Elissa Lueckemeyer RDN, LD is a registered dietitian and owner of Food 4 Success, LLC Nutrition Consulting in New Braunfels, Texas. She has a passion for spreading credible nutrition knowledge and helping individuals improve their relationship with food for long-term results. Elissa enjoys being a wife, a mom, and creating educational online courses, blog articles, and recipes. She is also a really messy cook.
Mathea Ford [00:00:29] Hi there! It’s Mathea. Welcome back to the Nutrition Experts Podcast. The podcast featuring nutrition experts who are leading the way using food starts today right now with our next guest. It’s great to have Elissa Lueckemeyer on the show today. Elissa welcome to Nutrition Experts.
Elissa Lueckemeyer [00:00:44] Thank you. Thank you so much for having me today.
Mathea Ford [00:00:46] I’m excited to have you on the show and share your expertise with my tribe. So, let’s start with letting you tell my listeners a little more about you and what you do.
Elissa Lueckemeyer [00:00:55] So, I am a Registered Dietitian in New Braunfels, Texas and I am the owner of Food for Success LLC Nutrition Consulting and I formed that in 2015 and I seek clients all different kinds a lot of diabetes and weight loss, geriatrics, cancer, digestive issues. And it’s been an adventure it’s been really interesting. I started out in clinical so I’ve used that experience to kind of help me along with providing counseling and I graduated from Texas State University and before that I was in Oklahoma for a little while pursuing a ballet career but due to injury kind of switched over to dietetics because that always interested me. I’ve just found my passion in private practice. It’s been really fun and it’s always interesting and you learn a lot yourself. So, it’s been a been a lot of fun so far.
Mathea Ford [00:01:55] I always loved the outpatient private practice side as a clinical dietitian because you could continue to work with people instead of like in the hospital you see them maybe once maybe twice and help them kind of get started. But the out in the outpatient you get to kind of follow and see the progress that they can make. So, that makes you really think it makes it fun.
Elissa Lueckemeyer [00:02:18] Oh definitely! I know when you’re in that hospital setting people aren’t always in the best mood to hear dietary advice at that time. So, outpatient you can really get them when they’re feeling better and more open to new information and it’s just so rewarding to see people have good results with their health in their labs and what’s on the scale. So, I really do like it too.
Mathea Ford [00:02:43] I know you said you see a lot of diabetes, weight loss and I think we all do deal with that in all different kind of realms but you probably have some opinions about you know and feedback about what most people are doing wrong when it comes to things like diets or weight loss. So, when people come in to your office, I don’t necessarily want to say you know they’re bad but the people are not bad. They’re just they’ve gotten bad advice maybe. So what do you see as that sort of things that are tripping people up?
Elissa Lueckemeyer [00:03:16] So, yes I think probably one of the most common things that I see is people just focusing on carbs because as everyone probably is aware it’s all over the media. Low carb this note you know carbs make you fat. The Keto diet, Paleo, Whole 30 and even some of my clients come in and their doctors have told them they need to eat. I’ve even heard them say “don’t eat any carbs or you need to get on the keto diet.” And it just sets up a lot of anxiety and fear when it comes to eating carbs how much should I be eating and when I do eat I feel guilt about eating this maybe I really want this slice of pizza but I’m not gonna let myself have it because I can’t eat any carbs. And unfortunately the trend that I see in one of the reasons why they end up in my office is because the guilt just builds up over time and they feel deprived and they end up just kind of going overboard in the end and kind of have that mindset that “I know I’m not supposed to have it but I’m having it so I might as well have a whole pizza” that kind of thing and it’s really an unhealthy way to kind of look at your food and it’s definitely not very enjoyable and they’re not having the results that they want, they’re not losing the weight, they’re not having the improvement in their numbers. I like to have them at my office and we focus more on balance and portion control and that makes a big difference when when we can kind of get to that point where we talk about healthy carbohydrates and how to incorporate them in the diet properly. It just makes a world of difference and they’ll be like “wow! This was much more food than I thought that I could be eating but I’m still having results” and it’s really nice to see that when they they can get to that point.
Mathea Ford [00:05:15] So, how do you think the carbs that we eat in our diet got a bad rap?
