Are you constantly counting calories but still can’t shift those kilos? The Core Balance Diet may hold the answer.

The diet industry is a multi-billion dollar global cash cow that sells hope with a one-size-fits-all philosophy, but in reality, there is no magic pill, miracle exercise or single solution to weight loss. The human body is designed to operate optimally if it is given appropriate nutrition, exercise, and emotional support. So, if you can’t lose weight no matter what you do, there’s a good chance your body is out of balance and rectifying this imbalance will see you shed the toxic weight your body is holding onto.

Co-founder of the visionary women’s health clinic Women to Women (, and author of The Core Balance Diet (, Marcelle Pick has seen countless women engaging in unhealthy, even dangerous behaviour to maintain a weight that they’re not even happy with. Pick’s Core Balance Diet has been hailed as a four week transformation to boost your metabolism and lose weight for good. In it, she has opened a new chapter in dieting history, using a highly personalised approach and allowing women for the first time to look at the core metabolic and emotional imbalances in their bodies that cause stubborn weight gain or retention. “The Diet is specifically designed to stabilise blood sugar and keep energy stable throughout the day,” says Quick. “It is most helpful for people who have tried other available diets without success.”

Women and weight

Issues around weight are much more complicated than just what we eat or how much we exercise, especially if we want the weight loss to last. Departing from the conventional view of calories-in/calories-out, and misinformation about fat, carbohydrates, and food in general, Pick’s work is a breath of fresh air for women of all ages. Her Diet’s guidelines are also quite different, being designed to pinpoint individual metabolic imbalances –for instance, gluten intolerance is a little-known cause of stubborn weight – as well as to clear toxic dietary clutter, balance hormones, stabilise blood sugar, and rewire those negative mental conversations which may contribute to weight gain more than anything else. Quick adds, “Too many women look in the mirror, and say, Oh no - look at my hips, my gut! The Core Balance Diet is about getting away from negative self-talk. You’ve got to love yourself!”

Another point of difference is that the Core Balance Diet does not emphasise quantities of food so much as quality. For example, there is a lot of confusion about fat and carbohydrates. In fact, the body needs fat – without it, it can’t function; it also needs carbohydrates for energy. The Core Balance approach has a strong emphasis on healthy fats like omega-3s and monounsaturated fatty acids – which all reduce the risk of inflammatory diseases - plus lean proteins, micronutrient- and fibre-rich vegetables and fruits, and unrefined carbohydrates. “Food speaks to our genes,” says Quick. “Processed and refined foods, environmental toxins, plus what we think and feel can all send wrong signals to our brain and body tissues.”

Research shows that women are more successful at maintaining healthy eating when they have adequate support. Women tend to put everyone else first - their kids, partner, boss, and parents. “We need someone to remind us of ourselves, which is where the Core Balance support program comes in,” says Quick. After 30 years of clinical practice, she is also well qualified to comment on the effects of mood and emotions on women’s health and weight gain. “Food is love for many women,” she explains, “Our experiences and emotions have an enormous impact on our eating behaviours. We know our life stories affect our bodies – as Caroline Myss wrote in her book, Anatomy of the Spirit, ‘Our biography becomes our biology’.”

How does Core Balance work?

The Core Balance Diet maintains that real and permanent weight loss can only be achieved if you are well, and its primary goal is to create physical and emotional wellness from the inside out. Pick says, “This doesn’t just mean having no aches and pains or health niggles, but the feeling that life is great, that you can cope, that you love how you look, and that you have the energy, stamina and resilience to deal with whatever comes.”

Weight gain, or the inability to lose weight, is often just one symptom of a wider bodily imbalance. Identifying this imbalance and bringing your body back into its natural state of homeostasis is the cornerstone of why the Core Balance program actually works – for everyone. Pick explains, “When your biochemistry and your metabolism are in good working order and your core physiology and emotional health are balanced, your body has a natural optimal weight and biomass that is self-sustaining and incredibly efficient. You feel energised, clear, and fit. Your mood is good, you shake off viruses easily, you don’t have cravings, and you feel comfortable in your skin and your clothes. You have a sense of lightness that persists, no matter how much you actually weigh.”

