Balanced Bites Podcast | Diane Sanfilippo & Liz Wolfe

Podcast Episode #291: Portion Control

Diane Sanfilippo Featured, Paleo and Primal, Podcast Episodes 1 Comment

Balanced Bites Podcast | Diane Sanfilippo & Liz WolfeTopics

  1. News and updates from Diane & Liz [2:37]
  2. Listener shout out: sourdough bread [6:41]
  3. How to portion without weighing [10:44]
  4. Smaller more frequent, or larger and further spaced meals [22:53]
  5. Where does snacking come in? [36:55]
  6. Losing while nursing [42:26]

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You’re listening to the Balanced Bites podcast episode 291.

Diane Sanfilippo: Welcome to the Balanced Bites podcast. I’m Diane; a certified nutrition consultant, and the New York Times bestselling author of Practical Paleo and The 21-Day Sugar Detox. I live in San Francisco with my husband and fur kids; and I’m wondering what happened to spring in San Francisco, because suddenly I’m reaching for the space heater again.

Liz Wolfe: I’m Liz; a nutritional therapy practitioner, and author of the Wall Street Journal best-seller Eat the Yolks; The Purely Primal Skincare Guide; and the online program Baby Making and Beyond. I live on a farm in the mystical land of the Midwest, outside of Kansas City, and I am now the proud owner of a round-top duck coop.

We’re the co-creators of the Balanced Bites Master Class, and we’ve been bringing you this award winning podcast for 5 years and counting. We’re here to share our take on modern paleo living, answer your questions, and chat with leading health and wellness experts. Enjoy this week’s episode, and submit your questions at Remember our disclaimer: The materials and content within this podcast are intended as general information only, and are not to be considered a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Before we get started, let’s hear from one of our sponsors.

Liz Wolfe: This episode of the Balanced Bites podcast is sponsored by our friends at Primally Pure Skincare. Primally Pure makes 100% natural and nontoxic skincare products that support radiant skin, a healthy body, and a happy self. They use ingredients like tallow from grass-fed cows; organic and fair trade coconut oil, and organic oils, herbs, and extracts to formulate effective products that also smell amazing and look beautiful sitting on your bathroom counter. At, you’ll find their bestselling natural deodorant that actually works; face mists made from locally sourced and organic rose and orange blossom hydrosols, and their brand new baby line. You’ll also find Diane’s favorite Primally Pure product, dry shampoo, and Liz’s favorite, the Everything Spray with magnesium. As a special bonus for you, Primally Pure is offering a free lip balm with your first purchase of one item or more. Simply add a lip balm to your cart along with any one item, and use the code “balancedbites”, one word no caps, during checkout to receive one of their lip balms for free with your order. Head to and check out their range of safe and effective all natural skincare products.

1. News and updates from Diane & Liz [2:37]

Liz Wolfe: Well, hey everyone. It’s me Liz, here with Diane.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs} Well hey.

Liz Wolfe: Had a few hiccups, just now, but we’re good. I think we got it taken care of.

Diane Sanfilippo: I think we’re good.

Liz Wolfe: We got disclaimer done, intro done. Let’s do some updates.

Diane Sanfilippo: All of the things.

Liz Wolfe: Diane, what are your updates? {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah. So, I think as of this week; I always get turned around on dates. You’d think after how many years of doing this I could sort out the whole; we record this day, they hear it beginning this day. But whatever, some people I’m sure are listening later. But as of this week, the first kind of mini-episode of Diane Direct is going up. The vlog channel that I’ve started; it’s on YouTube. So I think I talked maybe last week or a couple of weeks ago about how we were getting these started. It’s going to be a weekly vlog; so video blog sort of deal. And it’s going to kind of alternate between recipes, just healthy living stuff, dining out tips, some just straight up real talk; nutrition stuff. It’s just going to be all the things. All the things.

And I think our next video is a big keto/low-carb conversation. But the first one is super straight forward; how I mix my cold brew coffee; because it’s probably one of the top 20 questions I get, let’s just say, every single week. So some of the videos are going to be short like that, just a really quick, “here’s how I do this.” And some of them will be a lot longer conversations, and answering lots of questions. So first one will be up; you guys can check that out, because you guys ask me all the time how I make my cold brew, and there you go.

Just another heads up that the 21-Day Sugar Detox coaches program is opening at the end of May. So you guys; if you’re curious about the program, interested in it, etc., you’ve got about 4-6 weeks to kind of tune in and know what’s going on with that. Over on Facebook, we have a 21-Day Sugar Detox coaches program interest group, and it’s pretty active in terms of the updates that we share there, when things will be available and all of that. But we will definitely share here on the podcast, and everywhere else when that program opens up. It’s an amazing program, and if you’re a practitioner who wants some support figuring out, like, “What do I do with groups? How can I take people through a program?” it’s extremely step by step, hand held. We give you all the tools that you need. It’s kind of like a business in a box. And it’s a great community. The women; mostly women, there’s a handful of guys, but most women who are in there are just awesome. Awesome people, very driven, and making their businesses go, which is cool. So that’s what’s up over here. What’s up with you?

Liz Wolfe: I had a little parenthood rite of passage today. The kid locked herself in her room. I have no idea how. So in all my obsessing in childproofing the entire house, I forgot to put a little doorknob cover over her room doorknob, and it’s not that big of a deal. She just crawled up into the chair and was reading a book. But she was so involved in her book that she did not answer any of my husband’s like, “Agh! Hey! Hey, are you ok?!”

Diane Sanfilippo: Frantic.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah. So, I mean we just, you know, unscrewed the doorknob.

