Difficulty Losing Weight? Your Personality May be to Blame!


When it comes to weight loss, a lifestyle change that is customized to you and your dietary habits is the key to success. Just as we all have different personalities, we also each have a unique weight loss personality. This is why a ‘one size fits all’ approach to weight loss just doesn’t work. Tailoring a plan to your lifestyle is necessary for both weight loss, and most importantly- weight maintenance following weight loss. Let’s discuss different weight loss personalities and identify strategies for each one to promote long term weight loss success.

The Personality: ‘Perfectionist’
Do you find yourself always trying to do everything right, all of the time? Are you hard on yourself when things do not go exactly as planned? If so, you likely have a ‘perfectionist’ personality. When it comes to eating, it is nearly impossible be perfect 100% of the time. Life is going to throw curveballs that require a bit of leniency in your diet; and while you may not be able to make the perfect food choice every single time, you can still lose weight and maintain a perfectly healthy lifestyle! Often with this personality we see over restriction and emphasis on ‘forbidden’ foods. Even one diet ‘slip up’ can cause feelings of failure or hopelessness and lead to a cycle of overeating followed by over restriction.

The Strategy: Stop the cycle! Work on learning to forgive yourself when you do have a diet ‘slip up’, and try incorporating a small weekly indulgence to your diet. Adding flexibility to your diet will not hinder your health or your weight loss efforts, and you will likely feel more relaxed and at peace with your new lifestyle changes.

The Personality: Impulsive
Do you get halfway through the bag of Doritos before you even realize you grabbed them from the kitchen? Do you take seconds at dinner just because the leftovers were sitting there? These are habits seen often with ‘impulsive’ personalities. Changing your lifestyle usually requires a bit of planning and thoughtfulness, especially in the beginning while getting used to new foods and eating habits. Those with impulsive personalities are more likely make a poor dietary choice in the moment and less likely to consider the feelings of guilt that usually follow. Impulsive eating often leads to poor dietary decisions, disregard of hunger cues, and overeating.

The Strategy: Get rid of temptation! Think about the food temptations you give into throughout the day and find a way to eliminate these temptations altogether. Stock your fridge and cabinets with healthy snacks and avoid buying sugary and salty treats. Contribute a healthy dish at the next BBQ so you know there will be something nutritious there for you to eat. Keep dinner leftovers on the kitchen counter or somewhere they will be out of reach. Making your food choices more planned and deliberate throughout the day will help you stay on track!

The Personality: Night Owl
Do you find yourself staying awake late into the night even when you don’t need to? The ‘night owl’ personality is a common one, and it can have a substantial impact on your weight loss efforts. Studies have shown that people who stay up later often engage in night time snacking and consume significantly more calories than those who hit the sack earlier. Additionally, sleep deprivation can lead to clouded judgment when choosing foods the following day, and can also mess with your hunger and satiety hormones.

The Strategy: Commit to a bedtime! Choose a bedtime that is realistic for your lifestyle, preferably early enough to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night, and commit to it. To promote a more restful sleep, turn off electronics 30 minutes to an hour before getting into bed. Try practicing nighttime yoga or meditation to relax your mind and body. It will take consistency and patience while your body adjusts to the new sleep schedule, but I bet you will find the new rested you makes healthier choices throughout the day!

The Personality: All or Nothing
Have you started a nutrition or exercise program, strayed a bit off course, and then abandoned the program all together? This ‘all or nothing’ personality can sabotage weight loss efforts; any deviation from the plan will lead to feelings of failure and subsequent giving up. This personality often relies on a very structured plan for weight loss success. While structure can be helpful while losing weight, flexibility is essential for long term weight loss and weight maintenance.

The Strategy: Add flexibility! When you begin your weight loss journey, follow a structured plan while you are getting used to the changes. After a couple weeks, allow yourself to stray a bit from the plan. This may mean experimenting with one or two different meals a week, adding in a night at your favorite restaurant or enjoying a small treat at the Sunday barbeque. Adding flexibility to your plan will allow for continued weight loss while preventing diet burn out that can occur from too much structure.

The Personality: Short Attention Span
Have you ever given up on trying to lose weight after feeling bored with eating the same foods over and over again? Structure is important for weight loss, but that doesn’t mean the foods you eat have to lack variety! Someone with the ‘short attention span’ personality may find they get into a rut of eating the same foods every day that is not only boring, but is also unsustainable. Eating should be an enjoyable experience, and the greater variety of healthy foods you have in your diet, the more likely you are to feel satisfied and find success on your journey to weight loss.

The Strategy: Mix it up! There is no way to get around the fact that structure and planning are necessary components for weight loss. To add variety but keep structure, plan out a week of meals, Sunday-Saturday. Make sure these meals differ from day to day. Now, you have seven days of different meals that will help you stay on track without becoming bored. You can repeat these meals each week, or find new healthy recipes online or in a cookbook to swap with. Getting creative in the kitchen is a great way to stave off boredom while discovering new nutritious snacks and meals.

