Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Try Trading This For That...

To satisfy a sweet tooth, trade that slice of hot apple pie for a steamy skim latte dusted with apple-pie spice. Calorie savings: 200

Stave off winter’s chill with a third of the calories—and 4 times more filling fiber—by replacing your standby cup of creamy New England clam chowder with hearty minestrone. Calorie savings: 180

For a satisfying on-the-go breakfast, grab a bowl of piping hot oatmeal with almonds instead of a sausage, egg, and cheese on a bagel. Calorie savings: 335

4 Easy Ways to Keep Your Waistline in Check Over The Holidays

  1. Pencil in physical activity. Treat exercise as you would any other important event—a party, a business meeting, a date—and write it on your calendar. And this doesn’t mean you need to make a trip to the gym. If you’ve nixed the trainer and gym membership to save your pennies, go outside and walk or run for 20 to 30 minutes; before your morning shower is a great time to do this. Think about what you want to wear, eat, and accomplish that day. You’ll start your days with a renewed sense of purpose and empowerment that will help keep you on track.
  2. Plan your meals ahead. Doing so is a great want to control cost and calories. Do you have leftovers from a healthy dinner you made? Bring them for lunch. Or grab staples like yogurt, oatmeal, cottage cheese, and fresh fruit from your fridge and pantry and bring them to work for breakfast and a snack. Not only will you eat healthier and save money, but you’ll feel prepared to turn down office fare like donuts and bagels at breakfast, the never-ending spread of mystery sandwiches for lunch, and those ubiquitous holidays gifts of chocolate, cookies, and cupcakes that seems to arrive at the same time daily. And if the 1:00 lunch meeting is absolutely unavoidable, peruse the restaurant’s menu ahead of time and arrive knowing what you want to order.
  3. Don’t arrive hungry… to holiday dinners and parties, that is. Many people forgo food before an event to save up calories, but being ravenous upon arrival makes it that much easier to binge and that much harder to select healthier options in the face of temptation. And we’re all familiar with the allure of those mini quiches, tuna tartars, bite-size burgers, bacon-wrapped scallops… Need I go on? Make it a point to have a healthy (and satisfying) snack before heading to the bar or party. My favorites include a Luna or Gnu bar, or two fiber-rich crackers with a wedge of Laughing Cow Light cheese. And don’t forget: Ladies, wear something fitted like a little black dress and gentlemen, buckle your belts one notch tighter—the more aware you are of your body, the less you’ll eat.
  4. Celebrate with limits. It’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of the holidays, but set boundaries for yourself when it comes to the never-ending supply of canap├ęs and alcohol. For each hors d’oeuvres you grab, take a napkin and aim not to exceed four. As for alcohol, I am not about to advise you abstain entirely. That’s simply not realistic. However, make it your modus operandi to alternate your elixir of choice with a glass of water or seltzer with a lime. Not only will you save calories (and money if it’s not an open bar), but you’ll also maintain control over what you eat.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Goodbye Summer; Hello Skinny

Did you have a shocking morning? Did you try to zip up those back-to-work pants and find that a gruesome little bulge followed you home from vacation along with the sand in your shoes? There’s something about summer.... the margaritas, the lobster with drawn butter, the caftans. It’s all too easy to find that the relaxed days and long evenings encourage a bit less self-discipline. Some people can put on as much as ten pounds between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Really!

But don’t despair. My team of dietitians at Nu-Train and my book, The Wall Street Diet, can help you get back on track and into your skinny-jeans by Columbus Day.

Here’s what you have going in your favor: there’s a snap in the air and you’re more stimulated and focused. It’s back to business! So start your fall strong and get into your best shape ever. Here’s how: Take a look at your routine and your diet and see where you could use some improvement. Some quick tips are below:

Get back to Phase Eating
Phase Eating is a tip that I explain in detail in The Wall Street Diet (on page 30). Phase Eaters eat the same thing for breakfast and/or lunch for weeks on end. Why? Because for many people variety can prompt overeating. If a meal is simple and automatic - say yogurt and fruit or an egg-white omelet every day for breakfast; a chicken Caesar salad with light dressing for lunch - you won’t be tempted to overindulge. Phase Eating can work at dinner too when you can find a couple of frozen dinner entrees that you enjoy. When you get home after a long day of work, you can pop something into the micro and be enjoying your meal before you even have a chance to consider dialing out for Chinese or pasta. Phase Eating can help you shift your focus from food to family, work and activities and it’s a great technique for shedding excess summer weight.

Limit Alcohol
Many people drink more in the summer and they often drink more highly-caloric frozen type drinks. Many of my clients have had great success when they’ve skipped their alcohol, or limited themselves to one drink, when they’re trying to get back in shape after summer. Just skipping two glasses of wine daily can add up to 5.76 pounds lost in three months. Most people can do this without difficulty. Skipping alcohol can also help you boost energy levels and increase your focus and productivity at work. (For more detailed tips on skipping alcohol, see The Wall Street Diet, page 135.)

Change Up Your Exercise Routine
Have you been playing tennis? Jogging on the beach? Riding your bike? The change in weather could mean that these activities will no longer appeal. Or perhaps you’ve been going to the same exercise class at the gym for the past year. Or maybe you haven’t been exercising at all. Fall is a good time to re-assess your exercise goals. Maybe a session with a personal trainer or finding an exercise buddy or perhaps joining a gym for the first time will be the motivation you need to keep active into the winter months.

