Lucie A. Knapp Explains the Connection Between Food and Feelings


Lucie A. Knapp, LCSW is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Certified Life Coach. She graduated from Rutgers University with a Bachelors (BA) degree in Psychology and a Masters Degree in Social Work (MSW). She received a Certification as a Personal Trainer /Fitness Counselor through the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA) Although she enjoyed working as a personal trainer, she knew her true calling was psychotherapy. She became a Certified Life Purpose and Career Coach from the Life Purpose Institute, San Diego, California. In 2004 she was hired at the Duke University Medical Center Diet and Fitness Center to create a Lifestyle Coaching Program. Over the next 9 years she literally worked with thousands of clients, instructed over a dozen different classes ongoing and received numerous accolades. In 2010 she created a website for education, motivation and support with weight loss, health and life challenge issues. In May 2012 she left her position at Duke to expand from one-on-one coaching services to speaking engagements and training workshops.

1. What type of foods can help one stay healthy?

My motto is “everything in moderation”. Of course if you are a person who suffers from diabetes, crohns disease, high cholesterol , hypoglycemia and other types of co-morbidities, then obviously you have to stay on a very specific diet plan. In general ( I am not a dietitian) a healthy meal plan is one that incorporates all the food groups, veggies, protein, carbohydrates, and fruits. There is a lot of research out there that has identified highly processed foods as not necessarily the best of health choices. As I mentioned earlier in my statement I am not a licensed dietitian so I am not an authority on the subject of what to eat and what not to eat but it is common sense that if one over indulges in sugars for example if my have a negative impact on ones health.

2. What foods should one avoid in the evening?

Again as I mentioned earlier, I am not an authority on what to eat or not to eat. Too much caffeine or sugar prior to going to bed may actually stimulate the body and not allow sleep to occur. Our bodies are processing what we eat throughout the night therefore eating a heavy meal close to bedtime may impact a good restful sleep.. In terms of weight loss, if you eat too many calories and then go to sleep, your body at rest will not be burning those calories as they would when you are more active.

3. What is your suggestion for people who have a perpetual hunger for fast food?

This is a very interesting question .. In my line of work, I deal with people’s behavioral issues with food, their “relationship” with food.. Research has and is being conducted on the brain’s response to certain foods.. There are in fact foods ( those loaded with sugars and fat as in most fast foods) that trigger our brain to release natural opiates which directly impact our mood, in a positive way. Research as shown that when sugar and fat are combined, the feeling is magnified even more. It is possible that this desire for fast food is a physical craving and a need for feeling good; I hesitate to use the word addiction.

For those of you who crave fast food often, I would suggest you tap into the possibility that you want to feel the sense of “feeling good” that the fat and sugar is providing you. It may be time to explore what you may be needing in regards to other aspects of your life . Fast food is not a healthy way of eating and may actually be a form of escape for us. I work on the issue of Emotional Eating, which I believe fast food may be a part of.

4. Why is it important to eat protein rich foods for breakfast?

Again I am not a licensed dietitian… I work on behavioral issues. I do know though that protein is needed to begin the process of metabolism. Therefore, as the body is waking up from a night’s sleep, the metabolism which has slowed down overnight needs to have a jump start. A breakfast with protein will jump start it .

5. Is it important to eat every 2 hours to stay healthy and lose weight effectively? If yes, what food should they eat?

I am very hesitant to answer this question as a yes or no answer. I do not believe one size fits all when it comes to weight loss.. Of course the statement ” CALORIES IN vs CALORIES OUT” Is really what it all about in the long run, but one has to take into account the behavioral relationship one has with food. Food serves much more than just sustenance for many people. There are many theories and beliefs on how often one should eat ranging from every 2 hours to only eating when one “feels” hungry. I know that if too much time goes by and our bodies are not fueled with food, we may overeat to compensate for that hunger. Losing weight sounds like it should be easy but long term success is often the challenge because the issues that have put the weight on in the first place need to be acknowledged and dealt with, which is where the work I do with my clients comes into play.

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