3 Dieting Myths I No Longer Believe After Reading ‘Beyond a Shadow of a Diet’

By: Sarah Bousquet, American University student and Intern

beyond a shadow of a diet

I recently read ‘Beyond a Shadow of a Diet’, by Judith Matz and Ellen Frankel.  This book discusses the negative impact of dieting on our society and why dieting does the opposite of the intended goal of losing weight.  The authors also focus on how weight and BMI are not accurate representations of health and wellness, and what we as individuals and as a society can do to better understand our health and our bodies.  There were many myths about dieting and weight that were debunked throughout the book, but these three stuck out to me the most.


Myth 1: Diets help you lose weight

  • As the book proves, dieting has the opposite affect on your body.  Through dieting, certain foods that are deemed ‘bad’ by our society become forbidden, and therefore the dieter will have an increased desire to eat these foods. Although dieting can initially help you lose weight, the authors show that after about 2 years approximately 95% of dieters gain the weight back, or enter into a ‘yo-yo’ system of dieting which leads to gaining and losing weight over and over again.  This is detrimental to the health because when dieting the body will begin to burn muscle and fat, so when the dieter gains the weight back they will gain it in fat and lose overall muscle mass, and therefore their health will be in a worse state than at the beginning.

Myth 2: BMI is an accurate depicter of health

  • BMI was originally used to show the weight and general health of the population, not the health of the individuals.  BMI standards for overweight and obese has changed in 1998, creating a new basis for what is considered ‘normal BMI’.  BMI is not an indicator of health, only an indicator of a person’s overall body mass index.  Since BMI is not an indicator of health, the number of your BMI is not nearly as important as treating your body right and, as the book states, being fit is much more important than losing weight or being thin.  There is no correct body shape or weight, and, according to the authors, “a range of female body shapes celebrate life, renewal, and growth”.

Myth 3: Weight is an indicator of health, and obesity causes health problems and diseases.

  • Weight actually has little to do with fitness and health, and therefore is not an accurate indicator of health. Everyones bodies are different, and people who are considered ‘overweight’ can be much healthier than people who are considered ‘normal’. The idea that obesity can cause health problems and diseases are not founded on facts, and studies that were done on obesity tended to be biased, because the doctors who have run those studies in the past were found to work for pharmaceutical companies that were releasing weight loss drugs.

The book ‘Beyond a Shadow of a Diet’ is working to end the stigma that is associated to weight and end the weight bias.  They recognize that body shape, size and weight are not evidence of any particular way of eating or level of health.  They are trying to show that mindfulness, or bringing awareness to your own health and eating without judgement or expectation will lead to self acceptance.

California Walnuts Harvest Tour


By: Michelle Burton, RD at Capitol Nutrition Group and Rebecca Scritchfield Media, LLC

Last week I had the pleasure of venturing out to Sacramento and the California Central Valley for the California Walnuts Harvest Tour. I experienced the autumn walnut harvest first hand, sampled a number of AMAZING dishes featuring this star ingredient, and learned about new research that’s coming out related to walnuts. I hope you’ll enjoy this brief photo journal of my trip, and that it will inspire you to incorporate walnuts into your everyday!

Walnuts Shaking

Donald Norene, his wife, and his son all took us on a tour of their family’s walnut orchard — Norene Ranches. They have a spectacular 750 acres of his farm dedicated to walnuts. He explained that you know when the walnut trees are ready for shaking when you can throw one on the ground and it’s outer shell comes right off. They showed us the tree shaking live which was very cool. It was wonderful getting to taste fresh walnuts right off the tree.

walnut sweeping

After the walnuts are shaken off the trees, they’re swept into piles, “vacuumed” up, and shuttled to a central location for the next step in their harvest journey — hulling.

walnut hulling

The walnuts arrive at the huller where the green outer shell is removed along with other sticks and debris. Then they’re cleaned, dried, and loaded into trucks to be sent to the local processing plant (which we were also able to tour). It was amazing to see the technology involved with sorting, shelling and packaging the walnuts for commercial distribution.

