Tired of yo-yo dieting? Losing weight isn’t just about what you eat (or when you eat it) with guest Matty Lansdown
About this Episode
Have you ever tried a diet and lost weight, only to put the weight back on a few months or a year later? Research shows that as many as 80% of overweight people who manage to slim down noticeably after a diet gain some or all of the weight back within one year. That staggering figure can be overwhelming and discouraging when we’re trying to lose weight.
Dr. Amy sat down with Matty Lansdown, founder of the Healthy Mums Collective, to discuss why so many diets leave us feeling frustrated and why the weight often comes back on, even with careful changes and restrictions. It was a fascinating conversation about our relationship with food and our inner child-inner parent relationship!
If you are looking for a gentle approach to healthy living—regardless of your current size—Matty takes an innovative approach to food, nutrition, and lifestyle that might get you started on a journey to self-love and caring for your body. These are tough topics, especially if you struggle with an eating disorder or body issues. But this is a no-shame conversation. Matty is an encourager and educates us on some different ways to think about and understand our ongoing relationship with food. As a yo-yo dieter, Dr. Amy appreciated Matty’s tip to just make “one tweak a week” to our eating habits. That seemed manageable to her. Our hope is that you’ll hear a tip that resonates with you as well. It’s a food-for-thought episode without judgement for anyone who wants to dig in a little to the topic of eating for better health.
A quick note: Here at the Brainy Moms, we are covering many of the hardest and most important topics related to motherhood, mental health, and the human experience, and today’s episode may be a complicated one for some of our listeners. We know that this topic can be difficult, but we urge our listeners to press in with openness whenever possible. Because that’s how we grow—it’s why we created this podcast in the first place! However, if you find that any of our episodes are more than you are comfortable with, we understand. You need to take care of your heart, mind, and body in the best way you can—and we are supporting you from afar.
About Matty Lansdown
Matty Lansdown is a scientist, nutritionist and health coach that specializes in weight loss and self-confidence for women and busy mothers. Starting out in the field of nutritional epigenetics and spending several years working in hospitals as part of a disease research team, Matty believes that most disease and illness is not due to bad luck but as a result of poor nutrition and lifestyle choices. Matty’s extensive experience allowed him to uncover the deeper challenge people have with health which isn’t about calories or kale, but in fact mindset and behavior change. Having been on his own personal development journey, Matty is now super-passionate about showing people how to level up their health so that healthy habits and the best food choices are easy and natural. Likewise, Matty’s weekly podcast How to NOT Get Sick and Die provides his followers and clients with a deep dive into nutrition and how to develop healthy habits that last.Mentioned in this Episode
Free eBook Download, ‘Is Intermittent Fasting Right for You?’ https://mattylansdown.com/IFeBook
Confident Mom Resource Guide: https://emekaobidionlinecourse.lpages.co/confidentmomguide
Connect with Matty
Healthy Mums Collective Free Facebook Group: https://mattylansdown.com/BusyMothersFBgroup
Free Intermittent Fasting Facebook Group: https://mattylansdown.com/IntermittentFastingFBgroup
Join Matty’s Uncensored email list here: https://mattylansdown.com/JointheMailingList
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Read the transcript for this episode:
Dr. Amy Moore: Hi, and welcome to this episode of Brainy Moms, brought to you today by LearningRx Brain Training Centers. I’m your host, Dr. Amy Moore, flying solo today without a co-host, here in Colorado Springs, Colorado. But I am super excited to welcome my guest today, who’s gonna help me carry the show with all of his energy, Matty Lansdown. Matty is a scientist, functional nutritionist, international speaker, and health coach, who specializes in weight loss and self-confidence for professional women and busy mothers. Matty hosts the podcast How to Not Get Sick and Die, where he delivers free weekly insights on health, nutrition, and human optimization, offering the latest advice on how your diet and lifestyle can directly affect your energy focus, self-confidence, and overall wellbeing. And I have to say, I wanted Matty on our show because of the name of his podcast. It was so cool that I said, “I gotta interview this guy because I love that name, How to Not Get Sick and Die.” So welcome Matty, to the show. I’m so excited to have you here.
Matty Lansdown: Hey, Amy, how are you? This is fantastic. Thanks for having me here. I’m excited to have a conversation and I love that you love the name. That’s literally why I picked it, because when I was going through a list of names in the very beginning, that one basically made everybody laugh and you know, a lot of health stuff is doom and gloom and dark and scary, and I was like, “no, we need to hang out in this space of being like health and wellness and getting better is a positive journey.” So I love that you love it.
Dr. Amy Moore: Yeah, it’s a sticky title. Like, that’s what we would call it, like book titles that make you grab the book off the shelf, have sticky titles and so your show just has a sticky title. And I said, “let me find out what he actually has to say, like behind that title.” Right? And so you have a lot to say so we should get to it. Alright, so this is a really interesting topic and something that, you know, women and moms battle, we battle our weight, and diets, and we struggle. But before we get into that, tell us a little bit about your background and how you actually came to do what it is you’re doing. Like why is this your specialization?
