Straight Talk on Diet from a Blog Authority

Anyone here read the Diet-Blog? I am normally VERY skeptical of web sites covering anything-diet, I must say, but this one is not only extremely popular, but quite level-headed as well. Lots and lots of valuable info on new foods, diet plans, fitness issues, lose-weight-fast scams, body image, diet pills, fast food, and more. In short, everything you could ever want to know about all that.

I caught up with editor Jim Foster recently for a “brain dump” over here at Jim claims he’s not an expert — rather just an “Average Joe” trying to stay reasonably fit and healthy — who calls on the collective knowledge of his editorial team. Still, he’s garnered quite some kudos for his work at the Diet-Blog, “filtering the best of diet news and advice — and combining it with real-world application and opinion.” Have a look at what he has to say:

Jim_foster_diet_blog Jim, how would you describe your overall “diet philosophy”?

Nutrition is individualistic. What works for me may not work for you. As a simple rule of thumb, I believe we should favor whole foods over highly processed foods. We have weight problems because we eat too much — but in our defense — we are surrounded by an abundant food supply mostly comprised of foods that are very easy to overeat!

Give us a sense of your approach to carbs: good carbs, bad carbs, low carbs, no carbs?

Carbohydrate-based foods are cheap. Next time your are eating at a “large-portioned” restaurant — look at what fills your plate. Highly refined carbs are easy to overeat and often lack the satiety of certain fats and proteins. Recent data has shown that sweetened soft drinks contribute 10% of all calories in the American diet.

So, having said this, I feel we tend to eat too many refined carbs and sugars. However, nutritional advice for the last few decades has focused exclusively on fat. Someone forgot to mention that we also need to moderate carbohydrate intake.

As for heavily restricting carbs, I believe there is a place for it in certain situations. And rather than being a target for derision — a controlled-carb approach needs to be offered as an option — particularly to those with any blood sugar issues.

I have my own experiences with this: I struggled with hypoglycemia for years. A nutritionist advised that I needed to be snacking and grazing more throughout the day. The suggested snacks were all carbohydrate-based foods. My symptoms persisted until I began to include a strong protein component in my snacks. Now the glucose wasn’t hitting my body in a rush, and it helped to balance out the wild blood sugar swings.

The “eatwell plate” you featured from the UK food authorities seems to recommend a very large proportion of carbs. Are you on board with that?

I’m not out to antagonize public health authorities – however I feel we as consumers don’t need any encouragement to eat more carbs. If anything we need more education on the different kinds of carbohydrates – and the impact on satiety.

Do you have a party line on exercise? Which type and how much is best?

Again — whatever works for you. I believe exercise is essential for good physical and mental health, although I suspect at times we tend to overstate the effect of exercise on weight loss. We also tend to focus on a narrow style of exercising (think 60 minutes on a treadmill, or a “bodybuilder-type” workout consisting of 3 sets of 8-10 reps performed slowly). There is an astonishing variation of exercise technique out there. Mixing it up a little can help keep the boredom away. See HERE.

The Diet-Blog claims to sort out the “big fat lies” in food/fitness marketing from the good stuff. What is your method for evaluating new products and diet plans?

I don’t know about sorting out the big fat lies… :-) but there is plenty of murky misinformation out there. The advertising budget of a single food manufacturer probably impacts more people than any well-meaning government or NGO initiative. As consumers we need to constantly challenge the beliefs that we have about food and weight. In terms of products and diets, myself and the other writers just try to present both the pros and cons and leave it up to the reader to discuss and decide. That’s why blogging is such a great platform for these sorts of issues. It’s an ongoing conversation. Many times I or one of the writers have made a misstep with one of our posts, and the readers will quickly put it right by chiming in with their point-of-view in the comments section.

You talk a lot about body image on the blog. What’s your basic philosophy on that?

Turn on the TV: what sort of people do you see? Mostly very thin ones. Look at the statistics: what do you see? Over 65% of Americans are overweight. We have a strange paradox at work here. Popular culture is obsessed with being slim and yet most of us are anything but. That would imply that there are an awful lot of people who feel they fail to live up to the kind of physical image that society prescribes.

When self-esteem plunges we become victim to all kinds of dangerous behaviors, from semi-starvation diets to dodgy diet pills. The more we focus on trying to look a certain way, the less satisfied we become.

