The Midlife Feast

#107 - Why Diets Don't Work with Dr. Amy Porto, PhD, RD

April 08, 2024 Jenn Salib Huber RD ND
#107 - Why Diets Don't Work with Dr. Amy Porto, PhD, RD
The Midlife Feast
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The Midlife Feast
#107 - Why Diets Don't Work with Dr. Amy Porto, PhD, RD
Apr 08, 2024
Jenn Salib Huber RD ND

What did you think of this episode? Send me a text message and let me know!

If dieting has left you flat-out exhausted mentally, physically, and emotionally, I want to assure you that you are not the problem. The problem is that diets and food rules have called the shots for decades of our lives. New diets mean new rules. More rules mean more confusion. And in midlife, we’re starting to realize that our brains and bodies are tired of trying to do more with less. 

But why do you keep wanting to try another diet? And why do most healthcare professionals still recommend them? To help us unpack the many layers of the problems with dieting, I’ve invited Dr. Amy Porto to join me. She will help us understand why dieting “success” is so fleeting and why your real superpower lies in giving yourself permission to explore what hunger, satisfaction, and pleasure mean to you. 

So grab a snack and fuel your mind and your body as you listen to this powerful episode!

To learn more about Dr. Amy and her work, connect with her on her website at www.amyporto.com or follow her on Instagram @dr.amyporto or on Facebook @amyportonutrition.


Looking for a place to learn more about midlife, menopause nutrition, and intuitive eating? Click here to grab one of my free resources and learn what I've got "on the menu" including my 1:1 and group programs. https://www.menopausenutritionist.ca/links

Show Notes Transcript

What did you think of this episode? Send me a text message and let me know!

If dieting has left you flat-out exhausted mentally, physically, and emotionally, I want to assure you that you are not the problem. The problem is that diets and food rules have called the shots for decades of our lives. New diets mean new rules. More rules mean more confusion. And in midlife, we’re starting to realize that our brains and bodies are tired of trying to do more with less. 

But why do you keep wanting to try another diet? And why do most healthcare professionals still recommend them? To help us unpack the many layers of the problems with dieting, I’ve invited Dr. Amy Porto to join me. She will help us understand why dieting “success” is so fleeting and why your real superpower lies in giving yourself permission to explore what hunger, satisfaction, and pleasure mean to you. 

So grab a snack and fuel your mind and your body as you listen to this powerful episode!

To learn more about Dr. Amy and her work, connect with her on her website at www.amyporto.com or follow her on Instagram @dr.amyporto or on Facebook @amyportonutrition.


Looking for a place to learn more about midlife, menopause nutrition, and intuitive eating? Click here to grab one of my free resources and learn what I've got "on the menu" including my 1:1 and group programs. https://www.menopausenutritionist.ca/links

Jenn Salib Huber:

Hi and welcome to the Midlife Feast, the podcast for women who are hungry for more in this season of life. I'm your host, Dr. Jen Salib-Huber. I'm an intuitive eating dietitian and naturopathic doctor and I help women manage menopause without dieting and food rules. Come to my table, listen and learn from me trusted guest experts in women's health and interviews with women just like you. Each episode brings to the table juicy conversations designed to help you feast on midlife. And if you're looking for more information about menopause, nutrition and intuitive eating, check out the Midlife Feast Community, my monthly membership that combines my no-nonsense approach that you all love to nutrition with community, so that you can learn from me and others who can relate to the cheers and challenges of midlife. Hey everyone, welcome to this week's episode of the Midlife Feast.

Jenn Salib Huber:

Before I introduce my guest today, who I'm so excited to have on the podcast, I want to kind of just bring up a question that I get a lot that I'm hoping this podcast episode will answer for you, and that is why don't diets work? I can't tell you how often people will say can you just tell me in a way that I'll believe that diets don't work? Why did it used to work? Why does it work for my friend, my neighbor? Why does my doctor say that they work? Why do I keep looking for the one that's going to work? And you know I often will do my best, I think, to try and explain to people why diets don't work. But it's hard. But, as an intuitive eating dietitian, you know we live in this bubble of generally people who either work in this space or already believe that, and I'm not always used to kind of going back to the how do we know why diets don't work? So, all that to say, dr Amy Porto is my guest today, and Amy is, as always, someone that I found connected on Instagram with.

