Thursday, December 29, 2011

How a food contract can help you lose weight

How to succeed with your new years resolutions & goals 
New years is around the corner, and this is a perfect time to make some positive changes in your diet and exercise routine. Most people make new year resolutions every year and fail to follow them, so lets break that cycle! Let's make this year different, we will follow through with our resolutions! But how? 
By using a food contract! I learned this method in my nutrition counseling class, and I think its a great way to help you carry out your goals. It gives you a constant reminder of your goals and away that makes you accountable for them. This method was also proven by Gretchen Rubin in her New York Times bestseller book "The Happiness Project." 

Download the food contract sheet I made, then read the guidelines on how to follow it below. Click on the link to download: 

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How to fill out the food contract

  • A food contract is an agreement singed by you to follow goals set fourth by you in the following week. 
  • You should decide on 3 goals per week, no more, so you are more likely to follow through with them. 
  • According to Rubin's research, people are more likely to succeed in reaching their goals if they are concrete, measurable, and have accountability and positive reinforcement.
  • So when choosing goals:
    • Goals should be short term. Something you can do this week, such as "Swap out an apple for a cake", as opposed to long-term goals such as "lose 5 pounds." Your short-term goals should put you in the right direction to achieve that long-term goal. 
    • Reasonable - You want to succeed, so choose something reasonable to you. If you hate waking up early and are not a morning person, a goal you probably shouldn't pick is "Wake up every day at 5 am for a 30 minute workout." Choose something you know you can follow through with! Also by reasonable I mean that if you have never worked out a day in your life a goal such as "Work out for 2 hours every day of the week" is probably not going to happen. Something like "Walk for 30 minutes around the neighborhood on Monday, Friday, and Saturday" is more reasonable. Take baby steps, this week a little step forward then next week another step. 
    • Measurable & Specific - You goal should be measurable. That means you can definitely know if you did it. It should also be specific and include a what, when, where, and how. A measurable and specific goal is "Take my dog for a 20 minute walk every day after lunch." As opposed to a non measurable and specific goal such as "Exercise more" or "Eat less cake."
    • Accountability - You need to be accountable for your goals on a daily basis. You will achieve this by filling out the accountability chart provided in the food contract. Each day give yourself a check for good or an x for days you failed to follow with your goal. For days that received an x identify the reason behind not following the goal that day and ways to avoid it in the future. 
  • Identify barriers- I want you to think ahead of what may come in the way of reaching your goals and how you will overcome those obstacles. For example, if your goal is "Swap out an apple for a cookie as a snack on monday, wednesday, and thursday" a barrier can be the cookie jar on your kitchen counter. A way to overcome that barrier is by putting the cookie jar in a cabinet (or better yet get rid of) and having washed apples in a bowl on the counter instead. Another barrier may be not having apples, so you will overcome that by going to the grocery store and buying apples before you begin the week. 
  • Pick a non-food reward - This will serve as a positive reinforcement for your efforts and success! Your reward for keeping all your goals for that week should be non-food, so you begin to stop associating success and reward with food. So a piece of chocolate cake as a reward is off the table! Instead choose a reward like "I will buy myself the jeans i've been dying to have" or "I will sleep in on saturday" or anything that is a reward to you. A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed how having an incentive (such as your reward or money) resulted in subjects losing more weight (14 pounds as opposed to 4 pounds in the non-incentive group.) Even 7 months after the study concluded, the incentive group weighed less then the non-incentive group. So give your self an incentive and a reward! You deserve it! You should get your reward if you followed your goals 90% or more of the time. 
Additional tips for success: 
  • Share your goal and contract with your friends and family, tell everyone! you are more likely to succeed that way because you don't want to let your friends and family down!
  • Once you completed the contract, make a few photocopies and have them at key places so you will constantly see it such as on the fridge, by the bed, in your agenda, and at work. You don't want to forget! So make sure you constantly see it! 
  • Get friends on-board - Get your friends to complete a contract too and help keep each other on track! 
  • The first week should include 3 new goals, then 2 new goals every week after that. At first it will take you constantly thinking about your goals to follow through with them, but then they will eventually become a habit such as brushing your teeth. 
  • Be positive and believe in your self! Don't be hard on your self if you mess up on a day, just identify the reason and get back on track! 
  • If after beginning you notice a goal just isn't reasonable, change it for something that is! you want to set your self up for success for choosing something you can follow through with. Your goal should also challenge you though, so choose something that challenges you but that is reasonable. 
Please send me an e-mail with your question if you have any problem and share your stories and additional tips you may have in the comment section! 

