Archives for category: Nutrition

Holiday DietThe main reason that you’re not happy with your weight is because of what you eat.

It’s hardly your fault.

Have you ever stopped to notice how many times you’re bombarded by food marketing each day?

Ads come at you from magazine pages, T.V. commercials, on websites and billboards, each boasting of cheap, convenient and tasty ways to cure your hunger.

The question “What’s for dinner?” has never been more complex than now.

Extensive menu options and large entrees have distorted your concept of a proper meal, and before you know it you’ve fallen into the trap of the chain restaurant, the drive thru, and the take-out line.

But wait – truly healthy eating is simple.

First you need to block out the blizzard of food marketing around you.

Remember that advertisers want your money, and they don’t stop to consider if the food they promote will expand your waist – that’s your job.

It’s safe to say that, with few exceptions, any food that you see marketed should be avoided. When was the last time you saw an ad for grilled white fish, steamed broccoli and a side of brown rice?

So what does truly healthy eating look like?

A healthy meal contains lean protein, fresh vegetables and a modest serving of whole grains.

Just as importantly, a healthy meal does NOT contain:
Refined sugar / corn syrup
Fried / fatty food
Full fat dairy food
Processed food with chemical additives
Healthy Breakfast

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. What you decide to eat when you first wake up will set the tone for the rest of your meals that day. Try these healthy options:
Scrambled egg whites, sliced tomato and whole grain toast
Whole grain oatmeal, sliced fruit and a protein shake
Homemade breakfast sandwich: Multi-grain English muffin with lean turkey slices and egg
Healthy Lunch

It is important to plan your lunch ahead of time in order to avoid turning to a fast food joint or vending machine. Pack your lunch the night before and carry it with you. Try these healthy options:
Dark baby greens topped with chopped chicken breast and diced tomatoes
Albacore tuna (packed in water), mixed with finely chopped cucumber over brown rice
Homemade sandwich: Sprouted grain bread with lean turkey slices, lettuce, tomato and mustard
Healthy Dinner

Dinner is the meal where most people splurge and eat far more calories than they should. Eating at home is the first step in reducing your dinnertime calories. Try these healthy options:
Grilled white fish, sautéed spinach and whole wheat couscous
Baked chicken breast, steamed broccoli and brown rice
Try the recipe for Rosemary Lamb Chops below
While healthy eating is a huge factor in achieving your ideal weight, exercise is the other half of the equation.

Your exercise routine should be challenging and should be done on a regular basis.

I know that you have more than enough in your life to think about without having to plan your own exercise routine. Leave that job to me—call or email today to get started on a personalized fitness program that will leave your body no choice but to shed those unwanted pounds.


foodpusherYou walk into the annual holiday party with a plan in place. You will stick to the veggie tray, pick one special dessert and have only one drink. You’ll stay away from the food table and enjoy the conversation instead of the sugar. You’ve got this. You aren’t going to fall victim to the holidays again this year.

If only it were that easy. The second you walk in the door Auntie Mae puts her famous pecan pie right under your nose and begs you to have a piece because she made it “just for you.”

You fill your tray up high with veggies. Your brother takes one look before loudly exclaiming “That’s all you’re eating? Are you on a diet or something?” causing everyone to turn and stare at your plate…and in your mind, your weight.

Your friend brings you a shot and a huge plate of cookies and says, “Come on, it’s a holiday! That means cheat day!”

You might think they have the best intentions and just want you to be happy, and in Auntie Mae’s case, you are probably right, but some of them don’t. And that’s OK, it’s only natural and you are probably guilty of it in some way or another yourself. Some people don’t like to see others succeed, because it makes them look at themselves. Perhaps your friend wants a partner in crime so she doesn’t feel so guilty standing next to you with your plate of veggies when hers is piled with fudge.

Don’t give in to the food pushers. Don’t let guilt lead you into making a decision you know you shouldn’t make. Where does it leave you? With more guilt. Politely extricating yourself from situations where food pushers, good intentioned or otherwise, lurk is almost an art, and your strategy may change based on who’s pushin’.

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The above infographic pretty much took the words right out of my mouth. Check out those numbers! AND those are for correct serving sizes- you know no one follows those, especially not on Turkey Day, where your plate is so overflowing that the dog gains weight just by following you around with his mouth wide open. You can see just how much exercise it takes to burn off each thing you put on your plate.

