5 Foods Guaranteed to Get Your Heart Racing (While Keeping Your Waistline in Check)

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Love is in the air! Okay, so maybe not literally, but around this time of year my mind goes back to grammar school days of inking sweet nothings and hoping to receive a bounty of confectioneries on February 14th. We’ve all come a long way since then, but Valentine’s Day is still a great opportunity to pack some amazing nutrition into your diet.  I can’t guarantee you a date on the 14th but I can certainly help you stock up on foods of love!

5 Foods Guaranteed to get your heart racing

Chocolate

Yes, we’ve all been bombarded with the whole chocolate thing but did you know that it was considered the “Nourishment of Gods” by early Aztec cultures? Chocolate contains two properties, caffeine and theobromine, that act as natural stimulants in the body.  Besides revving you up for a hot date, it also contains more antioxidant properties than a glass of red wine! Don’t go overboard! This doesn’t mean you can eat a two tier box of truffles. Brands like Bissinger’s and sweetriot keep it simple with 45 cal squares and 100 calorie bars of dark chocolate decadence. sweetriot also has tins of flavored cacao nibs that are ideal for an on the go fix.  Or get a dose of calcium and sweetness with Adora chocolate discs; they satisfy a sweet tooth AND provide your daily calcium requirements.

Asparagus

These sexy spears have tons of potassium, fiber, vitamin B6, vitamins A and C, and thiamine. They also contain a healthy dose of folic acid, boosting histamine production, a hormone that regulates other “feel good” chemicals like serotonin and norepinephrine. Try a quick steam by placing in microwave with a damp paper towel over them. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes and drizzle with a small amount of olive oil and a pear vinaigrette for great flavor. Delicious served chilled as a salad course!

Sweet Basil

Said to increase fertility in women, sweet basil has an intoxicating smell and taste. Simmer tomato sauce with a few leaves and pair with a serving of whole wheat pasta. Sweet basil is also delicious in salads or simply as a topping on a freshly sliced tomato.

Garlic

You should probably keep a tin of Altoids on hand if you plan on indulging, but the health benefits are well worth it! Packed with the chemical allicin, garlic increases overall blood flow in the body. Skip the capsules and get this V-day staple directly from food for a full effect.

Red Wine

In moderation, we all know that wine can be beneficial to our body.  Even my 21 day Bread is the Devil Blueprint plan allows you to have a glass.  Red wine contains polyphenols, which are powerful antioxidants associated with increased heart health. A healthy ticker equals a healthier you! Enjoy, but keep in mind any more than 2 glasses will have the exact opposite effects on the body.

Whether you’re single or attached at the hip, it doesn’t matter! Enjoy these foods regardless of your relationship status and you’ll feel a warm glow of love from within!

Thinner on Monday: Keep Off Weekend Weight

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You’re only human if, halfway through a workweek, you’ve already  begun a countdown to the weekend. What’s not to love? There’s extra time  to spend with the kids, dining out with friends, and sleeping in. But  if you’re not careful with your choices, the weekend can really wreak  havoc on a waistline. Between Friday happy hours and Sunday brunches,  the weekend is jam-packed with opportunities to eat tempting food. Some  people use it as the perfect excuse to let their diet slip away. You’ve  worked hard all week to keep your weight in check. From Friday night to Monday morning, keep these 10 tips in mind so you don’t end up with more weight than when you started!

1. Don’t be a weekend warrior. Putting pressure on yourself to lose weight while trying to enjoy your downtime can potentially stress you out and lead to emotional eating.  Take a more realistic approach, and aim to maintain your weight instead  of losing it. If you wake up on Monday at the same weight you were when  you left the office on Friday, consider yourself a success!

