Fad Dieter Help

I Am a Fad Dieter! Help! [Podcast Episode #038]

Are you a fad dieter? Are you sure?

How many different diets can you think of right off the top of your head? Well, there's Paleo, low-carb, low-fat, high-protein, Atkins...

Next question: How many diets have you personally tried? ​

If you're switching up your diet over and over, looking for results but never seeing the progress you'd like, it's time to rethink your approach to (and relationship with) food.

Episode Resources:

I Am a Fad Dieter! Help! [Full Text]

Dave: Hey, thanks so much for joining me in this episode of the Make Your Body Work podcast. I just absolutely love the fact that you're taking a few minutes out of your day to join me to learn more about how to live a healthier and happier life. Now, today we're going to dive into a topic that I know, guaranteed, everyone out there who's listening, can relate to. It's this idea of what type of diet is actually the best type of diet. Let me just get right into Cassie's question. Cassie, from Calgary, says,

"Over many years, I have done macrobiotics, low fat, high fat, Paleo, bulletproof, vegetarian, Weston A. Price, and now somebody's trying to push me towards isogenic." She says, in brackets, "Very unlikely since I try to avoid processed foods. I've never thought of myself as a fad dieter, but looking at that list, clearly I am."

She goes on to say, "Initially, all these different ways of eating have been successful but never have been entirely sustainable. After all these years of different styles of eating, I don't know which way is up anymore. I just want to be healthy and follow a sensible plan, but what does that even mean? What does a healthy diet actually look like?"

As I read that, and she lists all these different diet plans, maybe you can relate? Think about what sort of styles of eating you've tried, or different diets you've tried, with some success, maybe more so in certain types of diets than others. How sustainable are those eating plans? That's a big part of this show, is helping people understand what it means to live a healthy life, but even more importantly, live a healthy life that's sustainable.

That's exactly what Cassie's asking here. Today, I've recruited an amazing expert guest to talk on this subject. She's a personal trainer, a yoga instructor, a nutritionist, and mostly, she focuses on exactly what Cassie's question is, developing a plan that is individualized and will work for you. Let's meet my guest for today, Jenn Pike.

Meet Jenn Pike!

Jenn: Thank you for having me, I'm excited.

Dave: Yeah, you know, you and I, we met, maybe, a month or 2 ago at a fitness conference. As soon as I heard you start speaking about your business and what you do, I thought, "Okay, I need to get this girl on my podcast." I was wondering if you could start by telling the listeners a little bit about yourself. What your specialties are and just what you do in the fitness industry?

Jenn: My name is Jenn Pike and I'm a holistic lifestyle expert. I've been in the industry for almost 20 years, I feel like I've worn about every hat that there is. I still do some personal training and I'm a yoga instructor but my main passion is definitely nutrition. I'm a bestselling author of the Simplicity Project. My book is really about taking the overwhelm and the stress, and the complication out of what it really means to be healthy and feel vital in your body.

Primarily, I work with women and moms who just feel overwhelmed by trying to adopt new habits and to be healthy in their body. I do a lot of ... I've got a show called Simplicity TV and teaching people how to cook, how to move, how to feed and nourish their body, and balancing hormones.

Dave: Yeah. It's awesome. Actually, when I got this question in from one of the listeners, Cassie, I thought, "Okay, this is perfect for Jenn." As you read, she listed all these different diets that she's tried and I think she's doing the opposite of what you preach. She's making it so complex, trying to incorporate all of these ideas. What did you think when you read her comment or her message?

Jenn: That that's the most common question that I get because it's what so many people are doing. We live in a day and an age where there's no lack of information, there's a surplus of information. It's so difficult to sort through it when it's not your first language and it's not what you do for a living, even sometimes being in the industry.

I mean, you can't even stand in the grocery store, paying for your food, without being bombarded by 5 different magazine covers selling you 5 different diets that you should be doing this week. I really felt for her and where she was coming from, and I totally understand.

That, for me, is at the end of the day, there's no black or white information, I always say there's gray information. There's a lot of good information out there, there's a lot of not so good information out there. How do you figure out, for your own personal body and your own life, what's going to work best for you?

