Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Certified Dietitian Nutritionist, New York State License
New York University Master’s Degree in Marketing
Certificate of Training in Adult Weight Management (Levels I & II), Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
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This is Joy & Claire Episode 106: Understanding Nutrition with VANESSA RISSETTO MS, RD, CDN
Episode Date: December 23, 2021
Transcription Completed: January 2, 2022
Audio Length: 49:36 minutes
Joy: Hey guys, this is Joy. This is Joy and Claire. This is Joy with a hoarse voice. I was waiting to record this intro thinking that my voice would improve, and it has not yet. But it’s like Phoebe from Friends when she has the sexy phlegm. Except I don’t know how sexy I sound. But in any event, this interview was recorded last week before I lost my voice completely. So you just get a little weirdness from my voice, but the interview is wonderful. We were approached by Scout’s Agency, which we’ve talked about before, one of our favorite agencies who put women on podcasts. Of course, we are all about amplifying female voices. This is Vanessa Rissetto. She is the co-founder of Culina Health, and she has a really personalized approach to nutrition. Science is her first love. She is really interested in helping clients take an active role in their health. With the help of her expertise, they get a personalized lifestyle plan backed by evidence-based, science-driven nutrition counseling and building a better relationship with food. She received her M.S. in Marketing at NYU and completed her dietetic internship at Mount Sinai Hospital where she worked as a senior dietician for five years. She’s really fun to talk to, as you’ll hear in this interview. She has such a wonderful personality. I feel like we could be really good friends if we lived on the same coast. I think you’ll really connect with her and the realistic approach she takes with diet, nutrition. We’re always advocates for taking care of your health, but also doing it in a way that doesn’t slide down that slippery slope of diet culture. So without further ado, here is Vanessa Rissetto. We hope you guys are having a wonderful holiday. [pause] Thank you Vanessa for joining the show and joining the podcast. Claire and I have been doing this for a long time. We have been in and out of all the diets. And just a disclaimer, sorry guys for my voice. I’m still getting over this cold, so I apologize in advance for any cracking or weirdness that’s going on. We’re just going to have to go with it. Over the years, we’ve been through it all. Just a little bit of background on us, Vanessa, we’ve done macro counting. We’ve done fitness and nutrition challenges when we probably shouldn’t have because neither of us are trained in that. That was like ten years ago when everyone was doing that. And we became friends with a lot of nutritionists and dietician, and they’re like, “Yeah, stop doing that. You’re not in your lane.” So we know better now. But it’s just funny to see the evolution. So here we are. We’re at the end of a year. What are the things that we can do now to prepare ourselves for 2022? I know a lot of people get ready for the new year. What are the things that you feel are important as we’re going into the new year to get your mindset around how not to fall into the diet trap?
Vanessa: Yeah, just because it’s January doesn’t mean you have to go on some crazy food regimen or exercise regimen or whatever. If you feel like you want to do some better things for yourself, for your health, and January 1st because it’s a new year feels like a good launching pad for you – cool. But it doesn’t have to coincide with, “It’s 2022, so I’m going to give up alcohol for 30 days.” I mean, if you’re drinking a bottle of wine every day, it’s probably not the best thing and you should just want to slow that down. Or if you’ve been eating fast food every day for the last two months and no exercise and no water, running on empty, this might be a good time for you to do a little mental inventory and check yourself. But you don’t have to go balls to the walls because that never works. What happens is, you know, you go to the gym every single day for the first 31 days. And you stop drinking alcohol and you eat a salad every day. You feel really great, and then you’re like, “Great, it’s February 1st.” And you take a bottle of champagne to the head. So it kind of doesn’t work.
Joy: Yeah, it’s kind of like that all or nothing mentality. Which we get into a lot too, and that’s something that I continue to want to talk about is how we can get away from the idea that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. You can do little, tiny changes. And that also doesn’t mean that we’re succumbing to diet culture. That’s another thing that I personally have a problem wrapping my head around. Like how do we do things that are just objectively healthier and that’s okay. But it’s doesn’t mean now we’re full-fledged into the diet culture.
Vanessa: Yeah. I think this is an American thing. You’re either to the left or to the right –
Joy: Right, you’ve got to pick a camp.
Vanessa: And if you’re in the middle, then there’s something wrong with you. Just practice good sense, right? I’m sorry, but if you are 5’3” and 500 pounds, even if your lipid profile looks great, your joints are probably not doing well. So if you come to somebody and you say you’d like to lose weight, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. We are trained professionals. I am a registered dietician. I don’t subscribe to diet culture. I’m not going to give you an eating disorder. I’m not going to tell you to restrict your calories. On the contrary, every time somebody comes to me, they’re like, “It’s so weird. You’re telling me to eat food.” Uh huh… and then they do it, and they’re like, “I ate the food, and then I lost the weight.” I’m like, “I know.” And then someone the other day said to me, “I feel like I need to tell everybody how you ordered the way that I eat, and that is very freeing for me.” Everybody is different, and everybody has different goals. Maybe your goal is that you want to lose weight and you need some guardrails around that. Fine. But maybe somebody else’s goal is that they over obsess with food, and even tracking their food with cause a trigger. Alright, we’ll approach you entirely different. So it’s not wrong. Just like if you want to be an intuitive eater – cool. I can tell you what all the intuitive eating people are on their soapbox telling you is the right way. Let’s just remember that they don’t tell you the rest of the studies. Every study – I’ve read 60 of them now – tells you it’s a good starting point, but after that people need a plan.
