This week we have the pleasure of hearing from Kathy Smart. In her own words:
The Slim Is Simple.org Non-Profit Nutrition Education Effort
Jonathan: Hey, everyone! Jonathan Bailor back with another bonus Smarter Science of Slim podcast. Today’s show is going to be a fun one, hopefully will leave you smiling and hopefully leaving you with a bunch of good stuff to think about because we have quite the woman with us. It’s almost as if she was superwoman because she is a TV show host, best-selling author, chef, multi-awarded winning nutritionist.
In fact, she received the National Health Activist Award for 2012 in Canada, which means from a board of her peers, she was selected as the most influential health person in the entire country of Canada for the year 2012, which is pretty awesome. You’ve seen her on the Dr. Oz Show. She is not a big fan of gluten, and I’m a big fan of her. Her name is Kathy Smart. Kathy, welcome to the show.
Kathy: Thank you so much, Jonathan. It’s so great to be here.
Jonathan: Well, Kathy, one thing that I love about you and that we share, is a deep passion for helping people to live healthier lives. Can you tell me a bit about your story and what led you to develop such passion for this?
Kathy: Absolutely. It actually started when I was 12, which is quite young. I’m 35 now and my parents were ministers and missionaries, so I was brought up with this mentality of always giving back and you’re on this earth for a reason to help others. So, when I was 12, I went to see a naturopathic doctor because I was a very sick child and Dr. Don Warren was his name.
That was back when naturopathic doctors weren’t really recognized and people were like, “Oh my God, what’s that?” and he actually diagnosed me with something called Celiac Disease and so at 12 years of age when I made the connection between food and how if you change what you eat, you can change your life because I went from a child who was bedridden and closed up in her bedroom to a girl, within just a couple days of eliminating some food allergies, vivacious and happy and just myself. That, really at a young age, inspired me like, “Okay, this is why I’m on earth. This is what I’m here for”. So it started way back then.
Jonathan: Kathy, what are your thoughts on…I have a story similar to yours, not in the sense of being a sick child, but having a definite moment when I realized just how impactful what I put in my body can be to how I live my life. I’m just curious, Kathy, what are your thoughts on… We know, for example, if we put bad thoughts into our mind that makes us sad. Like, that’s just common sense.
People understand that the inputs into your mind can drive your mental health but it seems like even in the brilliant, modern culture we live in where we have all this technology, the seemingly common sensical statement that what you put into your body influences how your body feels just like what you put into your mind influences how your mind feels, is something that is not just accepted as obvious yet. Why is that?
Kathy: That’s a really good question. I really think it’s just a matter of people not making that connection and not having that paradigm shift in their minds and that personal revelation and I think it’s also due to lack of education. I also believe its education of people who have different interests in mind. For example, in Canada, we’ll have specific health checks of products of a check that’s bought, and the product isn’t healthy at all.
So, it’s unfortunate because all the commercials and all the fancy food packaging, people are thinking, “Oh, this is good for me. Quaker Oats is full of whole grains,” not realizing there’s so much sugar in the product and it’s very refined. So I think it’s a couple of things, people not making the connection, not having that revelation, lack of education, and/or education of the wrong people with different agendas in their minds, like money.
Jonathan: That’s definitely a fair point. I think you really nailed it there, Kathy. One thing you said that I jotted down and circled here because it really resonate with me is, you used the phrase… we go through this thought process of “is this product healthy?” and it is interesting how in that, even in that question, we might be able to unpack the core problem here which is, like let’s think about that “is this product healthy?”
Kathy: Exactly and the thing is, a fresh apple and almonds and fresh organic eggs, they don’t naturally, they’ll come with the package. It isn’t a product, it’s food so people have thoughts that products are food when it’s not necessarily the case, not to say there aren’t some good items out there that have very little processing and it’s close to nature as possible.
However, people get really sucked in, especially in the last 50 years, to all the fancy packaging labels and all the great commercials like, “Oh, Mister Athlete here eats this for breakfast, apparently, this must be good for me”. We get really caught up in the smoke in the mirrors of what food is.
Jonathan: It’s those key criteria, it’s brilliant, but it’s sad when you look at it from a marketing and business perspective because the more levers and switches and labels we give people, in some ways it’s like we’re expanding their tool chest to deceive us. It’s like we say Vitamin C is good for us and now it’s like, “Here’s soda that has Vitamin C in it, so clearly it’s good for you”.
Kathy: Yes. It’s actually really sad and it’s so funny that when I see people for nutrition or I give a talk, one of the common things that I always hear back, or even about my cookbook is “I can’t believe how simple it is.” It’s really interesting how in life, as we become smarter, in some things we’ve almost become a little dumber in other areas because really, things like eating should be the most simple thing ever, things like breathing, things like moving but men has taken it, packaged it and try to sell it and make money.