Dave: I love what you just closed with there, that idea of how do you figure out, for you? I really try and stress on this show, everyone is unique. That adds to a little bit of complication because if we're all unique, how do you figure that out? What do you say? What are the first steps? How do people figure it out?

Heal Your Digestive System

Jenn: The first steps are getting to the foundation of your own personal health. No matter who you are, or what your age is, it always comes down to your digestion. How well, it's not just about what you're putting in your body, but are you breaking it down? Do you eat food and feel energized after, and feel like you can still move throughout your day? Or, do you eat food and feel tired and bloated, and gassy, and lethargic? Do you get a headache afte?

Coming back to the basic aspect of heal your digestion first, start with that. One of the things, tips that I thought right away for her was to really just pay attention to your own body signals, as opposed to paying attention to what you're being told you shouldn't and should be eating.

Our bodies are whispering, and it's yelling, sometimes all day long to us. If we just stop for a moment and start to listen to ourselves as the guide and as the teacher, it's pretty amazing what you can learn.

The best food to eat is that which makes you feel good and energetic

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Dave: Right on that point, actually, I've had a number of clients that have come to me and said, "Hey, basically I've done a food journal." That pop culture, and fitness and wellness, "Hey, do a food journal, see what you're eating." Then, they basically say, "Okay, what am I supposed to do with this?" What do you suggest to clients? What should they be tracking in terms of what they're eating and then how they're feeling? What do they look for?

Jenn: I call it a food and mood journal, I use it with my clients all the time and I have it in my book. I don't ever ask people to count their calories, to count their fat, their protein, their carbs. I'm not worried about that. I want to know exactly what it is that they're eating and then tell me how you felt after that. Throughout the day, what was your energy like? What was your digestion like? What was your mood like, as well?

How many bowel movements did you have? Were you hydrated? For me, a journal is really a lens to take a bigger look at the bigger picture that's happening within their body. If we're always focusing on just the caloric density of food versus the macro-nutrients and the micro-nutrients, where all of our nutrition actually is, we're missing the whole point.

Dave: Yeah, totally. Again, just trying to make this super practical for our listeners and for Cassie, if you're listening right now, not only record what you're eating but then record how your body's feeling and how that's affecting your psychology, like you said, your mood. What sort of timeline do you recommend? Should someone do this for 1 day, for 3 days, for a week?

Jenn: I would say 4 to a maximum of 7 days. We're creatures of habit. The reality is, with clients, by the time I get to day 4, I pretty much know what they're eating every single day.

Dave: Isn't that true?

Jenn: Yeah.

Dave: Even I'd say, for myself, and probably for you as well?

Jenn: Oh, yeah. Yeah. We are. We're creatures of habits. When something feels like it starts to work, we're like, "Well, why change it?" It just becomes easy and then it's not so complicated. For someone like Cassie, what I would say is, I feel like she's at the point right now where keeping a journal for a few days is a good idea.

Get Professional Advice

But, then I think she needs to be able to sit across from somebody, a holistic nutritionist or somebody in the industry, who can be that unbiased, and those objective eyes to peer in and help her decipher through all of this information that she has. She sounds like she's trying a lot of things at once.

Dave: Agreed, agreed. That idea of getting a third party, someone who's got some objective opinions or advice, is great. I remember when I did, I did an IgE blood test for food sensitivities years ago, and I remember getting the results back, and it's funny because I didn't want to believe what they were saying to me. I instantly started to rationalize, "Oh no, I can still eat almonds because of this and this." When you have those emotions and your own preferences tied into it, it's very hard to create an action plan.

Jenn: It is. Working in this industry myself, I have a personal trainer, I have a coach, I have a naturopath, I have a homeopath, I got a chiropractor. That's their specialty and that's their scope of practice. We do. We start to justify it for ourselves because, typically, with food sensitivities and allergies, it's your favorite foods that are the ones that pop up the most.

Dave: Yes it is.

Jenn: Right? It's because when you overeat the same thing time and time again, your body's never getting an opportunity to replenish the enzymes required to break it down. You've overworked your system and it finally just throws up the white flag, and quite honestly, gets ticked off at you and is like, "I can't digest this anymore. I've digested it for the last 140 days straight, I'm done."

