Food Is Not Your Enemy


Avoiding the One-Size-Fits-All Diet
May 1, 2017, 10:49 am
Filed under: Healthy Lifestyle, weight loss | Tags: , ,

I give advice for a living. How to eat well, how to achieve greater balance, and how to sustain it all, through stressful times and holidays and work travel and family meals and whatever life throws your way. There are some bedrock principles about healthy eating and living that I believe will help everyone—eating more home-cooked whole foods, for instance, or creating a specific plan for when and where you will exercise—but in the end, every person is different, and we all respond differently to certain recommendations.

If you’ve ever visited my Web site, you may have noticed that there’s a concept mentioned there known as “bio-individuality.” Simply stated, bio-individuality is the understanding that each of us has unique food and lifestyle needs. One person’s food is another person’s poison, and that’s why fad diets tend to fail in the long run. There really is no one way to eat that works for all of us. One person may thrive on the Paleo diet, while another may feel weighed down and moody from eating that way. One may lose weight from eating a low-fat diet, while many others might be ravenous with so little fat and end up binge-eating as a result.

So I give my advice knowing that any particular recommendation, even if it has a basis in science and has worked for others, might not be the ultimate answer for the person I’m counseling at the moment. We try and we see how it goes. If it works, that’s great. If not, we recalibrate and try something else. Similarly, if you read something in my newsletter and it doesn’t resonate for you, that’s fine! I offered a tip in last month’s newsletter about how eating a larger lunch may help in one’s weight-loss efforts, according to a scientific study. I’ve seen this work for many of my clients over the years, but one of my current clients tried it and found that a large lunch just made her feel sluggish. So we went in another direction.

The same approach would likely work well in your own life. Avoid wedding yourself to one way of doing things. Don’t assume you must make yourself wake at 5 a.m. to go jogging in order to lose weight. Don’t force yourself to eat kale if you don’t like it. Don’t insist on sticking with a particular diet that helped your friend if you’re seeing no change in your own body. Be flexible. See what works. And acknowledge what your body needs.



How Diet Can Affect Your Skin
September 27, 2016, 12:51 pm
Filed under: Dairy, Drugs, Healthy Lifestyle, Sweets | Tags: , ,

Millions of people, both teens and adults, suffer from acne. I myself did for much of my life—I remember at age 9 putting on mud masks to try to dry out my pimples, and by age 15 I was on Accutane, a prescription medication which we now know can cause liver damage and increase one’s risk for depression and suicide.

There can be a strong hormonal component to acne, but the food we eat can also have an effect—something dermatologists generally don’t mention. Inflammation is a big driver of skin eruptions. While many factors can contribute to inflammation, such as nutrient deficiencies, toxicity, and allergens, our processed, sugar-laden diet can be the number-one cause. Added sugars and all the foods that quickly convert to sugar in the body, like white bread, white pasta, and white rice, lead to an increased risk of breakouts.

Dairy can also be a trigger, thanks to the hormones found in such foods as milk, ice cream, and cheese. Dairy raises the levels of male sex hormones in the body, which can drive the development of pimples.

In addition to minimizing sugar and dairy, what will also help your skin is eating an anti-inflammatory diet, consuming more healthy omega-3 fats (fish and nuts/seeds) and fruits and vegetables, actively managing your stress (stress increases inflammation), getting enough sleep (lack of sleep also leads to inflammation), and exercising regularly.

Give these suggestions a try, and you just might be able to toss all the harsh face washes and ointments in the trash!



How Your Eating Habits Can Affect Risk of Depression
February 24, 2016, 10:50 am
Filed under: Chronic Disease, Drugs, Healthy Lifestyle, Oils, Sweets | Tags: , , , ,

Do you struggle with depression, or know someone who does? If so, you’re not alone. More than 100 million Americans cope with some level of depression—that’s one in three people. Why is this problem so widespread, and is there anything you can do about it, other than taking prescription pills?