Elissa Lueckemeyer [00:05:20] Oh! I think it’s just kind of the the trendy thing right now I know like in the 90’s and the 80s it was everything low fat. You know fat was the bad guy. And now it’s kind of switched to carbs and I get that because you know a lot of the processed foods and fast foods are very carb heavy. And we have the diabetes epidemic. Yeah! It’s very understandable how that carb fear kind of came around and unfortunately it seems like now though that it’s kind of gone to the opposite extreme that well they’re bad in excess so we need to just not have them at all. I like to remind my clients that you know whole grains, fruits, vegetables those are all carbohydrates and we definitely need those in our diet for numerous reasons. It’s just finding the right portions of those and how they can fit into a balanced diet.
Mathea Ford [00:06:17] So, you mentioned balanced diet. Do you have a particular diet that you recommend with your patients or how do you work with them to eat healthier?
Elissa Lueckemeyer [00:06:26] I wouldn’t say I’m a non diet dietitian because I do believe there are some instances where they may need a certain type of diet but for weight loss I really don’t like diets. I like to think of it more as behavior change lifestyle approaches learning how to improve your relationship with food mindful eating intuitive eating. That’s how I really approach it more and finding balance that no food group is bad that we all need them for different reasons. It’s just finding what’s right for that person as far as the portions of everything.
Mathea Ford [00:07:08] When you talk to somebody kind of where do they start and then where do you lead them to?
Elissa Lueckemeyer [00:07:15] Usually what happens and it’s kind of surprising actually you would think that someone coming into it see a dietitian you know they’re eating too much of everything. And actually a lot of my clients when they come in I find out that they’re actually not eating enough and they’re not getting enough calories and that can slow your metabolism down and make it very difficult to achieve the health goals that they want to achieve. So, what I often do is we form like a meal plan. I teach them carbohydrate portioning and including healthy sources of carbs we go over that and we just kind of structure their meals and what the right amount of carbs from them for them. And once we get that kind of established, we can move on to the other macro nutrients, proteins, healthy fats but I find that once they get the idea of the right amount of carbs for for them and it’s actually usually a lot more than they were allowing themselves to have they find that they’re more satisfied, they’re happier, they’re not hangry, hungry and angry all the time and they actually will lose weight because in addition to exercise of course they are not finding these cravings that are so tempting for them to succumb to and they feel overall happier and more energy for our workouts and it really does make a difference.
Mathea Ford [00:08:43] So, you mentioned meal planning, you have any tips or guides for the audience about how you plan your meals?
Elissa Lueckemeyer [00:08:50] I will sit down on usually on a Sunday and I won’t say I plan all my meals out because I’ll be realistic, I’m a mom of a four year old and an almost two year old so that doesn’t always happen but I’ll get my dinners going. I’ll plan out the week just with the dinners usually when I’m going to maybe make a bigger batch or something and maybe use leftovers for the next day and then from there I’ll formulate my grocery list from those dinners that I plan and maybe plan out my snacks or my kids lunches. What we’re going to do there. And then I will hit the grocery store or maybe do an online order if you have the luxury of that that’s always really nice and then go from there. I usually maybe cook the biggest meal on Sunday night so I’m kind of ready to go on Monday. Maybe do some prepping that is the most helpful and kind of staying on track during the week and it’s okay that if you have certain weeks things are just not working out and you may need to go out to eat one day if you’re planning ahead you’re still usually making better choices if you can get that kind of all scheduled beforehand.
Mathea Ford [00:10:03] So, you don’t necessarily plan like breakfast and lunch? You always just try to focus on having that dinner meal and then do you have some staples that you keep in the pantry to be able to have breakfast some lunch type foods?
Elissa Lueckemeyer [00:10:14] I do. So, I always make sure I got my whole grains on hand, oatmeal and my rices things like that to throw together for maybe some pro teen veggie bowls and green bowls that kind of thing and my kids are definitely creatures of habit. They like either their eggs or yogurt in the morning with some cereal so I always have that on hand. Lunches I will say and this is a challenge for a lot of people and sometimes a challenge for myself too. At my grocery store they’re having some kind of a few pre-prepared meals where they’ll have like shredded chicken ready to go and I can throw that and lots of things in. But you can do that yourself at home too. Definitely just cook a big chicken chop it up and it’s ready to go for lunches and things like that. Yeah! I do like veggie case ideas. Those are really easy to throw together. Spinach, cheese, quesadillas things like that. A lot of minds pretty much kid focused right now.