Joy: Right. They need a plan, and it doesn’t have to be a one-size-fits-all approach either.
Vanessa: That’s right, that’s right, that’s right. Personalized medicine exists for a reason, and so does personalized nutrition. What is your goal, and let’s help you achieve that goal.
Joy: Yeah. So what is your personal philosophy. As a registered dietician, after all these years of experience, what is your approach?
Vanessa: Well, I listen to the patient first. I don’t have any agenda. If you want to do keto, I’m going to give you all the science as to what it is and then if you do keto versus a varied diet, whatever. If you still want to do keto, alright. We can do it. In the end, you’re going to be like, “This is not sustainable.” I’ll give you that disclaimer, but my job as a practitioner is to help you navigate around all of this bullshit. And maybe for some people, they want to do lots of different things because they want to feel like they didn’t leave something on the table. They want to feel like they’ve tried it out. They want to feel like they’re very informed for the decisions that they’re making for their body. I will always tell someone, a keto diet, that’s just diet culture sexed up. But if you want to try it, fine. Why don’t we just try it this way? Why do you want to restrict? Why does restriction feel like you’re doing something? Because I feel like as a population of people, women especially, you have to suffer as like your badge. Like, “I’m exhausted. I’m not eating anything. I’m wiring my mouth shut. It means I’m better. I’m doing all the work.” And it’s like, really?
Vanessa: That seems really not good.
Joy: It seems like you’re making it harder for yourself.
Vanessa: Correct. You’re going to be on your deathbed and be like, “Shit, those ten years that I spent doing X, Y, and Z were such a waste.” But really, what are your goals and how can I help you achieve your goals? I also always tell people, you’ve been doing it your way – by the time someone comes to me, they’ve exhausted all the diets. That’s the one thing I will say. When they come to see a registered dietician, it’s like, “Alright y’all. I’ve done all the books. I’ve done all the fads and all this stuff. It’s not working, so I’m coming to you to help me.” Okay. And then what will happen is, I’ll help them and they’re having success, and it feels really uncomfortable because there’s no gimmick. I’ve had patients be like, “So what do you give me?” Just go away with the one thing that I told you to do today. Drink water. Go do that. See you in a week.
Joy: But people want this quick fix or think that you have this secret answer that’s going to make them lose 20 pounds magically.
Vanessa: Right. But when they do lose weight – like I had this one guy who’s done like every diet. He’s lost now like 12 pounds in 5 weeks. He’s like, “This is feeling really great.” And then the other day, he’s like, “Should I be counting macros?” Why? He’s like, “I don’t know. I used to count macros before.” Well, you came to me because that didn’t work. You’re not counting macros now, right, and you feel fine? “Yeah. I just feel like it’s really weird. I’m in control. Weird.”
Joy: People need that control. It’s so interesting.
Joy: What about clients or patients that come to you and they’re like, “I want to lose an X amount of weight,” but maybe they don’t need to lose… do you ever have that conversation around making a realistic expectation for themselves?
Vanessa: Yes, 100%. When someone comes in, no matter what they weight, maybe they think they want to lose 10 pounds, maybe they think they want to lose 100 pounds. I always just say, “Why don’t we just change some of the behaviors and get your eating in a better pattern, and then we’ll see where we go. We’ll see where we end up. We’ll see where you feel good.” I had one patient who – she is single and she lives alone. COVID really did a number on her, right? Because she’s really social. She travels a lot with her friends. She goes and visits her friends often. And now she’s stuck in her house. She had gained weight to a number that she didn’t like. I think she was like 217 or 218. She was like, “I just don’t like that number. Before COVID, that wasn’t the case. I was in the 190’s and that’s where I felt good, and I just want to go back there.” That’s totally fine. She was stuck in her house, she was eating her feelings, and she was unhappy. Okay, great. So we ordered her patterns. The world was opening back up. She was moving her body more. Eating more vegetables. Eating more timed meals. She had been doing intermittent fasting and that just wasn’t working for her. And then she went down to like 190. She was like, “I feel so great. I’m so happy. This is great.” I was like, “Okay, great.” She was like, “I want to lose more.” And I was like, “Well, you’re postmenopausal. You’ve already done so much. You would probably not be able to go out with your friends and have your cocktails three times a week. Is that what you want to do?” And she was like, “Oh. No.” I was like, “Great, so we’re good here. You told me you felt great. Why do you have to keep going?” She was like, “I guess I didn’t think about it that way.”
Joy: Now you mentioned postmenopausal. I’m in my mid-40’s and I have friends that are older too. And they talk a lot about how do hormones play into all of this. Are there things that we should be doing as middle-aged women to take control of our health going through that phase?
Vanessa: Yeah. It’s so interesting that nobody cares about the perimenopausal or postmenopausal women. They just don’t. Prenatal, postnatal. I mean, they don’t even care about you when you are pregnant or after you give person. They care about the baby. You’re just a variable.