Diane Sanfilippo: She’s probably like, “What? What’s up?”

Liz Wolfe: Yep. “I’m reading, duh.”

Diane Sanfilippo: She was busy.

Liz Wolfe: Well I’m glad she has a love of reading. That’s lovely. But we’re all good; doorknob is replaced. We’re good. Other than that; exciting news on the Balanced Bites Master Class front, the find a Balanced Bites Master Class practitioner page will be active within the next few weeks. So if you are looking for a nutrition coaching or wellness practitioner who has been through our program; someone who resonates with our approach as you do, as a podcast listener; that would be the place to go.

Diane Sanfilippo: Mm-hmm.

2. Listener shout out: Sourdough bread [6:41]

Liz Wolfe: Alright, so we have a follower shout out that I’d like to share with you before we dive into today’s topic. It’s a little follow-up to our sourdough bread conversation from mid-February, episode 283; on sugar, carbs, and food swaps. “I wanted to give you some feedback on making sourdough bread from scratch, which you had mentioned in one of your recent episodes. We started the process by watching Cooked, which not only gave us more details on our bread venture, but it also gave us incredible motivation for keeping our journey on the real food path going. To prepare for sourdough bread, I went out to buy some whole grain wheat flour, which felt really odd, since I’ve been gluten free for almost 2 years now. I mixed the same amount of flour and water and let it set on a radiator to go about its business; and lo and behold, bubbles started forming in the surface.

I was more than fascinated that this mix was coming to life in front of my eyes. I repeated the adding the same amount of flour and water process a couple more times, until there was enough sourdough for a loaf of bread. We then added more flour to the mix until it kept its shape in bread shape, and let it rise for a couple more hours, and baked it thereafter. Coming from Germany, having a slice of freshly baked bread with butter and salt, or butter and honey, is something that will always remind me of my childhood. So needless to say, our experiment tasted amazing; the pretty sour taste notwithstanding. And most importantly, I didn’t get glutened, which was really surprising to me. To me, the hypothesis that fermentation is necessary to make grains digestible makes a lot of sense, even if I only have my N=1 study to back it up. Anyway, I thought I would share our experiment with the two of you.

Last, but definitely not least, the work you do is breath of fresh air in this sometimes pretty dogmatic and uptight paleo community. Thank you for your understanding of individuality when it comes to nutrition and life in general. Your podcasts never fail to make my commutes and household chores enjoyable. Keep up the amazing work that you do. Love from Germany, Denise.”

Diane Sanfilippo: Aww. That’s so sweet!

Liz Wolfe: So nice.

Diane Sanfilippo: I love it.

Liz Wolfe: Super awesome. Thanks Denise. I love when people; you know, I have these thoughts about some of the podcasts and some of the people that I follow, but actually sitting down and taking the time to write something; I know how that takes time, and we really appreciate that. That’s really cool.

Diane Sanfilippo: And to try some of the stuff that we’re talking about; because so often you’re listening in the car, or while you’re doing something else, and then taking action on what we were talking about doesn’t always happen. So, I’m psyched that she did it and she found that it worked for her. So very cool.

Liz Wolfe: Today’s podcast is sponsored by Vital Choice seafood and organics; purveyor of premium sustainably sourced seafood and a certified B corporation. Vital choice offers a wide range of fish, shellfish, humanely raised meat, protein rich bone broths, and paleo friendly snacks like organic dark chocolate, super antioxidant trail mix, and bison jerky. From weeknight dinners to weekend brunches, is your source for real food.

Diane Sanfilippo: Ok, so today we’re going to continue on the conversation we started last week about calories and macro counting and all of that. So if you haven’t listened to last weeks’ episode, go back and listen to it. It’s number 290. Go ahead and do that first. Today we’ll be diving a little bit more into a conversation about portions and portion control. You guys submitted a ton of great questions, and we’re going to get to as many of those as possible.

Just a note about that, too. I know in our intro we mentioned submitting questions through, which is great, especially if you have anything a little more personal that you want to ask about, and you want to keep it a little bit more anonymous. But one of the things we do every week on the Balanced Bites podcast Instagram account is sort of post a call for questions around a certain topic, and you guys can take that as an indicator that in the next several weeks, that will be a topic we’re going to talk about on the show. But that’s a great place to go ahead and submit what you’re curious about, or see what people are asking about. So, Liz do you want to go ahead and help us dive into one of the first things folks were talking about?

3. How to portion without weighing [10:44]

Liz Wolfe: My pleasure. So one popular question we got was, how to portion your meals without physically weighing and counting the calories. And in that same vein, how to go about eating intuitively. Which, are these two things opposites in your mind, or do you feel like this is kind of a continuum?

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs} Yeah.

Liz Wolfe: You want to be aware of what you're eating and portion properly; but also don’t totally disconnect yourself from your intuition about how much you're eating and what you need.

Diane Sanfilippo: Well I think a lot of the questions that came in, they were a bit divided on this, “Can I be following certain portion guidelines without putting food on a scale? Is that even possible to do and how would I do that,” And then, the follow-ups to that were, “How do I get to a place where eventually I don’t have to do that anymore. You know? Because I think that’s something that’s definitely where we want to be. We want to just be able to put food on our plate, and I don’t want to say that it would be like a subconscious; it’s not unconscious. It’s like a subconscious; you just, this is how much of XYZ food you put on your plate. This is what I know works for me, and that’s where it becomes more intuitive. Where it’s not a thought process, or a decision-making process every time; it’s just, this is how much of this food I’m going to need based on how hungry I am and what’s going on the rest of the day. So I think people really want to know how we get to that place, and I think you and I are pretty much in that place when it comes to just every day eating, and I think we both have very different approaches to maybe what we’re doing at any given moment based on certain goals.