Mathea Ford [00:11:17] Yeah that makes sense. My kids love the chicken like chopped chicken tacos or chicken salad sandwiches or anything like that. So, I see what you mean with the cooking old chicken. I’ve just started using it in instapot. So, we’ve made a few things in insta pot and then shredded the pork or the chicken and that seems to be good to last couple days. So.
Elissa Lueckemeyer [00:11:39] Crockpot has become my dinner time hero for sure.
Mathea Ford [00:11:45] Yeah! It’s just nice and convenient and if you can make it healthy. So, basically you encourage people to kind of move not only to a more balanced diet but also more to home cooking right? So not so much eating out?
Elissa Lueckemeyer [00:11:58] Definitely! I’ve had people ask me like if there is one thing that I can do to start eating healthier live a healthier lifestyle it’s family meals. I think it just all boils down to having a family meal. And taking your time, enjoying the meal, enjoying the company and just really savoring that time. And even if your food choices aren’t perfectly images of healthy food that you would see on Instagram or something if you’re still cooking that food from home you are just much more likely to have a more nutritious meal than something you would probably get out. I encourage people to atleast start there.
Mathea Ford [00:12:41] And where do you go to look for recipes you usually have like a bunch of cookbooks or do you go look online?
Elissa Lueckemeyer [00:12:47] I do a lot of Pinterest and there’s just some amazing dietitian bloggers out there I’ll get their recipes from. I’m actually a big Better Homes and Gardens cookbook fan. Not all of their recipes are like perfect health images but I do my own little tweaking and stuff like that. They have some really good recipes in there and I actually recommend anyone who’s thinking about starting to cook more. That’s a great start is the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. So, that’s a great place to start. Pinterest, Better Homes and Gardens. I know Google and everything can get really overwhelming but you know if you have a protein in mind that you want to play with you type that in and Pinterest and it’ll it’ll hook you up with all sorts of good stuff.
Mathea Ford [00:13:36] Yeah I like the idea of making boards throughout the week and then you have ones you do and then the next week you still have more for later and Pinterest is a great idea. I love that. What other things should people do to try to eat healthier? I know you mentioned eating at home, cooking at home, having home family meals.
Elissa Lueckemeyer [00:13:55] A lot of it I think comes down to portion control if there’s a lot of confusion on that. This is where seeing a dietitian can be extremely investment worthy to really get that down and find out what’s right for you. But other suggestions definitely would be you know besides cooking at home is kind of just take a look at your fruit and vegetable intake. How much of that are you getting a day? I know they like to preach that five a day rule but even if you aren’t at the five servings of fruit and/or vegetables a day and just kind of take a look at that and say “you know I’m hungry for a snack maybe I could squeeze in a piece of fruit there.” That can make a huge difference just doing the lower calorie fruits and vegetables in your diet. And I know that their carbs but they’re good carbs and they’re doing lots of good things for your gut. So, I’m just kind of sliding those in being more active too. I know that we’re talking about diet here but they really go hand-in-hand and you got to eat well and play hard and sleep good. That’s kind of the 3 keys to really good health.
Mathea Ford [00:15:13] So you mentioned portion control. Do you have any guides for people who are listening that might be wondering like how do I know what is a portion?
Elissa Lueckemeyer [00:15:24] The American Diabetes Association has a great great resources on carb counting things like that to get you started. You can get information about dietary exchanges there and then also the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has some resources too, the American Heart Association has some resources on diet and a lot of great recipes too by the way. That’s another good source. That’s probably a good start. I just want to encourage people to make sure that when they are looking up this information to make sure that they’re finding it from a reputable source because there’s a lot of misinformation out there as everyone’s probably already aware. Things that end and maybe .org web sites like that maybe more reputable like American Heart Association diabetes.org things like that as opposed to some other websites.
Mathea Ford [00:16:20] Well, definitely you can look at the about page on a website and see if the person who’s writing it is a dietitian or a knowledgeable expert. Are there foods that you encourage people to avoid when they’re trying to lose weight? You know I know I don’t like to do No foods like none of this, none of that. You know absolutes.