Matty Lansdown: Yeah, that’s a really good question. It’s kind of a journey that takes multiple random turns, like any good story, I guess. So for me, I grew up in the countryside with my mum as a nurse and I, as a really small kid, I actually went to the hospital with her as daycare. So, there was not a daycare facility. I literally just ran around the ward. And so we’re in a small enough town where that was, you know, not a problem. And basically I spent a lot of time hanging around with, like, sick, old, dying people with no knowledge that that was really their situation. And so the reason that part of the story is important is because from a very young age, I developed this positive relationship with the hospital, the idea of the hospital being a really fun place for me to run around. And it was also the place that little Matty got all this love and attention and care from all of these lovely old people whose families had, you know, maybe felt that they were a burden or had kind of, you know, abandoned them in many ways. And so, along with that and looking up to my mom, I kind of always wanted to be like somewhere in the realm of, you know, like maybe healthcare or science medicine. Something that was like, as impressive as I felt everybody at the hospital was basically. And so then I grew up, I was sort of an athlete through my teen years, and so I sort of started thinking about how to eat and food and nutrition in those years.
And I moved to university and moved to the city here in Melbourne, Australia, and I moved into study. And it wasn’t until I actually lived with the strength and conditioning coaches of our national football teams, one of our national football teams, that I really started to click the association between food and the body. Despite having learned so much at university and understanding that world, it wasn’t until I lived with them and they basically looked Photoshopped, like, on a per permanent basis. They looked just absolutely fantastic, and I realized at that point that like there was this belief system I was carrying, um, this was before I really understood belief system. So it’s kind of retrospective, but a lot of people think of nutrition for athletes and food for people. And so they sort of have that separation. When they hear the word nutrition, they’re like, “oh, sports nutrition.” Like, you know, if you’re an actor that needs to look amazing in a movie or you’re a sports person, you would focus on nutrition, but everything else is food. And that’s all for me. And I realized my housemates at that time, and they were training, you know, some of Australia’s most elite athletes in the gym that was in our house, and realizing that the way that they ate was such a massive part of the conversation. And so, from there, I then went into sort of, working for a company that worked in the space of nutritional epigenetics. And then we were working with elite athletes, as well, to help them find a diet, nutrition that really helped them optimize their performance. And then from there I ended up working in cancer hospitals. So, I worked in cancer research for about seven years. And that was the part of the journey that’s where my life kind of changed because in the beginning I was—a lot of science jobs and employment is based on research funding. So it can be like six months here, 12 months here. And it’s, it never really feels like an overly secure situation. So, after the first six months passed, my boss said, “you’re gonna be here for years.” So, you know, settle in basically. And so I thought, “oh, I better, I better start learning about cancer, like, you know, on a really deep level.” And so, I started at the World Health Organization website about six months into my job. And the first sentence said, “90 to 95% of cancer is caused by diet, lifestyle, and tobacco.” In that moment I was in my early twenties and arguably naive, and I just went to my professor and said, “hey, Why don’t we focus on diet, lifestyle, and tobacco?” And obviously the tobacco industry’s had a big focus for, you know, the last few decades. And he laughed basically, and just said, “if it was that simple, Matty, we would’ve solved the problem.” But for me it felt like there was a disconnect because the World Health Organization was saying this. And they also go on to say in that same paragraph, that it’s only five to 7% of cancers which are genetic. And if you ask most people as a result of the media that they’ve received, they would believe all cancer is genetic, bad luck. And as soon as they hear the, the big C word, the white flag of surrender to death happens and you go on that process. So this moment began a cascade of events for me of doing my own research outside of my job, into the history of the cancer business, into the history of the western medicine business that I, from such a young age looked up to, and came out the other side, understanding capitalism on a really deep level. Having also worked in vaccine formulation in my career as well, and realizing that a lot of the things that we need to do in order to help ourselves get healthy are around food, diet, lifestyle—exactly as the World Health Organization talks about in the context of diabetes, Alzheimer’s, dementia—they actually do talk about this, but the practitioners in the building aren’t actually trained to focus on it. So there’s this disconnect, and so I sort of started by realizing, okay, every day I go into the clinic, cancer patients visibly—I can look around the clinic and I can see that pretty much everyone is significantly overweight. So then I moved into nutrition. Got a nutrition degree. And then I talked to everybody, and everybody pretty much knew what to eat. Like I’ve never spoken to a person in any country that didn’t know meat and vegetables was a good idea, like everybody knows. So, then I went a layer deeper and realized that it was the belief systems, the attachment to food, the convenience, the modern lifestyle that’s driving this type of behavior. And a lot of people think that we get, you know, bad genetics from our parents. And I think it’s far more damaging—the recipes and the behaviors and the belief systems that we get from our parents that we then go on to repeat and live producing the exact same disease outcome. So, this basically led me to a place of realizing now that I actually work with like emotional eating and the relationship with food far more than the actual information of what to eat. Because most of the people I work with have been on like 40 diets over the last 30 years, and they’re still in this situation. So, we’ve gotta deal with that deeper layer. So, in a nutshell, that was basically the journey.
Dr. Amy Moore: That’s so fascinating that we know what we need to do. But it’s so hard.
Matty Lansdown: Yeah, totally.
Dr. Amy Moore: It’s so hard! So, why is it so hard for us to eat what we know is right for our body? And our health.