So, when you put food on your plate, Liz; what is the thought process behind how much of any given thing, how much chicken or beef versus veggies or what have you, will go onto the plate.

Liz Wolfe: Well, at this point in my life it’s just like I’m happy if I get a chance to eat. So for me, I’m just eating anything I can remember to eat at any point I can remember to eat it, and it’s not always at the same time. Which sounds like probably not the greatest parenting strategy, but you worry about getting the kids food in first, and then you think about your food. And at the most, at my best, I’ll be eating the same thing that the kid is eating. So on my best day, I would also eat liverwurst, kale, and a purple sweet potato. But I’m just giving myself a lot of grace at this point in my life, and I don’t want to eat a lot of liverwurst. Even though I should. So sometimes it’s just a matter of getting in what I can when I can. And I don’t pay a lot of attention to the portions or what I’m mixing on my plate, and that’s what’s working for me right now. My kids’ fed, and generally I’m fed. I’ll also dump some of my favorite additions and things; collagen peptides and stuff, and sometimes some emu oil for vitamin K2, that type of stuff. It’s just, you know, I’m probably not in the same stage of life as some folks that are asking these questions. But that’s really the best I can do right now.

Diane Sanfilippo: I think also, if you were experiencing something a little bit different. So your kid is now how old?

Liz Wolfe: 2.

Diane Sanfilippo: So she’s 2.

Liz Wolfe: Yes. So she’s all over the place. She’s locking herself in rooms.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs} Right.

Liz Wolfe: {laughing}

Diane Sanfilippo: But if you were at this place right now with a 2-year-old and perhaps holding onto a lot more post pregnancy weight, I think that your mindset might be different, or it might not. I think that’s the situation some of our listeners are in, where we have some questions later about losing the last weight; I don’t know exactly how far postpartum some of the nursing mamas are that asking the question. I wouldn’t assume more than 2 years if they’re still nursing; that’s just my assumption, so forgive me if that’s not accurate.

So I think it does depend. Your natural appetite control, and then also lack of ability to sit down multiple times a day with a giant plate of food just because of your lifestyle right now, chasing the kid around, makes it so that you're not in a situation where you really have any weight to lose, or want to lose. You’re just kind of living life and nourishing your body, and there you go.

And I do think that a lot of our listeners probably could benefit from hearing that they probably don’t have weight to lose, either, like I’m at a healthy weight for my body type, and muscle to fat ratio, etc. And I don’t “need” to lose weight. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t have, perhaps, body composition or weight composition goals just because I’m changing my training or I’m changing my nutrition and I want to see what happens with it. That’s kind of like over the last 5 years, you and I have had this conversation so many times. Because I’m always the one who’s tinkering with that stuff; it’s just something that as an athlete and someone who is training all these different ways, I like to see what happens.

But, we talked a lot about the whole counting thing last week. When it comes to how to portion meals without physically weighing or counting, part of it can come from; and if that question is asked under the assumption that somebody is trying to follow a specific plan but doesn’t want to have to put the food on a scale. But they’re like, I want to be eating maybe higher fat, lower carb; but I don’t actually want to put my food on a food scale, because that’s not practical, or it seems crazy, or it’s annoying. Then; I mean, I’ve said this so many times before, but having done that at some point in time, even if it’s just for a few days, should give you enough knowledge and wherewithal to know, this is what X number of ounces of protein looks like, this is what a tablespoon of fat is. You really shouldn’t have to do that over and over again.

I mean, I don’t know another way to say it; once you’ve weighed food for a certain period of time, unless you're just not paying attention to what you're doing, pay attention to what you're doing {laughs} so that you can see physically what does the size of that portion look like? I mean, people often talk about portions of protein being the palm of your hand, and what have you. It’s like; how many times does it take you doing something for you to pay attention to what it looks like every time? You really shouldn’t have to weigh your food for years and years and years; even if you’re trying to follow a certain plan. That amount that you portion out, you should be able to hit the nail on the head.

I can cut 1 ounce of cheese from a block, because I’ve done it now countless times, and if I go to put it on a food scale, it’s probably within a tenth of an ounce, if it’s not exactly one ounce, because I’ve done it that many times. I think giving your attention to what you’re doing for a period of time so that later you don’t have to pay as much attention to it is a worthwhile endeavor. We don’t want people to have to be thinking; “Oh, how much is 1 ounce of cheese?” But at some point in time, when you go to cut a piece off of a block, it’s just intuitive. This is about a portion. This is a decent amount. I don’t need to eat this entire block that cost me $20 {laughs} I can eat this little piece, and that’s a decent portion.

So, I think how to get from the place where you constantly have to pay attention, or you’re weighing something; you do it with intention for a period of time, and take what you’ve learned and move forward. Just like everything else we learn in life, you know. At some point, you’re paying so much attention to, “Where is my directional in the car? Where are the windshield wipers? Where is everything else?” And at a certain point, it’s all just very habitual. You don’t ask yourself where are those levers anymore, you just pull them. They’re just there. So I think that’s part of it.

One of the things I did in the new edition of Practical Paleo was show you how to build a plate, which I think is a totally healthy way of managing portion control. This is something that you guys might see; programs out there that give you containers for food, or just talk about what does it look like on your hand; again like that deck of cards, or palm of your hand for protein. But when I talk about a plate that you might have, 30% of your plate is green vegetables, and 30% of your plate is some kind of starchy vegetables, like potato or sweet potato or squash; and then 30% of your plate is protein; you really can eyeball that. You really can just grab your dinner plate, and put food on it in those portions, and it doesn’t need to be all so calculated.

