Which movement do you love to do? How does the weight-bias impact people’s chances of pregnancy? How do classic “diet foods” cause much more harm than good? In this podcast episode, Dr. Cristina Castagnini speaks about caring for your whole wellness with Uta Boellinger.


Uta Boellinger is a registered nutritional therapist and lecturer who specializes in helping busy women balance their hormones, feel reenergized and improve their relationship with food.

After nearly a decade in financial services allowing her to gain a wealth of management and leadership experience, Uta decided to follow her passion for wellbeing and transfer transfer skills into the health and wellness industry. As well as running her own clinic she is a lecturer in wholistic nutrition, a clinical supervisor and in-house nutritionist at the Agora fertility clinic.


  • Food is more than just calories
  • Classic diet foods harm you
  • Caring for your wellness
  • Weight-bias and pregnancy
  • Aspects of health

Food is more than just calories

Your body is an accumulation of chemical reactions and all of those chemical reactions need nutrients … the macronutrients as the building blocks for your house and think about the vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients as the tools that … build that house and keep it all running. (Uta Boellinger)
Food is not just calories and energy. It is not just a collection of numbers, and it’s not just “good” or “bad”. Food is how you fuel your body and how it can perform optimally, healthily, and happily, and that includes a wide variety of different types of food and food groups.
Food is so important for everything. There’s nothing that happens in your body that [isn’t], in one way or another, somehow linked to the foods that you are eating. (Uta Boellinger)
Bring your focus to your overall health instead of only viewing food through the lens of calories or weight loss.

Classic diet foods harm you

Everything’s okay in moderation. Everything, because I don’t want to come at it from a restrictive mindset. (Uta Boellinger)
Every physical body is different and every person has a different lifestyle. Following a strict diet, regardless of what your body needs or what your lifestyle looks like, can have dire consequences on your health. My “diet foods” like Coke Zero are also harmful to you because they have little to no nutritional value whatsoever and contain artificial ingredients.

Caring for your wellness

The human body enjoys movement, in whichever way you like. Consider:
  • Cycling
  • Dancing
  • Yoga
  • Crossfit
  • Walking
There are so many ways that you can move your body – which of them do you enjoy? Can you do them a handful of times a week?
It doesn’t matter – find something that you enjoy and do that because that’s going to be great for your physical and mental health. (Uta Boellinger)
Contrary to popular belief, cardio and restriction don’t lead to healthy weight loss. Your body is smart, and if it notices food restrictions and increased physical activity, it will treat you as if you are in a famine, or running away from danger, and so it will adapt your system to store all fats and reduce fat loss to keep you alive for longer.
If you’re doing lots of intense cardio, counting calories, and eating a low-calorie diet, your body is going to become amazing at reducing the [number] of calories it needs, [so] you’re going to burn less, and less and find that … it’ll store. (Uta Boellinger)
Therefore, to care for your wellness, you can eat a wide variety of different types of food and move your body regularly.

Weight-bias and pregnancy

There is a stigma against people with larger bodies trying to conceive and the emphasis is placed on their weight when doctors should look deeper at the body’s nutrients and capacity. You can be healthy and in a larger body, and unhealthy and in a smaller body. The size has nothing to do with it, the health and ability of the body do.
When it comes to fertility, yes you might be told you have to lose weight but make sure that is sustainable and that it means you’re still healthy and preparing your body for pregnancy. (Uta Boellinger)
You and the pregnancy could be harmed if you try to lose weight just because. Actual health and nutrients are more important than size.

Aspects of health

  • Get movement once a day or a few times a week
  • Eat a wide variety of foods that make you and your body feel good
  • Care for your sleep and aim for 8 hours
  • Create a great morning routine
  • Drink water throughout the day
  • Take breaks throughout the day to keep stress under control
  • Do the things that you love like reading, writing, playing a game, or any hobby that brings you joy
  • Spending more time outdoors and in nature
Spend quality time with your loved ones, friends, and family



  I am a licensed Psychologist and Certified Eating Disorder Specialist. While I may have over 20 years of clinical experience, what I also have is the experience of having been a patient who had an eating disorder as well. One thing that I never had during all of my treatment was someone who could look me in the eye and honestly say to me "hey, I've been there. I understand". Going through treatment for an eating disorder is one of the hardest and scariest things to do. I remember being asked to do things that scared me. Things I now know ultimately helped me to get better. But, at the time, I had serious doubts and fears about it. If even one of my providers had been able to tell me "I know it's scary, but I had to go through that part too. Here's what will probably happen...." then perhaps I would not have gone in and out of treatment so many times. My own experience ultimately led me to specialize in treating eating disorders. I wanted to be the therapist I never had; the one who "got it". I will be giving you my perspective and information as an expert and clinician who has been treating patients for over 2 decades. But don't just take my word for it...keep listening to hear the truly informative insights and knowledge guest experts have to share. I am so happy you are here!


Did you enjoy this podcast? Feel free to comment below and share this podcast on social media! You can also leave a review of Behind The Bite on Apple Podcasts (previously) iTunes and subscribe!

