With Guest Dr. Rita Hancock



Adam and Eve may not have benefitted from eating fruit in the Garden of Eden but that doesn’t mean we can’t. In fact, Dr. Rita Hancock, the guest on this week’s episode of Wellness for the Real World, tells Dr. Veronica how we can eat anything we want and still lose weight, as long as we do so when we’re hungry, as opposed to indulging to satisfy an emotion.


Hancock, the author of The Eden Diet: You Can Eat Treats, Enjoy Your Food, and Lose Weight, isn’t one of these Skinny Minnies who never had an eating problem yet preaches a weight loss plan. When she was 17, she tipped the scales at 207 pounds yet stood only 5’1” tall and wore a size 20 jeans. A sin if ever there was one. Not only did she drop 75 pounds but has maintained her figure for 25 years.

“If you want to lose weight, you have to discern whether you are hungry,” says Dr. Hancock, who studied nutrition at Cornell and is a board-certified Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation specialist with a subspecialty board certification in Pain Management.

To do that, she suggests using the “apple test.” Forget that the apple led Adam and Eve down the wrong path. Dr. Hancock’s litmus test goes like this: Say it is 3 p.m. and you desire a candy bar from the vending machine. Imagine the candy bar on a plate next to an apple. Are you hungry enough to eat the apple or do you just want the candy bar?

“If you would eat the apple then you are probably physically hungry,” says Dr. Hancock, who is based in Norman, Okla. “If you ate the candy bar only then you’re not physically hungry. You just want the candy.”

If apples don’t work for you then pick another food that you’re indifferent to, something that you would eat but never crave. Maybe it’s kiwi, rice cakes, Melba toast or a banana. The point is to be able to distinguish hunger pangs from a desire for food.

“Hunger is a physical thing,” Dr. Hancock says. “You feel it in your gut.”

She advocates eating small portions, exercising and eating when there is physical hunger… If you’re eating when you’re not hungry, why are you eating? A television ad could trigger it but often times it’s emotional.

“People learn in childhood to stuff their feelings down,” Dr. Hancock says. “If you’re not letting it out, where is it going? Are you stuffing it inward?   Whether you smoke, eat hot fudge sundaes, gamble, look at porn or compulsively shop, our outward behavioral choices are the result of feeling bad on the inside. We’re dissatisfied. We’re one of the richest countries in the world and we’re one of the most obese and the most depressed in the world. I believe that’s because of dissatisfaction. People turn to food for smoothing over their emotions if they feel depressed or something challenges their self-esteem.”

Dr. Veronica, who has been more than 30 pounds overweight, confessed that she’s an emotional eater. But she realizes what she’s doing when she grabs crackers and doesn’t overindulge. Cognizant that the number one risk factor for diabetes is excess weight and obesity, Dr. Veronica, the daughter of two diabetic parents, exercises regularly and eats healthy in hopes that she won’t follow in her mother and father’s footsteps.

The key is to not only realize why you’re eating but if it is for emotional reasons then to determine which emotion. Females have a broad spectrum of emotions ranging from anxious to angry to depressed to out of control to boredom to low self-esteem.

Dr. Hancock says, “Put a word on the emotion that you feel, grab it by the throat and say “What if I chose to not eat right now and instead just experience this bit of anxiety or depression or whatever right at this moment. Will it kill me?” When you dissect it, you diffuse it. It loses its power.”

Once the emotion is identified, repeat this phrase:

“Even though I feel anxious (or whatever the emotion is) right now I chose to remember the truth that I know intellectually or logically, which is even though I feel afraid there is nothing to be afraid of. Even though I’m anxious because I’m hungry, I choose to remember the truth, which is a little hunger won’t kill me.”

The key phrase, Dr. Hancock stresses, is “even though I feel.” There is a big difference between what we feel and what we know. Whether it’s a bored housewife, a woman with an average job and average husband and kids on drugs, the message is the same.
“I chose to remember the truth. I chose to believe the truth. I am a smart woman. I am a successful woman. I have a good family. I work hard. You say that over and over again and you breathe in and you breathe out the lie.”

Dr. Veronica utilizes her own mantra, which she repeats in the mirror:  “I am beautiful on the outside. I am beautiful on the inside and I deserve the best.”

She says, “When you start really embracing what you’re saying with your mouth, you’re going to do the right thing for your body. But you have to be able to get to the point where, like Dr. Rita says, you step back, take a deep breath and say, ‘These bad things that I’m fearing, these bad things that I’m feeling, are they true?’ And most of the time you will find that these things are not true.”

There are people who have legitimate reasons for weight gain. Steroids can cause weight gain, some of the tricyclic antidepressants (TCA) make you want to eat and thyroid disorders can play a part as well. While Dr. Hancock understands when someone puts on 20-30, even 40, pounds due to such medical reasons, she asks, “What about the other 80 pounds? You do have to take responsibility after a point. I don’t believe people shirk responsibility because they’re lazy or bad. I think people are afraid and are just trying to protect themselves. Who wants to feel that they failed?”

With it being that time of year when our calendars are full with weddings and bar-b-ques, both women share tips for managing buffet tables at events. Dr. Hancock points out that Cornell’s Dr. Brian Wansink recommends filling half your plate up with vegetables and the other half with whatever you want; she suggests taking only a handful of the most unusual dishes and avoiding the boring and typical items.

Dr. Veronica prefers to eat before going to an event in order not to overeat once at her destination. And if something doesn’t tantalize her taste buds, she has no qualms about discreetly disposing of it.

“If I put something in my mouth and I don’t like it, it’s coming out of my mouth,” the host said. “I’m not going to eat something that I do not like. A lot of time people don’t like to throw away food because there are starving kids in Africa. But you’re not sending that food to Africa so throw it away and stop feeling guilty. That doesn’t help anybody.”

She fills her plate halfway with salads or vegetables so she doesn’t have much room left for unhealthy items. Salads can be filling due to the fiber so that is the first dish she consumes.

“When you start realizing that nothing tastes as good as health feels then you’re going to start slowly changing your behavior.”


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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