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In my last post, I talked about the new workout routine my sister, Kelly, and I are on. Today, we’re going to talk about healthy eating with AHN dietitian, Kelsey Hutter!

Kelsey is an amazing woman who suffers from auto-immune disorders. In her early 20s, she realized how much “what she ate” impacted her symptoms and how she felt, and that’s why she became a registered dietitian.

Kelsey answered the most popular questions my followers sent in…everything from intermittent fasting to keto diets to dealing with sugar cravings. Her full answers are below!

Intermittent Fasting (IF) is a type of eating pattern that can cause weight loss. IF does not specify which foods you should eat, but how often you should eat them- it is the practice of severely limiting calories during certain days of the week or during specified hours during the day. Fasting has been a practice through human evolution. Ancient hunter-gatherers did not have supermarkets, refrigerators, or food available year round. Sometimes they could not find anything to eat!

Pros – There has been some promising research that it can help with weight loss (cutting calories in diet), reduce insulin resistance, and lower inflammation. They also feel it may help with brain health and may prevent diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Cons – Please keep in mind research is in its early stages!!! Many studies were short-term or conducted in animals. This diet is not recommended for patients with an eating disorder or for patients who take medications for diabetes. It is also discouraged in the elderly! If you have a propensity to binge eat, I would not recommend this eating style for you. It’s also important to still focus on eating a wide variety foods…a plant based diet with lots of fruits, veggies, whole grains, and lean proteins, and minimally processed foods!

Plant Based Diets – I always recommend consuming whole plant foods- fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, and beans over processed plant foods. When foods are processed with heat, many of the plant based compounds, called antioxidants, that fight disease are destroyed.

There are many types of plant-based diets, but they all emphasize certain foods associated with heart benefits, such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and healthy oils like olive oil. The diets that have been most studied for their impact on heart health include the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet.

The Keto Diet – The keto diet is a high fat, low carb diet. It contains up to 90% calories from fat. The keto diet aims for your body to use a different type of fuel called ketone bodies. Ketone bodies are produced from your body’s stored fat.

Cons – Limits intake of fiber- fruits and whole grains and does not discriminate between unhealthy and healthy fats (butter vs olive oil). Can cause constipation, mood swings (lack of carbs), nutrient deficiency, and liver issues. Not the best for patients that have heart issues, liver issues, Type 1 Diabetes, or endurance athletes like marathon runner. It can be difficult to follow and maintain.

Pros – can be effective for weight loss. The diet is filling…fat is a very filling nutrient. You do not need to count calories. May help insulin sensitivity.

Sugar Cravings – Sugar consumption typically leads to a release of a pleasure chemical in our brain called dopamine. As you consume more and more sugar in your diet, you can develop a “sugar tolerance.” You need more and more sugar to produce that same dopamine pleasure effect!

The best way to beat sugar cravings is to start by cutting down added sugar in processed foods slowly and substitute with natural sugars found in fruit. I also recommend having real dark chocolate with a cocoa content of 70% or more for chocolate cravings! You can even make smooth banana ice cream with a yo-nana maker at home! Also, vanilla and chocolate flavored teas are good for cravings in the evening.

Moderation is key! Total deprivation can lead to a binge episode. Keep the sweets out of the house and have your treats out!

**This blog post is sponsored by Allegheny Health Network and my partnership with AHNWomen.**

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An Emmy award-winning journalist and TV host, Courtney Brennan has galvanized a huge online community around her very real and raw stories of #MomLife! A published writer, speaker and influencer, Courtney has become a strong and vocal supporter for mothers and families. You can follow her at @itscourtneybrennan on Instagram and @CourtneyBrennanTV on Facebook where she shares the realness that is #WorkingMomLife, her home renovations and those ever-important #OOTD More about me »