Archive for Food/Nutrition

OH, THAT FEAR OF FAT!

In the good ole days, if you were up a few pounds, all you needed to do was cut calories and, voila, the weight would come off. This method worked every time. Then, one day it stopped working. HOW COME? 

Well, let’s just add this to the list of the “cons of aging”. I’m seeing this happen more and more with my clients over fifty, where cutting calories no longer promotes weight loss. This leads to A LOT of frustration. The solution?  Instead of cutting calories, you need to reduce your intake of refined carbohydrates and sugar and add healthy fat.

As you age, you can become more sensitive to carbohydrates. This sensitivity starts a domino effect: Too much sugar leads to chronic inflammation; chronic inflammation can lead to becoming insulin resistant; both of these factors prevent you from losing weight because you become much more efficient at storing fat.

Here’s something fascinating: When I encourage my clients to add more healthy fat to their diets, most of them BLANCH at the idea. I can even see the fear and panic through their masks! This is probably because we came of age in the “low-fat era”. We were told that fat was bad.  Product after product proudly displayed “low-fat” or “fat-free” disclaimers. To make lower fat foods taste good, food companies had to add sugar for palatability. In spite of the low-fat craze, Americans got fatter. Even though we now understand that sugar is the real culprit, we still carry that emotional fear of fat.

Healthy fats are unsaturated. Unsaturated fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids), come from plant sources, and stay liquid at room temperature. They are not only an essential part of your diet, but have more than 2x the calories compared to protein and carbohydrates. That’s why fat is filling! This means that a little bit of fat goes a long way. Unsaturated fats can be found in in nuts, nut butter, avocados, olive oil, and fatty fish. These are the fats that I want you to eat. AND, I don’t want you to be afraid to eat them.

I want to give you a couple of examples of what I’m taking about.

Example 1: Let’s say you love to eat 2 slices of whole wheat toast for breakfast with ¼ of an avocado. I would much prefer, 1 slice of toast and ½ of an avocado.

Example 2: Your favorite breakfast is ¾ cup of oats for oatmeal served with 1 cup of blueberries and sprinkled with brown sugar. I would prefer, ½ cup of oats, ½ cup of blueberries, ¼ cup of chopped nuts and sprinkled with chia seeds.

Notice–in both of these examples, I cut down the carbs and added healthy fat. Often, when I make these suggestions, the first question I hear is, “Isn’t this just too fattening?” The answer is no. If you are trying to lose weight and are stuck, you need to reduce those carbs. Adding healthy fat will increase satiety and satisfaction.

I am not suggesting for you to have a fat “free for all”. Remember—fat is calorically dense so you must watch your portions. If you’re used to using a “shmear” of peanut butter on a slice of toast, but feel hungry soon after, do an experiment:  try using a portion size, which is 2 tablespoons. You might be surprised at how this fills you up. In addition, the protein and the fat in the peanut butter will slow down the absorption of the carbs in the bread.

We all know that eating carbs leads to eating more carbs and wanting more. That’s why fat is so fabulous—fat doesn’t cause a rise in the hormone, insulin.

One last detour: I want to mention Weight Watchers, because most women I know (including me) have been on Weight Watchers at some point in their lives. Weight Watchers, in essence, counts calories via points. I know it has morphed over the years, but I think Weight Watchers has contributed to the “fear of fat”.  I still hear, “That’s just too many points”, when I suggest getting an extremely high-quality olive oil and using more than a teaspoon on a salad.  Many of my clients over fifty find that Weight Watchers no longer works for them. Again, it’s not a calorie issue, it’s what those calories are made out of.

So, between the low-fat era, and Weight Watchers we are paralyzed to add fat. I say, let’s stop the madness!  If you are stuck and unable to lose weight, try an experiment: Cut the processed carbs. Add some healthy fat. Initially, measure a serving size of fat so you understand how much you’re eating. You might be very surprised at the results!

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DO-RE-MI + FOOD

We all know the song, “Do-Re-Mi”, from “The Sound of Music”. The first line says, “Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.” For so many of us, we need to start at the very beginning when it comes to food.

I can’t tell you how many clients come to me completely bewildered. Not only are there so many diet plans, but studies frequently come out contradicting previous findings.

EGGS ARE A GREAT SOURCE OF PROTEIN, AND HEALTHY. (JUST KIDDING, NO THEY’RE NOT)

WE NEED TO CONSUME LOW-FAT DAIRY PRODUCTS. (NOPE……FULL FAT IS THE ONLY WAY TO GO.)

CARBS ARE EVIL. (SOME CARBS ARE PACKED FULL OF NUTRIENTS LIKE WHOLE GRAINS)

It is beyond confusing to navigate through all of this information and that’s even before we get bombarded with messages about our bodies. We need to look a certain way, dress a certain way, and are held to an impossible standard. We constantly see images of beautiful women, who have had hours of hair and make-up, along with a touch of photoshopping. No wonder we feel the way we do!

Before you can make any kind of healthy eating plan,  you first must understand what foods you like to eat. I know this seems very basic but I have a lot of clients who are eating foods that they do not like but are ONLY eating them because they believe that they’re healthy. They are choking down things like egg whites and spinach, quinoa, and celery juice. I can tell you with certainty that this method NEVER works in the long-run. Without feeling satisfied, all of that “healthy” eating will go out the window the minute a bag of Goldfish crackers comes into view.