The common denominator comes down, unfortunately, to money, companies jumping on board and saying, “Yoo hoo! This orange juice has omega-3 fatty acids in it!” People aren’t going to realize at the same time that they’re going to be ingesting 10 teaspoons of sugar and getting maybe a drop of omega-3, so it’s really quite fascinating. I often would tell people, I would tell you exactly how to eat healthy, when you sit down, think and look at your food and say, “Is this as close to nature as possible?”
Jonathan: That rule right there, I think, really sums it up, Kathy. I think that’s a good example of you say, well your URL or your website where folks can learn more about you, is a great message in itself, livethesmartway.com. We, at the Smarter Science of Slim, we’re all about that as well and it hits on your point of while we’ve gotten smarter at certain things, it seems that maybe we haven’t at everything.
It’s really interesting, Kathy, maybe it’s because modern life has become so complicated that we just assume that everything has to be complicated and eating doesn’t have to be, right?
Kathy: Oh my gosh! Eating healthy is the easiest thing. It truly is. Like nature’s original fast food is fresh fruit or fresh vegetables and it couldn’t be easier now, even in grocery stores. We have fruit products that are already cut up for us and veggie products that are already cut up for us. I often tell moms who are working full-time and have 3 kids or fathers that are working full-time or families, buy yourself a fruit and veggie tray, open up a zip lock bag and fill it each day. Grab a bag of nuts, throw it in. That’s even faster than stopping at McDonald’s or Burger King and so much better for you. It really is so simple.
Jonathan: It is more cost effective too, Kathy. Going to McDonald’s is not inexpensive. You’re going to drop $5 to $10 on one eating occasion that isn’t even going to satisfy you so you’re going to need to do it again in two to three hours, right?
Kathy: Absolutely! We look at it even just the cost. In the moment, let’s say $10, but what about that cost on your health? It’s going to throw off your blood sugar. You’re going to want to have a candy bar later on. You’re going to need a cup of coffee perhaps and there’s another few dollars.
One of the things I find when people switch to my way of eating were like number one, “I can’t believe how good I feel. I didn’t know I could feel this good,” number two, “I have so much energy,” and number three, “I’m not craving the garbage.” So, when you feed your body what it needs, you naturally will not want those foods, your body is healthy.
Jonathan: It’s so true, Kathy. I don’t mean to get dark, but in some ways it’s similar to, this is a little dark but no one who’s never smoked a cigarette is sitting down right now saying, “Oh my God, I really want a cigarette. I wish I could just have a cigarette.” If you do not have that addiction, you’re not going to sit there and crave it and what we’re seeing now, demonstrated clinically, is that these edible products create similar style of addiction.
So just like someone who is not addicted to cigarettes does not crave them, I can tell you it, and Kathy it sounds like you’re saying the same thing, if you just eat real food, give it some time and you will not crave these edible products anymore.
Kathy: Absolutely. I absolutely agree. If you’re going to take it a step further, I think that one day we’re going to see a lot of these packaged foods, genetically modified foods, things that we think are foods, we’re going to look at it the way that we look at smoking now.
When smoking was first introduced, doctors were like, “It’s healthy for you!” If you look back at the commercials, it wouldn’t surprise me if we sit down with our grandkids one day and look back one day and be like, “Can you believe that they actually sold that as food at one point?”
One of the funny things I like to tell clients, and I got this from Michael Pollan, I love that guy. He said, “Never eat a food that your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food. So you know like these little yogurt tubes and, it just fascinates me. When you go in the grocery store and if you look in all those middle aisles, a lot of those foods were designed to last for 10 years. That’s just not good for you.
Jonathan: Even calling them food, I don’t want to geek out too much here, Kathy, but I love what you said about looking at this like cigarettes because at the end of the day, we don’t call morphine, which is an addictive substance, it’s an opiate and it triggers the same receptors of the brain as refined sugar does, so it’s a good comparison, and that’s been demonstrated at laboratories all across the country.
We do not consider morphine a “food” because it doesn’t have calories in it but it is a chemical that causes a change in the brain and in the body and it does not have calories in it. So when we look at these manufactured edible products, they cause changes in our brain and biology chemistry and they do have calories. So, is the only difference between a drug and these edible products that one has calories and the other doesn’t, because they share similar characteristics otherwise?