So for those of you who don’t want to have to count but want to know, “Am I getting enough protein,” Well, if the protein on your plate only takes up what looks like about 10% of the plate, it might not be enough protein. If that makes sense. I think there are different ways to approach that, and there is no one balance of nutrients or macronutrients that is “right” for everyone.

And the question; I started answering this on the low-carb/keto video that I did live on Facebook, which is not available to view there anymore, because it will be in the vlog content soon. But one of the questions that we get a lot, and kind of came in a bunch on this thread was a should question. “Should I be doing XYZ; how much should; what should”; and a lot of shoulds. And I had this realization pretty much over the weekend; this is what happens after I go to an Oprah event, it’s like my brain is actually working again and I’m being thoughtful. But one of the things I want you guys to keep in mind is that anytime you ask a “should” question, you weigh that question heavily with the potential for shame as a result if you don’t follow whatever somebody said you “should” do.

This is a much bigger topic that I can’t really address {laughs} today. But, the next question that’s coming up is a should question, and I think that I really want to encourage everybody to think about how you ask the question, and if there should {laughs} if you want to use the word “should” or not. And you know, sometimes we throw it around, but I think it’s important to be more mindful of how we use that word.

Anyway; so how to go about eating intuitively; I think that’s something that comes in time when you’re doing something for a long time; the same way eating real food comes intuitively to most of you who are listening now. You’ve heard me say this before, too. You’ve gone into many gas stations to pay for your gas, or to use the bathroom, or to grab a bottle of water while you’re on a road trip, and at some point, the Twinkie is no longer food. You see it there, you know that it’s no longer food, and that’s an intuitive response; you didn’t have to make a decision about it, you just notice that it’s there, but it’s not an option. I think the same thing happens over time with how to eat intuitively, and it’s not that critical that you try and count and be so detail oriented with it in the long term. Because over time, you’ll know, this is about a portion of this, a portion of that. It’s not something you have to stress over. I don’t think, in the very long term, when it comes to maintaining health. So there’s that.

Liz Wolfe: There’s dogs barking.

Diane Sanfilippo: There’s dogs barking, yeah.

Liz Wolfe: I’m sorry.

Diane Sanfilippo: No worries.

Liz Wolfe: I was muted, and I’m not anymore. I don’t know if they’re going to stop any time soon.

Diane Sanfilippo: That’s fine. {laughs} Real life.

4. Smaller more frequent, or larger and further spaced meals [22:53]

Liz Wolfe: Alright. {laughs} Real life. Alright, so, let’s kind of take a lateral step here. Another big question we had was, “Should we be eating more smaller meals or fewer larger meals?”

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs} The dogs have something to say about it. So I talked about this a couple of weeks ago with Dr. Cate Shanahan; and this is definitely something that has come up more in recent years with a lot of talk around macros based meal plans. And when we talk about macros based meal plans, typically; I mean the word macros is just short for macronutrients, and it shouldn’t imply. Eh, maybe there’s the word should. It doesn’t need to imply that you're eating lower fat, higher carb, and pretty high protein; but it does imply that. So if someone says they’re following a macros based meal plan, that’s typically what it means; it tends to be pretty low in fat. And we’re talking anywhere from 35 to 75 grams of fat a day, which a lot of us who might be eating higher fat will eat that in one meal. But the flip side is true of how much carbohydrate you're eating if you're eating low carb versus you're eating on a macros based plan.

So a macros based plan being lower in fat and higher in carb and a moderate amount of protein; here’s the thing. That works great for some people. For people who are having trouble with digestive function and you feel like you can’t get your digestion calmed down or sorted out, or it’s just not working properly; or for people who have issues of satiety, eating maybe 3-400 calories at a time and you’re never really feeling full, eating smaller meals throughout the day is not going to be a good approach for those people. But it’s something that you tend to need to do when you eat lower fat, because the meals aren’t as satiating. Each meal is not as satiating as a very high fat, perhaps lower carb meal. So you can’t really last as long. You can’t go more than that 3-4 hours tops without eating again; whereas if you’re eating more fat and less carbohydrate, you can typically go a lot longer; anywhere from 4-6 hours between meals, maybe longer for some people.

Now, the upside to having more time between your meals is that you give your digestive process a chance to really clear through. So, something that happens overnight; and it can also happen during the day if you give your body enough time, is the migrating motor complex is what really sweeps through our digestive system, and allowing all of whatever is kind of sitting there, waiting to be processed to move through. If we’re constantly putting more food in, then that system shuts down while more food is coming through our digestive system.

So I talked with Dr. Cate Shanahan; not specifically about the migrating motor complex. I talked about that a couple of years ago, I think, with Dr. Siebecker when we first talked about SIBO on the show. But, when I talked with Dr. Cate about this idea of having more time between meals, this is something she really alluded to; is that our body does need time to kind of sit and work through that food. And something else; coming up soon I think I want to dig into looking at what happens when our body is fasting; and I don’t mean 24-plus hours, I just mean, between meals, if we feel this twinge that we think is hunger, is it really hunger or is it something else? And you know, Liz, I’m definitely not somebody who ever advocates for undereating; I don’t under eat personally. Eating is one of my top 3 skills. {laughs} But I think it’s important to know what our body is actually doing, and sometimes we perhaps have mixed signals about that.

