Why Smart People Don't Diet for Sustainable Weight Loss

“We need to really get our mind in order and then it’s going to make it a lot easier for us to stay healthy”

     Dr. Charlotte Markey      

Dr. Veronica Anderson, Host, Functional Medicine Specialist and Medical Intuitive interviews Dr. Charlotte Markey on why smart people don’t diet for sustainable weight loss.

Is your diet failing you? Rutgers University health psychology professor Dr. Charlotte Markey teaches The Psychology of Eating. She helps others by explaining why diets don’t work and what does work if weight loss is your goal.

In this episode, Dr. Markey discusses common issues with fad diets like Atkins, Paleo, and The Mediterranean. She will also share ways to overcome body acceptance issues, accept imperfections and love your body. Listen to the end for the most important step you must take in order to reach long-term success.

Listen to episode 36 on iTunes here or subscribe on your favorite podcast app.

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36: Show Notes

Dr. Veronica Anderson’s Links:








Smart People Don’t Diet – Dr. Charlotte Markey


Time Stamps:

04:30 – Smart people don’t diet

05:28 – Myths

06:40 – Following diet trends

09:10 – Cookie binging

11:00 – Atkins, Paleo & Mediterranean

15:50 – Body acceptance issues

19:00 – Gaining & losing 30 lbs.

21:38 – Accepting imperfections

22:38 – Eating in moderation

24:50 – First step to success


Full Transcript:

Female VO: Welcome to the Wellness Revolution Podcast, the radio show all about wellness in your mind, body, spirit, personal growth, sex and relationships. Stay tuned for weekly interviews featuring guests that have achieved physical, mental and spiritual health in their lives.

If you’d like to have access to our entire back catalog visit www.drveronica.com for instant access. Here’s your host, Dr. Veronica.

Dr. Veronica:  I am Dr. Veronica and this is Wellness for the Real World.  I am a medical doctor and a medical intuitive as I always tell you and so we blend all types of discussions here.  So you have heard that just somehow when I reach out to people, they have the right mix of mind and spirit along with the physical advice.  Now here we are in America and everybody is so physical and you want to know, how do I just, what’s the bottom line? What’s the formula? How do I do it? Well the best advice that I can give you is get your mind and your spirit in order and the body will follow.  I also have here with me my co-host Russell.  Russell, are you doing okay, still over there?

Russell: Oh yeah ……. 0:01:17.5 and how are you today?

Dr. Veronica:  I am great, we are going to continue to talk about one of the topics that’s on everybody’s mind practically every day, everybody’s mind, I don’t care what size you are, you are always thinking about a diet.  Everybody is always thinking about what they are eating, why they are eating it and whether that be a healthy diet or you want to go on the McDonald’s diet or the, am allowed to say Subway now, now that we have had a problem with that situation? I am sorry.  You know how these things work.  But you know what is great, here we are, we broadcast in our studios in Princeton but we reach people all over the Philadelphia area and the South Jersey area.  It is always a delight when I can have someone who is actually in our area on the show.  And this is one of those days, so I am really excited because if you want to actually find her, you might be able to like find her jogging by somewhere, I don’t know what her hobbies are but you might see her jogging by somewhere.  Dr. Charlotte Markey and she is the author of a book and I love this, Smart People Don’t Diet.  She also talks about the divorce diet and so, Smart People Don’t Diet.  Here is what I tell people, you don’t need to diet, you need to have a particular eating strategy and eating strategy for everyone is different based on your particular body type.  Now, I work with people and I see people with all kinds of sensitivities, in fact, I think everybody in the population has some type of food sensitivity and if you are having trouble with your body it’s likely that that food sensitivity is causing you a problem and so this is why I say it’s not as simple as restricting calories and exercising because in fact you can make your body worse doing those two things.

So if you are really smart, you are not going just eliminate everything and say, ok, I am not eating gluten because everybody is off gluten now, gluten, gluten, gluten. But guess what, what if you are that client I have who is sensitive to cucumbers and gluten is not her issue, then you are off gluten, you are eating cucumbers feeling like self-righteous and being healthy but yet you are not on the right eating strategy for you.

So, I am going to bring on Dr. Charlotte Markey, she is a professor of psychology and she basically studies eating, dieting, body image, obesity, all these issues that are killing America today, killing us because you know that these lifestyle choices that you are making, that the outward part of it where you are seeing either somebody who is too large and on the other side the other people who are starving themselves because there are people who have anorexia, bulimia and all those type of things.  She studies why, how, what all that type of stuff. So Smart People Don’t Diet author Dr. Charlotte Markey, welcome to Wellness for the Real World.

