Interview with Nutritionist Sara Vance on Why We’ve Broken Our Collective Metabolism (HPC: E37)

Ever hear someone say, “He’s just skinny because he has a high metabolism?”

Or used this one: “I have trouble losing weight because I have such a slow metabolism…” ?

What about our kids? Are there things we can do, habits we can set, foods we can eat, to CHANGE their metabolism and set them up for either positive or negative outcomes?

Nutritionist Sara Vance says YES! People’s metabolisms are a huge KEY to their health (and weight) and we can help them out…or mess them up royally.

Here’s what you’ll learn in today’s expert interview:

  • Did this nutritionist love veggies as a kid??
  • What “metabolism” actually means (and dude – it’s totally not what I would have expected or stumbled through attempting to explain to someone! That’s why Sara is the expert!)
  • The metabolism of birth…do we start out perfect? And what exactly is breaking us? 🙁 (Spoiler: it has to do with food, even though doctors keep saying food doesn’t matter!)
  • Many people use “my metabolism is slowing down as I get older,” as an excuse for gaining weight. My little mama belly would like to use that excuse too – but I’m not sure we get to after this, drat! :/
  • Why so many diets fail us even when we work so hard at them!
  • 10 keys to a perfect metabolism, which apply to adults and kids alike…

My favorite quote came after I stopped recording, but it is so poignant I had to write it down: “You don’t have to be miserable to be healthy.”

What more would you like to know? We’ll have Sara back to talk about kids’ health and sugar especially, so what can she address for us?

No time to watch the whole video? Here are the notes!

Broken Metabolism Video Time Stamps

  • 0:10: Sara Vance is a nutritionist and the author of the Perfect Metabolism plan. She is an expert on metabolism and how to achieve a healthy weight.

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  • 1:14: Since we focus on kids here at Kids Cook Real Food, we start off by talking about Sara’s favorite foods as a kid. She says if you’d told her she would be a nutritionist when she grew up should would have laughed!

You can’t get good results from bad information. -Sara Vance

  • 3:10: Sara shares how she came to specialize in metabolism. Through running groups cleanses, she realized people don’t want to just do a cleanse for a couple weeks, they want to change their lives. Metabolism is the driver of our health and wellness. Now she helps people change their underlying metabolism.

What is Metabolism?

  • 4:45: Metabolism is the sum total of all the chemical processes that are needed to sustain our lives. Our rest, digestion and immune system are all affected by our metabolism.

You don't have to be miserable to be healthy. - Sara Vance

  • 5:26: It doesn’t make any sense to start by counting calories if you’re not addressing things like gut health, stress levels, sleep and hydration. If those things aren’t in order then you aren’t absorbing nutrients, extracting calories and metabolizing what you eat effectively.
  • 6:16: One of the issues kids are facing is that they’re being born with less diversity of bacteria in their gut and at a disadvantage.
  • 7:06: We have the parasympathetic and sympathetic systems in our body. When we’re under stress (physical stress too, not just mental stress!) it raises our cortisol and then our body cannot get into a parasympathetic state which allows us to heal and repair. Helping your kids learn to deal with stress is very important.
  • 8:34: Your metabolism is closely linked to other processes in your body. For example, your blood sugar elevates when you’re under stress. Then it’s like dominoes. If one area gets out of balance it creates a ripple effect. You have to look at metabolism as a big picture that encompasses many areas of your life.

10 Keys to a Perfect Metabolism

  • 9:48: Sara has 10 keys to a healthy metabolism. We go through them all briefly.
  • 10:06: Blood sugar is the first key. Our metabolism gets completely out of whack if our blood sugar isn’t under control.
  • 10:41: Eating healthy fats goes hand in hand with stabilizing your blood sugar. Thankfully knowledge is spreading that low fat is not good and that healthy fats are needed. Fats help satiate you longer and reduce cravings.

The Importance of Gut Health

  • 11:46: As mentioned earlier, gut health is vital for good metabolism. When your gut health is optimized you’re able to extract more calories from your food. Gut health really impacts all aspects of our health.
  • 12:21: There are some very simple ways we can improve our gut health. Take a pause before eating, sit down and eat in a relaxed state, and chew your food well. These can be hard to prioritize when you’re busy and eating on the go, but they’re simple, free, and can make a big impact.
  • 13:10: Identifying food intolerances and eliminating those foods to work on your gut health is another key.
  • 13:43: Many people don’t realize how toxic our environments are. Optimizing your body’s detox ability and eliminating toxins allow the entire body to function better.
  • 14:25: Chronic inflammation sets you up for weight gain as well as many diseases.