There are many factors that can lead to depression, and those factors are going to differ for everyone. But one factor that is usually completely overlooked by the medical establishment is diet. On the whole, Americans eat so poorly that we are literally starved of the nutrients we need to keep our brains healthy. Here are some easy changes you can make to your diet to help ward off depression…

Eat your fats. Your healthy fats, that is—specifically foods high in omega-3s. Omega-3 fats are critical for the proper functioning of the brain and nervous system, and 99 percent of Americans do not eat enough of these fats. The best sources of omega-3s are fish, nuts, and seeds. It is worth noting that in Iceland, a country whose people eat a ton of fish, depression rates are extremely low (and this is a country where it is dark much of the year).

Reduce sugar intake. There are a million reasons to avoid foods with added sugar, and one of them happens to be that sugar can contribute to depression.

Eat lots of whole, real foods. The American diet of convenience tends to leave us shortchanged when it comes to nutrients. And a deficiency of such nutrients as folic acid, vitamin B12, and vitamin D can lead to increased risk of depression. Eat lots of fresh vegetables and fruits every day, in addition to lean proteins like eggs and chicken, whole grains, and legumes.

Heal your gut with food. More and more research is showing that there is a strong connection between the brain and what’s going on in the gut. Eat the kinds of foods that will help the right gut bacteria proliferate in your intestines: green vegetables as well as fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut.



Five Reasons You’re Not Losing Weight
October 21, 2015, 9:56 am
Filed under: Healthy Lifestyle, weight loss | Tags: , , , ,

Many people seek out my help because they find that they can’t lose weight, no matter what they try. They may tell me they’ve tried Atkins and Paleo, gone gluten-free for a year, done Weight Watchers, undertaken a juice fast, worked out three times a week with a trainer for two years, or all of the above. And nothing happened. Not a single pound was shed.

Why? How is it possible that all of these approaches can fail?

The answer can be different for everyone. Here are just a few of the reasons why your scale might refuse to budge:

Lack of sleep. Numerous studies have shown that lack of sleep leads to weight gain. If you’re regularly getting less than seven hours of sleep, expect to feel hungrier than you otherwise would, and know that you will likely find yourself taking in more calories than if you’d had a good night’s sleep.

Too much stress. As I mentioned in my May newsletter, (you can read it here), stress makes us fat. Stress activates a biological response that makes us feel hungry. And stress leads to increased storage of belly fat. If you change your diet for the better but stress hormones are constantly being pumped into your system by your adrenal glands, those excess pounds are not going anywhere.

Thyroid problems. Your thyroid gland regulates your metabolism. And if it’s not working properly, not only will you not lose weight, but you may find yourself suddenly and inexplicably gaining a lot of weight, even though your diet has remained the same. Get your thyroid checked if you see sudden changes in your weight and also experience such symptoms as brain fog, changes in your hair or skin, or debilitating fatigue.

Food sensitivities. If you have a hidden food intolerance–which is quite likely if you are bloated, gassy, constipated, or have diarrhea on a regular basis–then you won’t lose those extra pounds so easily. The offending food or foods is causing a constant state of inflammation in your body, and inflammation produces insulin resistance, leading to higher insulin levels. As insulin is a fat storage hormone, you’ll hold onto more fat, especially around your mid-section.

Restaurant food. Home cooking is increasingly becoming a rare occurrence for so many of us. The problem with this is that restaurant food and other foods prepared outside the home tend to have way more calories, fat, salt, and sugar than we think they do. Take a look at the “Calorie Bomb” section on the left side of my newsletter each month—do you find these calorie counts shocking? I do. The reason I put them there is to underscore how caloric food can be in many of America’s most popular restaurants. Think about this the next time you grab your file of takeout menus.



How to Make Your Health & Weight Resolutions a Reality
January 13, 2014, 11:59 am
Filed under: Exercise, Healthy Lifestyle, weight loss | Tags: , ,

Each January you may find yourself making resolutions to lose weight, eat better, exercise more, or generally get your life in greater balance. You really want these things, and get excited as you visualize a thinner or healthier you.

But all too often, a few months pass, nothing changes, and we get down on ourselves. Why does this happen again and again?

First off, know that you’re not alone. Making big changes like these can feel very tough, and many people struggle. But you can do it—it all comes down to having a plan.