Vanessa: I’ve experienced this firsthand. But this perimenopausal world where I have all the women coming to me being like, “I haven’t changed anything, but I gained ten pounds and nothing is different.” I’m like, “Right. This is menopause.” And what I’m about to say, I’m not suggesting that anybody do this, but I just have a very frank conversation. When you’re postmenopausal, the fat is stored in a different way. You don’t burn calories as efficiently. You’ve got to pay to play. You want to be a size 5, 6, 4, whatever when you are 65 years old? Well, guess what? You’re not going to drink wine every single day. You’re not going to have the sweets all the time. Your carb count is going to be lower. You’re going to have to move more. That’s just real talk.
Joy: You’re like, if you want that, fine. Here’s what needs to happen.
Vanessa: Right. And the thing is, everybody is affected much differently. I’m not saying that everyone is going to gain this ten pounds. Everybody is different, and we all know this. But these are things to pay attention of. I always see people drinking every night. They drink every night. And you’re like, this is not a good habit to get into. You’re going to have a hard time as you age. But flip side, I feel like 80-year-olds being like, “I need to lose 20 pounds.” I’m like, guys.
Joy: Come on. You’ve lived a great life. You really want to focus on that in the last maybe hopefully ten years?
Vanessa: I talked to one woman the other day. I was like, “Do you have elevated lipids?” She’s like, “No.” I’m like, “Are you prediabetic?” She’s like, “No.” I was like, “Well, you just want to lose weight because…?” She’s like, “I just want to lose 10-20 pounds.” Okay, but you’re 80, so… how are we going to do it? We can try, I guess, but you’re fine. Everything’s fine. Live your life.
Joy: It makes me think about even in our 20’s or 30’s how we look at other bodies and we’re like, “I want that body.” Now I’m 44. I want my body when I was 20. At what point do we just have to be like, we can’t fight out biology. Stop trying to fight out biology because what ultimately happens is when you start fighting your biology, it starts pushing back and it’s like, “What?” And maybe causes other problems. Is that a thing?
Vanessa: Yes. Also, mental health. I feel like when I’m 80, I just want to be a grandma who eats crumb cakes and drinks champagne and wears red lipstick.
Joy: That’s having too much fun.
Vanessa: Yeah and is super fresh. Like, “Oh, this is my grandma. She’s super fresh. She just says whatever.” Not like, “Oh, do I look fat in these pants?’
Joy: No, just like baking cinnamon rolls every day.
Vanessa: Yeah. I just think you’re exactly right. Nobody is ever happy with what they have and appreciates – your body does a lot of work. It gets you from place to place. Some people give birth. Some people run marathons, triathlons. You do all this good work with your body, and you’re over here shitting on it. Guys, it’s okay. And listen, I get it. You want to feel better about yourself. You know that you’re not operating in the best way and you want to do more for yourself. I’m on board for that. But yeah, when the girl calls you and she’s like, “I want to lose 4 pounds” and you’re like, “Oh. Okay.” That’s when I refer you out. I have to refer you out. That is a problem. Even if you are, for all intents and purposes, overweight in people’s eyes, this hyper focus on 4 pounds is problematic. You need to talk to somebody about that. You’re not going to be happy with 4 pounds anyway, so this is something else.
Joy: Right. You’re like, “I can’t help you with this” because there’s more going on here. So what are some things that everyone can do to just take the realistic approach to nutrition? What are the basic things that we can all do to better our health? There’s nothing wrong with bettering our health.
Vanessa: Totally. Guys, drink water. You heard it here first. Everybody needs to drink water. Don’t tell me that you drank two 12 ounces of Poland Springs. That is not enough.
Joy: Wait, what is that?
Vanessa: You know, like these little 8-ounce bottles.
Joy: The little bottles? Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Vanessa: Guys, come on. I get these huge water bottles that are like 60 ounces. They have straws. I fill them up twice a day And everybody’s home, so don’t tell me that it’s hard for the bathroom. Your toilet is behind you. Drink water. Everybody, drink water. Don’t tell me you don’t like it. It’s cold, it’s wet, it’s hydrating. Do it. Drink water. Also, can you all eat one piece of fruit at least a day. There must be some fruit that you like. Please eat one. Also in that same vein, can you please eat a vegetable at lunch and dinner? Again, there is a vegetable that you like. My first son Rocko doesn’t eat anything. He eats vegetables. So if he eats vegetables, you all can eat vegetables too. Find one that you like. What we like to do with the children is we go buy fresh celery, bell peppers, carrots. We chop them up. We keep them in a container on a Sunday in water so they’re crunchy and fresh. Take a handful and put them on your plate. You don’t have to roast broccoli and brussels sprouts. Just something quick. Do that. Also, you need to sleep. You need to sleep. You need to prioritize sleep. It’s not cute to be on your cell phone at 2 o’clock in the morning because then you’re going to be crazy. You’re going to make bad decisions the next day, and you’re not going to eat the way that you want to. This is just not good for longevity or your brain. Please. Also limit your alcohol. I do not know why everybody is so crazy about cocktails all the time. I’m not anti-drinking at all. But guys, every day?
Joy: It’s kind of gotten out of hand.
Vanessa: Yes, it’s really out of hand. Everything is around alcohol. And people will be like, “Oh, you’re not drinking?” It’s Tuesday. I don’t know.
Joy: It’s noon. I mean, no judgement. But I’ve never been the person that can even have a mimosa because mentally, I’m like, “This feels weird.” No judgement if you do that on occasion, but I just feel like the culture right now is mimosas, and then we get happy hour, and then we day drink.