Podcast Transcription

[DR. CRISTINA CASTAGNINI] Behind The Bite podcast is part of a network of podcasts that are good for the world. Check out podcasts like the Full of Shift podcast, After the First Marriage podcast and Eating Recovery Academy over at practiceofthepractice.com/network. Welcome to Behind The Bite podcast. This podcast is about the real-life struggles women face with food, body image and weight. We're here to help you inspire and create better healthier lives. Welcome. Welcome to the show. So just a reminder that if any of you have a question you want me to answer on the show, please, please send them on over. You know what, you can actually send me a voice message. You can actually just go to my website behindthebitepodcast.com because there is a new voice inbox where you can leave me a voice message and it's actually really great, so go check it out. Questions, I got a question recently from a listener who asked me if there is a reason to go see a nutritionist or dietician when she's pretty much already memorized the calorie count for each and every food she eats anyway. First, I want to acknowledge that some of you may have just gotten triggered by the word calorie, and that's completely understandable if you're struggling with an eating disorder right now. That being said, please take care of yourself and know your limits, because in this podcast, that word will come up. If you need to turn off this week's episode for that reason, please go do so. Secondly, I'm going to respond to the question asked by saying that this is a very common question. People do think that the only thing they need to know about food is the amount of calories it has, but there is so, so much more food, so much more to food than just the calories and so, yes, there are many reasons to go see a nutritionist or dietician. Lucky for all of you, today's guest just so happens to be a registered nutritional therapist and cannot only answer your question, but is here to discuss so much more with us today. I am so excited to welcome Uta Boellinger, who is coming to us from the UK and is also a lecturer who specializes in helping busy women balance their hormones, feel re-energized and improve their relationship with food. Well Uta, welcome to this show. I'm so excited to have you here. [UTA BOELLINGER] Thank you so much for having me. I'm really excited to be here. [DR. CRISTINA] Well, for people who are listening who don't know anything about you, I know I gave a bit of an intro, but would you mind sharing a little bit about how you got into being a nutritionist and doing what you're doing, because your posts on Instagram are fantastic and I just want you to have a moment to share with us, like how you got here and who you are. [UTA] Yeah, no, I'd be happy to. I really have been interested in nutrition probably my whole life, but I don't think that I even knew that that was something you could do as a career until I was in my 30s. So I had a whole different sort of background in working in the corporate world manager in financial services. Then I was 32 when I decided to go back and study nutrition for three years. I did that whilst still working full-time and being a single parent to a 12 year old at the time, so that was an exciting journey, interesting journey, I should say but so, so worth it, so, so worth it. I've now been running my own clinic for the past two and a half years. I also do some lecturing and I'm a clinical supervisor and I work with a fertility clinic. I do talks in the corporate world and also in the sports world and absolutely love it. Like I think I just posted something on my stories on Instagram yesterday about how I just feel it's so rewarding when you can help people with their health and I'm just so grateful every day that I decided to go and do this. It wasn't easy at the time, but I'm so grateful that I did it and so grateful to be here every day and just working with people on their health and wellbeing, helping people with whether it's fertility, mental health, athletic performance, all their relationship with food, all of those things I just absolutely love. Yeah, my friends will would probably say that I never really stop talking about food and nutrition, which I'm sure they don't always appreciate but hey, here we are. At least I've found my passion and my purposes in life. [DR. CRISTINA] That's how it is, if you find your passion, it's just everything that you talk about. I mean, obviously I'm even looking at you, I know the audience can't see you, but it's like, even if you're talking, you just look so passionate about it. [UTA] Thank you. [DR. CRISTINA] But, I mean, what a great journey. I know that sounds like, I'm a single mom too, I get that. It's hard, like try to do it all, so congratulations to you for getting through that and here. But you said something really important, which is the health and wellness part of this. I think a lot of times when I have people come to me and they say, oh, they want to go see a nutritionist, they only have one thing in mind. They say, "Oh, I want to go learn how to lose weight or I want to ask them like, what's the best diet?" I even get asked that question, I don't know what they think I do for my career as an eating disorder specialist, like which, what's the best diet? Which one actually works? I'm just curious, do you find that people just tend to think that's all you do? [UTA] Absolutely, and it's so frustrating at times but I get it because I do understand the diet industry. They've done a fantastic job with advertising over the last sort of 50 years and brainwashing people into thinking that's all that matters. So yes, I definitely do find people, when I say I'm a nutritionist asking me that question. To be fair, when I first graduated and I started my clinic, I got so many people asking me about weight loss that initially, that is one of the areas that I specialized in because I just thought, oh, well, that's what people want. That's what I'm going to give them. That didn't last very long because I didn't feel, it just didn't really, like, I didn't feel as passionate about it and it didn't click with me and I just didn't feel right about just doing that and encouraging that as a main target. But yeah, so coming back to your question, yeah, absolutely. People do ask that question and I often say like, my first response will usually be like, wow nutritionists can do other things. I work with people and with the fertility clinic I help people make babies and things like athletic performance. I have got colleagues that I work closely with who specialize in skin health or cardiovascular health, those types of things, like helping people with so much more really than weight loss. What I always say now is that when anybody approaches me about wanting to lose weight, I always, I'm really quite upfront about it and I do say it to potential clients that cannot be the main focus. That cannot be the main