Charlotte: That your so much for having me.

Dr. Veronica:  So Dr. Markey, what spurred you to write a book that says Smart People Don’t Diet because I am like this is true because people who are smart know the real answer and this is why they got it together?  What spurred you to write this book?

Charlotte: Well, I have been teaching at Rutgers since 2002 and every year I teach a psychology of eating class and we talk a lot about healthy weight management.  And year after year it became more and more obvious to me that the general public even smart young people like my students just don’t understand what healthy weight management entails.  Everyone seems to be sort of corrupted by all the diet fuzz and this information out there.  And actually my students in part encouraged me to write of this.  They said you should really put this stuff in a book.  I can’t believe that I didn’t realize this before. And so that was sort of the beginning of thinking about it, you know, many years ago. And I really buckled down a few years ago and started writing and it has been a really rewarding process so far.

Dr. Veronica:  So what is the most common myth that you come across in dieting?

Charlotte: I think it’s something you already alluded to, this idea that you just have to cut out everything, that restriction is the answer.  And, it’s not to say that we all should be indulgent because that’s not going to work either.  But I think people feel like they have to cut out an entire food group or everything that’s palatable or desirable if they want to lose weight and will work in a very, very short term of course, if you just cut out a thousand calories a day, yeah, you will lose weight but no one can sustain that is the issue. So what we really want people to do is adopt lifestyles that they can sustain, that they can see themselves sticking with for really the long haul.

Dr. Veronica:  So what is it from a psychological background that makes people continue to do that same thing over and over again.  Einstein says insanity is same thing, doing the same thing expecting a different result.  So why, psychologically we are out here saying restricting calories and doing a lot of exercise is not totally the answer for sustainable weight loss.  We are saying this but yet people tend, now everybody is back following the guru Oprah, I am not quite sure why buy following the guru Oprah to her new company that she has bought to raise her stock. Why do we keep doing it over and over again?

Charlotte: It’s really an interesting question because human beings are so incredibly smart and we should learn from our mistakes and we should stop doing the same thing over and over again, but we don’t, I mean, I think a big part of it when it comes to dieting is that the rewards are just so great.  We really, really want weight loss, we really want health, we really want to look good and feel good and so those possible rewards are so motivating that we are willing to give it another go.  And you know in some ways it sort of speaks to our resilience too, right?  The fact that we will fail but pick ourselves back up and try again.  But really what I want people to do is to try some smarter, to try differently and to think about it in a different way, to think about it for the long haul.  It’s really easy to think, okay, I am just going to cut out gluten like you say or all bread products or carbs for a month and maybe, yeah, that works for a month then after a month it stops working, you gain that weight back, you failed, you know, you are back to where you started but now you are more depressed about it all.

Dr. Veronica:  You are more depressed and for disclosure, see I have to use myself as an experiment and tell everybody so that we can use this as a jumping off point and I want Russell to jump in here.  And so, I remember after I had my first child I was figuring out, okay, now think about this, I am an interred, I have been interred working ….. 0:08:23.8 week.  The physiology behind that is very interesting but and impacts the weight but because my mother had done this I decided my way to lose weight is I am going to weight watchers and so therefore my first foray into weight watchers. And, you know, along the way to figure out what works, now I had been to medical school, I was a doctor and I had no idea what really it would look like for healthy weight loss, think about that.  We don’t get that in medical school. And so along the way as I have done, you know, you try doing your best to stay a weight that you are happy with when you look in the mirror because it is not about health when you are young, it’s about I want to see what I want to look like in the mirror.  So weight watchers I have done and then, I remember, I am thinking about what is the most crazy diet that I have tried.  There was this diet, the cookie diet, I tried the cookie diet and that was miserable, I was like oh, this is not going to work. I don’t even know if that lasted a week but there was a friend who had done it, who had a lot of success in losing weight so I said hey, I want to lose a few pounds let me try this cookie diet.  Now, Russell have you ever tried any crazy diets like that?

Charlotte: I mean, most of us will be lying if we said we haven’t and, you know, the statistics suggest that about ninety percent of women will try to diet in any given year and it’s about sixty or seventy percent for men as well.  So, you know, none of us are really immune to that.  You know, I haven’t since I started studying these issues as a scientist, as a health psychologist because not I know better.  But when I was younger, of course, you know, restriction coming out from food groups, I found like I participated in weight watchers or any particular cookie diet but, you know, I don’t judge people who do, I do understand why people do. And so my message isn’t about, you know, trying to shame people into changing their behavior at all.  Like I do get it, I think we have all been there and I think part of my message is just telling people you don’t have to do this to yourself, there is actually an easier way, there is a better way, it’s healthier, you are going to feel better psychologically, you just have to be more patient with yourself because it may take longer.  But, you know, the sexy fads are not going to work, we really want to rely on the proven science.