Streamline Your Fall Wardrobe
Nothing makes y ou feel better and more in control than looking good. Adding a few pieces to your fall wardrobe is a great way to reinforce your weight loss goals. But remember, wearing form-fitting clothes help to keep eating in check. Ban the leggings and loose dresses and look for things that hug your body. My clients frequently tell me that this tip is extremely helpful: when they’re well dressed in form-fitting clothes that flatter them, they’re much less likely to fall prey to the kind of mindless eating that can sneak on the pounds.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Lazy Summer Diet Tips

Summertime and the dieting is lazy! That's right. The hot, humid days of mid-summer encourage us to take the easy route. And if you think dieting always has to be a challenge, you'll be happy to learn some of my favorite lazy dieting tips which will help you cut calories effortlessly. These simple suggestions can turn mindless eating into mindless losing. Adopt just a few of them and by the time you're ready for your fall wardrobe, you'll be that much closer to your goal weight.

Most of us eat too fast and our brain doesn't have time to register that we're full. So we keep eating! A simple trick to break out of this pattern is to put your knife and fork own three times during a meal. Stop. Take a breath. Join the conversation. You'll eat slower and you'll consume less.

Drink water with your meals. If you're eating in a restaurant, have the goal of three fill-ups in the course of the meal. If you're sipping water, you're not eating; You're getting closer to your daily water intake goal (see The Wall Street Diet, page 38 for tips on water drinking) and you're filling up on non-cal fluids rather than more fattening things.

Order two appetizers for dinner. This is a great, lazy way to a healthy, low-cal dinner. Skip the heavy entrees and go for two light, tasty appetizers instead. You'll cut calories and you'll keep pace with other diners who might be having an appetizer plus an entree. See The Wall Street Diet, page 129, for some recommended appetizer choices. A couple of good bets include fresh gazpacho, shrimp cocktail, caprese salad (mozzarella and tomato) or steamed mussels in white wine and garlic.

Wear fitted clothes. This is a great mindless way to keep your eating goals at the top of your 'to-do' list. Nothing says "eat light" like a pair of snug pants and/or a belt. It's a constant reminder that you don't ever want to feel stuffed and that eating light feels right.

Kill your cravings. If you're going out to eat or expect to have a nice dinner at home but you're hungry enough to eat a buffalo, put a lid on your appetite with a pre-dinner nibble. Many of my clients do this routinely and swear it's a lifesaver. Have two Fiber Rich crackers and a large drink of water about an hour or so before dinner. You'll be master of the menu as you order healthy selections and push the bread away.

Pop a breath strip. The taste of peppermint, or any mint, kills appetite. So enjoy a breath strip at any time during the day when you want to avoid a snack. If you're headed to an office birthday party, trying to fight late-night cravings or facing a breakfast buffet that's
a carb carnival, a breath strip can put the brakes on your mindless indulgence.

That was easy, right? Reaching your goal weight can be as simple as adopting some simple strategies that help keep you on track. You can find a host of these strategies in The Wall Street Diet.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

How to Turn Snacks Into Your Secret Diet Weapon

Let's face it: the pothole in every dieter's road to success is hunger. We don't eat just because something tastes good: we eat because we're totally starving! That is why I want to convert you to the Wall Street Diet approach to snacks. Strategic snacking is one of the most effective weapons you have against a poor food choice or (shudder!) a binge. When you keep your hunger in check with an appropriate snack, you're making it much easier to stick to your healthy food choices. But there's a key word here - strategic. If you snack mindlessly (and sometimes stress or fatigue can promote mindless snacking) you'll be adding extra calories to your daily intake without accomplishing your goal of minimizing hunger.

Here are my top Strategic Snacking Tips (you'll find many more in my book, The Wall Street Diet).

Know yourself. Some of my clients have told me that strategic snacking has enabled them to lose weight that they've never been able to lose before. But other clients learn that they don't need snacks at all. How do you tell? It's simple: try going from lunch to dinner without a snack. If you find that you are able to make good choices at dinner and that you're not utterly starving, you probably don't need a snack. If, on the other hand, you're desperate to eat just about anything by the time 5pm rolls around, you are a good candidate for a mid-afternoon snack. I've got lots more details on how to figure out your eating style in The Wall Street Diet (pages 19 - 44). In general, most people who feel they need a snack do well to have a single mid-afternoon snack. People who require more calories because of size or activity level might also choose a mid-morning snack and/or an evening snack. Again, the key is to know yourself and limit your snacking to what's useful and strategic in helping you reach your goals.

Meet the Snacks. OK, so you know you really need a snack to help keep you on track. What do you choose? I have lots of snack recommendations in The Wall Street Diet but here's a condensed version:

If you need a mid-morning snack: Choose a light snack of no more than 80 calories. This might be an apple. 6 ounces of Dannon Light & Fit yogurt, one Laughing Cow Light cheese and a Fiber Rich cracker.

If you need an afternoon snack: The Wall Street Diet (pages 311 -312) includes a complete list of recommended afternoon snacks. They are all up to 200 calories. A few good choices include: a Larabar, a Luna bar, a Nature Valley Granola bar, a 1.3 oz bag of Glenny's Soy Crisps.

If you need an evening snack: An evening snack should be less than 80 calories and it should be eaten right after dinner. A few good choices include Tofutti pops, Edy's Fruit Bars, a frozen Dannon Light & Fit yogurt.

Watch your Weekends. Weekends can be a tough time to diet. You're off schedule. You're socializing and spending time with friends and family. Snacks can play a big role in helping your stick to your eating goals. I suggest you keep lots of healthy snacks on hand for weekends. It's better to over-indulge in a healthy snack than to lose control at a brunch buffet! Some good choices include all the snacks mentioned above a well as low-sodium V-8 juice with lemon over ice, sugar free hot chocolate, cut up cucumber or peppers, soy crisps and herbal teas. For more tips on weekend snacking, see The Wall Street Diet (pages 190-191).

