WHY are you eating? One of the “W’s” of weight loss

There are 3 major factors to weight loss – WHAT (are you eating), WHEN (are you eating) and WHY (are you eating). I think the why gets overlooked often so I’ll be addressing that today.

Do you ever stop to ask yourself WHY am I eating?

To ask yourself the why, take a moment before you put a bite into your mouth to assess  what on earth is going through your body and what is happening in your brain.

Before you take a bite…ask yourself:

  • Am I truly hungry or am I bored/tired/anxious?
  • Do I want something fun to do or do I want to feel pleasure right now?
  • Do I feel obligated because someone is offering me something and I don’t want to offend?
  • Do I think I’m “supposed” to eat because I might get hungry later or because we are “supposed” to snack or eat breakfast?

Food is a pleasure and it’s ok to sometimes eat for fun BUT, if you want to get to optimum health and to your natural weight, focus on food for FUEL.

I use the metaphor of the gas station – suppose you fill your car up with gas and then go home and are bored – would you turn around and get more gas in the car? Of course not. But, when you eat when you are not hungry, you are essentially doing the same thing.

I recommend you make a habit of figuring out what is going in your brain and your body fist THEN decide if you are truly hungry and then make a choice whether to eat or not.

If you have trouble figuring out if you are hungry, read my article here on how to tell the difference between hunger and craving by paying attention to your hunger signals.


How to Just Be

I consider myself an extremely productive person. My husband jokes that if he leaves me alone for 20 minutes he’ll find me re-tarring the roof, learning a new language or re-organizing our cabinets.
Being productive is wonderful. It’s gotten me to where I am in my career as well as in my personal life but I think I need some remedial training on how to just be.
One of my new practices is to focus on my senses. I start each day with the intention that I will savor every taste, notice everything I touch, smell, hear or see. That usually lasts about 90 seconds before I forget to practice it. But, the more I remind myself to do this practice the more successful I know I will be. Even through the practice of forgetting and remembering, I am changing my habits.
How does this fit into weight loss and health? I believe that we often use food as our main pleasure and stress reliever. By slowing down to savor life through our senses, we can have a little moments of stress relief and pleasure.

If what you are doing for weight loss isn’t working…try one of these 7 things:

I know this seems obvious but, if what you are doing to lose weight is not effective you might consider trying something else.

But first…

  1. Evaluate if you are really committed. I have a lot of clients who tell me that they tried a specific diet like Keto or Paleo or some other plan and it just didn’t work for them. Often, upon investigation, I find that whatever strategy they were using they did for a week actually did lose a bit of weight but got bored or frustrated or quit. or, they got off track and just kept going.
  2. Consider getting evaluated for a medical reason as to why you aren’t losing weight. Hormone imbalance is often a factor in weight loss issues. Have you had your thyroid checked? If you are woman over 35 have you had your female hormones tested? Are you insulin resistant? Working with a good functional medicine provider is always a great place to start to get these things properly tested.
  3. Consider working with a coach, medical provider or nutritionist who completely understands (and has had success with) sustainable nutrition plans. While many of us are successful at doing things on their own there is so much misinformation out there and there are so many people trying to make a buck on the latest diet fad. It’s a good idea to work with someone who actually understands how different foods affect your body and, this may save you time and money in the long run.
  4. Ask yourself if you are looking for a quick fix. I have patients and clients who come to me every day and ask for pills, injections or potions that will help them lose weight and I have to inform them that no such magical medication exists. If it did, I would be handing it out. The only effective and sustainable weight loss technique is to change the quantity and type of food you are eating.
  5. Are you relying on working out? This might have been effective when you were younger but working out (unless you are an Olympic athlete exercising for 6 hours a day) does not make much of a dent in terms of weight loss.
  6. Do you give yourself a pass on the weekend? I’m all for the occasional treat but being super consistent all week and then loosening things up from Friday night to Sunday night may sabotage your efforts during the week.
  7. Are you already at a healthy and maintainable weight? I’m not saying you can’t tweak your diet to get a lower number on the scale but, is your weight goal reasonable? This calculation (though cumbersome) might be useful.

