JESSE: Along those lines, so I spoke with Matt Fitzgerald and I don't know if you're familiar with him. He's a sports writer, typically in endurance sports. I spoke with him a few weeks ago and he has a book called diet cults, although he's not a registered dietitian. I love that term, diet cults. I can't remember how he referred to it, the fad diets. I think diet cults almost gets to the mentality a little bit more. So, I love that. Is there a common thread or common strategy you have in trying to get people off of that, that diet yo-yo or the diet cult mentality? NANCY: Well, if they are yo-yoing and they end up in my office, clearly what they do is not working for them. So, we find a plan that works. And diets don't work. I mean, 80% of fourth grade girls have been on a weight reduction diet. And we know that kids in middle school, when they move into high school, if they've been on a diet, they end up heavier. And we know that high school kids that have dieted when they go to college, they end up heavier. And these college kids, I mean, it just perpetuates a really bad cycle of being denied and deprived and then blowing it, and cheating, and the guilt and the deprivation. So, diets are really unhealthy and so my job or the job of a registered dietitian is to teach people how to eat, how to eat appropriately, how to eat healthfully, how to eat enjoyably, how to eat without guilt, and how to eat in a sustainable fashion that fits their lifestyle and their food budget. Again, economics plays into this a lot. I mean, can a college athlete who's working two jobs to put himself through school invest in lots of fruit smoothies with lots of berries and exotic fruits and vegetables that are very costly, and plus take time to prepare it? I mean, you have to really look at the whole picture. JESSE: For anybody who does pick up the book on-- you may do it elsewhere, but I made a note on page 103 you actually do a cost breakdown of like cost per hundred calories for various foods in that section, which I love. I do that sometimes myself. Yeah, here it is. Everybody can see that, the chart at the bottom. Does that come in to play pretty often with your clients where you're trying to figure out how we get the best nutrition for, like most bang for your buck as far as making sure you are fuel? NANCY: Yeah, yeah. I mean I was doing some work with some minor league baseball players, and they don't get paid a heck of a lot of money. A lot of lower level athletes that aren't pros, they're just struggling to make ends meet until they make it big time, and peanut butter. I mean peanut butter is one of the best sports foods around. So, letting them know that peanut butter is anti-inflammatory, it's got healthy fat in it, that is inexpensive, it doesn't spoil, you can live on peanut butter and banana sandwiches and it can be a positive sports food. So, rice and beans, another great sports food, protein carb combination, and it's inexpensive and it's tasty and it's filling and it fuels the muscles and it builds and repairs the muscles. So, for certain athletes budget makes a difference. The majority of my clients are more upper income, and they eat whatever they want, be it salmon three times a week or, ?? 4:02> or buying all sorts of expensive protein powders or whatever. So, it just ranges but it's important to know that all people regardless of their income can eat well and have a great sports diet that will enhance their performance. JESSE: Yeah, I think you often get the idea about eating healthy is expensive perpetuated. And to me it's like, there's definitely-- I think there are snack foods and things down the middle aisles. I guess I'll back up a little bit. My mother strategy for going to the grocery store, she says if you don't want to buy any junk food stay on the outside. Like all the produce, all the normal Whole Foods are on the outside and all the processed stuff is in the aisles in the center of the store. So, some of that stuff is subsidized, but it seems like you can pick up long grain brown rice, you can pick up you know stuff like that that's got plenty of nutrition to it versus let's go buy a bag of chips for the same price. NANCY: But there are different aisles in the grocery store, the - aisle, the whole wheat flour aisle, the canned tuna fish aisle. I mean even canned fruits. They have this similar nutritional value fruits and vegetables, even when they’re canned, they have nutrient profile that's similar to the fresh because if you think about it, fresh from California, I mean most of the products that we eat here in New England is grown in California, it takes a week for it to get cross country. You buy it and then it sits in your refrigerator for two or three days, that's not fresh, it's unprocessed, but it's not fresh. So, frozen vegetables are a great option and they're less expensive, and they can be a better nutritional bargain than buying the fresh. So, again, it's helping people look at the whole picture, and not just the latest tweet or or headline. JESSE: Yeah. I can't remember whether you address this, but I know sometimes people will talk about if or when you cook food, it loses nutritional value. Do you know anything about that? NANCY: Well, if you have a piece of broccoli, it's cooked, like a stock of broccoli gets cooked, gives you all the vitamin C that you need for the day. Now, it's lost maybe 30% of its vitamin C through cooking, but it still gives you all that you need. And most people just don't have one little stock of broccoli, they two or three of them. So, it's kind of irrelevant in many faces. And people complain about oh, these college vegetables are cooked to death and so they don't bother, bother eating them. Well, they haven't lost-- they might have lost some of the nutrients, but they haven't lost all of them and anything's better than nothing. And if you ingest a big pile of it, then it doesn't matter...quantity of eating a lot of it, you can get more than you need. JESSE: Yeah, that's just another one of those diet cult mentality. There's just a lot of things rattling around in my brain and I’m like well, I have you Nancy, I need to try to get all these things out. I want to back up a little bit. You were talking about fourth grade girls and dieting, do you have an idea of-- Where do you think that comes from, this idea that fourth grade girls even need to be dieting? NANCY: Well, we live in a weight obsessed culture, and it's just insidious. And they get it from moms, they get it from media, they get it from magazine ads. Oh, you have to color your hair because it's not good enough. You need to wear makeup because you