Don't be a health-snack-nut. Have you noticed all those portion-controlled healthy snacks that fill the supermarket aisles these days? What could be wrong with a whole-grain, organic snack? Well, first there are the calories...Even portion controlled snacks can pile on calories. Many of my clients tell me that they find it impossible to stop at one little snack! Moreover, for many dieters, the practice is worse than the calories. Once you get accustomed to downing a nibble here and a bite there it can be a hard habit to break. So limit your snacks to my Wall Street Diet recommended choices and enjoy them strategically, not mindlessly!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Travel Light:How to Turn Your Next Business Trip Into a Spa Trip

Here’s a fresh idea that can change your whole approach to travel. Many of my clients swear by this strategy. Think of your trip – whether for business or pleasure, for two days or a week – as a spa trip. You’ll be away from the usual distractions of your home and family life and it’s your opportunity to focus on…. You! Begin with your flight. A few of my clients use air travel as a ‘cleanse’. They request only hot water and lemon to drink and they fast (unless the flight is quite long). They arrive at their destinations refreshed and light. In fact, an interesting recent study from Harvard researchers published in Science reveals that skipping food in the air may help beat jet lag. It seems the body has a ‘feeding’ clock in the brain and skipping food prompts you to stay awake until you can eat. So what could be better: more alert and more slim! I have lots of details on how to turn an ordinary trip into a Spa Trip. See pages 160 – 165 of The Wall Street Diet.

Travel Light: Eating Well While Enroute

It’s not hard to eat well en route no matter what the sky demons throw at you. Consider the time of day that you’ll be traveling as well as the duration of your flight.


Breakfast. If you’re grabbing an early morning flight, you need to be prepared for a terminal breakfast. I have lots of very specific tips in the The Wall Street Diet on how to find an excellent breakfast at the airport (see pages150-151) even if nothing but Hudson News is open. Here’s my famous “One-Stop Breakfast”: Dash into Starbucks or any coffee shop for a venti skim latte. Yes, it really is half of a healthy breakfast. It’s a shot of espresso along with roughly 9 ounces of milk that will cost you about 200 calories. The second stop is a piece of fruit. Grab a banana or any other fruit. There. You’re done! And you won’t be sitting at the gate or on the tarmac, starving!

Lunch and dinner are really nutrition twins when it comes to travel. The two top choices are a sandwich (choose a turkey on whole wheat with mustard and lettuce) or a chicken Caesar salad with a light balsamic vinaigrette dressing. You can find these at most any airport. Starbucks, which is everywhere, make a good stop because they list the calories on their packaged sandwiches. (In The Wall Street Diet you’ll find detailed airport-by-airport “cheat sheets” on where to eat at most major airports in the world. See pages 261-303.)

Snacks. Don’t forget snacks. They’re lifesavers for when you’re stalled on the tarmac or delayed in the terminal. I have a full list of recommended snacks in The Wall Street Diet. (See pages 153-155.) Excellent snacks include cut up veggies or a piece of fruit or Crispy Delite fruit or Nature Valley Fruit Crisps. An energy bar such as Luna toasted nuts and cranberry, Balance honey yogurt or Kashi TLC granola bar make good choices. Good protein choices include Justin’s nut butter and 2 Fiber Rich crackers or 2 mini Babybel Light or Laughing Cow Light and 2 Fiber Rich crackers.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Diet Recovery Strategies: The Veggie Night

Want to jump-start your diet week? Try a Veggie Night on Sunday night. Or perhaps you had an over-indulgence at a barbeque or picnic. A Veggie Night will re-set your eating clock and get you back to clean and mean. Like a Protein Day, a Veggie Night is just what it sounds like: a night where your dinner is comprised of simply vegetables. (You can find lots of details and suggestions about Veggie Nights in The Wall Street Diet, page 88.) Some of my clients routinely use Veggie Nights one night a week until they reach their goal weight. Others reserve their Veggie Nights as a re-set tool. Whichever works for you… A Veggie Night dinner might be a baked white or sweet potato and two measured cups of steamed vegetables. This meal can be on your plate in under ten minutes if you use your trusty microwave.

Diet Recovery Strategy: The Protein Day

A Protein Day is a super-effective tool that will help you re-set your eating patterns. (It’s described in detail on page 87 of The Wall Street Diet) It’s nothing complicated but it’s surprisingly effective. My clients especially like to use it after a trip or a vacation where they’ve overindulged. A Protein Day is just what it says: a day where you eat primarily protein. For example, breakfast might be 2 eggs, any style, or a 4 to 6-egg-white vegetable omelet. Lunch could be a grilled chicken, fish or any protein over greens with a very, very light dressing. Dinner would be the same as lunch plus perhaps some steamed vegetables. These meals are filling and readily available anywhere. A Protein Day will get you back on diet track.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Banning the "Pickable, Poppable, Dippable, Unstoppable"

Eating is fun. Eating is sometimes unconscious. Put those two facts together with large quantities of food and you’ve got a diet disaster in the making. You know what I’m talking about: those chips in laundry bag sizes, those chocolate samplers that layer on forever… It’s just too tempting. Even healthy foods like cherry tomatoes and carrot sticks and hummus dips can wreak havoc when eaten in large quantities. Many of my clients are champion “mindless eaters” and, when faced with a big bowl of, well, just about anything, they’ll keep going until they reach the bottom. The solution to this is obvious: don’t expose yourself to the Pickable, Poppable... See The Wall Street Diet, page 29 for some specific Pickable, Poppable solutions. But it’s helpful just to recognize that you can’t have vast quantities of food around. Rely on portion-controlled snacks. But small quantities of items like energy bars. Don’t keep a drawer full of healthy, tempting snacks at work. And when you put out the bowl of cherry tomatoes out for the kids, keep it out of your reach!

