Succeed Without Diets
On this episode, we chat with Chelsey Love, a Registered Dietitian. We had a great conversation about diet culture and how to succeed without diets.
About Our Guest - Chelsey Love, R.D.
Chelsey is a private practice Registered Dietitian. She completed her Bachelor of Science degree in Food & Nutrition at the University of Prince Edward Island and her dietetic internship program in Edmonton. She’s been helping clients reach their health goals since 2010.
Chelsey believes food is one of life’s pleasures that is meant to be enjoyed, not feared. Her mission is to help clients find their happy place with food and their bodies. To help them feel fantastic - without restriction, gimmicks, or yo-yo dieting. She loves debunking food myths and simplifying nutrition information so that her clients feel empowered to make healthy habit changes that are enjoyed long term.
Chelsey’s career has focused on one-to-one counseling, specializing in weight concerns, heart health, and food relationship. She has a strong interest in the prevention of cardiovascular disease, fueled by her father’s sudden passing from a heart attack in 2013. This made Chelsey even more passionate about helping her clients lower their risk.
When outside of dietitian-land, Chelsey is found playing with her toddler, hitting an exercise class, getting some fresh air, or relaxing at home with her husband and a cold beer.
To learn more about Chelsey, you can visit her at:
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Important Discussion Points
Succeed Without Diets | Question 1 - What is the difference between dieting and "fad dieting"?
That's a great question. When I think of the words "fad diet", I think of restriction. I think of hard rules, no flexibility. I think of, "if it sounds too good to be true", it probably is. I think of diets where the company requires you to purchase their products, their shakes, their magic potion.
And, I worry about that because although that individual might get results in terms of weight loss, what happens when they stop that said thing?
95% of the time it fails.
Succeed Without Diets | Question 2 - When clients come to you, what is the most common answer or reason that you hear? It's probably weight loss.
It is. And there's nothing wrong with that... inherently. I think, because we grew up in diet culture, we have that in the back of our minds that we should be as lean as we can. And, I want to challenge that thinking.
I think, there is space for the, as one of my favorite podcasts, Balance 365, says “in the messy middle”. In that, you can absolutely try to lose weight as long as it's done in a healthy way that feels sustainable in the long term. But, you don't have to lose weight.
There's also this body-positivity and "health at every size" movement which is incredible. And, I think it's so important. Those approaches really want to move away from weight loss altogether. And, I'm sitting here, kind of in the middle in that I definitely work with people with goals to lose weight.
But, we absolutely make sure that it’s health first, weight loss second.
Succeed Without Diets | Question 3 - Your mission is to debunk myths around food. What are the top myths you want to debunk?
Oh gosh. There's so many. I guess if I had to pick kind of the top one, I really want to debunk the myth that we must detox our bodies. That, come January or September, I mean pick a month, people want to do a 30 day cleanse and clear out all the “gunk” in thei system. And, that's simply not based on science. We know that our livers and our colon and our kidneys are really good at detoxifying us. And, unless it's a drug addiction scenario or it's bad enough that you need to be hospitalized, you do not need a detox.
That, for sure.
The other one that I love to myth-bust is all the confusion around carbs. When people say "I can't eat bread, bread is fattening”, my eye twitches a little bit. You know carbs are not inherently bad. In fact, no food is inherently bad. But, I think carbs, especially in the last five or ten years with very low carb diets, the keto diet, etc., people are really having quite a worry about carbohydrates. Like... are bananas bad? Are carrots bad?
Firstly, let's take good and bad out of the equation altogether. Secondly, carbohydrates are what our body lives on. It's the gasoline in the tank. And, there's not a single case in my 10 years’ experience that someone's health issues or their weight gain were because of fruits and vegetables.
It's just not the issue, right? People forget that carbohydrates do include fruits and vegetables, dairy products, beans and lentils, and all sorts of health-promoting foods. Often, when they say “I've cut out carbs”, they mean they're not eating bread and cereals and pasta and that sort of thing.
And, there are reasons why people need to be careful of gluten, of course, celiac disease, etc. But, for the average healthy person, there's no reason to cut those things out. Even when you're trying to be healthy and lose weight.
