to being able to do fairly intense exercise every day. So it didn’t work for me but I have not met a single person who said ‘I tried the 5:2 diet and it didn’t work’. I haven’t come across that yet. What I have found is more doable for me from a fasting point of view is a 12 or 14-hour fast which is simply like you eat your last bit of food at 7 o’clock at night and then you don’t eat again until 7am the next day or 9am for a 14-hour fast. And that for me, I have no dramas doing because I go to bed at 8:30.
Carly: (Laughing) I’d have no problems doing it too if I went to bed at 8:30.
Kelly: If you’re trying to do it a 12 or 14-hour fast, hot tip, just go to bed early.
Carly: I’d go to bed at like 4 o’clock in the afternoon and just totally miss happy hour.
Kelly: (Laughter) We could probably do a whole episode on fasting but we’ve got a few more topics to get through. So let’s talk, Carls, about calories.
Carly: So calories … I really struggle talking about calories because it’s a very contentious topic. My personal belief and experience points to the fact that calories do matter. There is quite a big trend at the moment where people say ‘Eat intuitively. Eat the way your body feels’. And I completely agree with that. I think you do need to be in tune with your body but I think it’s important to understand how much energy you get from certain foods and the quality of the energy that you get from those foods. So for example, there’s 52 calories in a small apple and there’s about 60 calories in a mini Mars Bar so they’re about the same. And if you have a spare 60 calories to spend, most people would go for the mini Mars Bar because why the hell wouldn’t you? But it’s not as simple as that calorie swap. The Mars Bar is really high in processed sugar and it will cause an insulin spike which results in a quick burst of the tye of ‘chemically’ energy you get from energy drinks or from having like a doughnut in the afternoon. That will be followed by a slump and then almost immediately, hunger again. Whereas if you eat that apple, it’s low GI so it’s slow burning energy. It will keep you satisfied for longer and it will give you a slow increase in your energy.
So I don’t actually count calories but I’m very calorie aware. And while I don’t think that people need to write down every calorie they eat, they do need to know that foods like croissants and deep-fried spring rolls and snack bars and chips and biscuits and creamy sauces are loaded with excess calories and shouldn’t be consumed everyday. And if we don’t talk about calorie content and the difference between a high quality calorie and a low quality calorie, how are people supposed to make educated food choices? I just don’t think that people who are trying to fight weight gain can do that very effectively in this weird wishy-washy ‘Don’t call a bad food, a bad food’ world. It just baffles me. I don’t get it.
Kelly: It’s such a difficult conversation. Actually there are two difficult conversations here. The first one is – there’s the quality of calories, and then we need to talk about the difference between sugar calories, fat calories and protein calories and it’s all very confusing for everyone. But I think again, it’s one of those situations where people just have to apply common sense and go, look if I had the choice between eating an apple or a Mars bar and they’re both calorically similar, I’d defy anybody to tell me you can’t tell the difference in the quality of calories between those two things.
Carly: Yeah, exactly.
Kelly: And then again, let’s go back to my uni days. That was again the calorie counting era and the equation was really, really simple. If you wanted to lose weight in a healthy manner, you restricted your daily calorie intake by eating 500 fewer calories each day than the amount of calories your body needs to function (which is different for each person depending on size, how much lean muscle mass you have, whether you’re male or female, etc). Anyway, the theory was that if you just simply restrict your calorie intake by 500 calories a day, you’ll lose half a kilo a week and that’s a healthy and sustainable way to lose weight. The only problem with is it doesn’t work because if you only straight up count calories, if you have like 1200 calories in Mars bars a day as opposed to 1200 calories in good healthy food per day, your weight loss is going to be very different. As in you’re not going to lose much weight by having 1200 calories in Mars bars a day. You might have a little bit but certainly not a sustainable kind of weight loss and then you also have to start looking at where’s that weight loss coming from? If you’re losing weight, are you just losing weight in water? So like people who restrict carbohydrates lose weight really quickly because when carbohydrates are in your body, those carbohydrate molecules are stored with water … wow there’s just so much to talk about.
Anyway, I agree with this concept of not obsessing about calories because I’ve certainly been there and it’s not healthy (obsessing about calories and trying to restrict them). And also, hardcore caloric restriction like around 1200 hundred calories a day which from memory is what the Michelle Bridges 12 Week Body diet …
Carly: It is. There are different levels of it so you can choose like ‘I need to choose a hell of a lot of weight’ or ‘I need to just lose a little bit’ and it kind of compensates a little bit but yeah, the Michelle Bridges is 1200 calories a day and that’s not much.