focus of why we're working together. I can help you with so many other things and we can improve your overall health and wellbeing, we can improve your energy levels, we can improve your relationship with food. I can teach you how the body works and I can teach you how all the different foods that you eat impact your body. [DR. CRISTINA] So, I mean, that's an interesting thing, so the diet and diet culture often says you're healthier if you navigate the weight loss journey. What I'm hearing you say is that's not necessarily the case and so I'm wondering what is the actual message that people need to be hearing if it's not that? [UTA] People need to understand how food impacts their body. People need to understand that food is about the nutrients that are in the food and how important they are for everything. Like your body is just an accumulation of chemical reactions. So all of those chemical reactions need nutrients as the tools, it's like the tools I always say to people, like, if you think about the macronutrients as the building blocks for your house, and then think about the vitamins and minerals or the micronutrients as the tools, but to do that job, to build that house and to keep it all running then hopefully that, usually that makes sense to people and then they get it. It's like food is so important for everything. There's nothing that happens in their body, in your body that doesn't in one way or another, isn't somehow linked to the foods that you're eating. And it's so crucial that we get that right and that we focus on the impact on our health rather than the calories and the weight loss. [DR. CRISTINA] Because it's interesting, people look at somebody and say, oh, if they're in a smaller body, they must be healthy, they must be healthier. That's not necessarily the case. People can be malnourished and their bodies can be very unhealthy even if they're in a smaller body. [UTA] Absolutely. [DR. CRISTINA] I think that's so difficult for people to understand. [UTA] I think everyone's just been like brainwashed by the diet industry, and the media. We're all, it really is because when you explain it to someone, they almost always go, "Oh my God, yes, that makes sense. How didn't I figure this out for myself?" I think to me that's just a sign that, again the diet industry has done a really amazing job with their marketing and getting us to believe that thin means healthy, which is complete nonsense. Like you just said it first of all, somebody could be malnourished or if they're suffering from an eating disorder, then there's a really good chance that there's all sorts of other issues going on in their body and there's so many other factors that play a role when it comes to your health. So it's ridiculous. It's so like simplistic to say yes, thin equals healthy. It really doesn't [DR. CRISTINA] Well, getting to that too, as you said, the marketing's so pervasive. [UTA] That's good. I mean, it's brilliant, that paying these people a lot of money and they're doing a good job. [DR. CRISTINA] But I do think the mindset is set. I'll use a word I don't use on this podcast frequently because I think it's very triggering but I think in the context of talking to you, it's important is the word calories. Like, I grew up in the era of this certain number in and certain number out equal the pound boss. It was stuck in my head and I haven't heard that so much anymore, but I have heard there's these diet influencers and these people online saying this certain amount is like the amount they eat and they show like, oh, I eat this, this is what I eat in a day. And it's everywhere and people are following this. I think that's a real hard thing too, is that that's really rampant now but I also think just in general things like putting calorie count on menus. Like what do you think about this? I have my own opinions, but I'd love to hear what you think. [UTA] I'd love to share, so thanks for asking. I mean when, so in the UK we only introduced this very recently, putting calories on menus and I definitely shared my opinion about it then. It was interesting, I got quite a lot of response to that when I posted that on social media. So I'll come back to that in a moment. But the first thing I want to say is this, it doesn't work and we know it doesn't work because it's been done and didn't work. So calories on menus were implemented in New York in 2008, that's 14 years ago, so just purely like going by the numbers, statistically speaking, we know it's nonsense. We know it doesn't work, so why are we still introducing it now in other places in the world is completely beyond me. That's the first thing. It's like, statistically speaking, we know it doesn't work. Why doesn't it work? I guess researchers suggest that people started to ignore the numbers on the menu, so whilst maybe in the beginning when it's new, people do look at it after a while, they're just ignore it. What they also found was that people were actually, people ended, like in some studies they showed that people ended up eating more because they were having things that were lower in calories, but then they'd order more of those. So that was also quite interesting. At best it's not useful, it's not relevant. Then of course, unfortunately we do have a large population as well of people who struggle with eating disorders. Of course, for those people it's incredibly triggering. But one thing I was thinking about earlier as well was about children. I'm thinking we've got a large amount of children that are now going into restaurants and having to see that and being taught that that is important, when really for most of them it's absolute well for any of them it shouldn't be relevant. They don't need to be worrying about calories in any way, shape, or form. It's really quite scary, so again, like just looking at the UK our National Health Service treated 10,000 children for anorexia between April and December last year. That's a huge amount of young people that are going into the healthcare service to be treated for eating disorders. Those numbers are increasing. We know they're increasing. That's just being completely ignored, so I'm really, really upset about that to be honest, because it's definitely triggering for people with eating disorders and it's triggering for people who are recovering from eating disorders and on top of that it's probably encouraging young people to go that direction if they're already maybe borderline going that way. So, yeah, there you go, sorry, very long answer there. [DR. CRISTINA] No, but what I mean that's so true, I'm just trying to even imagine myself back when I had my eating disorder, I can't even imagine going to a restaurant and how that would've affected me. Like I would've had a panic attack. I can't even imagine just like you said, the triggering alone and just even somebody in early recovery coming out of a treatment center and going to a restaurant for the first time, that would