Stop calling it “cheating” on your diet

I’m guilty of it too…I eat a little piece of chocolate or sleep in instead of going to the gym and I tell my husband that I “cheated.”

But is it really cheating?

Cheating involves a dishonest act in order to win a game or save money (as in cheating on taxes) or having a secret love affair. Cheating connotes some sort of victimization of another person or a company and it is usually a secret. Are you really going to tell your friend that you are cheating her at monopoly? When I eat that piece of chocolate I’m not hiding it from anyone and I’m not hurting another person.

I think we love this term because it absolves us of wrongdoing…BUT it also is super demoralizing

It’s like that old trope of the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other. When we call eating off our diet protocol “cheating” we blame our bad nature and that helps us distance ourselves from the act. And, since cheating involves keeping a secret, I think we like to pretend that we are getting away with something.

The term cheating also has a kind of moralistic tone to it. I’ve heard many clients refer to sticking to their diet as good as in “I’ve been good this week” or “I was bad this week” as if there is something inherently morally superior to sticking to diet.  Thinking in this fashion can be demoralizing.

Instead…take control and OWN your choices

When it comes to a diet or any lifestyle choice, you are either consistent or not consistent with your plan and your results (or lack there of) will show accordingly.  Instead of saying “I cheated” or “I was bad” consider saying “I chose to have a treat” or “I made a mistake and I’m going to move on and get back on plan” or “I’m on a journey and I am bound to make mistakes.”  Isn’t that so much more empowering and less demoralizing?

And, when do you go of course, learn from it

If you keep referring to this act as “cheating” you are much less likely to take responsibility and less likely to benefit from the experience.

Ask yourself:

  1. why did I go off plan (was I bored, tired, anxious etc.)?
  2. Did that ___ (cookie, muffin, potato chip) solve my problem ? Remember, the ONLY problem that food actually solves is the problem of hunger.
  3. If not…what can I do to help with my problem? For more on this topic check out my blog post here.
  4. What happened to me physically when I ate that _____ (pizza, popcorn, ice cream, etc.). Was it totally AMAZING? Did I feel like a million bucks?

And, if you do have the occasional treat for goodness’ sake, drop the the guilt and ENJOY IT!!

You are a human in a human body and it is natural to enjoy life’s pleasures!

Please stop drinking gallon jugs of water

Over the past year or so, I have had numerous patients who walk in to my office toting a half-full water gallon jug  proudly announcing that they are drinking at least one gallon of water per day. I see people carrying gallon bottles in the gym and on the street. I’ve seen multiple Instagram and Facebook pictures with body builders posing with their plastic jugs of water and I’ve seen blogs of people who have done the “water gallon challenge” who report that their skin, sex life, body and mind are radically improved from this protocol.

I’m not sure how or when this became the go-to strategy for weight loss, muscle building or general health. I get that people are trying to be as healthy as possible but this is not a great way to go about that. I’d like to address this topic today because there are health risks associated with this behavior.

I do not recommend consuming water this way for several reasons:

  1. There is no evidence that consuming excessive amounts of water helps with weight loss. Yes, it might temporarily suppress your appetite but as soon as you urinate out the water, you’ll be hungry again.
  2. Excessive water consumption can dilute the essential electrolytes in your body like sodium and potassium. These electrolytes are important for your heart, brain and other body parts to function.
  3. Excessive water consumption can cause something called “water intoxication,” a potentially fatal condition which is caused by severely lowering the sodium in your body.
  4. Plastic bottles are filled with chemicals like BPA (bisphenol A) and other dangerous plasticizers that are linked to hormone imbalances, brain and behavioral issues, increased blood pressure and other health problems. The BPA and other plasticizers in these bottles seep into foods and beverages that are contained in plastic. Note – many canned foods also have BPA in their liners which come into direct contact with your foods.
  5. Plastic is terrible for the environment. Consider getting a filter on your sink at home and filling up your own bottles each morning.

How much water should I drink?

This is individualized. Most of us have heard 8, 8 oz. glasses per day and some medical professionals suggest that we drink 1/2 of our body weigh in water per day. I don’t have a specific number that I recommend. As a good rule of thumb,  always drink water when you’re thirsty, hydrate as you go (as opposed to downing 64 ounces in one sitting) and drink enough to quench your thirst and drink to replace fluids lost during exercise or heat.