Dave: That's kind of a depressing message for everyone out there listening right now. They're probably thinking, "Oh geez, that means I can't eat X, Y, Z." Does mean that people actually have to cut out, for the rest of their lives, those foods that they've developed a sensitivity to?

Jenn: Not the rest of their lives. For most people, I mean every person is different, so for some people we can remove it for a month and then introduce it back in, but not reintroduce it every single day. Have it here and again.

Food Rotation: Ensure Some Variety On Your Plate

Ultimately, at the end of the day, you're trying to have variety on your plate, and that you're putting in your body because then, that way you're guaranteeing yourself that you're getting varying nutrients, you're getting a different amount of calories each day, you're getting all different vitamins and minerals. It's more than just the food sensitivity part of it.

Dave: One of the tactics that I try and get my clients to adopt is an idea of having go to meals for each of the meal times throughout the day. It's easy to get into a routine and eat the exact same breakfast, but if you have 3 breakfasts that you rotate through, and as long as those 3 have different ingredients, in theory, you shouldn't develop those sensitivities of over consuming the same food time and time again.

Jenn: Absolutely. It's even something like, in our industry, so many people do smoothies, and they're great. You find that people end up doing the exact same smoothie, spinach, blueberries, flax seed, almond milk, and the same protein powder, and they do that forever, and ever, and ever.

Then, this meal that could be so healthy, that had them feeling great in the beginning, now has left them feeling bloated, or they have cravings after, they're not satisfied. It's not the smoothie, it's what's going in it. It's just changing up some of the variables, it doesn't mean you have to cast it away completely.

Dave: Can you speak to that a little bit more, then. Food rotation is basically what we're talking about right now. For any of the listeners who want to get in that and add some variety, should they be trying to do something different every day for 3 days, 5 days, 7 days? Could they do a week at a time? How does that work?

Jenn: I used to do plans for people that were based on 7 days. The reality was, is that nobody can do something different for 7 days. You can't wake up on Monday, this is what you eat Monday, this is what you eat Tuesday. Food ends up being left over so you have carry over.

It's also just not realistic in our schedules to think that we're going to eat something different every single day of the week, and be prepping that food. I find 3 and 4-day rotations work well for people because they can just start that cycle up again and then the key thing is, you're only repeating that 3 or 4-day rotation for 4 to 6 weeks at a time and then we're going to change that up again.

I do find that if, like you said, if we can choose 3 breakfasts that are easy, and you have, maybe, 3 or 4 lunches, and dinners, I try and leave as much open space as possible because that's usually when we're coming together as a family so there's more mouths that you're trying to satisfy.

Then, your snacks, which I refer to as ammunition, they're either going to load you up and keep you supported and protected, or they're going to take your down. You need to have a couple of those things. If you can just start off by having a handful or 2 of suggestions and things that work for your body, and you focus on the consistency of getting those things in, it's amazing because your body will start to crave the good stuff more often.

How to Approach Meal Planning

Dave: It's interesting hearing your speak, it all comes down to a little bit of self-awareness and then some planning.

Jenn: The planning is critical. There's no magic bullet. There's no supplement in the store, there's no food product in the store that's going to do the work for you. It's also about becoming educated, listening to shows like this, because as a nutritionist, I can put together what I think is the most incredible meal plan, but me sliding a plan across the table to you, and telling you what to do without educating you on why I'm asking you to do that, on why I'm pairing certain foods together and I have it at certain times of day...

With a good meal plan, you don't have space for bad food. You're fueling on what your body needs

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Until you understand the reasoning behind it, it's not going to hold the same weight and you're going to feel like how Cassie's feeling, where she's got to go after the next plan, and the next plan, and the next plan. I find, often with people, when they can slow it down and be a little bit more patient, actually start to learn more along the way, then those habits just start to become part of who we are and what we do. It's no longer a program.

Dave: I appreciate that, that was so wise. I hesitate to even tell a story. When I first started out in the industry, I remember the first meal plan I ever made for a client. Basically, I took all of my favorite meals and put it together and said, "Here's what you should eat."