Joy: Alright guys, can we just pull it back just a little bit.
Vanessa: Right. Can we do other things? It’s funny. It was my birthday three weeks ago, and I just invited a bunch of friends to a Soul Cycle class, and then we had lunch, and then everybody went home at 2 o’clock. I am old now, so there’s that. But it was fine. I was watching television and then in bed by 10:30. I didn’t need to be drinking all night. And it’s not that you can’t have a drink, but it disrupts your sleep, you make poor eating choices. It’s just this crazy cycle, and you never get out of it. You’re dehydrated, you’re hydrated. Stop. Everybody stop. Those are my tips. And for the holidays, people are like, “I gained 15 pounds over the holidays.” Well I’ll tell you why. First of all, you don’t need to go out to every event that people invite you to. You just don’t. You can stay home. I don’t have to go out.
Joy: We’re still in a pandemic too.
Vanessa: But you know, my husband has a holiday party. Why do I need to go? I don’t even know these people. See you later. I don’t need to do that. you don’t need to eat every cookie that comes into your house. You don’t need to go out to every single dinner. You can say no. And it’s not because, “Oh, you’re going to overindulge.” It’s save your peace. Save your space. You don’t have to be running and going all of the time. If you just slow down and take care of yourself and not try to have to be everything to everyone, you’re going to do better.
Joy: Yeah. And how much stress affects the body is huge.
Vanessa: So much. It’s huge.
Joy: And you mentioned something too around wanting to go to all of these parties. It made me also think about emotional eating and how people get caught up in the holidays and then they binge or they overeat – like truly overeat, meaning they’ll have that uncomfortable feeling. So what are your thoughts about how people can approach the overeating that they may be doing, on how they can reel it back or not have that guilt associated with it.
Vanessa: I think the first thing is that because people tend to be going to events in the evening, they don’t eat all day. And so then they go somewhere and they overdo it. And then they come home and they continue to eat. But you weren’t even fueled properly to begin with, and now everything is out of wack. If you have obviously a true binge eating disorder, we have to take care of other things first. But if you’re just somebody who tends to overeat and not pay attention, there’s a little bit of this emotional component – do yourself a favor, eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Or breakfast, lunch, and a snack, and then go to the event and have your meal and call it a day. I’m not saying that it’s going to be a perfect evening, whatever that means. You’re going to do better if there’s food in your stomach, a thousand percent. And also, you have to really pay attention to what you’re doing. Do you get sad and drink? Do you get sad and overeat? Do you get sad and eat desserts? Do you get sad and not eat? I’m not one of those people. I eat at all the times. I eat even when I’m sick. It’s just like all my life revolves around my meals.
Joy: No judgement to any time. I welcome food at all times of my life. Yeah.
Vanessa: All times. All times. That’s the thing, looking in the mirror is really hard. Also, having somebody show you the mirror is really hard. So you have to really explore some of these things. When people are super adverse to writing down their food – I would never tell anyone to track in perpetuity, but we track in the beginning so that we can understand our habits. If it’s on paper and we see it, then perhaps we can understand, have a little insight into how we behave, why we behave the way we do, and then attempt to do better. The people who are like, “I hate tracking.”
Joy: Oh, yeah. They don’t want to see it. The anticipation of that – and I tracked macros way back when it was a thing. I’m not even going to tell you what happened. It was really bad for me.
Joy: But thank God, I lived and learned and moved on. I had Graves’ Disease last year. I was diagnosed with Graves’ Disease last year. I have successfully, I don’t know, reversed it. I saw a naturopath instead of going through traditional medicine. Just because I didn’t want to have my thyroid removed, whatever, whatever. Anyway. I remember she asked me that same thing where she’s like, “I just need to know what your food looks like, just so I can see where the holes are.” And I just remember having a reaction of, “No, I don’t want to.” I was like, why don’t I want to? I think it’s almost like reading someone’s diary too. Food choices are just a personal thing. But we don’t have to be ashamed of that. It’s kind of silly how we make it such a big deal, at least some of us do. But we also don’t want to face it because food is so emotional.
Vanessa: That’s right, that’s right. Everybody had a relationship with food. Food insecure. Did your mother have an eating disorder? Did your parents use food to bribe you? Everyone’s relationship with food is complex, and everyone has to eat. This is tough stuff to work with. But yeah, tracking the food is no place of judgement. People will be like, “But I just don’t want you to judge me.” I’m not judging you. This is my job. I literally don’t care what you write down. I want to just know so I can help you. That’s it. Because you’re over here telling me X, Y, and Z and those things make you unhappy or those things make you sick, and we need to get a hold on how we can fix that.
Joy: No, that’s super important. Reassuring people, my job is not to judge here. This is a safe space. I’m just trying to help. It’s a part of my job. Yeah, so the emotional piece, I can see that. The emotional eating, kind of going back to that where you were saying just taking a look. Nobody likes to have the mirror held up to them. The other piece that I heart you talk about on another podcast that I really liked – again, with social media and trying to marry the idea of I want to be body positive, but I also want to look good. Sometimes I feel like we get… I’ll just speak for myself. I get it confused with wanting to look good versus, oh, am I succumbing to diet culture again? And I liked what you said in a recent interview where you were like, “It’s okay to want to look good.” I feel like the further point of that is, as long as we’re not beating ourselves up every day to try to look good type of thing. Talk a little bit more about that.