Matty Lansdown: Yeah, that’s a good question. And I think as well, one of the damaging things about the typical yo-yo diet, fad diet industry is that they basically parade your lack of success around the idea of willpower. “You just don’t have enough willpower; you don’t want this enough for yourself.” And there are addictive properties to some of these foods, like sugar is a psychoactive substance. It alters the way that you think, the way that you feel, and that’s often why people go towards it because, you know, whether they had a past traumatic event in their life where they found that sugar was the coping mechanism to make them feel loved, nurtured, cared for, or even in the opposite direction where they use food to punish themselves and recreate a negative experience, like they’re much deeper layers than, “you are just not strong enough.” Right? Which the diet culture industry perpetuates, and a lot of the people I work with, they enjoy the way that we do it because we don’t do body shots. That’s not a part of our marketing or anything like that. We don’t do scales, like, you can get on the scales if you want, but we move away from that because most people get the quality of their day from the number that appears in that moment, they can feel awful about themselves. And so, thinking about the fact that this is a much deeper challenge that’s going on for many people, whether it be simply the biological addiction, or whether it be that there’s an emotional attachment to a past trauma, or there can actually be the situation where you’ve just been programmed by a multi-billion dollar industry, you know, you’ve been advertised to, you’ve been marketed to, and the whole goal of that marketing and advertising is to convince you that you need these things in your life. It’s literally to alter the patterns of thinking in your brain, so it’s totally rational and logical that you can’t compete with billions of dollars of science and marketing and wisdom from, you know, these manipulative—like Facebook and Instagram, they’re designed to manipulate your behavior so that you can stay engaged with their product. So, you know, I think when we start thinking on those levels and being like, “oh, I was actually intentionally misled,” or, “there’s a really deep problem in my past that I’m using sugar or food”—and you can overeat healthy food, you know, it’s about that relationship with food, but—”there’s something in my past that I’m keeping in the past by burying it with food,” or, “I’m not handling situations or every time I end up by myself for five minutes, I realize that anything that comes up in my mind is just too much. So quick, let’s go to the cafe or go to the kitchen to avoid that feeling or emotion.” And so, I think all of these things are not dealt with in conventional diets. So, we just go in and we just think physical: “okay, how do I get smaller, and what food do I need to eat?” And then the problem is that if we just use that model, then we’re in a situation where most people can’t wait—say it’s 12 weeks—they can’t wait for week 13, because, “I get to be my old self.” And so it’s like they’re putting their current personality, identity, and belief systems on pause and saying, “I’m gonna come back to these.” And inevitably, if you come back, you’re gonna produce the same problems that you had to begin with. So it’s a very different approach to think, “I have to be a different person,” which involves all sorts of layers of emotion and experience, and letting go of your past self and grieving the process of moving on to being somebody different, and showing up in the world differently, but it’s kind of like a single path to a different life trajectory, as opposed to, like, temporarily staying here and just worrying about the physical and neglecting the deeper emotional stuff. And then at the end when everybody goes home and the program’s over, you’re like, “oh, finally I get to go back to that old person that I’ve been neglecting for 12 weeks,” basically.
Dr. Amy Moore: Yeah. That’s a really interesting description of the yo-yo dieting phenomenon, right? So, like, while you’re dieting, you have pressed pause on everything, instinctual, every way that you’ve been programmed, everything that you desire, right? So that you can just reach the goal of finding that number that you want on the scale.
Matty Lansdown: Well, it’s kind of like the story you hear about, uh, millionaires or billionaires that are self-made. Like, they pursue the money as hard as they can, and they get there and they’re like, “oh, I was depressed. I was able to get to a point where I was so wealthy that I didn’t have any responsibilities. I got to sit on my yacht or on my island,” and they’re like, “I was miserable. I’ve never been more depressed in my life.” And it’s the same with the number goal on the scales. It’s like you get there and you’re like, “oh, I’m still the same emotional person inside. So, this moment doesn’t feel as fulfilling as I expected it to be.” Sure, there might be that initial celebration, but as soon as you step off the scales, then it’s like, “oh, I’m still that same person that hasn’t dealt with the troubles and traumas and navigation of my mind,” which can then trigger that yo-yo that you just mentioned, right? Of like, “well, I better go and nurture those feelings the same way that I used to, cuz I don’t really know how to do it otherwise.”
Dr. Amy Moore: Yeah. Fascinating. Yeah, I was thinking, so I’m a yo-yo dieter. And I have to work really hard if I wanna stay thin. Right? Like 800 calories. That’s the only way I can stay thin, right? I’m sure you have a million things to say about that. And so I will say, “okay, I’m committing to this.” And then, you know, I’ll be a size 2 for three or four years, and then I’ll gain a few pounds and then I’m at the point of saying, “I have too much stress in my life. I’m too busy right now to care about that 10 pounds that I’ve just put on.” And then 15 more pounds later, I’ve said, “okay, now I’ve gained 25. I’m too tired, I’m too stressed. I have too much going on to care,” right? Because when you think about, “okay, what do I have to do? I have to give up how many calories a day to suffer to get back to where I wanna be?” Right? It’s like this crazy pattern, right? And eventually I’ll go, “okay, I’m tired of looking at the number on the scale. I’m gonna go do it all over again.”