Jenn: I think we've all done that.

Dave: I remember coming back a week later and she basically said, in a nice way, "Dave, I hated this plan." It was such a learning opportunity, for me, just in that people have different taste buds, they have different needs, what works for you isn't going to work for me. It's got to be individualized.

Jenn: Yeah. That's where it comes down to, us as practitioners, for any of your listeners who are going to see someone, that person has to really listen to the individual that's talking.

Symptoms Only You Can Feel

So often we think we have to run to get another test done, and we have to find out what this benchmark is, and what this is, you know, your body, the symptomatology of how you feel every day, from the time that you stand up out of bed and make your way to the washroom, to looking in the mirror, to putting on your clothes, to how you interact with everyone throughout the day.

Those signs and symptoms, you're not going to be able to see that in a blood test or on some type of medical diagnostic, that's something that only you can feel.

When you start to describe yourself by words like, "I'm exhausted all the time. I'm wired but tired. I'm this. I'm that." You're feeling frustrated because nothing's coming back in your lab work, your answers are in your own words that you're using to describe yourself.

That is really powerful information for me as a practitioner because yes, I do blood analysis, and I take a look at all of that, and it is part of the process, but I'm really more concerned with how are you feeling? Tell me the way you feel now, how does that show up in your work? How does that show up in your relationship? How does that show up in your parenting? How we feel in one thing shows up in everything.

Dave: I couldn't agree more. The problem with this is that it's not a black and white solution.

Jenn: Exactly.

Dave: People, and myself included, I want blood work done and I want them to say, "Eat these 20 foods and don't eat these 20 foods." But, it does not work that way.

Your body communicates with you. What is your body telling you about your food choices?

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Jenn: Yeah. Sometimes you have to take that approach working with a client. I work, primarily, with women and children, and sometimes I have to create a plan based on that personality, where it is like I have to say, "Okay, this is what you are going to have." I know in the back of my mind that in the next phase of us working together, I'm going to switch it up a bit.

For some people, if they're so overwhelmed and they crave certainty, they need to know, they can't be left at the helm deciding what they're supposed to have. You have to create a more linear approach in the beginning. Then, once they start to feel good and their level of confidence in their body's ability, and their own ability at preparing food and being in the kitchen, and those types of things, once that improves, then I find that they're more apt to take on some more of the responsibility.

Dave: Again, 100% agreed. Back to Cassie, I guess, and everyone listening because I think a lot of people are going to be able to relate to her question. You've given some really good advice, start looking at what you're eating, how that makes you feel, think about the variety that you're eating. What would be the next step? Imagine she looks at her food journal for the past 3, 4, 7 days, whatever it is and says, "Okay, I start to realize these patterns." Do you say start to cut out foods right away? I could just see it being a haphazard process.

Introduce New Food, Cut Out What You Don't Need

Jenn: I do a bit of both. I have been that practitioner, in the past that just went in and identified everything that needed to be cut out. I've found over the years, as I've developed, and working with more people, it's more effective if you start to introduce new, delicious, great things in before you start to automatically pull things away from them.

Now, if there were something that I felt was really the culprit, like oftentimes dairy is a huge one, especially because I'm working with a lot of hormonal and digestive issues, I find if we pull out cow’s milk, and yogurt, and excessive amounts of cheese throughout the day, that the bowels start to become more balanced, the skin starts to calm down, the sinuses, the level of overall mucous and inflammation starts to settle.

I always look at, I want to get my clients hydrated right away and I want to increase their plant based foods, I want to get more greens in, I want there to be more natural color coming into their diet as opposed to artificial.

That typically is where I go. Sometimes it's going to be things like gluten and various grains in that. We have a massive population, now, that just from over consumption is so carbohydrate sensitive, so insulin sensitive, that it doesn't mean that carbs themselves, as a food group, are the issue. It's looking, really, at the type and the source, and also how we're preparing it.

Dave: Again, I couldn't agree more. A question for you, to follow up with that. Some of these big offenders, in terms of sensitivities, like gluten or dairy, do you find in your clients that their reaction or the symptoms, show up immediately following that? Again, I'm just thinking of Cassie, so say, for example, if she was sensitive to dairy, what kind of window should she be looking at? "I feel bad X number of hours after eating."