Jenn Salib Huber:

She's come into the Midlife Feast community as a guest expert and she is, as always, someone that I found connected on Instagram with. She's come into the midlife feast community as a guest expert and she really is an expert. She is a nutrition professor, she has a PhD in nutrition, she's a non diet, anti diet dietitian and she's really passionate about making nutrition easy, which is absolutely part of my mission as well, and I think you're really going to love this conversation and I hope that if you take one thing away from it, it's that you feel excited again about food and feel maybe you can imagine what a life without diets could look like, without being afraid, without the fear that comes with it. So much. So buckle up. This is a good one. Welcome, dr Amy Porto, to the Midlife Feast. How are you?

Amy Porto:

Wonderful. Thank you so much for having me on the show.

Jenn Salib Huber:

Well, I'm excited to have you on the show. Feasters in the community will recognize you because you came in and did an amazing guest expert session on sugar myths debunking all the sugar myths back in December I think it was end of the year anyway. But you know, I'm a big fan of your work. I'm a big fan of the language that you use, the way that you talk about food, and there really isn't anyone else that I would be more excited to talk to about this topic, which I'm sure you get this question all the time too. But people will say I love what you say and I love how you say it, but can you just tell me one more time why don't diets work? Why is it me? Why doesn't it work? So that's what we're going to talk about today. Folks, we're doing it. We're talking about why diets don't work. So you get that question right. It's not just me.

Jenn Salib Huber:

Oh absolutely, absolutely. Yeah, and it's, I think, sometimes for us, when we're in this space where we work, you know, and if you're spending time on social media or the podcast, you listen to. You kind of we hear the same messaging and forget that maybe some people don't hear that messaging you know that we're hearing a lot of times and it might be new to them.

Jenn Salib Huber:

Absolutely, absolutely, I mean I definitely I've been in this non diet world now for I think, close to 10 years, if not just a little over 10 years. My bubble is pretty big, so there are weeks that go by that I kind of forget that. Oh yeah, there's still a lot of diet culture out there. Yeah well, I'm gonna pretend to be somebody who's asking me the question that I get all the time, which is why is it that when I used to do this, insert diet here, calorie counting, point tracking, macro counting, whatever it worked so I know that diets work for me, macro counting, whatever it worked. So I know that diets work for me. It's just not working now and I'd love to hear how you answer that or kind of what your thoughts are on that.

Amy Porto:

So you used it and I love.

Amy Porto:

First, let me say thank you for saying how you like the language that I use, because I'm going to pick up on language that you just used in that example which is the language that folks use when they talk about it, and saying that this worked for me and the word there that it worked, in that maybe for a short amount of time, you know there was weight loss that was experienced as a result.

Amy Porto:

But if the goal and I think what most people mean when they say it worked right is that you lost weight. But if you're going back to it, then did it work because you weren't able to sustain that for long periods of time? And I think oftentimes we think about well, I stopped doing the habits, the recording, the whatever was involved in that particular program or system or plan or method or whatever we're calling it, and if I just got back to doing that again, then it would work again. Got back to doing that again, then it would work again. And I think for some people maybe that might be true again until you stop doing that plan, program method. Because the sustainability of that as people who live life, you know you are going out and whatever your responsibilities are in your home, in your life, in your work and you're caring for others life happens and it's just not something that is what's usually required to have that result for lack of a better word is something that we just can't sustain and just live in the world.

Jenn Salib Huber:

Yeah, yeah. And so let's talk a little bit about the internet's favorite saying, every gym bro's favorite saying it's all about calories in and calories out. So let's talk about that, because that's true and not Right.

Amy Porto:

Yeah, it's interesting. I look at it. I come a lot from, I guess, as a dietician to a lot of the courses I teach as a professor is coming from the food science and and food laws and regulations and things like that, particularly in the United States. And one of the things that I always think is interesting is how meticulous, first of all, we are with the calories in part. So if we are tracking down to the whatever value or making sure it's the exact right brand of bread to get those numbers right, but when we look at the laws within the United States, the rounding rules to round things up or down, you know there's no way that that particular brand is exactly 100 calories or 120. Everything's in perfect increments. So we're already off by like margins of potentially 20%, depending on what it is that we're looking at.

Amy Porto:

So even the data that we're collecting assuming is not accurate from that standpoint. We've got a little bit better from the accuracy on the output compared to I don't know when I was like in college and high school and on the treadmill and you knew that the calorie output was like not at all close and it's not much better, but a lot of the devices now that people strap to themselves in all different kinds of ways are a little bit better, but there's a huge margin of error. So even the tracking methods that we have are not accurate to start with. So that makes a. That's a problem to do that. It's also what are the methods we're using to make those calculations. You know, how are we estimating what the needs are going to be? How are we estimating just your how much it's going to take to beat your heart and breathe in air and all of those things? So we're also starting with like a flawed system to begin with, before we even get thinking about metabolically how any of that is going to work.