Vanessa: Yeah. Here’s the thing, what does “look good” mean to you versus what “looks good” means to me? Two totally different things. It’s okay if I want to look a certain way. It’s okay if I pay attention to my food. Because if I pay attention to my food and I eat in a certain way and my weight is this way, I feel that I look my best so I don’t have to be thinking about food and the scale and all this stuff. So that’s fine because my mental health is not suffering. It’s not being terrorized by thinking about this all the time. And also, I don’t look at people walking down the street and think they look whatever. First of all, nobody thinks that way. Nobody thinks about anybody but themselves because we’re all closet narcissists.
Joy: Oh, totally. I say this all the time to my clients. No one’s thinking about you, it’s fine.
Vanessa: Nobody’s thinking about you. So everybody calm down. It’s okay if you want to look good, and it’s okay if you feel that if you gain ten pounds during COVID and you don’t think you look good, and you know that it’s because you’ve been sitting around drinking and eating and not moving your body, and you just know that you’re 160 today but you feel really good at 150, then go ahead and do the work and lose the weight because that’s what makes you happy. And when all these influencers out there are like, “You need to explore why you want to lose weight.” Because I don’t want to fucking be 160 pounds. Because I don’t like it. Because my clothes don’t fit. That’s why. And I got to 160 pounds by being a dick and just eating and drinking my way through COVID. There’s no psychological craziness here. Super pragmatic.
Joy: Right, right. We’re just doing the math here. There’s just that black and white thinking that we fall into again where it’s like, okay, so on an individual level I want to weigh a certain amount because I know my body sits well there. Versus the example that I went through was when I macro counted I lost way too much weight. People who put me on these macro plans were not qualified to do so. That was an issue in and of itself. Then I got confused because I was like, oh wait, does my body want to sit there? Have I just been overeating my whole life? And it turns out, no, because my body quickly rebounded. Help us!
Vanessa: We’re back, we’re back, we’re back. You know, it’s funny. I went to the doctor the other day and I got my labs drawn. I definitely during COVID took it as an opportunity to be like, “I’m just going to snack a little bit more and not move as much.” I’m just going to wear leggings, and it’s going to be fine. Nobody notices but you, right? Only you are like, “I could really be doing something different.” Well, guess what? I went to the doctor. I have high blood pressure. Like, I have high blood pressure. I am not a big person. It’s stress, but also I could be doing things to help myself. And also, I have elevated liver values, which may or may not correlate with my weight at this moment in time. My husband is like, “Oh my God, this is so crazy. You eat so well, and you exercise.” I know, but I’ve been sort of dancing around here, seeing what I could get away with. Now it’s time to buckle in. I don’t like this because I don’t want these labs to keep going up. My cholesterol is high. But I was fucking around, so I have to do something about that.
Joy: Yeah. You’re like, objectively, these are the things I didn’t like. And I wanted to do something about it. I like that for listeners to hear. You really have to make that decision for yourself of what works for you and your own personal health and wellness and labs. You mentioned influencers too. I wanted to ask you a question about this. I see a lot of influencers pushing products. Maybe they don’t have the credentials to be giving nutrition advice. But we came from a CrossFit world where we were really heavy into CrossFit when we first started podcasting. Now we’ll see – and it’s not just CrossFit. It’s a lot of influencers – that will be pushing nutrition programs. What do people need to know as a consumer of what to be careful for when they’re entering into something like that?
Vanessa: Yeah. It’s so funny because I actually got on a call today with a big brand that has many brands underneath them and they were asking to work with me and how they could work with me and how do I work. I was like, the thing is, that’s really interesting. I’ll work with the same brand multiple times, but I won’t work with every single brand that comes in because it’s really about authenticity and integrity and that doesn’t align with it. I never want anybody to come back to me and be like, “You gave me some fiber powder that made me end up in the hospital.” I never want to hear that. Recently I did something with Hood Cottage Cheese. It’s high protein, and I made my kids these high protein muffins. It was really great. Ideas – this is just whole, fresh food, and that’s aligned. Or I just did one with a chip company, Stacy’s Pita Thins. Look, you can entertain with these and you can pair them as a snack. And that’s okay, right? If somebody’s telling you this is a food product that is good. It’s a registered dietician or a doctor. That’s fine. But you got to be careful. Supplement, meal program. Pay this money for this. That’s where it gets really dicey. Just think about it. Food brands are using influencers because they want to get more street cred. They know that an influencer like myself, someone who is a professional who does have a following, that helps them in a different way. One time, somebody was like, “Can you push our pills for weight loss?” I was like, “No.”
Joy: It’s amazing how many emails we still get after all these years. People will email us and be like, “We love your show. I’d love to be on your show.” And it’s all how to lose ten pounds in a week. Like, B.S. You can spot it from a mile away diet culture. I never write back because I don’t want to waste my time. But I always resist the urge to write back and be like, so what do you like about our show? They haven’t listened to one episode.
Joy: And also, if they had there’s no way in hell we would have them on our show to talk about how to lose 10 pounds in a week or whatever. It’s interesting.
Vanessa: It is really interesting. To your point, when they’re like, “Can you push this pill?” Do you follow me? Do you know who I am? No. No.
Joy: If you had read one post on our feed, you would know that this is not your audience.