Matty Lansdown: We hear that a lot. And it’s a combination of, of course, who doesn’t want to be more youthful, you know? Who doesn’t wanna be on a previous version of their body where they were, you know, maybe feeling much sexier or much more confident, or you know, much more able? Even just physically able, you know, as we age, that becomes challenging. And so it’s funny because at the time we’re like, “oh, I’m fat” or “I’m gross.” And then five years later we look back and I was like, “oh, I wish I loved myself then. Cuz I wish that was the situation right now.” And it’s like this oasis idea, this mirage of an oasis. It’s like, “when I get there, everything will be different,” and it just won’t be. The only thing that will be different is the shape of your body temporarily, but everything else is the same. And because we’ve hit pause, as you said, on these natural instinctual drives, they don’t just come back. They’ve been put on pause. So, there’s a buildup of requirement there over time, which is why we dive in head first to the binge, right? It’s like, even people that get on stage to do body competitions, it’s literally somebody’s job in the back end to go and get the donuts and the pizza cuz they get off stage and they just go head first into all of the food, making sure that their photo shoots and stuff have been done. It’s like an elastic band, or a spring, you know, tension seeks release. And so, you don’t just start again. Over the course of that diet, you push that spring tighter and tighter and tighter. And then because you haven’t been giving those needs any attention, their requirement is massive now. So yeah, as soon as you open the floodgates, it’s like, “I didn’t just gain back a couple of pounds.” It ended up being like 25, because there was such an overreach to compensate for 12 weeks of mismanaged emotions. Because usually we are using those foods to manage the emotion.
Dr. Amy Moore: Yeah. Fascinating. Fascinating! Wow. Okay, Well, first of all, I wanna back up a little bit. Did you actually learn this in school as a nutritionist? Because in America, I have found that most nutritionists are trained in the food pyramid, right? And so then their intervention process is based around an antiquated food pyramid. And so I don’t see—I’m not hearing the same kind of philosophy, here that I’m hearing from you. So, I’m super fascinated if you learned that in school or if you came about this from your actual clinical work,
Matty Lansdown: Yeah, that’s a great question. And so, nutrition education definitely doesn’t cover this kind of mindset psychology stuff. And it mostly came from a combination of clinical experience, but actually it started in my own journey. So, when I was at university, I was obviously, you know, very poor. And just living the dream, which was like, basically, “save as much money on food to buy as much beer as I can.” And so, it was like living the rice, pasta, and beer diet for a solid four years. And I’m a very social extrovert anyway, so it was like I didn’t miss a party. My house was the party house. It still is. I’m having a party on the weekend [laughs]. But in when I was about 21, maybe 20, in the same month, my grandfather, my uncle and my dad all had surgery on their gut. Now the Lansdown men in my family don’t really carry any body fat, so we’re lucky in that regard. But whilst from the outside, everyone’s like, “oh, you guys are lucky, you’re skinny.” The reality is that they were drinking and eating terribly for, you know, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70 years for my grandfather. And all of them, just by sheer coincidence, had ended up having the same kind of surgery in the same month. And so for me, I was actually in a position, young male, embarrassed about my body, because I was in a situation where I was going to the toilet every day and bleeding. I was, you know, confused, and you know, my, my partner that I was with for nine years, she was studying nursing at the time and at some point I finally told her and she was like, “Matty, that might be cancer. You should get that checked out.” And so, you know, I went to the doctor and I understood a lot about nutrition. I was living with elite athletes at the time, and I was like, “I know what I should be doing.” The doctor didn’t really advise food, because they’re not super educated in food. But, I just knew from living with these guys, I was like, “surely if their bodies look this amazing, I can fix my body with food.” And it wasn’t like a naturopath that introduced me to this; at this point in my life, I thought naturopaths were hippies, and that “nutrition and food is medicine” is like a ridiculous idea, because I didn’t yet understand the capitalism that drives pharmaceutical companies. And so, I just went home and I was just a bit stubborn, really, and I was like, “no, I can fix this.” And so I did fix it, in basically four weeks. I just ate super clean like my housemates, and then I was like, “this is amazing.” However, I didn’t realize at the time I was doing essentially the fad diet. It was hyper restrictive, and this binge eating cycle of sugar, cookies, donuts, fast food, has just kept popping up through my life and then I realized, no matter how much information about food and science and metabolism and cells and energy—no matter how much I know, it’s not changing my behavior. And so, I went on my own emotional eating journey of learning how to understand that, obviously, IQ and intellect in the field of nutrition is a useless tool, if the answer’s got nothing to do with the nutrition. Because you know, I knew what to eat. My mum raised me in country Australia with a veggie garden and a little orchard out the back. Like, I knew what real food was and what was healthy and I still wasn’t doing it. And this was well before I even worked at the cancer hospital. And so, I was in the process of going on that journey of learning, you know, my own personal development journey, learning how to manage my emotions and, and going super deep on dealing with my own childhood trauma, I had a significantly violent childhood. And so, at this time though, I didn’t know that that was the cause or the driver or anything like that. And so, this journey really unraveled over time. And so, a lot of what I do now comes from personal experience, and I’ve done a bunch of different education programs here and there in this sort of more psychology-based world. But a lot of it comes from just going super deep for about a decade on my own personal development and management of sugar addiction, emotional eating to deal with my emotions, and I’m still a work in progress, too. So that’s how I got here because I understood—because in the beginning I started just giving nutrition advice to people. Same problem for them. They knew what to eat. It’s, “why can’t I eat it? Why can’t I stick to the diet?” Is the real question. And so, I was like, “in order for me to actually make a difference and not just be another temporary quick fix for people, I need to actually go to the root of the problem.” So that’s how we got there.
