Who Am I? My Professional Life with Dr. Atkins & My Low Carb Pregnancy

Dr. Robert C. Atkins
Dr. Robert C. Atkins

In my previous life, I was a vegetarian who worked as a clinical dietitian in a hospital. I got mixed up with a “crazy diet doctor” (Dr. Atkins) who won me over, and earned my support as a nutrition expert. I learned he was not crazy, but rather an Ivy League educated cardiologist with a superior knowledge of nutrition, and a diet concept that would rock the world – a concept that had been accepted by mainstream medicine in the early 1900’s.

I did not take to Dr. Atkins’ ideas immediately. His nutritional approach went against almost everything I had learned in my 6 years of professional training. So I did my own research. I went to the grocery store, down every aisle, looking at the “healthy” foods I recommended, and the foods he recommended. After that comparison, I came to one conclusion: The “crazy diet doctor” was not only right, he was brilliant!

My strategies before and after Dr. Atkins:

BEFORE: Meet calorie requirements with as many low calorie foods as possible. Minimize dietary fat to control weight and reduce risk of disease.

AFTER: Meet nutritional needs for optimal performance of all body functions – hair, skin, heart, liver, muscle, immune system, etc. Include all macro and micronutrients, as well as high-antioxidant foods, to maximize health and nourish the body for wellness.

Needless to say, I upgraded my diet to reflect my new found understanding of nutrition as Dr. Atkins taught me. I switched from eating low fat foods to truly enjoying and nourishing my body with foods high in fat and animal protein. While I switched out the bread, rice, cereal and hardest of all, my low-fat frozen yogurt lunches, I enjoyed all the tasty real food I had avoided on a low fat vegetarian diet. I gained lean body mass and reduced my body fat. I looked and felt better than ever.

I was able to utilize “Medical Nutrition Therapy” to the fullest extent. My book, The Stubborn Fat Fix, was written as a result of the experience I gained working with Dr. Atkins for almost 10 years, the supermarket and food research I did, and my experience with the medical conditions and quality of life issues helped by eating real unprocessed foods.

Fast forward to today. I am a wife and mom, daughter and sister, and a nutritionist. Just like everyone else, I have goals for my life and health. I always boasted that I was a healthy, active person who ate well, exercised and took care of myself and my family. I believe this through 3 pregnancies, even though I gained approximately >75 pounds each time – my own family barely recognized me. I was confident that I was just “sensitive” to pregnancy hormones.

Gaining so much weight was a cosmetic issue. I struggled to avoid the weight each time, eating only small meals or snacks of “allowable” foods. No matter what I ate, during each second trimester I was constantly hungry. If I did not eat, I would get dry heaves, alleviated only by eating. This was especially frustrating because I was not plagued with cravings for ice cream and potato chips; I was eating real food like cottage cheese and berries, and salads. But I was eating more than usual, and as a result gained excessive amounts of weight. I always managed to lose it again, though it took me more than 2 years to get back to my original weight. I was always concerned with this strange phenomena, but I never understood “the why“.

My doctors never explained why this happened; they were more concerned with the health of the baby. My clinical tests and blood work were normal, so there was nothing to discuss. Or was there?

Valerie Berkowitz, MS, RD, CDE, CDN
Valerie Berkowitz, MS, RD, CDE, CDN

Who am I? I am Valerie Berkowitz, a registered dietitian and super sleuth trying to figure out the details the doctors never told me about why I was so hungry and gained so much weight during what were supposed to be some of the happiest and most care-free times of my life.

While I fight hard to get back my to my pre-pregnancy weight, I know there must be others out there who have similar struggles, similar weight loss or health stories. Maybe you can share them? I’d love to get to know you better and support your weight loss and health goals — because I know you are not “crazy”!

Can’t wait to share my findings and discuss in more detail the difference between my days as a dietitian “before and after Dr. Atkins” in 2 weeks.

What is your relationship with Dr. Atkins & Low Carb Nutrition or your Low Carb Pregnancy?

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  1. Looking forward to it!

  2. I just got a lecture from my obgyn that I shouldn’t limit my carbs/sugar while pregnant. I don’t understand why. Her explanation was that the baby needs glucose and not ketones. Any scientific studies to back this up? Pre preg I followed Atkins for many years so it was difficult when I gained 40 pounds in my 2nd trimester. Constantly hungry and if I wasn’t eating I felt sick. Now I’m 3 weeks away and feel better since able to follow my ‘normal’ diet…but when I lost 5 pounds in 2 weeks I got a lecture from the docter. I’m not dieting…I’m just not eating cake!!! But I feel like this concept is just not accepted in the medical world. Help!

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