Friday, May 16, 2008

How to Recover from the “Might-as-Well” Day

We’ve all had “Might-as-Well” Days. We begin brilliantly with a healthy breakfast, a light lunch of a salad with a protein and a piece of fruit in the afternoon. And then (can you hear the horror movie sound track?) you come undone. There’s a birthday party down the hall or the Girl Scouts make their cookie delivery or, well, you know what happens next. You justify eating just about anything because you already blew your diet and you “might as well”. You’ve begun a downward spiral that will only end when your head hits the pillow. This can add up to many, many calories. To say nothing of the bad feeling of failure and frustration. Don’t let it happen to you! Don’t be a “I’ll start again on Monday” dieter. Start again right now! How? See The Wall Street Diet, pages 31, 40, 87, etc. for tons of “Might-as-Well” tips, but for most people, just recognizing a “Might-as-Well” day for what it is helps you firm up resolve even after you’ve had that whopping piece of cake or half box of Thin Mints. Stop and think: isn’t it better to stop at 300 or 500 or even 1000 extra calories than to continue on the road to ruin? For lots of tips on how to recover from “Might-as-Well” Days, see The Wall Street Diet, page 87.)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Tips to Combat the Late Night Munchies

It's all too often that my clients tell me they are “good” all day and then when they settled in for the evening in front of the TV they just couldn’t hold it together any longer! Sundown snackers will grab anything that can’t run away and call it a snack. A handful of cookies, a sleeve of crackers, six ‘portion controlled’ packs of chips…. Nothing is safe! And of course the calories mount up. Most of us do this because the evening is the only part of the day when we can really relax. The rushing around is behind us and we feel, if only subconsciously, that we deserve a reward. Also, while we may be distracted all day by overlapping demands, the evening is finally a time to call our own. Whew! Another frantic day done. Time to unwind. Time to comfort ourselves. Time to, well, eat! Of course, excess calories are the biggest negative to evening snacking. But there are others. Late-night eating can cause you to sleep poorly and wake up tired and with a food hangover to boot. I have a host of solutions to this common dilemma in my book (see The Wall Street Diet, page 36), but here’s one tip that really works: the Turkey Solution. I discovered this trick myself to curb my own night time munchies. Keep three or four quarter-pound bags of sliced turkey (from the deli) in the fridge. Choose low-sodium turkey and avoid honey-roasted, smoked or spiced turkey. Each of these ¼ pound bags will have only about 150 calories. If you’re really, truly hungry, the turkey will satisfy you (and give you a tryptophan boost which will help you sleep.) But if you’re just munching, after a few mouthfuls of turkey, you’ll call it quits. Check out my food blog (link) and let me know if this trick works for you or if you have any other effective late-night snack buster solutions.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Q: My spring calendar is filled with celebrations and parties. How do I control myself when I'm standing next to the mixed nuts and they're handing ou

A: First, observe the arm’s length rule. Always stay an arm’s length of pickable, poppable, unstoppable food. You know what I’m talking about – cheese, nuts, hummus dip… It may sound simple but it’s a tip that’s saved my clients thousands of calories. Be strategic about where you sit and you’ll have less to sit on!

Second, have a plan. Think ahead about your food intake on celebration day. Don’t go anywhere hungry. Pack a protein bar if you’ve got a long stretch between meals. Make a decision in advance about what treats you’re going to enjoy. One piece of wedding cake is fine if you’ve decided in advance that it will be your treat for the day.

A few other tips include: keep a seltzer with lemon or lime in your hands at all times to keep your hands busy. Wear form-fitting clothes (it’s amazing what a snug waistband will do for your willpower!) Be the talker, not the eater. Focus on the celebration – the people, the event – not the food. For a full selection of very specific, very helpful tips on how to handle celebrations, including top cocktail party food picks (page 226), see The Wall Street Diet.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Q: I really, truly can't exercise. Is my diet doomed?

A: I’m so glad to have a chance to answer this question. If I had a dime for everyone who tells me that they can’t diet because they can’t exercise! My response: Don’t! Exercise, that is. If no time to exercise is keeping you from dieting then you should cross exercise off your to-do list for now. It does take time to exercise; it doesn’t take time to eat well. In my experience roughly 80 percent of weight loss is the result of food intake not calories spent in exercise. I myself am an avid exerciser and depend on it to reduce stress as well as for heart and whole body health. But for busy people, adding exercise can become a stress in itself and a barrier to weight loss because it’s an excuse not to eat well. If you’re already exercising, great; continue. But if you can’t find time to exercise now, don’t worry. Focus on eating well - rely on the Wall Street strategies for busy people - and you’ll ultimately reach your goal. For lots of details on how to think about exercise so you won’t be discouraged, as well as countless suggestions, see The Wall Street Diet. (Page 199 gives my famous “twenty minute rule”.)

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Q: I use diet soda to cut down on daily calorie intake. Good or bad idea?