No matter what your weight loss personality is, the important thing to remember is that the changes you are making are lifestyle changes; they have to be sustainable if you hope to reach long term success. Once you identify your weight loss personality, work with the strategies that are tailored to you and your lifestyle (a registered dietitian can help you do this!).

Which personality do you identify with? Do you have a different weight loss personality that was not mentioned?

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Too Much of a Good Thing? Investigating Protein

I just finished up an interview where we were discussing issues that can occur with excessive protein intake. So I figured this would make a great topic to discuss.

In general, protein is an important nutrient. Our bodies need protein to build muscle, repair cells, and promote growth. When losing weight, we also need adequate protein to help our body reserve lean tissue (muscle tissue). Protein is also a very filling food. So, when I have clients trying to lose weight, I encourage them to consume protein (along with vegetables) with each meal as a way of increasing fullness and preventing them from overeating less filling/ higher calorie foods, such as refined starches (white pasta, etc).

Athletes need protein as well to help support muscle growth and development. After resistance exercise, you want to consume one to two ounces of protein (7-14 grams) within 30 minutes- 1 hour of completing your workout to maximize the effectiveness of the protein in muscle growth and repair.

But, can there be too much of a good thing? Absolutely! Individuals who follow low carbohydrate, high protein diets, or those consuming large amounts of protein shakes and supplements may very well be taking in far more protein then they need each day. The average adult needs around 50-65gm or protein per day (7-9 ounces of protein). Even elite strength training athletes only need as much as 120 grams/day (based on a 150lbs athlete with protein needs of 1.8gm/kg of body weight/day).

So what about those people who drink protein shakes as meals or eat protein bars all day long? Some of these shakes contain as much as 42grams of protein per serving! If you drink this 3x per day, you are already consuming 126grams of protein just from supplements alone. Then add in the amount of protein you most likely consume from food, and you could easily be taking in as much as 200grams of protein or more per day!

What can happen if you take in too much protein? A lot! If you are an athlete or even a recreational exerciser, you are putting yourself at an increased risk for dehydration. Protein requires additional fluid to metabolize and excrete it’s byproducts. Studies have shown that as an individual’s protein intake increases, their dehydration level decreases. These studies have also shown this happens silently, meaning the individuals did not feel an increased thirst level, so they did not increase their fluid intake. Dehydration can lead to a number of issues. In mild cases, it can decrease athletic performance and endurance, it can also cause muscle cramps, cardiovascular disturbances, and in extreme cases can even put one at risk for heat injury such as heat stroke.

Another major concern, especially for females, is the risk of decreased bone density with a high protein intake. When we consume a large amount of protein, this breaks down into amino acids, which then enter the blood stream. This causes the blood to become more acidic. In order for our body to maintain a healthy blood pH, the body needs to pull calcium from the bones, which is one of the most basic minerals in the body, to neutralize the blood. When calcium is removed from the bones, this can weaken the body and over time put one at an increased risk for osteoporosis.

The excess calcium that is entering the blood stream now needs to go somewhere. It can now find it’s way to the kidneys where it will deposit the calcium. These calcium deposits can develop into painful kidney stones. Your risk for kidney stones is even higher if your dehydrated.

In the absence of adequate carbohydrates, you can also enter into a state of ketosis. This is when the body if forces to use fat for energy rather than carbohydrates. This can result in fatigue, headaches, decreased athletic performance and mental acuity, and if someone has underlying kidney issues, this can cause further decline in kidney function.

So what is the bottom line? For most people, if you consume protein from food sources rather than supplements, you are less likely to over consume protein. I do recommend having a good source of protein with each meal, as this can help regulate appetite. However, unless you struggle to meet your protein needs, I do not recommend protein shakes and supplements. If you are an athlete or recreational exerciser, a busy schedule can make it difficult to have protein after a workout. Having an occasional supplemental protein source after a workout in these situations is fine, but watch which one you choose. Look for a supplement that contains no more than 15-20 grams of protein at most and only have one supplement per day. Real food is always the best choice!

For more information visit erinpalinski.com

Copyright 2012. ErinPalinski.com. All Rights Reserved.

Fat Tax Debate

You have probably heard by now that Denmark has implemented a “fax tax” applying a surcharge to foods with more than 2.3% saturated fats. The country states this tax is being put into effect to help combat obesity and heart disease, but is this really going to help?

In my opinion, good health and good nutrition is all about moderation. If I buy butter, but use it maybe once a week in a recipe, even though this food is high in saturated fat, this really isn’t going to raise my heart disease risk since it is being consumed so infrequently. In the same sense, if I stopped buying butter due to a “fax tax” eating no butter vs 1-2 teaspoons per week, this isn’t really going to make my heart that much healthier. Now what about this scenario: I could go buy a “healthier” food that contains less than 2.3% saturated fat (let’s say for arguments sake it contains 1.5% saturated fat and therefore does not cost me an additional tax), but if I eat tons of this food every day, I’m taking in many more grams of saturated fat a day then that teaspoon of butter was giving me, increasing my heart disease risk.