Kelly: And that’s not much. That is really not much guys especially that Michelle Bridges has a lot of exercise involved. I don’t know how people do the amount of exercise that that program calls for while only consuming 1200 calories a day. So all the meals and stuff on Michelle Bridges, they’re all nutritionally fantastic. They’re all great food. But it’s just not enough. So of course, you’re losing weight at a huge rate which is fantastic but that’s not sustainable, that level of calorie intake. What I’d love to see is people get to a level of daily calorie intake that’s sustainable long term. And the thing that pushes our daily calorie intake is something we’ll talk about probably next actually is we’re going to talk about moderation because when we let our moderation become a habit, which is what Ben and Carly did with their Nutella on toast …
Carly: Yep, that’s what we did guys.
Kelly: That’s how you get calorie creep. You have treat creep you get calorie creep as well.
Carly: Exactly. And also, it’s about awareness as well. So we specifically bought the Nutella in the individual portions because we were like ‘this is individual portion control man. We are nailing this’. And we were just like, okay well we have got this little portion treat but we’re having it everyday. And that’s one of the things we wanted to talk about with moderation is that it’s not actually a quantifiable term. And every time someone says to do something in moderation, I’m like ‘what do you even mean’?
Kelly: Oh it makes me want to stab myself. I honestly want to stab myself and the person saying ‘moderation’. Eminently sensible people say ‘everything in moderation’ and I am fascinated by anybody that says ‘everything in moderation’ who doesn’t have any kind of weight problem or don’t spend their whole day obsessing about food or thinking about food. I’m just going to put my hand up here and say I have a long history of spending my whole days obsessing about food.
Carly: Me too.
Kelly: It’s an ongoing thing that I have learned to manage it all my life. So I’ve never been anything that anyone would call overweight. My weight does not fluctuate very much. But it’s taken a very long time for me to get to the point where I do not spend my entire day thinking about what my next meal was going to be and hanging out for it. So this whole thing with moderation, when people say that and they say it genuinely … there are people out there who are genuinely able to moderate. They’re the people that they can have one roll of chocolate and then that’s it. That’s all they need.
Carly: Those people fascinate me. Like if I have friends over for dinner and a block of chocolate comes out, I’ll eat like two squares of chocolate and then I’ll observe hpw much chocolate other people are eating. Not because I’m judging them. I’m just like ‘I could eat all of that and I want to eat all of that’. So I’m trying to figure out ‘Where is everyone else sitting emotionally with this chocolate experience that we’re having’?
Kelly: (Laughs) I’m the same when I’m out with girl friends or something and there’s a bit of cake. I’ll cut myself a small slice of cake and I’ll eat that small slice of cake and then I’ll go and cut myself a another sliver and then another sliver and before I know it, I’ve eaten a quarter of that cake.
Carly: Because … moderation.
Kelly: Yeah, exactly. Because ‘moderation’. And then I’ll tell myself ‘But this is just one night this week that I’ve done this and that’s fine’. Which it is to a degree but then I’ll go home and what I find is ‘moderation’ puts me on a long slippery slope to ‘not moderation’. I get in the habit of having things like that very, very quickly in exactly the way that you described your Nutella thing.
Carly: Which is I think the hashtag for this episode has to be #treatcreep. #treatcreep guys when you go back to your second treat, that’s your treat creep.
Kelly: And this is why when we go on holiday and stuff and I don’t really want to open another can of worms but it’s like how much do you let yourself enjoy yourself on a holiday? We go on holidays and why do we think that because we’re on a holiday, we should just be able to have whatever we want and eat whatever we want.
Kelly: Because what happens when we go on holidays is we do that and then we come home and then we continue to eat like that. But the key it, because we’re not being as extreme as we were on holidays … So I went to Tropical Think Tank in the Philippines in March this year. And the food there was just amazing. It was so delicious. I ate generally very healthily there but I did eat more treat stuff than I would ever ordinarily eat. And then when I came home, I just kept on … because I was eating less treats than I was on holiday, I was like ‘Oh it’s okay. I’m moderating my intake here’. Thing is, I wasn’t moderating my intake and this is the problem with moderation is that …
Carly: Where does it end?