walnut orchard lunch

Wine & Roses put together a beautiful lunch for us in the orchard featuring a number of dishes that showcased the unique flavor and versatility of walnuts. It started with a caramelized onion, fig and walnut flatbread, followed by a squash, apple and walnut slaw salad, then a walnut quinoa salad with grilled chicken, and the finale was THE best caramel walnut cheesecake that I’ve EVER had. I’ll be sure to share that recipe once I get my hands on it!

walnut cooking demo

We came together again that evening for a food demo by Chef and Owner of Mulvaney’s B&L Restaurant, Patrick Mulvaney. He prepared a roasted chili in walnut sauce, and we dined on a salad of heirloom tomatoes with chunky walnut pesto and fettuccine with walnuts and squash among other fabulous walnut creations. During a nutrition presentation by Registered Dietitian, Heidi Diller, I was intrigued to find out that new research is coming out showing a potential link between walnuts and increased fertility in men. They’re planning to continue research in this area, but definitely some promising information!

Looking to satisfy your walnut craving?

You can find a number of easy and delicious recipes on the California Walnuts website at www.walnuts.org.


Disclosure: My attendance at the California Walnuts Harvest Tour was sponsored by California Walnuts, but I was not compensated to write this blog.

Welch’s Vineyard Tour and Harvest Event


By: Alison Sacks, RD at Capitol Nutrition Group and Rebecca Scritchfield Media, LLC

This week I had the exciting opportunity to travel to Richland, Washington to participate in the Welch’s Vineyard Tour and Harvest Event to discover all the goodness of Concord grapes and how grape juice is made! This unique region of Washington, located in the Yakama Valley is one of the top producers of Concord grapes and is absolutely beautiful! The experience was wonderful to see the harvesting process during peak season and get to know the farmers behind the Welch’s brand.  IMG_0201

Welch’s dates back to 140 years ago, when Thomas Bramwell Welch decided to serve Concord grape juice instead of wine at his church. He later went on to bottle the first pasteurized juice using Concord grapes that has become a common household name to so many of us.  The oldest Welch’s grape vine dates back to 1849 in Concord, MA and to this day is still producing berries. (Now that’s sustainability!)


Welch’s grower explaining the unique seed of the Concord grape that contains 77% of the polyphenols.

Family Famers: The Heart of Welch’s

At the heart of Welch’s are 1,000 family farmers who know that quality starts in the fields. For many of these farmers, it’s where their families and livelihoods have grown for generations. We spent the afternoon with Farmer Tim Grow whose first Welch’s memories date back to his childhood helping his grandfather on the family vineyard, where today his own two daughters lend a helping hand on the same family vineyard.


Concords are sweet, tangy, bold purple grapes that need a special climate to grow – specifically, chilly areas.

What Makes a Concord Grape Great

For starts Concord grapes are berries! What makes them distinct from most table or wine grapes are its bigger berries and seeds and deep purple slip-skin. Purple is a cue that fruits and vegetables have plant nutrients called polyphenols that can help promote health, especially heart health (the darker the purple, the more polyphenols).

Berry polyphenols act as antioxidants, helping to protect our healthy cells from the damaging effects of oxidative stress. The majority of polyphenols are found in the thick skins and seeds of the Concords that are usually discarded when eating, which is why pressing Concords into juice helps to concentrate and preserve the heart healthy polyphenols.

Concord grapes are also an important ingredient in heart health. Decades of research has shown when 100% Concord grape juice is drunk consistently it helps support healthy blood vessels by increasing the flexibility of arteries for healthy blood flow. Studies also show Concords may also provide an anti-clotting effect similar to red wine and may help manage the effects of LDL or “bad,” cholesterol by keeping arteries free and clear of excess plaque build-up.

Check out this neat infographic on different ways you can pump up the purple in your diet.

Delivering the Fruit to the Glass


The treat tank where heat and enzymes are added to help extract the heart healthy polyphenols from the skin and seeds of the Concords.


A glimpse inside the belly of the grape harvester.

The Concord grape harvest is short and sweet, lasting only about 30 days between September and October. Due to climate variables, no two years of grape growing are alike but what makes Welch’s unique is their ability to blend grapes from multiple growing regions to deliver that consistent field-fresh flavor.