Quick tip of the day: 
" Over 95% of people who lose weight on a diet end up gaining the weight back. Instead develop a healthy lifestyle, something you can live with long-term and that isn't depriving. You will lose the weight less quickly but you will also keep it off long-term."

Other then the food contract, if you are trying to lose weight read my previous health blog post weight loss 101


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Healthy party and pretty appetizers and horderves

Healthy New Years! 

I saw this amazing healthy party tablescape and I was so inspired. Who says at a party or gathering it has to be all cake and cookies? Look how amazing and delicious this looks: 


Pin It Based on this photo and additional recipes here are super easy and healthy party food ideas for your next gathering:

  • Watermelon & feta - If you've never tried watermelon with feta cheese, you are missing out! It's so good, i've been eating it since i was little. Cut watermelon into cubes and sprinkle some reduced-fat feta cheese on top. Garnish with mint leaves and you're done. You can also do this dish in a chinese porcelain soup spoon so it's easy to eat and still looks chic.  

  • Fresh Mozzarella, Basil, and Tomato - Buy mini mozzarella balls or cut up a big fresh mozzarella ball into small squares. Mix with cherry tomatoes and basil leaves. Serve in little cups or hard-boiled egg cups with a fork as shown above, or on a toothpick for a yummy bite. To add flavor you can drizzle with balsamic and olive oil.  

  • Vegetable sticks & dip- Cut carrots, bell peppers, and celery into sticks and add tomatoes, broccoli florets, and radishes. Arrange separately in serving cups. In martini glasses serve the dips. For a low-fat ranch dip: mix a ranch seasoning packet with half greek yogurt and half low-fat sour cream. Also you can use hummus as a dip, it tastes great with veggies.   
  • Gaspacho in mini glasses - A cold tomato soup is so refreshing and delicious. Besides the soup have cucumber, carrot, tomatoe cut small to add to soup for texture. 

  • Greek Salad Skewers - Using reduced fat feta cheese 
  • Fruit Skewers - Pick fruit that is in season (it tastes best and costs less.)  Fruit you immediately think of for skewers include: Grapes, Strawberries, and blackberries, but any fruit can be used such as kiwi, melon, or pineapple if you just cube it like in the photo above for a very refined look. 
  • Yogurt, oats, and berry shooters - Fill a tall shot glass 2/3 full with plain yogurt, add a thin layer of agave or honey,followed by a layer of granola, and topped with berries such as raspberries and blueberries. Include small spoons. 
Additional tips: 

  • Find awesome serving dishes at
  • For the table to be appealing to the eye try different heights of serving dishes as opposed to all flat plates. 
  • Add description cards in front of every dish, table linens, and flowers to complete the look. 
  • Try serving drinks, lemonade & spritzers in mason jars for a unique look 


Quick Tip of the day: 
When eating nuts eat them in their shell. A study showed that people who ate pistachios in their shell ate 40% less nuts then those who were served them without the shell. Having to open the shells slows your pace of eating which allows ample time for your brain to know when it is full and you have the shells as a visual cue of the amount of pistachios you ate. 
Source: Shape Magazine, dec 2011

want more healthy recipes? check out another post of mine including yummy and quick healthy recipes here


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Hang Over Busters

You know that feeling the following morning  after drinking, the headache, the fatigue, the nausea, what do you do then?
I read tons of research on the topic, and here is what i found: 

