Nutritionist: ‘Eat to Win’

We know that a cheeseburger, fries and a soda are not the healthiest of choices, but what about the sushi rolls you had for lunch? A typical roll contains the carbohydrate equivalent of approximately two and half to four slices of bread. 

Registered dietitian Rachel Beller exposes the real nutrients in food with her “Food Autopsy.” In this case, she suggests going light on the rice, opting for brown rice or no rice at all.

While most diets stress what you can’t eat, Beller emphasizes what you can eat and tries to make grocery shopping easy. 

“I find what is simple,” said Beller, known as the celebrity nutritionist from NBC’s “The Biggest Loser.” “The difference between getting patients there and getting patients there with confidence is the execution. It needs to be simple and as easy as possible for somebody to start.”

Like many Americans, Beller began struggling with weight gain at a young age, in her case around 11. Although it was never anything extreme, she quickly caught on to how subtle changes in eating created a healthier lifestyle. This transformed into a career that approaches diets in what she believes is a healthy and sustainable way, rather than stressing over calories, carbs and diet fads. 

Beller, a Westwood resident, has created a reputation as America’s get-real nutritionist through her work with the Oxygen Channel series “Dance Your A** Off,” “Dr. Drew’s Lifechangers” show and Glamour magazine. She kicked off the year with her new book, “Eat to Lose, Eat to Win: Your Grab-n-Go Action Plan for a Slimmer, Healthier You.” 

“It’s about time, Rachel!” writes Sheryl Crow in the foreword to the book, in which the singer thanks Beller for changing how she eats. The two met before Crow began radiation treatments for breast cancer in 2006 after Crow’s oncologist contacted Beller. 

The book emphasizes what to eat and how to eat with product visuals, recipes, shopping guides and tips acquired from years of clinical research. From experience, Beller says she found her clients are less intimidated by food shopping when they can reference an image.  

“I have been thinking about it for years,” said Beller who refers to herself as a weight-loss expert with no gimmicks. “It was time. It came to the point where my practice was exploding and it was time to give it [information] away. More people need it.” 

In the book, she reveals her key to weight-loss goals, a nutritional strategy that combines science-based advice with a step-by-step plan. She helps readers understand different types of protein options with her Protein GPS. Her “Flip-It Method” focuses on portion control rather than calorie intake; the base of every meal is vegetables, lean protein, a touch of healthy fat and a small serving of complex carbohydrates. There are snacking tips and more, too.  

“Once I put the book out, I realized I had so much more to say,” Beller said. 

Beller, a registered dietitian whose father passed away from cancer, decided she needed to take a proactive stance in translating scientific research into healthy lifestyle solutions. After studying at California State University Los Angeles, Beller conducted extensive research into the roles of nutrition in cancer prevention at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in West Hollywood and the John Wayne Cancer Institute in Santa Monica. She also served for a decade as the John Wayne Cancer Institute’s director of nutritional oncology research and counseling.  

“For me, developing relationships is very important,” said Beller, who strives to nutritionally navigate patients through their treatment and beyond. 

Previously, she says, she had worked as an inpatient nutritionist and struggled with developing such interactions and seeing results. Patients were always in and out of the hospital.  

Her years in research were fulfilling, but eventually she decided it was time to transition to private practice. In 2006, she opened the Beller Nutritional Institute in Beverly Hills. 

It wasn’t until Glamour magazine found Beller’s evidence-based weight-loss approach attractive and contacted her in 2007 to help design the “Body by Glamour” section that she began to become an everyday name. Vogue also interviewed Beller, and before long she was contacted to consult and change the way people eat on several TV series. 

Beller says her work is about changing lives and watching people transform their lifestyles. 

“My deepest passion is working with patients who have heart disease or cancer,” Beller said. “When people are going through a treatment, I see their attitude and how they transition.”

Her “Fiber Insurance Strategy,” for example, is critical for cardiac health, but that means getting real fruits and vegetables, not manufactured forms of fiber. She notes that women should get 30 to 35 grams of fiber each day and men 35 to 40 grams. 

 “It’s not just about losing pounds; it’s about seeing cholesterol being lowered,” Beller said. Because a diet high in fiber has been shown to reduce cholesterol levels, she includes several recipes in her book that ensure breakfast is packed with at least 10 grams of fiber. Her fiber solutions are even simple for those who are constantly on the run, as it is vital for weight loss and disease prevention.  

Beller, a mother of four children who are all under the age of 13, credits her supportive family for helping her along the way, but really understands what it’s like to be on the go. So she creates plans that work with busy lifestyles.

“People will buy and take anything, but when they have too much going on, then they don’t sustain it,” Beller said. “If the plan doesn’t fit within someone’s lifestyle challenges, then its not so easy.” 

Determined to educate others, Beller volunteers every year to speak at several engagements around the country. It’s the culture she is accustomed to from her days working in the hospital. 

She feels Americans are being pulled in so many nutritional directions, but that things don’t have to be so complex. Success can often come down to something as simple as following a set of shopping guidelines.

“This is a reality check; a get-real moment,” Beller tells her patients. “I am here to say that you can do this.”