2. Start strong. The first few hours of your weekend  can set the tone for its entire duration. For instance, if you start  off your Friday night with happy hour and a couple slices of pizza for  dinner, you’ll probably continue this behavior all the way to Monday  morning. It ruins the effort you put in all week, and makes you less  likely to reset your good habits when the workweek begins. Kick off your  weekend the right way with a flavorful yet reasonable dinner option.  Try a lean cut of red meat, such as filet mignon, to ensure satisfaction  without tons of calories. Or if you’re craving Chinese food, allow  yourself to enjoy some Moo Shu chicken; just skip the pancakes and opt  for lettuce wraps instead. It’s perfectly fine to rewardyourself after a  week well done, so long as you choose something that will keep you on  the right track!

3. Get in some “you” time.  Lazy weekends are great every once in a while, but allot some time into  your morning to work up a sweat. Putting it off until later in the day  gives you the chance to get too busy and just not go. Simply get up a  half-hour earlier, and hit the gym. Even twenty minutes will help!

4. Take advantage of breakfast.  It really can be the most important meal of the day. I recommend  clients take a few moments of their downtime to enjoy some morning fare.  There are so many healthy, smart options readily available. Nix the  pancakes and calorie-laden waffles, and order an omelette instead. An  egg-white omelette with spinach, mushrooms, and peppers only has about  250 calories, but tons of satiating protein. Switch it up and choose hot  sauce over ketchup since it contains less sugar. Avoid starting your  morning with any type of simple carb such as bagels, Danishes or  muffins. These types of foods will only lead to additional carbohydrate  cravings throughout the day.

5. You snooze, you lose. If  you do decide to sleep in, don’t feel as though you have to make up for  the meal you may have missed. Move on to whatever meal is next, and go  from there. You may need to add a second snack later in the afternoon,  but it’s much more ideal than doubling up your meals.

6. Think ahead, and be prepared.  Planning meals ahead of time and packing a few healthy food items can  be your best defense against fast food and mindless weekend snacking.  Why waste the calories on the drive-thru when you can enjoy something  scrumptious at dinner with friends instead? Save your indulgence for a  time that is really worth it. Keep a fiber bar and a piece of fruit with  you at all times. You’d be surprised how this pairing can fill you up  and ward off future cravings.

7. Embrace finite foods.  Extra free time can mean extra pantry time. There’s less structure on  the weekend, which increases your chance of going on a random pretzel  binge. Keep finite foods on hand, so you know exactly where your snack  begins and ends. Stick to items like a Greek yogurt with a pack of  almonds or a high-fiber nutrition bar. Avoid snacks that aren’t  pre-portioned or, next thing you know, you’ll have seven servings of  trail mix under your belt!

8. Enjoy one extravagance.  Dining out is one of the most enjoyable ways to relax after a hard  week. It can seem virtually impossible to stick to a boring grilled  protein and a side of steamed vegetables when everyone around you is  partaking in a decadent meal. Whether it’s a second cocktail, a shared  dessert, or a reasonable portion of starch, allow yourself to enjoy one  extravagance. Be sure to plan it at a time when you’re around loved  ones. It automatically makes the treat that much more enjoyable.

9. Stay hydrated.  Daily hydration routines usually fall by the wayside on the weekend.  People tend to weigh heavier on Monday because they’ve dined out for the  past few days and consumed considerably less water. Aim for at least a  liter by lunch to ensure proper hydration.

10. Recover on Sunday.  Unwind after a busy weekend, and opt for a low-calorie frozen entrée  for dinner. Choose one that’s under 300 calories and has at least 3 to 4  grams of fiber. It’s a controlled, finite meal that will give you a  head start on your week. Or, partake in a “veggie night” dinner to  recover from a particularly rough weekend. Choose 2 cups of your  favorite non-starchy vegetable, and pair with one baked white or sweet  potato. Simple yet slimming!

‘Water’ You Drinking?