If this sounds familiar, take a week off to be curious and to explore. Go back to the beginning and think about what you’re in the mood for instead of automatically reaching for things that you don’t like. Once you have a better understanding of what you like, you can then tweak your diet to make it healthier. You might discover that you actually DO like broccoli but can only enjoy it when cooked with a sprinkle of cheese. Maybe eating a salad is good in theory only, since it always leaves you yearning for more. Maybe you will decide that you will NEVER eat an asparagus again. Do this experiment so you can build a solid foundation, instead of living with a flimsy one that keeps collapsing. (Hence the need to keep “starting over”, every Monday!)

 Start at the very beginning because it’s a very good place to start!

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A PICTURE IS WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS

Recently, a client of mine, let’s call her Samantha, was contemplating losing weight. I made a suggestion: I told her to start a food journal and to send it to me. Journaling is the best way to understand what’s going on. Plus, if Samantha had to send it to me, she would naturally start cleaning up her diet. She wasn’t happy with this suggestion—food journaling, if done right, is tedious. I would not only need to  know what she was eating, but would also need to have an idea about portion sizes and how the food was prepared. Once I saw the look of horror on her face, I came up with another idea that was MUCH easier: I wanted Samantha to send me a photo of everything she was eating. She was in!

Within a day or two, I got clarity!  Where were the fruits and vegetables? There were some, but not nearly enough.  Once I pointed this out to her, within days, her photos started to change! Look at this before and after:

Here, she was eating some Japanese food, which is fine—this was seared tuna and beef rolls. But look at her plate! No colors.

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Compare that to this colorful plate!

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These photos told us a lot!  Samantha was starting to change her habits, and was religiously journaling through photos. I was thrilled! It’s too early to know if Samantha will lose weight but I know for sure that she’s eating healthier and that’s what’s most important. (Stay tuned for Samantha’s progress! 😉)

Unless photos are photoshopped, they don’t lie.  If you want to figure out what’s going on, start taking photos with your phone. The pictures will tell a great story, which might help you get clarity on where you’re going wrong.

 

 

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JUST MAKE IT BETTER

A client of mine, let’s call her Cindy, has been struggling to eat healthier. In the past, she’s gone on several diets and like most people, was only successful in the short run. In Cindy’s case, being on a diet reflexively makes her feel denied, which is never a good thing.  Since I hate diets, we are creating new plan, which includes a different way of thinking about food. Our plan is called: JUST MAKE IT BETTER

JUST MAKE IT BETTER means you get to eat foods that you love but have to “doctor” iStock-1131794876.t5d482e40.m800.xtDADj9SvTVFjzuNeGuNUUGY4tm5d6UGU5tkKM0s3iPk-620x342them up to make the meal healthier. For example, if you love chicken Parmesan from your local pizzeria, instead of eating the whole portion, cut it into thirds. Eat 1/3 with a giant salad. Eat 1/3 with bowl of broccoli. Eat the last 1/3 with a bunch of raw fruits and vegetables. I would  rather Cindy eat a small portion of food that makes her feel satisfied, than eating something she doesn’t like but chooses it only because it’s “healthy”.  That strategy never works.

JUST MAKE IT BETTER can look like this:

Instead of eating two pieces of white toast with jam for breakfast, change it to one slice whole-grain toast, and add some avocado slices and/or an egg.

Instead of eating 2-3 slices of pizza, have one small slice with a large salad or veggies.

Instead of eating a large carton of greasy Chinese food, get a small container along with a large container of steamed veggies. Mix ½ of the small with all of the large and you have just made your meal a heck of a lot better!

JUST MAKE IT BETTER gives you freedom to stay clear of feeling denied. You can have fun being creative. You can slowly include more and more fruits and vegetables and swap out most processed foods. If you do it slowly and have an open mind, you might find this way of eating a perfect plan for you, too. You don’t have to overthink…..you have to JUST MAKE IT BETTER!

 

 

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KEEP CALM AND JINGLE ON

If you are reading this blog it means that you have survived Thanksgiving. Congratulations! It also means that we are officially embedded in the holiday season. This translates into more exposure to treats, parties, treats, stress, treats, crowds, treats, shopping, treats, family, treats, chaos.

It is so easy to get caught up in all of the holiday eating. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that January 1st is right around the corner so you’ll rein it in then. It’s not. It’s a full month away and you can do damage in 30 days if you’re not careful.  I’ve seen this pattern with many of my clients: The holidays bring a few extra pounds that, come January, don’t come off. This is not a problem if it weren’t recurring. However, several years down the road, you might find yourself shocked to be 10-15 pounds heavier. This weight gain is sneaky!

While it will be harder to eat healthier during this time, you can do it. Thanksgiving keep_calm_and_jingle_rustic_holiday_party_invite-r1ec2da3de3334414b7f618dae591eb41_6gd4r_140.jpgwas just one meal. One party is just one party. Christmas dinner is just one dinner. If you are more vigilant at your very next meal, you will walk away from the holiday season unscathed.

Many of my clients find that they eat healthier when exercising consistently. This holiday season, JINGLE ON! (Think of it as the holiday word for exercise.) If you keep calm with your holiday eating and jingle on, you won’t be stuck feeling overwhelmed in January!

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