Vanessa: But you know what else is so mind blowing? There are really people out there – people ask me all the time, “Do you think that this pill will work for me to lose weight?” I’m like, no, because we would all take it.
Joy: There’s always an audience for it.
Vanessa: Yes. You’re like, this would be a world of people who are all happy with their weight because they would be taking this pill.
Joy: This is why the diet culture is still around. It’s like Vegas. One more shot at winning the billion dollars. People will still buy into it because they think there’s that one thing that’s going to eventually happen to make everyone lose… they’re going to have the “perfect” bodies. There’s always going to be an audience. So what I always say to that is we’ll be here when you’re ready to –
Vanessa: Ready to come back to reality.
Joy: Come back and say, “Hey, actually I just want to be a happy person and not have diets consume my life.”
Vanessa: Right. I was looking at my kids the other day and I was thinking, damn, they’re so fucking lucky. And I was lucky too because my mother, we didn’t have a scale in our house growing up. My parents didn’t talk about weight. We just ate food. I didn’t know. The bad thing was that I didn’t know anything about foods when I got to college. I went to college in the Bronx, which is fast food everywhere and that’s a whole other episode. I gained 50 pounds. But then after college, I moved back home, and I lost all that weight just by eating my mother’s food. I actually didn’t make some attempt to lose weight. It was the year 2000. My influencers were found on the cover of Cosmopolitan magazine.
Joy: Yeah, totally.
Vanessa: But I don’t know, I just lost the weight because I went back to eating that food, and that was the end of that. It’s the same thing here. My kids just eat food. My kids are just annoyed by me because I’m like, “Please eat a vegetable, and please eat a piece of fruit.” But there’s still a candy jar they forget about. And then I go to throw the candy out and they’re like, “What are you doing?” Well it’s about to be Christmas, and I guarantee you’re going to get another 3.5-pound bag of candy, so everybody just relax. Which then I’ll have to throw out in April when Easter rolls around. Take it easy.
Joy: Yeah. Because it’s expired. You know what, we’re fine.
Vanessa: Exactly. They’re just lucky because they just see food and they eat it, and they eat what they like. The guardrail is that I want my kids to eat vegetables and try new foods because I don’t want them to be adults never having eaten a piece of fish. But otherwise, I don’t know. Just eat. So I hope that they will never fall victim to this diet culture, buy this pill, do this plan. It’s scary.
Joy: Right. I think back to the day – I was in college in the late 90’s. Oh my gosh.
Vanessa: Those were good days.
Joy: Such good days.
Vanessa: So good.
Joy: I was so happy. I didn’t grow up with social media. I’m just so grateful for that. But I’ll never forget when Friends came on the scene, it was all about the stars of Friends being like rail thin. And then Jennifer Aniston mentioned she did the Zone diet, and that just blew up.
Vanessa: Yes. Those Zone bars. Oh my God, you’re bringing it back, girl.
Joy: I mean, it was like, that was the world. I got the book. And I didn’t do it. Because when I was in college, I was like this is a lot of work. I just remember thinking back to where you don’t – I mean, you don’t know what you don’t know. But I would just drink gallons of coffee and take Ripped Fuel was the name – do you remember that stuff?
Vanessa: Yeah. That’s so funny. Wait, and then what was the other one?
Joy: I was like Jessie Spano trying to stay awake, and I’m singing “I’m So Excited” and crying on the floor. It’s so funny how you think back to, oh, poor body. You live and learn, and you try to be better, but you just can’t keep it – eventually, your body’s going to cry uncle. Done. Done, we’re tired. Maybe when you’re younger, you can rebound. But as you get older, your body’s not going to be so forgiving.
Vanessa: I mean, we talk about that all the time. “Remember when we used to go out until 3 o’clock in the morning, and then we would go to the gym at 5am and then do it all over again?” I’m like, sounds like I would need a month to recover from that.
Joy: Oh my gosh, my best friend and I in grad school, we would always talk about how we would go out and binge drink and get drunk and whatever. And then the next morning, we would wake up and go run ten miles.
Vanessa: Yeah. Yeah.
Joy: I have maybe one glass of wine these days, and I’m like, “Oh man, I need a nap.”
Vanessa: It’s like stroke inducing. Can you imagine? I would have palpitations if I drank until 4 o’clock in the morning and went running at 6.
Joy: Oh my gosh, yeah. So it’s like, okay. Let’s take care of our bodies. Especially coming into the new year, what are some things that we can – eat whatever we want, but it’s that whole taking intuitive eating – and we’ve had a ton of intuitive eating conversations with people who have been trained by Evelyn Tribole, and I really like that principle. I think it’s definitely one way to do things. But I also think there’s people who need structure. So again, it’s not black and white. Every person is different. But what are your suggestions for how people can start to get into a lane of actually really learning what intuitive eating really means, first of all. I hate when influencers are like, “I’m just intuitive eating.” We’re like, do you understand what that means?
Joy: But really also, just a balanced diet. Can we just move towards that too?
Vanessa: Yeah. People, eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You have all these people, I talk to them and they’re like, “So I don’t feel comfortable eating before 3pm.” And you’re like, “Okay…” “And then at night I don’t know why, but I eat a bag of chips, a pint of ice cream, cookies.” I’m like, ugh. I have to explain to them. During the day, your day is structured, right? So you can focus on your work. When you come home, your safe space where you can relax, so that’s when that happens. Help yourself. Eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Literally, eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I don’t even care when it is. Just eat the three meals and see what happens.
