This week we have the pleasure of hearing from Brierley Wright. In her own words:
“Brierley’s background in nutrition and interest in food come together in her position as Nutrition Editor for EatingWell. Brierley writes the Ask the Nutritionist column in EatingWell’s front-of-book section, Fresh & Nutritious, and blogs for EatingWell.com and Yahoo! Shine. She holds a master’s degree in Nutrition Communication from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. A Registered Dietitian, Brierley completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Vermont.
10 Questions for Brierley Wright
What is your favorite food?
Broccoli. I’m not lying. Definitely my favorite food is broccoli.
What is your least favorite food?
Black olives. I can’t stand them.
What is your pet’s name?
Louis is my dog, and I have a cat named Huey.
What is your favorite thing about working at EatingWell?
The food and being able to bring my dog, for sure. Those are my two favorite things.
What do you like to do with your time off?
In Vermont, running and hiking. Unless it’s the winter, and then it’s skiing and snowshoeing. In Boston, I always like to try new restaurants.
What is your guiltiest culinary pleasure?
Carrot cake. The one I make is totally bad for you—there’s butter and confectioners’ sugar and cream cheese and lots of eggs and oil. I’m from Philadelphia, so I like a good cheese steak. That’s probably the worst thing you could eat.
What is your favorite international fare?
My husband lived in Valencia for two years, so I really like their food. They have great tapas, but not the customary Spanish tapas. It has a little bit more of an international flair.
What’s the most common misinformation about nutrition you hear?
I’m still hearing “carbs make you fat.” That’s a myth. They don’t. It’s eating too much of anything that makes you gain weight.
What three adjectives best describe your EatingWell experience?
Welcoming, very educational and fun.”
The Slim Is Simple.org Non-Profit Nutrition Education Effort
Jonathan: Hey everyone Jonathan Bailor back with another bonus Smarter Science of Slim podcast and today, we have one of those special shows where we had a guest on and that guest so rocked my world that I said, we have got to get that guest back and she’s just delightful, insightful lady and that rhymed so that means we’re off to a good start. She is the Nutrition Editor over at Eating Well, a wonderful, wonderful resource.
She has a, what is it again, I forget, a Master’s Degree in Nutrition Communication. How cool is that at Tufts University. She’s also a Registered Dietician and she completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Vermont. But most importantly she’s just awesome. Brierley Wright welcome to the show.
Brierley: Thank you for that very kind and generous introduction.
Jonathan: Well Brierley I wanted to have you back on the show because you’re in the bowels of the media eating well machine but you seem to be directing your efforts towards good. Which I appreciate so much.
Brierley: That is what we try to do. We really try and make sure that we give some solid, helpful advice to our readers and your listeners today.
Jonathan: Yes, yes and before we get into some of the wonderful blog posts you’ve been putting up recently and again folks, you can learn more about Brierley over at her blog at eatingwell.com. Just go, just type eating well, Brierley, which is spelt B-R-I-E-R-L-E-Y and you will find it that’s the easiest way. Eatingwell.com and you type in Brierley. Brierley, quick question for you are you ready?
Jonathan: In order for us to continue to, so, on one end of the spectrum it’s like everyone gets that health it seems more and more we understand that it’s simple, just eat food. Food is defined by things you find in nature and move your body and if you do that just like every other person that has ever lived, you’ll avoid obesity and diabetes just like everyone else did. So we’re starting to get that but at the other end of the spectrum we’ve got to have stuff to blog about and we’ve got to have things to podcast about. So how do we have that simplicity but not all end up unemployed?
Brierley: Yes well some people think that it’s boring because we keep saying the same stuff over and over again but then we can thank of all these other outlets out there and people who kind of like create this hum that is confusing and hard to understand or not accurate and then it gives us a great job because we get to say no. No, this is really what it’s all about it’s so easy.
Jonathan: I love it. It’s sort of like you have to have that counter force and then it’s just countering that counter force is what keeps you in business.
Brierley: Yes. Exactly much like politics. The two sides they just go back and forth and back and forth, that’s what we do.
Jonathan: I love it. A good example of us trying to get good information out there and new things popping up, this is something that I have no knowledge about so I’m excited to have you educate me as much as you’ll educate the listeners. Is a new diet which I am not aware of but learned about on your blog called The Fast Diet. Can you tell us about this a little bit?