Kathy: That’s a really good point, Jonathan. I like that and my brain just like had a “whoa that’s awesome!” my mind just kind of exploded. That’s a really good way to look at it and actually, if you think about it, there are some foods like a lot of these zero calorie, zero point foods, a lot of them don’t have any calories in them. When you think about it, the foods with aspartame and sucralose, you’re right! They do have a drug-like effect. I need to just journal about this. This is really good stuff.
Jonathan: Kathy, certainly we should continue to talk about this because I think it’s a really big issue because also, let’s think about this very serious subject of “emotional eating”. Folks know that I think we all have emotionally eaten, that we’re just people so our emotions drive really everything we do, but we’re talking about abusive or unhealthy emotional eating and the reason we eat emotionally, to geek out biologically, is because food is one of the easiest ways to temporarily change the way we feel.
Kathy: Oh my gosh, absolutely!
Jonathan: So, why do people use drugs? To temporarily change the way they feel. It’s just the same. That’s why people use alcohol. That’s why any substance that changes your biology and your psychology in the moment is behaving in a drug-like fashion. No?
Kathy: Absolutely. That’s a really good point. I like that.
Jonathan: It’s not to say, to be very clear, if you eat organic, grass-fed beef and kale, it will also change your mental state and your body state, but it will do so in a healthy, growth facilitating way, rather than in a destructive way. So just like there’s eustress and distress, there’s positive drug-like effects that food can have on us and negative effects that edible products have, right?
Kathy: Absolutely and it’s really shameful when you think about it that these big corporations are calling these items food when they do have addictive properties to it, kind of like how with cigarettes, they would make a cigarette as efficient as possible, delivering nicotine so people could get addicted. Many of these food manufacturers make these foods unbelievably addictive and full of additives and chemicals and preservatives to make people addicted to it. It’s kind of freaky when you think about it.
Jonathan: Totally and it’s freaky and it’s actually, for me, it gets me really excited, like, I know it gets you excited because a lot of times, I’m not a vegetarian, I have nothing against vegetarianism. I think it can be wonderfully healthy and be a vegetarian. The thing that I love about vegetarians is they’re able to live a way that most people think would be very difficult.
They do so relatively easily because they have a deeper motive besides just being skinny and if we can start saying these edible products are basically like drugs and cigarettes and just like you wouldn’t give your kids or yourself morphine, giving them refined sugar does the same thing to their brain as low dose morphine does, it’s a lot easier to avoid those foods.
Kathy: For sure, it is. It’s that deep reason, that deep passion and I think that would help people to make those choices that will be better for their child but there are more and more children that are being diagnosed with ADD, ADHD, Autism, even just with our children, I think of the generation that’s growing up and it’s actually kind of frightening when I look at what people put in their lunch bags. I’m not criticizing them because they’re tired and exhausted and they’ve been working all day, but they think, “Oh these Lunchables are good for my child. It says it has calcium in it and XYZ…” I really think a movement needs to start and it’s funny, I was talking with a client, she’s like, “You know, Kathy, you have started a smart movement.” I said, “Really?” she says, “Absolutely, people are thinking twice about what they eat.”
It’s true, I like what you said about that. With vegetarians, there’s like a moral reason. If people kind of made that connection, I think they would make those healthier purchases.
Jonathan: Speaking of making a connection, Kathy, one thing I know you started talking about recently that really has made a connection with a lot of people is your experience, and I hope you don’t mind sharing this here, with eating disorders and disordered eating. I always find it to be an interesting topic because certainly, it’s wonderful to talk about food and to think about food, but sometimes we can think about food too much, and that can become a disorder. Can you talk about that a little bit?
Kathy: Absolutely. I’ve been in this fitness industry, actually, so I started, I’m a certified fitness trainer. I don’t really go, I actually left the fitness industry because I actually think it’s one of the most unhealthy industries out there. I know that’s really sad to say but it’s true. One of the main reasons is this distorted image and sense that is given out of what health is and oftentimes, that will be a man and a woman at this ridiculous low body fat percentage, showing these picture ads saying ‘be fit, make the choice, be healthy.’
The sad part is, in order for those people to have gotten to that low body fat percentage, they’ve had to do some very unhealthy things. So, an individual, even myself would look at that and think, “Oh, I need to look like that.” So you’d do anything and everything to be like that and even my own personal experience, you almost get caught up in it. You don’t even realize that you’re doing it.
Food doesn’t just become food anymore, it becomes a way to become something that you’re not and not naturally designed to be. It’s interesting, I was just talking with a client yesterday and she was in my office just bawling because she’s been exercising and eating healthy and her trainer was like, “You need to lose more body fat. You need to get down to 21%.” This female, she physically cannot unless she would starve herself.
