Diet Fear

This is for anyone who’s in a place in their life where they feel separate from their body – or maybe they think of it like an enemy, they’re terrified of their body and or they’re in a vicious loop of dieting. Maybe your body is acting weird and you cannot tell what’s going on with it at all.

My friend Leila and I both went to the same amazing nutritionist – and that basic education was blow-my-mind amazing, I wanted to share it with you.  It’s also amazing how many misconceptions we had about food and the way your body relates to it. In short – this episode is about Nutrition and Metabolism 101 – cause of a lot of us don’t know about that stuff! I didn’t.

This is about building holistic health.

It’s about why it’s most important to come from health if you want to look great and you want your body to look great. If you want that – build it right. Otherwise you’re screwing the future-you out of a whole lot of happiness and also likely putting a whole lot of stress on your metabolism.

Things to be aware of that affect your metabolism:

  If you recently had to take any kind of harsh antibiotic.

 If you drink a lot of alcohol consistently or take drugs, even if those are things like Advil or perscription meds.

•  If you got really sick recently, with a virus.

If there’s something you can do to promote speeding up your metabolism, it’s improving your gut health with something like a probiotic, drinking WAY more water, and making sure to eat breakfast.  We are going to go through a few major no-no’s that can slow your metabolism and also hurt your ability to stay healthy and happy longterm. 

A lot of people abuse their body and starve it to keep at their ideal weight – and all you’re doing is damaging your body’s natural ability to metabolize like the wind.  You’d be amazed how well it can self-regulate your weight and fat when you’re promoting balance and not stressing it out. Ready? Here we go!

1. Not eating enough 

Why: you spike cortisol and also blood sugar. That will screw your metabolism over time- It’s also gonna screw up your metabolism currently bc you are running on muscle vs fat. And muscle is what burns fat.

2. Stress

Why- body goes into fat storage mode.  When you’re releasing cortisol, the stress hormone, you’re body holds onto fat. So if you’re super stressed out at work or at home, your job is to manage that stress and calm yourself down with something like YOGA, meditational breathing, hiking.  We mean mental stress – this has an effect on your body fat. Once you are stressed, in your life – no matter how busy you are or how “impossible” it seems with your schedule, it is extremely important that you take steps to help yourself and soothe your nerves with meditation or exercise.

Stress creates a domino effect of imbalance: with increased anxiety, then your ability to sleep, messes with your hormones – which affects your metabolism. No joke. Keep the chemicals in your brain, balanced.  It’s what keeps the rest of you balanced, too.

From Cortisol — Its Role in Stress, Inflammation, and Indications for Diet TherapyBy Dina Aronson, MS, RDToday’s Dietitian Vol. 11 No. 11 P. 38 :


"Cortisol… plays an important role in human nutrition. It regulates energy by selecting the right type and amount of substrate (carbohydrate, fat, or protein) the body needs to meet the physiological demands placed on it. When chronically elevated, cortisol can have deleterious effects on weight, immune function, and chronic disease risk.

…best known for its involvement in the “fight-or-flight” response and temporary increase in energy production, at the expense of processes that are not required for immediate survival... 

3. Over-exercise

This is usually something we do as “penance” or out of anxiety and fear, like we have to or else.  If this sounds like you, decide to shift that imbalance.  Stop the thought process that is taking place.  For the same reasons work/life stress hurt metabolism– when you over exercise, you’re stressing your system and your body will store fat.

If you’ve found success based on losing pounds doing way too much exercise, firstly that’s likely water weight. Secondly when your body stores fat, it’s burning muscle instead. And lean muscle is what burns the most calories.

A stat from livestrong: muscle has a daily metabolic rate of about three times that of fat.

Golden rule 3: get enough exercise, but don’t overdo it.

As long as you’re sweating and your heart rate is up for 20-30 mins a day, you are getting the benefits.  

As a basic rule, let exercise be equally for your mind and your bodyPhysical health should be in service of your chemical happiness and not just appearance. When you exercise you’re soothing your mind and sending out all those happy chemicals which also promotes balance in the way you life your everyday life.

Endorphins like dopamine are released. It also reduces anxiety, which is often a reason people snack when they’re not hungry.  Also helps you sleep better.

4. No breakfast

Your body has a natural curve of energy from while you sleep to when you go to bed – it’s supposed to be smooth like a ski slope. When it doesn't have a solid base of fuel – especially during the highest calorie burn part of your day, you get way more hungry later – that creates a big bump in that curve around 3 or 4 pm. That’s your cortisol being spiked – basically, your body gets stressed and you feel starving.

Golden rule 4 for healthy metabolism: eat breakfast.

• You increase your metabolism when you eat 30 minutes after waking.

• You also feel full if you have fat and protein during breakfast.

I used to do this one, because I didn't feel hungry and even when I did I was "saving up" for dinner. Wow was I wrong. Also, when you don’t eat you spike your cortisol (stress hormone) so you go into fat-saving mode.

Quite simply, when you don’t eat breakfast you’re slowing your metabolism.  If you exercise in the morning, try to eat something with healthy fat and protein within 20 minutes after exercise so that your muscle can rebuild properly.  What I did was start to eat breakfast even though I wasn’t hungry – I found that I built up the craving and then my metabolism shot through the roof. It was NUTSO.