Kelly: Exactly. The thing is, we compare our current behaviour to our worst behaviour and we call our current behaviour ‘moderation’ because of course it is compared to that worst behaviour. And also, moderation means vastly different things for everybody else. So for me, I think I am a moderate drinker in that I have a drink at most once a month.
Carly: And I would say I’m a moderate drinker because I don’t drink during the week and I have a cup of glass every Friday and Sunday. Who’s moderate Kelly? Is it you or me?
Kelly: And then what about the person that has one glass of wine each night? For them, that’s moderation because they could be having two. Let’s talk about this study that literally came out yesterday.
Carly: Oh this is such an amazing timing.
Kelly: Yeah, it literally came out yesterday and it basically just summed up everything that we feel about moderation and why it drives me insane whenever anybody brings up the term. It starts with “Eating in moderation might be practical advice for health and nutrition”, and it does just get rolled out all the time from a nutrition point of view. Anyway, it goes on to say: “A new University of Georgia study suggest the term’s wide range of interpretations may make it an ineffective guide for losing or even maintaining weight”. And I just say to that hallelujah. It drives me insane that we need a study to prove this.
Carly: I think my favourite part of that was that the more you like a food, the more of it you can think you can eat in moderation. So oh yeah totally. A moderate amount of chocolate is just like heaps more than a moderate amount of vegetables.
Kelly: Yeah, because it says in here, “people do think of moderation as less than overeating so it suggests less consumption”. But the fact is, I just need to completely just kill the entire term. And I’m not just talking about with food. I’m talking about with everything. I understand its intent, it’s usually rolled out when people are being obsessive.
Carly: Yeah, or if people feel like a diet and exercise plan is unachievable or daunting. You say ‘No, it’s just moderation’ so it doesn’t sound so scary.
Kelly: I loathe the term whenever anybody talks about it to me. It doesn’t add anything useful to the conversation. It doesn’t provide any kind of practical guidance. And I think that’s the thing I hate most about it. I’m all about very practical advice and practical things to do and telling someone to ‘just do something in moderation’ is possibly the single most impractical thing you could say.
Carly: I completely agree. I don’t think moderation ever means ‘every day’. I watched this documentary and there was this guy and he was on a weight loss program and he said that he ate treats in moderation and that meant that he’d have this giant bowl of ice cream every night but he wouldn’t have any other treats in a day. Just this giant bowl of ice cream and that was his ‘moderation’ of his treats. I’m like it’s never every day. I don’t think that you can do something every day and call it moderation.
Kelly: Yeah, it’s a habit. If you do something everyday, it’s a habit. It ain’t moderation.
Carly: So that’s where we sit on moderation. We also wanted to have another quick chat about alcohol. I’ll go through this super, super quickly. We already did an episode on alcohol and going for a month without drinking because we know that I enjoy drinking and for Kelly, it’s just kind of like whatever … and the opposite happened with our coffee episode where Kelly was like COFFEE! and I was like oh, yeah. I don’t know, whatever. Alcohol is actually a really, really huge problem for weight loss and for health. And I do think it’s really important to constantly bring it back into play that over consumption of alcohol is a really big issue for health. And because we live in a country where it is so normalised and it is such a part of our everyday life, we do need to constantly be reminded that it’s not normal to drink a bottle of wine every day. Actually, normal is not a good word. It’s not healthy to drink a bottle of wine everyday. It doesn’t matter how you look or what you do around that. Just objectively, that’s not a good idea. So there was actually an interesting study that I found on young women relating to alcohol and obesity that showed the amount matters. It said that heavy drinkers, (so this is anywhere between two and four alcoholic drinks per day) … is anyone freaking out that that is a heavy drinker? Two to four alcoholic drinks a day? Like that’s heavy. I had two beers yesterday. Like that’s heavy. Anyway, heavy drinkers are at a higher risk of obesity than moderate drinkers and the patterns of drinking also matter. So heavy but less frequent drinkers (binge drinkers) are at a higher risk of obesity than moderate but frequent drinkers. So there’s so many mixed messages coming through here but basically, drinking regularly is better as long as you really keep a lid on the amount. So you can have a glass of wine every night but you can only have one.
Kelly: And don’t then go out binge drinking on the weekend.
Carly: Exactly. exactly and I’ve seen this study repeated in several different documentaries and research books that I’ve read and definitively that’s the answer. Maybe that is the definition of moderation. It’s like you can’t ever binge? Maybe.