But anyway. The question being framed as, should we be eating more smaller, or fewer and larger meals; well I don’t want to tell you, you should be eating fewer larger meals, because then if you don’t do that, or you feel like you can’t because it doesn’t work for you, then you're going to feel some kind of shame like you didn’t; you weren’t able to achieve something if that’s what I say you “should” do. So I’m not going to say what you should do; I’m going to say, I think in general for better health, it does seem to be an idea way to move, to get towards fewer meals that are larger, and perhaps; which we’ve talked about this too, for a long time, and Robb Wolf has talked about this, too. In a bit of a punctuated window where there’s a time in the evening where we stop eating, and then we don’t start again for at least 12 hours. And that’s not about restricting calories, it’s not about restricting nutrition; it’s honestly just about giving our body, our digestive system, and our cellular turnover process a chance to kind of do its thing without a consistent input.

Now, there are always exceptions to that. If you're pregnant or breastfeeding; if you're someone who struggles with low blood sugar, if you have issues around eating disorders or disordered eating patterns, that’s not something I would say, pay a lot of attention to this. But for people who are just kind of everyday people who feel like you’ve been told for so long to eat smaller meals all throughout the day, well if it works for you, fine. There’s no reason to question what you’re doing just because someone else says something else might be a good idea. I think everyone is giving too much power away with the constant seeking of advice on this stuff.

But I think what we’ve always tried to do is just present other options; if what you’re doing isn’t working for you, here’s another option. And that’s all it is. We’re not ever trying to say, we have the right answers, because our answers are not going to be right for everyone, that’s for sure. So what’s your take on, between big meals less often; smaller meals more often. I mean, I’m sure right now you're like, well, I’m getting whichever of those can happen. But; if you had the choice, you know, to say, what am I going to do; what do you feel like works for you better?

Liz Wolfe: My preference would definitely be 3 larger meals, maybe punctuated with some snacks. I find if I’m going too small, and this is exactly what I’m; you know, honestly struggling with right now. And when I talked about this a minute ago, and we’ll talk about this again in a minute with the nursing moms. I won’t go into it too much, but; I’m probably not taking care of myself, especially dietarily, the way I should, and it’s certainly working right now and I’m doing the best that I can, but I am also aware of some negative consequences for thyroid function and things like that.

So without going too deep there, my preference would certainly be 3 big meals and a couple of snacks rather than, oh my gosh I’m crashing, let me have a squeeze pack and some butter. That’s just simply not ideal. And doing that multiple times a day, or some iteration of that, is not a good long-term strategy. But I know there are a lot of women, probably in the same place that I am, that you just can’t figure out how to perfectly acclimate to the care and feeding of another organism, versus all the other systematic things we would do in life that have nothing to do with an entirely separate biological entity. Because trying to balance work, and a computer, and a phone, and tasks, and responsibilities is an entirely different thing from caring for an {laughs} entirely separate vessel of human biology.

So, it’s just interesting, and it’s tough, and it poses its own challenges, and I need to get a handle on it eventually. And when I do, I would very much prefer to be eating 3 good-sized meals; protein, carb, fat; I don’t know, it would probably vary from day to day. Maybe one day it would be mostly, like a huge hunk of iron rich protein with some fat, like a burger with an egg on it and some avocado. Just depends on what my body needs or I feel like I need in that moment. And like you were talking about; when a Twinkie becomes not food anymore, that’s kind of that point where you’re like; “Ok, if I’m craving carbs today, it’s probably because I need them.”

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah.

Liz Wolfe: It’s not because I just want carbs and I’m addicted to them. And you start to kind of trust your instinct a little bit more about what your body needs. So maybe it’s that burger one day, and maybe it’s a huge potato and I don’t know; whatever. Kale. The next.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah. I think you kind of hit on something there that two things; one, I think a lot of the questions that are coming in are because it’s mostly women who are listeners have goals with their body composition that they don’t know how to try and achieve. So I just; I think that’s who was mostly coming into asking these questions.

One thing that you just hit on, so I’ll circle back to that thought in a second. But one thing you just hit on was, “If my body is craving carbs, it’s probably because it needs carbs.” I think it’s so important for our listeners to understand that, if your body is craving carbs and you're eating a real food diet, and so you respond with real food carbs; there’s nothing wrong with that process. If your hitting this 3 o’clock every day, constant slump because you know you're not sleeping, and so what you’re doing is putting candy down the pie hole and you're living a lifestyle that sets you up for cravings, and then you respond with poor quality food, that’s not what we’re talking about. We’re talking about, maybe you are a little under slept, and it’s one day that it just wasn’t happening for you. So your body is craving carbs because it’s kind of tired, so you respond with fruit and sweet potatoes versus a Snickers; you know, that’s where you’ve gotten to a place where there’s no reason to feel any shame because you should have done something differently. You know what I mean? So I just want people to hear that and know that’s kind of; let’s just get that out of the way there.

But this idea that people feel that there is a way they “should” be eating to achieve the goal that they have, I think there’s so much speculation and hypothesizing about what should I do, or what’s the best way to achieve XYZ. And I think the real problem is, not enough people are just trying something for a while, for 3 months or even 6 months, which is what I tend to do. Sometimes I seek some external counsel. I ask somebody; if I want to try this way of eating, how do I go about doing that? And then that’s it. I don’t spin my wheels asking a million questions for months and months and months; I get to work and try the thing, and see how it affects my body for a longer period of time. How my body responds, how I respond; do I like doing this or not? And then if I don’t feel like doing that thing anymore, I try something else. And I think this is a really big lesson for everyone; you can ask as many questions as you want about what you “should” do to achieve whatever the goal is; but until you get to doing the thing, and doing the work, and seeing how your body responds in the longer term. And I’m talking a minimum of 3 months; you can’t expect any of this stuff to really affect you without giving it a lot of time. And I think that’s the problem. I think people aren’t giving it the time and doing the work and being consistent, and then you have so many more questions. Like, I don’t have those questions all the time of; “Which way should I be eating all the time,” because I’m learning what my body likes; what it wants, how it responds, and so I know based on that.

