Taste the Sweet Rebellion: REBEL Against Dieting Workbook – Interview
Kait Fortunato, RD, LD, Dana Magee RD, LD, CLT and Rebecca Bitzer, MS, RD, LD, CEDRD joined us for an interview on their book Taste the Sweet Rebellion: REBEL Against Dieting Workbook. What follows are our questions in italics, and their thoughtful answers.
What experiences as Registered Dietitians led you to become REBEL Dietitians?
Being dietitians in private practice we see a high volume of clients, many of whom sought us out for weight loss. Unfortunately, we were seeing client after client coming into our office feeling defeated after following numerous diet programs in their past, losing weight, only to regain the weight a year or two later. Hearing that they were ready to try to lose weight again made us stop and think, is another diet really what this client needs? We wanted them to live a life free from the sense of failure that comes along with dieting and protect them from spending all of their time and energy on calorie counting, guilt, and shame.
One of our first goals in writing the REBEL workbook was to show people that they did not fail, but it was actually the diets who failed them. Dieting is not the answer and although we live in a diet-filled society and we are DIETitians, we know firsthand that dieting erodes self-esteem and for some can be a gateway drug to a full-fledged eating disorder. For example, two young women who decide to go on a diet together may have very different experiences. One may be on the diet for a few days or weeks, and then she is off the diet, never giving it another thought. Her dieting partner, however, may have a genetic predisposition that turns dieting into an obsession about food and calories, potentially evolving into an eating disorder. Thus, the food restriction of dieting, combined with the genetic predisposition, can lead to anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, or a combination of all three. Eating disorders are serious illnesses with life-threatening physical and psychological complications. As Registered Dietitians we feel it our obligation to be proactive in fighting these terrible diseases. We want to empower people everywhere to love their body and REBEL against the diet industry and its view of body image and health. As REBELs, we redefine the Diet in Dietitian. There is a better way. We encourage our readers to embrace self-care, foster their love for food, throw out the diet mentality, and create a healthier relationship with food and themselves.
You explaining dieting “as predictable chain of events that often lead to disaster”. Can you please elaborate?
Unfortunately, many of our clients have been on a diet long before they were even old enough to know what a diet was. That diet, especially when at a young age, can be the catalyst to a lifetime of chronic dieting or even an eating disorder, for those that have the genetic predisposition. The cycle of the diet begins with some sort of negative feeling such as insecurity, loss of control, pressure, or fear. These feelings can become a trigger to start a diet.
Unfortunately, once your trigger has made you vulnerable, it is understandable that you want to look for a solution. Because we live in a dieting culture, you don’t have to look far to be allured by a diet program. Most diets begin with an exciting promise such as “lose 30 pounds in 30 days!,” “lose weight with our miracle diet pill!” Sounds too good to be true and, let’s face it, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
With these diets, there is some sort of restriction placed on food. The details change with each diet, but they all focus on some kind of food avoidance. Many diets begin with the elimination of an entire food category such as starches, dairy, or animal products. Yet, all of these foods supply essential nutrients. Even if you are balancing all of the food categories, you are still at risk for the physical and mental stressors of dieting if you are not eating enough.
These food restrictions often become a slippery slope. You start by avoiding a few foods, but tend to keep adding to your “bad food” list over time. This can leave you with a very short list of “diet-approved” foods, making eating both boring and frustrating as you try to plan meals with limited options.
Inevitably we cannot withstand the restriction and reach our breaking point where we “fall off the wagon.” Or maybe life throws us a curve ball like moving, changing jobs, losing a family member, or becoming pregnant and the diet does not allow the flexibility to change along with it. There is an overwhelming sense of guilt once you fall off a diet plan. In your mind, you have failed. Guilt is the next step of the dieting cycle – in the end, you feel terrible about yourself and think, “It’s my own fault; I can’t even follow this simple diet.” As a result, you may go back to old habits, overeat from restricting food for so long, and gain back whatever weight was lost (if any). The feeling of failure is overwhelming and another triggering force hits, and the cycle starts all over.
Your Taste the Sweet Rebellion: REBEL Against Dieting Workbook provides educational information, case summaries, and writing exercises. How do you feel the inclusion of the case histories aids your readers?
As dietitians, it is our job to follow the science, interpret and disperse this science. The education in the workbook is there to give people factual information on the importance of macronutrients, micronutrients as well as balance, variety, and flexibility. Many times, clients have been on so many diets with countless rules and restrictions that contradict one another. This makes it difficult to tell what is true and based in the science of nutrition or the biology of the human body, and what is a rule from diets past.
The case studies are real client situations that occur over and over in our office. Our readers are not alone and this is a real struggle and they don’t deserve to live in this dieting cycle. The summaries also help to visualize having a rich, meaningful life without focusing on the number on a scale or the size of your clothes.