Factors that contribute to a hangover: 

  • Dehydration & Electrolyte imbalance - due to the diuretic action of alcohol
  • Stomach pain - alcohol irritates stomach lining and causes gastritis which leads to stomach pain, nausea, and vomiting 
  • Low blood sugar - due to build up of lactic acid during alcohol metabolism that inhibits glucose production 
  • Sleep disturbance - sleep is of shorter duration and of poorer quality 
  • Toxic buildup of metabolites - such as acetaldehyde which is a intermediate during alcohol metabolism 
  • Drink Liquids!! - Alcohol is a diuretic, it causes your body to lose a lot of water and electrolytes (sodium, chloride, and potassium.)  
    1. Drink lots of water before drinking and between alcoholic drinks 
    2. Drink an electrolyte enhanced drink such as Vitamin Water or better yet coconut water before going to bed and the following morning. Coconut water is a natural drink that is tasty and contains the electrolytes and carbohydrates you need. 

  • Drink Clear liquors - Alcohol with greater congeners, which are by-products of alcohol preparations, lead to more frequent and severe hangovers. Alcohol high in congeners include: Brandy, Red wine, Whiskey, and bourbon. Alcohol with very low congeners, that leads to less incidences of hangover include: vodka and gin. 

    1. A study showed that when subjects drank the same amount of alcohol of bourbon and vodka, 33% of subjects who drank bourbon had a severe hangover as opposed to only 3% of vodka drinkers. 

  • Eat Asparagus - a study showed that asparagus extract suppressed free radicals in liver cells and increased activity of enzymes that metabolize alcohol. 
  • Vitamin B6 - A study showed that 1200 mg of vitamin B6 administered throughout a night of drinking reduced hangover symptoms by 50%. Foods high in vitamin b6 include fish such as cod and halibut. 
  • Eat before going to bed - eating bland carbohydrate-rich foods such as toast or crackers can help with low blood glucose levels which results from drinking and helps with nausea. 
  • Get adequate sleep to help with fatigue and mental alertness. 
  • Acetaminophen should we avoided during a hangover because alcohol metabolism increases toxicity of the medication in the liver.
  • If you have upper abdominal pain or nausea beware of ibuprofen and other anti-inflammatories because they are stomach irritants themselves and add to the gastritis caused from the alcohol. 

Monday, December 26, 2011

Feel Good Foods

When we're feeling blue we immediately want to reach for ice-cream or cake. But those foods actually can make you feel worse by causing guilt later. Instead try these healthy foods that have been shown to raise your mood: 

  1. Saffron - Shown in studies to support mood. Many recipes using saffron are available on search "saffron."
  2. Green Tea - The L-theanine in green tea has been shown to have a calming effect. Try full leaf teas such as tea forte for best benefits and taste. Full leaf teas are available at whole foods, fresh market, or other health stores. 
  3. Omega 3 fatty acids - A study showed that supplements decreased occurrence of depressive symptoms. Omega 3 is naturally found in ground flax seed (sprinkle on top of yogurt and salad or blend into smoothies,) and salmon. If you need help picking a supplement refer to my article about omega 3 supplements. 
  4. Tryptophan - An amino acid that has been shown to help with mood. Found in turkey, soy, meat, and spinach. 
  5. Magnesium - Found in nuts, green leafy vegetables such as spinach, halibut fish, black beans, and whole-wheat bread. 
  6. Folic Acid - Found in fruit, green leafy vegetables such as spinach and collard greens, and lentils. 
  7. Vitamin B-12 - Found in meat and fish such as salmon, tuna, and cod. 
(Source: Food technology journal & medline+) 

Tip of the day: 
If you are feeling blue, other than these foods watch a funny show or movie such as Friends or Superbad. Comedies raise mood-boosting endorphins. Even anticipation of watching the comedy raised endorphins by 27% in a study.  
(Source: shape magazine, dec 2011) 

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Curcumin & your health

I read an article in the  Journal of the National Cancer Institute about the benefits of the spice curcumin. 
Curcumin is the primary ingredient in turmeric, a yellow spice. I was super excited to read about the benefits of curcumin because we've cooked with it in my house my whole life, and its so good and easy to use! My family background is from Morocco and a lot of the dishes my mom makes are using turmeric. 

