Category Archives: Videos

Why is Maintaining Weight Loss so Challenging?

Recent research provides some insight as to why maintaining weight loss is especially difficult.  View this clip from the Weight of the Nation documentary series for an explanation.

Note: You don’t need to pursue weight loss to improve your health.  Learn about a Health at Every Size approach.

The End of Overeating: Book Review

imageDavid Kessler’s The End of Overeating explores the psychological and biological reasons behind our tendencies to overeat. The main points argued in the book are:

1. Foods unnaturally high in sugar, fat and sodium can be addictive

Processed foods that contain added sugar, fat and salt stimulate the reward centers in our brains. This engages the opioid circuitry, a pathway that can create an addictive response and lead to overeating. Studies show that rats will work almost as hard for hyper-palatable food high in fat and sugar as they will for cocaine.

2. The food industry knows about these addictive properties, and capitalizes on them

Everywhere you go, you can find food companies promoting or selling foods high in sugar, fat and salt. French fries (the most popular “vegetable” in America), are made by taking a potato, deep frying it in fat and sprinkling it with salt. Dip that in ketchup (which contains sugar as a primary ingredient) and you’ve hit all three points: sugar, salt and fat. Many other foods popular foods feature sugar, fat and salt as primary ingredients as well: chocolate, ice cream, hamburgers, cookies, chips, salad dressing, soda, cake, fried chicken, cheese… the list goes on and on.

3. Stop overeating by taking steps to break free of the addiction to hyper-palatable foods

View calorie-dense foods in a new light- as something repulsive and unhealthy rather than desirable. It is possible to train your brain to respond differently to stimuli. Previously, cigarettes were viewed by most people as cool. Today, now that the health risks of tobacco are well-known, the majority of the population views cigarettes as unhealthy and undesirable. Through awareness of the unhealthy and addictive properties of calorie-dense foods, we can begin to view these foods differently as well.

Consciously seek whole foods that are nutritious and not addictive. Whole foods (like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, meat and dairy with minimal processing or unhealthy added imageingredients) contain fiber and other nutrients designed to fill you up for fewer calories. With time, your taste-buds will learn to appreciate the subtle, complex flavors of whole foods, and highly processed foods will seem monotone and overdone.

Serve yourself “just right” portions. With practice, we can learn to serve ourselves “just right” portions. A “just right” meal is one that will keep you satisfied for approximately 4 hours. It will typically contain 400-600 calories, on average. A “just right” snack will keep you hunger-free for about 2 hours. It will typically contain 100-300 calories.

At mealtime, serve yourself a “just right” portion, and put the rest of the food away. Mentally tell yourself this is just the right amount for you, and there is no need to go back for seconds. If you find yourself hungry again later, you can always serve yourself a “just right” snack.

Plan ahead, and take steps to avoid temptation. Don’t leave it up to chance or willpower when you’re hungry to refuse hyper-palatable food. Plan ahead by choosing healthy meals and snacks to eat in advance, and keeping them readily available. Take steps to avoid temptation by refusing to buy hyper-palatable foods at the grocery store, and avoiding restaurants or events where you know you will likely give in to temptation.

My impressions:

I disagree with a few aspects of this book.  One is using negative reinforcement to change behavior.  For example, the author recommends putting an unflattering photo of yourself on the refrigerator as a reminder to make healthy choices.  This practice is likely to do more harm than help.  Positive reinforcement is more effective and better for self-esteem.  Also, there is research showing that avoiding and depriving yourself of foods can trigger overeating.  I prefer the intuitive eating approach, which includes unconditional permission to eat.

Overall, The End of Overeating was a fascinating read.

Health at Every Size

imageI recently finished reading Health at Every Size by Linda Bacon, PhD.  Bacon agues that promoting weight loss is ineffective in improving health over the long-term.  According to the book:

  • The vast majority of dieters regain their weight. There is no method proven effective for weight loss maintenance.
  • Research is emerging showing that fitness, not fatness, is associated more strongly with health and longevity (1,2,3).
  • Preoccupation with weight can be psychologically damaging and may lead to disordered eating (4,5).
  • People of any size can improve their health and reduce their risk of chronic disease by eating healthfully and being physically active, regardless of whether or not they lose weight (6,7)
  • No study has ever shown that weight loss actually prolongs life.

The Health at Every Size (HAES) approach emphasizes:

  • Self-acceptance regardless of weight, size, or shape
  • Physical activity for enjoyment and enhanced quality of life
  • Normalized eating in response to physiologic hunger and fullness cues rather than external guidelines or rules
  • An approach to healthy living that does not necessarily involve weight loss for overweight individuals

With the HAES approach, the fundamental principles of nutrition remain the same.  It’s still important to eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and unsaturated fats from mostly unprocessed sources.  It’s still important to eat breakfast and drink water.  If you follow these guidelines and lose weight, that’s fine.  But if you follow these guidelines and don’t lose weight, that just may be fine too.  What are your thoughts on HAES?

For additional information on HAES, check out:

Also check out this short clip by the Surgeon General, emphasizing a Health at Every Size approach:


  1. Barlow CE, Kohl HW, Gibbons LW, Blair SN. Physical fitness, mortality and obesity. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 1995;19(suppl4):S41-S44.
  2. Church TS, Cheng YJ, Earnest CP, et al. Exercise capacity and body composition as predictors of mortality among men with diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2004;27:83-88. Abstract
  3. Katzmarzyk PT, Church TS, Janssen I, Ross R, Blair SN. Metabolic syndrome, obesity, and mortality: impact of cardiorespiratory fitness. Diabetes Care. 2005;28:391-397. Abstract
  4. Gaesser GA. Big Fat Lies. Carlsbad, Calif: Gurze Books; 2002.
  5. Campos P. The Obesity Myth: Why America’s Obsession With Weight Is Hazardous to Your Health. New York: Gotham Books; 2004.
  6. Barnard RJ, Jung T, Inkeles SB. Diet and exercise in the treatment of non insulin dependent diabetes. Diabetes Care. 1994;17:1469-1472. Abstract
  7. Tremblay A, Despres JP, Maheux J, et al. Normalization of the metabolic profile in obese women by exercise and a low fat diet. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1991;23:1326-1331. Abstract

Healthiest Nation in One Generation

On behalf of National Public Health Week, I wanted to share the below video.  Enjoy!

Video: Cutting Back on Salt in Your Diet

The average American consumes double the recommended upper limit of sodium.  Excess sodium in your diet can contribute to high blood pressure. Take a look at this 2-minute video clip which give tips to help you cut out some extra sodium in your diet.

Video: A Ridiculously Healthy Meal in Just 2 Minutes

Check out my first video!  Learn how to cook a ridiculously healthy meal in just two minutes. On the menu: grilled salmon and steamed green beans. Bon appétit!

How to Live to Be 100

In this video, Dan Buettner shares the secrets of communities where residents live to be 100+ much more frequently than the rest of the world. The individual stories of people who are still filled with vitality after age 100 are inspiring.

It is definitely worth 20 minutes of your time to watch this video.  But, if you cannot, Garr Reynolds summed up the longevity secrets onto one slide:



The Real Cost of Cheap Food

Americans spend a lower percentage of income on food than any other nation.  As a result, our food system has shifted to low-quality, calorie-dense foods.  See what it is doing to our health… check out the below 2 minute video.

The Fun Theory

We health professionals are always trying to come up with ways to get people to adopt healthy behaviors. I like this new idea to get people to take the stairs more often:


What other ways could we implement “The Fun Theory” to get people to adopt healthy behaviors?  (Note: If you have a really great idea, enter the contest at to win $3700!)