Brierley: Yes. So, I of course can share the information that I have learned but the resource obviously is the book called The Fast Diet but it was one of those diets, actually I should also add that it’s also a very common name for it is the Five Two Diet. So some people might have heard of it that way as well. But its UK based Authors and the book started out there and of course I can see why it was like so insanely popular that it just had to come to the US.
So here we are now getting up to speed with what these UK folks have been doing. The Fast Diet is sort of, as its name implies but not entirely, the concept is you eat what you want five days a week and you fast two days a week. Now it’s not that simple but pretty close. On the days that you fast, you want me to get into this detail here?
Jonathan: Sure just a couple minute is fine, yeah.
Brierley: Okay. So on the days that you fast the concept is that you don’t fast completely but you just eat a few hundred calories. So they say women eat about five hundred calories, men eat about six hundred. Then on the days that you aren’t fasting, those five other days of the week they actually say that it’s like you can eat gloriously free from calorie counting. Yes so you don’t need to count calories but you still need to eat a healthy diet.
So you still need to get in your produce, and your whole grains and your lean proteins because you don’t want to overdo it and undo all of the work that you did on those fasting days and I also think that the dietician in me says the really important part on those days when you aren’t fasting is that you have to make up for those nutrients that you probably were falling short on.
Think about your vitamins and your minerals that you really can’t get all of those in when you’re eating five or six hundred calories a day, like let’s be real here. On those five days you need to eat that healthy diet because you have to make up for the fact that you’re missing out on vitamins and minerals.
Jonathan: Well Brierley I know that there’s quite a bit of research showing that fasting can be used medicinally and has been used for religious practice for many, many years but my high level impression when I hear about this is, it seems like it’s just another way of skinning, eat less. Like if you tell someone to eat twenty five hundred calories with five hundred calories on Monday and two thousand on Tuesday is, like that seems quite similar to just saying eat twelve hundred and fifty calories on Monday and twelve hundred and fifty calories on Tuesday. It just seem like we’re re-skinning the same starvation based model. Am I misunderstanding?
Brierley: No. You’re dead on that’s exactly what it is. It’s basically saying if you need to lose weight and we’re going to tell you to cut out a few hundred calories every single day, the other way to do it is to just cut out a larger chunk of calories two days a week and then you’re fine. You’re right it’s the same thing it’s just a different face, that’s all.
Jonathan: A funny anecdote I was fortunate enough to be on the Low Carb cruise this past year and the MC is the comedian and producer of the wonderful documentary Fat Head, Tom Naughton and he was roasting the guest speakers on the cruise and another one of the guest speakers was the wonderful Diane Sanfilippo over from A Balanced Bite and the Twenty One Day Sugar Detox and Tom, satirically said that the Balanced Bites eating program Diane offers has been proven wildly effective because the way Balanced Bites works, is that you can only eat while balancing on one of these balance balls and you can eat whatever you want as long as you stand on a balance ball.
Brierley: Well I could eat nothing then Jonathan because I can’t stand on a balance ball, so I would wither away to nothing.
Jonathan: So how many more millions of dollars Brierley do you think would be made coming up with, and Tom was obviously joking but it does seem like there continues to be programs which are basically just “Here’s a different way to starve yourself,” “Here’s a different way to starve yourself,” and “Here’s yet another way of starving yourself.” How long is this going to keep going on?
Brierley: Indefinitely. I mean it absolutely is because the thing is and I understand it, I really do. Is that it’s, I’ve made a career out of understanding nutrition and healthy eating and various Government guidelines around what a balanced diet looks like. I know it’s, the equation seems simple of eat less, move more, intake down, output up but the fact of the matter is that the everyday person just doesn’t have the time. I can understand that because I really don’t have the time to figure out how to wire an electrical outlet or even learn how to change the oil in my car.
I don’t have the time to do it so I’m going to go and have somebody else do those things for me. But when it comes to dieting, people are just like look give me the easy solution. The thing is it’s like you’re saying, this is just another way of saying eating less but for some reason it has something like this catchy way about it just like this other, the balance ball that we were just talking about.