Elissa Lueckemeyer [00:16:41] Well, kind of like you say I like to think all foods can fit and I like to practice mindful intuitive eating practices and all that is is just really learning how to enjoy your food if you have kind of more of an indulgent item you really sit and enjoy it. You practice enjoying it without guilt because the guilt is just a terrible motivator to do better. I like to say that all foods can fit but of course you know you want to make more often good choices and so I like to just say try to avoid foods out of a like food mix if this out of a box because that tends to be a lot of excess sodium and fan stuff whenever you can make from home from scratch instead. That’s always better. An example of that is like maybe a box of instant potatoes you can make mashed potatoes at home and it’ll be ten times less sodium than what you find in there. So, I tend to say you know avoid a lot of the highly processed foods and try to switch more to recipe investigations and things like that to kind of find out what you can make at home too.
Mathea Ford [00:17:57] So, how do you help people who are like “I don’t cook. I don’t have time to cook.” What do you say to those? Because I’m sure you get it a lot.
Elissa Lueckemeyer [00:18:04] I have some resources for them to find some very beginner cooking classes. And also I tell them just experiment. If you have a recipe in front of you and you just play with it. Follow the instructions exactly. You can put together something you would actually be surprised. Aside from those who may not be able to cook there’s a lot of people that don’t have time to cook either. And we just kind of talk about strategies for time saving measures, batch cooking things like that, finding easy recipes and then we also talk about for those who just you know they have to eat out, get food to go, we find healthier options at those restaurants. Sometimes it might be come combining appetizer items, salads and soups and things like that to get a little creative there and asking for dressings on the side so you can control that gravy is on the side.
Elissa Lueckemeyer [00:19:05] So, there are ways around it where you can eat a pretty healthy diet depending on your grocery store too. There’s a lot of pre prepared meals there that you can just literally throw it in your oven and you have a healthy meal. It just kind of depends on what area you’re from and what resources you have there. But I definitely encourage everyone if they don’t know how to cook maybe try out just a beginning cooking class and give it a shot because it can just make a world of difference in your health.
Mathea Ford [00:19:37] Yeah I like the idea of time shifting. So, if you’re like you don’t have time after for me for example I come home from work at 5:00. The kids are home everybody’s hungry and then I don’t want to spend another hour cooking food. You know you mentioned batch cooking, you can cook some stuff ahead. You can assemble things ahead when you have more time maybe on the weekends you pre chop your veggies you do that kind of thing and if your kids get a little older teach them how to put something in the oven to cook or whatever and I like that idea because we think I don’t have time in that moment when I get home to cook for another hour because I’m already tired vs. what can you do to you know before that to make it work. And I also love the idea of looking at the menu and doing the appetizers because we always just look straight at. Well, maybe people look at appetizers for before their meal but you don’t necessarily think of appetizer as a meal. But there’s probably a thousand calories in an appetizer. You’ll want to add that on top of the other food. And I know a lot of restaurants now especially if they’re national have the calorie counts. Whether you’re counting calories at least it gives you a check to say “oh! I didn’t realize that when you really had that much calories. Maybe I should get a smaller portion.” So I love those ideas. Those are great.
Elissa Lueckemeyer [00:20:58] Oh! And like with crockpot cooking too. If you don’t really know how to cook very well. They have lots of dump recipes on Pinterest where we literally you just get the ingredients and you dump them in the pot and you close the lid and you forget about it for eight hours. So, that’s another solution too.
Mathea Ford [00:21:17] Obviously, you want to put some effort into your health if you’re trying to lose weight you’re doing it for the right reasons. There’s going to have to be some effort. You’re going to have to change. You have to become a different type of person than you are today to change. You have to change some habits. And like you mentioned eat a little slower eat family meals cook a little bit. I love those ideas. I think the thing that I struggle with as a dietitian is the fact that our society is just getting more overweight. We’re having more health problems and I’m chipping away at it over here with a little bit at a time one person or two persons or group classes at a time. But why do you think that’s happening?