A: Bad idea. Most people who drink diet soda are drinking it as a replacement for water and water is always the best hydrator. Water can actually help boost metabolism. There’s some evidence that suggests that diet drinks can even have a negative effect on weight loss. A recent study found that study animals who ate yogurt sweetened with saccharine versus those who ate it sweetened with sugar experienced weight gain. How’s that for depressing? They’re not certain why this would happen. It could be some metabolic change stimulated by the artificial sweetener or it could be a behavioral change (I’m eating low-cal yogurt so I can have the cupcake.) Some researchers speculate that the artificial sweetener actually triggers your insulin levels and if your insulin levels are triggered you will crave and therefore eat more carbohydrates and more calories overall. In my experience, clients who drink diet soda aren’t drinking water. Despite the fact that some research indicates that water is not important for weight loss, I have seen over and over again clients who are perfect eaters/exercisers but drink no water and can’t seem to lose an ounce. When I insist they up their water intake they lose weight. There is no better research then 10 years of experience! If you are a diet soda addict, try to reduce your intake if you can’t cut it out entirely and make it your goal to get in 6-8 cups of water before drinking your diet soda (this trick always works because there is only so much fluid you can fit into your body : ) . Also try to get in 1 liter by lunch…busy people always wait until the end of the day and there is no way to cram it all in after 6 without having your sleep suffer from the constant bathroom trips. I give a host of tips on water in The Wall Street Diet including recommended daily amounts and how water intake affects weight loss. (You can find a hot tip on the dangers of “diet” mixers on page 134 of The Wall Street Diet.) Bottom line…less diet soda and more water is the way to go to reach your goal.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

How to look and feel fabulous this summer

Have you looked at the calendar lately? There are less than 60 days to Memorial Day weekend! 30 and 40° weather will soon be a memory, and we’ll be basking in 80° sunshine. If your New Year resolutions slipped away in the past few weeks, buried by cold weather, snow, work and family responsibilities, don’t worry: there’s still time to get healthy, fit and lean for summer!

Stress and work productivity
Some of us work better under stress. Give me a deadline, and my creative juices start to flow! The Yerkes-Dawson law states that as stress increases, so does efficiency and production – to a point. At some level, stress becomes too much for us, and burn-out grinds performance and efficiency to a halt.

Stress also has a food connection. Chronic stress actually increases the production of cortisol, a hormone that makes us crave rich, sweet, pleasurable foods. Cortisol demands food high in fat and carbohydrate such as potato chips, donuts, and ice cream to provide a steady source of energy in case we need escape from raging saber-tooth tigers, or deal with escalating work requirements. Cortisol also tells our body to store those extra calories as fat cells in our abdomen, which then turns off the stress hormones.

What do you do when your stress levels zoom through the ceiling? After 9/11, a survey by the American Institute for Cancer Research found that 20% of people were eating more comfort foods such as mashed potatoes or macaroni and cheese. 19% sought out sugar to reduce their stress, reaching for cookies and ice cream. Comfort foods such as cookies, snack crackers, and donuts may make us think we feel better. But that feeling only lasts for a few minutes, and then reality kicks in. We feel physically terrible because our blood sugar is dropping like a rocket. We feel emotionally drained because we ate far more than we anticipated. Our stress levels go even higher because we feel like we just can’t cope and meet our health goals at the same time.

A 3-step approach for success
Don’t let your hectic work, social, and travel schedule get in the way of meeting your health and fitness goals. In my new book, The Wall Street Diet, I outline numerous strategies to reaching your goals. Instead of increasing your stress levels by adding yet another project – a diet – to your already jam-packed life, put these three simple yet effective tips into place.

Tip 1: Prioritize
Maybe you have 5, 10, or more items on your to-do list to get your body health-and-fitness-ready for summer. Prioritize that list, and focus on just one weak area. If you try to do everything at once, you’re going to increase your stress levels, which typically leads to inactivity and failure. Each week pick one primary goal for the week, and stick with it.

For example, you might decide to start with alcohol consumption. Alcohol is the fastest way to add empty calories, and it weakens your resolve to choose healthier foods. The average serving of 1.5 ounces of 80-proof alcohol contains about 90 calories before adding mixers. There’s no need to abstain from alcohol completely. Instead, you might choose to drink only one mixed drink per day. Or you might decide to stick with a glass of wine and forgo high calorie mixers. Try drinking mineral water with a slice of lime at a cocktail party instead of alcohol.

By prioritizing your to-do list, you’ll keep your goals manageable and feel successful. Each small success breeds even more success, and before you know it you’ll make progress in every area on that list.

Tip #2: Prepare
Preparation trumps will power every time. Plan out what you’re going to eat for breakfast and lunch. Limit yourself to one or two breakfast choices, and just a few lunch options to keep it simple and hassle-free. Plan for at least three days per week where you have a finite lunch and dinner, such as a turkey sandwich from the corner deli or a frozen meal for dinner. Pick one or two snacks to bring with you each day. A 6-ounce container of Dannon Lite and Fit yogurt, a Kashi TLC granola bar, an apple, or a Babybel light cheese are satisfying, healthy snacks that won’t increase your stress levels.

Plan ahead for a weekly massage to work away stress. Take a 5 minute walk outside in the middle of the day to let the sunshine revive your spirits. Before you step into a stressful meeting or pick up the phone to call a difficult client, take 5-10 deep, slow breaths. Let the air fill your lungs and energize your body, and exhale away stress and tension.

#3: Recover
If you view any slipup as a defeat instead of a bump in the road, or you demand perfection in your eating habits, you’re more likely to increase your stress levels and strike out on your health and fitness goals. Resetting yourself by doing something active and concrete helps you restructure your thinking so you avoid an all-or-nothing attitude that cripples your success.

Use a Protein Day after a day filled with eating disasters to get right back on track. Base your meals and snacks around protein: eggs or egg whites for breakfast, grilled chicken or fish in a salad for lunch and with steamed vegetables for dinner, and canned tuna or sliced turkey for snacks. A Protein Day gives your body a break from carbohydrates and breaks the cycle of overeating and then feeling terrible.

Another recovery tool is a Veggie Night, where you microwave a white or sweet potato and two cups of vegetables. In less than 10 minutes you have a satisfying meal that helps erase the earlier lapses of the day. Enjoying a Veggie Night helps you regroup, so you wake up the next morning feeling light and ready for a balanced breakfast.