Avoid drinking from plastic (even the “BPA free” type)

I recommend avoiding plastic cups and bottles (especially the soft plastic type).  Drink from glass, porcelain or stainless steel. Even those bottles and cups labeled “BPA free” typically have other plasticizers in them that cause issues similar to BPA.


How do I treat my thyroid disease?

Welcome to part 3 of my series on thyroid disease.

Most people diagnosed in the US with hypothryoidism have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis – an autoimmune disorder in which your white blood cells (antibodies) attack your thyroid leading to chronic inflammation. Therefore it’s important to avoid things that cause your body to attack itself.

If you have already been diagnosed by a qualified professional with autoimmune thyroiditis, you may want to consider some of these supportive options (most of these are great tips for anyone to lower inflammation).

  1. Reduce or eliminate foods with pesticides and chemicals. If an all-organic diet is not practical for you, check out the EWG’s guide to fruits and veggies to  eat organic and foods that you can get away with.
  2. Avoid foods that often trigger inflammation and autoimmune issues such as dairy, gluten and sugar. Also avoid artificial sweeteners found in diet sodas. Some people may need to eliminate other triggering foods. I work with clients who have often eliminated that obvious foods and are still suffering to hone in some other possible triggers. T4 and T3 get converted in the thyroid as well as the digestive system so your gut microbiota needs to be properly balanced.
  3. Drink the cleanest water possible avoiding plastic bottles. I suggest a good home filtration system.
  4. Eat foods that support thyroid such as broccoli and other leafy greens, seaweed, fatty fish like sardines and other fish.
  5. Have your provider check your blood for vitamin and mineral deficiencies. I often see zinc, magnesium and D deficiency with my thyroid patients. These may need to be replaced.
  6. Consider thyroid support supplements. I would suggest that you work with a qualified naturopath or functional medicine provider to get recommendations for this.
  7. Work on your stress. All of the hormones in the body are affected by each other. If you want to improve your thyroid you must also balance your other hormones such as cortisol (stress hormone). Mindfulness based stress reduction, yoga, meditation, cognitive therapy or EFT can be very helpful.
  8. Balancing all of your hormones, including sex hormones, adrenal or stress hormones, and thyroid hormones, becomes crucial if you want to heal. They are all interconnected; they interact with one another like a musical symphony. When any instrument in the symphony plays out of tune, problems arise.
  9. Some patients may need to go on thyroid replacement medication. These medications are either synthetic (like Synthroid) or bio-identical (like Armour or Nature-Throid). It is important that you work with a provider who understands the nuances of each type of treatment and can find the right one for you and continues to test your levels with bloodwork to make sure you are on the right dose.

Please note that this article is for information purposes only. Always check with your medical provider before starting any treatment.

How does the thyroid function (or not)?

Today I’ll be continuing my series on hypothryoidism and the thyroid.

What is a thyroid anyway and what does it do?

The thyroid is a small gland located in the neck. It’s role is to absorb iodine from the diet and  combine it with the amino acid tyrosine to create the thyroid hormones T3 and T4. How the thyroid “knows” to produce thyroid hormone involves a complex chain of signaling hormones.

  • First the hypothalamus in the brain sends a hormone signal called Thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) to the pituitary in the brain.
  • The pituitary then sends a hormone called thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) to the thryoid itself which tells it to create thyroid hormone.
  • 96% of the thyroid that the the thyroid gland produces is in the “inactive” form of T4 and approximately 4% is in the “active” or working form of T3 which occurs in the thryoid as well as in other organs live the liver and the intestines.
  • Most of the T3 (and T4) in the body is attached or bound to a protein found in the blood. The most active form of T3 is called free T3.

If your thyroid is functioning properly it converts T4 to T3 as needed to perform essential bodily functions and you have enough free T3 floating around to do the necessary work in the body. However, if the thryoid is not functioning properly either due to a deficit in iodine or, most commonly, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis (autoimmune thryroid disease) or due to some other form of thyroid disease, you might not make enough T4 or the T4 does not get converted properly to T3 or the T3 stays bound up.