Understanding Food Sensitivity

Jenn: It's interesting because depending on how severe the sensitivity ... If it's an acute sensitivity, meaning that it's relatively new in the body, typically you're going to find that that reaction is within, anywhere from 30 minutes to 36 hours of consuming that food. It's going to usually be pretty immediate, stomach not feeling well, bloating, really gassy, either really constipated or the opposite end of the spectrum, really congested, those types of things will happen.

If it's somebody who has had a sensitivity over a chronic period of time, a really long period of time, they probably don't even recognize they have a sensitivity because to them, having a headache, feeling like crap, being constipated, having eczema, that's just part of what they consider their identity now. They no longer look at that as being weird, or unnatural, they just think that that's their body. For everyone it's different.

I've worked with some clients, more specifically with things like gluten and corn, where even if they are around someone who's consuming it, and it is airborne, or they touch it, they immediately get a reaction. When you're working with somebody who has very severe reactions, we're normally dealing with leaky gut, something that's much more permeable and that's a deeper issue. That definitely takes more time.

For most people, I find if we clean up the big offenders, in the beginning, we start to get more incredible plant based foods in there, we hydrate their body, we get enough fat in their system as well, like really healthy, good fat, I notice really huge results in people.

Learning about your potential food sensitivities can be the tipping point you're looking for

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Dave: I love how you talked about that spectrum of time when people can expect to notice, or maybe not even notice, the symptoms, because, again, I've worked with tons of clients that experience, they talk about being bloated all the time or just being exhausted all the time. Like you said, that's identity, that's life, they don't even know that there's something else anymore.

Jenn: That's when doing an elimination becomes really powerful. It's really cool, you can remove a food for up to 72 to 96 hours, so 3 to 4 days, take it out completely. People think they have to remove it for a full month in order to know if it's bothering them.

If I can get you to cut it out for 3 or 4 days, and then I reintroduce it, almost every single time, that person will email back, or call me and say, "I can't believe it, I got a headache right away or immediately, my congestion came back, or my nose started to run again." Then, there, right there, that's not me then telling them they have a sensitivity, that's them not being able to ignore the symptoms that their body was trying to tell them all along. They just never took a long enough pause to be able to hear that.

The Biggest Food Offenders

Dave: I love that. I love that. Maybe you could just, off the top of your head, here I'm springing this on you last second here, could list some of those biggest offenders. I could imagine someone thinking, "Okay, I'd like to do this, I'd like to remove something and do that test." What should they start with? You mentioned gluten, you mentioned dairy.

Jenn: I think gluten, dairy, corn, eggs are going to be a big offender for quite a few people, citrus foods tend to show up a lot as well, so oranges, strawberries are a big one, also, green peppers. I've actually never worked with a client who's had sensitivity testing where green peppers haven't shown up. Cantaloupe is another one because the skin, the protein antigen on the skin of cantaloupe has the same protein antigen as ragweed.

So for people who suffer from seasonal allergies ... That's another interesting thing with sensitivities, is that a lot of our environmental things that are happening outside of our physical body, and our physical home, they're making their way into our system not just by breathing it airborne outside, but think about the foods.

Our plant based foods, they're falling from trees, they're growing from our Earth, so they're affected by it as well. Then, obviously, the number of genetically modified foods now are increasing so reducing your exposure to those and artificial sweeteners. Chocolate, unfortunately for a lot of people tends to be...

Dave: Oh, no.

Jenn: Yeah. I know.

Dave: You just made enemies.

Jenn: Here's the thing with chocolate that I say to people when it shows up. One reason it shows up a lot is that it's really high in tyramine, which is a trigger for migraines and for headaches. The other thing is that most chocolate is, it's milk chocolate, so is it the dairy and the sugar that's causing you the issue, or is it the chocolate?

If you can go and have cacao, or you can have a pure source and you're fine, then chocolate's not really your issue, it's all the sugar and the dairy that they're adding to it that's creating the problem.

Dave: Yeah. Oh, fantastic. That's really helpful. Even that list there gives everyone something that they can start with at least.