Dr. Amy Moore: So it’s almost like we need to be either deprogrammed or reprogrammed from the capitalistic marketing that we’re getting, and also the fact that the food manufacturers are creating addiction by the sheer fact that they load everything with sugar, right? So, I’m Celiac and, um, have to eat gluten-free. And so, what do they do to foods, processed foods, when they take the gluten out? Well, they have to make it taste good somehow, so they pack it full of sugar. And so I firmly believe that when I had to make that switch to a gluten-free diet, that my sugar cravings increased, because I was eating processed gluten-free food that had all this extra sugar in it to compensate for the fact that it didn’t taste the same, but it’s not just gluten-free foods that are packed full of sugar. Right? Like, they’re gonna sell it if it tastes good and it’s not gonna taste good, in theory, without the sugar.
Matty Lansdown: Well, that’s basically the whole low fat movement, right? So the low fat movement: take the fat out. Which, we’ve seen in the last 10 years an uprising of like high fat diets and the ketogenic diet and that type of thing. But yeah, you’re right. Like if you take the fat out, that’s usually what makes it taste delicious, is that it’s got fat in it. And the other thing, the other thing, I—as a scientist that’s interested in psychology, I’ve got a little bug bear with this, right?—is the fact that we when people talk about their food, we call it carbohydrates. That’s a word from a biochemistry textbook. We call it protein, Also a word from a biochemistry textbook. And then we call it fat. That is not a biochemistry word, and that is a word that usually is used to describe someone’s body shape. So I actually think, and I’m kind of campaigning for this shift, that we go carbohydrates, protein, and lipids, cuz they’re actually lipids we need. And I think if we start separating those words that’s gonna, like psychologically speaking, it’s gonna have a really positive impact. Cuz instead of saying, “fat makes you fat,” or just the association between those two ideas when they’re actually two different things, is possibly not helpful. And that’s why the low-fat movement leveraged that for like, 50 years and still does, you still see low-fat marketing. And a lot of the healthy eating guidelines, which you mentioned before, are centered around that idea: high grain diet, and lowering your fat where necessary, and then the belief is—or what I think is the incorrect interpretation of the literature is—that it affects cholesterol, heart disease, that type of thing. And so, I agree that we’ve gotta be careful. A lot of people get their food education from companies that have a financial vested interest. Now, I’m not anti-capitalism, because I think one of the things in this holistic health space is, you get a lot of practitioners that are just anti-establishment. And I kind of think, “hang on, we’re all kind of profiting. People go to work to profit. You’re creating a business to profit.” So, I don’t think capitalism is fundamentally the problem per se. I just think that we need to develop a new version where promotion of healthy humans is of benefit to our governments and to our systems. Because currently the system that exists is that the tiring wearing out and therefore the dependency on the system is of benefits to government. So, I think there’s just a new system that needs to exist. But anyway, let’s not go down a political rabbit hole [laughs].
Dr. Amy Moore: [laughs] Ok. All right. So you’re a fan of intermittent fasting. So we have a functional medicine physician, who is a huge fan of intermittent fasting. And my husband is a religious practitioner of intermittent fasting. Like, he just, he’s mastered it. I hate it. Hate it! Not the concept, the actual practice of it. But tell our listeners what is intermittent fasting, and what are the health benefits to doing intermittent fasting, and part three, why do some people hate it so much?
Matty Lansdown: [laughs] So intermittent fasting is simply the cycling between when you eat and when you don’t eat, which should happen every single day for every person on the planet, for all of human history. So, it’s not really a new fad diet, although marketing packages it up in that way. We’ve been intermittent fasting since the dawn of biology, you know, irrelevant of your belief system, whenever we started, we’ve been intermittent fasting. Because we went to sleep, we didn’t eat at certain periods of the day. So, it is just that cycling, however, one of the problems I have with the fad diet approach is that they give you the impression that fasting for longer is better and for people that are not educated in metabolism—which is almost everybody—again, it’s that really logical thing, like the low-fat diet. “Oh yeah, low-fat will make me not fat. Amazing. Makes sense.” It’s the same with fasting, right? People are like, “oh, don’t put food in, get skinny. Makes sense.” Right? It’s a very simple understanding. And so, the unfortunate reality is that if we fast too much, particularly menstruating women, you basically mess up your hormones, mess up your gut. All sorts of things happen. So, whilst a lot of the diets out there on the intermittent fasting, it’s kind of like a competition to see who can fast the longest. One of the first things I say with my group clients is like, “there’s no trophy for somebody that can fast the longest. This is about managing yourself and often, as well, when you build up a longer fast—just like the diet stuff—your hunger is greater on the other side. So, we’re in a situation where we’re more likely to eat unhelpful foods.” So, it’s just that cycling between eating and not eating. And it might look different for everybody. So, it might be like the traditional one that everybody knows about is like 16-8, which is like, you don’t eat for 16 hours of the day, and you eat all of the necessary food in the eight-hour window. And so a lot of people do that, however, what a lot of people need to do to begin with is check where you are naturally, and I find most people kind of sit at 12-12, so they have breakfast at 7:00 AM, they eat throughout the day, and dinner’s at about 7:00 PM, and so they’re on about roughly this 12-12 cycle, and literally just move it one hour at a time. Just move it to 13-11 and then then experiment there, and then see how you feel. Cause we don’t wanna make any radical changes because hunger will happen. Erratic behavior will happen as a result of, like, this different experience. So, we wanna be really slow. The other thing is you might actually stay at 1212, but what we’re gonna optimize is the little fasting windows between your meals. So there was a study that came out last year in 2021, that found that, on average, American citizens, US citizens, were eating between six and 11 times a day. And so if we’re getting to 11 times a day, in my mind that’s just once, that never stops. [laughs]
Dr. Amy Moore: [laughs] Right? That’s just grazing all day.