Numerous studies have shown its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. Anti-inflammation is very important because it is the main problem with many chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, pulmonary disease, and asthma. Research has shown that curcumin was able to block the production and action of a mediator of inflammation in the body called tumor necrosis factor (TNF.) It also has been shown to suppress tumor activity in cancers of the stomach, breast, prostate, oral cavity, and leukemia. Curcumin helps with symptoms of cancer such as cachexia which includes muscle wasting and decreased appetite. In one study patients were able to significantly increase their weight with supplementation of curcumin, and maintaining a healthy weight is very important during cancer treatment. 

If you've never cooked with turmeric don't be afraid! You can get the spice at most supermarkets or health stores and here are a few ideas of how to incorporate it into the food you cook:   

- Try adding turmeric to rice, potatoes, and chicken dishes. It can also be used as a rub for your chicken. Beware, your food becomes bright yellow, but this is normal! It will add great flavor. 
- 1/2 spoon is enough for most dishes 
- Search for recipes on sites such as and search "Turmeric." I pick recipes by the star ratings from other people (I also read the comments, they often give you tips about making the dish.)

Here is my family's potato dish: 

4 Potatoes, peeled and cubed 
1 Onion, cut 
1/3 Teaspoon Turmeric 
Salt + pepper to taste 
Olive Oil

Sauté the onion a deep pan in olive oil until golden on medium heat. Add potatoes and turmeric, salt, and pepper and mix for a few minutes. Add water to cover the potatoes, let boil and then cover and simmer for 1 hour or until potatoes are soft. Enjoy! 

To complete the meal make a mixed green and tomato salad with olive oil and lemon dressing, grilled chicken breast, and steamed broccoli (or any vegetable you like.)

Extra tip of the day: 

400 micrograms/day of folate can reduce risk of cancer in women by up to 42%. 
Folate is found in lentils, spinach & eggs so get eating :)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Looking beyond personal choice for dietary choices

I read a really interesting article in last month's issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. It talked about things beyond our personal choice, rooted in our brain circuits, that drives us towards an unhealthy diet. They called this the "Neurobehavioral Model." I'll discuss the model and ways to overcome your inner nature driving you towards unhealthy behaviors. 

The Neurobehavioral Model 

1. Food Reward - This refers to the pleasure we get from eating. This pleasure motivates us to eat palatable food. By palatable food I mean food that gives us high pleasure, and in our society usually refers to high fat, high salt, and high sugar foods (Bad, bad, and ahem, bad.) 


  • Remove palatable foods from your personal environment - this will reduce over eating or eating these foods by preventing the activation in the brain of the reward circuitry.  
  • Shop with a grocery list - Make a grocery list at home, when you are not hungry. Go over the list again to remove any additional unnecessary items. Also, never go food shopping when hungry, it will cause you to seek out these unhealthy foods. Remember stick to your grocery list! You will save money, and your waist line will thank you. 
  • Plan restaurant menu selections in advance - most restaurants now have menus available on the restaurant website. Seek out healthy options in advance and order it at the restaurant without looking at the menu again. Also, ask for the bread to not be brought out to the table, or if you must have one piece of bread and have them take the rest away.
2. Inhibitory Control - This is the part of your brain that ignores and suppresses urges, such as eating a piece of cake - it deals with self regulation. This ability to suppress your urges is disrupted by stress and demanding mental tasks. We knew stress was bad, so here is another reason to manage your stress in a positive way and avoid eating during demanding tasks such as while working, budgeting, and other mental tasks. 

