Eat Pizza and STILL Lose Weight: A new philosophy for bathing suit season

Written by: on Friday, March 16th, 2012
Fit woman in string bikini for

Looking to look fab in a bikini (or bathing suit)? Try a no-diet approach to eating.

It’s almost bathing suit season. Like most people, you’re probably starting to panic because you’ll soon be shedding layers of winter clothing and exposing your body. Eeek!!!

When you have more flab than you want, fretting about excess body fat can easily lead to thoughts of dieting. And there are plenty of diets out there to choose from: Atkins, Paleo, Jenny Craig, the Cabbage Soup Diet, the Banana Diet,… Unfortunately, none of these diets work in the long run. After all, if diets did work, then everyone who has ever been on a diet would be lean. Not the case. We are in the midst of an obesity epidemic.

Not only do fad diets not work, diets commonly backfire and contribute to weight gain in the long run. A study followed teens from middle school into high school and found that those students who were dieting at the time of the initial survey were worse off five years later. They were fatter, struggled with disordered eating or had an outright eating disorder, and achieved no benefits from their attempts to lose undesired body fat. Futile efforts.

girl on scale holding chocolate cake and an apple for

Sometimes, choosing the chocolate cake over the healthier food might help you reach your desired weight

Why eating is preferable to dieting

Overweight teens commonly become adults who continue to struggle with food for the rest of their lives. That’s why, starting at an early age, we need to discourage dieting and instead focus on eating healthfully and appropriately. If you don’t go on a diet, you won’t “blow your diet,” gorge on cookies, and gain weight. Eating normally —enjoying appropriate amounts of wholesome foods when your body needs fuel during the day—leads to an appropriate weight.

Normal eating includes enjoying a good balance of wholesome foods, but not limiting yourself to only “healthy foods.” That is, you don’t have to have a perfect diet to have a good diet. A healthy food plan can include 85% to 90% “quality calories” and 10% to 15% “whatever.” Some days “whatever” is an apple; other days “whatever” is a cookie (or two or three).

Striving to eat a perfect diet commonly results in deprivation of foods you truly like to eat. You’ll inevitably end up bingeing on those foods, sooner or later. Think about it this way: If you put a little boy in a roomful of toys and tell him he can play with all the toys except for the green truck, what is the first toy he’ll reach for? Yup, the green truck. Hence, if you like chocolate cake, but tell yourself you shouldn’t eat it, what will you relentlessly hanker for? Yup, chocolate cake.

stack of chocolate chip cookies for

Love chocolate chip cookies? Eat them...and you'll actually binge less.

How to take power away from food

The way to take power away from a “binge food” is to eat it more often, not stay away from it. For example, if you like chocolate cake, you should eat it every day until you get sick of it. Don’t believe me? Do this experiment: For one week, eat your binge food every day instead of your normal breakfast, lunch, snack, and/or dinner. (Don’t worry: you won’t die of malnutrition in a week.) Observe what happens. Chances are, after three days of chocolate cake, you’ll hanker for shredded wheat again. And even if you want to continue to eat cake, a recent study indicates you can still lose weight on the Chocolate Cake Diet. In this study, the subjects who enjoyed chocolate cake for breakfast had better dietary compliance and ended up losing more weight than the people who were instructed to eat  “diet foods.”

Ideally, you want to learn to enjoy a daily food plan that includes a variety of mostly wholesome foods that are satiating, health promoting, and tasty. You want to eat heartily at breakfast and lunch, to prevent energy lags and cravings for sweets. You want to plan an enjoyable afternoon “second lunch” that helps energize the end of your workday and curbs your appetite for dinner. Then, at night, you want to eat a little bit less—and lose undesired body fat when you are sleeping. The goal: To wake up ready for breakfast, and perpetuate the cycle of fueling by day, dieting by night.

While these suggestions to eat “normally” are seemingly simple, many dieters find the advice is hard to implement. They are afraid that once they start eating, they won’t stop. This over-compensation is “diet backlash,” strengthened by years of “last chance to eat cake so I’d better eat it all now before the diet starts again tomorrow.”

Believe me, there is definitely a more peaceful way to manage weight.

eat pizza and still lose weight for

Start eating more of what you love and less diet foods...

What is “normal eating”?

The following information offers tips for how to eat appropriately. Please trust that appropriate eating will lead you to an appropriate weight. Eating specialist Ellyn Satter RD (, author of Secrets of Feeding a Healthy Family offers a great “definition” of normal eating.

NORMAL EATING is going to the table hungry and eating until you are satisfied. It is being able to choose food you like and eat it and truly get enough of it—not just stop eating because you think you should.

NORMAL EATING is being able to give some thought to your food selection so you get nutritious food, but not being so wary and restrictive that you miss out on enjoyable food.

NORMAL EATING is giving yourself permission to eat sometimes because you are happy, sad, or bored—or just because it feels good. Normal eating is three meals a day…or four or five—or it can be choosing to munch along the way.

NORMAL EATING is leaving some cookies on the plate now because you know you can have some again tomorrow—or it is eating more now because they taste so wonderful.

NORMAL EATIG is overeating at times; feeling stuffed and uncomfortable—or it can be undereating at times and wishing you had more. Normal eating is trusting your body to make up for your mistakes in eating.

NORMAL EATING takes up some of your time and attention, but keeps its place as only one [not more than that] important area of your life.

NORMAL EATING is flexible. It varies in response to your hunger, your schedule, your proximity to food and your feelings.

Isn’t it time we all start learning how to eat normally? Put this new philosophy into effect—and you’ll find that your weight stabilizes on its own … and that you’re much happier around food … and that you are much happier overall about your body.