Vanessa: And then if you think you need a snack between lunch and dinner, which most people do because if you eat lunch at 12 and you don’t eat dinner until 7, you probably need to eat something in between. Good sense. And to help you stay awake. So have something. That piece of fruit that I said you should all eat. Eat a piece of fruit there. Not a big deal, right? And then once you get into the habit of that and understanding, oh, I’m actually hungry at this time. And when I eat cereal for breakfast, I need a snack at 10. But if I eat an egg and a piece of toast and an avocado, I’m okay until lunch time. But definitely after lunch, whatever lunch I have, around 4 o’clock, I need a snack. That’s how you understand your body and become intuitive. It’s not fucking rocket science. It’s not some magical principle.
Joy: Right. But I think a lot of people truly don’t understand how to listen to their body. That’s probably the extreme extreme. Just years and years and years, we let our mind take over instead of listening to those hunger cues. The shoulds, the shouldn’ts, whatever. How do you feel about intermittent fasting?
Vanessa: The thing is, the intermittent fasting studies that we’ve done, they’ve all been done on older white males. So if you don’t fit that bill, you probably should not do that. Although I have used intermittent fasting for my shift workers, for people that work while everyone is sleeping. It works for them. I helped a guy lose 50 pounds that way. Because of the way that his life operated. That works. That made sense for him. But everybody else, I’m not against it per se. But if you are not eating until 2 o’clock in the afternoon and you are seeing that you are overeating in the evening, then don’t intermittent fast. It’s not working for you. It’s not magic.
Joy: Why are you doing it in the first place? Is it because you read some diet article? Why are you doing it in the first place?
Vanessa: Probably. Because they read some stupid diet article. Also, the studies say that intermittent fasting and eating a varied diet with some parameters, you would lose the same amount of weight – which the average is like 6.6 pounds. So just change the way that you eat. Just eat regular food. But honest to God, eat timed meals. So intuitive eating doesn’t believe in timing your meal whereas eating competence, which is the precursor to intuitive eating by someone named Ellyn Satter, believes in timing the meals. Just for better intuition is what she says. And I subscribe to that.
Joy: It’s like my cohost, Claire. She’s very much that person who needs timing because she forgets to eat. That’s where it goes back to there shouldn’t be black and white thinking because everyone is different. And she’d be like, I have no issue eating. I just forget to eat. I need to have a timed meal.
Vanessa: Right. But once you time your meals and you start to realize what’s working for you, what helps you feel fueled, what do you eat that doesn’t sustain you that has you picking all over the place and maybe overeating. Once you pay attention to that – and maybe somebody will have to write it down because maybe you’ll forget – then you can up your game, and you can make better, more informed decisions about your body and how food affects your body. This is all just data so that we can help ourselves.
Joy: Okay, I have a couple questions from our listeners, and then we can kind of wrap up. Someone wanted to know, is it important to have a micronutrient intake? Do you have to track that?
Vanessa: No, girl. This is America. If you are eating foods – remember when we tried to put vitamins in Coco-Cola?
Joy: Oh my God, yes.
Vanessa: I was like, guys, the phosphoric acid in the soda is going to cancel out the minerals. And tried to charge people all kinds of money for that. You good. Don’t worry, I know that the soil isn’t as nutrient rich.
Joy: All those articles, yeah.
Vanessa: Yes, we know all of that. But eat a varied diet, maybe take a multi, eat vegetables. If you eat a lot of vegetables in your life daily, you should be okay with the micronutrients. Don’t make yourself crazy.
Joy: Okay, great. Whew. And I don’t want to make your head explode on this one, but I have a feeling you might. “I heard about the bean protocol. Any thoughts on that?”
Vanessa: What is the bean protocol?
Joy: Well apparently there’s a bean protocol that you basically just add beans to every single meal. It’s supposed to be a magical cure for something. I don’t know.
Vanessa: Because it makes you really full and then it makes you have diarrhea?
Vanessa: Is that why? Oh God?
Joy: It’s maybe more of a faddy thing. That’s what I take it as. I’ve seen it here and there with influencers on Instagram, of course.
Vanessa: Oh yeah, here I see it. It will heal you from infertility, inflammation, digestive issues, autoimmune diseases. Yeah, cool. If that was true, we would all be on the bean diet. Nothing’s wrong with beans. Beans are really good for you. Beans have vitamins. Beans have minerals. Beans have fiber. So it’s great. But also, if your gut doesn’t really do well with beans, then it’s probably not so good for you. It’s the soluble fiber that is the gel that moves the stool out. If you have too many beans, you’re going to have literal massive dishrag. I wouldn’t be adding copious amounts of beans to food that I eat.
Joy: Just be careful.
Vanessa: Be careful. Drink water.
Joy: Proceed with caution. And last question is, how important are vitamin supplements? I will go to Whole Foods or Vitamin Cottage or whatever, the health foods store. There’s a new aisle every single time I go there. I’m just like, do I need all of this stuff? What do people actually need, and should they be talking to their dietician or their doctor before they take stuff?