Two months and counting!
Enjoy the warmer weather, sunnier days, and longer periods of daylight as we move through Spring into Memorial Day Weekend. With the tips outlined here, you’ll be beach-ready before you know it!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Spring Pilaf with Salmon and Asparagus

Ingredients

4 cups water
4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets (about 1 inch thick)
1 tablespoon butter
2 cups (1-inch) diagonally cut asparagus
3 cups hot cooked long-grain rice
1 cup fresh or frozen peas, thawed
1/2 cup vegetable broth
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preparation

Bring water to a boil in a large skillet; add salmon (skin side up). Return to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 10 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Remove fish with a slotted spoon and discard water; cool fish slightly. Remove and discard skin; break fish into large pieces.

Return pan to heat; melt butter over medium-high heat. Add asparagus; cook 6 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in rice, peas, and broth; cook 1 minute. Add salmon, parsley, and remaining ingredients; stir well to combine. Cook 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Yield

6 servings (serving size: 1 1/3 cups)

Nutritional Information

CALORIES 391(29% from fat); FAT 12.8g (sat 3.4g,mono 4.3g,poly 4g); PROTEIN 24.7g; CHOLESTEROL 61mg; CALCIUM 43mg; SODIUM 385mg; FIBER 2.7g; IRON 3.2mg; CARBOHYDRATE 42.9g

From Cooking Light, APRIL 2003

Research Roundup: How to reduce your risk of heart disease

Are you curious about what to eat – and what not to eat – to decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease? The OmniHeart trial published information in the February 2008 issue of The Journal of the American Dietetic Association on the effectiveness of three different eating patterns to decrease blood pressure and cardiovascular risk factors. Saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, magnesium, calcium and potassium intake were kept even in the three groups, but total carbohydrate, protein, and monounsaturated fat content differed. All three diets lowered blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and decreased overall risk of developing heart disease. Each diet emphasized the use of fresh fruit, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products; included whole grains, nuts, and fish; and reduced intake of red meat, sweets, and sugary beverages.

These global, population-based messages are important, but science is taking the next step in making individualized recommendations, based on your personal genetic profile. Navigenics is one company with a federally certified laboratory that screens personal genetic material from a sample of saliva and provides clinically-based, individual feedback on specific steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. In the near future, your physician will be able to give you precise guidelines on lifestyle habits to prevent chronic disease. For now, keep eating your fruit, vegetables, nuts, fish, and whole grains.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Honey Oatmeal Muffins

Makes 12 Muffins

Ingredients
¾ cup rolled oats
¾ cup whole wheat flour
¾ cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
14 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/3 cup honey
½ cup milk
½ cup vegetable oil

Directions
Combine oats, flours, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and soda; mix well. Beat eggs, honey, milk and oil together; mix well. Pour honey mixture over dry ingredients; mix only until moistened. Spoon into oiled muffin tins. Bake at 375°F for 20 to 30 minutes or until wooden pick inserted near center comes out clean.

Nutrition Information
179 calories
32% of calories from fat
6.5g fat
36mg cholesterol
26 g carbohydrate
2.5 g dietary fiber
5 g protein
178mg sodium

Source: National Honey Board www.honey.com

Sugar Substitutes and Weight Gain

Researchers from Purdue University tested this theory on two groups of rats in three different experiments. They discovered that rats fed yogurt sweetened with saccharin went on to eat more calories and gained more body fat and weight than another group of rats fed yogurt sweetened with glucose, which is basically pure sugar. The researchers theorize that our bodies expect sweet foods to contain calories, and when they don’t, we overcompensate by eating more calories throughout the day. The findings, published in the February 2008 issue of Behavioral Neuroscience, present a possible explanation for the rising tide of obesity, even in the presence of thousands of foods and beverages sweetened with no-calorie sugar substitutes. This study was done in rats, not humans, and it only used saccharin, an older sugar substitute that is less widely used than aspartame or sucralose. However, limiting your sweet intake – from both sugar and sugar substitutes, seems like a prudent step to maintain a healthy body weight.

The Skinny on Sweeters

Eat too many sugary foods and you run the risk of weight gain and a trip to the dentist to take care of cavities. Some people say that we should use a more natural sweetener than table sugar, such as honey, maple syrup, or agave nectar. And what about sugar substitutes – are they safe to use on a regular basis?

Nutritive vs. Non-Nutritive Sweeteners
Nutritive sweeteners such as table sugar, molasses, and polyols provide energy and contain 2-4 calories per gram of weight. Non-nutritive sweeteners contain no calories, because they are far sweeter than sugar and only tiny amounts are necessary.

Sugar
Sucrose and fructose make up sugar and other sweeteners that occur naturally in foods. Our body doesn’t differentiate between the sugar in an apple, the sugar we stir into our coffee, or the sugar that sweetens muffins and cookies. Molasses, honey, fruit juice concentrate, corn syrup, raw sugar, and brown sugar are examples of sugars routinely added to commercially prepared foods or used at home.

Polyols
Polyols are sweeteners that aren’t well digested and therefore provide about half the calories of sugar. Commonly referred to as ‘sugar alcohols’, the preferred name is polyol, because they’re neither sugar nor alcohol. Polyols sweeten lower-calorie foods such as ice cream, candy, and baked goods that are often labeled “sugar free”, “no sugar added”, or “no added sugars”. Foods that contain polyols are also allowed to use the health claim “Does not promote tooth decay”. Caution: some people experience gas, bloating, or even diarrhea if they consume too many polyols. Just because a food is sugar-free doesn’t mean we should eat a lot of it!
One of the most popular polyols is xylitol, which found naturally in many fruits and vegetables. Xylitol has the same bulk and sweetness as sugar, but one-third fewer calories because it is not completely digested. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, chewing sugar-free gum sweetened with xylitol between meals can significantly decrease risk of dental caries.

