Archive for Food/Nutrition

THE DETRIMENT OF DIETING

Many of you know how I feel about diets: I HATE THEM. I know this is a strong statement but I would feel differently if they worked. They don’t. In fact, chronic images.pngdieting wreaks havoc on your psyche and on your body. Emotionally, unsuccessful dieting can make you feel like a failure, full or shame and self-hatred, and/or utterly frustrated. Physically, chronic yo-yo dieting can slow down your metabolism. In addition, it can change your body composition leaving you with more fat and less muscle.

Here’s another huge problem with dieting: You become so focused on the rules of the diet that you lose the  connection that you have with your body. You learn to accept feeling hungry, cutting out food groups, or eating foods that you don’t really enjoy. This is not conducive for long-term success.

A client of mine, let’s call her Jane, has been a chronic dieter her whole life. She’s a woman in her mid-forties, who came to me because she wanted to lose weight. After talking with her and understanding her long diet history, I knew she was looking for me to solve the problem. She would have been ecstatic if I handed her a sheet of paper, telling her exactly what to eat. In essence, she was looking for another diet.

I had to set Jane straight. I wanted her focus NOT to be dieting or weight loss but on other factors that were keeping her from losing weight—her real barriers. One of Jane’s barriers was her erratic work schedule. Often, she would go for long periods of time without food. By the time she had a break, she was “starving”, so naturally, when she sat down to eat, she ate too much and too much of the wrong foods.  However, when Jane’s work was more predictable, her eating was mindful and healthy. She had time to shop, prep and cook. Most importantly, she had time to figure out when she felt hungry (and not starving) and when she had enough (satiety). This is what mindful eating is all about.

My strategy for Jane was to have her armed and ready for the erratic days. She had to make sure she had healthy snacks, like fruit and nuts, to keep that “starving feeling” at bay. She is starting to see how this is making a big difference rather than following a strict diet, feeling strangulated with restrictions, and then  throwing in the towel because it’s just too hard. I am encouraging her to focus on her body to see what it’s telling her and to act accordingly.  In her case it means that she can’t ignore the hunger. This is a long-term strategy rather than, in the short-term,  counting calories on an app, and ignoring her body’s signals.

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE:  If you want to lose weight, and have not been successful, DO NOT try another diet.  Instead, try a DIFFERENT approach: Take the focus OFF of weight loss and look for the underlying barriers that are sabotaging your progress.

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SALAD 101

Some of my clients only seem to enjoy eating salads when they’re out in a restaurant.  They find making them at home to be tedious and for some reason, their salads seem to be BLAH. Eating a lot of greens is a wonderful way to pour nutrients and phytochemicals into your body,  so I’d like to give you a few pointers so that you can enjoy delicious salads at home.

  1. Keep your greens dry. So often, we buy a giant container of mixed greens, spinach or arugula, only to find that there were a few wet leaves in the mix that caused rotting of a good portion of the salad.  To avoid this, open the container, pick out the wet leaves,  and store the remaining dry ones in reusable green bags. I use Debbie Meyer GreenBags and love them! The greens stay fresher longer and I can re-use the bags. You can also put a paper towel in the bag to absorb any additional water.  You will have crisp greens ready at your fingertips:  https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B015Y7B57U/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o05_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
  2. Be creative! Add things to your salad that you love. I love adding some fruit into my salads. In the summer, I add strawberries and blueberries. In the winter, I add apples, pears or grapes. You can add leftover cooked vegetables, any protein that you like,  or sprinkle your salads with beans. Aged cheeses, like Parmesan or feta,  go a long way—you will be surprised how little you’ll need to make a huge IMG_1073difference! Make your salads colorful! Add sliced yellow peppers, red spiralized beets, and/or orange carrots. You can include green avocado, orange slices and/or yellow corn.
  3. Season it! This is a game changer. Sprinkling a bit of salt on your salad will make your salad come to life. Flavors will pop and everything will taste better. I learned this trick when I lived in Italy for eight years. It was also reinforced when I read the cookbook, “Salt, Fat Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking” by Samin Nosrat and Wendy MacNaughton. Salt enhances sweetness and blocks bitterness.
  4. Toss it! Pouring dressing on salad in a bowl and pushing it around with your fork is no way to eat a salad. Get a large wooden salad bowl so you have room to toss. I bought this one from amazon and love it.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07Q312WXN/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1

5. Top quality olive oil is the key. I am not a fan of salad dressings because many of them are full of chemicals. Olive oil, instead, is a heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. If you get a good brand, and choose extra-virgin, you might pay a bit more for it, but it will be worth it! For some tips on what to look for, check out this link:

https://www.bonappetit.com/story/how-to-buy-olive-oil-beginners-guide

In summary, having just a few tools—good storage bags for salad greens, and a wooden salad bowl to toss, will make salads easier to create.  Adding colorful ingredients that you love, a sprinkle of salt and some high quality extra-virgin olive oil,  will make home salads taste spectacular!

