Keeping it “Guilt-free” is Key for This Dietitian

When I decided to start running a few years ago for better health, I didn’t know that decision would lead to me completing a triathlon. I also didn’t know it would lead to me gaining weight. That certainly wasn’t one of my goals! Needless to say, I’ve been trying ever since then to get back to my pre-running weight. I’ve switched my exercise plan to strength training and dance classes, which had always been helpful in controlling my weight in the past. But let’s face it, exercise is not your best tool for weight management, your diet is. You may have heard the phrase: “you can’t fix a bad diet with exercise” and I can attest that even when I was burning up to 700 calories during a long run, it was very easy for me to “make up” those calories through food.

Through my own experiences and counseling thousands of clients over my 22 year career as a dietitian, I’ve learned that feeling guilty about food is very counterproductive. On the contrary, feeling empowered is key to making healthier choices and maintaining them over time. That’s why I call myself the Guilt-Free RD – because food shouldn’t make you feel bad.

For me, these are the three keys to staying “guilt-free”:

  1. No deprivation
  2. Having choices
  3. Balancing out my choices

By focusing on nutrient-rich foods and limiting my extra “empty” calories, I can avoid feeling deprived, enjoy a variety of choices, and balance my choices so that I can have my “cake” and eat it, too. Some people like to talk about “guilty pleasures”, but my “guilt-free pleasures” are foods and beverages made with sucralose. Not only does research show that sucralose is safe, I don’t have to fight any feelings of deprivation. I can enjoy the sweet flavor without the added calories. And that will continue to be a key factor in controlling my weight for the rest of my life.


Melissa Joy Dobbins, MS, RDN, CDE is a nationally recognized registered dietitian nutritionist with more than 20 years’ experience helping people enjoy their food with health in mind. Melissa is a certified diabetes educator, a former supermarket dietitian, and also a former national media spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She was named Outstanding Dietitian of the Year in Illinois by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and Outstanding Diabetes Educator of the Year in Chicago by the American Association of Diabetes Educators. Melissa is the CEO of Sound Bites, Inc. based in Chicago, Illinois, and you can connect with her on Twitter @MelissaJoyRD,Pinterest, Facebook, and check out her blog at

Items of Interest

June 4, 2015 Lifestyle Advice