Copyright Nancy Clark MS RD CSSD March 2012


How to Fuel Up For Cold Weather Exercise: 10 Must-Know Facts

Written by: on Wednesday, December 7th, 2011
woman skiing downhill

Exercise is an excellent way to warm up in the winter! Aerobic workout can increase your metabolism by 7 to 10 times above the resting level. This warmth helps you survive in a cold environment.

If you’re a winter athlete, you want to pay careful attention to your diet. Lack of fluids and the right food can take the fun out of your outdoor activities. Here, tips to stay at the top of your game.

Staying Hydrated in Winter

Some need-to-know facts about getting enough fluids during the cold-weather months:

1.) Cold blunts the thirst mechanism; you’ll feel less thirsty despite significant sweating and may not “think to drink.” Winter athletes (especially those skiing at high altitude) need to consciously consume fluids to replace the water vapor that gets exhaled via breathing. When you breathe in cold dry air, your body warms and humidifies that air. As you exhale, you lose significant amounts of water. You can see this vapor (“steam”) when you breathe.

2.) Dehydration hurts performance. Failing to drink enough fluids is a major mistake made by winter athletes. A study comparing hydration of athletes who skied or played football or soccer, reported the skiers had the highest rate of chronic dehydration. Before a competition, 11 of the 12 alpine skiers showed up dehydrated. (Some winter athletes purposefully skimp on fluids to minimize the need to stop for a bathroom break, but this affects how well they do.)

female skier drinking water outdoors

Exercising women need at least 8 – 12 glasses of water a day during the winter months.

3.) Room temperature water is best. Don’t drink icy water (i.e., from a water bottle kept on your bike or outside pocket of your backpack), unless you’re hot. Cold water can cool you off and give you the chills. A better bet: an insulated water bottle or a bottle filled with a hot sports drink then covered with a wool sock to help retain the heat.

4. Layering up helps you sweat less. Sweaty clothing drains body heat. As the weather becomes “tropical” inside your exercise outfit, strip down layer by layer. You’ll stay drier and warmer. Simply taking off a hat is cooling; 30 to 40 percent of body heat gets lost through the head.

What to Eat to Stay Warm

You need adequate pre-exercise fuel to generate body heat—why you want to eat the proper foods before you ski, run outdoors, or embark on any outside activity in extreme cold.

5.) Eating not only provides fuel but also increases heat production (warmth). Your body wants fuel to “stoke the furnace” so it can generate heat. (It takes about 30 to 60 minutes after you eat for your body to generate about 10 percent more heat than when you have an empty stomach.)

energy bar

Always carry a snack (or two)—like an energy bar—with you when you're outdoors exercising.

That’s why it’s important to always carry emergency food (such as an energy bar) with you in case you slip on the ice or experience some incident that leaves you static in a frigid environment. Winter campers, for example, commonly keep a supply of dried fruit, chocolate, or cookies within reach, in case they wake up cold at 3:00 a.m.

6.) A drop in body temperature actually stimulates the appetite and you experience hunger. That’s why if you become chilled during winter exercise (or even when swimming, for that matter), you’ll likely find yourself searching for food.

Also note that changes in brain chemicals (particularly in those who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD) increase carbohydrate cravings and the desire to eat more. To limit winter weight gain, stay active! Exercise helps manage health, weight, and the winter blues.

bowl of oatmeal with dried fruit and nuts

One of the best foods for winter athletes? Oatmeal with nuts and a little dried fruit.

7.) The best winter recovery foods are those that chase away chills, replenish depleted glycogen stores, and rehydrate your body. Best bets: warm carbohydrates with a little protein, such as hot cocoa made with milk, oatmeal with nuts, lentil soup, chili, and pasta with meatballs. The warm food, added to the thermogenic effect of eating, contributes to rapid recovery. Eating cold foods and frozen fluids, on the other hand, can chill your body.

8.) Your body uses a considerable amount of energy to warm and humidify the air you breathe when you exercise in the cold. For example, if you were to burn 600 calories while cross-country skiing for an hour in 0° F weather, you might use about 150 of those calories to warm the air.  (In summer, you would have dissipated that heat via sweat.)

woman running in the snow

Always layer up when running or doing any outdoor exercise in the winter.

9.) If you wear heavy clothes, you’ll burn a few more calories carrying the extra weight of skis, boots, heavy parka, snow shoes, etc. (The Army actually allows 10 percent more calories for heavily clad troops who exercise in the cold.) If you’re a runner, however, think twice before chowing down: the weight of your extra clothing is minimal.

10.) Shivering is an involuntary muscle tensing that generates heat.

When you first become slightly chilled (such as when watching a football game), you’ll find yourself doing an isometric type of muscle tensing that can increase your metabolic rate two to four times.

As you get further chilled, you’ll find yourself hopping from foot to foot and jumping around. This is Nature’s way to get you to generate heat and warm your body.

• If you become so cold that you start to shiver, these vigorous muscular contractions generate lots of heat—up to 400 calories per hour. Such intense shivering quickly depletes your muscle glycogen stores and drains your energy. This is when you’ll be glad you have emergency food with you!

Copyright:  Nancy Clark, MS, RD, CSSD, December 2011

Nancy Clark, MS RD offers nutrition consultations to casual exercisers and competitive athletes at her private practice located at Healthworks, the premier fitness center in Chestnut Hill MA (617-795-1875). Her popular Sports Nutrition Guidebook and food guides for runners, cyclists, and soccer players are available at See also