Vanessa: Yeah, 100%. Talk to your dietician. Talk to your doctor before you take stuff. Dieticians have access to medical grade supplements. We know where they come from. We can send you a script for legit formulations, so there’s that. Listen. Everyone should take Vitamin D, especially if you don’t live in the sunny areas. Like we’re in New York. It’s darn now. I take 10,000 IUs of Vitamin D. Also, my skin is darker so it’s harder for me to synthesize Vitamin D from the sun. So 10,000 in the winter, 5,000 in the summer. And I also take a probiotic. But remember, you can’t just take any probiotic. What is going on? Do you have any symptoms in your gut? Take the probiotic to minimize whatever gut symptoms you have. Don’t just take whichever one, so there’s that. And maybe a multi. After that, everybody relax. People are like, “I take biotin for my skin and hair. My nails are really brittle, and my hair is thinning.” I’m like, you need to take 10,000 micrograms of biotin a day for that to work. If it works. They’re like, “Oh.” B vitamins, when you have too much of them, you pee them out. Don’t get on this craze of vitamins. Like ashwagandha, I don’t know what it does. I know what it says it’s supposed to do, but I don’t know that it actually does it. It’s a placebo. But Vitamin D, calcium if you’re a woman. That’s helpful. Yeah, you guys are good. Take a B complex and keep moving.
Joy: Okay. And then move on with our lives. This is my question. What about collagen? I see all these collagen products that apparently we need.
Vanessa: So collagen is great. As you get older, you lose the natural collagen. So my skin is lower. I look at my daughter, and her cheeks are so high up. I’m like, “Your cheeks.” And she’s like, “Mom.”
Joy: You still have those.
Vanessa: Still puffy. So for the longest time, we thought that if we injected collagen it wasn’t going to help repair or make new collagen. But that’s not true actually. Eating collagen or injecting collagen will help you to make new collagen and to keep up the collagen that you have. But you could just add collagen to your smoothie. And remember, collagen is not soluble. It’s already broken down. So when people are like, “I put it in my coffee.” Well, you just denatured the protein so it’s not as stable when you’re drinking it. So just add a tablespoon of Vital Proteins in your smoothie and keep it going, but you don’t need collagen in every place. It’s not necessary.
Joy: Okay, perfect. This has been so helpful. Thank you so much, Vanessa. This is the perfect episode for right between Christmas – yeah, it’s going to be the week of Christmas. Then we’ll have New Year’s Eve. Everyone’s going to be wanting to jump on this diet, and we’re going to refer everybody to this episode to be like –
Vanessa: Live your life.
Joy: Live your life. It’s all going to be fine. Eat food. Time your meals.
Vanessa: Drink water.
Joy: Drink water. Alright, well where can listeners find you, Vanessa?
Vanessa: They can find me on @vanessarissettord and also www.culinahealth.com.
Joy: Do you want to talk a little bit more about Culina Health?
Vanessa: Culina, it’s really cool. We are a mentorship, telehealth platform. We give one-on-one nutrition counseling. We take insurance. So 91% of our patients exercise their insurance benefits, so we’re making health and wellness accessible to everyone. We actually just raised $3 million to scale our business and develop a tech staff and compete in the digital health space. Which is very cool.
Joy: That’s so cool. Congratulations.
Vanessa: Thank you. It will be the first time that registered dietician are doing it, and that’s really important. Because you’ve got other platforms that aren’t really helping people as they should. So we’ll always still do the one-on-one telehealth, but we’ll use the tech to make it more efficient. So we’ll never take the personalization out of it and still give people a chance to be healthy. For us, it’s not about weight loss. It’s about clinical nutrition, whatever that means. Mental, physical, whatever that is. The wellness space. Whatever. You want to lose weight? We can help you with that. But 122 million people have diabetes. Right? 40% of the people have disordered eating. We can help you with that. So that’s really what we’re aiming to do.
Joy: That’s a very integrated approach, which is totally needed. As you know, there’s so much more that goes into how someone eats. I’m sure you see patients where they really have stuff going on with their mental health going on and they have to get that [UNCLEAR 00:47:55.17]. So that sounds amazing. I’ll post everything in our show notes so people can find you. But thank you so much for your time. This has been really informative. And if you would be so kind as to come back some time, we would love to have you.
Vanessa: Yes, I would love to come back. And I hope you feel better.
Joy: Thank you. Hopefully I’ll have my normal voice. I sound like I’m on a sexy television show or something because I’m just whispering. At this point, I’m whispering into the microphone.
Vanessa: I love it.
Joy: Did you ever watch Friends when Phoebe has her sexy phlegm?
Joy: Yeah, that’s kind of how I feel where she’s like, “I lost my sexy phlegm.”
Vanessa: I think you and I are secret soul sisters. I watch Friends every night before I go to bed. Every night.
Joy: I wish I could turn the camera around because I have an entire Lego set of the Friends cast. Yeah, anyway. I did that when I had Graves’ Disease. I had to take some medical leave, and my husband was like, “We’re getting Legos because you can’t do anything,” and I was like, “I need to do something.” It’s the whole set of Friends. It’s so cute. Anyway. Yeah. 90’d all the way.
Vanessa: All the way. The best time. The best time.
Joy: Well, thank you again. I really appreciate your time. And listeners, you can find us at joyandclaire.com and you can find us on Instagram @joyandclaire_. We’ll talk to you next week. Thank you, guys.