Succeed Without Diets | Question 4 - There are a lot of "experts" on social media. Who can we trust for good information?
In nutrition land, you can look for the initials "R.D." or "Registered Dietitian". Here in Alberta, the College of Dietitians has protected the term “Registered Nutritionist” and the title “nutritionist”. But, that's not true across the country.
So, that is a pretty good start, for sure. That's not to say that there aren't amazing professionals on nutrition that are not dietitians. There's a ton of them. But, you want to look at if they have any credentials at all. Are they selling something? Are they pushing a product? Are they trying to recruit you to their team? A few red flags, for sure. But, I think, start by looking at their credentials and looking those credentials up. Are they registered under a college? You know, nursing, Masters of Public Health, etc. That's a good place to start for sure.
Now, nutritionists outside of Alberta, it does not have regulation. So, you can have anyone calling themselves a nutritionist. And, I know of a lot of nutritionists that are amazing, incredible and full of good information. And, I also know of some nutritionists that give questionable advice too.
So, you have to look at what kind of advice they are giving out. Are they pushing the "no pain no gain, weight loss over everything", “look at my abs you can do it too”? Or, are they more of a moderation-based approach? That's a pretty good sign.
Succeed Without Diets | Question 5 - Are there any carb foods that you think that the average person wouldn't think are carbs?
Yeah, absolutely. It's a huge umbrella in nutrition land. So, you have carbohydrates and underneath that umbrella is sugars for sure. And sugars are what we think of right away, cakes and sweets and Halloween candy. But sugars are also from your apple and your banana and other nutrient-dense stuff.
Under the umbrella of carbohydrates, we also have starch. So, think potatoes and pasta and those types of foods. And then, if we break down that category even more, there's what I call slow carbs; they convert into blood sugar slowly. They're higher in fiber, like your wild rice, your sprouted grain breads. Then there's your white bread and white rice, etc., which are more fast carbs; they convert really quickly.
So, that's going to be a big difference in terms of blood sugar control and also fullness. And then, the other subcategory of carbohydrates is fiber. Technically, they're different. So, fiber is not absorbed by your body, in that it's not converted to energy. So, I always try to get people to eat enough fiber and of course, a good way to do that is foods like fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, beans and lentils.
Succeed Without Diets | Question 6 - Can you kind of explain what celiac disease is and how you can identify some of the symptoms?
Oh, absolutely. So, celiac disease is not very common. In Canada, it's about 1% of the population. There's also what we call non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease. Symptoms would be iron deficiency, constipation, extreme bloating pain, gas, and diarrhea. So, a lot of those same symptoms are overlapped with IBS. And so, some people think they have IBS until their doctor does a celiac screen test (which is via blood work, to start).
I do encourage everyone, before trialing the gluten-free diet to make sure to get screened. It's first a blood test and then a biopsy to confirm. But, the problem is, if you go gluten-free without confirming, you can get a false negative.
Your small intestine has microvilli, picture a shag carpet, which really help you to absorb your nutrition. In celiac disease, they're not that beautiful shag carpet, it's like hardwood floor. The villi are destroyed; they're flattened.
So, you don't absorb. That's why iron deficiency is so common. So, you go on a gluten-free diet if you're celiac, the villi will improve, and then you absorb your nutrients again.
If you get screened and you're negative for celiac, but you still find that when you eat pasta or bread you get really bloated, it's possible you could have the non-celiac gluten sensitivity, which is about five to ten percent of the population.
So, the rest of us, the ninety so percent is okay with gluten.
Succeed Without Diets | Question 7 - So, nutrition labels are another source of overwhelm for a lot of people. What do you do when you're reading that ingredient list and half of those terms are foreign to you?
That's very common. There's a lot of fear-mongering about ingredients that you don't understand and pronounce, etc. Just because something has a long list of ingredients doesn't necessarily makes it bad. However, usually, we want to emphasize simpler ingredients. Things that you can recognize and that are closer to whole foods.
So, I would emphasize more of the simple ingredients that you recognize. Paying attention to the order of the ingredients is important because they're listed by weight. If you're looking at a granola bar and the first ingredient is glucose-fructose (and of course, anything with “ose” is sugar), there's more sugar in that than oats.
