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!

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.

Survive Thanksgiving in Style

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Alright, no one panic.

Thanksgiving might as well change itself to “National Dinner Day” and definitely does not seem like it will lend itself to your “eating right” plan. Plus, once the eat-xtravaganza begins, how do you get it to stop?!

But no worries – tackling turkey day is easier than you think.

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Chill Out!

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While no one in their right mind would ever elect to speed through their summer fun, on days when the thermometer soars past the three digit marks, some of us almost long for chillier days… almost.

Pretty much all of us at least crave a chillier treat.

Between spots where you can whip up your own freezy flavor of ice cream or stores where you can find milkshakes by the millions, it’s hard to resist the temptation and only made more difficult when you’re melting in to a human puddle. Add kids to the mix – be it your little ones, or just your inner child – and your doomed from the start.

Just chill out… and cool off without slacking off.

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The Mother of all Brunches

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This mother’s day, celebrate mom, not the buffet!

The annual day to celebrate the main lady in our lives comes along with a lot of warm and fuzzy feelings. Everyone gathers together, there’s flowers and candies and of course talk about all the mother’s days past. It’s a family day by definition and the one day where moms proudly get to declare “be nice, it’s mother’s day!” And because wherever mom is, home will always be, there’s a nice sense of comfort this day. Which goes without saying we all inherently want to do the most comforting thing: eat.

Since it’s a Sunday, most folks end up at some sort of brunch or early dinner. It’s true, you might be surrounded by sabotaging family members — like your great Aunt Geraldine who chases you around the kitchen table urging you just to taste her tiramisu — but come on your mom taught you better than that! You can survive no matter where the day might take you and just have fun honoring that lady you love so much.

Do it for mama!

If brunch is at a restaurant…

Choice-wise, you could be perfectly fine with this route. Most brunch menus come fully stocked with egg-white omelets chock full of veggies and yumminess. You could always get two eggs poached or scrambled and pair with some wheat toast and even some ham. The only trouble you might run in to is a lot of brunch spots have very tempting drink specials. Mimosas, Bloody Marys and Screwdrivers, oh my! Many would go straight for the Bloody Mary, citing “tomato juice” and the celery stick swizzler. But this baby is packed with salt – which will only make you want sweet. Two Bloody Marys, one large pastry later… and you’ve got a Mother’s day massacre. Instead, toast mom with just a glass of champagne and skip the OJ to avoid the extra sugar. And come on, it’s brunch! No matter how nuts your mother-in-law makes you it doesn’t warrant a liquid breakfast.

If brunch is at a relative’s house…

Ok, this is probably the stickiest situation you’ll find yourself in, (literally – there’s Aunt Geraldine with her ooey, gooey, temptation of love, tiramisu again,) but don’t panic! The spread usually goes something like pastries, bagels, and all the fixins. Feel free to have half a bagel, (if it’s what you crave it satisfies the urge and also won’t inspire your mom and her crazy sisters to come chirping that you don’t eat enough.) Pick a whole wheat or pumpernickel bagel with a little cream cheese (a little more if they’ve armed you with fat free) cucumber, lettuce, any veggies you can get your hands on. There will probably be fruit salad so go for something like that.

If brunch is hosted by you…

If you managed to convince the masses to come to your place, then good on you! The ball is in your court and you’ve got this. Cut corners wherever you can – Tropicana makes a great 50 percent less sugar OJ, make you mimsies with that, stock your spread with fat free cream cheese. Salsas and even black bean dips like this one make great mix-ins for omelets and with some fat free cheese and sour cream on top… a fiesta for your mouth and your madré!

For something a little sweet and different, combine 4-6 egg whites, cinnamon, vanilla extract, agave or splenda whipped for 4-5 minutes (think meringue for consistency). Spray a pan with nonstick and pour in a serving. Right before you fold over your blintz, add a little part skim ricotta or cottage cheese mixed with blueberries. Fold over and serve up! Not much to them, no recipe needed – just like mama used to make!

‘Cause I’m the Wanderer…

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No matter what part of the world you live in, everyone experiences bouts of yucky weather.

Maybe it’s somewhere very seasonal where the winters freeze you to your core and the summers turn you in to a walking puddle or maybe it’s just three, solid months of unceasing rain. No matter what Mother Nature throws your way, that weather witch has a knack for messing with your diet.

Snowstorms keep us holed up for days with nothing but snack to keep us company, sudden rain showers have us dashing in to coffee shops to keep dry and even sunshine lures you out for picnics in the park.

A wonderfully welcome sweep of springtime has hit NYC and this blast of nice weather has led to the unfortunate phenomenon I’d like to share with you now: “The Wander”.

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Foodie Frenzy

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Between long days at the office, sports games and ballet recitals, there are nights when eating out is an inevitable part of life. For the run-of-the-mill chain restaurant, survival is pretty straightforward. At this point I’m confident you all know your way around the every-day mall stops and how to make clean eating choices on the go.

But what about for the true foodies?

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An Al Fresco Mess-co

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Recently I was vegging out with my favorite guilty pleasure – reality television. As I was enjoying indulging in the one kind of junk I don’t have to save calories for, I noticed a commercial that snapped me out of my reality-tv induced stupor and back to real-reality.

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What To Eat At: Locanda Verde (New York)

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Starter: Local Tomatoes OR Black Fig Insalata (and for fun try the Lamb Meatball Sliders in lieu of the breadbasket)

Main: Charcoal-grilled Bass OR Grilled Octopus (which is a starter but a hearty portion)

The Scoop on Carbs

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There’s a growing misconception that consumption of carbohydrates leads to weight gain. Sure attacking the bread basket as soon as it hits the table is probably not the best approach but is it really carbs that we should be afraid of? Or is there a more important lesson to be learned here?

The reality is that ANYTHING you eat in excess, can contribute to weight gain. So for those of you who are consuming excessive amounts of protein and/or fat, you can still gain weight if you are consuming more than you’re expending.

Below are some interesting facts about carbohydrates:

  • Carbohydrates contain 4 calories per gram (versus fat, which is 9 calories per gram)
  • Carbohydrates are our primary source of energy for many vital organs including the brain, central nervous system and kidneys
  • We need a minimum of 120g of carbohydrates per day for our brain to work optimally
  • If the body does not have enough carbs, it breaks down muscle and other tissues (which isn’t healthy)

What’s important is the type of carbohydrates we consume.

  • Choose complex carbs including whole grains and fibrous foods (bran and oats)
  • Complex carbs will keep you fuller longer
  • Complex carbs can help combat various diseases such as heart disease
  • Limit refined carbs (sugar and flour) which can make you hungrier and can lead to overeating
  • Be mindful…refined carbs often hide in some common condiments, sauces and dressings!

Here are some common mistakes that my clients make and my recommendation for a healthier alternative (note that each of my recommendations contains a carb):

Misleading Menu Option… A Healthier Alternative…
AT BRUNCH: Dipping your egg white omelet in ketchup Skip the ketchup and replace it with a piece of whole wheat toast (keep the omelet, of course!)

Why? Ketchup has loads of sugar

AT THE DELI: Having a turkey burger with no bun You are better off with a chicken breast and a small sweet potato.

Why? Turkey burgers are notorious for containing lots of unhealthy/starchy fillers

AT THE SALAD BAR: a salad with corn, peas, chickpeas and dressing I recommend you pick up a turkey sandwich on whole wheat and call it a day

Why? The mix-ins on the left are very starchy.

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