It’s a thing that people can grab on to which is really easy to understand and it’s like okay I’m going to do this and exactly low carb is the same way. You just cut out carbs and you’re like well it’s typically a big portion of the American plate so if I just cut it out hey I’m slashing hundreds of calories at every single meal and it works.
Jonathan: So Brierley it seems like the fundamental disconnect here is we see this across not to get too geeky but we see this across animal studies and I’m specifically using animal studies because it’s even more complicated with humans because as you’ve mentioned it’s hard, there’s time, there’s emotion. Just telling someone they can only eat five hundred calories in a day there’s a whole emotional aspect to that which makes it hard.
But let’s imagine we can strip away our emotions completely and we can do that by using animal models. If you look at things like other mammals like mice and rats and you deprive them of calories the first thing that happens when you stop starving them is they eat excessively until they restore everything they’ve lost and then some, consistently. Like that never doesn’t happen and it happens in humans too. Anytime there’s been starvation experiments when they stop being starved and they start to be able to just eat normally again. They just go back to right where they were with the body trying to balance them out. Will we ever learn?
Brierley: Gosh, I think that it’s such a, I don’t know, the short answer is I don’t know and I think it’s such a balance that when you “go off your diet,” that you just have to take into consideration like some of the principles that you learnt. A lot of times it’s really about eating in moderation but I agree with you that if you just go back to what you were doing and you don’t incorporate some mental check points in there that you will, you’ll go right back to what you were doing and you will regain.
Study after study shows that people lose the weight but the hardest part for them is keeping it off. Keeping it off one year out, keeping it off five years out and the majority of people regain the weight they lost. Sometimes they gain even more than what they lost and if you want to get really geeky here the sad part about the whole thing is that when you lose weight, you lose muscle and fat. So when you regain the weight you’re typically regaining it in fat.
So basically what’s happening unfortunately is that you’re becoming fatter in the sense that you have more fat mass than you do muscle mass when you’re regaining the weight that you lost.
Jonathan: I love that you made the point Brierley that if you stop doing what you did of course you’re going to stop getting the results that you got and that is one I hope I’m not coming off as too cynical or attacking these other approaches because I want to celebrate them here for a moment. Echo what you said it’s not so much about losing weight.
Many of us have lost weight and it’s sticking with it and what you actually find pretty universally in the research is, like especially when they do things like they take Atkins versus South Beach versus Predakin and they actually study them, they find that the most success is in people who just stick with it. Whichever program they’re on. It’s the people who stick with it, it’s the people who make the lifestyle change.
So to me the question is more of whatever whether it’s Five Two Diets, whether it’s anything else, is this something that you can enjoy and tell me if you think I’m taking this too far but something you can enjoy long term? Because I would argue if you can’t enjoy it, you won’t keep it up long term because will power is a finite resource.
Brierley: I really couldn’t agree more like if you enjoy it, if it works for you, if it works for your lifestyle, just stick to it. I mean the reality of the matter is, I often actually spend a lot of time dissing fad diets but there are nuggets of truth in most fad diets. It’s really about teasing those out and saying okay let’s look at the bigger picture here, what’s the nugget of truth in this. Frankly a lot of times what it comes down to is either about eating less of the bad stuff or eating less in general.
This Five Two Diet or the fast diet is really about eating less in general and what I actually do like about the message that Mosely and Spencer give in the book is that they’re still talking about eating a healthy, well balanced diet on those days that you’re not necessarily calorie counting or being conscious about your total intake or restricting your total intake. That’s the kind of a message there, just full circle back to what you said. You have to find what works for you and you really do need to try and incorporate more of the healthy, balanced diet and eating less of the bad stuff that’s out there.
Jonathan: The message of however you slice it or however you choose to implement it, when you do eat it needs to be whole food and nutrient dense based. To me that’s the principle, it’s just if you want to get gastric, people always ask me about gastric surgery. If you get gastric surgery it’s even more important that that’s in addition to a nutrient dense whole food diet because if you can only eat five hundred calories a day you better make sure that those five hundred calories are super nutrient dense. So it’s like that base line of nutrient density.
Brierley: Right. When you’re restricting your calories it’s like every calorie counts that much more. So it doesn’t mean eating five hundred calories of Twinkies. We’re talking about five hundred calories of fresh fruits, vegetables, bright colors, whole grains, lean proteins, just smaller serving sizes.