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The summer may be winding down, but that doesn’t mean that your level of hydration should take a dip as well. Through the summer months it’s important to keep your body hydrated for a number of reasons. Did you know that our body uses 2 to 3 quarts of water per day to keep up basic functions such as body temperature regulation and metabolic processes? As a point of reference, that’s anywhere from 64 to 96 fluid ounces of liquid! Not only is water needed for homeostasis, but it is essential for joints and muscle mass. Think of it as the fluffy pillow of fluid between your bone and cartilage. Don’t be discouraged, though; there are plenty of ways to incorporate water into your diet. It doesn’t have to be all about plain old H2O! Keep these tips in mind as you “wet” your appetite.

1. Skip the Cubism — It’s easy to get your chill on while keeping hydrated. Toss some fresh berries, sliced peaches and pineapple wedges into the freezer. The next time you’re craving a chilly refresher, use the frozen fruit instead of regular ice cubes. Not only will the fruit cool down your glass of water, but it also adds taste without tons of calories! Once you’ve slurped down your beverage, enjoy the fruit for a boost of filling fiber.

2. Find Some Flavor — I often hear complaints from clients about the lack of flavor in water. No argument here — water definitely isn’t the most daring of beverage choices. Keep it interesting by adding Nuun All Day flavor tablets. They have fewer than 10 calories per tab and come in some amazing flavor combinations like Tangerine Lime and Cucumber Mint.  A simple plop, plop, fizz, fizz and you’ve got yourself some serious hydration! They also have high levels of potassium and magnesium, which are essential nutrients when it comes to your fluid electrolyte balance, cell growth and muscle contractions. Toss a few in your gym bag to avoid dehydration after an intense workout, or add a couple tablets to a pitcher of water and pour into Popsicle molds. Stick in the freezer for the perfect summertime treat.

3. Get It in Early — This is one of my favorite tips to offer up to clients. Aim to reach at least half of your hydration goal by noon. This way, you’ll feel less pressured as the day wears on. I call it the Liter by Lunch. It’s not uncommon for one to let a whole morning pass away and consume only a single cup of coffee. Instead, commit to a full glass before your AM java jolt. Keep a water bottle in front of your computer screen or by your phone at all times. We use these items so frequently, and the visual reminder of water next to them can result in increased sippage!

4. Consider Double-Fisting — Just kidding, well, sort of. Before heading out for a long night, you’ll want to start off with one large bottle of water. This sets the hydration precedence for the entire night. Follow up by alternating between one alcoholic drink and one non-alcoholic drink. This doesn’t mean you can imbibe soda, juice or tea instead. Keep your non-alcoholic choice to either water or seltzer. Be sure to steer clear of tonic.  People tend to think it’s similar to seltzer or club soda, but it actually contains just as many calories as soda and juice.

5. Eat to Hydrate — Don’t get caught up in thinking that all your liquid requirements have to come from a glass. There are plenty of foods that have high water content to quench your thirst. Celery takes the prize by having 95 percent water content, in addition to essential electrolytes such as sodium, magnesium and potassium. Veggies like cucumbers and bell peppers pack a satisfying crunch yet tons of H2O! Or choose fruits such as watermelon, strawberries, and cantaloupe for seasonal satisfaction. Not only do these foods up your hydration ante, but they also have a significant filling effect on the stomach. This means you’ll consume less but feel fuller. Perfect for weight loss!

Water plays a significant role in weight loss, athletic performance and day-to-day functioning. So the next time you want to reach for that iced tea or soda, consider the abovementioned five tips. Keeping hydrated has never been so easy!

Beware the Scale: Learn the Right Way to Weigh

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When trying to follow a weight-loss plan, the scale can be your worst enemy. It’s a tricky device in tracking weight loss. Some dieters go so far as to step on the scale after every meal. This poses a problem, because weight tends to fluctuate, on average, between 2 to 4 pounds throughout the day. The number that you see first thing in the morning may be far from the number you see midday or before your head hits the pillow. However, this doesn’t mean that you’ve actually gained body fat. These numbers don’t reflect your accurate weight or your last meal.