Producing a workbook in particular was important for us in order to provide readers a space to reflect on what they were reading. Living in our society they are bombarded daily with messages of body hate, weight loss, and extreme eating. We felt they deserved space that was free of these negative messages about their body and what they were eating. We wanted them to become aware about their own history and develop how they want their future story to read. It gives hope as they can see a better outcome to what they are struggling with now, and they can finally find peace with food.
Can you please define “confident eating?”
Many of our clients have come to us with a laundry list of diets past. With all of these diets we are taught that we are not to be trusted around food, we need someone or some plan to tell us what, when, and how much to eat. Truthfully, mankind has been gifted this ability in our biology. Confident eating is putting the clients back in charge of what, when, and how much they are eating. Confident eaters use hunger and fullness signals to decide when it is time to eat. They eat foods they are hungry for, listening to their bodies’ wants and needs. They eat in social situations without feeling guilty and have the ability to be flexible. Confident eaters eat in the gray area, realizing it is not all or nothing/black and white.
Do diets “boost metabolism?”
The term metabolism is “the breakdown of food and its transformation into energy.” Your body needs calories, even at rest, in order to survive. The majority of your daily caloric intake is used to fuel your essential organs including your heart, kidneys, lungs, and brain.
Feeding your body consistently is the best way to stimulate your metabolism, whereas dieting is one of the culprits that can slow your metabolism. In fact, just 24 to 48 hours of food restriction can decrease your metabolic rate by 15 to 30%. Not only does your body need a lot more calories than is allotted on a typical diet (even without exercise), but cutting these calories will also damage your metabolism. Knowing this can help you resist those extreme calorie-cutting diets.
The process of starvation has been well documented and it really shows how much the body can do to protect itself in order to run the body systems. If you are feeding the body a limited number of calories, it will slow functionality to run on that amount by sacrificing enough to fuel the essential organs. The body can also increase the reward sensation for food in times of starvation to encourage more eating. That brownie actually does taste even better when you are starving. The body will also increase fat storage to protect itself.
You have included a number of REBELLIOUS recipes. How do your readers react to these?
Our readers wanted this information so much; we actually made how-to videos, along with meal planning tips and resources, to help this come to life. We all know what it is like chasing after the day and playing catch up when there is no plan. While living that way may have a level of excitement to it, going about the day without spending time considering what, where, and when you will be eating can really narrow your options. Without a plan, we start looking for options after hunger strikes and by the time the food is made or purchased we are far beyond pleasant hunger. Feeling ravenous can set you up for overeating and eating faster than usual leading to more food than the body is asking for at that time. Planning healthy foods ahead will allow you to eat at the moment of hunger, eat healthier foods, and reduce the stress around meal times.
We have fun with the food in our lives by cooking ahead and using the recipes as inspiration for meals. At times, meal preparation may feel like complete mayhem, but we have come up with recipes to reduce the mayhem and get meals on the table in simple ways.
The recipes in the workbook provide clients with the tools that we actually use in our kitchens, as busy professionals striving for a healthy work-life balance. Again, this is not dieting, it is learning and practicing how to be organized and manage food shopping, preparation, and storage of food for relaxed, mindful eating.
As Registered Dietitians, we put the most emphasis on our nutrition chapter to help provide as much knowledge as possible in our area of expertise: the “real facts” about food, nutrition, and your body that you don’t hear on the news or read in the magazines. We break down the food groups and provide real-life examples of how to plan meals and incorporate your favorite foods while taking into consideration your lifestyle, time constraints, and budgeting concerns.
Easy Chicken Parmesan
Easy Chicken Tenders
Easy Chicken Kabobs
Watch our Mayhem to Mealtime video to see us quickly make Meatloaf in Muffin Tins!
There’s a joy and a positive take in your writing as your provide steps for your readers to “Taste the Sweet REBELLION.” Where does this come from?
The “taste” in the title pays homage to eating mindfully and changing from a mindset of a weight focus to a focus on health and wellbeing. One of the main themes throughout our book is to savor your meals and enjoy your food. The “sweet” in the title represents the “bad food” groups on the list of many diets and in this workbook we are normalizing all foods and allowing all foods to fit. Our goal is to put them back into the positive light to be enjoyed. The REBELLION is encouraging our readers to rebel against societal pressures and stigma related to weight and health that we experience day in and day out. The REBELLION is meant to empower readers to take care of themselves, be kind to themselves, and nourish themselves.
We had fun with this book and want our clients to have fun reading it while learning about nutrition and understanding this important message. You will see fun metaphors throughout the book that hopefully help you relate to the nutrition information in a fun, engaging way.
We would love nothing more than to inspire our readers to end dieting for good and start working toward becoming confident eaters. We are not saying that this change will be over night, but it will be so worth it.