Jonathan: Brierley you actually just blew my mind because there was a little bit of a paradigm shift I just had which tell me what you think about this. So often time’s people cut, because I think we can flip something on the head here, often times people cut calories in an effort to eat low quality foods. If I just cut calories, like if I eat my hundred calorie snack packs, I’m fine.
So they cut calories and they think in doing so they can focus less on food quality. What we’re saying, is if you chose to consciously cut calories you actually need to focus even more on the quality of the food you’re eating and that’s the total opposite of the traditional paradigm.
Brierley: Yes, no it’s so true. I can’t tell you how many times here at Eating Well we have built meal plans for people, we have actually a really awesome resourceful meal plans on our website if anybody’s interested, as a total side note. But when you build those meal plans like what I always look at with my little RD brain is you need to make it nutrient balanced.
So you need to make sure that you’re getting enough fiber and calcium and potassium in there and keeping the sodium and saturated fat down. When you trim the calories down and you’re talking twelve hundred, fifteen hundred even sometimes in the eighteen hundred calories ranges, it is so hard to make sure that you are getting the nutrients that you need and not overdoing it in the other department in terms of saturated fat and sodium and that kind of thing.
Jonathan: Listeners I would encourage you, I know for some of the listeners here I want us to always focus on celebrating our similarities rather than demonizing our differences. I know different people have different thoughts on saturated fat and sodium and carbohydrates and yadda, yadda, yadda but what is cool is it seems like we all can cross the aisle and say, if you’re just eating less, if that’s what you’re doing and that is what 99% of people who approach weight loss and health do unfortunately. One, that’s not the best approach and if it is the best approach it doesn’t mean you can focus less on food quality and fat. It means you need to focus even more and that’s just, I think it’s kind of groundbreaking. I like that Brierley.
Brierley: Well I’m glad, I’m glad we came to a good place.
Jonathan: I had other questions for you but I’m kind of like man, that was, that’s the nugget we should end on.
Brierley: Sounds good to me.
Jonathan: Well Brierley obviously you’re still over at eating well, you’re doing good stuff. What’s next for you and what’s next for Eating Well as an organization?
Brierley: Oh wow that is a really good question. So what’s funny is this beautiful time of year right now, warm weather and people spending time outside and we, right now, are talking about the holidays at Eating Well and we’re getting ready to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas. But I will say I’m really, really excited about this new piece coming out in the September/October issue.
It is about the myths that and truths around food labels and there’s some really, really neat research in there about how food labels and their colors and the text and the way that foods are described really influences how much and how little we eat. Especially how those kinds of descriptors and labels really can influence and sometimes trick those of us that are health conscious. So anyway when that issue comes out in just a few weeks I would definitely encourage anybody that’s interested in food labels to take a look at it. Maybe we can talk about it at some point Jonathan.
Jonathan: Absolutely. That’s a great example of what we said how are we going to stay employed. Well there’s also this multi, literally trillion dollar interest in manufacturing non-foods and then creating the whole information board that goes along with them and how they’re labeled and how their nutrition claims are made about them. So that in and of itself will likely keep many thousands of people employed for a very long time so.
Brierley: It is true and you know when I was editing the piece I was having a really hard time because what I wanted to say to readers was, just don’t buy anything that’s packaged, just buy whole foods. Then I thought, first of all that’s not fair and second of all it’s not realistic. So how do we tease out what is helpful and what you should pay attention to and what you should ignore? It was really fun.
Jonathan: I love it. Well listeners by the time this show airs, that piece will be up. Brierley are you able to share the title or what search terms could we use to help find it?
Brierley: Yes so you can probably use The Truth about Food Labels is a good way to look for it. On the magazine cover you’ll see Food Labels Lies as a cover line and I think that’s probably, that would be your best bet.
Jonathan: I love it. So Eating Well, The Truth about Food Labels, type it in. Check out Brierley Wright at eatingwell.com. She is awesome. Brierley thank you so much for joining us and we look forward to talking about hopefully Food Labels in the future.
Brierley: Sounds great, thanks Jonathan.
Jonathan: Listeners, I hope you enjoyed today’s conversation as much as I did and please remember this week and every week after, eat more, exercise less but do it smarter. Chat with you soon.
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