Inflammation is the hallmark of all disease. -Sara Vance

  • 14:52: High stress and poor sleep quality will throw off your metabolism. Just one night of poor sleep can lead to increased cravings and blood sugar imbalance the next day.
  • 15:09: There are several nutrients that are important to our metabolism. Processed foods lead to nutrient deficiencies. B vitamins are very important for optimal metabolism.
  • 15:32: Hydration can be a huge problem with kids. If they aren’t allowed to have water at their desks at school they may barely drink all day. A few things to look for if you suspect your child is dehydrated are dry lips and skin or constipation. If you sent your kid to school with a water bottle and it comes back full: ask them about it!
  • 16:41: If your kids don’t seem to get thirsty try adding a pinch of real salt into their water. Sodium deficiency can lead to a lack of thirst. They may just be too busy to think about it or there might be something you can do about it.
  • 17:12: Many teachers don’t want their students interrupting class with bathroom breaks and restrict breaks and water. Sara hears this from many of her followers. Talk to your kids and bring it up with their teacher if you need to. Kids should be allowed to access to their water and the bathroom.
  • 18:08: Sometimes water is not as hydrating as some very water dense foods. Watermelon, cucumber and celery for example have minerals that aid in absorption of the water contained in the foods.

Get Your Kids in the Kitchen with a Free Lesson

  • 19:12: Drinking too much plain water can sometimes strip you of nutrients because you’re flushing too much out. Electrolytes are very important. Try this recipe for “smart water” for additional benefits and to make it taste more appealing to someone who gets bored of water.
  • 20:21: The last key is exercise smarter. Impact exercise like jumping rope is important for strong bones. Kids don’t need to be in an organized sport to get exercise. Running around outside, taking walks, playing and climbing are all exercise.

Find something that you enjoy doing for exercise. -Sara Vance

  • 21:47: Kids have more and more excuses to sit with technology, school and homework. One of the worst things you can do for your metabolism is sit for long, extended periods of time.
  • 22:23: Even just small movements to break up the time while you’re sitting can make a difference! Stand up to stretch, walk down the hall and back or get a glass of water every hour or two if you’re going to be sitting for a long time.
  • 24:30: Movement is good for our mental health as well as physical health.

Each little change adds up to big gains. -Sara Vance

  • 25:06: Once you have the information and an awareness of what you can be doing, you can begin making small changes and developing habits to benefit your metabolism.
  • 26:19: Sara discusses her views on why many diets fail. She uses this analogy: dieting without fixing your underlying metabolism is like putting a broken arm in a sling without setting the bone so it can heal properly.
  • 26:55: For example, many people are nervous to cut out sugar. There’s a cycle that Sara calls the “sugar rollercoaster” where you eat sugar, feel great, and then crash and need more sugar to get your blood sugar up again. If you try to cut out sugar without stabilizing your blood sugar then your body will be screaming for sugar to keep your blood sugar up. If you address the underlying problem and regulate your blood sugar, then you won’t crave it and sugary foods will even become unappealing.
  • 29:09: When we ride the “sugar rollercoaster” for too long it sets us up for many diseases down the road. Fatty liver disease currently affects 1 out of every 10 kids! Diseases that used to primarily affect middle aged people are now being diagnosed in childhood. There’s more sugar in our diets than we’ve ever had before.
  • 30:40: We need to begin to teach kids that they can control how they feel by what they eat. Engage them in a dialogue about how they feel when they eat different foods.

I think the word “diet” is a four letter word when it comes to kids. -Sara Vance

  • 31:29: Sara does not advocate for ever putting a child on a diet. They need to be taught to love their bodies and understand what fuels them well and makes them feel their best.

Teaching kids how to make healthy foods taste delicious is huge! There is no more beautiful gift than that. -Sara Vance

  • 33:15: Sara shares some final advice to encourage parents to look at this as a marathon not a sprint. Changes don’t happen overnight. Kids who are ingrained in unhealthy habits may resist and take years to own their health choices, but it’s worth it!
  • 34:23: If you have a day or week where you fall away from your healthy choices and don’t feel as great, use that as a learning experience. Don’t beat yourself up about it! Tune into your body, see how you feel and let the experience fuel your drive to move forward and continue making healthier choices in the future.

You can find out more about Sara on her website.

Resources We Mentioned

Recipe for “smart water” from Kitchen Stewardship

Sara’s book: The Perfect Metabolism Plan

Sara’s courses

A FREE ebook from Sara: 30 Tips & 15 Recipes to Transform Picky Eaters

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