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“VIOLET, YOU’RE TURNING VIOLET, VIOLET!”  

In 1971, when I was 8-years old, the movie, “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”, came out. One of the most memorable scenes of the film was when Violet Beauregarde, turned purple. If you are having a memory lapse, Violet was the little a79541866607632a1d9de93c06724ba1.jpggirl who was obsessed with chewing gum. In the movie, she grabbed a unique piece of gum, that wasn’t fully tested. This gum was a three-course meal and when she got to the best part, the blueberry pie dessert, it all went downhill, as poor Violet started turning purple and filled with fluid. She had to be rolled off and pumped. I was horrified.

I can make the case, as someone who is passionate about good nutrition, that the gum was just processed food gone awry. Now, 48 years later, I am just as horrified but for a different reason: Our supermarkets are filled with isles of processed foods, marketed to children, and engineered to light up your brain and to get you addicted. Most people don’t binge on roasted chicken or grilled asparagus but they certainly can on things like Teddy Grahams, Cheez-Its, Animal Crackers, or Doritos. There are chemicals, dyes, and additives in all of these. I have a suspicion that if you ate an entire bag of Flamin Hot Nacho Cheese Doritos, finished the bag, and then started turning a reddish-orange color, you might just think twice about eating them again!

Just saying…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

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NEED SOME REAL COMFORT? DITCH THE COMFORT FOODS

The other day, one of my favorite clients came to see me. She told me that the day before she was feeling sad and stressed. In the past, she had turned to food for comfort and considered herself a “stress eater”. When she said, “You won’t believe what I ate,” I thought that she must have turned to foods like pizza, Chinese food, or ice-cream.  To my delight, instead of turning to these comfort foods,  my client cooked a meal for herself—she made an interesting chicken harissa dish, which was full of great nutrition. After she ate, she felt so much better. I was thrilled!  Cooking for yourself is the ultimate in self-nurturing.

Here’s something ironic:  From a digestion point of view, comfort foods, which are typically rich and high in fat, are far from comforting.  If you feel sluggish or tired after eating these types of foods it’s not in your head—it’s literally in your gut. Of the three macronutrients, fat takes longer than protein or carbohydrate to digest. Fat is over two times more caloric, stays with you longer and keeps you fuller. This is a good thing when you’re eating healthy fats like nuts, avocados or olive oil. But turning to heavy, greasy foods when stressed will NOT make you any feel better.

Bottom line: If you’re stressed and need some comfort, try something choppedhealthy that will make you feel better!

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FATTENING: WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

Every now and then a client will ask me if a particular food is “fattening” and each time it stops me in my tracks. The word, fattening, seems antiquated to me. What does “fattening” mean?  Foods that contain fat? Foods that make you fat? High-fattening-foods-538x218calorie foods?

According to Merriam-Websters’ electronic dictionary, the word “fattening” was first used in 1877. It means “causing or tending to cause an increase in body fat.” Given this definition, even healthy foods, if eaten in large quantities, can be fattening. If someone, for example, started eating 4,  whole, roasted chickens everyday for lunch,  they would gain weight and yes, gain fat, making chicken fattening.  On the flip side, I can make the argument and there is not one food, eaten in moderation, that IS fattening. If you are a healthy eater most of the time and splurge once in a while with an ice-cream cone,  some French fries,  or a donut, those unhealthy foods will not make you gain weight or gain fat.

Bottom line: Keep your mind open when it comes to food . Aim to eat foods that you truly enjoy, try to make them as healthy as you can, and strive to eat when you’re hungry and stop when you are satisfied. And when it comes to those not-so-healthy treats,  keep them around for special occasions and be moderate with them, too. This way, nothing can be considered fattening.