Elissa Lueckemeyer [00:21:57] Our fast paced society is one of the biggest culprits. Just we have so much on our plate, high stress levels which produces more cortisol which makes us all heavier. You know not having time for family meals, a lot of times eating on the go maybe choosing options that aren’t the best just out of convenience because we don’t have the time to really put into our health. I really think that’s one of the biggest problems. I think if everyone in a perfect world had time to cook meals for themselves, haave the family dinners. We would all be a lot healthier and a lot less stressed out. But unfortunately I know that’s just kind of a dream at this point for everyone. But we all have lives, we all have kids we’re trying to rush around and it gets really hard. But I think it comes to a point or you know you just have to sometimes prioritize you and your family’s health and make time for some of these family meals and make time to kind of read labels and go to the grocery store and do your research and it’s not a very satisfying answer, it’s not a very Instagram kind of sexy answer. You know it’s not a one solution but it’s really what it comes down to is just finding balance in your life, having time to eat with your family or just have at least time to cook something healthy for yourself.
Elissa Lueckemeyer [00:23:33] Much easier said than done but I really do think that’s what it comes down to. It kind of always reminds me of that book. It’s an older book that French women don’t get fat and the whole philosophy is you know over in Europe they make a whole ordeal about eating. They take their time, they really enjoy the food, they practice mindful eating even though some of the foods over there are really rich in lots of full fat cream and things like that but because they have a slower paced lifestyle they tend to be a lot healthier. Not to mention they walk a lot more than we probably do but they’re just less stressed out they’re happier and they just seem overall healthier. So, I think that’s what we need to strive for over here.
Mathea Ford [00:24:18] I love those thoughts because I think when people are going for those right now it’s the carbohydrate fear diets, the Keto, the Paleo like you mentioned Whole 30. That’s a quick fix. It might give them results to cut out carbs because carbs are truly sugar. I mean not all carbs are sugar but a lot of the carbs we eat in our diet are from refined sugars or refined and processed foods and changing that you know cutting those out not necessarily completely but getting back to cooking your food and knowing what goes into it is a great thing. When I grew up we had family dinners and so I insist my family has family dinners so we all sit down and have dinner and my father lives with us. He’s like stressed for last like eight or nine years and when he came to live with us I said the “one of the conditions is that you have to always because he had lived. He lived by himself for most of his life. He said You have to come out and eat dinner with us every night. You have to be part of the family because at dinner we talk about ‘what did you do today? What did you..? How was your grades? How was school? Do you have homework? What are we doing this weekend?'” It’s more than a meal. You know it’s community. So, I think if we switch the way we think about it and not necessarily think about it as having to cook a meal and think of it as having family time together time to feed into that is definitely a benefit. So, I love that you encourage family dinners. So, what do you think this carbohydrate fear in cutting out carbohydrates? I know like you mentioned in the 80s and 90s we switched out where we hated all fat. So. Then we added a bunch of refined carbohydrate and made it okay to eat. What does this do into our health? You know when we cut out entire food groups like carbohydrates?
Elissa Lueckemeyer [00:26:11] It’s funny because it’s so easy to say or give dietary advice and just tell someone “oh! Just cut this out and you’ll be fine.” That’s a very easy thing to follow. Well, not easy but it’s easy instructions to follow. It’s way way more difficult to tell someone and not definitely not as catchy or salesy to say. Well, just we need to find a balanced diet that’s definitely much much harder to figure out. I think what they kind of the convenience and ease knowing in the back of your mind “Oh! I just need to stay away from anything that has carbohydrates.” I think that’s why it’s become so catchy and and everything it’s just kind of easy to just look for that one thing. But unfortunately what happens is you have to fill that void with something and so that’s usually like what the Keto die and stuff that’s mostly fat. And I know that there’s still ongoing research about keto and its long term effects on health. But I will say personally what I see coming into my office is that people that are trying to accomplish really low carb diets they don’t have the best cholesterol numbers. And I know there are some studies that even suggest keto can be helpful in cholesterol but I personally haven’t seen that myself yet. There’s just not enough known about the long term implications of Keto. And since they’re eating such a high fat diet you know their cholesterol goes up. And they were coming to me for help on “Okay, my cholesterol is high now. I’ve lost some weight but my cholesterol is high what do I need to do now?” And that’s when I say “Okay. It’s time to bring back the fiber to get your cholesterol down and let’s find that healthy balance.” And fortunately when you eliminate a food group there’s going to be a void there and you have to think about well what you’re filling that void with? And like you said in the 80s and 90s we fill that void with refined carbs and now we’re kind of doing the opposite. But what we’re trying to find is a healthy balance of good food, complex carbs and so it’s definitely frustrating for a lot of people. And it’s frustrating as a dietitian too because you just want to help people find a good balance and some of these fad diets just kind of get in the way of that because it’s an easy sounding solution.