*Some of my fave foods for breakfast: eggs, black beans, brown rice, eggs and avocado and spinach – I eat a ton of nuts which are always a great substitute if you are hungry and need healthy energy.


5. No Fats or low-fats

Fats don’t make you fat- they're what makes you feel full. It's also what your body uses to regulate hormones.  If you're a lady, you need cholesterol in your diet to even be fertile. Super important part of your diet! If you don't eat enough fat, you're basically setting yourself up for over-eating later on. You’re also removing a basic building block for healthy skin, hair, everything really.  Why do people think that it's bad at all?  One dude named Dr. Keys who was in the USDA in the late 70’s pushed his bunk research on the country – but it’s false and people are changing the popular opinion on the subject as of the last 6 months.  For more, check out Time Magazine’s article, “Ending the War on Fat” published June 23, 2014.

Golden rule 5: Include fat in every meal. Eat the bacon, use butter, eat avocado, don’t go for egg whites only.

6. Juice cleanses

Specifically sweet ones – the green ones are all-good as long as you’re not going into starving mode.  I used to do the lemonade cleanse all the time and I had no idea I was wrecking my metabolism in the process. Sugars spike your blood sugar and then you crash because you’re on empty, aka stressing your system. No real energy.  Insulin resistance is a potential outcome – meaning diabetes.

If you’re starving yourself over a long period of time – like say you don’t eat during the day for years, ten years down the line your metabolism is just going to break down – you’ve been running on adrenaline for so long, you’re abusing that blood sugar. 

Golden rule 6: Stick to the green juices, avoid sugars.  

7. Alcohol/drugs in excess.

Drinking too much on a regular basis, taking too many drugs or eating too many charred fats. Your body stores them in fat cells to protect your organs from toxins. So if you’re trying to lose fat – try reducing the amount you drink. 

Golden rule 7: Limit the amount of meds and alcohol you put in your body. Try not to be habitual with any of them – even things like Advil. They have to be processed by your liver. Once your liver is full – those toxins go into fat storage.

I know it can be overwhelming – so keep it simple. Make it about your health and the rest just gets a whole lot simpler.  Your happiness is more than the way you look – the focus is what needs to shift.  How do you feel, do you enjoy your days? Because you only get one life and it could totally be taken from you TOMORROW. Enjoy every single moment of it, and do not allow your fearful focus to rob you of that enjoyment.  Invest in yourself as a complete person – your tastes, your enjoyment, your balance. You are your body and not separate from it - you must honor that bond above all else. With all of these - I don't blame you if you're scared to change. It's scary and you're panicky - that's also stress, which makes you hold fat. 

So to simplify, here are some major positive steps in the right direction that you can take right now:

• Drink more water. 7-10 glasses a day. Your body will likely lose weight because it's not holding onto water anymore.

• Stop the diet products. Not about a life long fix.

• Eat breakfast and eat something in the first 30 mins of the day.

• After you’ve been sick, take probiotic vitamins. Meaning, healthy bacteria

• Don’t brown your olive oils.

• Keep alcohol to a minimum.

• Make sure to have lemon in your diet – or apple cider vinegar.  This is to prevent your body from becoming acidic.

You know those people who can go out and not worry about eating? And are not starving themselves? That can be you and you can look the way you want. Build your physical body, right. By aiming your goals toward HOLISTIC HEALTH. Your mind and emotions are so connected to your physical body – make sure to honor and protect all of you.

I hope this helped in some way! I am not a doctor but I take a lot of notes. :) xox Sarah-May B.

If you prefer to listen, you can find the podcast version of this article here.

References and information referenced:

The Body Do-over – great nutrition information if you hunt for the episodes with Kelly. 

An experiment that reveals how dieting and obsession with food makes us coo-coo bananas.

Dr. Hillary Martin, the doc we both love! (If you’re from LA)

In her practice, Dr. Martin provides comprehensive naturopathic medical care and individualized support that integrates the “western” MD perspective. She has over 15 years experience working in health-care. Her training and exposure with NDs as well as MDs/DOs makes her unique in bridging the gap with both aspects of medicine. Her goals are to analyze and assess all sides of ones health including mental, emotional and the pathophysiological aspects in order to optimize health. Her philosophy is to prevent illness, discover imbalances within the body and rebuild the foundation to create health. This path is achieved through patient education, lifestyle changes, nutrition, counseling and a proper support network. Her skill base also uses food as medicine, botanicals, homeopathy, and manual therapy, as well as conventional treatments, lab work and imaging when needed. She takes a “first do no harm” approach to her medicine utilizing the most effective yet least invasive approach to optimize wellness.

Dr. Martin is a member of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians and The California Association of Naturopathic Physicians. She is licensed by the State of California as a ND and LMT. In her free time you can find her hiking in the mountains, camping on the coast, shopping at the weekly farmers markets and maintaining a daily yoga practice to keep her balanced and focused.

Featured image via Flickr






BlogSarah May B