 

 

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FOOD: STOP THE INSANITY

Yesterday morning, at 9 am, I got a text from a client. I haven’t seen her in several weeks because she was busy traveling for work. Traveling is very difficult—there might be a time change affecting sleep, there is usually a lot of eating out, and there might be lack of exercise. My client was clearly feeling frazzled. Her text said something like this: “I need to get my food back to together again. If you have time can you look at these two restaurants that I’ll be going to and tell me what to order.” I bet many of you can relate to this. She wanted me to pick something healthy for her so she didn’t have to think about it. While I understand her motivation, this made no sense to me.

Eating healthy isn’t only about calories, fat or carbs. It’s about satisfaction and woman-not-happy-dieting1enjoyment. If you leave these two elements out, you will get into trouble. You will eventually search for something that DOES satisfy you and after a healthy meal or even after a full day of healthy eating, you might seek the “forbidden” foods. I wanted my client to pick something that SHE was in the mood for and so I sent her the following text back:

“Ok……I looked at all the menus and there are PLENTY of great things that you can eat at both places. You certainly don’t need me to choose for you because I actually want you to eat food that YOU want!  I want you to enjoy it and feel satisfied and not feel ‘ICK…….I had the fish that I don’t even like because Rhonda told me to.’ You know what to avoid: fried food, dishes full of heavy sauces or giant portions. But if you’re in the mood for steak, I’d much rather you eat steak instead of chicken that you don’t even enjoy. Life is too short!”

She wrote back:  “You’re right!”

We have been so conditioned that certain foods are evil. So many of us not only classify foods as “good” or “bad” but we actually tell ourselves that we were “bad” when we ate a plate of pasta or a piece of bread. We spend so much time obsessing about healthy food, and worrying (and feeling guilty!) about eating the wrong food. In doing so, we are missing out on enjoyment and satisfaction. We don’t even think about what we feel like eating and have lost our ability to be intuitive about food.

I would love to see all of us stop this insanity. Let’s try to erase the notion that there are “forbidden” foods and incorporate them into our lives in moderation. This way, we can stop going on diets (that don’t work)  and can ditch the diet mentality, which is all about restriction.

I have been a trainer for over 15 years and a nutritionist for almost 8 years and I can say with certainty that I have never seen restriction yielding any positive results. We need the satisfaction and enjoyment to be truly healthy!

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ARE YOU A NIGHTTIME SNACKER?

I know this scenario will resonate with many of you: You eat healthily all day long and then something happens after dinner. You lose your resolve, and the images.jpgsnacking starts. Why does this happen? Here are some questions to think about…..

Q: Are you eating food that you enjoy or are you eating food that you THINK you should be eating because it’s healthy? If you continue to do this, your brain will feel as if  you’re on a diet—that you are depriving yourself, which is why you can hold it together during the day but lose it at night. Recently, a client of mine made herself a broccoli and avocado omelet for breakfast. Did she love this? Not really. She wanted to add a slice a toast but chose not to, since she was avoiding bread. In doing so, she felt deprived, which lead to nighttime eating. An additional piece of whole-grain bread would have added a tremendous amount of satisfaction and not that many additional calories, compared to a nighttime binge. I am not suggesting that you eat pancakes and bacon for breakfast smothered in syrup. However, sprinkling cheese on an omelet, a salad or a sandwich, adding a slice a bread to a meal, or having a small serving of whole grains can actually be binge preventions. Make your meals healthy but satisfying.

Q: Are you eating enough during the day? I also see this issue over and over. We feel reluctant to eat too much because we want to “save” the calories for later. This strategy never works because it means that you might be approaching a meal (usually dinner), too hungry. Intense hunger always leads to over eating. I had a client who I felt was not eating enough during the day so I analyzed her diet. I noticed that she was getting about 30% of her calories from breakfast and lunch, another 10% from snacks,  and 60% in the evening.  Not good! She reluctantly took my advice and started eating more during the day, which to her amazement, stopped her nighttime cravings. Eat more during the day—don’t be afraid and don’t “save” those calories. If you don’t eat enough during the day, you are increasing your chances of an evening sabotage.

Q: Do you find yourself mindlessly eating when bored, stressed or upset? It could be that you have developed some bad habits that you have to slowly un-do. Figure out where you are going wrong and come up with a new plan.  If you get stuck, find a nutritionist, who will be able to come up with effective strategies for you. There also might be an underlying, deeper issue that you need to address. Most of the time, these issues are extremely difficult to resolve on your own and I encourage anyone, who is suffering, to seek professional help.

 

 

 

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