Jenn Salib Huber:

Yeah, I call them false prophets you know those numbers. Yeah, again, you can look at a package, and if you were to take 10 of those packages, it would be almost like winning the lottery if one of them had exactly what was on the label.

Amy Porto:

Yeah, yeah. I almost wish we were back into the days where we got out the old bomb calorimeters. You know you would take the food and we could actually calculate how much burned energy. If you actually burn the food, you know how much energy do you get, which is kind of that idea.

Jenn Salib Huber:

Yeah, and so when people feel like they're doing all the right things, because they are counting, measuring, tracking the input and doing their best to estimate the output, they're not taking into account the very large margin of error on both of those. Yeah.

Amy Porto:

Yeah, and that's just exactly. And you're also only accounting for that right and not so many other things that are happening in your own body, in your season of life, in all the other things that impact more than just input and output.

Jenn Salib Huber:

Yeah, so now let's talk a little bit about what happens after the diet. So lots of people have probably heard these statistics. We're not going to get into the details of those, but essentially diets don't work. We have lots of data to tell us that there's a very small percentage of people, who are almost like unicorns, who can actually achieve and maintain weight loss four or five years or more.

Jenn Salib Huber:

Right, and we actually have quite a bit of science to tell us why that is so one of the things that you talk to my community about was about this really fascinating experiment called the Minnesota starvation. Yeah, right, yeah, let's have a little discussion about that. So when was this? What was this? What happened?

Amy Porto:

Yeah, so it's always an interesting thing. Some of the things that I do in my work as a university professor is working with students on research projects, and so this experiment is always an interesting one to talk about. Because in today's day, we are working with ethical review boards and things in order to actually have research be conducted in a way that isn't harmful in any way to subjects. And then you look back at this study in the 1940s and think, wow, you know some of the things, even though they were informed of what was happening. It's kind of wild to think through.

Amy Porto:

So in the Minnesota starvation experiment, this was done named because of the University of Minnesota where it was conducted and the purpose, to my understanding, is really was to kind of rehab people who had been essentially starving during World War II, and what was going to be the best way to provide food aid in a way that was going to help to nourish them, based on, you know, long periods of time without being able to eat. And so you know, the thinking at that point is well, if you're going to be studying what is going to be beneficial for people who had been without food for a long period of time, then we need to mimic that by doing these. You know studies on people who haven't been eating food for a long period of time, and so this is where you know we would never have something like this passed in today's day and age.

Amy Porto:

But the subjects in the studies were conscientious objectors to the war, and I think that part is a part to note, based on some of the impact that happened, you know, when they weren't eating, and this was one of the ways, in a sense, that they were able to serve as research subjects. So there were a lot, there were several hundred people, if my memory serves correctly, that applied to be subjects to participate, but only 36 to 40, I think, were chosen after going through a lot of physical testing, you know, for mental well-being. So at least there was foresight to think through that. And these were people who knew the details of the study. So, while maybe the methods weren't ethically great, they knew essentially what they were signing up for maybe not what the impact was going to be, and so what the researchers needed to do was establish a baseline, you know we wanted. Their goal was to see how could they be fueling people properly after they had been deprived of food during a long period of time, and so they had to set the stage with this group of subjects to be deprived of food for, you know, a certain period of time, and they decided on like a three month period to do that where things were.

Amy Porto:

You know, to their credit, they were monitoring, physically and mentally, what was going on with the subjects who all live together in kind of like a dorm setting. They ate together. They had for lack of a better word like jobs to do, which was basically, you know, keeping the grounds going and maybe they could go for a walk. And a lot of them did walk, I think it was up to like three miles a day or so because there was nothing else to do, you know, while you were there. And what I always think is the impactful part of this study is as they were, you know, going through this process to just kind of get a baseline of where they were at in those first three months and then the next period of that, their intake of food, which everything had been provided for them, was cut in half, and that half, to kind of even be somewhat ethical, was considered semi-starvation for this group of men. And that's always an important part to keep in mind, because they were still encouraged to do their jobs through the dorm. Still, you know, to go through and walk, but you saw those changes pretty quickly in terms of how their strength decreased. They weren't interested in being as active. They were tired and one of the things mentally was an assessment showing how apathetic they were just about the state of the world in general, which was interesting for a group of men who were very outspoken about being objectors to the war now really didn't have an opinion on much, and so just even that energy to put towards something that was important to them or that they were invested in. You know, they were used to kind of being for the cause and that wasn't really of interest.

