Today’s post features a few key takeaways from a recent Wellness Your Way podcast interview. Find the full episode here, and be sure to subscribe to Wellness Your Way so you don’t miss future episodes!
Guest Bio: Robert Davis, PhD
Robert J. Davis, PhD, is an award-winning health journalist whose work has appeared on CNN, PBS, WebMD, and in The Wall Street Journal. He is the host of “The Healthy Skeptic” video series and the author of four consumer health books: Supersized Lies; Fitter Faster; Coffee Is Good for You; and The Healthy Skeptic. In addition, Robert serves as president and editor-in-chief of Everwell, which produces and distributes health-related video content. A graduate of Princeton University, he holds a master’s degree in public health from Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health and a PhD in health policy from Brandeis University, where he was a Pew Foundation Fellow.
Top Insights from Robert’s Interview
- Eating a couple of squares per day of dark chocolate satisfies a sweet tooth! When we allow ourselves a moderate portion of a healthy version of what we’re craving (like chocolate), we add pleasure to our lives and prevent an unhealthy mentality around food. The more we tell our brains something (like sugar) is off-limits, the more we crave it, so finding a healthy option that truly satisfies us is important!
- There is no area of health that has more conflicting and confusing claims than weight management. Because weight management “sells” and so many people are struggling with their weight through their entire lives, there will continue to be false claims on the market. This causes significant physical and emotional damage to people … as we have more and more claims, people are still becoming more and more overweight, so they’re obviously not working!
- Viewing weight loss through the lens of true health (rather than “lose weight quickly”) leads to more sustainable, healthy, and lasting results.
- The fact that sugar is not the problem does not mean it’s not a problem. The average American gets too much sugar – no question – and it is linked to diabetes, heart disease, and more. But to vilify sugar alone and say that is the single cause of obesity misses the point. There are so many sugar-free or lower-sugar ultraprocessed foods that are anything but healthy, even without sugar. And the truth is, you can lose weight and be healthy with a moderate amount of sugar in your diet. It’s far more important to look at the overall composition of our diets – when we’re eating more whole foods, we are healthier and able to maintain an optimal weight.
- Paradoxically, artificial sweeteners do not lead to weight loss, and might be linked to weight gain and adverse health effects.
- Food manufacturers intentionally make foods that make us crave more. We need to be aware of this and make an effort to eat fewer processed foods, and when we do eat processed foods, choose ones that have as few ingredients as possible.
- Diet pills and “miracle cures” make all kinds of unproven, false, and unsafe claims. There has never been a diet pill in the history of the world that lives up to claims like “weight loss without changing diet and exercise,” and most of them have been linked to significant adverse health consequences. Watch out for before / after photos, hyperbolic language, small prints and caveats, overly scientific terms meant to confuse the consumer, and even the words “clinically proven” (unless you can find and assess the study itself to ensure it was done on humans and was appropriately designed and published in a peer-reviewed journal).
- Counting calories is not a sustainable weight loss strategy for most people. Even if we try to measure everything, labels are permitted 20% margin of error! And even if we didn’t have the margin of error, it’s nearly impossible to figure out how many calories you are burning in any given day, which depends on activity level (and most trackers are highly inaccurate!), hormone balance, metabolism, genetics, microbiome, age, and so much more! (If counting calories works for you, that’s fine! But if you’re beating yourself up for not sticking with it, don’t – it’s not a panacea).
- Exercise has many health benefits … but weight loss is not (really) one of them. It’s hard to outrun your fork, or to lose weight from exercise alone. That said, moving our bodies has SO many benefits – psychological, physical, and emotional. Find something you enjoy, and create a habit of including it in your life … but don’t think of it as your main weight loss strategy.
- You can eat breakfast at whatever time you want, but focus on whole foods when you eat it. The clinical trials have failed to show that breakfast eaters weigh less than breakfast skippers, and “what works” really depends on the person. We both recommend experimenting with your own preferences and finding what works best. But whenever you break your fast, focus on whole foods with plenty of fiber and protein, and lower sugar to set yourself up for a healthy day!
Want to hear the full episode?
Head over here to catch the full episode with Robert Davis, PhD!
Now it’s your turn! What is one thing you learned from this interview? What’s one thing you’re committed to changing after learning from Robert?