Blasting that Beer Belly This Holiday Season – Podcast

Written By: Gloria Tsang, RD

Title: Founding Registered Dietitian

Alumni: University of British Columbia

Last Updated on:

Janet Podleski tells us what to look out for in an alcoholic drink.

Host: Gloria Tsang, RD
Guest: Janet Podleski

With more parties and social activities, it’s not unusual to drink more alcohol during the holiday season. But if you don’t want to wake up with a pounding hangover and a bigger waistline the next morning, stay tuned. Janet Podleski, author of Eat, Shrink and Be Merry is here to tell us what to look out for in an alcoholic drink.



Gloria Tsang, RD: With more parties and social activities, it’s not unusual to drink more alcohol during the holiday season. But if you don’t want to wake up with a pounding hangover and a bigger waistline the next morning, stay tuned. Welcome to the Nutrition Tidbits podcast. This is Gloria Tsang, editor-in-chief for Joining me today is Food Network Canada star Janet Podleski. She is the author of Eat, Shrink and Be Merry. She is here today to tell us what to look out for in an alcoholic drink. Thank you for joining me Janet.

Janet Podleski: Hi there. Glad to be here.

Gloria Tsang, RD: Now, what actually makes a beer belly?

Janet Podleski: A lot of people think it’s just the calories but it has a lot to do with how alcohol affects your hormonal balance and your liver. Your liver has a lot to do with processing and disposing of excess hormones and cholesterol. Nowadays, we are just really exposed to many toxins – whether it’s junk food, pharmaceutical drugs, caffeine, artificial sweeteners and stuff from just everyday living, including alcohol. When your liver just gets bombarded by all these things, one of the things that happen is that it cannot process those hormones as affectively, so they aren’t flushed from your body. That’s a lot of complications that can happen including that extra hard beer gut that you see on a lot of men. Your liver is also responsible for fat metabolism so when it’s bogged down with all the toxins, it can’t do one of its job at getting rid of fat.

Gloria Tsang, RD: So tell us what is the difference between low carb beer versus light beer.

Janet Podleski: People think that because it’s a lower carb beer, they have reduced some of the net carbs. And by doing that, it’s going to reduce calories a little bit. That’s good but it’s actually the alcohol itself and not the carbohydrate that can affect your weight. That’s because alcohol itself still raises the level of insulin in your body. It (alcohol) raises blood sugar and causes insulin to be released. Insulin is that dreaded fat storage hormone. Just because the beer says it’s low carb, it doesn’t necessary mean you should be drinking more of it. I know I had a friend who said that to me. He said that now with all these low card beers, I can drink a twelve pack instead of a 6 pack and it’s good for me right?

Gloria Tsang, RD: Are the lower carb beers actually lower in calories or just slightly lower in calories?

Janet Podleski: They are just slightly lower in calories. I think it’s more of a marketing hype than anything. You should really be careful with the amount of alcohol that you drink. If you actually have some weight to lose, it’s really hard if you drink alcohol at al. I think if you want to lose weight, it’s a good idea to stop for a month or a couple of weeks and see happens. Because its’ going to raise your blood sugar, it’s going to make it difficult to lose weight; especially in that tough to lose waist area.

Gloria Tsang, RD: Now let’s talk about cocktails. Do you know of some of the worst contenders out there? I have heard some cocktails top up the calorie scale to 600 calories. Do you know of any worst contenders?

Janet Podleski: Yes. Those really fruity, girly drinks that we like so much; those ones are loaded with sugar. Even something like Kahlua, it’s got the double whammy, sugar and caffeine, a potent mix. When you mix this with milk and make a brown cow, you can be looking at those 600 calorie type of drinks. The cooler type of drinks people drink in the summer, those are really high in calorie because they are loaded with sugar. So there are many. Like the creamy ones mixed with Bailey’s, you are going higher with calories and the sugar content.

Gloria Tsang, RD: That’s true. When we drink it, it doesn’t make us feel full. So it’s like the appies before the appie. And then we eat a full meal afterwards.

Janet Podleski: Absolutely. It’s probably good to stick with wine. We might be better off since it’s lower in calories and not going to have as much of a bang on your waistline.

Gloria Tsang, RD: So I heard you had a TV show in Canada. Tell us more about that.

Janet Podleski: Yes, it’s called “Eat, Shrink and be Merry”. It’s almost like extreme makeover, recipe edition. We challenge a chef or a restaurant owner who is famous for making a high calorie, gut busting, popular comfort food. Something like cheesecake, burgers or pizza. We say to them what if we can make one that is an even better tasting and yet it’s healthier for you. So we do a challenge. We tell people what we are going to do. We take people grocery shopping and teach them all kinds of things. We then we make our version and take both out into the street for a random taste test. It’s a lot of fun. We try to get our point across with our books and TV show using humour. We feel like everyone loves to eat and everyone loves to laugh and it’s just a great combination. We figured if we made healthy eating so delicious and so much fun, people would almost get healthy by accident.

Gloria Tsang, RD: Right. When I picked up your book, I first thought to myself, is this a cook book? Well not exactly. There is a lot of animations and comics in it. So tell us more about your book.

Janet Podleski: It’s the same sort of idea where a lot of our popular comfort foods. My sister Greta is the cook of the duo and I am a nutritionist. We both have a corny sense of humor so we are using all of our talents here. The recipes are your favorite things that you want to keep on eating but she (Greta) has revamped them and used creative substitutions to keep all the flavor. The margins are packed with all kinds of lifestyle information – information about exercise and food trivia. Because we figured if you want to eat more healthfully, you need more than just new recipes, you need to know why you should be doing something and the information behind it. It’s all written with humor to get people on the healthy eating bandwagon. We have funny recipe titles – we don’t call anything by normal name. We have “darth tater”. We have a salmon skewer recipe which we think might be Willie Nelson’s favorite. It’s called “Skewer always on my mind”. We have “lord of the wings”. Our dessert section is called “a sweet carb named desire”. Our chicken section is called “poultry in motion”. We just like to have a lot of fun and it seems to be working. We are getting a lot of mothers who are writing to us saying their kids want to help the in the kitchen and even a lot of men who say they like the book because it’s not intimidating. It’s the kind of food that they want to eat, plus it’s just a lot of fun.

Gloria Tsang, RD: For our listeners, you can get a copy of the book or to find out more information about Janet, you can visit their website at I believe they are running something special right Janet?

Janet Podleski: Yes. We are just coming into the US market this fall and we thought a good way to spread the word is to give everyone a free copy when they buy one. So when you buy a copy at the regular price, we are going to send you two so you can give one to your family member or friend. We found in Canada that someone would buy a book and then go to the store to get five more because they really liked it and wanted to share it with others. So we are helping people out by giving them a free copy.

Gloria Tsang, RD: A perfect gift for the holiday season. Thank you for joining me Janet.

Janet Podleski: Thank you so much for having me.

Gloria Tsang, RD: We have been talking to Janet Podleski, author of “Eat Shrink and Be Merry”. For more healthy eating tidbits and information about this show, go to


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