Kelly: Maybe! The next thing we want to talk about and this is something I’m kind of really passionate about is that all our bodies are different. I understand how all the vast amount of nutritional literature out there makes it difficult but I feel like my personal approach to diet and nutrition (and this has been all the way through) is we’re all experiments of one. And I feel like we all need to find what works for our body. So rather than, say gluten right now is ‘evil’ and sugar is ‘evil’ and everyone just jumps on whatever the current bandwagon is. I say, yeah, go for it, jump on the bandwagon but do it in a really considered way. I’ve done things like the I Quit Sugar diet. I’ve given Whole30 a try. I’ve given most things a try to be honest.
Carly: Yeah, me too. I didn’t hate the Whole30 actually.
Kelly: Yeah, and the way that I approach to all of those is that I’ve never done a diet to the letter. I’ve always kind of tweaked it a bit to what works for me and so now the way that I eat is I’m a mixture of about six different ways. There’s a little bit of Paleo in there. There’s a little bit of Whole30. There’s a little bit of I Quit Sugar. And what I’ve done is that I’ve really found what works for my body. So the first thing I had to get rid of, and this is back in my university days actually, was I had to get rid of dairy. Right through high school I had this permanently runny nose and I’m talking I had to go everywhere with a tissue in my hand.
Carly: So this is like a lactose-nose problem that …
Kelly: Yeah. That’s right. And also, I had constant gas issues and I’m talking terrible bloating and constant flatulence, which is so attractive.
Carly: Oh it is. It’s just the best, isn’t it?
Kelly: I have no idea how I got a boyfriend back then but I did! Anyway, then in the first year of uni my friend’s boyfriend said to me ‘Why don’t you just try taking dairy out of your diet and see if it makes a difference’. No one had ever suggested this to me. No doctor that I had gone to for all these issues. And so I took dairy out, I said I’ll give it a week. Because at that time, it was cheese, chocolate, ice cream, yoghurt, milk – all things I loved eating. And I was like yeah I’ll do it and see if it’s going to make any difference. It made an absurd difference. In just one week, I could not believe it. So I then spent the next four years having to kind of work these things out of my diet because they were such a huge part of what I ate. But once I got rid of them, my whole life changed. My life changed in that week because all of a sudden I wasn’t walking around with a tissue everyday and then as I gradually eliminated it from my diet, I got to experience life without the constant discomfort of bloating and flatulence all the time.
Carly: Oh I feel so sad for farty, runny nose Kelly.
Kelly: (Laughter) Seriously. I feel sorry for me right now because I can’t eat all those foods but the alternative is I have to put up with those things with isn’t nice. So no one ever suggested that to me other than my friend’s boyfriend. Should I have quit dairy on his recommendation only? Say, no doctor ever suggested that to me, should I have done that? Well, yes. Because it has made my life better. I experimented on my own body. And when I talk experiment on your own body, I think it’s really important to ‘do no harm’. So I’m not doing any experiment on my body that’s going to potentially kill me or make me really unhealthy. I don’t think anyone could argue that taking dairy out of your diet is going to have massively long term issues. I mean the whole dairy, calcium, ‘you need calcium for your bones and the only way to get calcium for your bones is from dairy’ is another thing that has long since been debunked. I’ve got a very good diet. My skin is amazing. My health is amazing. I can stand by my non dairy thing. And then over the years, there was one thing that I would never ever going to get rid of and that was bread because god, I love bread. Is there anything better than a freshly baked loaf of sourdough straight out of the oven with beautiful big knob of butter on it? There is nothing better than that.
Carly: (Laughter) You’re making me so hungry right now.
Kelly: (Laughs) But you know I gave Whole30 a go (which requires you to cut out wheat) and I was like again, ‘This is an experiment. I’m just interested to see what happens’. And again, what I found is that my gut just works better without dairy, and also without wheat. I did not want it to be that way but it just happens to be that way and every time I fall back into say, when I got back from Tropical Think Tank, I’d started having a little bit of bread here and a little bit of that there and bang! All of a sudden, I’m in a lot of discomfort all the time and my weight’s fluctuating again as in fluctuating in its little one to two kilo which I know other people don’t consider fluctuations but for me…
Carly: Oh that’s a not a fluctuation for me at all.