Mathea Ford [00:28:37] Like you mentioned it’s not a change. It’s not changing your lifestyle, changing what you’re doing so it’s hard to make it last long term if you’re seeing it as “I’m going to cut up carbs now and then when I lose weight I can eat all the carbs I want” not the game.
Elissa Lueckemeyer [00:28:51] Yes. So I always ask you know for people that are wanting to attempt Keto or anything and I ask them you know “do you think this is long term maintainable? Can you go on for the next several months, years without eating a handful of blueberries because that’s going to throw you out of ketosis? So, that is just not really the case and when you do plan on stopping this super low carb diet what are you going to do then? How are you going to be eating then?” We want to prevent yoyo dieting. That’s just so harmful to our metabolism makes it so difficult to lose weight in the future. So, I’m definitely all for finding an improved relationship with food for long term results.
Mathea Ford [00:29:38] So, thinking about our listeners and people who are gathering this information. What advice do you have for them to implement what we’ve talked about in their day to day life? They might be dietitians talking to patients or they might be patients who are interested in nutrition information.
Elissa Lueckemeyer [00:29:55] I just like to remind them when they are really looking at going super low carb is just reminding them all the benefits that carbohydrates have and a lot of people when they think carbs you know their mind kind of goes to pizza, donuts you know breads and stuff like that. But carbs are fruits and vegetables and whole grains and thinking about the benefits that those do to our body. I mean there’s more information even coming out about the gut microbiome and all the beneficial fiber and what that’s doing to our gut and they’re finding that’s more and more linked to our brain health. So. I could go on and on and on about the benefits of carbs. So, I think it’s just important for people to understand that they are not as bad as the media makes them out to be it’s just finding high quality ones. And that bread is not the devil. And if you’re eating whole grain bread and the right portions. That is okay. So, I’m here saying that you have permission to have bread. So, you know just eliminating foods like that can just set up a lot of disordered eating patterns and guilt. And that’s not what we want. So, just again reminding people the benefits of carbs and not feeling like they have to go crazy on carbs on the other hand. But following things like them My Plate model for for portion control that’s a good starting guideline. You know half your plates fruits and vegetables, a quarter grains and a quarter protein if you can kind of start thinking of your plate as that kind of balance vs. “No. I can’t have any kind of carbs at all.” I think that’s a really good start.
Mathea Ford [00:31:40] I love that advice. So, I always ask my guests what is your favorite food?
Elissa Lueckemeyer [00:31:48] Oh man! I am an expensive date. I like a lobster. That’s my favorite food. I love lobster. All seafood pretty much. I’m from the coast so I love fish and shrimp and all the shellfish that luckily I don’t have that allergy. So and I will tell anyone out there that is not a seafood fan. If you’re not a seafood fan get really really fresh seafood a try because that makes all the difference in the world. I get it straight out of the water and eat it because I have a husband that hated seafood before I met him and I took him to a restaurant down on the coast where we got fresh stuff and I converted him. He really likes it now.
Mathea Ford [00:32:34] Yeah! Here in Oklahoma we don’t get too much fresh seafood. So, it’s harder but always when we go to like Alabama or Florida for vacation, we always eat a lot of seafood just because it’s fresh, it’s right there. Well, Elissa thank you so much for being on the podcast today. It was a pleasure to have you on the show. I know my listeners learned a lot about just rethinking the way that their way of eating is what I want to say I don’t want to say diet. I want to say way of eating. So, if listeners want to connect with you what’s the best way to do that?
Elissa Lueckemeyer [00:33:05] So, first thank you so much for having me on this show. This is an awesome opportunity. You can reach me on my website is food4success.com and you can also e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m also on Facebook. Same name Food 4 Success LLC, you can find me there I’m always posting stuff fun actually post a lot about carbs on there and I post recipes and things like that as well and on my website you can find my blog you can find our Food 4 Success e-learning platform that where we’re growing. Yeah! I encourage you to reach out I’d be happy to answer any questions.
Mathea Ford [00:33:49] So great! Well guys this has been another great episode of the Nutrition Experts Podcast. The podcast that is all about learning more so you can do more with nutrition in your life.