The active thyroid hormone T3 gets to every tissue in in the body to keep multiple organs in the body working as they should. So, when we don’t have enough functioning T3 many body functions will be affected.

So do you see now why I like my clients to be testing robustly for thyroid disease? It’s entirely possible to have a completely NORMAL or mildly abnormal TSH (the only thyroid marker many medical providers test for) and even a normal T4 but to have low T3 or low free T3 and feel the effects of thyroid disease.

To fully research whether or not you have thyroid disease I suggest you also get tested for: TSH, Free T3, Free T4, Total T4, TPO (thyroid peroxidase) and anti-thyroglobulin antibodies. It’s important to work with a thoughtful medical provider who can test you you properly to not only uncover thyroid dysfunction but also work on some of the root causes.

Next week I’ll talk about some basic steps for treating thyroid disease.

Please note that this article is for information purposes only. Always check with your medical provider before starting any treatment.

Am I overweight because my thyroid is underactive?

I get a lot of questions about the thyroid and it’s role in weight loss so I wanted to spend some time explaining the basics of hypothryoidism and the role of the thryoid.

What is hypothryoidism?

Hypothyroidism is a medical term that means that your thyroid is underactive and therefore not producing enough thyroid hormone. The vast majority of people with thyroid disease have a form of hypothyroidism called Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, an autoimmune condition that inflames the thyroid and causes hypothyroidism.

Am I affected?

Are you tired, cold, depressed or constipated? Do you notice that your eyebrows are thinning? Is your hair thinner and is your skin drier? Do you struggle to lose weight even though your diet is relatively well-balanced? Do your lab reports indicate high cholesterol, vitamin or mineral deficiency or blood sugar issues? While these signs and symptoms might be due to a number of issues, you might have an undiagnosed thyroid condition called hypothyroidism or underactive thryoid. You also might have something called sub-clinical hypothyroidism which means that your thryoid labs might only be mildly abnormal but you might be experiencing symptoms anyway.  Most medical providers in this case like to take  “watch and wait” strategy until you feel really awful or your labs are a total mess I suppose. My philosophy. is that if you aren’t feeling well, we should act.

Hypothroidism is often undiagnosed.

Many clinicians only order a test called Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH). Ordering this test alone does not tell the whole picture. In fact, it is possible for TSH to be normal but to still have thyroid imbalance that is negatively affecting your health and well-being.

When lab tests are relatively normal or more complex labs haven’t been ordered, hypothyroidism or sub-clinical hypothyroidism is frequently missed. In my practice, I have uncovered many cases of otherwise undiagnosed thryoid issues because the labs that help clinicians diagnose this condition are often not ordered and because the symptoms of thyroid disease are often just considered a “normal” part of aging.

Thyroid disease is very common

The American Thyroid Association tells us that approximately 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease and up to 60 percent of them are unaware of their condition. One in eight women is effected. Women are five to eight more likely than men to have thyroid issues.

What should I do if I suspect that I have thyroid disease?

The first step is to  get properly tested.

To fully research whether or not you have thyroid disease I suggest you also get tested for: TSH, Free T3, Free T4, Total T4, TPO (thyroid peroxidase) and anti-thyroglobulin antibodies. These last two markers are an indication of autoimmune thyroid disease. This is important to test for because, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, an autoimmune disease that affects the thryoid, is the number one cause of thyroid disease in the US.

I also recommend working with a functional medicine provider who can help you address and treat the root cause of thyroid disease and, importantly, have a mechanism to track your progress and adjust your treatment as needed, rather than just ignoring the  till it gets worse or going directly on a medication.

Next week I will continue my discussion of thyroid disease with an overview of hypothryoidism and the thyroid.

Please note that this article is for information purposes only. Always check with your medical provider before starting any treatment.

Peanut butter cups – Low carb insanely yummy – Food Prep-spiration part 4

I don’t recommend sweets on a daily basis but once in a while it’s nice to have a sweet treat that doesn’t sabotage your weight loss and health goals. Because these are so much lower in carbs  (mini cup <2 grams, 74 calories, larger cup <4 grams 147 calories) than a traditional peanut butter cup (22 grams, 230 calories) and so much higher in fiber I find they don’t trigger my overeating snack monster that seems to take over once I start eating sweets or savory treat.

