Debunking the Diet Myth: Chatting with Dr. Dena Mendes

Debunking the Diet Myth: Chatting with Dr. Dena Mendes

Paleo, vegan, vegetarian, South Beach, Atkins, the list goes on and on. According a 2012 survey, the average 45-year-old woman has been on 61 diets since the age of 16. Experimenting with different diets may narrow down what works and doesn’t work for your body, but studies show that yo-yo dieting may do more harm than good. The reality is you may not be considering the right factors when choosing what to eat. What if I told you, your body already knows what it wants, and that a diet may not be the answer?  

“I hate the word diet,” says Nutritionist Dr. Dena Mendes, “Just like pants, it’s not a one word fits all deal.”

I first heard Dr. Dena speak a few months ago, and boy did I get a wake-up call. Her no-nonsense approach is brutal but honest. Dena’s method is very simple: Everything you get out of your body is directly linked to what you put in it. Food can be your greatest weapon against disease, but it can also be your biggest barrier to getting healthy. During her session, she took one look at me and said my kidney was inflamed. I was both mortified and fascinated. Before I could ask why, she began pounding my backside with her fists to break up the toxins.  I knew right then and there this woman meant business.


So when diet fads came up in our editors meeting I knew I had to contact Dena. If anyone could help me expose the truth about diets, it’s her.


Meredith: Dena, I know you despise the word diet; can you talk a little bit more about why that is?


Dr. Dena: Diets pigeonhole us into one way of life. What I say to people is that it's not a diet because it's not one size fits all. You are as unique as your fingerprint, and you should be treated as such. Meaning we have to develop a way of life that suitable for you.


Meredith: You talk a lot about your body already knowing what it wants. How does that work?


Dr. Dena: Your body is a brilliant machine, and will leave you clues. When it doesn't like something will tell you. For example, through toxicity bumps or rashes. I have some people come to me asking why there's a rash all over their stomach, and I'll take one look at it, and know it's actually over their liver. It's the body's way of telling you where the problem is. You just have to be the detective. Everything comes back to what you're eating. If your feeling sluggish or overly tired, if you're always getting a cold or get chronic headaches, think about the foods that may contribute to that.


Meredith: So if you can play detective and figure out what your body doesn't like, how can you figure out what is right for you?


Dr. Dena: You want to think about your heritage. What were those eating from which you came? You know it's true that we evolve and become more resilient to foods that are offered today, but you have to keep in mind, did your ancestors consume the kind of processed dairy or bread all over the place today? Probably not. For my clients that get headaches, I'll explain that their ancestors probably weren't living off of the type of chemicals found in most of our foods.


Meredith: Right, that makes sense. And what you're saying gets me thinking about what's being talked about a lot, which is the “blood type diet” (a belief that your blood type can actually dictate what you should and shouldn’t eat.) How much of that is true?


Dr. Dena: I think it's a brilliant concept. I do have my clients take a look at that book first. The problem is sometimes they get very rigid, you know they'll say, "Oh I’m not supposed to have strawberries, I'm an O blood type." I come from a place, that yeah I'm an O blood type too, but does that mean I'm never going to have an organic strawberry? No. I think this concept is a great baseline, but just like any "diet" it shouldn't dictate your whole way of life. You have to consider all the factors.


Meredith: Like your ancestry? So are you saying it should be a combination?


Dr. Dena: Here's the thing, you shouldn't buy into any “one” way of life. You have to look at all the puzzle pieces. So yea, your blood type and your ancestry is part of it. But then also look at your environment. Where are you living today? What season are you in? What illnesses are you dealing with? I may have someone some to me with bowel issues, or they may be bloated, and I will discover that they a costuming raw juices everyday. And it's confusing because most people think raw juicing is good for you, but for people who are too 'yin' and are living in a colder environment, raw juicing is actually building up fungus and mold in your kidneys and adrenals, and they're not getting nutrients they need to stay warm and keep their body in balance.


Dr. Dena Mendes is the author of A Survivors Guide to Kicking Cancer’s Ass. She is also licensed and certified as a Health Coach, Holistic Yoga Instruction, Holistic Chef and Pranic Healer. Learn more about Dena, her book, and her success stories at

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