Amy Porto:

So they also have a lot of data about and I say this kindly everybody that you and I know who have been on a diet and every listener knows who's been on a diet where all of a sudden, all they do is talk about the diet and what they're doing and how they're eating and all the food, and let me show you these recipes. You know, like if they had had Instagram back there, I'm sure they would have been taking selfies of the food in the cafeteria, but all they talked about was food. They wanted food and I thought it was interesting because there were some men that actually requested cookbooks for the library and so you know they weren't doing any cooking. The food was provided to them in this dorm-like setting, but even just like a heightened interest in food. And I think we can see that a lot of times where, when we're on a particular diet and calories have been decreased, you know we do get just this physiological response to be more interested in food for our own survival, in food for our own survival, but also it's also kind of looked at well, of course you're interested in that. You know you're taking care of your health, you're cooking more, you're doing all of that.

Amy Porto:

So in this group these men had unlimited access, like to all the water they wanted, all the coffee they wanted and all the gum that they could chew, and I always think those kind of things are interesting. They had recordings of some men chewing like 30 to 40 packs of gum a day just to have something in their mouth, and that isn't even so far out of the realm of you know, possibilities. I had someone share with me who had gone through eating disorder treatment, how that was something that she really connected with when I talked about this study was how much gum she chewed during that time when she was going through, you know, coming through treatment. They were drinking a lot of coffee a day. I think we see that mimic. Now. We do a lot of caffeine and things to like stave off hunger but also to keep up energy because you're not taking in enough calories. There was even, if I remember, one report of one subject who was dismissed from the study who was dreaming about cannibalism. So it really went to an extreme.

Jenn Salib Huber:

I remember that.

Amy Porto:

Yeah, yeah, and that's just it's. It's wild and of course you know you would expect if you cut someone's calories in half, of course the size of their bodies changed. But what was interesting I even think also perspective wise, and it really relates just to how, you know, culturally we act. Even now, they were really becoming almost emaciated over time, but they didn't see themselves that way and they, you know, because you're collectively in a group of all people who are also losing weight at the same time but they were having different views of the researchers, of the people who were having different views of the researchers, of the people who were providing food, of all of these people who were kind of involved in the study just to keep things going, who had not changed, and suddenly they were kind of seeing them as being much larger than they were and so this kind of body dysmorphia as they got smaller, they were viewing people whose bodies hadn't changed as being bigger than they did.

Amy Porto:

And the important part of like all of that happened and they didn't even really start the research study yet.

Amy Porto:

You know, they were just trying to get people to the point to actually start the study, and so the part that always stands out to me with that is you know, the language here is semi starvation is what they were really talking about, and you know, I know we're not big ones to talk about numbers all the time, but in this case I think it's important to turn, you know, to talk about it is semi-starvation, for this group of men was around like 1600 calories and the difference between, you know, men and women's needs are pretty negligible for the most part, and if we think about so many of the diet plans that we have now, you know how many times have we-old.

Amy Porto:

But that is really difficult, I think, for a lot of folks to take in, because it's what we've seen in every magazine and every social media scroll and every. This is how your macro should break down Like 1,200, 1,400, 1,600 are numbers that we see, so they're so normalized and here we're talking about a group where they were being like in semi-starvation and not seeing that as being problematic. And even when you look globally at like undernourished areas of the world, that's also kind of numbers that we're talking about 1200, 1400 calories a day and yet we don't connect that to something that we're, you know, people are looking at as being a healthy type of thing to engage in.

Jenn Salib Huber:

So it's interesting. I need to enter this thought because I can already hear people's brains moving. You know the wheels are turning. How many times do people feel like there is something wrong with them? Yes, Because they're hungry when they're eating 1200 calories or 14. They're like I'm doing something wrong. Do I need more protein? No, you need more food, Right.

Amy Porto:

Yeah, and the messaging is you know, well, you know you have to have more willpower and you're going to bed and you're really hungry and you know, I don't know. You hear, well, that must mean it's working because you're starving, but like your body's trying to keep you alive, that's the thing, like you're exactly right, is you do feel, have that feeling of like I failed this and other people can do this and I can't do this and there must be something wrong with me. But it really is your body doing you a service in a sense, though it might not feel that way. So that was sorry for the interruption, I just wanted to know. No, please do. I could ramble on about this for a long time.

Jenn Salib Huber:

But let's keep going though, so okay, so then the experiment starts, the actual experiment.