be --- [UTA] Absolutely horrendous. [DR. CRISTINA] Yeah. [UTA] Yeah, yeah, yeah, absolutely. [DR. CRISTINA] I don't know how to combat it because I live here in California and it's at every restaurant pretty much. Anyone listening, like we feel you. [UTA] We get it. Yeah, absolutely. I think it is triggering even for someone that's already recovered. It just still, it can make you feel uncomfortable, just seeing that number can actually make you feel uncomfortable, even if you're able to then still make a sensible decision and go, actually I'm going to ignore that. It still might be tricky. [DR. CRISTINA] Well, and even if somebody doesn't have an eating disorder it could even spark conversation at the table amongst people about like, oh, I'm not going to get that or it could bring up a whole bunch of diet talk, which could be very uncomfortable and root a meal I would imagine. [UTA] Absolutely. You just want to enjoy. This is what I always say, obviously being a nutritionist, I am biased and I do talk a lot about the nutrients that are in the food and how they impact our body and our blood sugar balance and those things. I do get excited about and I talk about that a lot but I'm also really always emphasizing that food is not just nutrition either. It's definitely not just calories, but it's not just nutrition either. Food is socializing and it's celebrating and it's really, really important that we understand as well. It's quite normal for human beings to also sometimes comfort eat. That's just a normal response. That's to do with the fact that when we're born, the first thing that happens is that we're fed by a primary caregiver. So immediately we've got this neuronal pathways being formed that make us feel right food equals feeling safe, feeling looked after, feeling cared for, feeling loved. So of course, we're going to sometimes eat for comfort and that's okay. That's absolutely fine. It's nothing wrong with that. I think it's just yeah, the last thing I want to be doing when I'm out for dinner with friends or family is having a discussion about calories, like it really winds me up. I'm just like, please, let's not, but yeah, that's the first thing I was going to say. The other thing I was going to say is that when this happened in the UK and I posted about it on social media, I had so many people respond and say, thank you so much for sharing because I think I shared something like, count your colors not, not your colors and I just basically said, as a nutritionist, let me just tell you, this is nonsense. Please ignore it. Please focus on the calories that you're eating, eating whole foods, doing things that are good for you, focusing on that rather than forget, like don't even look at the calories on the menu if you can. Loads and loads of people responded and said, thank you so much, that's really reassuring that you've just said that. But I did have a couple of people who said, actually I find this really helpful. So maybe for some people having the calories, if they've really got like no understanding at all of different energy values of foods, maybe for them it could be helpful. So I'm not, I guess I'm just trying to say like there's maybe, there's a silver lining there. Maybe it's good for like a small percentage of the population and maybe for them it's helpful because we're also not saying that calories are, they're completely irrelevant. Like it's not bad to have a general understanding that certain foods contain more energy than others. That's not a bad thing in itself, is it? It's just about when that's all we're focusing on and we become completely obsessed with it when it becomes problematic. [DR. CRISTINA] It does give the notion of like, the only thing that matters about food is the calorie content when like you're saying there's so much more to it. There's like the vitamins, the minerals, like how it impacts you, the comfort, the taste, the experience, the social --- [UTA] The blood sugar balance, like also all of that, because that's the thing, like let's be real. If people are counting calories, it's because they want to lose weight. That's the only reason that anybody would want to count calories. What they don't understand is that actually not all calories are equal so of course, you also need to look at the fiber content, the protein content and all of those things. [DR. CRISTINA] So when you are working with people, do they get more of an understanding of how their bodies function taking in certain foods versus like, oh, it's just about I need to manage the calories and start? Do you see a shift in them? [UTA] A hundred percent. Literally, one of my clients told me yesterday that it changed her life. She's been working with me for three months and she literally said that changed her life. She's got a completely different outlook now. Now when she looks at food, she looks at what am I going to get from this food? Like that's good for me, that's going to help me feel better, that's going to improve my energy levels, that's going to improve my mood, tat's going to improve my athletic performance? She looks at it that way rather than what should I not be eating so that I can lose weight? So her mindset has shifted to health focus versus weight focus and also understanding that food is so crucial and so good for you when you eat, when you make the right choice and that's actually a real, like an act of self-care, looking after yourself and nourishing your body. You shouldn't be coming from a restrictive mindset. [DR. CRISTINA] Well, and I think that's interesting, so like people choose these "diet foods" that are low to no calorie, like diet hoops or these thing and in the quest of saying, well, I'm healthier. Or again, they're in smaller bodies or they're trying to lose weight, but are they really healthier? What are they actually doing to their bodies choosing those like alternative "diet foods" that are deemed more "healthy"? [UTA] I mean, absolutely terrible. One of the things that I always say when people start working with me is this, I always say everything's okay in moderation, everything, because I don't want to come at it from a restrictive mindset. There are very few things that I will tell people not to have. Everything else, I'll always say, have loads of fat, have this moderation that'll help you with your health goals, depending on what that is, whether that's inflammation or that's fertility or like I said earlier, all these different things that we can work with. So that's different for each person of course. Then there's very few things though that I would say not to have and those are that like one of those things, or probably the only thing that I will say not to have is those diet foods like Coke zero, those types of things. Why do I say that, one that have very poor or in some cases no nutritional value, so at best putting something in your body that it gives you nothing, it has no value. Your body cannot utilize any of