These are so easy and quick to make and they look pretty darn authentic. The small ones have less than 2 net grams of carbs and they are FILLING because of the fiber so you can’t eat a ton of them. You will need a muffin (or mini muffin) tin and paper liners. I prefer to make the smaller ones so if i eat two I feel like I’m really splurging.

Yield: 24 mini or 12 large peanut butter cups (serving size 1 regular or 2 mini cups)


  • 1 9 oz. package Lilly’s chocolate chips (or other stevia sweetened or keto-friendly chocolate chips). Be careful – some chocolate that is stevia sweetened has other sweeteners in it.
  • 5 Tbsp + 2 tsp. unsalted organic or Kerrygold butter or coconut oil (I prefer the taste of butter myself but it’s your choice and you can mix them as well)
  • 1/2 + 1/8 tsp Vanilla (optional)
  • 3 1/2 Tbsp creamy sweetener free salted peanut butter (I used Trader Joe’s organic peanut butter)
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar-free powdered peanut (I got some on Amazon – PB trimmed PURE – just read the ingredients on your powder, many have sweetener)
  • 1 pinch sea salt (optional, to taste)
  • 5 tsp. powdered erythritol (I use Swerve confectioners you can probably use liquid stevia or monkfruit but I haven’t experimented with them yet). Taste as you go. Some people prefer more or less sweetener. I found Swerve on Amazon and other sites and Whole Foods sells it too.


  1. Place mini muffin cup liners into mini muffin tin
  2. Heat 1/2 of the chocolate (4.5 oz) and 2 1/2 Tbsp of the butter or coconut oil in a double boiler, stirring until melted. Can also heat in microwave stirring every 20 seconds. Add 1/4 tsp. of vanilla. I like to stir with a chopstick so I don’t lose a lot of my chocolate on the spoon.
  3. Fill the bottom of the cups evenly with chocolate and place in freezer. Freeze for 10 minutes. Be sure that they are on an even surface or the chocolate may run to one side.
  4. While the first layer freezes: mix the peanut butter, 2 tsp. coconut oil or butter in the double boiler or microwave like before, stir in the powdered sweetener, 1/8 tsp vanilla. Add salt and/or more sweetener to taste. Stir until smooth.
  5. Take the tin out of the freezer and place a little blob of the peanut butter mix on top of each chocolate layer. Freeze for 10 mins.
  6. make the top layer of chocolate like you made the bottom layer
  7. Take the tin out of the freezer and place the chocolate layer on top
  8. Freeze from 20-30 mins until firm.
  9. Store in the freezer or fridge

Note: if you are not a huge chocolate fan, you can just do the bottom layer of chocolate and leave them open topped.

Creamy Mushroom Chicken – Food Prep-spiration part 3

This tastes so yummy and decadent. You’d swear that you were eating something unhealthy. Easy and fast and heats up well.  


  • 1 pound chicken cutlets
  • 1 small onion
  • 5 cremini mushrooms
  • 1/2 tsp pink Himalayan salt, more to taste
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 3 tbsp. Kerry gold butter or grass fed organic butter, unsalted
  • 1/3 cup full fat organic canned coconut milk (mix it up before you measure, sometimes it separates)


  1. Heat a cast iron skillet on medium heat.
  2. While skillet is heating slice your mushroom and onions (if you are using pre-chopped onion it’s about 1/2 cup)
  3. Once your skillet is hot, add in two tablespoons of butter. When melted add in the sliced mushrooms, sprinkle with ¼ tsp salt. Sauté until browned, then add in the onions. Keep stirring until softened, about 6 more minutes. Remove the mushroom and onion mix from the skillet.
  4. Add in the last tbsp. of butter. Sprinkle your chicken cutlets with the remaining salt and thyme. Place in the skillet side by side. Cook for five minutes on one side. Then flip over. Cook another 5 minutes.
  5. Add the mushroom and onion mix back in. Pour the coconut milk right over it.