It’s a busy time of the year for Cheri Stoka.
The Pleasant Prairie resident is a certified dietitian, registered dietitian nutritionist and owner of Weighless MD, 6804 Green Bay Road. Stoka is often a blessing for local residents interested in weight loss and improving their overall health throughout the year and particularly following the recent holiday season.
The former University of Wisconsin soccer standout and professional athlete met with the Kenosha News to offer insight for those who may have recently overindulged on turkey legs, stuffing, gravy, cakes, cookies and a variety of other belt-busting items.
Q: All of the local gyms are packed with people looking to drop the 10 pounds they gained last month. What should they be focusing on — diet or exercise?
A: There’s a lot of confusion, for sure. People think they can out-exercise a poor diet. You can’t. It’s about 80:20. Diet has to be the priority.
Q: What is the first thing you tell people who are looking to lose weight?
A: I always look at the full picture. There are so many things that come with being able to manage or lose weight. That includes many other things in addition to diet like sleep, stress levels, relationships. … It’s so important to have a healthy GI (gastrointestinal) tract. Our gut health drives everything. Our body is made up of bacteria. We have more bacteria cells than human cells. The majority of it is in our gut. With stress and lack of sleep and toxic food and a toxic environment, we have managed to disrupt and cause a lot of inflammation in our gut. This is what is driving so many chronic diseases. Your gut is really the foundation of everything.
Q: What are people eating that they need to stop immediately?
A: It’s mostly carbs and sugar — probably more the sugar. You’d be amazed how much sugar we should get and how much we actually eat. This drives the cravings and wanting more. Once you start, you keep going. People come in here with debilitating pain, and once you cut sugar out of their diet, they feel better in days. You have natural sugars in dairy, fruit and vegetables. It’s the added, processed sugars like corn syrups and high fructose — that stuff is just toxic to the body. We have to wean people off Diet Coke like it’s crack cocaine.
Q: But yet there’s always a line in the McDonald’s drive-thru lane, isn’t there?
A: I can’t believe people still eat that stuff. I pass McDonald’s every day. My goal is to be busier than McDonald’s.
Q: Any other diet tips?
A: We need people to stop eating from boxes. Just look at the ingredients in there. Those are chemicals. You can’t overeat fruits and vegetables because the right signals will cue your brain to stop eating. The chemists behind those processed foods put stuff in there to stimulate your cravings. It’s crazy. Also, how quick you eat is huge. People eat so fast. Their brain hasn’t even received the signal of fullness. Start eating slowly. Be mindful of that sort of stuff.
Q: It seemed like the Keto diet was all the craze of 2018. Are there some encouraging results from this diet?
A: A lot of people come in and say they’re on the Keto diet. In reality, it’s their own version of the Keto diet. They’re trying to eat low-carb. Are they really in ketosis? No. They’re not.
Q: What is the early, dieting fad of 2019?
A: Intermittent fasting. I wouldn’t really call it a fad because fasting has been around since the beginning of time. It’s effective and super popular right now. The benefits of fasting are huge. Intermittent fasting doesn’t mean you’re eating intermittently throughout the day. It means you adopt fasting on occasion. There’s a certain amount of food you can eat in a 24-hour period and keep your body in a fasted state. It’s a great way to reboot the system.