Matty Lansdown: Yeah. Totally. But maybe, you stay at 12-12—and plenty of my clients do this—and we optimize the nutrition in the meals, so that hunger doesn’t happen in between. And we can start eliminating some of those snacks. So instead of like a longer fasting window, you kind of get more fasting windows in the same day and that allows your blood sugar to come down to a healthy place. Your insulin levels, which is the hormone that responds to blood sugar, and it’s usually got a very positive effect on diabetes, pre-diabetes, insulin resistance; dementia and Alzheimer’s are related to that as well. So yeah, it’s just the cycling between eating and not eating. And if you wanna feel a little bit better about it, you can call it intermittent eating.
Dr. Amy Moore: Ahhhh! I love that psychology, intermittent eating. So that you don’t feel like it’s a lack of, but an, “okay, here’s when I’m going to actually perform an action” versus, “here’s when I can’t perform an action.”
Matty Lansdown: Yeah, totally. In fact, which plays into what you asked about why do some people hate it? And often it sounds like that restrictive, and it can trigger these like survival instincts within us, which is like, “oh, I’m not gonna have food. Why am I being controlled? Why can’t I eat?” And then our rebel comes out, which is like, “I can eat whenever I want, like, watch me do this.” Which is, you know, that’s a big part of the kind of the work that I do. How we navigate nutrition is that we have this ongoing tennis match in our mind between our inner child and our inner parent. And the catch is that the inner child almost always wins, because a parent wants the child to be happy. And so, when we’re having this tennis match in our head, eventually we succumb to the demands of the child, only to then lie in bed later on, staring at the ceiling, parenting ourselves being like, “not good enough. You should have done this. Be better tomorrow.” That type of thing. So, some people can have those experiences with intermittent fasting that, like, there’s a start time and a stop time and this really structural sort of authority about it. But again, we need to come from a more flexible place, because if we’re enforcing that kind of authority upon ourselves, it’s not gonna be sustainable for most people. Because eventually we’re gonna wanna break the system. We’re gonna wanna rebel against it. And unless we’ve had a cancer diagnosis or a family member has died, it’s really hard to cultivate, a really significant identity lifestyle shift overnight. So, we have to nurture the process. We have to be realistic. And I know that every time we all sign up to a thing, we’re like, “this time it’s gonna be different.” It’s almost never different. So, we have to instead approach it with a different mentality, which is, “tomorrow or today, I’m gonna try and do one thing differently” and then slowly—and I call it “one tweak a week,” is my little catchphrase—we just focus on one thing, and we just master that one thing. And it might be breakfast. I’m just gonna do breakfast differently this week. “I’m not gonna throw all the chocolate out and buy 400 kilograms of broccoli this week. I’m just gonna focus on breakfast being good, and then I’m gonna normalize that in my life. And then next week we’re gonna look at morning tea. And we’re gonna figure that out.” And just this slow progression over time so that we are not enforcing this authoritarian restriction-deprivation mindset, cuz that just triggers your evolutionary desire to hoard resources, which is exactly what we would’ve done, you know, 500,000, a hundred thousand years ago. It’s this natural cycle between feast and famine, because we didn’t have 7-11 to go to at 3:00 in the morning, right? [laughs]
Dr. Amy Moore: So, do you recommend intermittent fasting to all of your clients? Is that like the goal?
Matty Lansdown: Yeah, good question. I wouldn’t say it’s the goal. I would say it’s a tool though. Like, menstruating women should also go about it differently, um, just to nurture their cycle and their hormones. I call it the accordion model. So, it kind of goes in, goes out. And the idea is that weeks one and three of your cycle, uh, that’s the weeks where you can push the envelope a little bit. You can try maybe 16-8. But weeks two and four, like ovulation week and just the week before bleed week, are the weeks that we want to basically nurture the body a bit more, lower the stress, allow some more carbohydrates in there. Cuz as every woman knows, week four is the week that, you know, cravings go up. You start looking for those foods. And interestingly, research shows, that week four is the most common week that women give up diets, because they feel so out of control of that restriction that they’re meant to be going through. So again, we have to factor in what is true and real. If this is gonna be true and real, every single cycle, every month, for a significant 30, 40 years of your life, then we’ve gotta work with that. We’ve gotta plan for it, rather than get to week four, emotionally beat yourself up, restrict yourself, live in this place of hunger and pain and suffering, only to fall apart and then give up all together, right? So we’ve gotta factor this in. So, ovulation week, we want to be a bit more lenient and nurturing. And the same with week four, and with full permission, as well. Because if we don’t give ourselves permission in that time, then we are just gonna again, be in that parenting conversation, lying in bed, being savage to ourself, and we’re back on the emotional rollercoaster of, you know, “I’m overweight because I eat and I’m eat because I’m overweight.” And it’s just this round and round and round scenario. So, we have to factor it in, be like, “it’s week four, I’ve gotta eat. Matty said I can eat a little bit more. It’s okay. And I don’t have to do 16-8. I can listen to my body more intuitive this week.” And then, once we’re back to week one, your emotional state will feel different cuz your hormones have significantly changed, and you’ll feel more able and prepared to be able to shift into, you know, pushing the envelope a little bit in the right direction. So we’ve gotta go on this kind of flux, you know, throughout the month, basically.