I advocate pursuit of wholeness and health. Constantly chasing the ever-changing standards of physical beauty is a no-win situation. Let’s go after a strong, healthy, and functional body instead — you never know — you may find that a side-effect of that goal is a body that you can look at in the mirror without shame.

Is guilt a big issue? Do your readers share their struggles?

Some of the comments that hit the blog from young women are very sobering indeed. There is a powerful culture of self-hate out there, particularly among teens. Then there is the obsession with food. Whenever we follow a regimented eating plan, guilt and obsession are never far away. Rather than seeing some comfort foods as evil, find a way to incorporate those foods into our (overall healthy) diet — typically by eating small portions very slowly.

If you could only recommend one or two books to help people with diabetes eat right, which would it be?

So many books — so little time! A few favorites: Brian Wansink’s Mindless Eating and Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma. I know these aren’t specifically about diabetes, but they address some of the issues we have with modern food consumption.

Thank you, Jim, for this good sober reality check.


6 Responses

  1. Ann
    Ann October 18, 2007 at 8:47 pm | | Reply

    I know couple of friends with type I diabetes. They watched their diet and exercised regularly. No more diabetes. In my opinion, diet and exercise is the best medicine.

  2. mary
    mary December 27, 2007 at 12:01 am | | Reply

    Hello, This is Mary

    I am 36 years old with 2 toddlers. My youngest just started day care last week- which still feels a little strange. I haven’t had this much time to myself in years. First thing I want to do is lose the extra pounds I put on during the last pregnancy. One of the girls next door has suggested I join her walking group two days a week. After my first pregnancy I lost around 35 pounds using the Herbalife products, but when I called the man that sold them to me three years ago he told me this week he doesn’t sell them anymore. He told me to look on the internet. It’s disappointing because he was really nice and he called me regularly to make sure I was using their products correctly. It was nice to have someone checking in with me every week to see how I was and it kept me motivated.

    I searched on the internet for someone that sells Herbalife in New Jersey. I found many websites but I don’t want
    just to buy the products, I want to find someone trustworthy that sells the products so I can also meet them and get started again.

    Could anybody here recommend someone in New Brunswick?

    Thanks, Mary

  3. liz
    liz December 27, 2007 at 9:25 pm | | Reply

    Hi Mary,

    >From one mom to another I think I have a solution for you!! I want to lose 40 pounds, and I’ve lost 28 so far!!! I am feeling fantastic and have more energy than I did when I was in college. I went through three different Herbalife distributors until I found the person I felt really actually cared about me and helped me to start getting results. The bottom line was that I wanted to find somebody that could offer me good prices, but that could also check in with me to make sure I was doing ok.

    I used to drive two hours to meet with my first distributor in West Haven, Connecticut. I even brought the girls with me a few times because I couldn’t find a babysitter. Today my Herbalife coach does everything over the phone and it is much easier with my busy schedule. You can order Herbalife online on his website, you get the shakes a few days after with FedEx and then you can setup a telephone meeting once a week to make sure you are doing the program right.

    His name is Danny Castello and his website is The number is (310) 928- 3835. He and his girlfriend Michaela actually do most of the coaching together as a team, but she has an Herbalife site as well: He does most of the motivation on the call and gives you important facts regarding nutrition. He can be a bit tough but he really wants you to get results. She is a bit softer- so they make a good combination. Actually I also recommend joining his newsletter first so you can see the articles on nutrition. They also have videos so you can see who they are before actually calling them. Its nice because they actually use the products too. You can see on their websites.

    Hope this helps!


  4. Experience diet diary
    Experience diet diary May 2, 2008 at 10:02 pm | | Reply

    I’m from Japan.
    Glad to meet you.

    Please link to this site.
    Keep it up please.

  5. Experience diet diary
    Experience diet diary May 3, 2008 at 7:01 pm | | Reply

    I’m from Japan.
    Glad to meet you.

    Please link to this site.
    Keep it up please.

  6. diets23
    diets23 May 5, 2008 at 9:46 am | | Reply

    People who have a family history of diabetes as well as diabetes are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Also referred to as non-insulin dependent diabetes, type 2 diabetes is a condition wherein the body, over time, becomes resistant to insulin.

Leave a Reply