Dr. Veronica:  I have got to hear about Russell’s crazy diets.  Russell, what crazy diets have you tried.

Russell: Oh, a couple.  Years ago I tried the, I can’t figure the name of the doctor’s diet but it was all the a rage, you eat only proteins, no cabs whatsoever.

Dr. Veronica:  Atkins

Russell: Yes, thank you, thank you.  And sure enough I lost weight, I also just didn’t feel good and when I finally like, you know, had a few bites of pasta or something like it, like the sort of mild headaches that I had constantly.

Dr. Veronica:  So Atkins, a lot of people do Atkins which is protein, protein and more protein and high protein is good, it might not be the best to do with all animal protein, fats are good but you have to eat the right type of fats and there are people that eating even good fats can affect their metabolism such that they will have a negative impact from eating even good fats.  And so it is a little bit more complicated than ok, I am just going to eat a lot of protein, I am going to cut out every single cab.  Atkins has you cut out the health promoting cabs a lot especially fruits but you have to get all your nutrients in and that’s where Atkins falls shot.  I believe that people are not going to be able to stay on it just because you are going to become nutrient deficient because you are not getting a full complement of all types of foods.  Now, when we talk about cutting out cabs, on the other side people say do I have to go off wheat forever? Well if you are somebody who is super sensitive to wheat, you may need to be off of it long term but, yes, it does, wheat does have health promoting properties, it has nutrients in it, nutrients in it that can be good for your body. And so that being off of the total food group is not necessarily the best thing.  So one of the ones, I mean, Atkins, there is a great fruit diet,

Charlotte: That’s most of them.

Dr. Veronica:  And then on the other side though there are these diets that people are 0:13:10.7 fans behind that are reported to be health promoting paleo, Mediterranean are the two most popular ones.  Tell us about your feeling on the supposedly healthy diets like Mediterranean or paleo? What do you say about those?

Charlotte: Right, I mean, I think I have less negative things to say about the Mediterranean diet because, really the Mediterranean diet is more of a lifestyle that originated from Mediterranean region and Europe and there are some good things about what it suggests.  It’s not quite as prescriptive I think as something like paleo which has become like cult for most people particularly in the paleo diet that are taking the paleo diet.  And, you know, as with any diet though, the problem is just can you keep doing it and should you even, right? The whole idea of cutting out any kind of cabs like you say is just really a misunderstanding of basic nutrition because cabs provide some nutrients especially if they are wheat or whole grain and they are also are …. 0:14:21.7 they help give us energy if you want to exercise, I mean there is a reason why people cab load for exercising.

So cutting all out is not necessarily the right way to go and the whole idea of paleo again about bringing us back to how our ancestors used to eat and getting back to basics or whatever, it’s kind of silly because our food environment is so much advanced not. Some of those advances in terms of processed foods is problematic but some of those advances are great, you know, we can get fruits and vegetables year round.  That wasn’t the sort of thing that our ancestors could do because they were just relying on their immediate environment for the most part.  So this whole idea of getting back to our history in terms of food is just kind of silly I think actually.

Dr. Veronica:  So, the other part of it is Mediterranean is a good, I think one of the best eating styles that there is, however, however, and please listen to the however, if you have a sensitivity to something you can be eating “Mediterranean eating strategy” and still have a problem. And so if you are sensitive to beets and beets is one of your therapeutic foods because it’s good for people who have any type of cardio metabolic disease but you are sensitive to it, it’s going to be a problem yet it is on the Mediterranean diet.  So I think it’s important for every type of strategy that you customize it for your own particular needs.

Now, I want to switch over, body acceptance. I like, oh man, I yelled at a friend on chat, I yelled at him on chat, I am not chatting not speaking to him yelling at him but I am typing because I am upset with him because he had a comment about my body, we are not going to discuss it on air but I forgave him.  Body acceptance, but let me just say, what I told him because he made some ….. 0:16:22.4 comment, I said who is the male? And I was like I take offence at you feeling like that you have a right to comment about my body and any man has a right to objectify me and of everything that I do in life, you are going to boil it down to something physical about me as opposed to something else.  This is the real thing, the real deal for how women are, it doesn’t matter how young you are, how old you are, it boils down to our bodies. And so I think a lot of us have trouble accepting our bodies especially, I am African American, I have got hips and thighs, I am not skinny and never will be size zero zero.  What do you think, I am on the swim team, when I was young, what do you think it was like looking down at me and looking over at some skin and bones from a different culture person?  Body acceptance, how do we get there?