the things that are in it. So it's just like a waste. Because of their lack of nutritional value, I just don't think there's any point. Secondly, they do contain large amounts of artificial colors, flavors, artificial sweeteners, preservatives. So again, all of those ingredients at best, your body doesn't know what to do with them. They're artificial, they're not things that your body can utilize. The juries out on the damage that they could potentially do but there's more and more, I think people looking into that. I did see I think it was a study done in the UK on, to be fair, it wasn't on mice, so it's not like a human study yet, but with artificial sweeteners, they definitely found that there was a correlation with artificial sweeteners and poor gut microbiome. So the artificial sweeteners seem to have a negative impact on the good bacteria that live in a gut that are so crucial for our immune system and so many other things. Like I said, at worst having these things might even be bad for you, at best, it's just a complete waste, like why would you do that? Why would you just put something in your body that's just like rubbish, it doesn't do any good? So no, I'm not a huge fan at all of any sort of diet or weight loss products for that reason. I'll never recommend them. [DR. CRISTINA] I'm just imagining people saying, yeah, but it does, it fills my stomach. It's got nothing to it. Exactly, that's the whole point, I feel full on something that has zero pounds. [UTA] Doesn't have any calories, yeas. [DR. CRISTINA] The whole point. But to your point, it can actually potentially do some harm to, like you said, your gut biom and things like that. So you were saying that that's important for things like your immune system and --- [UTA] Yeah, your mental health, as a link between a gut health now and our mental health. So people who are suffering from things like anxiety they might want to consider that. Like, is that worth it? Then also again, let's be real as well. These products have been around for a long time. They're not new and they clearly don't work for weight loss anyway. So yeah, I just don't see a lot of value in them and I'd definitely much rather put things in my body that I can actually utilize for good and build new cells and hormones and those types of things that are so important and support my gut microbiome. [DR. CRISTINA] You said something really important just then. So all these things that are "commonly known," like for the goals, that everyone seems to have this, that I've asked you about, that they go to you for, that they actually think I can help them with, which I don't, which is the goal of eating smaller and losing weight, like exercise more, eat less, less calories, less this. They don't work. So in that too, again, focusing on that horrible word "I hate calories." It's the same thing. It's always about reducing calories in whatever way they can, whether it's eating less or similarly like exercising, moving more. Let's talk about that for a minute. That's also everywhere too. Like if you are wearing an Apple watch or you go, you do try to work out just for the sake of movement, I mean you go on a machine and it tells you like this is what you burned. So it's like that too, it's like making calories so important and like they matter more than anything. Why aren't we talking about what happens when people actually work out really hard? [UTA] Yeah, no, absolutely. No, it's a fascinating topic. My message is always, yes, exercise is good for you, movement is good for you. Absolutely, the human body was designed to move and find a form of movement that you enjoy, find something that you really like. There are so many things you could be doing. You can be going for walks, you can be swimming, you can do yoga, you can go dancing, you can do CrossFit, you can, you know psycho cycling, like horse riding. Like there's the list. There's so many things that you could be doing. You can go hula hoop, get a skipping rope, going to trampoline, just like it doesn't matter. Like find something that you enjoy and do that because that's going to be great for your physical and mental health. [UTA] That's the first thing. The second thing is that what's typically traditionally has been promoted for like supporting people with weight loss is like the cardio and then counting the calories that you're burning. That is so outdated. We know so much better. The research is there, the studies are there showing that that doesn't make sense, and I'll explain why in a second, and yet it's still being promoted everywhere. So why doesn't it make sense? Because the body's really intelligent, the human body is extremely intelligent. If you think about it, we've been on this planet for a while. We're not new here. So over the past, like hundreds and thousands of years that we've evolved on this planet, for the majority of the time that we've been here, we had to work really hard to find food. We had to work really hard to like survive in the wild, like running away from wild animals, maybe if we're going all the way back, like fighting off some other caveman and we had to go and find food or like hunt and then gather food and all of those things. So the body's so smart. When we expend a lot of energy, especially if we do that on a regular basis, the body finds ways to reduce the energy that we use for other tasks. It has to do that, otherwise we wouldn't be here because we wouldn't have survived because of what I just explained. Up until very recently in human history, it was tough for us physically. So in order for us to be able to survive, the body did this really smart thing with this adaptation where like I just said, when we are spending more energy on a regular basis, and that could be the equivalent now to like high intensity cardio exercise. It will actively reduce the amount of calories that are needed for other tasks. So the body can up or down regulate your basal metabolic rate, which is the amount of calories that you're burning, even if you were doing nothing. So a lot of energy is needed just to keep your brain working, your heart pumping, your lungs working, your liver's doing its thing, all of these things are happening in the body. Even if you were on the sofa all day doing nothing, you'd still be using up a lot of energy for those things. That's your basal metabolic rate, the amount of calories that you would need to survive or that you would burn on a daily basis even if you were doing nothing. The body can up and down regulate that significantly depending on whether you are spending lots of energy elsewhere. So that means that if you're doing lots of cardio exercise, especially on a regular basis, the body will very quickly adapt and start slowing down elsewhere so that your overall calorie expenditure remains the same, basically whatever your body has set, what it thinks that you can survive on. That's also, that depends a little bit on how regularly you