  • Avoid circumstances that will challenge your inhibitory control such as buffets, fast-food restaurants, and eating out in general. 
  • Make stress management a priority, and make a plan to control your stress 
    • Exercise - double goodie, it has been shown to reduce stress and burns calories! 
    • Yoga
    • Meditation 
    • Listen to relaxing music 
    • Take 5 minutes to sit in a quite place, awake, focused on your breathing
    • Chew gum - chewing gum can cause stress levels to drop by 16%, a study showed. 
    • Watch a funny show or movie, which will raise your mood 
  • Keep high calorie, low nutrition food away during stressful situation and when stress is anticipated (work, when paying bills, and what ever stresses you.) Instead have healthy foods and snacks readily in sight. 
3. Time Discounting - This talks about delaying gratification. The immediate pleasure we get from eating something such as a piece of cake right now has a higher effect on our decision making than the later benefit of losing weight. 

  • Focus on short-term goals instead of a long-term goal such as "lose weight." An example of a short term goal is "Meet my daily calorie goal of 1700 calories" or "Eat an apple as a snack today instead of a muffin." Make your short term goals realistic yet challenging. Set your self up for success and you will succeed! 
  • Make healthy foods in advance so you have them easily accessible. For example, have salads without dressing (so vegetable stay crisp) ready in your fridge, or make enough brown rice and vegetables for a few days so you just have to heat it up. 
  • Have healthy foods such as a bowl of washed fruit on the counter, so you see it often instead of having potato chips on the counter. 

Here is a summary version for you:

I offered a few solutions, now come up with a few more solutions that are personalized to you! 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Sports Nutrition: The facts (Part 1)

Working out as a part of your diet or healthy lifestyle? You may have heard many different things from companies trying to sell you stuff to your trainer. You cannot believe everything you hear.  Here are the facts, all backed by research:
Later this week I will discuss supplement use, sports drink comparison, and protein needs stay tuned :) check out sports nutrition part 2 here.
  • Are you that person at the gym running, sweating, and out of breath? Did you know you are NOT burning fat? To burn fat you require oxygen, so if you are out of breath the only thing you are burning is sugar. 
    • Fat burning exercise is steady low to moderate intensity exercise
    • To add some science (not necessary to achieve this workout,) fat burning work out is achieved by 60-70% of maximum heart rate 
    • To calculate your maximum heart rate: 220 - age (for example, I am 24, so my maximum heart rate is 220- 24 = 196 beats per minute and to burn fat I have to get to 60-70 % of that which is around 127 beats per minute) 
    • This is very technical, to make it easier just remember you don't want to be working out so hard that you are out of breath, remember to take deep breaths and continuously breath. 
    • Do not discount high intensity exercise though, it is very important for your heart health. To achieve both heart health and fat burning alternate between high intensity exercise and low to moderate intensity exercise. 
Pre exercise 
  • The meal before a workout should be high in carbohydrates, moderate in protein, and low in fat and fiber to promote digestion to prepare you for the work out. 
  • A meal should be eaten 3 hours before the workout followed by a small snack 30-60 minutes before. 
  • Ideas for meals 3 hours before a workout 
    • Turkey sandwich without mayo with a fruit 
    • Low-fat cottage cheese with crackers and grapes 
    • Low-fat granola or cereal with yogurt and berries 
  • Ideas for snacks 30-60 minutes before a workout 
    • Piece of fruit 
    • 1 piece of toast with jam 
  • Avoid gas forming foods before a workout such as beans and veggies from cabbage family. 

Post exercise 
  • Your body builds muscle best right after you exercise. For that reason you want to supply your body with the substrate to build muscle (protein) right after you work out. Protein is also needed to repair damaged muscle. 
  • Begin a post workout meal within 15-60 minutes of completing the workout. 
  • Good post-workout snacks/foods are: 
    • Peanut butter with crackers 
    • Whole-wheat pita pocket with hummus, turkey, and veggies 
    • Brown rice with beans and 3 oz grilled chicken 
    • Yogurt with oat bran cereal 
    • Hardboiled egg, slice of whole-wheat bread, low-fat cream cheese, and cucumber 