Throughout my years of counseling clients, I’ve seen people who struggle to lose weight all of a sudden lose five pounds in a matter of days. On the other hand, some experience the opposite; starting off strong and then weight loss tapers off. Constantly stepping on the scale and seeing varied outcomes can result in feelings of discouragement, disappointment, and resentment. This trio of negative emotions can lead to binge eating. After all, you’ve been working hard all day to eat well, and all of a sudden your number skyrockets by 2 pounds in less than three hours with no explanation. It’s understandable that the average person would feel frustrated and turn to a bag of chips or box of cookies for solace. Therefore, it’s important to understand the many factors that play into weight fluctuation. Below are some do’s and don’ts when it comes to the scale:

Do keep in mind the importance of consistency. To accurately track the amount of weight that you are losing, it’s best to weigh yourself at the same time (preferably in the morning) every week, on the exact same day of the week. Write down the number, and at the end of four weeks, calculate the average of these numbers. Subtract that from your starting weight, and you’ll get a very precise measure of how much progress you’ve made.

Don’t jump on the scale after a big night out. You’re just torturing yourself. Rich, decadent restaurant cuisine is full of salt, fat, and sugar—things that make the meal taste so good! Keep in mind that it’s virtually impossible to gain weight after one large meal. If you get on the scale and see your number go up, it’s simply because your blood volume level has increased due to the large quantity of food that you’ve eaten. The high sodium content in certain prepared foods also causes the body to retain fluid, thus causing a higher number on the scale.

Do take fluids into account. It’s tough to measure fluids accurately, but two 8-ounce glasses of water can translate to about one pound of weight. This means that if you’ve just finished a giant bottle of H20 and decide to hop on the scale, the chances are you’re not going to like the outcome. Don’t fret. It’s only water. Our bodies are highly equipped to efficiently use fluids as needed and excrete what we don’t need. In fact, if you decide to avoid fluids in an attempt to lower that value on the scale, you’re in for a big surprise. Your body will actually do the opposite and retain fluid, causing you to show a “gain.” Drinking alcohol is also a key culprit in skewing the numbers. No matter the libation, all alcohol causes frequent urination and may increase perspiration. This leads to even more dehydration, which will cause the body to retain more fluid. It may seem contradictory, but be sure to add in plenty of non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated beverages (such as water) to counteract the fluid imbalance.

Don’t avoid the scale all together. It’s important to note that weighing yourself on a regular basis doesn’t necessarily have to be a negative thing. Stepping on a scale gives you a sense of accountability towards your actions and forces you to keep yourself in check. According to the National Weight Control Registry, 75 percent of individuals who have managed to successfully lose weight and keep it off consistently weigh themselves. In addition, a 2012 study in the Journal of Nutrition and Dietetics concludes that people who lose weight are less likely to regain it if they weigh themselves on a regular basis.

The Anatomy of a Healthy Salad

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How many times have you been in a restaurant with a friend and heard her  say, “Oh, I’ll just have a salad,” with a satisfied look on her face?  When looking for a healthy option,  it’s not uncommon for people to immediately rely on salad as their  go-to meal. Often associated with being low in calories and high in  nutrients, salads seem to make sense. The truth is, sometimes opting for  a salad can be one of your worst dieting downfalls. On the other hand,  salads don’t have to equate to a wider waistline. Research shows people  who eat salads are more likely to have higher levels of key nutrients  that prevent cancer and heart disease, and may consume 12 percent less  calories throughout the meal. It’s all about preparing them correctly  and knowing what to add in and what to take out. Below are my five top  tips on how to slim down your salad, without sacrificing flavor or  nutrition.

Throw Some Fat Into the Mix

Salads can fall on complete opposite ends of the spectrum if you’re not careful. Eating a bowl full of green leaves  and raw veggies with a splash of lemon juice or vinegar is one of the  biggest mistakes people make when trying to lose weight. Sure, it’s low  in calories, but in order for your body to effectively use the abundant  nutrients in the vegetables, some type of fat needs to be added. Choose  an unsaturated one, and remember, a little goes a long way. Your body  only requires a small amount of fat in a meal to absorb the nutrients.  Consider using two to three thin slices of avocado to not only add in  heart-healthy fats, but also potassium, fiber, and vitamin E. At 50  calories, you can’t go wrong!