What Food Cravings Mean

Jenn: I would also say to people too, what do you crave the most? Our cravings are huge, they're really big indicators for us in 1 of 2 ways. Either you're craving what you're deficient in, or you're craving your body's form or crack like it's drug, the thing that is actually irritating it the most.

It's interesting because, as a mom, when you have children, and obviously, this goes for fathers too, but when you introduce foods to an infant, you only introduce 1 thing at a time, and you don't introduce anything else, and you do a 3 to 4 day period of time where you give them that food a few times, and then you wait, and you watch, and you pay attention to their diaper, their skin, their mucous secretions and their attitude.

It's no different at any age in your life. That is, if you can follow those tips and guidelines for yourself, it's amazing what you can see.

Dave: Fascinating. You know Jenn, I feel like we could probably talk for hours, and you have so much wisdom, but we do want to keep this show very pointed and very actionable. Going back to Cassie's question, anyone who's trying all these diets, feeling frustrated because it's not sustainable, what would you say is the one thing that they could start to do today that would help them get out of that cycle?

Make Your Body Work Takeaway

Jenn: Like I said before, listening to their body and digestion. The other thing I would say is to ... Now, are you asking to get out of the cycle of jumping from diet to diet?

Dave: Yeah, exactly.

Jenn: I would say, for that, is that you've really got to commit to your own body for a longer period of time. I don't know how long she's staying in each one of these programs, but I would say to give herself a lengthier period of time. Commit to a couple of months of eating, and living, in a certain way.

Also, recognize for your body, is it the program that's not working, or are you not satisfied from what you're doing for some other reason? What is it that you're actually looking for? What does she feel like she has to accomplish in a program, or a program has to provide her, in order for her to feel like that's the right route?

Dave: Again, that's very wise. I could imagine a lot of people starting out on a program, or a diet, and thinking, "Okay, this is going to be the solution to my problems." And, not seeing results in a week or 2 weeks, and that actually being the thing that kicks them to the next thing.

Jenn: Exactly. It's like the person who says, "Oh, I've tried every program, I've tried every type of exercise, and it doesn't work." It's like, did you really try it? What actually ... I'd love to even talk to Cassie and find out what was her approach to those different programs, and help her from that aspect.

Dave: Jenn, if any of the listeners want to connect with you or learn more about what you do, or potentially talk and get some help with their own diet, what's the best way for them to do that? For them to connect with you?

Jenn: They can go to my website, triple www.jennpikecom. They can also email me, jenn@jennpike.com.

Dave: Perfect. Jenn, awesome, it was so great to have you on the show. Thank you again for being here.

Jenn: Yeah, thank you so much for having me.

Dave: Thanks again, Jenn, for joining us and for such great words of wisdom. I love that 3 step approach, examine what you're eating, examine how that's impacting your body, and then start to make some systematic changes, and test out what you can add, what you can remove, and then see what impact those changes have. That's the way to boil it down and figure out what's the diet or the eating plan that works for you.

I just love that message, that idea that we are all unique because it's true. What works for you, in terms of healthy eating, isn't going to work for me and vice versa. I've said this before, but if you see someone advertising a diet plan, or a diet program, that's one size fits all, that's guaranteed to work for everyone, run away because it is too good to be true. We are all unique and therefore need to eat a unique diet, and care for our bodies in unique ways.

Now, if you'd like any help with dialing in your diet and figuring out what sort of fitness or exercise routine works for your, and how you can lose some weight that's maybe been sticking around for too long, I'd love to work with you. I run a program called the 10 in 4 challenge, and that's exactly what it's about. It's about eliminating those high offending foods and introducing new, nourishing, healthy foods into your diet. If you want to learn more, you can check out 10in4.com, that's 1-0-I-N-4.com, 10in4.com. Or, feel free to email me at dave@makeyourbodywork.com.

Like I said, I'd love to hear from you, and I'd love to help you live a healthier and happier life. Thanks again for joining me today, I appreciate it so much. If you have any questions for a future episode of the podcast, feel free to email me. I can't wait to see you here again next week.

Thanks for joining me today!

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