Amy Porto:

Yeah, oh yeah, and so a lot of that. They didn't really even go much further into a lot of the experiment itself, because they were seeing all of the physical impact and the mental impact that a lot of these subjects were having, and so there were, I think, some of the interesting things in them. It were really. I mean, the physical part is an important piece, but the mental health part is, I think, a part that gets overlooked a lot of, like the idea that I mentioned already, like let's get cookbooks for the library. And when things were kind of wrapping up, there were a handful of the subjects that then went on to become chefs who had never expressed any interest in food before.

Amy Porto:

You had people who were interested more in athletics in ways that they hadn't been before, and I think that parallels a lot to you know, even in the fields that we are in, in dietetics, you know a lot of times how do people come to the profession or how do things change, because you've been so invested and it's had such an impact on what it is that you spend a lot of your time on that. It can become your identity in a lot of ways.

Jenn Salib Huber:

So, yeah, so they go through this starvation experiment and their interest in food increased. They were looking for things to do with their hands and their mouths, right? And so, if you think about what happens to every dieter, initially the diet is fun, it's new, it's novel and it quote unquote works right. So your efforts are rewarded. But then the novelty wears off, as every novel thing does. Right, the novelty wears off. Your body gets tired, your mind gets tired of trying to maintain the restriction and do more with less, and all of a sudden you're interested in food that you don't even like, any like you don't like before. Yes, right, yes, let's. Let's take, you know, the poor, misunderstood rice cake. Right, you know, I've had a few good rice cakes. I've had a few good rice cakes with things on them. Yes, in and of themselves they're cardboard, right, like plain rice cakes, they're just cardboard. And yet anybody who's dieting will look at a sleeve of those with like stars in their eyes.

Amy Porto:

Yes, and if they're chocolate flavored, oh my goodness. Right, yeah, hit the jackpot.

Jenn Salib Huber:

But if all things were equal, would you choose to eat that?

Amy Porto:

Right, probably not, yeah.

Jenn Salib Huber:

Right, so which goes to satisfaction, which? We talked about in the intuitive eating world too. But like you, have to enjoy your food.

Amy Porto:

Yeah, and can I touch on one thing you just said?

Amy Porto:

That just stuck out to me because you're exactly it makes so much sense talking. You know you're doing all these things and it's new and it's novel and it's fun, and until that kind of wears off, and then what we tend to do is then let's try the new one. There's this new program over here and it says I should eat these foods at this time of day or not at this time of day, in this order. And there's these new rice cakes or bars or powders or things I have to do. So it's all new again, you know. And so there's never a chance to kind of have that satisfaction with any type of food or the idea of kind of making peace with certain types of foods that you feel you can't have around, because everything is new and exciting, and as soon as it isn't, I'm going to go to the next thing that's new and exciting, because that'll be the thing that will work. And it keeps us in this constant state of just being heightened and excited about things and never really knowing what do I actually like?

Jenn Salib Huber:

And if you imagine that cycle on repeat for 25, 35, 45 years, you end up in a place where you don't even know what you like, what you want what you can or can't have and every decision about food, even if you're eating. So we're not talking about people who aren't eating, we're talking about people who are eating. But every decision about food is fraught with indecision, decision, fatigue, anxiety, regret, guilt. There's never a point where you feel confident that you can feed yourself.

Amy Porto:

Yeah, that's absolutely true.

Jenn Salib Huber:

That is the real failure of diets, in my opinion, is that they don't actually teach you how to eat. Teaching you how to eat less, to weigh less, is not teaching you how to eat well is not teaching you how to eat well.

Amy Porto:

Yeah, and it's yeah, and it's an interesting thing too. I think that you have this internal battle of. I think, if you've had the 10, 15, 20 years of doing that cycle where there's a frustration of like, oh my goodness, someone, please just tell me what to eat, just tell me what to eat, Coupled with no one's going to tell me what to do, now there's that inner battle of please tell me, and I kind of I often will push back with clients on that to say, well, I don't know that. You really. I know that you're saying that, but think of that, because you could go do a google search right now and there are plenty of people who will tell you what to eat and give you a detailed breakdown, and some of them will even just tell you that for free. So that information is there. There are plenty of people. So it's not really what you want. It's that wanting to be able to figure that out for yourself, after the ability to do that has kind of been stripped away.

Jenn Salib Huber:

Yeah, oh, my goodness, yes. So just to kind of try and summarize what we're trying to say here diets, quote unquote, work in that if you restrict calories and intentionally or unintentionally eat less than your body needs, sure you're going to lose weight, the scale is going to go down.