are eating. This is also why if you're doing lots of intense cardio and counting calories and eating a very low-calorie diet, your body's going to become amazing at reducing the calories that it needs and you're going to start burning less and less. You'll actually find that you might lose a bit of weight to start with and then it'll stall. The other thing that of course then happens is that the moment you start eating "normally" again, you'll put that weight back on really quickly because now you've downregulated your basal metabolic rate. So the amount of calories that you're burning has significantly reduced. And so one of the studies that I was referring to earlier that showed this, actually showed that in some people the result was that only 54% of the calories burned by exercise or activity were actually still used at the end of the day, so the body had downregulated the basal metabolic rate and other tasks throughout the day so that by the end of the day, the calories burned in that activity, only half of those calories burned had actually been used if that makes sense. So it's quite significant. [DR. CRISTINA] So if people didn't do all that like high intensity cardio, would it have made much of a difference in terms of like the calories their body used during the day? [UTA] So, no, exactly, yeah, exactly, that's what I'm saying. Like only around half of the calories that they thought they had burned in that high intensity cardio would've actually been used by the end of the day. Of course, there's only so many calories you can burn on a treadmill anyway. Like it's quite intense. So this is not a smart thing to do. Now as I said earlier, for me the key with exercise is find a form of movement you enjoy; if you love running great, like go running, like do that but don't do it to burn the calories. It's nonsense. It doesn't make any sense. [DR. CRISTINA] So what would you say, because I've had other experts on here before and we find that, I just had someone on and lots of studies showing like weight loss and health are not correlated, so what would you say to that, like health and weight aren't related? [UTA] Yeah, I mean I completely agree to an extent, that obviously like, I will say this, again I work with a fertility clinic and the truth is that if you are over a certain weight, I'm not even going to, I don't even want to say BMI, obviously it is body mass index that we look at from a National Health Service perspective. But I don't always think that's accurate because obviously, again, if somebody's very muscular, their BMI is going to be very high, that doesn't mean that they're actually overweight in an unhealthy way or they're not overweight. So it's just a very simplistic way of looking at it, I would say. Like you can't say that they don't relate at all. They do, but one, it's not always the case because weight is just one factor that doesn't even look at is that muscle or is that body fat that we're looking at. The scale doesn't tell you that and it doesn't really tell you anything about what's going on inside that person's body. So there's definitely people who maybe would be considered overweight if we're looking at BMI, but they're actually super healthy and then equally there are people that are supposedly "healthy weight" and actually they might have loads of health problems. So it's a very simplistic way of looking at it. [DR. CRISTINA] Yes, because I can imagine someone listening getting really triggered with these terms, obese, overweight underweight, BMI. I'm just wondering if it's more of like, is it really the weight or is it more like, regardless of what the actual numbers, is it more like risk factors like blood pressure or other things to look at and people are saying, oh it must be because of your weight that that's the risk factor versus saying like even if somebody's got a much less, their weight's much less but their blood pressure is high, wouldn't put them at risk regardless of whatever they weigh. [UTA] I see your point and I think you're right. It's probably the other things that we associate typically with people being overweight that are the risk factors more than the weight itself. I think that's a really good way of putting it actually. [DR. CRISTINA] Because I think that's what I'm finding is like people are saying, oh, if they have high blood pressure and they just so happen to be in a larger body, then they associate it with, well if you lose weight then it's the weight that's the risk factor versus it's the high blood pressure. If somebody's in a smaller body and they have a high blood pressure, they're not telling them to lose weight, they're saying, they're not blaming it on their weight. [UTA] I see what you mean. [DR. CRISTINA] It's a weight bias thing. [UTA] It is a weight bias. And actually, a really important thing that I want to share too, at this point, again coming back to my work with the fertility clinic, I do get quite few sort of referrals where women have been sent to me because they want to have fertility treatment but they've been told they're not eligible because of their weight. And then when the moment that they hear that, they obviously try and just do anything that they can to drop the weight and they do that in very, very unhealthy ways. So I'm really grateful for anyone that gets sent my way and I can stop that before it's late. Because really what they're doing is, yes, they're dropping the weight but actually they're doing it in such an unhealthy way that they're risking, they're reducing their chances of fertility and healthy pregnancy in the process because obviously pregnancy is hugely demanding on the female body. So what you really don't want to do is deplete all of your nutrient stores before you get pregnant and have a baby. You want to do the opposite. You want to make sure that your body's in the best possible place, which has not just, not just relating to wave. It's to do with the nutrients that you need in order to sustain a healthy pregnancy and for baby's growth and development. So that's really, really important and actually that's probably a message that I'd like to share just with anyone listening that when it comes to particularly like, yes, you might be told that you have to lose weight, but make sure that you do that in a way that is sustainable and that means that you're still healthy and you're still preparing your body for pregnancy. [DR. CRISTINA] I love that you said that because I think what I'm hearing you say is it's really more a matter of maybe not focusing on the weight loss, but really getting somebody's body to a place, whether they're, whatever their weight is to begin with before pregnancy to a place where it's hospitable to carrying a pregnancy and to creating a baby and for them to be healthy and the baby to be healthy. [UTA] That's it. [DR. CRISTINA] Because I hate hearing when people say like, gosh I have to eat, I've been told I have to reduce my foric