Sugar Substitutes
There are five different sugar substitutes currently approved for use in the United States by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Saccharin, aspartame, acesulfame potassium, sucralose, and neotame have undergone rigorous testing and are safe for normal use.

1. Saccharin (Sweet ‘N Low, Sugar Twin, Sweet Magic) is the oldest sugar substitute, widely used for over 100 years. It’s 300-400 times sweeter than sugar. In 1977 saccharin was banned due to research showing it caused cancerous tumors in rats. After thorough scientific review, in 1985 the American Medical Association determined that saccharin is safe for human consumption. Because other sugar substitutes with better taste and little or no aftertaste are now available, saccharin is used less often. Children should not use saccharin due to limited research on its safety in this age group. Pregnant women are cautioned to avoid saccharin because it crosses the placenta.
2. Aspartame (Equal, Nutrasweet, SweetMate, NatraTaste), 180 times sweeter than sugar, was approved for general use in 1976. The widespread allegation that the breakdown products of aspartame – methanol and formate – cause lupus, multiple sclerosis, or brain tumors is untrue, with additional research proving the safety of aspartame.
3. Acesulfame potassium (Sunett, SweetOne, Swiss Sweet) was approved for use in 1988. It’s most often used in combination with other sweeteners or in soft drinks, and is 200 times sweeter than sugar. One of the byproducts of acesulfame potassium is phenylalanine, a naturally occurring amino acid. Phenylalanine is safe for everyone except for the small percentage of people with phenylketonuria who cannot metabolize it. That’s why you see the statement “Phenylketonurics: contains phenylalanine” on any food or beverage that contains acesulfame potassium.
4. Sucralose (Splenda) is actually made from sucrose, or table sugar. That’s why the advertising for sucralose says it tastes like sugar. Sucralose is 600 times sweeter than sugar and is used in hundreds of foods and beverages. Sucralose is made by substituting three chlorine atoms for three hydrogen-oxygen groups on the sugar molecule. Chlorine is actually a natural part of many types of foods we eat every day, including lettuce, tomatoes, and melons, and the small amounts present in sucralose are safe for human consumption.
5. Neotame is a sweetening powerhouse: it’s 7000 to 13,000 times sweeter than sugar! It was approved for general use in 2002, and is typically found blended with other sugar substitutes in foods and beverages.

Stevia is a sweetener made from a South American shrub. It cannot be marketed or sold as a sweetener within the United States because the FDA has not yet established its safety. You’ll find stevia marketed as a dietary supplement in many health stores.

There are two sugar substitutes currently undergoing review by the FDA:

1. Alitame (Aclame) is 2000 times sweeter than sugar, and enhances the flavor of other sugar substitutes. It’s currently approved for use in Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, and the People’s Republic of China.
2. Cycalmate was discovered in 1937 and was approved for use in the US until 1970, when it was banned due to concerns it led to cancer in animals. In 1985 the National Academy of Sciences concluded that cyclamates are not carcinogenic on their own, and there is currently a petition to reapprove its use. It’s only 30 times sweeter than sugar, but when combined with other sugar substitutes can enhance the overall sweet flavor.

Three other non-caloric sweeteners are currently approved for use in the US as flavor enhancers, not sweeteners. They are 50-3000 times sweeter than sugar, but require additional research before they can be utilized as sugar substitutes. Dihydrochalcones (DHCs), glycyrrhizin and thaumatin (Thalin) are found in beverages, chewing gum, and some baked goods.

Because sugar substitutes are so much sweeter than sugar, a little goes a very long way. Other ingredients, such as maltodextrin or polydextrose, are added to sugar substitute packets to provide bulk. The current trend is to blend two or more different sugar substitutes together for the best-tasting product.

How Much Is Too Much?
The National Academy of Sciences’ Food Nutrition Board recommends no more than 25% of total calories should come from added sugars, including sugar, high fructose corn syrup, honey, and maple syrup. For a woman eating 1400 calories per day, 350 calories could potentially come from added sugars. Adding some sweetness to foods increases our enjoyment of eating, and keeping sugar consumption to a moderate level is definitely part of a balanced, healthy diet.

Up to 90% of consumers routinely use sugar substitutes, or foods that already contain sugar substitutes. The FDA determines an acceptable amount of each sugar substitute that can be safely used over a person’s lifetime, and includes a 100-fold safety factor. That means you could eat 100 times the recommended amount of a sugar substitute and not worry about health problems. Research studies show that the vast majority of people use healthy amounts of sugar substitutes.

Our Sweet Recommendations
Recent research published in the Journal of Food Science shows that the more artificial sweeteners we use, the more we crave sweet foods and beverages, which may increase our overall calorie intake and make it more difficult to lose weight. And the research we discuss in this newsletter brings up a disturbing possibility that using sugar substitute may actually cause our body to crave more calories, so that we gain body fat. It makes sense to use the least amount of sugars and sugar substitutes possible, especially if they’re used in foods that don’t contain many healthy nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Water or skim milk are healthier beverages than diet soda; a fresh apple packs a larger nutrient punch than canned applesauce sweetened with Splenda, and candy is still candy – even if it’s sugar free!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Oriental Clementine Spinach

In the winter, it may feel like fresh fruit and vegetables are missing. However, clementines are prominent in the supermarkets this time of year. Moreover, clementines are a great source of fiber and vitamin C. This recipe is low in calories and full of flavor. It is a great way to include more fruits and vegetables and get started on some wonderful eating habits.