100% grape juice is made with nothing but whole Concord grapes-seeds, skin and all. From the time the Concords are picked in the fields they are inspected, washed and pressed into juice within 8 hours. During the pressing process the Concords are treated with heat and enzymes, which extracts the heart-healthy polyphenols from the grape seeds and skins and is releases into the juice.

Translating the Grape Science


Sampling a taste of the day’s harvest! Delicious!

We know less than 50% of Americans meet their daily fruit needs so adding 100% fruit juice can be a delicious and convenient way to help fill this gap. Including ½ cup of 100% fruit juice as part of a meal or snack is a simple way to help get in an extra serving of fruit and support a healthy heart. While fresh fruit contains more fiber per serving, consuming fruit in any form still delivers that same health promoting vitamins and minerals. Health experts agree that when 100% fruit juice is added as a compliment to whole fruit intake, consumption can actually double or triple.

8 ounces of 100% Concord grape juice provides 250 mg of polyphenols and contains more than 40 grapes. Its equal to 2 servings of fruit and high in immune boosting vitamin C and a good source of potassium-a key mineral important in regulating blood pressure.

One Juice-So Many Uses

Adding 100% fruit juice to your diet is an affordable and convenient way to help support a healthy lifestyle. Its year-round-availability and flavor variety makes it an easy way to sip sensibly or add to dishes. Look for labels that contain “100% fruit juice” or “No added sugar” and read ingredient labels to make sure they do not contain any added sweeteners or artificial ingredients. Looking for other ways to get creative with Concord grape juice?

  1. Add it to your grains! Make oatmeal or quinoa with 100% grape juice instead of water.
  2. Add a splash of 100% juice to seltzer water for a tad of sweetness.
  3. Make ice pops in the summertime or freeze into ice cubes to add to beverages.
  4. Dress up your favorite greens with a homemade salad dressing using 2 parts heart-healthy oil, 1 part of your favorite vinegar, and a splash of 100% grape juice.
  5. Cook with 100% grape juice instead of red wine.

Thirsty for More?

What are some of your favorite ways to use 100% juice? Feel free to share your favorite recipes by leaving a comment below. You can also follow the hashtag #DiscoverConcordGrapes and visit Welch’s Heart Healthy Recipe site for more flavorful ways to use 100% Concord grape juice.

Disclosure: My attendance at the Welch’s Vineyard Tour and Harvest Event was sponsored by Welch’s but I was not compensated to write this blog.

Good For Business — Bad For Health: The McRib Sandwhich is on Cavuto

I was recently part of a panel that was on the Fox News show Cavuto discussing why the high fat, high salt McRib sandwich has become so popular. The “mystery meat” in the McRib is full of ingredients. I poked fun at the “fake bones” in the molded meat concoction. But it doesn’t seem to bother many Americans as the McRib flies off the shelf when it’s available and has been credited with improving McD’s bottom line.  You can watch the whole video here, but below are a few highlights from my more serious arguments:

Problem: people are short on time and money

I completely understand that people’s lives aren’t getting any less busy, anytime soon. Finding time to cook can seem daunting between work, school and extracurricular activities. There are times when convenience foods will win out and swinging through the drive through may seem like your only option.

Solution: choose smarter convenience foods

My philosophy has always been moderation, so if you are going to choose fast food, then limit the number of times you go in a week/month, and consider ways to balance it out. Maybe you opt for the sandwiches for your family and pair it with a bagged salad from the grocery store instead of springing for the extra-large fries. Make it a goal to keep other healthy convenient foods on hand, like canned beans and tuna fish which are inexpensive and high in nutrients.

Where Does Rebecca Recommend You Should Eat?

I was not about to fall into THAT trap and pick the “healthiest” of the fast food places — that’s not fair for a nutritionist to play “favorites” so I chose the fast food place I wish everyone visited a little more. It’s closer than any place else. Your own kitchen. Who is with me?

What are your healthy convenience foods you keep on hand?

Leave a comment and let me know what foods you keep on hand for last-minute, quick meals.