So what is the solution? In my opinion, we need to stop penalizing unhealthy choices and start rewarding healthy choices. What about a tax rebate for those that keep their cholesterol at a healthy level or lower it a certain percent throughout the course of the year? Or tax write offs/ rebates/incentives for buying more vegetables, having (and using) a gym membership, or maintaining a healthy weight. I think rewarding people by helping them save money (or giving them money back) is a lot more motivating, and productive, then penalizing unhealthy behavior. I also think this would be part of the solution to the “healthy food is too expense” issue many individuals face.

If this type of “fat tax” is ever implemented in America, I really hope they at least use the money for community nutrition education programs to help the public understand how to improve their health and what foods would be better choices.

What are your opinions on this tax? Post your comments here or let me know how you feel on twitter @DietExpertNJ

For more information visit erinpalinski.com

Copyright 2012. ErinPalinski.com. All Rights Reserved.

An Apple A Day…

In honor of fall, I wanted to make my next blog all about the health benefits of apples. As it turns out, the old saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” may very well be true. Check out some of the amazing health benefits apples have:

1. Avoid Alzheimer’s
A new study performed on mice shows that drinking apple juice could keep Alzheimer’s away and fight the effects of aging on the brain. Mice in the study that were fed an apple-enhanced diet showed higher levels of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine and did better in maze tests than those on a regular diet.

2. Curb all sorts of cancers
Scientists from the American Association for Cancer Research, among others, agree that the consumption of flavonol-rich apples could help reduce your risk of developing pancreatic cancer by up to 23 percent. Researchers at Cornell University have identified several compounds—triterpenoids—in apple peel that have potent anti-growth activities against cancer cells in the liver, colon and breast. Their earlier research found that extracts from whole apples can reduce the number and size of mammary tumors in rats. Meanwhile, the National Cancer Institute has recommended a high fiber intake to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.

3. Decrease your risk of diabetes
Women who eat at least one apple a day are 28 percent less likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than those who don’t eat apples. Apples are loaded with soluble fiber, the key to blunting blood sugar swings.

4. Reduce cholesterol
The soluble fiber found in apples binds with fats in the intestine, which translates into lower cholesterol levels and a healthier you.

5. Get a healthier heart
An extensive body of research has linked high soluble fiber intake with a slower buildup of cholesterol-rich plaque in your arteries. The phenolic compound found in apple skins also prevents the cholesterol that gets into your system from solidifying on your artery walls. When plaque builds inside your arteries, it reduces blood flow to your heart, leading to coronary artery disease.

Want a great new way to enjoy apples? They this delicious dessert recipe:
Baked Apples with Currants
4 medium-size baking apples (e.g. Rome Beauty, Cortland, or Granny Smith)
1/2 cup bran cereal
2 tbsp currants
1 tbsp chopped pecans (optional)
4 tsp brown sugar
4 tsp maple syrup

Preheat oven to 350ºF. With an apple corer, a melon baller, or a thin, sharp knife, scoop out all but the bottom 1/2 inch of each apple core; with a vegetable peeler, peel a 1/2 inch-wide strip around the top of the cavity.

Stand the apples in a shallow baking dish just large enough to accommodate all of them in a single layer. In a small bowl, combine the cereal, currants, and pecans if desired.

Spoon 1/4 of the mixture into the cavity of each apple, then sprinkle with sugar.
Drizzle the syrup over the apples and bake for 40 or 45 minutes or until tender when pierced with a knife.

Makes 4 servings.

Let me know what you think of this recipe on twitter @DietExpertNJ

For more information visit erinpalinski.com

Copyright 2012. ErinPalinski.com. All Rights Reserved.

Let’s Fight Breast Cancer with Nutrition!

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Happy October! Today begins the first day of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Since breast cancer is the 2nd leading cause of death for women in the US and research has linked nutrition with many forms of breast cancer, I thought today would be a great day to discuss some simple diet changes we all can make to help decrease our odds of developing this cancer.

While there is no sure way to prevent breast cancer, there are things all women can do that might tip the odds in their favor, such as changing those risk factors that are in their power to affect.

Tip #1: Increase your intake of yellow and orange vegetables. Yellow and orange vegetables contain high levels of beta carotene, which studies have shown has been linked to lower rates of breast cancer.

Tip#2: Increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids. It has been found that women with higher tissue levels of omega-3 fatty acids may have a lower risk of breast cancer. Great sources include salmon, walnuts, and flax seed.

Tip #3: Cruciferous vegetable (ex. broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage) contain indole-3-carbinol, which has been shown to lower the level of a type of estrogen in women that may promote breast cancer. Try to eat at least 1-2 cups of these vegetables per day.

Tip #4: Choose whole grains over refined carbohydrates. A study found that women who ate more refined carbohydrates (such as white bread and pasta) had a higher incidence of breast cancer.

Tip #5: Drink green tea: This beverage has been found to contain a high level of EGCG, a compound that has been found to inhibit breast cancer cells in mice.

What changes will you start making today to help decrease your risk?


Post your comments here or let me know how you feel on twitter @DietExpertNJ

For more information visit erinpalinski.com

Copyright 2012. ErinPalinski.com. All Rights Reserved.

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