I think a lot of you guys will hopefully understand what I’m really getting at here, because as I say this, some of you are probably like, “Yeah, that’s me. I’ve been asking what I should do, and I haven’t actually done any of it. For like, years.” And some of you are saying, “Yeah, actually that’s also me,” because you did ask, what’s an approach I can take here, or maybe you purchased a meal plan template, and you followed it for a while and now you have information about how that works for you, and your lifestyle, and your body, and how you respond to it, and how your workouts work with it. I think that’s kind of the real crux of the issue here; there are no right answers to any of this stuff. There are only lots of ideas that we can present, and you have to get to work and try it, if you’re hoping to see something change. You know? You can’t just have the information and never do anything with it, and nothing changes if you change nothing.

So, there’s that. {laughs} So, you know, I think the verdict on the meal timing and size, I think we both kind of agree that for a lot of reasons, larger meals less often tends to be a good idea. But it’s certainly not the right approach for everyone, so there’s no reason for you to feel any kind of shame or like you're doing something wrong if eating smaller meals more often works for you; you feel great doing it, you enjoy it, it’s what you do; then do you and move on.

Liz Wolfe: The Balanced Bites podcast is sponsored in part by the Nutritional Therapy Association. The NTA trains and certifies nutritional therapy practitioners and consultants (including me; I’m an NTP), emphasizing bio-individuality and the range of dietary strategies that support wellness. The NTA emphasizes local, whole, properly prepared nutrient dense foods as the key to restoring balance and enhancing the body’s ability to heal. Nutritional therapy practitioners and consultants learn a wide range of tools and techniques to assess and correct nutritional imbalances. To learn lots more about the nutritional therapy program, go to There are workshop venues in the US, Canada, and Australia, so chances are you’ll be able to find a venue that works for you.

5. Where does snacking come in? [36:55]

Liz Wolfe: Nice.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs}

Liz Wolfe: {laughs} Snaps.

Diane Sanfilippo: Snaps. {laughs}

Liz Wolfe: So, quickly, where does snacking come into play. That was one we were asked a lot; where does snacking come into play here?

Diane Sanfilippo: So you mentioned, you know, a few meals and some snacks. I think that was a casual, you don’t think about it that much, but if you’re on the run and you need something to eat, I’m pretty sure; we’ve spent enough time together that I kind of know how that works for you. I don’t tend to snack a lot. For me, if I eat 3 times in a day, and I eat a good amount of food each time that I know will fill me, then that works. Every now and then, I probably didn’t eat enough in one of the meals, or my workout was particularly hard or I just got extra hungry and I’ll have what I guess you would call a snack. I don’t really think of it that way, because I think what happens pretty often is that people plan snacks; and I know that’s not how you live {laughs} because you don’t really plan much of what you're eating. {laughing} Liz is a very, you’re pretty paleo with your hunting/gathering, whenever it’s going to be food it’s going to be food. I am much more calculated and like, alright, we’re defrosting meat because in a few hours I’m going to need to eat and here’s what’s going to happen.

But I don’t plan snacks. What I do is keep certain foods on hand that can be thrown together to add up to a few hundred calories or so; for example, goat milk yogurt and some peanut butter. And if I feel extra hungry and like I need something, then that’s kind of where that comes into play, if I have a meal coming but it’s not for a couple more hours at least. If I’m not going to eat for like 2 or 3 more hours, and I feel like I’m not going to make it, then I can have a snack, of a smaller bit of food.

What’s interesting is that when you do get adapted to eating more fat and fewer carbs, if you would just leave things alone, and not eat at the first sign of that twinge of, “I think I’m hungry,” if you just kind of sit with it for a little bit and allow it to pass, typically in about 30 to 45 minutes, your body will shift to more of a fat burning state, that hunger will subside, and maybe another hour or two later, it will come back and you’ll know; “oh, now I’m actually hungry.” That was just this twinge of, I don’t know exactly what all these signals feel like, but it could just be the twinge of, “my stomach has emptied.” That process has finished, and our typical response emotionally to the mechanical process of our stomach sort of emptying could be; “now I think I’m hungry again.” When really, we may not actually be hungry.

So, you know, maybe we can get in an expert on the whole appetite signaling process, and what’s happening with all of that, and I think that would be a really interesting conversation; but it’s something that I’m paying a lot of attention to, now; especially eating more fat again and less carbohydrate. Because I know intellectually that my body can last a lot longer between meals than sometimes I might let it. So I’m pushing that. And I talk about that in Practical Paleo; so I’ve talked about it since, you know, years and years and years ago; that if you just let it sit for a minute and don’t hyper respond to everything, you’ll probably feel just fine, you probably won’t dip into that hangry place. It will just kick back around to being hungry when it’s time to have a big meal, again.