Remember, It’s a Salad, Not a Sandwich

Often,  devoted salad eaters choose to add in items like bacon, chicken, or  steak to make their salads more fulfilling. While it may do just that,  it can potentially add too many calories. If you must, pick one meat or  poultry option, but make sure to skip the cheese to avoid calorie  overload. Another idea is to garnish your greens with two egg whites  instead. This adds approximately 8 grams of protein for less than 50  calories. Or choose a legume, such as navy or kidney beans, to pack in  protein as well as fiber. An optimal serving for navy beans is ¼ cup,  which contains about 4 grams of both protein and fiber for 65 calories.  Just because your sandwich comes with bread doesn’t mean your salad has  to. Skip the breadsticks or pita typically offered on the side. They only add empty calories.

Swap Croutons for Crunchy Snack Mix

Ever  notice that most croutons don’t even crunch when you bite into them?  That’s because they’re drenched in either oil or butter to make up for  their lack of flavor and freshness. Regardless, a small serving of  croutons can contain anywhere from 50 to 90 calories without adding much  satisfaction. Instead, sprinkle your salad with Sheffa Zesty Snack Mix.  Made with ground chickpeas, the noodles are a great source of vegetable  protein that fall low on the glycemic index, which allows for a slower  release of sugar in the bloodstream, stabilizing appetite. One serving  will give your salad added crunch, taste, fiber, and protein to keep you  satiated for a longer period of time. Or crumble a high-fiber cracker  like GG Scandinavian Bran Crispbreads on top for some crunchy flavor.

The Darker the Better

When  it comes to being savvy about your salad, use your eyes! Swap pale  greens such as iceberg lettuce for leaves like kale, arugula, and  romaine lettuce. Dark green leafy vegetables rank high on the  nutritional scale, and are packed with fiber, phytochemicals,  antioxidants, and vitamins. Most people think of dairy foods as the  ultimate way to ensure enough calcium in their diet.  But leafy veggies such as mustard greens, kale, and bok choy all  contain considerable amounts of this bone-building nutrient for fewer  calories than dairy products. For example, adding 1 cup of kale to your  mix can amp up your salad by providing well over 100 percent of your  daily value for nutrients such as vitamins A, C, and K.

Opt for Homemade Dressings

Have  you ever looked at how many ingredients are in most store-bought salad  dressings? And can you even pronounce half of them? Homemade salad  dressings are pretty simple. Start with an oil base (I prefer olive  oil), which acts as the emulsifier. Then, add in your favorite type of  vinegar. Although balsamic is popular, it’s fun to play around with  other flavors such as pear, raspberry, or even pomegranate! Next, chop  up some fresh herbs, which add flavor but not sodium.  The best varieties for salad include basil, thyme, marjoram, and  chives. Fresh is always best, but dried herbs can suffice in a pinch.  Ground pepper is also a must. Lastly, add in a pinch of sea salt to  taste. You can also experiment by adding different types of mustard to  provide another depth of flavor. Varieties like Dijon, whole-grain, or  sweet mustards all pack in flavor without tons of calories.

Chia: Not Just for Pets

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Chi chi chi Chia! Most people hear the word chia and have flashbacks of cheesy ’90s infomercials and bad Christmas gifts. Yes, chia can be used in lieu of a pet, but there is so much more that you can do with this spectacular seed! Let’s start off with a little Chia 101. Typically seen in seed form, the plant originated from Mexico and Guatemala. The word chia is derived from the word chian, which translates to the word oily, and is one of the main reasons there are so many health benefits. This gluten-free wonder can be eaten in raw seed form, ground into a fine powder or pressed into oil.