About the authors –
Rebecca Bitzer, MS, RD, LD, CEDRD
Pioneer of Empowered Eating Program
Rebecca is an award-winning Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who is both a seasoned nutrition counselor and successful business owner. As a REBEL Dietitian, Rebecca has been counseling clients using a non-dieting approach for over twenty years; even before Binge Eating Disorder was an official diagnosis. She has the knowledge and experience to provide both individualized and group nutrition counseling to clients of all ages and backgrounds.
She enjoys finding creative solutions to keep her clients motivated to make positive lifestyle changes and to meet their nutrition goals. She strives to continually fine-tune her nutrition counseling skills, sharpen her knowledge of dietetics and develop new programs to encourage the success of her clients.
In 2011, Rebecca launched the Empowered Eating program, which is designed to provide hope for people struggling with eating disorders and their loved ones. Regardless of where someone is in their recovery process, they will receive the personalized care they need to overcome their food struggles and reclaim their lives. Rebecca helps her clients find creative outlets for expressing their feelings and for working through issues related to food and tailors her approach to each individual person to encourage their success.
She has co-authored two books , most recently a workbook to help people nourish their bodies well without dieting called Taste the Sweet Rebellion: REBEL Against Dieting. She is on the board of directors of Nutrition Entrepreneurs, a Dietetic Practice Group of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and has taught classes at the University of Maryland, Columbia Union College, and Montgomery College. She earned her Undergraduate and Master’s degrees from the University of Maryland in Food and Nutrition and completed her dietetic internship at the University of Virginia Medical Center in Charlottesville, Virginia.
She was recently awarded Behavioral Health and Nutrition’s Excellence in Practice in Eating Disorders award and TD10: Today’s Dietitian’s Six Annual Showcase of 10 Incredible RDs Who Are Making a Difference.
Kait Fortunato, RD, LD, CEDRD
Empowered Eating Program Nutritionist
Kait Fortunato Greenberg is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Eating Disorder Registered Dietitian working with clients to form a healthy relationship with food, specializing in binge eating disorder, emotional eating, and restrictive eating disorders. Her program REBEL Against Diets helps clients break free from diet prison once and for all! She works hard to spread the non-dieting message encouraging people to not let food get in the way of what truly matters in their life and to start loving themselves for who they are.
Kait also works with clients that may be struggling with disordered eating in sports. Individuals involved in sports which emphasize weight requirements, sports that focus on the individual as opposed to the whole team, athletes with low self esteem, and pressure to become an elite athlete all pose significant risk factors for eating disorders in athletes. It is important for coaches, parents, school staff, and teammates to be aware of the risk factors associated with eating disorders and athletes. Kait wants to help you learn how to have a healthy relationship with food and learn to respect your body both on the field and off. Check out Kait’s program, Empowered Eating for Athletes, for more information.
Kait is the author of “Taste the Sweet REBELLION: REBEL Against Dieting Workbook” and “Welcome to the REBELution: Seven Steps to he Private Practice Of Your Dreams,” and travels the country inspiring dietitians and clients alike to do what they love and practice exquisite self-care. In 2013, Kait was named the Outstanding Young Registered Dietitian of the Year by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Practice.
Dana Magee, RD, LD, CLT
Empowered Eating Program Nutritionist
Dana is a REBEL Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who provides individual nutrition counseling sessions with the mission to rebuild her clients’ relationship with food.
Dana sees clients for overeating, Binge Eating Disorder, restrictive eating, emotional eating, PCOS, diabetes, and digestive wellness.
Many of Dana’s clients may have been on the dieting roller coaster for most of their lives and have experienced some weight loss only to gain it back and more, not to mention experiencing more stress from watching the number on the scale. The research shows that dieting just does not work and will bring the dieter further away from their nutrition and health goals. This is why Dana offers the REBEL Diets Program. Whether you have been a lifetime dieter or have just begun to experiment with dieting Dana can help you to nourish your body, improve your health, and limit your stress around food.
Dana’s goal is not only to help her clients improve upon their nutrition knowledge and to help create healthy habits, but also to better their quality of life and conquer their disordered eating. Dana is passionate about supporting her clients with the tools they need to allow them to become the experts on their own nutritional needs in order to achieve the long term goals they are seeking.
Dana also has a passion for creating quick and easy dishes as well as trying new recipes and sharing them with her clients. She further supports her clients with a blog and Facebook page dedicated to nutritional resources as well as step-by-step food preparation and grocery shopping tips.
Dana is a member of the Association for Size Diversity and Health. She is also a board member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Behavioral Health Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group and a member of the Nutrition Entrepreneurs Dietetic Practice Group. Outside of working with Empowered Eating, Dana enjoys cooking, being outside, exploring new restaurants, boating, and spending time with her friends and family.