Eating for Health


I can’t tell you how many times I’ve met with a patient and by their second or third appointment, they don’t see the results they want on the scale and they want to give up. Or a patient is trying so hard to eat healthy and they are annoyed because “all their skinny friends get to eat whatever they want.”


I completely understand the frustration of changing your eating habits and lifestyle and not getting the results you think you should get, but when you only think in terms of the scale, you are setting yourself up for failure because it is a very short-term way of thinking.


Just because you aren’t seeing what you want on the scale, that doesn’t mean you aren’t healthier. And just because your friends are skinnier, that doesn’t mean they are healthier.


I have found that focusing on health—and not just weight-loss—leads to true, long term results. Being healthier should be for prevention, not damage control. Once you understand that you must do this forever, it takes the pressure off and leads to lasting healthy habits. I understand that forever can sound daunting, but once you accept it, you can start enjoying it and stop focusing on that result.


I’m not saying that if you are overweight or have a few pounds you want to lose, that you shouldn’t want to hit your goals. I’m simply stating that looking at the bigger picture can help you see the other results you may be hitting and keep you on the focused path.


A common situation I see is a patient is sitting in front of me telling me how they feel stronger and their clothes are not as tight. Then we weigh in and the scale shows the same thing as last time. Now this person is upset and feels like everything we’ve been working on is hopeless, and there must be something wrong with them. My response to that issue is this: Who cares what the scale says? Isn’t the point of what we are doing to ultimately lose fat? So, would you rather lose fat and inches or have the number go down on the scale?


The scale is only a gravity tracker! It doesn’t acknowledge hydration, constipation, muscles gain, etc. This person most likely lost fat while gaining muscle. Muscle is denser than fat, meaning it takes up less space. That’s why they saw a loss in inches but nothing on the scale yet.


One way to track results without making all the focus on the scale is to check body fat with BIA or bioelectrical impedance analysis, which uses a small electrical current to see what percentage of a person is fat. Or, you can also track inches lost with measuring tape. When measuring body fat or inches, I don’t like to focus on what the numbers should be, instead, I like to track over time and watch them trend down.


Other results that we aren’t going to see on the scale are the physiological changes that may be happening inside our bodies. As we start eating a more balanced diet and pay attention to portions, our metabolism shifts back to working the way it should.


So, if a person was eating mindlessly and gaining weight, and has shifted to eating better but is now just maintaining, that means they are eating just right for their body. I know it is not the results that we wanted, but there is a lot to be said for a person that eats just right for their body!


When you eat the right number of calories your body needs from whole grains, lean proteins, healthy fats, fruits and veggies, your metabolism starts working efficiently! The way we break down and use carbs to either use immediately or store for later.  


The types of fats that are traveling through our blood stream are balancing out. The minerals such as sodium and potassium in our cells and blood streams are balancing out controlling our blood pressure.


All these little changes are taking place when you start eating well and exercising. Meanwhile, we hyper-focus on the scale. Never really giving our self the time to reap the benefits before we give up AGAIN and assume there must be something wrong with us.


If this sounds like you, I challenge you to stop making it only about weight. REALLY ask yourself each day “Did I give my body what it needs today?” Promise yourself to take good care of yourself, and your mind will feel at-easy and you will start seeing other results!



Jillian Foley is a registered dietitian, but more importantly a mom to 3 awesome kids. She is putting herself through college while trying to be a good mom and work a part-time job, so she understands the struggles of adulthood. But, she thinks it’s those struggles that give us character and she wouldn’t change a thing about her path.