Raw Chia Seeds

Change up your morning routine and turn breakfast into your most powerful meal of the day. Mix two tablespoons of raw chia seeds into a 0 percent Greek yogurt to add four grams of fiber to your meal. Read about the amazing benefits of fiber in my previous post. You’ll also up your protein intake by five grams. That’s approximately 15 grams in total!

Chia Seed Oil

Next time you’re craving some greens, switch up the olive oil for chia seed oil. It’s loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, which play an important role in the prevention of heart disease, hypertension, stroke and depression. For an innovative twist on your standard green salad, mix 1/2 cup cooked quinoa with some parsley, green onion, basil and a squeeze of lemon juice. Drizzle with a 1/2 tablespoon chia seed oil for a salad that’s sure to please inside and out! Another option is to use chia as a micro green and add the sprouts to a traditional salad. It’s an effortless way to boost your protein, fiber and calcium intake!

CocoChia Living Fuel Snack Mix

A satisfying blend of coconut and chia seeds, this snack mix is an ideal option when searching for a snack on the go. Filled with antioxidants, one single-serve packet contributes to 20 percent of your daily fiber intake yet comes in under 150 calories. Opt for a pack instead of conventional, high calorie trail mix, or try swirling it into your morning oatmeal.

Chia Seed Powder

Put a little pizazz into your next smoothie and switch out conventional protein powder for chia seed powder. Start with ice, 1 cup of almond milk and 1 cup of non-fat Greek yogurt. Add in 1/2 cup raspberries,1/2 banana and 1/2 cup blueberries. Blend well and toss in three tablespoons of chia seed powder. The result? A delish summer refresher that packs in a whopping 10 grams of protein and fiber! It’s the perfect treat to recharge after a workout.

Fight the BBQ Bulge: Your Guide to Summer Sauces

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Schools are out, beaches are open, and the sun is blazing! With all  this summery goodness comes one of my favorite events: Outdoor  barbecues! It just wouldn’t be summer without an outdoor gathering of  your closest friends and family.Ribs, steaks, and chicken kebabs … what  do all of these things have in common? Sauce! It’s usually slathered on  thick or used as a marinade before cooking protein or veggies. But  certain ones can wreak havoc on your carefully chiseled summer  waistline. Below is a guide to sauces that will get you through the season without the barbecue bulge!

Limit your sodium

Sodium  is the biggest offender when dealing with sauce, because it adds flavor  and is often used as a preservative to increase shelf life. Since  barbecue sauce is used in such plentiful amounts, adhere to strict  sodium guidelines when choosing one, or you’ll certainly feel the bloat  the next day. Aim for under 250 milligrams per 2-tablespoon serving.  This may be hard to find with many popular sauce brands, so look for  unique food companies that focus more on flavoring with spices instead  of loading on the salt. One of my favorites is Danielle’s Sauces, which  is built on the belief of “clean cooking,” so their products are free of  preservatives and additives. I love the company’s Smoke & Spice BBQ  Sauce, which contains only 240 milligrams of sodium per 2-tbsp. serving  but packs tons of flavor and kick. Or, infuse some Asian flavor into  your dish by using the brand’s Chiliyaki sauce, a spicy teriyaki that’s  one of the lowest-sodium sauces on the market.

Beware of sugar

So  many sauces are flavored with molasses, brown sugar, or even corn syrup  to maintain a smoky sweetness, but sugar can cause your calories to add  up faster than you think. As a rule, try to look for sauces that are  less than 50 calories per 2-tbsp. serving. Chris’ and Pitt’s Bar-B-Q  Sauce is perfect to spread on ribs or chicken and has just 30 calories  in 2 tablespoons. If you opt for a sauce that’s higher in calories, try  to keep the sauce on the side to use as a dip. You’ll most likely use  less if it’s not slathered on beforehand.

Hot  sauce is another great option because it’s low in calories, and you only  need a dash or two to make things interesting. Among the numerous  varieties of hot sauces available, Shiracha hot sauce is my go-to summer  barbecue staple. It provides a spicy flavor, not a five-alarm fire. A  teaspoon or two is all you need and adds just 10 calories and 200  milligrams of sodium to your dish.