aren't pretty enough. I mean, even men now are getting bombarded. So, a thing for coloring, for beard. It’s like oh, you don't want to have a gray beard. I mean, that means you're like, whoa, not good enough. And they’re all these messages that you're not good enough unless you have this perfect body. And it starts at a very early age, and it's really important that we have other messages that can counter those. Just like you were born with a perfect body, and your body still is perfect. I mean, people say, oh, I want to look like a runner. My body doesn't look like a runner. Well, what does a runner look like? What does a dog look like? And if you talk about dogs, what does the dog look like? Well, are you talking about a St. Bernard, a great hound, poodle, a Labrador, a beagle, a chiwawa? I mean, in the dog kingdom, bodies come in different sizes and shapes, and that St. Bernard doesn't want to be a greyhound. And even if you did make the same Bernard into a greyhound, would it be a happy St. Bernard? No, it'd be miserable. It’d just be a mean miserable St. Bernard. And so dogs know to be proud of their genetics, and their heritage and they just wag their tails and walk around with their heads very high. ?? 9:17> people, if you're a St. Bernard, and not a greyhound, there's shame and embarrassment, guilt and it's just a very unhealthy culture. So, it’s just assiduous, yeah. JESSE: You talk about it a little bit in the book too, talk about body dysmorphia disorder, and I think you kind of talked about it being on the rise. Do you think that's there's like-- it seems like there's an increased pressure because of social media, and the kind of constant connection that we have now. I'm old enough that I didn't have social media in elementary school, but I know that elementary, middle schoolers, definitely high schoolers, say you're bullied at school, you go home, you get away from it. But now there's social media and there's this opportunity for it to continue almost 24/7 unabated. Do you think it's largely because of social media it’s on the rise or are there other factors at play for you? NANCY: I think that body image problems were around long before social media. And it sort of might have started back in the 1950s when Weight Watchers first started. Like oh, your body's not good enough, you better lose weight and it's just perpetuated. So, TV didn't do much good and now, social media certainly isn't helping. That said, there are social media sites that believe in health at every size, and loving your body the way that it is, it all depends on who you listen to. And people seem to glom onto the negative stuff and that's what gets integrated into their brains. JESSE: Yeah, I think we have a tendency to gravitate towards and hold on to the negative things more than the positive things. Which is why it's easier to sell sensational negative headlines and it is like, selling happy stories. There is a kind of body positivity movement out there right now, especially for-- I'll say, overweight people because there's been so much of that idea of you need to lose weight, you're not good enough. How do you balance this, because I like your philosophy of thinking about like, these are my genetics, this is who I am and trying to optimize me. How do you balance that idea with also trying to make sure the person is like existing in a healthy body, they're not too overweight or whatever the case may be with them? NANCY: Yeah, in my sports nutrition guidebook, I have a very strong section on weight, body image, how to lose weight and have energy to exercise. And it really-- I mean, you talk in generalities, but it's a one on one conversation. And so much of it depends on the person's history, it depends on their genetics. And I have so many people that come to me that want to look like a runner, their vision of a runner, which is a greyhound, and they are St. Bernard's. That's what their genetics is. And just work a lot with you don't have to like your current body, but you can tolerate it. You can be grateful for it, you can appreciate it, and you can take care of it, and looking a lot at quality of life. And the cost of having a runner's body is extremely high. For some women, it costs them their menstrual cycle, under eating and over exercising, and there’s not enough fuel to take care of both normal body functions and run. Then the body stops menstruating and that has negative health issues. But it's not just in terms of bone health because ?? 13:45> of female athletes are much more prone to stress fractures, but it's their whole mind, an underfed mind is not a happy mind. So, again, we have to get away from dieting, and eat appropriately. And there's interesting research coming out now looking at ultra processed foods. Just a study where they had a group of people living in the metabolic ward in the hospital where everything was totally controlled, their exercise was controlled, their fruit was controlled, and they gave them abundant food of either ultra processed foods or all natural foods. And the diet was designed to be as similar as they could be, a bit of fresh peaches, canned peaches instead of homemade cookies, commercially made cookies or whatever. And they find that those over a course of two weeks, those that ate the ultra processed food, gained two pounds, and those that ate the all natural foods lost two pounds. And again, we need to get people back to eating, eating more natural foods closer to the earth, and being responsible, setting aside time. I mean meals these days are optional. Yeah. And it used to be way back when people were strong and hearty, they would have breakfast, a big breakfast and work on the farm and come in for their main meal in the middle of the day, and then have a separate night. And then the war came along, and women went to work and the main meal moved to the end of the day, and that's where convenience foods came in. And then now, kids sports come along...is the middle of dinner and the gymnastics goes all the way from five in the afternoon till eight o'clock at night, and family meals have totally eroded, and there's a lot that gets lost with that. So, there are many changes in our society, in our lifestyles that are not conducive to optimal health or athletic performance. Go to Part 1 Go to Part 3
Smart Athlete Podcast Ep. 25 - Nancy Clark - Food is Fuel - Part 2 of 3
Along those lines, so I spoke with Matt Fitzgerald and I don't know if you're familiar with him. He's a sports writer, typically in endurance sports. I spoke with him a few weeks ago and he has a book called diet cults, although he's not a registered dietitian.