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Registered Dietician And Author Gives Advice On Staying Healthy

May 25, 2008
This interview is an excerpt from Kevin Gianni's The Healthiest Year of Your Life, which can be found at http://thehealthiestyearofyourlife. com. In this excerpt, Jill Fleming shares on listening to your body and staying healthy.

The Healthiest Year of Your Life with Jill Fleming, a registered dietician and author of Thin People Don't Clean Their Plates.

Kevin: Jill I want to thank you so much for being on this call, as we've just heard you have this incredible line up of talents and things that you've done, so why don't you just start?

Jill: Okay. Thanks, Kevin. Thanks for having me on today. My story starts back when I was 16 years old and I had food allergies and I started reading labels and just became very fascinated with nutrition. Everything I would pick up I would did, you know, this was in your food and just became very aware of what I was putting in to my body. So I went on to study dietetics and got two degrees in nutrition and during the time that I was studying I gained 40 pounds.

Kevin: Really

Jill: Yeah. So I realized that it wasn't just knowing what you should do, but also applying that information to your life, so as soon as I finished college and started teaching weight loss classes which I knew was the area I wanted to focus on, I started to lose my weight almost instantly. As I was teaching people how to do it and how to fit the healthy choices into their lives I was doing it as well. During college I had a lot of stress and there were too many other things going on to focus on what I should have been doing for my health.

Kevin: When you said that you gained 40 pounds, what were you thinking as you were going through this information?

Jill: I really wasn't too aware of the added weight coming on to my body because, you know, when I was in college I was wearing big floppy sweatshirts and little stretch pants that were very flexible and accommodating to my extra weight. What I really did notice though was being short of breath, being more tired, not sleeping well. I noticed my energy just being very low and that was what bothered me the most.

Kevin: You said you had food allergies. Did they continue to manifest as you went from you being 16 years old through college?

Jill: My food allergies now are almost totally gone.

Kevin: Okay.

Jill: I think at that point when I had my very unhealthy lifestyle choices while studying nutrition, I was consuming somewhere between 8 and 10 cans of diet coke a day.

Kevin: Wow.

Jill: Definitely not healthy and I think I just overloaded my body on some of the artificial sweeteners and preservatives and a lot of the junk that was in the processed food.

Kevin: Right.

Jill: I think my body just rebelled and said we can't take this any more and it manifested itself in allergies.

Kevin: So you think the toxicity of the artificial sweeteners caused that?

Jill: I truly do and it's hard to prove that, but I guess you know your own body better than anyone else. As soon as I started getting the chemicals and the preservatives and the artificial sweeteners out of my diet, it was rough at first because I was pretty much addicted, but I started to feel better. My energy started to return and it was easier to make better choices as I started to feel better.

Kevin: Let's talk about diet soda real quick. I know that there are some people out there who as healthy as they are they're still drinking diet soda, I mean it's amazing, I hear it from some of the people that I would think are so healthy but their still drinking diet soda. What did you do to go from 6-8 diet soda's a day to zero?

Jill: Well, I was drinking so much and my body reacting in a way that I was so swollen I hardly could open my mouth to even eat.

Kevin: Wow.

Jill: I was using a straw to drink my diet soda's to get them in, I needed them that bad and after I went to the food allergist he said the sodium benzoate, which wasn't even a sweetener but just a preservative that was in the soda, is showing a strong reaction with you so you need to stop this immediately. So I just quit cold turkey from that day on. I mean I couldn't pass a soda machine without getting a soda. It was a really strong habit. I just gave it up from that day forward and started drinking water and it was really tough, tough transition. Kevin: Okay.

Jill: But I just had to go from all to nothing, because my body was in such stress.

Kevin: Well, it took a doctor.

Jill: Yeah. Exactly to point out what I was doing which I should have known, but being in college at that time 20 years ago they really weren't talking about how the artificial sweeteners were that bad for you. I had to experience it myself.

Kevin: And 20 years ago your doctor knew that?

Jill: Yes, he did

Kevin: Okay.

Jill: Well, they did all the testing and that was the one that came up the strongest reaction for me.

Kevin: Wow. That's pretty interesting. You've spoken in many places over the time that you've become a dietician and now writing as an author. Now, what are some of the important things or the keys that you think are essential to staying healthy?