Dr. Amy Moore: Talk a little bit about that relationship between estrogen and insulin and why it’s important to pay attention to that cycle and regulate that. And what happens?
Matty Lansdown: Yeah, totally. Well, estrogen is a building hormone, right? And you’ll even find, like bodybuilders find ways to get estrogen into their diet as part of growing their body. And there’s this whole industry, which is kind of gross, but like, basically there’s bodybuilders that find ways to get breast milk, cause it’s so full of all of the right hormones to grow a human body. And so, estrogen is a part of that. And so, when we’re in a situation where insulin is going up—so insulin is kind of like the storage hormone for your blood sugar, when it goes up in order to take it out of the blood, so it’s released by the pancreas, takes it out of the blood. And we can have other hormones that contribute to this too, that are all building, and testosterone can be one of them as well. And women have testosterone. I know most people associate it with men. We’ve all got it, basically. But yeah, these all contribute to the kind of the growth of the body. Because if you think about it, like you’re essentially, as a woman, you’re growing an organ, you’re growing an environment for a human life to exist. That requires a lot of nutrition—it’s actually amazing when you think about it. And so of course your cravings go up. Of course, your desire for these nutrient or energy dense foods go up because your estrogen has been preparing to build the endometrial lining for this month, which drags the insulin up as well, which then your brain’s kinda like, “oh, where’s, where’s the food? Where do I go for it? Cause I feel more hungry this week.” Because you’re literally building a part of your body, like from nothing. Every month. It’s just mind blowing. It’s just mind blowing. And I think as well when we start to understand that these hormones are driving a behavior which is meant to happen, like this is meant to happen! And we realize that doing it another way interrupts a process that is meant to happen, which then has flow on consequences to my health. Cuz I keep interrupting this pattern month after month after month, trying to be hyper-restrictive here. And then we end up with hormone dysfunction. And then sugar cravings that are off the chart, and we’re sort of all over the place. So I think especially for women, just starting to honor that monthly cycle of like, “this is what my body is meant to do. I need to work with that. The hormones were designed this way for a reason.”
Dr. Amy Moore: Yeah, that’s fascinating. So where do you start? So like as, as a mom, that’s listening to this right now, who says, “okay. I’ve got baby weight to lose,” or, you know, “I’m tired of yo-yo dieting. I, I want to learn more about… okay, so I know what not to eat, but how do I lean into intermittent eating, or, getting ahold of my emotional baggage that can help me.” Whatever. Where should they start?
Matty Lansdown: Yeah, it’s possibly the same kind of work that you do with people, which is, step one is about reflection, which is, how did I get here now? And really understanding the current cycles and patterns and behaviors. And that can be a little bit of a confronting process; that can be emotional, and overwhelming and bring up stuff that you didn’t know was there. It can bring up stuff that you’ve been hiding from for a lifetime, really. But the reason that that’s important is because currently, like the way that our brain works from a biology standpoint and an evolutionary biology standpoint is, its priorities are not to die. That’s why the podcast is called How to Not Get Sick and Die. That’s the Brain’s number one priority. How do we not die? And so, if you’re alive, If you are physically alive and you’ve lived the life you’ve lived, that tells your deep, inner reptilian brain, everything I’m doing, even though logically and intellectually I can make sense that it’s not ideal, it hasn’t killed me. I am still alive. And so that’s why for many people, breaking a lot of these habits are really, really difficult because a deep part of their brain and their soul says, “I’ve made it 52 years to this point, living this way. So to live another way would possibly put me at risk of dying.” And that’s a real, it’s an evolutionary way of thinking. And so we have to first understand by reflecting on that, you know, 52, 32, whatever, however long your life has been, “what are the things that I’ve been doing that have led me to this moment, and why were they useful? Because they did get me to this point. They serve a purpose.” And we need to really understand the purpose of what’s going on in that space if we ever want to change it. Because if we don’t understand how we got here, we can’t understand the fundamentals of how to change today and the future. And a lot of the diets focus on just changing today and the future as if the past didn’t even happen. Just like, just pretend it didn’t happen. Just be strong. Just use willpower. Just be better tomorrow. All of these kind of throw away lines. And even though again, you know, the intellectual front of our brain, the prefrontal cortex—which was later to develop, so the evolutionary brain had been around a long time before then—it can make sense of it. But it still doesn’t overpower that deep reptilian understanding of like, “I’ve survived until now for these reasons.” So we have to understand what those reasons are. So I would say step one for anyone wanting to get into anything that they want to change in their life, especially in the world of health, nutrition, and improved eating, would be to understand, “how did I get here now?” Because until we understand that, we can’t change behavior with anything other than temporary willpower moving forward.
Dr. Amy Moore: That’s amazing advice. So, I’m a clinical researcher also, and so we ran a study several years ago, for early Alzheimer’s and mild cognitive impairment. And so, we actually did a multidisciplinary approach, and diet was part of that approach. And so while we wanted to do more of a grain-free, sugar-free diet, we settled on paleo so that it was at least close, right? But we had 70 year olds in our study who were thin and could not wrap their brains around the fact that this way of eating was to help their brain, and had nothing to do with the numbers on the scale or what their body size was, right? And so as you were explaining that survival, “this has kept me alive. So what’s wrong with it?” process, it makes total sense, right? I was just attributing it to 70 years of habit, versus they were fighting against that reptilian brain processing. That, “it hasn’t killed me yet, so why do I need to change?”