Staying hydrated during workout 
  • Staying hydrated during your workout is imperative to make sure perform at your best. 
  • Even a 1% water loss causes impaired performance 
  • Waiting for thirst to kick in before you drink is not a good strategy because you are already dehydrated at that point. It is important to drink continuously during a workout before you feel thirsty. 
  • Drink 1/2 a cup of water every 20 minutes. 
  • During intense workout, drink 2 cups of electrolyte enhanced drink for every pound lost (weigh your self before and after a workout, on the same weight.) 
  • For workouts lasting less than one hour water is the best choice
  • For workouts lasting longer than one hour a sports drink should be consumed to replace lost electrolytes, carbohydrates, and fluids. Avoid soda or juice. 
  • A quick test to make sure you are hydrated is checking your urine color. It should be light yellow, it if is dark it's an indication of dehydration - drink up.

Tip of the day from the American Dietetic Association: 
"Ever promise yourself that you'll eat healthier beginning tomorrow? Don't say you will start after the New Year! Make this holiday season the time you get active." 

If you are interested in losing weight check out my previous blog post weight loss 101.

Information Source:, Florida cooperative extension program. 
Urine image:

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Fast-Food Intrusion

Eating at fast food restaurants doesn't have to set back your healthy life style (as long as you're not eating there everyday, of course.)  Choose these options when at the drive through to upgrade your meal. 

At all cost stay away from these high-calorie culprits:
  • McCafe Shake in all flavors have over 830 calories each! and 147 grams of sugar which is equivalent to 36 spoons of sugar in one drink!! stay away! 
    • instead have small non-fat cappuccino which only has 60 calories  
  • Mcflurry (any flavor) has between 500 - 600 calories 
    • instead enjoy a reduced-fat vanilla ice cream cone for 150 calories
  • Angus bacon and cheese sandwich has 790 calories  or Angus chipotle BBQ bacon sandwich which has 800 calories and 39 grams of fat! Both sandwiches have over 2000 mg of sodium, more than you should have all day! 
  • Drink water instead of soda and save around 150 calories 
  • Swap out full fat salad dressing which has 170 calorie for the low-fat version and save over a hundred calories 

  • Always ask for your sandwiches without mayo and save a 100 calories (a lot of the sandwiches have it in them.) Have ketchup or mustard instead 
  • Avoid any of the special dipping sauces or salad dressings and save 100-200 calories. 

  • Avoid any of the meal salads, all of the salads were high in calories like the Baja salad for example, has 730 calories, 1970 grams of sodium, and 47 grams of fat! Any person would think they are being healthy by ordering a salad but they are actually worse than the burgers. 
  • Side garden salad is a good side option, however, have it with no croutons, and choose light ranch, fat-free french, or fat-free raspberry vinaigrette to save over a 100 calories. 
  • The potato has more calories than the fries but it is still a better option because its lower in sodium, lower in fat, and higher in fiber (7g.)

Taco Bell 
  • Most of the food is very high in calories 
  • only pick 1 item from the diet fresco menu and have it with water or a diet soda 

Additional Fast-food restaurant tips:
  • If there is a fast food resturant you like to eat at that i didnt include, just go on the company website and look for nutrition facts. 
  • As a rule of thumb if the food has a fancy long decorative name - it probably has too many calories and you should skip it. 
  • Try to save calories by drinking water. The super size sodas can have as much as 500 calories! 
  • Calories hide in drinks, shakes, speciality coffees, dipping sauces, salad dressing, mayo, and other sauces - so keep it simple just ketchup and mustard and regular coffee with low fat milk. 
  • The food in fast food restaurants is very high in calories, saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium so limit eating out at these restaurants to no more than 1 time per week, preferably 1 time in 2-3 weeks.
  • Healthier fast-food options include Boston market, and ready foods at whole-foods or fresh market.    

