A Nutritious Conversation with Dr. Sheila Dean
Dr. Sheila Dean DSc, RD, LD/N, CCN, CDE is a registered and licensed dietician who owns her own medical nutrition private practice in Palm Harbor, Fla. She is a board certified clinical nutritionist, certified diabetes educator and exercise physiologist. In a recent interview with Fat Man Unleashed writer Elizabeth Perez, Dean answered some lingering questions on weight loss, metabolisms and workout plans.
Question: Tell me how you got started in this field.
Answer: In a nutshell, I always found health science fascinating. I didn’t want to be a doctor but I was really interested in how science applied to health. I thought it was very interesting.
Q: What has this knowledge and particular career choice allowed you to do or achieve?
A: It is a real shift in thinking. I would say my role is to ask, ‘why is this happening,’ not ‘how can we mask this.’ My job allows me to put everything together and understand a story, not a symptom. My approach is to understand the root issues and why they are happening to the body. You don’t have the dumbed-down protocols, like, what medicine can I prescribe to fix this. It really requires integrating the story to get the big picture.
Q: Out of all the patients you see who want to lose weight and live a healthier lifestyle, would you say there are any common traits that exist?
A: I have definitely seen a common way of thinking in patients who have had gastric bypass surgery. This is generally speaking, but the mentality is, ‘once I have the surgery everything is taken care of,’ but that is not the case. I see depression a lot in these patients as a result of this. Also, people who come to me have a commonality of leaving nutrition as the last resort. Nine out of 10 people have exhausted their resources but have not changed the way they eat. I have heard so many stories of people who have been through so much without having been advised on their diets. If people could learn to start with natural medicines rather than pharmacology, we’d also save on health care costs.
Q: Tell me some of the differences between how men lose weight and how women lose weight. Are there major differences in metabolisms? Do hormones play a big role?
A: Because men in general have more muscle mass than women and muscle is really metabolically active, and there are powerhouses in muscles that burn calories, a man’s metabolism is generally higher than a woman’s. This is why it is so important for women to lift weights.
Since I am not a medical doctor, it is not my territory to tell a person to take a medicine or not take a medicine. But, for a woman, the more hormones you pump into her body, the harder it is for her to lose weight. Being estrogen dominant can thwart your weight loss. This even includes birth control and dairy and meat products that are filled with hormones. If you eat a ton of nonorganic dairy and lots of steak it’s going to be tough for you to lose weight. Think of it like an in-out model. Control what is coming in by eating right so the liver can detoxify. Some good foods to help with this are cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and brussel sprouts. Also, onions and garlic are powerful liver detoxifiers.
Q: Would you recommend any power foods for men and women who want to reach a weight loss goal?
A: It’s not really that simple but there are things that can help. Green tea is something that can help boost your metabolism. But you can’t eat a gallon of ice cream and think drinking a cup of green tea will help. Food in general doesn’t have a natural metabolism boosting qualify, but some foods have been proven to have anti-inflammatory qualities such as omega-3 fish oils, turmeric, pomegranates, walnuts, avocados and tart cherry juice. When you eat these foods along with a healthy diet it can make a huge difference.
Q: There are a lot of workout plans out there and finding the right one can be overwhelming. What advice do you have for people when it comes to finding a workout plan that is right for each individual person?
A: First, ask yourself what you like to do. If you hate to swim, don’t. If you love dancing, try finding a Zumba class. It really depends on your circumstances and immediate needs. Second, if you can’t answer the question of what you like to do, go buy a pedometer and a decent pair of sneakers and just start walking. Walk the first day as much as you normally do. Find your baseline and add a thousand steps the next day. Then and 2000 and keep working your way up.
Q: Losing weight is one thing but keeping it off is another. What would you say is the key factor in maintaining weight loss?
A: The bottom line is you need to change it up. If you get good at something, you’re going to plateau. You want to constantly challenge and confuse your muscles around every 6 weeks. This can be as simple as changing the mode of your workout or even the time of your workout.
Q: If you could offer one bit of advice when it comes to healthy living, what would it be?
A: I would say to focus on health, not diets you go on and eventually go off of. Make this a lifestyle change. I am a real believer in a whole foods diet. I can’t stand processed foods. Avoid artificially colored, flavored stuff. You’ve got to get it out.
For more information on Dr. Sheila Dean and her services, visit Integrative Nutrition Solutions.