Saying to yourself, “I’m going to eat healthier” or “I’m going to eat less” tends to not help you reach your goals—these statements are too vague and leave you adrift at each meal. What is healthier, after all? Does that mean you should skip the butter? Not eat pasta? Have spinach salad all the time? And is it okay to enjoy a big indulgent dinner once in a while? Not knowing the answers to these questions can leave you feeling confused, frustrated, and unable to do anything differently than you’ve been doing for years. The uncertainty leads to inaction. You’re left wishing, but not doing.

Here are a few tips to get you on the path to reaching your goals:

Take small actions every day. What will you do today to help yourself reach your goal? Perhaps you will go for a brisk walk. Or have a large serving of veggies with your lunch instead of fries. Or forgo buying chips and cookies at the supermarket. These are things we all know can improve our health and weight, so do at least one of them every day. Remember that your daily choices need to be different than they used to be or your body won’t change.

Make a schedule. We’re all busy. But if you take the time to sit down and schedule in when you’ll shop, cook, and exercise each week, you’ll see that it is possible to do these things. Waiting to “find time” in between your other obligations will likely lead to inaction.

Rethink a comfortable yet unhealthy habit. Do you take it for granted that every night after dinner, you will sit down in front of the TV with a bowl of ice cream? Maybe you’ve stopped asking yourself if you even want this ice cream on any given night—you simply go on autopilot and grab it no matter what. Start to notice these habits, question them, and decide if you’d like to do something else instead.

Seek out support. Perhaps a friend or family member is willing to take this journey with you and can provide you with moral support, or maybe you feel you need help from a professional. Either way, know that help is out there, and that this can make a big difference in whether or not you’re successful. If you would like personal guidance from me, you can always schedule a free one-hour consultation with me to get the process rolling. You can sign up here. http://www.jenniferschonborn.com/contact-jennifer-schonborn-aadp

Here’s to a happy, healthy 2014!



Why It’s So Hard to Keep the Weight Off
November 1, 2011, 11:34 am
Filed under: Food/Health Blogs, Healthy Lifestyle, weight loss | Tags: , ,

Time Healthland ran an interesting and somewhat frustrating piece about what happens to dieters’ bodies once they lose weight. In a nutshell:

“When obese people lose body fat, levels of the hormone leptin, which is produced by fat cells, drop. That signals to the brain that the body’s energy stores are low, slowing metabolism and triggering hunger.”

Anyone who’s ever lost weight may have experienced that sense of surprise and dismay at how easy it is to put the weight back on–if you eat the same things as your friends who were never fat you might put weight on, while your friends would not. This hormone issue is the reason why.

I believe it helps matters if you didn’t lose the weight via a crash diet in the first place. Taking a slow, gradual approach that involves using foods that naturally regulate your appetite resets your “normal” habits and allows your body and mind time to adjust. This is the way I go about working with my clients. If you’d like to find out more about my approach and how I can help you, visit my Web site.


Are You Stuck on the Back Burner?

It’s easy to put yourself last. Work takes up almost every waking hour. If you have kids, they take up the rest. Then there’s the stuff that has to be done around the house, bills to pay, food shopping to be done, and maybe, just maybe, a few minutes at the end of the day to watch TV. But real, quality “me” time? And your health? Those are things that will just have to wait.

But wait for what? When, exactly, will you ever find time to take care of yourself? If you keep putting it off, sooner or later you’ll be forced to make time, like when you finally burn out, get sick, and realize you just can’t keep up your current pace.

Before you reach the point of breaking down from stress, or hearing that your constant eating-on-the-go has led to a diagnosis of reflux or diabetes, or realizing that without really noticing it you put on 15 pounds this past year, take some time to reassess where you and your health fall on your priority list.

If making changes for the better and paying attention to your well-being are always on the back burner, now’s as good a time as any to fix that. You’re busy, and you will continue to be. But you can simply resolve to do something for yourself–today–or suddenly years will slip by and you’ll still be neglecting your health and doing the same-old, same-old.

Start small. Do one thing this week that you know is a step in the right direction. Eat something green instead of something deep-fried. Go for a brisk walk. See how much it costs to take a yoga class at that studio nearby. Make an appointment to get a physical. Little actions like this will all start to add up as the weeks go by, and will begin to make a real difference in how you feel.

And if you need support in reaching your health or weight-loss goals for 2011, please contact me to set up time for a free consultation. You can see how I’ve helped my clients here.