Jenn Salib Huber:

But we have systems, biological, psychological lose weight, the scale is going to go down, but we have systems, biological, psychological, all the systems in place to resist that and we cannot maintain that restriction indefinitely without having an impact on how we feel in our bodies and that those side effects, as I've talked about before with other guests about weight cycling you know like there are side effects to pursuing intentional weight loss.

Jenn Salib Huber:

that really makes I describe it as people are not getting informed consent when they're putting people on diets Because not a single person that I ever know has been told that the risk of weight cycling is an independent risk factor for at least cardiovascular disease and diabetes and probably many other things. Right, so if we're trying to talk about why diets don't work, it's not just that they don't work, it's that they probably cause harm.

Amy Porto:

Yeah, and and that's a such a big conversation too, because then it really gets at societally being able to uncouple weight and health and I feel like folks who are ready for that conversation are like screaming from the rooftops and that then they are a small group. They're a loud group and I'm thankful for the group, but it's difficult when, just how you frame that, to say you know to get informed consent and this can be harmful, and I can hear the person on the back end say that, to say you know to get informed consent and this can be harmful, and I can hear the person on the back end say, but don't you know the harm that keeping the weight on is going to? You know, it's that pushback where that tension is there, and I don't know that we're just as a society ready to have that conversation. It certainly doesn't seem like it.

Jenn Salib Huber:

Oh, it's hard, it's hard. I think that and this is why I really wanted to have this conversation about why diets don't work is because even when we present people, and even when people can read it and they can believe it when they hear it and see it, even in their lived experience like their decades of lived experience tells them that this is true to you know, to the core of who they are there's always a but that is always hanging there, and it's either coming from them, their loved ones, their healthcare providers, but shouldn't I still keep trying? And so, yeah, I think you're right. I think there's so many other conversations that we don't have time for but, that need to be happening.

Amy Porto:

And it's a fair point. I understand that and have you know, hold space for that feeling of like. Well, shouldn't I try? Because as a person out in the world, you are rewarded for showing up in a body that looks a particular way, particularly as a woman. You have you know there are different things that you are afforded to or ways that people treat you or all of those things just societally that, even if it's not, if it's taken out of the health realm it may, it makes sense that that would want to be. But yes, I should keep doing this because unfortunately some of those things are true. You would be treated in a different way, and yeah, it does. It's a tough one.

Jenn Salib Huber:

Oh yeah and I've I've shared things before too that you know I'll never fault someone for desiring weight loss, right? Yeah, because that is that is the default in our society. You know, even people who, by all measures, live in a smaller body. You'll still find most people who are trying measures live in a in a smaller body. You'll still find most people who are trying to lose those five pounds, yeah, okay. So now let's try and shift it around a little bit. So hopefully, people who are listening, who maybe didn't understand when they would hear people like us say diets don't work, have a little bit more background on why.

Jenn Salib Huber:

Those of us in this non-diet space are so passionate about making sure we're getting the message out, even if the world isn't ready to hear it as much as we want them to. Yeah, now let's talk about. Let's talk about getting excited about food, because, you know, food matters, just not the way we've been led to believe. Food can do wonderful things for us. Um, and food happens to be something we need to eat every day, so it's a topic to talk about. Yes, so how do you get people excited about food once they're, you know, once they start thinking like I want to eat better. Let's use that, yeah.

Amy Porto:

I'm glad you asked that question. I feel like part of the work has to come first in unpacking all the stuff that we just talked about. I feel like that's an important part, um, because otherwise it slips into. Well, what does better mean, and does it have to be this many grams of this and how many times a day? And what's the? You know it can easily get right back into there. So it feels like the intention behind things is a big part to me of what matters.

Amy Porto:

You know, diet culture doesn't own salads. If you want to have one, enjoy it. And there's that feeling, though, of like if I eat a vegetable and I don't put dressing on it, is that because of like. It's rediscovering, I think, a lot of what your rules were and are, where they came from, if they serve you, because some things do potentially serve you. If I make sure that I eat every couple of hours, I'm, you know, not hangry and rude to people. You know, like some of those things might be helpful if you tend to work for long hours and you need a reminder to eat, and you know you can have some rules in place, but what are the ones that serve you and which ones don't. And then great questions of like you know what are the foods that you like, and sometimes that's really difficult to think through if you've been eating the rice cakes not because you like them, but to actually go back and maybe do some experiments with it. I really like to look at the whole thing as an experimental mindset of let's try this and see what happens, you know, and like let's try to see if you want to have breakfast before you go out for your run. How did that go, you know? Or maybe next time it needs to be a little less than that because it didn't go so well. Or maybe it needs to be more than that because you found that you needed more energy. And like how does someone begin to gear that for what their life looks like, whether they are an athlete or they're taking care of their family or their whatever they're doing, what? How is that going to support your day so that you feel good? But it often things actually taste good because it's supposed to.

