We are excited to be talking to Julieanna Hever, better known as “The Plant Based Dietitian”. She will be sharing some of her thoughts on nutrition and answering a few of your questions.
After you read the post, please leave a comment below for a chance to win Julieanna’s new book!
” Nutrition may be the single most elusive subject matter available to us…and yet it is also one of the most talked about. Hundreds of diet books promise to cure your weight problems and make you healthy with their own unique twists…except most are really only temporary fixes that lead you down that vicious spiral of weight fluctuations, disappointment, frustration, and, ultimately, suboptimal health. In the last several decades, the research has convincingly supported significant and magnificent health and weight management benefits with a whole food, plant-based diet. Both in the scientific literature and a plethora of new books summarizing this research, we are seeing true results. Weight management is effortless, heart disease and type 2 diabetes are reversible, and other chronic diseases can be prevented and halted in their tracks. In fact, there simply is not a single compelling argument against following a whole food, plant-based diet. Until I changed my modus operandi as a Dietitian to recommending this way of eating with my clients, I never saw results that even come close to what I see now on a regular basis.
However, even with this information, there still comes plenty of misinformation and confusion. Some of it stems from the fear of letting go of what we have been taught our entire lives. For example, you probably deeply believe that we need dairy so our bones don’t dissolve, you can’t get all of your amino acids from plants, and iron-deficiency means you need more red meat. All of these, by the way, are false. Another reason for the mystification is an onslaught of half-truths that are initiated and propagated by those that profit from the uncertainty. Unfortunately, it is not easy to find accurate and reliable information. This is why I wrote my new book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition. It is an extensive reference guide based on the vast conglomeration of science out there and will provide you with a trustworthy resource to answer all of your questions and concerns regarding the optimal way to eat.” - Julieanna Hever
Q: Is there and ideal ratio of carbs:fat:protein? Do I need to worry about that?
A: Ideally, the vast majority of your calories should come from carbohydrates, since the foods high in carbs- including whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables-are those that should serve the foundation for your diet. Carbs provide energy more quickly and easily than any other macronutrient, is the only fuel your brain can utilize, and come naturally packaged along with a plethora of phytonutrients, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals when eaten in their whole form. We need some protein (only about 10% of our total calories) because it serves as an important constituent of most-if not all-the structures and functions in the body. But, just because protein is great and necessary doesn’t mean more is better! We need fat to absorb fat-soluble vitamins, minerals, and certain phytonutrients like carotenoids, to provide essential fats, and to store energy. But, like, protein, we don’t need very much…perhaps 15% of our total calories. So, ideally, your overall diet should look somewhat like 75% carbs:10% protein:15% fat.
Q: What are your thoughts on gluten?
A: Something interesting has happened with gluten recently…it has become the scapegoat for excess body weight, gastrointestinal problems, lackluster energy, and more. So many people are claiming that when they stopped eating “gluten,” they felt so much better and all of their symptoms ceased. Medically speaking, however, a person can only react to gluten if they have Celiac disease, a gluten allergy, or a gluten intolerance. I just finished co-writing a gluten-free vegan cookbook where I delineate upon this subject. Although these diagnoses are more common than ever, they are still not as common as people are suggesting. The reason for this is fascinating…
First of all, gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and sometimes oats (due to cross-contamination). However, wheat is one of the top three used grains worldwide, and has been highly processed into thousands of different products that can be found just about everywhere…breads, cereals, cookies, crackers, cakes, muffins, bars, doughnuts, cupcakes, and pretty much any snack food you can find. So, when people cut out these foods, of course they will lose weight, improve digestion, increase energy, and relieve their symptoms! But it is not the gluten ameliorating their condition….it is the choice to omit refined foods in their diet. The lesson here is that you will always benefit from eating whole, plant foods as opposed to refined and highly processed ones. Gluten is not the enemy unless you are actually intolerant, allergic, or diagnosed with Celiac disease. First switch to a whole food-based diet and then, if you are still not feeling your best, take a blood test and do a total elimination diet to determine whether you indeed have any intolerances or allergies.
Q: Does it really matter to your metabolism when you eat? Do you have to eat breakfast to prevent going into starvation mode? Or never eat after 6:00pm or gain weight or does the amount of calories you eat each day what matters most? I just don’t understand metabolism!
A: This is an excellent question and one in which I also demystify in the book because the concept is so pervasive and somewhat controversial. Longevity studies show that eating less and maintaining a slower metabolism is ideal…that it actually slows down aging (which makes real sense, if you think about it in terms of slowing down the rate of activity of your body). Further, your body is constantly doing the math, calculating how many calories you have expended, how many and which amino acids are required to build an enzyme, etc. Your body is way more advanced than we give it credit for. So, you instinctively know when you need to eat, what foods make you feel the best, and when to stop eating. Instead of applying external rules, such as eating every specified amount of hours, or consuming a set number of meals and snacks per day, let your body cue you into its needs. To do this, eat only when you are truly hungry, eat whole plant foods, stop when you feel satisfied and before you are too full, and exercise daily. Your metabolism will take care of itself and ensure you reach and maintain your ideal body weight. It’s time we give our bodies back its power and let our minds get out of the way!
Q. Where can people find out more, and how can they get in touch with you?
A. You will find answers to all of your nutrition questions in The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition, available online and in stores now. For more information, visit my website at www.PlantBasedDietitian.com
We want to thank Julieanna for being an advocate of a plant-strong life and for taking the time to answer some of your questions! Please be sure to check out her book and DVD!
Julieanna Hever, M.S., R.D., C.P.T. , also known as The Plant-Based Dietitian, is a passionate advocate of the miracles associated with following a whole food, plant-based diet-the established effects of which provide positive healthful benefits. Julieanna is the author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition and the nutrition columnist for VegNews Magazine. She is the co-author of the upcoming book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Gluten-Free Vegan Cooking, which will be published on December 6th, 2011. Julieanna counsels a variety of clients in her Los Angeles, California-based private practice including elite athletes, adults, and children with various nutritional and/or medical concerns. Julieanna has lectured extensively throughout the United States and is published in prominent journals, magazines, blogs, and newsletters. As co-producer and star of the “infotainment” documentary To Your Health, Julieanna interviewed a host of the plant-based world’s most respected doctors and researchers to bring this important information to film and television audiences. Her work as the Executive Director of EarthSave, International, has also provided an opportunity for Julieanna to bring whole food, plant-based nutrition to the forefront of efforts to improve the current global health crisis.
Julieanna received her Bachelors degree from UCLA and Masters of Science in Nutrition at California State University, Northridge, where she also completed her Dietetic Internship. She has taught as part of Dr. T. Colin Campbell’s eCornell Plant-Based Nutrition Certification Program, worked as a clinical dietitian at Century City Doctors Hospital, and has consulted for numerous businesses.