Knowledge is power. The least you can do is stick to proper serving sizes so you know exactly what the damage is. From there, a few simple changes can lighten it up even further.

Let’s start at the top:

Serving: 6 ounces for 340 calories
What it looks like: a deck of cards
Lighten it up: White meat has less saturated fat, but dark meat isn’t necessarily terrible for you. It actually contains vitamins A, K, B6, B12, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, minerals as selenium, phosphorus and zinc than white meat. To avoid unnecessary fat and calories, just skip the skin. If you are cooking, don’t deep fry- you’re soaking it in extra fat and the oven will save you a call to the fire department.

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We are right at the cusp of everyone’s favorite and simultaneously most feared time of year: the holidays.

While it’s a happy time that most look forward to, it is also full of stress, distraction and temptation. Everywhere you look, for the next 3 months, there will be nothing but parties, drinking, baked goods and junk as far as the eye can see.

These distractions are usually enough to cause most people to throw their workouts out the window, eat whatever is in arm’s reach (Half a candy cane you found in your purse? You know you’ve done it) and plan to pick things back up in the New Year. Well, this thinking, my friends, is what has kept your new Year’s resolution “to lose weight” the same for years. You can, however, come out of the holiday season still able to fit into pants without an elastic waistband. You can easily say no to tempting goodies and food pushers while still managing to keep a consistent exercise routine AND enjoy all the holidays have to offer. How? With a little planning, a lot of resolve and few simple tips:

Take time to relax. It’s the holidays, so enjoy yourself! Stress is harmful to your health, so be sure to find ways to unwind (exercise is great for that, by the way.)

Learn to say no. You will be invited to a million functions, parties and get togethers. Each one, without fail, will be fraught with poor choices waiting to be chosen. Don’t feel like you have to say yes to each one. Prioritize your nights to avoid overextending yourself and spending too many late nights drinking and eating, and too many mornings hitting the snooze button.

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13 Alternatives Kids Will Love

— By Liza Barnes, Health Educator

Forget haunted houses, the walking dead, or vampire bats. If there’s one thing that scares me about Halloween, it’s the candy. Packed full of artificial colors and flavors, chemical additives, and high fructose corn syrup, Halloween candy makes my skin crawl more than being blindfolded and sticking my hand into a bowl full of cold spaghetti! As a kid, I loved candy, of course. As a mom, I wish it didn’t exist. But I believe that depriving my daughter of the Halloween experience, candy included, would cause more harm than a couple of days of gluttony.Fortunately, I’ve recently discovered that there’s a whole new world of treats out there that will satisfy both of us. It’s still candy, but it’s not made of junk. If you’re going to be treating trick-or-treaters with candy this Halloween, consider stocking your plastic pumpkin pail with some of these healthier selections. Far from handing out apples or toothbrushes, these crowd pleasers are the real thing!