Amy Porto:

You know there's a part of that of food is supposed to taste good so that evolutionarily we would go and seek it, because otherwise why would we bother going out to get it if it didn't bring us some type of enjoyment. And you hear that a lot. For people who are in like bodybuilding spaces, who are just like I'm so tired of eating chicken and broccoli. It's like, well, no wonder, because all you're doing is eating chicken and broccoli like and it's dry. And no wonder because all you're doing is eating chicken and broccoli like and it's dry and boring. So, yeah, you would get sick of it because it's not. There's no pleasure involved in that. So I think if you start seeing, you know what's your intention. How do you want to feel? And then some of that feeling is like the taste of it too, like, oh, I want to feel like this was yummy. That's also part of it.

Jenn Salib Huber:

Yeah, and going to feel like this was yummy. That's also part of it.

Amy Porto:

Yeah, and just feeling like satisfied, that feeling of satisfaction that is intangible.

Jenn Salib Huber:

And, man, I wish we could wear a watch that would tell us that, because that, I feel like, would actually help people to realize like, oh, that satisfaction factor, it's really a thing yeah.

Amy Porto:

And it's challenging and working through. You know, sometimes I think intuitive eating very much gets on this. It's the hunger and fullness diet. You know when am I hungry and when am I full, and like assessing some of that you know of when are you hungry and when are you actually full. And it's okay if you are full and you're still going to enjoy more because of whatever reason. But part of that whole thing whether it's hunger or fullness or satisfaction or pleasure is actually the pausing and you making a decision and when you've spent a lot of times following.

Amy Porto:

This is my frozen meal and this is what I get, and so I am going to eat all of it because it's a whopping 200 calories for lunch. So I'm gonna like get all the sauce and every bit. You're just eating it, because who knows when you're going to eat again and what it's going to be. So I'm going to like, get all the sauce and every bit. You're just eating it, because who knows when you're going to eat again and what it's going to be, so I'm going to get every piece. And so a lot of times I've worked with folks who are like I don't know when I'm full, I just eat what I'm given because that is what I've done. I've packed the thing, I've done the meal prep, and so I eat all of it. And so even like revisiting that to feel like, oh, I might want more of that or actually, no, I don't need all of that, you know, and it could vary from day to day, and that's okay. It's just really interesting to work through for yourself.

Jenn Salib Huber:

It is in that pre portioning, or like deciding ahead of time what you're allowed to have. I mean, that's a hallmark of diet culture too. I mean, how many people and I used to be one of them I would like plan my day before. I had two feet on the ground, sometimes the night before, right, and so I would decide ahead of time what I was allowed to have, and I was going to have it, whether I wanted it or not because I had decided that I was allowed to have it.

Amy Porto:

Yes, yes, that part too.

Jenn Salib Huber:

And so when you're faced with the question of like well, what do I want, how much do I want, how much do I need to feel satisfied. You know what is going to be my stopping prompt. It can feel overwhelming. I mean, we make it sound easy and intuitive. Eating makes it sound like this lovely thing of like oh, when you're hungry stuff, when you're just do it, yeah, but it really is a little bit more than that Like there has to be you know, I know, you know that.

Jenn Salib Huber:

But you know, I think for a lot of people who try intuitive eating on their own, they get discouraged because they feel like they're doing something wrong because they don't get it quickly, yeah, and that's the whole idea.

Amy Porto:

Right, if it's an experiment, where times it went well and other times you're like, okay, well, that didn't work out, and you know you don't have a, because diets are so rigid that you are either doing it right or doing it wrong, or you're on or you're off versus this is just how this meal went, or this snack went, or this day went, or you know, and how and how it worked one day is going to be different than another day. But you touched on something that tapping into like body needs and one of the things that I've noticed too. Like if you are sick and have some type of illness you know you very much, are tuned into that no one is going to make you eat. If you have an upset stomach, or like you have a high fever and your appetite is just like no, you know, or there's certain things that you will tolerate and you're very in tune with yourself in that moment of like I will have some saltine crackers, or maybe I'll have this broth, or you know, someone might need to convince you to keep taking some liquids.