Swap sauce for salsa

There’s  something to be said for barbecue sauce, but you may find that topping  your freshly grilled salmon or scallops with a heap of homemade salsa  can add a refreshing aspect to your dish.  Dice an avocado, and combine with half a cup of quartered grape  tomatoes, a three-quarter cup of fresh corn and 1 tablespoon of fresh  cilantro. Add a squeeze of lime juice and a sprinkle of salt, and you’re  ready to go. The unsaturated fat from the avocado, combined with the  citrus flavoring will create such a bold flavor, you’ll never miss the  sauce! If you’re pressed for time, consider a jarred salsa. The Brooklyn  Salsa Company creates unique blends from local, sustainable  ingredients. Enjoy The Green flavor, which combines cumin, ginger, and  heirloom tomatoes for about 100 milligrams of sodium and only 10  calories per serving.

Make it homemade

Creating your own sauce at home can ignite your creative side and inspire you to add unique spices and fresh flavorings. Keeping it homemade  also gives you control over the nutritional content of the sauce. Start  with a tomato base of either no-salt-added ketchup or no-salt-added  tomato sauce which you can find in the condiment aisle of any large  supermarket. Add 2 tablespoons of molasses, 2 tablespoons of vinegar and  a sprinkle of brown sugar. Season with freshly ground pepper and  one-half teaspoon of garlic powder. You can stop right here, and the  sauce will be delicious, or consider experimenting with spices such as  curry or ginger powder. For a different flavor, try apple cider or red  wine vinegar.

Summer is not a time to be a wallflower! So enjoy the beach, the sun, and the barbecues, knowing that you don’t need to sacrifice flavor when watching your calories.

Occupational Hazard: Is Your Job Making You Fat?

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If you work in an office, you know that person. She’s incessantly talking about her past, future and present culinary endeavors and looking for a partner to indulge with. It starts off bright and early with the scent of a greasy egg-and-cheese sandwich wafting over to your desk, and then sure enough, at lunchtime you hear the rifling of takeout menus. Last month, the Wall Street Journal published an insightful article honing in on the difficulties people face when dieting in the workplace. As I read, comments I had heard numerous times from clients popped into my head: “I just felt so pressured to eat the cake she had made for me,” or “I didn’t want to be the only one not eating.” One survey found that over half of the participants ate foods they knew would sabotage their diet out of sheer obligation. When it comes to work-related eating, there are typically three types of eating personalities. I’ve broken them down for you and provided ways to overcome them.

The Situational Eater:

You let the situation dictate how you are going to eat.  For example, if the weekly staff meeting includes bagels and muffins, you fill your plate just because you can. Regardless of whether you’ve eaten breakfast already, you feel the need to eat.  Most likely, you don’t even taste the food.

Fix It:

1. Ask yourself why you are eating. Often, people are feeding an emotion, whether it’s the nervous energy of the meeting or the boredom you feel from your boss’s last lecture.

2. Keep in mind that you have the power to control your eating and write your dieting script.

The Free Foodie:

I hate to break it to you, but just because food is free, it’s not necessarily good for you.  In fact, most complimentary chow (i.e., donuts, birthday cake, and candy) rank high in calories and low in nutrition… You’ll most likely spend more time, energy and cash trying to peel off the extra pounds than if you’d picked up a solo salad instead.

Fix It:

1. When dining out, stay away from things that are easily refillable. Items like soda, wine (by the bottle) and bread baskets are things waiters can easily provide more of to ensure great service.
2. Try and be the last person at the table to order; people are less likely to focus on what you order once they’ve already placed their order.

The Office Party Animal

If every time you look at your inbox you have another Evite, then you fall into this category. Being social at the workplace and partaking in office camaraderie is important and can further help advance your career. Just be sure that it’s not doing the same for your waistline.