Kelly: That’s a fluctuation. Yeah, see normally I am very stable. So when my weight starts fluctuating one to two kilos, something’s not quite right. And again, am I unhealthy because I don’t have wheat in my life? No. I just have heaps of vegetables. And I still eat rice. I know rice gives a lot of people problems and a lot of people cut rice out of their diet. I don’t need to. It doesn’t cause me any issues. But these are all things that you just have to try. That’s just my only worry with things like Whole30 is that if you’re coming at Whole30 from having a quite unhealthy diet and then eliminate everything and you eat this way for a month and it’s great and you feel fantastic,how do you know what thing(s) you’ve eliminated is/are making you feel so good?
Carly: Yeah, if you do go on a diet like the Whole30, when you slowly introduce foods, do it really slowly and concentrate on what it is that’s making you feel different when you reintroduce it. And if you do think you are allergic to something, obviously go and see a doctor and try and sort that out properly. But I love a bit of self-experimentation. I’m constantly cutting things out and trying new things and again. I really appreciate what Kelly said before about ‘do no harm’. I think nothing’s going to break if you stop having dairy for awhile or if you decide to not have sugar for a bit. Just use your common sense and give it a go and just concentrate on how your body feels.
Kelly: Yeah and we’ll always go to a doctor or a dietitian. So I have spoken to doctors and dietitians where I’ve said, ‘I have taken dairy out of my diet. What do you recommend I do to make sure that anything that taking that dairy out is being replaced’? And they say ‘Eat lots of green leafy vegetables to get the calcium and you do a lot of exercise. You’re going to maintain healthy bone density by doing all the exercise you do but if you, Kelly, are concerned, take these calcium supplements’. It’s little things like that but if you’re going to go the lemon detox diet where you’re drinking some lemon flavoured thing for three to five days or for a week or something. Come on. That does not fall under my do no harm way of thinking. Again, common sense.
Carly: I’ve been watching a lot of Degrassi for my other podcast. And there’s a really good episode where there’s this kid and he’s in Year Eight and he wants to lose some weight and he goes on that lemon juice, cane, pepper, Beyonce diet and he ends up in hospital with kidney failure. So guys, just warnings alright. Diets can be harmful.
Kelly: And I just feel really strongly about this. A lot of people are looking for people to just tell them what to do but just dial into your own common sense and intuition and I really firmly believe that we all really do know what we should be doing and what we shouldn’t be doing. And if something is extreme, and you don’t feel like you should be doing it, don’t do it.
Carly: We’ll just wrap this up with one little point that I think thing absolutely changed my life. There’s a really huge difference between a doctor, a dietitian, and a nutritionist. I’m not trying to demonise any professions here. I just want to give people the fact of what those words mean because they are very confusing to some people. And it’s fair enough, you kind of go, what? I don’t know. Who’s going to tell me about food? I’m so confused. So this is what you need to know about food and the people who can tell you what to do with it.
A nutritionist will usually have a completed tertiary qualification in any number of fields so this could include nutrition, food science, public health. The main role of a nutritionist is to help people achieve optimal health by providing information and advice about health and food choices. Nutritionists are not actually qualified to provide medical nutritional therapy. So this includes individual and group dietary interventions. Nutritionists are not actually medically trained. This is not to say that nutritionists are bad. Most of them are fantastic. But there’s not a huge amount of policing of qualifications in that arena. So some nutritionists hold tertiary qualifications from recognized health institutes and some of them have certificates from 8-week internet courses and can still legally call themselves nutritionists. So just make sure that you research the people that you’re talking to about their background and their qualifications before you start to work with them.
Now a dietitian, they’re tertiary qualified in food nutrition and dietetics. And they provide expert nutritional advice for people of all ages and they can provide dietary treatments for conditions such as diabetes, food allergies, cancers, gastrointestinal diseases, and for obesity. So the main difference between the two is that a dietitian and only a person with an accreditation from the Dietitians Association of Australia can call themselves a dietitian. Theoretically, anyone can call themselves a nutritionist. They shouldn’t but they do. And only dietitians are qualified to provide medical nutritional therapy or clinical nutrition consultations in either individual or group settings. So that’s where we sit on that.
And one little note about doctors. Doctors are fantastic but they are just that. They’re doctors. So Doctor Carl, who is my god. He says that he’s a doctor and he’s a GP and in his entire eight years of training, he did one day of nutrition at medical school and he said even though he’s technically qualified to give nutritional advice, he says good doctors will always refer you to a dietitian.