Also, we did talk about snacking several episodes ago. I don’t have a number of the episode, but we kind of said a lot of the same stuff then. Although we did give lots of ideas of what to snack on. But yeah. Sometimes people are just snacking at work because they’re bored, and you're not actually even hungry, so there’s also that. {laughs}

Liz Wolfe: Well, then there’s the difference between snacking because you’re actually supporting your body between meals, versus putting a Band-Aid on an eating deficit, which is pretty much what I do. {laughs} So, you know, there are a lot of people who just aren’t eating enough, and they’re like, “Oh, snack time!” But really, your overall meal approach is completely deficient. Which you alluded to many times.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah. And sometimes people don’t realize that the meal they just put together that they thought was so big and hearty is about 3-400 calories; and you’re like, that’s not really that much food. That’s actually not that much. So, you can’t expect to feel full for that long. And I want to say, what I have found for me, on average, is every 100 calories or so I eat, maybe a little more than that, only lasts about an hour. So if your meal is 2-300 calories; well you're going to have to eat again in 2-3 hours. That’s just what I’ve found in years of actually paying attention to it. So if I can actually sit down and eat a meal that’s more like 4-500 calories, I’m going to be able to make it 4-5 hours at least before I need to eat again. Not scientifically; this is like N=1, what I’ve seen, and why 100-calorie packs are kind of like the worst idea ever.

Liz Wolfe: {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs} Because you’re just like, you’re just stalling for an hour.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah.

6. Losing while nursing [42:26]

Diane Sanfilippo: Ok. So, we have some questions here specifically for you. There’s one other question that I basically alluded to the answer to this, about a template for portions and meal planning and all of that in Practical Paleo, I have some different plate options of what your plate can look like. That’s really where I would point folks to. Actually, it’s in the second edition, it’s not in the first edition, because it’s a question that I got so much in the last 4 years, so I updated the second edition and added that. So you can see visually exactly what I’m talking about, between higher carb, moderate carb, lower carb, and then fat in relation to that as well.

So, a couple of questions for you. We have one here, a few nursing mamas had questions on how to balance losing the last 10 pounds or so while nursing, and what; here we go again with the “should”; should they be focusing on for calories and portion control. And then the flip side of that; what if they’re not trying to lose weight and they’re worried they're not eating enough; what then?

Liz Wolfe: So, you know that I like to be really accommodating and answer the question people are asking versus give them the information that I think they need to let them know that their question is wrong. But I think I just have to be straight forward in this case, and not so much answer the question as tell people maybe what they need to know here. I completely understand that becoming a parent for the first or for the fifth time can really turn your self-concept a little bit sideways. It’s just, your body is different, and that’s weird. And some people love it, and it’s beautiful; and you know, embrace it and accept it and adore it; and other people just feel a sense of discomfort with that. Or some people just like to be goal oriented; they’ve had a kid, they’re ready to get healthy again, they’re ready to be the person they were before, physically and mentally. If anybody has a roadmap for getting back to the person you were before mentally, that would really be useful to me, so please let us know how that works.

But physically, there are; and I want to be very specific here. We’re talking about people who want to lose the last 10 pounds or so while nursing. I’m not talking about somebody who is clearly unhealthy, not eating a real food diet, and needing some kind of intervention to support healthy hormones. That’s not who I’m talking about. I’m talking about this exact question; “balance losing the last 10 or so pounds while nursing.”

So what I want to say about this is; during lactation, your weight and your body composition, as a real food eater; and I’m talking about real food eaters, people that listen to this podcast and are doing their best to eat the way we generally recommend folks eat with an emphasis on real, whole food from nature, as Diane would say. The weight and body composition of you as a real food eater who is lactating is entirely governed by hormones that you don’t have the; I don’t want to say privilege, but you don’t have the burden of controlling at this point in your life. You can only support healthy hormones and let the chips fall where they may. That just; that’s just the truth.

And I cannot stand; I don’t even like the idea of real food plans to help you lose the last 10 or so pounds when nursing, because, especially in lactation, which is something of a singular goal; it’s not necessarily compatible with weight loss. Hormones are responding to the variables in your unique experience to maintain that state, lactation. It’s responding to stress, to nutrient needs. To your ability to utilize glucose. You need to trust that, and let your body do what’s necessary to maintain your supply, last 10 pounds be damned. It’s just not important.

And I don’t want to disappoint people, or make people feel bad for thinking this way, like “I really want to lose these last 10 or so pounds.” I think being motivated to do something and then having to be like; dang it. I’m feeling motivated, I'm excited about this, I can do it with a balanced state of mind, but now is not the time and it’s not going to happen. That’s just one of many things that kind of will come along during parenthood that’s just {laughs} wrong timing, can’t do this today, can’t do it this week, can’t do it this year. We’re going to have to put that on a shelf. Because if your priority is maintaining the nursing relationship, and maintaining healthy lactation inducing hormone balance, then you just have to eat real food, eat plenty of protein, carbs, and fat; eat enough. For a lot of people, it’s about eating around the clock, and just let it be.

And that’s; I want people to feel ok about that. It’s just; your body is going to be different. And eventually, after nursing, you’ll probably lose those last 10 or so pounds if your hormones are balanced. And if you don’t lose those last 10 or so pounds, and you have weaned and you're not nursing anymore, then you can start worrying about your hormones in relation to your weight. But it’s just not compatible to think about hormones in relation to weight at the same time you think about hormones in relation to nursing as a real food eater. Some people are lucky and it just happens for them; others it doesn’t, and that’s just kind of your cross to bear until you're done nursing. And just focus on the amazing nursing relationship, and maximizing that, and taking care of yourself in that context rather than worrying about those last 10 pounds.

What else did I want to say on that? Oh, what if they’re trying to lose weight and they’re worried they’re not eating enough? What then? What if they’re trying not to lose weight? Well, you just have to eat a lot. Especially if you’re waking up during the night to nurse, still, with your kid. You need to be eating then, as well. And it could even be a macaroon; you know we love macaroons as a supporter of fertility and body temperature; but something that gives you a little salt, a little fat, and a little bit of glucose during the night is totally appropriate. Maybe a little bit of gelatin or collagen something like that. But really get as much food as you possibly can, including during night wakings.