Friday, December 16, 2011

My Day in Food - Healthy eating when on-the-go

I prefer to eat most of my meals at home, it is easier to control the amount you eat, and what ingredients go into your food. But when I am on-the-go I have to eat out. Here is how I made my food choices while eating out all day. I'll explain my choices and then include additional tips on the bottom for eating out. 

I was on my way home for the holidays and we stopped one day in New York City. I woke up in the hotel and ordered from room service half a grapefruit with one packet of turbinado sugar sprinkled on top (brown sugar would also work, most places carry it.) If you have never tried eating this, then try it! I was against it myself, I didn't think it would be good but when I tried it I actually really liked it. Even if something is not on the menu, you can ask for it and most places will try to accommodate you. With that, I had my morning tea. I like to add fresh mint leaves to my tea it adds the best flavor! I always ask and most places do have it. I add one teaspoon of sugar to my tea. Try lowering half a teaspoon of sugar in your tea per week, you will get used to having it with less sugar. 

For an early lunch, I really wanted to try one of Jean-George's restaurants in the city. I have heard amazing things about the food, and I found out that at Nougatine by Jean George (at 1 central park west at Trump International) they had a 3 course price fix menu for $32 during lunch! When i got there, it was packed with a huge wait time (note to self, next time make a reservation), but i was able to find seats on the bar immediately with no wait, and I love sitting on the bar because you get really good service.

I started with a beet salad with mixed greens, yogurt, and lemon, it was amazing! I am obsessed with beets, they are so good and that dark purple color indicates high amount of antioxidants from the pigment. Beets also have anti-infalmmatory and anti-cancer properties. 
I try to pick salads without a creamy dressing such as ranch, caesar, or creamy italian. These dressings are super high in calories, and can make your so called "healthy salad" have more calories than a burger! If you do want to get a salad like that always order the dressing on the side and dip the fork first in the dressing then in the salad, you will eat a lot less dressing that way. 
My main dish was roasted organic chicken with brown rice, dried cherries, pecans, and a mustard sauce

This was probably one of the best chicken dishes I ever ate, I couldn't stop talking about it. I took off the skin and ate half of the chicken (the breast) with the mustard sauce and the rice. I bet this rice can be made at home. Brown rice with dried fruits and nuts, ill look up a recipe and post it soon. 
My dessert was a small piece of chocolate cake, and I ate half of it with tea. I drank water only with my meal. 

For dinner, before boarding my next flight on my way home for the holidays, I ate at the JFK airport lounge another beet salad and minestrone soup. I would recommend variety but I love beets so much I couldn't resist. Minestrone soup is a great option because it has a lot of beans in it which are high in fiber, protein, and low in calories. When the bread basket came, I did what i always do, I picked one piece of some sort of whole wheat or brown bread and had the waiter take the basket away so i wont be tempted to eat more. I dip it in a small amount of olive oil and balsamic vinegar over butter. Olive oil is still a high source of calories (110 calories  in a tablespoon) so don't have so much, but it's a healthy fat and not high in saturated fat like butter. With balsamic vinegar knock your self out and have as much as you'd like. 

 The beet salad - I took off half of the parmesan but I did leave some - its all about moderation

The dos and don'ts of eating out 

Please share your tips for eating healthy when eating out in the comment section :) 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Weight Loss 101

You have probably read so many different things about how to lose weight. At the bottom of all the theories is simple biology. Here are the simple facts about weight loss: 

1 pound of weight = 3,500 calories

You have probably heard this before. But what does this mean? 
If you want to lose 1 pound per week you have to create a deficit throughout the week of 3,500 calories. This deficit can be from DIET, EXERCISE, or a combination of BOTH. 
Divide 3,500 calories by 7 days in a week = 500 calories deficit per day is required to lose 1 pound per week  

when you look at it this way you can appreciate the great accomplishment of losing 1 pound per week.
to lose 2 pounds per week? you need to create a 1000 calorie deficit per day, now this can be hard. 
It is recommended in a diet to lose 1-2 pounds per week. Doing this allows you to create a life style you can follow long term and therefore maintain the weight loss.