Barbara’s Snackimals Animal Cookies are far beyond traditional animal crackers, which usually contain trans fats and very little flavor. These crunchy cookies are even made with organic ingredients and come in Chocolate Chip, Snickerdoodle, Vanilla and Oatmeal varieties. They’re about $.89 per bag, and available at most natural food groceries and online
CLIF Kid Organic ZBars are low in fat, made with whole oats, and fortified with 12 essential vitamins and minerals. They are free of hydrogenated oils, high-fructose corn syrup, preservatives, and artificial flavors or colors. And they come in 7 delicious flavors: Apple Cinnamon, Chocolate Brownie, Blueberry, Chocolate Chip, Honey Graham, Peanut Butter and, just in time for Halloween, Spooky S’Mores. Trader Joe’s sells them for $.69 each, and they’re often available online for even less.
Endangered Species Dark Chocolate Halloween Treats are individually wrapped, single-serving chocolate squares—perfect if you want to pass out something delicious and environmentally responsible. They’re available at natural foods stores and online ($6.72 for 24 pieces).
FruitaBü Organic Smoooshed Fruit Rolls look and taste like all-too-familiar junk food, but are made from real organic fruit, with no artificial additives or added sugar. You can buy them in natural food stores and many supermarkets, or online (
Ginger Chews by the Ginger People certainly taste good, so you can’t go wrong with flavors like Original Ginger, Spicy Apple Ginger, Peanut Ginger and Hot Coffee Ginger. The Original flavor is available in the bulk bins at Whole Foods for around $5.19 per pound, which gets you about 70 chews. Other flavors are available online at and packaged in the candy aisle of natural foods stories, including Trader Joe’s.
Let’s Do…Organic Gummi Bears are made with organic ingredients and contain no gelatin, gluten, high-fructose corn syrup or artificial additives. All that’s left is delicious flavor! These come in boxes containing four individually-wrapped bags and are available in four varieties: Super Sour, Fruity, Classic, and Jelly. A box costs about $2.99. Buy them online
Pure Fun Organic Candy makes yummy hard candies and lollypops that are free of pesticides, artificial flavors, synthetic colors, and gluten. They come in several kid-friendly flavors, like Tangy Tangerine, Loony Lemon, and Giddy Green Apple. They’re available at Whole Foods ($4.99 for a bag of 18 candies), or online
Stretch Island Original Fruit Leathers are sweet and chewy strips of real, dried fruit that will satisfy a kid’s sweet tooth and count as half a serving of fruit! Stretch Island is one of many brands of fruit leather that you can buy online (, in natural food stores and at many supermarkets for about $.35 to $.50 each.
Sunspire Dark Chocolate Earth Balls are small but delicious chocolate morsels. They’re sweetened with whole grain malted barley and corn, which cuts the sugar content by 33%. They’re available in bulk bins at natural foods stories (including Whole Foods) for about $12.99 per pound (that’s about 80 individually wrapped balls).
Wolfgang’s Sweet Dark Chocolate Covered Blueberries and Raspberries are for the child gourmet! These mouthwatering morsels are made with real berries and dark chocolate, so they supply tons of antioxidants along with their fabulous flavor. They’re available at natural foods stores like Whole Foods for $5.99 for a box of 10-14 individually-wrapped pieces.
Yummy Earth Organic Lollipops and Candy Dropscome in flavors like Pomegranate Pucker and Wet Face Watermelon. Free of gluten, nuts and corn syrup, these candies are also certified organic and kosher. They’re available at Whole Foods and other natural foods stores, and online at Lollipops are about $3.50 for 15, and drops are about $2.59 for 25.
Last Minute Treats: If you can’t get your hands on any of these treats before the porch lights go on, don’t forget about good old standbys like individual packages of nuts or raisins, which you can pick up at any supermarket. If you have your heart set on candy, stick to dark chocolate (which should not contain any milk), or candies with the shortest ingredients lists.

When you hand out these candies at your door this Halloween, you can feel a little better knowing that you’re doing your part. If you have kids, and they’re willing, you can even swap their junk for the good stuff. For my four-year-old, I buy an assortment of healthier treats, set up a store where she can shop for them, and let her pay for her purchases with her trick-or-treating loot. It may be a bit of a trick, but in exchange she gets a far better treat. She still eats more sugar than I’d like on Halloween—after all, natural or not, candy is still candy—but it’s healthier than the conventional choices.

This article has been reviewed and approved by SparkPeople healthy eating expert, Tanya Jolliffe.

You can’t get away from pumpkins this time of year, from jack-o-lanterns to pies to cookies and lattes. But have you ever tried eating one? I mean honest to goodness, just baking one up and eating it? If not, you’re missing out on not only one of the most delicious ways to enjoy this gourd, but the healthiest.

Most pumpkin-flavored edibles this time of year fall more into the dessert category than a healthy vegetable side dish. But just like squash, the flesh of a pumpkin is very sweet and knocks quite nutrition punch. One cup of pumpkin contains only 49 calories, 3g of fiber, 2g protein, a shocking 245% of your daily recommended value of Vitamin A and 19% of the Vitamin C and 8% of the iron you need in a day. The medium decorative pumpkins, almost too small to carve, but the right size to draw on, bake up the best. Here’s how:

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Nutrition labels are meant to give you all the information you need to make an informed decision on the nutritional quality of your food. The nutrition facts labels are regulated by the government, and are unbending in their honesty. The labeling on the front, however, isn’t so strict, and can be manipulated to make you think the food is healthier than it actually is. Marketing: it’s tricky, and it works- unless you are an informed consumer. Here’s what you need to know about label buzzwords:

Fat-Free: In order to call a food item “fat free” it needs to have less than 0.5 grams of fat per labeled serving. First off, fat isn’t terrible, you need it, it just needs to be watched, so picking fat free over a full fat option isn’t automatically necessary. It’s also a huge marketing ploy. Perfect example? Candy. Skittles, Lemonheads and most non-chocolate candy emblazon FAT FREE FOOD! across the front of their labels. It’s true, they are low enough in fat to call themselves fat free, but candy is hardly a healthy food choice. There’s no fat in cement either- doesn’t mean you should eat it.

