The questions asked most often in our online survey relate to diet, nutrition, and weight loss. So we reached out to Lara Hennessey Lattman at Five Stones Healing Arts & Wellness Center to answer some of these questions.

Lara Hennessey Lattman MS, CNS, LDN
Functional Nutritionist
www.fivestoneswellness.com

1.) What is the biggest challenge your clients face when it comes to eating well?
A. I think the biggest challenge is time. My clients often complain of not having the time to prepare healthy meals, and being on the go all the time, they find it necessary to eat fast food and junk food. I find myself helping to strategize a lot, and teaching how to make healthy food prep more convenient. One time saver is to make leftovers. When you are putting in the time to cook, cook for multiple days and pack for lunch or have for dinner for a few nights. For example, something that is easy and can be done ahead of time (on Sunday) is to make about 2 cups of rice and 4-5 chicken breasts (or 2 cups of lentils for vegetarians) and then that can be thrown together with a salad or frozen vegetables during the week! There are also services like Blue Apron that will deliver the pre-measured ingredients right to your door and all you have to do is put it together. Check out Lara’s healthy and quick crustless quiche muffin recipe on our resources page.

2) What are you finding is the biggest obstacle to losing weight?
A. The biggest obstacle to losing weight is fad diets, especially very low fat ones. There are so many diets out there that work while you are on them but are unsustainable. As soon as someone goes off a fad diet the weight tends to come back, and that slows down metabolism. The key is switching to a healthy diet that you can keep for a lifetime.

3) What is your approach to diet and nutrition counseling?
A. My approach is whole foods first. I aim to get people off processed foods and onto that sustainable, healthy diet. I work to balance macronutrient ratios and make sure the diet is full of micronutrients. I recommend supplements secondary to the whole foods diet and only when I feel that the food is not enough. I approach these changes by crowding out the undesirable foods with better food choices. That way it is more about nourishing and less about deprivation.

4) What do you recommend striving for when it comes to diet and weight? Protein, Carb, Fat requirement?
A. I always ask my clients when they last felt comfortable in their bodies. That weight is different for everyone, and different depending on muscle mass. I always take into account muscle mass and activity level. In terms of protein, carbohydrate and fat requirements, the baseline I tend to work from is 40% carbohydrates, 30% fats and 30% protein. That works for a lot of people, and for those that it isn’t ideal for we work to find the right ratio.

5). Weight loss –there are so many diets out there. It is hard to figure out what is the best and safest way to lose weight and then keep it off. What are your thoughts?
A. Whether someone chooses to be vegetarian, paleo, or anywhere in between, the best way to lose weight is to eat whole foods. Get away from processed foods, especially all the sweets and carbohydrates. That is the way to keep the weight off.

6) Are there any foods to eat that are known to fight cancer?
A. Absolutely! Vegetables containing sulforaphane: broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts and kale are great for reducing chances of hormone driven cancers such as breast and prostate. Turmeric is also being studied as a potent anti-inflammatory that reduces cancer risk.

7) How do I plan meals to counter high cholesterol and diabetes simultaneously?
A. Again, it is about whole foods. You want to choose vegetables as the main carbohydrate source as they do not spike blood sugar and also help the body eliminate cholesterol. Increase bean intake and healthy fats: fish oil, avocado, nuts and seeds.

8) What advice do you have for someone who is “stuck at the same weight and exercises constantly”?
A. A lot of the time this person actually needs to eat a little more to continue weight loss. When our bodies are stressed, and weight loss is stressful on the body, our bodies tend to want to hold on to fat as a survival mechanism. Eating a little more can give the metabolism the boost it needs. It is also important to look at underlying factors such as thyroid function, inflammation and hormone regulation.

9) What suggestions do you have for losing belly fat?
Eliminate sugar and refined carbohydrates.

10) How can we lose weight as we get older and our metabolism slows?
A. This is something that is really hard, because our bodies change so much as we age. Calorie needs certainly reduce, and in our world of too much food this can be very hard for people. It is important to re-evaluate your own diet every few years and really be honest about what is serving you and what may not be any longer. It is also important to address any underlying factors that may be contributing to poor dietary choices or sluggish metabolism. As we age our stomach acid production reduces, which could make someone tend toward a more carbohydrate heavy diet, simply because those foods are more comfortable to eat. It is also important to look at thyroid function and hormone regulation.

11) Can you recommend any quick, healthy and easy recipes that meet the ideal protein, carb, and fat requirements?
A. I love to cook, so I have lots of recipes that I give to my clients. I also have a Pinterest (table2mat) where I post healthy recipes.

12) Do you have any suggestions for motivating your clients to eat better?
A. Every person’s motivation is different, and a lot of what I do is actually help my clients identify that motivation. Maybe it is to reduce chronic heartburn or gas, maybe they want to be around to see their grandchildren get married. Whatever it is, it is usually deeply personal.

13) Is there one change you can recommend that would make a big difference for people who want to eat better and lose weight?
A. The one thing I tell everyone is to never eat artificial sweeteners. They affect hormone signaling and confuse our bodies. They have no place in a whole foods diet. This usually begs the question: what can I use to sweeten my coffee/tea/soda. The best answer is: don’t sweeten it. It is better to train your taste buds away from sweet tastes. Stevia is the only sweetener (besides maple syrup and honey) that I would recommend to people. Stevia is a natural product and does not have the chemical dangers that come with other artificial sweeteners, but it can still initiate a spike in insulin from the sweet taste on the tongue, which is not ideal.

14) Do you have any suggestions for curbing emotional eating?
A. Emotional eating is a huge deal. Most of us do it. I often ask my clients to find something they love that gives them a comforting feeling, but that isn’t food. It could be drinking tea, taking a bath or gardening. The best advice for someone who is emotionally eating: identify what is making you feel the way you do when you need to eat. Address that. Sometimes we cannot change our situation, but we can always change our response to it.

Lara Hennessey Lattman is a Certified Nutrition Specialist and a Licensed Dietician-Nutritionist at Five Stones Healing Arts & Wellness Center in Leesburg, Va. She focuses on helping her clients achieve a well balanced, nourishing way of eating. She uses food as medicine, and when necessary adds in professional grade supplements tailored to each individual’s needs.

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