I really think, the message that I even have on my website, we are perfectly imperfect as humans. We are going to have a little bit of fat on us, that does not mean you’re unhealthy and I often tell women now, exercise to feel good, not just to look good. Focus on what you can do, not on how you look.
I’m speaking at a very international fitness conference, actually in Toronto, Jillian Michaels is going to be there. I want to hit some pretty hard subjects with a lot of the fitness professionals because I struggled myself with eating disorders and I know what can happen to a person’s psyche when they see this image of health when it’s airbrushed, it’s touched up. I’m getting all hot when I think about it because it’s wrong. It’s really wrong.
Jonathan: Kathy, you are spot on that it is wrong. I believe, not only from a moral perspective and from just a social responsibility perspective, but even deeper, it is wrong from a physiological perspective. We know when it’s non-controversial that there are three basic body types, endomorph, ectomorph, and mesomorph and to tell someone, and again, for the listeners, ectomorph is generally taller and thinner, mesomorph is in the middle, endomorph is generally a little bit stockier. To tell an endomorph that they can or should or need to become an ectomorph it’s as if we’re telling someone just be three inches taller, what’s your problem, and once we get that, once we understand that, the absurdity becomes quite clear.
Kathy: Absolutely. I’ll take it even to animals. I’m a huge animal lover and I love dogs and when you look at the different dog types, you have a greyhound dog, you have a pit bull, and you have a golden retriever. Oftentimes in the fitness industry, people are telling a pit bull type of build to look like a greyhound. It’s impossible, so this pit bull kind of person, stockier person will starve themselves, will purge themselves, will exercise, burn out their adrenal glands, dehydrate themselves to look like something they were never designed to look like. It’s so wrong.
As a society, our perception of beauty is so perverted because if you go, I watched this wonderful video about this African woman and the interviewer said to her, “Do you ever want to be skinnier?” and she goes, “What do you mean skinnier?” She goes, “Well your legs…” and she goes “These legs are strong! These legs are beautiful! Do you ever look at a tree and say I wish that tree is bigger or skinnier?” She goes, “We need to accept who we are.” It’s so true. It comes down to just accepting who God made you to be.
Jonathan: I love it. I’ve got little chills going on here and Kathy, I want to ask you a question. I’m a man and you’re a woman, so just to clear the air for anyone…
Jonathan: So I have a question for you because we talked about the perverted sense of beauty that we have in Western culture. One perversion I’ve noticed is I’ve yet to ever meet a man, and I try to hang around good high-quality people, who says to me “Jonathan, look at the ribs on that woman, man really attractive, I really like that!” But it seems like sometimes, it’s not necessarily males who are saying we want really, really, really, stick like figures. We actually like curves, and that’s what makes a woman look different from a man but who is creating this pressure then because at least in my circle of friends, we like women that look like women.
Kathy: Yeah. It’s interesting you say that, even my husband, when I had put on a couple of, you know, we’ve been married 11 years, so I had put on of course a couple of pounds as you get older, and he’s like “You know, I actually really like it. I love the soft curves. I love it.” You’re absolutely right.
To answer your question, I think it’s the media. And I also think that sometimes, it’s interesting you brought this up. I was on a panel at Ryerson University. I’m part of a board for Healthy Women’s Body Images and The Media. We were talking exactly about that, like who is creating these images. Oftentimes, what happens is in the media, they’re kind of in their own little bubble.
So it’s kind of a machine that started and they think that people just anticipate this. One of the professors at Ryerson who’s the head of the style industry, he was speaking out and saying, “We need to show more diversity, not just even in weight, but even in different races, different cultures because when you look at advertisements, it’s typically a very waive, thin, white female. So, what about African-Americans? What about our Native Americans, what about our South Asian cultures, all of those things? Because each culture also does have a different body type if you’ve ever noticed that.
It’s really interesting when you look at different cultures, many of them have different body types and I think it’s really from the media that this is happening but the cool thing is, the way to change this is for people to speak out. I also think that people that maybe don’t fit the “mould of perfection” need to start standing out, need to start speaking out, that’s one of the reasons I did and also, they need to start embracing who they are.
What I mean by that is eat healthy, move healthy, eat smart, move smart, but also accentuate those beautiful parts like, personally I had a really tiny waist so I went and I spoke with an image consultant. Why don’t I play up the parts that God has given me? So I think a lot of women need to look at your best attributes and love it, or men, they have great biceps. Start really focusing on the awesome things that you have instead of trying to change the things you don’t like.