One of the pieces of advice that nursing moms are often given is to hydrate with pure water; if you're drinking a ton, a ton, a ton of water, you want to also balance that with some glucose and some salt to make sure your electrolyte balance is in place. So, just chugging a ton of water is probably not my; it can be optimized a little bit more by ensuring you're also taking in electrolytes with that water. So that’s another thing that’s really important. And that’s really all I got for folks that are trying not to lose weight. You need the protein, the carbs, and the fat; probably you need to look at fattier cuts of meat, more collagenous cuts of meat, because you don’t want to fill up on a chicken breast, which is mostly just protein and water. So thinking about that, thinking about emphasizing red meats, collagenous cuts of meat, iron rich cuts of meat, versus say chicken breast or white fish would probably be the best way to go.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah. Fish with color versus white fish.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah.

Liz Wolfe: Salmon, sardines; well that’s pretty much what I do.

Diane Sanfilippo: I think to kind of wrap this up, because I think that’s about where we’re going to be.

Liz Wolfe: Yep.

Diane Sanfilippo: You said a couple of things there, and I think what we’ll end up doing is coming back to this topic and having this as a whole episode, because it’s something I really want to talk about, and that’s just what we’ll end up doing, because if it’s something I want to talk about. But the concept of “should” preceding shame; “should” precedes shame. That’s what I have boiled things down to. Any time we have “shoulds” imposed on us, whether it’s our parents think we should X; and any time we don’t hold up to whatever that “should” is, we feel shame.

And what’s funny is I’m trying to think; when I hear people talk about shame very often, I think to myself that I don’t feel a lot of shame about a lot of things. And I think it’s because, for whatever reason, it’s my personality or my upbringing, or what have you, that I have not allowed many people, or any people, really, to impose their “shoulds” on me. And I think that’s a really important part of how I am the way I am, and something that I hope to inspire other people on; or maybe help to transform the way that other people think and behave when it comes to these “shoulds”. And I think they’re both imposed by others and by ourselves, when we have these ideas of things that other people say we “should” be doing, or we think we “should” be doing.

So Liz, I think your mindset, or your advice on this in terms of giving the permission for women who are in that situation to drop the shoulds. You know? Don’t sit there thinking; “Well, it’s been this long, I should be able to lose those 10 pounds by now.” And that’s not what we’re trying to do here. That’s not; if you feel you should lose X weight, then you will feel shame when you don’t lose it. And that’s not a situation we want to be in; it’s not an empowered place to be; it’s not a place that you can move forward and take action in a positive direction from. You can’t move forward positively from a place of shame. You have to feel proud of yourself.

So if you start dropping those shoulds, and instead of that, just making choices because it’s what you feel is good for you. And let it be that. Let it be that maybe you don’t feel great when you ate a Snickers bar instead of some fruit and some; I hate to beat up on a Snickers bar, because probably if given the option; no, just kidding {laughs}.

Liz Wolfe: {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: You know; but if you find yourself in a situation where you’re craving carbs and you eat that instead of kind of what you know is maybe a more ideal choice, it’s not about beating yourself up for it, it’s about learning from it and moving forward. And instead of feeling like; “Well, I should have eaten this.” Because then you just continue to beat yourself up for it. And that does not ever put you in a position of power and empowerment within yourself.

So I want to encourage people to trust themselves more; to give themselves more permission to set your priorities in a certain way, and that’s what’s going to set you in the right direction on all of this stuff, even when it comes to portion control, when it comes to how much to eat and all of that. There is only so much information out there that can perhaps direct you a little bit. Give you a little bit of guidance. A little bit of; “Ok, well if you want to try eating less fat and more carbohydrate, here’s a way to do that. If you want to try eating more fat, less carbohydrate, here’s a way to do that.” But within that, and beyond that; it’s up to you. You have to just try these things and feel them, and see what works for you. Because if you’re just following someone else’s shoulds the whole time, then you’re just going to feel shame if you don’t achieve whatever it is you thought you were going to achieve with it. And that’s not what we want for you guys.

Liz Wolfe: Amen.

Diane Sanfilippo: High fives. {laughs} We’re on a video. {laughs} There’s a video. You guys won’t ever see the video.

Liz Wolfe: No, you’ll never see it.

Diane Sanfilippo: it’s not actually recorded on video. Because we look pretty cute right now. Anyway; that’s it. That’s it for this week, right?

Liz Wolfe: Yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: I think that’s about it for our time.

Liz Wolfe: I think that’s what we got. So, you can find me, Liz, at and you can find Diane at Join our email lists for free goodies and updates that you don’t find anywhere else on our website or on the podcast; seriously. I’ve got a sunscreen email going out pretty soon; I found some amazing new options this year, so subscribe! While you’re on the internet, leave us an iTunes review. See you next week.

Comments 1

  1. You girls are so inspiring. Loving the ‘Should precedes Shame’ Diane!!

    Love the way Liz addressed losing the last ten lbs while nursing.

    My question is this: What about when it’s more like 35 pounds and nursing? Liz mentioned supporting hormones – where would be a good place to start or a good resource to look into?

    I’m 13 months into nursing and am still about 35# over pre-pregnancy weight. Am a ‘real food eater’ except there are times at work when I do reach for that coworker’s darn bowl of Reese’s chocolate whatever.. it’s been about two weeks since one of those 🙂 I do think that I’m under eating, so I know I can work on that. Babe is also still waking in the night, so I’m totally gonna get my hands on some macaroons.


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