Succeed Without Diets | Question 8 - There's a trend where more and more of us are starting to count calories. Where do you stand on that?
Again, I'm kind of in the messy middle in that I feel like calorie awareness can be a useful tool. I think when it starts becoming obsessive and the individual is really avoiding situations where they can't calorie count, then it can be a problem; when it's very restrictive and you're looking too much into the numbers.
But, [it's OK] if you're using it as a knowledge tool, i.e. to look up a restaurant meal. For instance, "that salad has 1200 calories and the fish tacos with the side salad has 650". You can use that calorie information to make an informed choice. But, if you're restricting yourself because you only "have 300 calories left for the day", then that's maybe a problem.
So, I think it can be used in certain situations. I also think that it depends on the personality of the individual.
Succeed Without Diets | Question 9 - What is intuitive eating and where do you stand on it?
Intuitive eating is a large topic for sure. I have colleagues that are intuitive eating specialists or certified intuitive eating counselors. So, it's a big topic. It's a lot to unpack. The main source of information, the most popular book is called Intuitive Eating. It's by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. And, intuitive eating, I think most of us think that it's just “eat when you're hungry and stop when you're full”.
But, that's only two out of ten principles in intuitive eating.
So, the main underlying principle with intuitive eating is letting go of the dieting mindset. Letting go of food rules, respecting your body at any size, no matter where you are in your journey. Also, really listening to your body's queues and not just tongue hunger; stomach hunger and mental hunger and heart hunger. Those are all a little bit different. And, giving yourself full, 100% permission to eat all foods and this feels very uncomfortable for people coming from a history of dieting.
"Wait a minute, you say I can eat anything and everything. Aren't I just gonna eat six donuts every night?"
Well, what happens is, you might at first. You know, because you were restricting and you weren't allowing yourself those foods, they were put up on a pedestal. So, as soon as you restrict something, it's human nature to crave it more, right? What do you think of when I tell you don't think of “pink elephant”. You think of it right away. So, it feels very uncomfortable at first to think "wait, I don't have to restrict anymore? I'm just gonna eat all the sugar all the time."
And you might. And you might eat past fullness. And you'll notice and learn how that feels. And, after a while it… you've taken that food off of the pedestal.
So, you'll be able to say no to that stale donut because it's not gonna do anything for you. You can then, once you heal your relationship with food, keep ice cream in the freeze and have half a cup and put the rest back. It's a process, but it's possible.
Succeed Without Diets | Question 10 - What is the one thing they can put into practice to start seeing progress?
Excellent question. I think right away, “what makes a balanced meal?”. So, a balanced meal would have all three macronutrients: proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Remembering that carbohydrates are also fruits and vegetables. So, for instance, if they were used to having Rice Krispies and skimmed milk. That's not a whole lot of protein, there's no fiber there. Do we bump that to oatmeal for more fiber? Do we add protein by adding yogurt on the side or hemp parts, or something like that? Or add fats with ground flaxseed or peanut butter?
If it's a salad, some people are just having plain ol’ salad for lunch and then they wonder why they're starving at one o'clock in the afternoon. Adding in some sort of protein… it doesn't have to always come from meat. It can be chickpeas or cottage cheese or, again, hemp parts, or something like that. And then, using real salad dressing. Use real olive oil. Put some pumpkin seeds on there. Make sure your meals have protein, fat, and carbohydrates.
Succeed Without Diets | Question 11 - Let's use dinner as an example. How do you balance that plate?
Yeah, great question. So, we start with protein. And, that will look different depending on the individual because we know some people are vegetarian. And so, in general, it's about the palm-size of your hand or call it a quarter of your plate. That works for a lot of people. Your carbohydrates would be about a quarter of the plate, as well, or about a closed fist. That's about a cup.
Of course, these are general guidelines.
So, a quarter of your plate protein. A quarter of your plate carbohydrates or starches. And then half of your plate, produce; the vegetables, the salad. And, then some sort of fat on there. Be it a salad dressing, oil that you've cooked with, avocado, etc.Te sky's a limit there. But, that is kind of a “can't go wrong”.
If you're confused start there. We call that the healthy plate.