Amy Porto:

But you do have a sense of yourself and I do wonder sometimes I mean, I'm just speculating too is some of it is like in those moments you have slowed down and you actually are in tune, you have nothing else to think about, about except the next show you might watch because you're not feeling well, you know, versus other times where we just don't, we're just unconsciously going about our day and food is just something we fit in to part of it to not enjoy that. Not that everything needs to be at a candlelit dining room table with your finest china, because that's not real life either. China, because that's not real life either. But even just the check in, the check in of the hunger, the check in of the fullness, the check in of the satisfaction, is something that diets do not teach us to do.

Jenn Salib Huber:

They don't. One of the things that I love talking to people about doing is you know if they're used to plating things at the stove, or you know putting it on the plate in the kitchen and then putting it on the table. I invite them to have this little experiment and get curious, Like I use the language of like, let's try this on. And you know, trying on putting it all on the table, leading with satisfaction. So like serving it, you know, family style, buffet style, lead with satisfaction. What do you want first? What looks good, what looks interesting? What are you most excited to taste? Start with that, Then kind of work your way down the list, and it's really interesting.

Jenn Salib Huber:

What people will say is I took a lot more of one thing, a lot less of something else, but often they realize that they either needed more or less than they would have previously put on their plate, right, and so we get into this autopilot of like you put. You know, potatoes on one side, meat on the other. You know we just kind of go into autopilot because that's what our brain does. Our brains like habits that save time and energy. So putting food on a plate is one of the things we do several times a day, every day of our lives, and so I think that just inviting curiosity into that, like what do I want? Yeah, To be so novel, right, Talking about the novelty factor, like there's a, there can be some excitement there. That can really, I think, be the guiding light towards this healthier relationship.

Amy Porto:

Yeah, and that really comes into the place of learning trust with that relearning trust with yourself, because at some point we've had it at some place it was lost along the way. Yourself, because at some point we've had it at some place, it was lost along the way. But relearning that trust, which is challenging if you've had, you know, books, plans, programs tell you all the things that you should do and you couldn't possibly make those decisions, and so it opens up a whole new world when you are the one who gets to?

Amy Porto:

make those decisions and it takes a minute to be okay with that.

Jenn Salib Huber:

Yeah, oh, my goodness, this has been a great conversation. I love talking to you. I think we're going to. I'm going to have to have you back. If you'll have me, I will.

Amy Porto:

I would love to chat more, absolutely.

Jenn Salib Huber:

Okay, but before we kind of wrap up, two questions. One is where can people learn more from you and about you? Because I think that they will certainly want to connect with you after hearing you.

Amy Porto:

Yeah, I mean more more formally. My website is just, my name is amyportocom, but where I like to play most is on Instagram, so I'm happy. Yes, it is where we met, it's where all great relationships form. But I'm someone who likes to chat in the DMs. I'm good for a voice memo. So, yeah, I love to kind of that's more of my playground. I think of being able to chat with folks Awesome, yeah.

Jenn Salib Huber:

Okay, and we're going to put all your links and stuff in the show notes. Oh, amazing. But, my favorite final question what do you think is the missing ingredient in midlife?

Amy Porto:

I know it's funny. Before we hit record record, you gave me this question. I said I'm going to think about the whole time and I did not, so now I'm going to go with the first thing that came into my head, without trying to filter.

Jenn Salib Huber:

It is permission oh yes, permission and permission bubbles to the surface right. It's like it's waiting to chomp at the bit in midlife.

Amy Porto:

Yeah, I feel that, as someone who is turning 50 this year, I feel a lot of those things coming up where maybe you felt and not even just in related to food, but in so many areas of life that you're waiting for this. But I have to be okay with that, like all of those things, and suddenly midlife comes and it's like wait, yeah, I don't. The only permission I need is myself to do those things, and so that has bubbled up recently.

Jenn Salib Huber:

Ooh, I love that. Thank you so much for joining me today. I know that listeners are going to get a lot out of this conversation. I appreciate your time, I appreciate your expertise and we will definitely look forward to having you back.

Amy Porto:

Well, I appreciate the invitation. Thank you for having me and I look forward to chatting in the future.

Jenn Salib Huber:

Thanks for tuning in to this week's episode of the midlife feast. For more non diet, health, hormone and general midlife support, click the link in the show notes to learn how you can work and learn from me. And if you enjoyed this episode and found it helpful, please consider leaving a review or subscribing, because it helps other women just like you find us and feel supported in midlife.