intake when I'm pregnant because I'm in a larger body. I'm going, well how are you going to create a baby that's healthy? Like your body is going to get, the bones leached and like, you're just going to be so, your body's going to be damaged by this pregnancy if you're not feeding it enough. [UTA] That's it. Yeah, absolutely. [DR. CRISTINA] That's the scary part for me to hear because I'm going, what happens to you? [UTA] Absolutely. [DR. CRISTINA] Is that what the body needs when you're pregnant? [UTA] Of course, of course. No it's crucial. absolutely important. I think that's important for people to understand that again. Unfortunately, we do live in this world where there's such a big focus just on weight and so little talk about actual health. [DR. CRISTINA] Well, I'm just curious because you do work in that, do you find that it is just such a weight bias, like someone just is told because they're in this category that their, I guess risk factors or their diagnoses are due to their size versus like, hey, you just have diabetes or you have high blood pressure, you have this and they're not really looking at anything else? [UTA] I mean, definitely. Yeah, there's definitely people that I speak to that have been sort of through again dealing with our National Health Service, which is an amazing. I really love the UK National Health Service. I'm really grateful for them. Many of my friends are doctors and nurses, huge respect for them. I don't want to say anything negative about it, but unfortunately, it's true that it's those numbers. It's literally like those numbers. It's like this is your BMI so you are not eligible for the fertility treatment, so go and eat. I've had people come to me who've been told by a doctor, not the fertility clinic I work with, other doctors, that have been told to eat 800 calories a day to drop the weight. [DR. CRISTINA] Oh, my God. Wow, what do you think about that? I have all sorts of ideas in my head. [UTA] Shocking. [DR. CRISTINA] What is that? [UTA] Shocking, absolutely shocking. I couldn't believe when I was told that, absolutely shocking. There's no way that you can lose weight healthfully doing that. It's never going to be sustainable. You're going to be absolutely miserable. It's so unhealthy. You're definitely going, there's no way you can get all the nutrients you need on a diet that is that low in calories. There's no way. [DR. CRISTINA] To me, I'm thinking that's beyond starvation and so much damage can be done to the body. Could you speak to that a little bit, like what damage can actually be done to the body when somebody eats that little? [UTA] One of the areas that I also specialize in is like nutrition and mental health and energy levels and obviously the first thing that's going to happen is that people are going to be exhausted all of the time. They're going to be very tired because like I just said, the body is so intelligent and it can adapt and it can down-regulate the calories it needs. But it does that by shutting down systems that it doesn't think unnecessary for survival. One of those is your reproductive system, so that's an issue for a start because you really don't want to be negatively impacting that when you're on a fertility journey. That makes no sense. Then the second thing, as I was saying earlier, I was like, you're going to be tired because your body will be telling you to rest because you're not having enough food. So you're going to struggle with your energy levels. When I say struggle, like I don't just mean like a little bit tired, you're going to be fatigued. It's going to really impact your mental health in a couple of ways. One is that obviously we need certain nutrients for hormone neurotransmitter production, so things like serotonin and melatonin. Serotonin has so many roles in the body, but many people know it as like the feel-good hormone. That's going to really negatively impact your mood. Melatonin, which regulates circadian rhythm, so our sleep wake cycle. I get so many people, I will say particularly work mostly with women, I do work with men as well, but so many women that go on very low-calorie diets, whether it's for fertility or other reasons and they can't sleep, they end up with insomnia. I'm like, well obviously because you're no longer able to produce enough melatonin because you're not eating enough of the right foods and then your body can't regulate it, the circadian rhythm. So you are going to struggle to fall asleep in the evening. That's quite normal. Then of course that has huge knock-on effects because sleep is so fundamental, it's like so foundational to so many other areas of our health. So yeah, I could probably go on all day, but just to give you a little taste like these are some of the things that I typically see in clinic when people go on these very, very low, sort of very low-calorie diets that really, like you said that's starvation mode. [DR. CRISTINA] Yes. I mean, I'm just thinking that you'd be diagnosing somebody with an eating disorder at that point, that's not, I mean somebody cannot survive that long on that low. [UTA] Yeah, no, no, it's absolutely terrible, [DR. CRISTINA] I mean, it's shocking to me that someone would actually be told to do that. [UTA] Yeah, I was shocked. Yeah, I was absolutely shocked when I was told that [DR. CRISTINA] I mean that's, to me that's prescribing an eating disorder, I don't know [UTA] It is, yeah, no, you're right. Yeah, you're right. [DR. CRISTINA] So yeah, anyway, audience, I'm shocked. [UTA] I'm sorry. [DR. CRISTINA] No, I mean, but I think there needs to be more dialogue about all of this because I think that there are mixed messages, not just from social media, but the medical field and I think the more people like you do talk about this and are helping people and giving the right information we do need like thousands of more of you. They're helping people and giving the right information and helping people understand that when they do eat food, how it does impact their bodies and help them with their, it helps everything, their mental health, their endocrine system, their immune systems not to fear foods because I think that's a lot of it. It's like they see foods and they just think, oh, this is going to do such bad things to me versus, like you said, the goal of health and wellbeing. [UTA] Yeah, absolutely. I mean my, I think I'd love to just get people excited about eating healthy foods. Like I just love, like when somebody goes, oh my God, I just, that's something that you taught me about this type of food or this food group and that what it does and now I get excited whenever I eat that. I think that's really what I would like people to, yeah, to think I'm here when I look at food. [DR. CRISTINA] So if you were to describe a goal for somebody who says, I want to have this, I guess healthy lifestyle and feel well, what would that look like? Because I think most people think that means eating healthy and exercising. Like