Ditch the Diet – Nutrition to Fuel Your Life with Heather Zeman

By | July 14, 2022

Are you tired of Diets that don’t work?  At our recent HFMA Women’s Conference we heard from Heather Zeman, MS RDN LDN, a Registered Dietician Nutrition from Back Bay Health.  Heather’s presentation focused on No Diet Nutrition and Practical Tips to Fuel Your Life.

She emphasized that a healthy, nourished life involves more than just eating the “right” foods.  Some of the steps to achieving this include:

Ditch Diets – Give yourself permission to eat

Honor Your Hunger – listen to your body’s needs

Balance Your Meals – be intentional with your nutrition

Be a Savvy Snacker – choose quality and satisfaction

Why Ditch the Diet?

“…this weight focused paradigm is not only ineffective at producing thinner, healthier bodies, but also damaging, contributing to food and body preoccupation, repeated cycles of weight loss and regain, distraction from other personal health goals and wider health determinants, reduced self-esteem, eating disorders, other health decrement, and weight stigmatization and
discrimination. –Evaluating the Evidence for a Paradigm Shift, Bacon et al.

If not a Diet, then what?

First, you need to understand why you eat – hunger, health, fitness, emotion, convenience, social, taste, boredom – and the figure out how to honor your hunger cues.

Use a hunger scale to determine when to eat, how much, and when to stop.  You don’t want to be at either extremes of the scale – Ravenous at one side or Too Full/Sick on the other.   You need to give yourself permission to each when you are hungry and avoid continue eating once you get to that comfortable level.

Second, Balance Your Meals – instead of “good” or “bad” ask, “What can I add?” or “How can I adjust this?”

The food pyramid has change to a balanced meal, which if looking at a plate consists of:

¼ plate of Protein (3+oz of chicken, fish)

¼ plate of Carbs (1/2 cup of cooked grain or past, 1 potato, 1 c corn, peas)

½ plate of Veggies (1/2 c cooked, 1 c raw, 2 c leafy greens) and Fruit (1 piece, ½ melon, 1 c berries)

Small portion of Fat (1 tsp oil, ¼ c nuts)

Third, be a savvy snacker

The first step in this is to limit your intake processed food, they are nutrient poor and calorie dense.  Also pay close attention to Saturated Fat (aim for <24g/day and <3.5g/serving) and “Added Sugars” in a product.  Natural sugar found in foods is fine however limit Added Sugars to <25g/day.

Finally, eat a variety of Plants each week as this is associated with diverse gut microbiomes and overall good health.  Plants include Fruit, Vegetables, Whole Grains & Starchy Vegetables, Nuts & Seeds, Bean & Legumes, and Fresh Herbs.

To wrap up:

Honor Your Hunger

Tune into your body’s hunger cues for adequate energy and to put yourself (not diet culture) in charge.

Balance Your Plate

Include carbohydrates, protein, and color to support energy, satiety, and nutrient needs at each meal.

Snack Smarter

Limit processed foods – especially added sugars – and incorporate a variety of plants for enjoyment, digestive health, and well-being. At the conclusion of her presentation, Heather challenged us to eat 30 or more different plants each week – to receive you 30 Plan Challenge email heather@backbayhealth.com

You can also follow her on Instagram at @welltraveledhealth