No, You Really DON’T Need that Sugar Cookie

Nutritionist Lisa Lineberg at home in the kitchen.

Lisa Lineberg is a nutritionist who knows her stuff. (If that last name looks familiar, she also happens to be the wife of my coauthor Skip Lineberg.) Recently, I attended one of Lisa’s cooking classes and was thrilled to see a packed house of foodies – all wanting to learn how to make healthier meals for themselves and their families (yes!). Between herding her sous chefs (a/k/a students) and keeping about five recipes going at once, Lisa also managed to teach us about the dangers of sugar and the surprising uses of coconut oil. So…in the spirit of my ongoing Fitness Challenge (Week Three people!) and keeping healthy through the holidays, I asked Lisa to share some of her best advice with us. If you’re wondering what all of this has to do with your career – I have four words: Feel well. Work well. For a deeper dive into all things nutrition and achieving success from the inside out, pop on over to Lisa’s blog, Live Longer, Look Better.

1.) You teach a Paleo diet. What is that and how does it differ from others on the market, e.g. Atkins, etc.  There are many names for the Paleo diet – caveman diet, ancestral health, primal diet.  They refer to the diet that our ancestors ate before the agricultural revolution. It consists of meat, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and fruit, eliminating all grains and legumes and most dairy.  Other diets on the market with the exception of the Atkins diet, focus on restricting calories and fat, while increasing carbohydrates.  With the Paleo diet, the focus is on food quality not food restriction.

2.) You say fruit should never be eaten alone. Why? Fruit is a carbohydrate and all carbohydrates should never be eaten alone.  There was a test performed called the gastric emptying time test.  Each macronutrient group (protein, carbohydrates, fat) was tested to determine how long it took to empty from the stomach. Carbohydrates took 45 minutes, protein emptied in 2 hours, fat emptied the stomach in 3 hours. When carbohydrates were combined with protein and/or fat it slowed down the release from the stomach, which in turn, slowed down the blood sugar spike. When blood sugar spikes quickly the liver has to release insulin to bring it down. Eating a high carbohydrate diet taxes the liver due to the constant release of insulin.  Eventually the liver wears down resulting in insulin resistance and possibly diabetes.

3.) Is sugar the enemy of health? Sugar definitely plays a huge role in the current state of our nation’s health. Besides the devastating effect on blood sugar discussed in the last question, sugar has no nutritional value. When you hear sugar deemed “empty calories” it is a correct statement. The high consumption of sugar through sodas alone is astounding. A 20 ounce regular soda has the equivalent of 15 teaspoons of sugar! Many people will admit to consuming 3 or more regular sodas per day. That’s 45 teaspoons of sugar and roughly 600 calories.  What’s worse is that the more sugar you consume, the more you want. Your brain actually starts to crave the sugar and eventually you become addicted, just like an alcoholic or tobacco user.  Enemy of health? Definitely!

4.) This time of year is particularly tough because there’s so much temptation. How would you recommend avoiding the holiday bulge? Celebrating the holidays with friends and family should be fun, not stressful. First thing I would advise is ramping up your exercise. If you can’t make more time to exercise, then increase the intensity.  Secondly, when faced with a buffet of food, go for the protein options first.  Protein fills you up and stays in your stomach longer.  Third, be intentional about the food you eat. Mindless eating leads to overindulgence.  Lastly, think about this:  Who has the control – you or the food?  Is the temporary high from that red and green sprinkled cookie really worth it?

5.) Do you really use coconut oil as face cream? Absolutely!!! Coconut oil is to me what Ponds Cold Cream was to my grandmother!!  I use it as a face moisturizer, eye makeup remover, and a cut/scrape healer.  Coconut oil goes down to the cellular level to heal your skin.  So it really does improve your skin from the inside out.  It’s a one-ingredient wonder!

6.) I went to one of your cooking classes and feel in love with an amazing Brussels sprouts recipe. Can you share that?

Here it is!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Grapes


3-4 cups Brussels sprouts

2 cups red grapes

2 T fresh sage, chopped

Olive Oil

Sea Salt


Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Cut off Brussels sprouts stems, remove any dirty/outer leaves then quarter.  Toss all ingredients together.  Cover sheet pan with foil. Roast for 20-25 minutes until tender and carmelized, stirring halfway through.

Back to top