Diets that produce a greater weight loss are usually depriving and probably will result in gaining the weight back. This will result in  a vicious cycle of yo-yoing in weight and trying many different fad diet unsuccessfully. These type of deprivation diets don't work! A study showed, over 95% of people who lost weight on a diet end up gaining the weight back. Set your self up for success create a life style by making small reasonable changes toward your goals.

Ways to help you reach this calorie deficit with the least pain:
1. Increase your fiber intake - Increasing your daily fiber intake to 25 g per day will help you feel fuller for longer. Soluble fiber, in particular, creates a gel of the food in your stomach and therefore takes longer to pass through and increases digestion time. Read the nutrition label, under carbohydrates to see grams of fiber.  
        Foods high in fiber include: whole wheat cous cous, whole wheat bread and pasta, quinoa, oat meal, lentils, beans, flax seed meal, peas, fruit with skin, whole wheat wraps, high-fiber breakfast cereal. 

2. Drink lots of water - When increasing fiber intake it is important to also increase fluid intake to aid with digestion. Plus drinking a lot of water has no calories and tons of health benefits!  

3. Don't skip a meal - Do not skip a meal in order to lower calories intake. This results in showing up at the next meal so hungry and eating the equivalence of a small country. The key is to never let your self get very hungry and then you can eat mindfully and smaller amounts rather than devouring when really hungry. Also, skipping a meal makes your body think "uh-oh, there's no food, starving mode." When the next meal comes around your body will preserve every ounce as fat because it is not sure when the next meal will come - your metabolism will slow down. 

5. Eat complex carbohydrates - Try to eat less simple sugars which spike your blood sugar levels and leave you hungry shortly after. Look at the nutrition label, compare the grams of carbohydrates and the grams of sugar, there should be a lot more carbs than sugar. 

6. Skip soda and juices - Eating actual fruit over juices and soda is way more satisfying than drinking something. Drinks can pack in a lot of calories which are "wasted" because you do not get the amount of satiety you would get if you ate that amount of calories. Try cutting your soda, juice, and high-calorie drinks for water. Start small, with swapping one drink for a glass of water per day and go from there. As for tea, try making your own over buying ready teas which are very high in sugar and other additives. 

7. Snack smart - Avoid snacking on low-nutrition, high-calorie foods like muffins, croissants, and chocolate. I included snack ideas a few posts ago you can get ideas for good snacks. If you have a sweet tooth craving satisfy it with a fun-size chocolate (only keep one around so you cannot go back for more, and preferably dark chocolate for the health benefits)
A study I just read showed that a short walk (15 minutes) during a work break as opposed to resting for 15 minutes resulted in subjects eating 50% less chocolate (15 g vs. 28g.) So take a break and walk around! It will help curb your unhealthy cravings!

8. Change your environment - Create a healthy environment to support your weight-loss efforts. Try to not bring into the house unhealthy foods like chips, soda, and cookies. You will see that because it is not around you will eat a lot less of it and be ok! Instead, fill the house with healthy options and make them visible to you. Try new healthy foods! seek out recipes! you'll be surprised how good healthy food can be. Make a commitment to eat these unhealthy foods only out of the house and attempt eating at home as much as possible. You probably wont have at home bread and butter, appetizer, main course, and dessert, so eating home allows you to consume less calories and save money. 

9. Get active - No matter what your activity level currently is, increase it a little bit more each week. Aim for at least 30 minutes a day most days of the week. Here is easy ways to get started: 
        Take the stairs instead of the elevator - a study showed that other than the exercise benefits, subjects also saved time (15 minutes per day) by taking the stairs over elevator. Follow the rule of 3 - if where you need to go is 3 or less flight of stairs away - take the stairs 
        Park far when going to the mall or school - Park at the last spot and walk to get a little bit of exercise in. If your feeling very ambitious try parking on opposite side of mall and walk to the store you need to go to instead of parking right by the store. 

I will post more ways for you to get active and cut your calorie intake but choose some of the ideas you read here and get started!