Fix It:

Try to be the server, not the eater. Take charge and volunteer to arrange the candles and dole out the dolce. Ironically, this trick puts the spotlight on you, yet makes it less likely that someone will fixate on what you’re eating. Redefine the word “special.” It’s easy to let office hype get the best of you. Every lunch seems like it’s at the best steakhouse and each happy hour seems like it’s at the hippest watering hole, but what’s really important to you? Save indulgences for things that truly are special, like your son’s birthday or wedding anniversary.

Remember, dieting isn’t necessarily about willpower; it’s about having the strategies you need to make better choices. Once you’ve identified your workplace persona, you’ll be completely equipped to maneuver occupational dieting hazards. For some of these tips I turn back to my first book The Wall Street Diet, which focuses on how to survive dieting in professional settings.

Your Mom Was Right

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Mothers and food are like love and marriage. It’s almost impossible to have one without the other. Some of the fondest memories we carry are centered around food, childhood and our mothers. They play an integral role in our nutrition habits because their beliefs are ingrained  into us at an early age. To this day, I use the essential nutrition advice that my mom bestowed upon me. Growing up, I was always the kid who wolfed  down my food, finishing before anyone else. At the rate I ate, you’d think I came from a family of 12! I can still hear my mother’s voice urging me to slow down and enjoy my meal. She simply wanted me to practice mindful eating. As a mother and nutritionist, it’s a value that I instill in my own children and clients.  Practicing this core value can help your diet in three essential ways:

1. You become less  likely to overeat because your brain has a chance to send a signal to your stomach that you’re full. Don’t be shocked: You may find food left behind on your plate!

2. Food becomes enjoyable again, and you actually taste what you are eating. Often, we sit down and polish off our plate without even tasting the meal. Eating should be a source of enjoyment, not just mechanism to fuel our bodies.  Just relax, take small bites, and chew! I promise, the food on the plate isn’t going anywhere.

3. You can gain control of your diet again. The pickable, poppable, unstoppable foods suddenly become manageable to integrate back into your regimen. When you actually take the time to evaluate what you are eating and the quantity, binges becomes less desirable.

Fast Food the Healthy Way: A Guide

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Let’s be real, everyone loves fast food. (Whether or not you want to admit it, but there’s something about French fries that really gets people going.) As a nutritionist, it’s hard for me to approve calorie-laden burgers, milkshakes or double decker bacon-filled ranch-dressing-topped nutritional nightmares. They’re not providing a ton of good nutrients, and instead are passing along sugar, fat and carbohydrates that will leave you feeling sluggish in its place. That being said, you have to live your life. It’s your life, not your diet, that takes precedence.  So I never want you to eliminate things you love completely. Why not? That will not only make you want those foods MORE, but it’s unrealistic. You’re not going to go the rest of your life without eating a hamburger. (Even I like one occasionally.)

Maybe you just really want a little fast-food treat, or you’re on the road and have no choice. Here are some healthy options for some of the most popular chains. You never have to ban entire restaurants or types of food from your life. That only leads to wanting those foods more! Small indulgences like the ones I’ve chosen below can get you far:

 

McDonalds:
1.) Fruit and yogurt parfait — 160 calories 2.) Caesar salad with grilled chicken and low-fat balsamic vinaigrette — 260 calories
 

Taco Bell
1.) Grilled steak soft taco (Fresco) — 150 calories 2.) Gordita supreme, chicken — 270 calories

Burger King
1.) Tender grilled chicken garden salad with Ken’s fat-free ranch dressing — 290 calories 2.) Small burger with a bun (260 calories). This counts as one angel carb. (What’s an angel carb? A good carb, because some bread is bad, but not all of it!)

Pizza Hut
1.) Two slices of a 12-inch pizza, — 300 calories, 2 angel carbs.

It is possible to eat fast food (very occasionally) and still keep it healthy. These are splurges, but not outrageous ones. No matter your lifestyle, job scenario or wallet, you can eat well.