The Core Balance Diet provides quizzes to help you identify which of six core imbalances you may have - hormonal, adrenal, neurotransmitter, digestive, inflammatory, and detoxification – and then recommends smarter nutritional choices, supplements, herbs and lifestyle ideas for each one. Pick’s suggestions are insightful and practical, making the Core Balance Diet easy to follow. They also make sense: the body is resilient, and if you give it the support it needs, it will come back into balance – which is music to the ears of all those women who are eating well and exercising, but who are nonetheless stuck in a weight trap, and know that the reason lies beyond diet and exercise.

Eating for Core Balance

Each meal should contain approximately 30 percent protein, 30 percent good fats and 40 percent complex carbohydrates. Pick suggests cupping your hands together to get an accurate portion size, and eating slowly and mindfully. While each of the six core imbalances has a corresponding eating plan, these guidelines can help everyone.

Eat plenty of: Leafy greens, non-starchy vegetables, lean protein (turkey, chicken, duck, tofu, soy protein, rice protein, whey protein), eggs, beans/legumes, wild and brown rice, complex grains (buckwheat, oats, rye, spelt, amaranth, quinoa, millet, barley), berries, apples, pears, melons, nuts and nut butters, monounsaturated oils (cold-pressed almond, avocado, olive, sunflower).

Eat moderate amounts of: Fish (once a week, and choose smaller over larger fish, due to mercury levels), lean beef, pork or lamb (organic, if possible), polyunsaturated oils (corn, sesame, sunflower, flaxseed, borage, evening primrose, cod liver), starchy vegetables (corn, peas, root vegetables), citrus, sea salt, honey, stevia, wholegrain breads and crackers (preferably gluten-free), kelp products (seaweed, for iodine).

Foods to avoid: High-fructose corn syrup, trans, damaged or rancid fats, partially hydrogenated oils, artificial sweeteners, chemicals or preservatives, processed milk products (skim milk, low-fat milk, cheese), smoked, preserved, or canned meats, baked goods (cakes, biscuits, pastries), sweets and chocolates, refined-grain crackers, fried foods, alcohol, caffeine, refined sugar, white flour, white rice.

Add nutritional insurance with: A high quality multi-vitamin with calcium and magnesium, essential fatty acids, probiotics, seaweed or kelp, thermogenic spices (ginger, cayenne, mustard, cinnamon, turmeric).

QUIZ: Have you got a hormonal imbalance?

This is one of the most common imbalances in women. This quiz is reprinted with kind permission from The Core Balance Diet. For each question, select the most appropriate score using the following key, and tally your results at the end.

1. Strongly disagree 2. Mostly disagree 3. Mostly agree 4. Strongly agree

1. Lately, my periods are more irregular and can be very heavy.
1    2    3    4

2. I am having trouble falling asleep and/or staying asleep at night.
1    2    3    4

3. I have intense mood swings and cravings before I get my period.
1    2    3    4

4. Lately I cry at everything, even cheesy TV commercials.
1    2    3    4

5. My hair and skin feel dry and coarse.
1    2    3    4

6. I am experiencing heart palpitations, hot flashes, and/or night sweats.
1    2    3    4

7. I feel much calmer after my period starts.
1    2    3    4

8. I have little interest in sex, and even when I do have interest, my vagina stays dry.
1    2    3    4

9. I’ve lost a lot of muscle recently or I can’t make muscle, no matter how much I exercise.
1    2    3    4

10. I tend to store my extra weight around my hips and thighs.
1    2    3    4

11. Lately, my breasts are more tender and/or painful.
1    2    3    4

12. I have a history of PMS, postpartum depression, and/or abnormal periods or irregular bleeding.
1    2    3    4

Your score
12-20 points: This is not an area that needs your immediate attention.
20-30: This imbalance may be contributing to your weight gain but may not be the primary cause.
30-48: This imbalance needs your attention – now!