it's so much more than that. How would you describe that? [UTA] I love that question. There's all these different elements and there's so many things of course you can do but if you wanted to summarize it, I guess, of course, again, I'm a nutritionist, of course, I would say start with eating a whole foods diet, a balanced diet, making sure that you're getting all of your nutrients. Definitely sleep, like I said earlier, sleep is so foundational and quite often people will come and see me in clinic and one of the questions that I ask them during consultation is, how's your sleep? Then I explain, then I say you might be wondering like your nutritionist, why you're asking me about my sleep? Well, that's because if your sleep isn't good, you are not going to be utilizing all of the nutrients that you're eating from the foods that I'm telling you to eat. It's going to be impacting the hormones that control your hunger and appetite and satiety. So it's going to be like, just like a bit of a rollercoaster for you, which is again, completely normal but once people understand that, or again, like if I'm working with people on energy levels, like no point me telling you to eat more green leafy vegetables to improve your energy levels if you're not sleeping. Let's fix that first. And again, it's one of those things where people go like, oh yeah, that's so obvious. Why didn't I think of that? So yeah, make sure you've got a great sleep routine. Again, I could be here all day, but by that I mean that you're getting a good amount of hours every night and actually, often that starts with our morning routine, because that has a bigger impact again, on our Arcadian rhythm than what we do in the evening, so getting that right. Looking at sleep making sure that during the day, whatever it is that you do, and I know many of us lead such stressful lives, especially like us single working moms we've got a lot on. But make sure that you take some breaks and some real breaks, not just like scrolling on your phone but actual breaks. That could be just looking out the window for a few minutes, picking up a book or a magazine, maybe calling a friend to have a chat or maybe even you want to take that little bit further and do some breathing exercises or short meditation. Those are all things that have been shown numerous studies as well to be really beneficial for health and wellbeing. If we can include those sort of mindful breaks, combining that with something like breathing exercises and meditation even better. That would be the next step for sure, taking breaks. Definitely moving your body, like I said, but it doesn't have to be about exercise for burning calories. It's actually about moving the body because again, that's what it was designed to do. Sitting down for long hours at a desk is definitely not great for us. If that is the job that you're in, then even more important to find something that you love. Again, maybe that's something if you're busy that you can do it at home doing like a short yoga session in the evening, something along those lines. The other two things I would always say are, one, spending more time outdoors, spending more time in nature. Again, if you're lucky enough like myself to live near a beach, brilliant. But otherwise go to your local park, go for a walk in the forest anything that you can do, like find some greenery and get outdoors at least once a day if you can. It's so important. Then the final thing, and I wonder I wouldn't be able to put these like in order of priority, I wouldn't know which one of these is more important, maybe that depends on the person as well, but one of the things that I've really discovered for my own health as well in the last few years is the importance of spending time with people that you love or animals, pets count as well. But ideally like people, like your friends, your family, making sure that you've got like, we were again, when you look back at human evolution, we didn't survive on this planet on our own. We did survive in packs, in groups of people. So for that reason, I think it's incredibly important. It's so hardwired into us that we need to have good, like solid, strong relationships, that's relationships with your children, with your partner if you have one, but also your friends for sure, the people you work out with. That I think is so, so important and often like underestimated, again, like you said, so many people think, ooh, healthy lifestyle, eat well or eat less, exercise more. But really again, that's such a simplistic, like hyper simplified way of looking at it. There's so much more to it and I think the relationships that we have with the people around us are definitely a really crucial part. [DR. CRISTINA] Absolutely. No, I love that because I mean, if the pandemic didn't teach us anything, it was definitely how important social connections and how we're social animals, I mean, first and foremost, so definitely. [UTA] Absolutely. Yeah, so those are sort of my key things, I guess my key takeaways after from everything that I've learned over the years. [DR. CRISTINA] Great. Well, I know you're in the UK I'm here in the US but I know we've got listeners everywhere, so if anyone does want to work with you and then they might call you from here, who knows, how can people get ahold of you? How can they find your social media because I mean, like I said, you have a fantastic feed. I love it. So how can people find you? [UTA] Oh, thank you so much. Yeah, no, absolutely. I do actually have clients, I've got clients in the US, I've got clients in Canada and Australia as well. So I definitely work internationally. Yeah, love for people to follow me on Instagram, so I'm sure you're going to link that below. It's cannelle_underscore nutrition, and of course people can have a look at my website as well. There's a free guide to nutrition and mental health that I'd love for people to have a look at to get started. If anybody's interested in working with me, I always, first step is to just reach out, let's do a quick discovery call just to get to know each other, make sure that we are a good fit, that we like each other. That's important, I think. Then I obviously explain to people how I work and answer any questions that they haven't made sure that that's what they're looking for and that that's right for them. [DR. CRISTINA] Awesome. Well, thank you so much. This has been such a pleasure. You've given such great information. Any last final words before we end? [UTA] No, again, just thank you so much for having me. It's been an absolute pleasure talking to you. [DR. CRISTINA] Thank you. [DR. CRISTINA] This podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regards to the subject matter covered. It is given with the understanding that neither the host, the publisher or the guests are rendering legal, accounting, clinical, or any other professional information. If you want a professional, you should find one.