Charlotte: I mean I think it’s really challenging because like you said women are valued so much for how they look and their bodies in particular but I also think we need to push back against that a little bit and as you say make a point to let other people know that we are worse more than just our bodies because we are. And I think, you know, there is some evidence to suggest that there is a reciprocal relationship between our body images and our ability to manage our weight in a healthy manner. So the more we sort of get our mind in check that we sort of, even if it’s not complete acceptance at a good place mentally, it’s going to help us stay at a good place physically.  These things go together.  And so, beating ourselves up and feeling terrible about ourselves and, you know, having sort of a self-punishing approach to weight loss is just not going to work.  We need to really get our mind in order and then it’s going to make it a lot easier for us to stay healthy physically as well.

Dr. Veronica:  Russell, have you ever had the body acceptance issues where you looked and said, oh I just can’t stand what I am seeing?

Russell: Personally I am a little different from you, I love it when people objectify me.  But, I suppose I …… 0:18:32.5 a little bit but I want to tell you, I had an experience this past year, Veronica knows about this.  Just about a year ago, I had to take this tough medication for three months and, you know, it didn’t make me feel good and in particular I had to keep food in my stomach just all the time or it was really difficult.  So I just said, okay, okay, I am just going eat all the time.  So I was having macaroni and cheese, you know, all the time I was eating everything.  And sure enough the treatment was successful so that’s fine but by the time it was over I had gained thirty pounds and I felt just horrible.  I wasn’t driven by this vanity to get rid of it, I felt horrible, I couldn’t touch my feet.  I was short of breath all the time.  So I went on my own crush diet.  Hit the gym as many days in the week that I could and I only ate one meal a day and that was at night so that I didn’t go to bed hungry. And it worked, I am here to tell you.  I took off thirty five pounds.  Now these past four weeks I have been away from home with a family issue and during that time my schedule was all over the place and I was feeding whatever, whenever and I started feeling like oh, my god, I am putting weight back on.  I didn’t exercise or weigh myself that whole time. But now that I am home, I weighed myself yesterday and I only gained five pounds, that’s pretty good.  You know, I am the kind of person who when I decide I am going to diet I go for it.

Dr. Veronica:  So now Russell is doing the strategy of I am not highly eating anything and I am going to exercise the whole lot which is not usually sustainable for people.  You did it over a short term, you got rid it like over a short term since like you gained the weight?

Russell: I did, yeah just a few months yeah.

Dr. Veronica:  And then you lost the weight pretty quickly which is quite nice but it seems like you had a rapid weight gain because of some type of condition you had and medicine you were taking and then you took it off quickly.  But that’s not usually people’s history, most people gain a little bit, a little bit, a little bit over time and then one day they look in the mirror and oh, my god, I am huge and all my numbers are out of work and they are telling me I can have diabetes they need to put me on the cholesterol medicine, I can’t breathe, I don’t feel like doing anything, I feel like crap, I feel like crap.  So Dr. Markey, when people are in the state where, you know, when you have a temporarily thing like Russell does one thing but when you are just, you know, really gotten out of luck, how can you still accept your body at that point?

Charlotte: I think it’s important to sort of just keep all in perspective right, it’s really the rare person who look at themselves when they get in the mirror from head to toe and think I look perfect. I mean who does that? No one does that.  We all are flowed in our own ways and so, you know, part of it is just starting with, I think maybe accepting our imperfection, right?  So just saying like, listen, it’s not going to get perfect, I am never going to be big breasted or I am not ever going to have skinny thighs or whatever but I can be healthier and I can like myself more if I take better care of myself.  So instead of thinking of it in terms of punishment, I am so fat, I need to weight fifty pounds to be acceptable, think of it in terms of, you know, I need to take care of myself, I want to live a long healthy life, I want to be around for people I care about, there is still a lot of things I want to do on this earth, I need to take better care of myself. So let’s start that small gradual sustainable approach to a healthy weight management.

Dr. Veronica:  You talk about eating food in moderation, so rather than cutting out something, eating in moderation. Now, one of the issues we have in our culture is that portions are huge wherever you go and moderation, I mean, I have people who are addicted to food, they have cravings, so they can’t just sit down and eat, you know, if they have ice cream in their house, the ice cream is going to get eaten all up.  So what do you tell people as a strategy to learn what moderation truly is?