Serves 6

2 packages (10 oz. each) fresh spinach
1/3 cup vegetable broth
1 tbsp. soy sauce
½ tsp. sugar
3 clementines, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
1 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds

  1. Remove stems and wash spinach. Place spinach and ¼ cup of water in a large saucepan. Cook covered over medium-heat for 4 to 5 minutes until leaves are just wilted, stirring occasionally. Drain well.
  2. Combine vegetable broth, soy sauce, and sugar in a saucepot. Bring to a boil. Stir in spinach and Clementine pieces and heat. Sprinkle with sesame seeds before serving.

**The above recipe was adapted from The Produce For Better Health Foundation

Research Round-up: Predicting Weight Maintenance

We all know there are many ways to lose weight - some are healthy and some are not so healthy. Generally, when simply looking to drop pounds in any way possible, such as a detox diet, you can end up packing on even more weight later on. In a recent study, slated to be published in January of 2008 in Preventing Chronic Diseases, researchers looked at the dietary practices and physical activity changes that led to successful weight maintenance. The researchers analyzed data on number of daily fruit and vegetable servings, minutes per week of physical activity, dining out frequency and confidence in one's ability to engage in behavioral strategies. They found that adults who reported not eating at fast-food restaurants (as compared with going two or more times per week) were more successful at weight loss maintenance. In addition, those who consumed fewer than five fruits and vegetables, but accrued more than 420 minutes of physical activity per week, or those who consumed five or more servings of fruits and vegetables and accrued 150 minutes or more of physical activity were more successful maintainers than those adults who consumed fewer than 5 fruits or vegetables per day and who were sedentary. Therefore, the behaviors that were adopted in order to initially lose the weight do indeed have some bearing on whether you will be able to keep the weight off. As you embark on your New Year's resolution, please keep this in mind, and aim for a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet and physical activity.

The Scoop on Detox Diets

"Detox" is apparently the magic word in the dieting world. Whether it is through celebrities or magazine diet plans the benefits of detoxification seem to be touted everywhere. But, what exactly is detox, and is it beneficial?

The Claim
Those who support detox claim that our bodies are constantly overloaded with toxins. These can include pollution, cigarette smoke, pesticides, alcohol, caffeine, and food additives. They claim that when these toxins build up in our systems, health problems can occur, including weight gain, headaches, bloating, fatigue, and a general lack of well-being. The advocates for detox feel that removing these toxins will help us to lose weight and feel better.

What is Detox?
There are many methods of detoxification. They range from pleasant activities such as saunas and massage to fairly unpleasant procedures such as colonic irrigation or bowel enemas. For many detox plans, herbal supplements are also recommended, and as is most popular in the United States, a detox plan will almost always have a large dietary component. Detox diets may include fasting, consuming only fruits and vegetables, consuming a limited range of foods, or avoiding caffeine and alcohol.

The Facts
Even though detox diets seem to be mainstream in popular culture, there is no scientific evidence to suggest that the human body needs help getting rid of waste products if it is healthy. Our bodies are completely capable of excreting waste without fasting, enemas, or induced sweating - that's why we have a liver, lungs, kidneys, and skin.

Strict detox diets that are followed for a long period of time can actually lead to nutritional deficiencies and associated health problems. For instance, if you follow only a juice diet, then you will be missing nutrients such as calcium. A prolonged deficiency of calcium may lead to osteoporosis or brittle bones down the line. Moreover, if you fast for a significant period of time, then your metabolism will likely slow down, and your body will adjust to a very low calorie intake. Therefore, when you return to a normal eating pattern, you will be more likely to gain weight.

Is there Weight Loss?
Of course! How can there not be weight loss when you are barely eating anything? Cutting out major food groups - or all food - will drastically slash your caloric intake. In fact, the more severe the "detox", the more weight you'll be likely to lose simply due to a lack of food. Plus, the fact that you are drinking loads of water helps lead to a loss of water weight as well. However, as mentioned above, the weight loss will be accompanied by a slowing of your metabolism, leading to a very likely weight regain once real foods are reintroduced to the diet.

Are there any pros to detoxing?
Many people are probably following unhealthy diets. If following a one or two day detox plan helps get you into a healthy eating frame of mind, then a detox can be great. Detox diets can encourage healthy eating habits such as including more produce into your diet, drinking more water, or cutting back on processed foods. Detox diets also encourage forgoing alcohol and caffeine. All of these changes can be wonderful for your health and motivate you to get on track.

So What Should I do?
If you feel you need a one or two day detox to get you on track, then fine. But then please, give it up! Severe restriction is not healthy and is almost definitely not maintainable in the long-term. In addition, many of these detox plans put certain foods on a pedestal. While a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can provide vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber, there is no one food that can provide nutritional nirvana. During this New Year, if you want to maintain or achieve optimal health, the best approach is a balanced diet and regular exercise.

re you curious about what to eat – and what not to eat – to decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease? The OmniHeart trial published information in the February 2008 issue of The Journal of the American Dietetic Association on the effectiveness of three different eating patterns to decrease blood pressure and cardiovascular risk factors. Saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, magnesium, calcium and potassium intake were kept even in the three groups, but total carbohydrate, protein, and monounsaturated fat content differed. All three diets lowered blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and decreased overall risk of developing heart disease. Each diet emphasized the use of fresh fruit, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products; included whole grains, nuts, and fish; and reduced intake of red meat, sweets, and sugary beverages.

These global, population-based messages are important, but science is taking the next step in making individualized recommendations, based on your personal genetic profile. Navigenics is one company with a federally certified laboratory that screens personal genetic material from a sample of saliva and provides clinically-based, individual feedback on specific steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. In the near future, your physician will be able to give you precise guidelines on lifestyle habits to prevent chronic disease. For now, keep eating your fruit, vegetables, nuts, fish, and whole grains.