Jill: I like to really simplify all of the complicated nutrition and exercise and advice that's out there in to the basic model that I call the Wellness Triangle.

Kevin: Okay.

Jill: And there are three corners obviously to the triangle and they are all equal in importance and one of the corners is nutrition, how you're fueling the body? Are you staying hydrated? Are you giving your body real food, good food and not too much of it? The second corner is exercise, are you moving your body on a regular basis? And I actually call this move and squeeze.

Kevin: Okay.

Jill: We'll talk about the squeezies a little bit later.

Kevin: Great.

Jill: In the third corner is R&R, rest and relaxation. How are you sleeping? Do you have a lot of stress? Are you able to keep your stress level low? So between those three corners if you have one area that is out of balance, if you're not feeding your body well, you're not giving it the best fuel and staying hydrated, the other two corners will be thrown off as well. So being pretty good in all three corners is the ideal for optimal health.

Kevin: What do you suggest for someone? Is this something that they write down and assess or how does someone go and assess these three corners?

Jill: I think for most of us even just hearing about the Wellness Triangle will instantly say, "Oh. Wow. Yeah, I do not sleep well." And they'll know that the sleeping is the place to start, so if they get their sleeping and their stress under control they're able to make better nutrition choices, its amazing. Then when they are fueling their body better and their sleeping better they've got more energy that their able to do their exercise or people say, "Oh, I hate exercise. I'll never do it." When they're not doing the exercise their not sleeping as well at night and their not fueling their body as well because they kind of have the all or nothing mentality. So I think for the most part you could write it down but I think just hearing it mentally you can figure out what corner you probably need to start with.

Kevin: Yeah, I know which one I need to start with.

Jill: It's different for everyone. It's really amazing. I've had people that all they needed to do is start getting their sleep under control and everything fall into place and they start to lose weight and fell better and have more energy and they said it was just almost too easy.

Kevin: Yeah. That's good news.

Jill: Yeah, it is. It's easier than you think.

Kevin: Yeah. The title of your book is Thin People Don't Clean Their Plates, Simple Lifestyle Choices for Permanent Weight Loss, is cleaning your plate one of the main reasons for weight gain and health issues?

Jill: I think what the title really signifies is that people who are not overweight, who are pretty close to what their ideal body weight should be and where they feel healthy in their body are listening to their body. They're eating in relation to hunger and stopping at the point of satisfied. So if two people are sitting next to each other, one person was a lean person at their ideal body weight and the other person was heavy and needed to lose weight, I would guess that the person who stops at the point of no longer hungry would be the lean person, even if there's still food on the plate and with my research studying people who are overweight versus people who were lean and at their ideal body weight, the overweight person typically would clean the plate regardless of if they were full or even if it tasted good. It was just a habit and we all heard those voices growing up, I believe. You know, clean your plate. They are saying to children you need to eat it all and hate to waste food.

Kevin: It's horrible, isn't it?

Jill: Yeah, but it's just interesting that we all hear those voices that come back to still haunt us today and thinking that we stop eating when we're uncomfortable. That's how I was bought up. If you're not uncomfortable then you need to keep eating. You need to be full.

Kevin: Yeah, which is definitely not true at all.

Jill: No and that's one of the biggest things. Getting in touch with what your body is saying and when overweight people start to listen to their body and stop at the point of satisfied or no longer hungry, it feels very foreign. The first time I did it after my heavy phase at college at Thanksgiving it felt so strange to me. It felt wrong and that night I actually wanted to eat dinner and I thought I've never wanted to eat dinner on Thanksgiving evening, because usually it was the big lunch that you stuffed yourself to the point where you felt you were going to get sick and then needed a nap and then just kind of grazed the entire time. When I listened to my body and stopped, that evening four hours later I was ready to eat again.

Kevin: Yeah.

Jill: So it's really amazing. The fun part is that you can eat what you want and more frequently, so it's not that you have to stop and never eat again. It's three hours later when you get hungry you say now you can eat again and I love eating.
About the Author
To read the rest of this transcript as well as access The Healthiest Year of Life experts just like Jill Fleming please click here! Kevin Gianni is an internationally recognized health advocate, author & film consultant. He has helped thousands of people take control of their own health naturally. For more information visit raw food diets and holistic nutrition.
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