Jonathan: I love what you said, Kathy, about, there’s a couple of things, one, don’t try to be perfect, and of course, that presupposes that there is a perfect look for any of us and I think that in and of itself is an interesting thing to discuss because I think what you said, maybe I just jotted this down, tell me what you think about it, is find your perfection. Not the perfection, but your perfection.
Kathy: Absolutely, because we all have a healthy body weight. I can tell people start eating healthier, moving healthier, and healthy weight loss is a side effect of that. You don’t lose the weight first and then become healthy because you and I both know if we didn’t eat for two weeks that we can drop weight. Sure, but is that healthy and sustainable? God, no! Also, find the weight that you feel good at or maybe not a weight, maybe a size. Actually when I speak, I tell women, “Scales are for fish”.
Jonathan: I love it! Exactly, yes.
Kathy: Throw out your scales! All that is, is a measure of gravity pulling your body. It doesn’t tell you how much muscle you have or how healthy your heart is. It’s quite ridiculous, really, as a society that we weigh ourselves, it blows my mind.
Jonathan: Well, it reminds me of a short parable, Kathy. I’m curious to know what you think about this and the parable, I’ll make it as quick as possible. There’s a woman out for a jog and she ends up her contact lens fall out of her eye and another woman, who is an older woman, is just sitting on a bench in a park. The first woman was running and sees the jogging woman stop and she sees her walk towards a street light and started digging around as if she’s looking for something. The older woman who’s on the bench comes over to the woman whose contact lens fell out and is now under the street light looking for her contact lens.
She says. “Ma’am, you’re holding you eye ball and you’re looking around on the ground and I noticed that you stopped jogging. Can I help you find your contact lens?” The jogging woman was like, “Oh, thank you, Ma’am. I really appreciate that.” The older woman who came over says, “Great. So where did your contact lens fall out?” and the woman who was looking under the street light points about 10 feet back and says, “My contact lens fell out back there.” The older woman is quite confused, she thinks maybe she missed something and says, “Well Ma’am, why are you looking over here?” and she looks to the older woman and she says, “Well the light is better.”
Kathy: Oh my gosh!
Jonathan: And when you think about our scales, it’s really easy to weigh yourself, the light is better over here, but aren’t we just looking in the wrong place?
Kathy: Absolutely! I really like that. We absolutely are, that’s really cool. We’re looking in the wrong place. As you know, I’m sure, one of the healthier places to look is to take your waist circumference, because many people will need something to measure. All right, measure your waist circumference at your belly button, for women, 35 inches and under, for men, 40 inches and under. Studies have shown decreased heart disease risk, decreased high blood pressure risk, all those things. Focus on those type of measurements as opposed to “Oh, I’m 150 lbs. This chart that’s outdated in my doctor’s office said I should be 120 lbs.”
Jonathan: Absolutely. And not only does that make sense, from a common sense perspective. Not only are you spot on that it’s better from a health perspective, a.k.a. your waist circumference has way more bearing on your long-term risk factors for chronic disease than your weight, but also even from an aesthetics perspective. They’ve studied what people think is “beautiful” by showing people silhouettes and figurines that are not quite human but saying like which blot do you think is more attractive?
Again, it is not weight. It is a ratio of X is to Y and it’s a symmetry measure. So again, even if all you care about is how you look, you’re still better off just measuring your waist.
Kathy: Absolutely! You’re absolutely right.
Jonathan: Well, Kathy, I feel like we could talk for hours and hours and hours and I know you are a very, very, busy woman so I will wrap us up here because otherwise, I’m just going to keep going but I did want to leave our listeners with a little more information on where they could learn more about you and what you’re doing next. So I’ll start with where they could learn more about you and that is your website which is livethesmartway.com. All sorts of great free books and awesome smiling videos of you they can see but what are you doing next? You’re doing all kinds of stuff.
Kathy: Oh my gosh! I’m doing some really, really exciting things. I am putting together a membership website for people because I travel all around the world and I give talks, just kind of like this interview, but with a large crowd and it’s quite cool and after I leave, everyone’s like “I want more!” So, I want to be able to share more of what I have to people so I’m in the middle of creating a membership website right now and starting up in September, I’m travelling the world, preaching the same thing. I just realized I said preaching, it really is. We need to start a movement of truth.
Jonathan: I love it! Well, Kathy, of course, we’re all here rooting for you and supporting you. Let us know if there’s anything we can do to help and thank you so much for joining us. It’s really been a pleasure.
Kathy: Thank you. It’s been an absolute joy. Thank you, Jonathan.
Jonathan: Thank you, Kathy and listeners, I hope you enjoyed today’s show as much as I did. And remember, this week and every week after, eat smarter, exercise smarter, and live better. Talk with you soon.
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