All-natural: All natural means basically nothing. Natural is a term that sounds healthy, so it’s used to make things sound more pure, rustic and whole, but in truth, it means very little. According to the USDA, food can only be labeled natural if it contains no artificial ingredients, added colors and is minimally processed. Vague, vague, vague. Don’t rest on the All-Natural label alone.

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Eating out is unavoidable. Food is a social centerpiece, and sometimes, you just don’t want to cook. Wouldn’t it be amazing if there was a restaurant where you could order whatever you wanted, just based on how delicious it sounded and know that, without fail, it was the healthiest way to order that meal, anywhere, hands down?

Well, too bad, cause there’s not. And I’m going to open the first one, so don’t steal my idea. That business model isn’t lucrative enough just yet to overtake the monetary lure of opening a grease and not-quite-sure-what-that-meat-is establishment. (Do remember: you vote with your wallets, so every time you order something unhealthy, you are further showing there isn’t a market for healthy restaurant eats.)

So, because restaurants don’t have you health’s best interest at heart, you get the pleasant task of rattling off a bevy of questions and special requests and substitutions to your server to health up your meals. Don’t apologize for it- it’s their job.

Here are a few tips for navigating restaurant menus and simple requests to ensure your meal is as healthy as can be. You control your food- even when someone else cooks it.

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Nothing strikes fear in the heart of dieters and nutrition-minded eaters more than a holiday. Holidays are a time when people eat without abandon because, hello, it’s a holiday. And that means something. Right?

Labor Day is this Monday and is the last big hurrah of the summer, where most head outdoors to spend their day off work relaxing in the sun with friends and family and stuffing their faces with BBQ, chips, sides and, of course, alcohol.

Here’s the thing with BBQ: it can be one of the healthiest ways to prepare the most deliciously healthy food, but we often tend to turn BBQs into some of the most unhealthy eats around. Instead of throwing chicken and flavorful vegetables on the grill, we lean towards grilling up fatty burgers with oily cheeses on top of bleached refined buns alongside sugar soaked baked beans, mayo drenched potato salads and greasy chips. (If that food description sounded heavenly to you, you need to retrain your taste buds.)

This Labor Day, plan a menu everyone will love the day of, and no one will regret the day after. You know that next day guilty food feeling. Do you really want to be the cause of that for someone else? Didn’t think so.

First thing’s first: Drinks

If you are going to be sitting in the hot sun all day, make sure you drink plenty of water along with your alcohol. Staying hydrated will keep you feeling great all day – and the next morning.

-It’s summer, so keep the beer light. Heavy beers not only have tons of calories but will put you to sleep. The lighter the beer, generally the lighter the calorie count.

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Eat your veggies. We’ve heard it since we were children. But what’s so great about veggies, anyway?

1. You can fill up for free. Fiber makes veggies virtual freebies. Because of the fiber in vegetables, eating them causes you to get fuller faster meaning you will eat less over the course of your meal. Combine that with the fact that they are so low calorie (cupfuls clock in at under 100 calories), and you have the perfect recipe for eating to your heart’s content, guilt-free.  How often do you hear that? In addition, since veggies are so complex and fibrous, the body uses almost as many calories just to chew, swallow and digest them as there are in the vegetables themselves. You’d have to stuff yourself on vegetables before the calories even begin to add up.  Learn to use this to your advantage: Fill up on your veggies first, like starting each meal with a small salad so you eat less of the more calorie dense foods overall.

2. They hydrate you. Drinking water isn’t the only way to stay hydrated. You get hydration from the foods you eat, too, and veggies are one of the best sources. The moistest, juiciest vegetables are the ones richest in water, so if you are sick of swigging on water all day, toss cucumbers, celery, lettuce, bell peppers and squash into your grocery cart.

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