Matty Lansdown: Yeah, that’s totally it. Well all of our lives are a lifetime of data collection and evidence for our identity and our belief systems to confirm that that didn’t kill us. Like that’s the core, fundamental mode of human function. So, whether it be 70 years, 50 years, whatever it is, that’s how much evidence you’ve got for living a certain way that didn’t kill you. So it’s like, whilst we understand intellectually all the other stuff. It’s like, that’s a pretty deep thing to acknowledge. So that’s why I think we need to start there. And look, for some people it’s much simpler. Some people might listen to this and be like, “Matty, that’s way too deep for me,” [laughs] But, and some people it is simpler. It’s not as challenging. And it’s like in the space of sugar addiction, like, you’ve got your moderators and you’ve got your abstainers. And you can’t choose that, really, it’s a deeply entrenched part of who you are that you sort of slot into one of those categories. And so it’s the same here. You’ve gotta reflect and figure out like, “is that the depth that I need to go to? Or am I capable of just moderating my behavior based on intellectual information?” Which, if you are, can you please teach me? [laughs]
Dr. Amy Moore: [laughs] most of us, right? So, we need to take a break. I need to read a word from our sponsor and when we come back, I know our listeners are dying to know how they can get more of you. And so, we wanna have you tell us how they can.
Matty Lansdown: Sounds good.
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All right, so we are talking to Matty Lansdown about all things eating, not eating, intermittently eating, and what we can do to get a handle on all of that. So, Matty, how can listeners find you? Where can they find you? Where can they hear more from?
Matty Lansdown: Yeah, sure. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to share that. So, I too, have a podcast. How to Not Get Sick and Die, which you mentioned. So, it’s on all the podcast platforms, so feel free to come and hang out. We’re just about to hit episode 200, which is really exciting. I’ve also got a Facebook group called the Healthy Mums Collective. So that’s for anybody that wants to end emotional eating and finally be happy in their own skin. So, you can come and hang out there, just request to enter, answer the entry questions and come and hang out. Lots of information, education, just all sorts of different stuff going on in there. It’s a really fun group. And I guess my website as well: https://mattylansdown.com/. So, you can come and find me at any one of the above.
Dr. Amy Moore: And you also have like a free ebook download of “Is Intermittent Fasting Right For You?” on your website.
Matty Lansdown: So yeah, we’ve got a few different ones as well. We’ve got another one which is called, “How to Turn Food into Self-Confidence”, and “Nine Reasons Diets Don’t Work”. So there’s a couple of options there, which all centers around the kind of stuff that we’ve been talking about here.
Dr. Amy Moore: Excellent. And then do you do coaching virtually?
Matty Lansdown: Yep. So, we’re totally online. Our current intakes at the moment have people from Canada, the US, Australia, the Czech Republic, England. So, very fortunate that the podcast has grown quite successfully over the last few years and that we’re reaching moms everywhere, basically. It’s fantastic.
Dr. Amy Moore: Yeah, for sure. So, is there anything that you haven’t gotten to say that you would like to leave our listeners with today?
Matty Lansdown: Oh well that’s a good question. I mean, I have a podcast cuz I have a lot to say, right? [laughs]
Dr. Amy Moore: Well, we could keep talking for another couple hours, but I’m sure everybody’s ready to go make dinner here in America
Matty Lansdown: Totally. I think—if anyone’s gonna take anything away from any conversation they hear that I’m a part of—I think remembering that you are both your best friend and your worst critic. And so if you can start to navigate that space of being kind to yourself and understanding that the critic has a purpose, it’s to maybe let you know that things aren’t in order, but also to love that part of yourself, to care for that part of yourself. Because this cycling between, you know, deprivation diets and binge eating, or the cycling between giving yourself total permission and then beating yourself up for your decisions. That is the, the tennis match that is basically keeping you stuck. So, I’d suggest people start by just trying to introduce some love, care, and nurture to that space so we can take the power out of that yo-yo that’s cycling in your own mind. So yeah, just start coming from a place of love and care. And you know, the past is the past. We’ve all made regretful decisions, and yesterday might not have gone perfectly, but focus one day at a time. “What is one small thing I can achieve today?”and take that mentality, rather than the 28 day thing at the gym or the the 10 week program, or “I’ve gotta look good by this wedding” or whatever it is, like one day at a time. Dr. Amy Moore: And one tweak a week. Yes. I love that. Okay. So we’re out of time, but thank you so much Matty, for joining us, for sharing your wisdom. I appreciate you being the extrovert in this duo today, carrying my show for me, in the absence of my very extroverted cohosts. Listeners, if you would like more information about Matty and his work, his website is https://mattylansdown.com/. His podcast, How Not To Get Sick and Die is on every podcast platform where you can listen to podcasts, and I think it’s also linked on your website as well. You can find Matty on Facebook at Matty Landsdown and we’ll put all the links, to his Facebook group, his website, his podcast, we’ll put all of that in the show notes for you guys so that you can easily find him. So, thank you so much, listeners, for being with us today. If you liked our show, we would love it if you would leave us a five-star rating and review on Apple Podcasts or wherever you’re listening to our podcast. If you would rather watch us, we are on YouTube. You can find us on every social media platform at the Brainy Moms. If you would like to be on our show or recommend someone for our show, you can email me directly at Dr. Amy(at)LearningRx(dot)com. So look, until next time, we know that you’re busy moms, and I’m a busy mom, so we’re out.