Charlotte: Now, I mean, we are all terrible at just listening to our own physiological signals, right?  So like you don’t do a good job of even keeping track of am I actually hungry now, am I full now?  Do I really to eat anymore?  I mean that’s something we could all get a little bit better at I think.  In terms of something like the ice cream, you know, I say yes, have ice cream if you love ice cream but if you know every time it’s in the house you are going to hog the whole container in one sitting then don’t buy it anymore.  And then, you know, as a treat on the weekend go out and get scoop of ice cream in a store or something.  So when I say allow yourself to have some of the things that you love I mean that but I don’t mean just have them all the time, eat the entire carton every day because that’s not good for you. So, like I you said, you need to personalize your approach, what is going to actually work for you.  For some people they have told me like if I just stop going to drive-throughs of all kinds that completely changes my eating because that’s their weakness.  And so again it’s not that I think that no one could ever go through a drive-through and get some kind of fast foods.  I don’t think it’s the end of the road if you do that occasionally. But if that’s your weakness then you have got to kind of make a rule for yourself to try to avoid it most of the time or have some parameters, you know, on Mondays you give in because you have a busy schedule but the rest of the week you don’t.  So, you know, it’s hard, I think we just have to keep in mind that we are work in progress.  We are not going to get it all perfectly.  So we can just keep trying to improve a little bit and start a lot of benefits, you know, both mentally and physically to keeping invested and improving what we eat, how we manage our weight and how active we are.

Dr. Veronica:  And so, for the smart person, they would like to look better in the mirror because people just say, ah, I want to become more healthy but no they don’t, they just want to look good in the mirror, let’s be honest about this.  For the person who wants to look good in the mirror and possibly please their doctor and so he or she will stop the medicine, what is the first step that you would say will lead to success for a smart person on diet, the first step?

Charlotte: First step I always tell people is just spend a week or so monitoring how you regularly eat and get a good sense of what you are really eating. You have to be really honest with yourself.  Do some tracking, some journaling.  And then almost all of us we can cut out a lot of nonnutritive high calorie foods by just adjusting what we drink. It’s a really, really simple thing but, you know, I have too many lattes that have too much sweet ………. 0:25:55.1 in them, then the next person have too many beers after a long day of work. Someone else maybe drinking soda.  Almost all of us are drinking things that we can learn to live without, at least without so regularly and it’s a really, really first step I think for most people.

Dr. Veronica:  Yes, there is a lot of calories that go in.  I even tell people in the beginning when I am working with them, no fruit juice even.  Cut out the fruit juice

Charlotte: This almost like a soda for you. It really is, there is no value practically.

Dr. Veronica:  And then people say, well, how am I going to get my vitamin C if I can’t have my orange juice?

Charlotte: Well, you will get it somewhere else.

Dr. Veronica:  Well, you know, I recommend that people have the whole fruits as opposed to the drink or I tell them, you want a drink, make it into a smoothie and so get a Vitamix or a NutriBullet and put that, if you want an orange put the orange in food and make it into a smoothie.  So Dr. Charlotte Markey the author of Smart People Don’t Diet, we didn’t even get to talk about the divorce diet.  Although, when you get divorce is you either get divorced and get big or you get depressed and you get small because people have copped differently and then you get it together and say I want to look good and date and you get it together.  Oh, my god, I was in fabulous shape, no I wasn’t in good shape before I got divorced but I got really fabulous shape after I got divorced.

Charlotte: So, that happens

Dr. Veronica:  So, Dr. Charlotte Markey, I forgot to tell you that she is at Rutgers University in Camden, director of the Health Sciences Program.  I said she was a local girl and I forgot to tell you where to find her, Rutgers University Camden, Director of Health Sciences.  Smart People Don’t Diet, go get this book so that you can figure out how to have a strategy and a lifestyle that you can keep for the rest of your life.  This is Wellness for the Real World.

Female VO: Thank you for listening to the Wellness Revolution Podcast. If you want to hear more on how to bring wellness into your life visit www.drveronica.com. See you all next week. Take care.




Dr. Veronica Anderson is an MD, Functional Medicine practitioner, Homeopath. and Medical Intuitive. As a national speaker and designer of the Functional Fix and Rejuvenation Journey programs, she helps people who feel like their doctors have failed them. She advocates science-based natural, holistic, and complementary treatments to address the root cause of disease. Dr. Veronica is a highly-sought guest on national television and syndicated radio and hosts her own radio show, Wellness for the REAL World, on FOX Sports 920 AM “the Jersey” on Mondays at 7:00 pm ET.

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