Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Fresh Start Diet Makeover for the New Year!

Fresh Start Diet Makeover for Year Long Healthy Weight Control –Carolyn O’Neil, MS, RD

Every season brings its own timely temptations from Super Bowl Sunday’s snacks to Fourth of July fried chicken and ribs. So why not resolve to recognize these waist widening challenges and learn to apply some slimming strategies when the landscape is fat with indulgent food choices? Research shows that the most successful dieters- those who lose weight and keep it off for the long haul- practice healthy eating and exercise habits all year long.
There’s no time like the present to make a fresh start and begin new healthier eating habits. Here are some Fresh Start Diet rules to help you lose weight and improve your health in the New Year.

F- Freshen up your food life- Keep fresh fruit and other healthy snacks such as whole grain crackers, nuts, and fresh veggies on hand at home. A handful of almonds or walnuts before heading out to eat can calm your appetite so you don’t dive into the bread basket the minute you arrive. Stock your pantry with whole grain pastas, brown rice and your fridge with non fat milk, low fat cottage cheese and yogurts. Find “thin-dulgences” to feed your cravings; such as chocolate sorbet instead of chocolate ice cream or topping broccoli with a tablespoon of grated extra sharp cheddar cheese instead a gobs of cheese sauce.

R- Recognize barriers- OK, it’s going to be tough to say ‘No’ to food favorites like chocolate fudge and fried chicken. Know your splurge foods and resolve to enjoy them in small quantities. Use a small plate to serve yourself. Research shows your mind will think it looks like a lot more food than the same amount on a large plate. If you avoid making salads because it’s too much trouble to chop up veggies, buy precut salads. Or discover the joy of prepping fresh foods with a great new kitchen knife! Sometimes the barrier preventing you from eating less is the company you keep. A study in the Journal of Consumer Research reports that when college students watched a movie and ate snacks with someone slimmer, they typically followed their thin friend’s lead when she overindulged on buttered popcorn and candies. Social cues are powerful, so recognize that it’s not just what you’re eating but who you’re eating with that can affect your overall diet.

E- Enjoy the taste of eating right – Did you know that the deviled eggs, steamed shrimp, roast beef and chicken on skewers often served at parties are all diet-friendly lean protein choices? Feel free to add low-cal flavor with mustards, horseradish, cocktail sauce and salsas. Remember that some foods are actually allies in the weight loss war. Protein packed low fat dairy foods, broth based soups, veggies, fruit and whole grains fill you up with out filling you out. Having lunch out with friends? The menu at FIGO pasta, with eight Atlanta locations, is packed with figure-friendly items including a chicken soup with fresh chopped tomatoes. EntrĂ©e salads of mixed greens, arugula or spinach can be topped with chicken, salmon or sea bass and dressed lightly with lemon vinaigrette.

S- Start new habits- Keep a list of what you’re eating and drinking for a few days. Be as specific as possible on types of foods and amounts. Don’t know what a cup of mashed potatoes looks like? Get some measuring cups out and become familiar with portion sizes. This snap shot will help you keep track of over eating and while you’re at it- write down your physical activity. Did you take the stairs instead of the escalator at the mall? That counts, too! Make sure your goals to improve health habits are specific, realistic, action-based and measurable. If you love French fries or fried chicken, instead of vowing to ban them from your diet, agree to limit eating fried foods to once a week or once a month.

H- Have a plan – Start your day with a mission to be healthy. Eat breakfast. Schedule time to take a walk or go to a yoga class. If you’re going to a pot-luck supper bring the salad or vegetable side dish to make sure there’s something healthful on the menu. If you know that Friday involves a big dinner party, eat less on Thursday and walk more on Saturday. If your work schedule requires a three hour car ride to visit a client - pack fresh fruit such as easy to peel Clementine oranges and a turkey sandwich on whole wheat for the road so you don’t have to stop at a fast food joint. Save the calories to spurge on dinner out when you reach your destination. Successful long term weight control is a balancing act.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Tis the Season for Splurging

Cookie Swap Party! Look Out These Sweet Tooths Are Serious!

This just in: University of Pittsburgh researchers observe that we eat more on weekends and during the holidays! What a surprise?! After studying two year’s worth of consumers’ eating behavior, professor of marketing J. Jeffrey Inman and colleagues found that both the quality (“This homemade fudge is fantastic!”) and quantity (“I’ll have some more homemade fudge, please!) of foods consumed during weekend and holiday meals is considerably different from regular weekdays. Inman suggests that Americans need special dietary advice for special occasion eating to help in the battle against obesity.
So today’s post serves up some smart tips on eating healthy and having a fabulous time during the holidays.

Trim the Trimmings
Go all out and deck the halls with boughs of holly, glitter, and lights, but when it comes to holiday food, accessorize with care. To shave calories, go easy when adding nuts, cheese, cream sauces, gravy, butter, and whipped cream -- additions that don't add much to the meal, but can add plenty to your waistline. Trim calories wherever you can so you can use them on the splurge foods you don’t want to miss. For instance, I ate a small salad for lunch because I knew I was going to Miller Union restaurant for dinner. Instead of steamed vegetables I savored each bite of Chef Steven Satterfield’s root vegetable gratin -deliciously rich with butter, cheese and crispy breads crumbs. And instead of saying “no” to dessert and in the spirit of holiday giving, I split the rustic apple tart and caramel-honey ice cream with a friend.

Smart Splurging-What the Diet Divas Do!

Even dietitians give the green light to enjoying holiday favorites and offer their own philosophies on navigating holiday dinner parties, traditional treats and big buffets. And guess what? There’s not one suggestion to eat celery instead of your favorite splurge. -“Start small and savor it all. The first few bites of a meal are the most enjoyable. So, start with a small portion and take time to enjoy it.” Marisa Moore, MBA, RD, President of the Georgia Dietetic Association

-“The idea of splurging in this society also smacks of guilt. When we understand that occasionally eating richer foods is part of normal eating, whether eating the foods is part of a celebration or just because we like the taste of something and want some of it, we can go with the flow, letting our bodies guide us in eating in a way that makes us feel great.” Marsha Hudnall, MS, RD, Director and Owner of Green Mountain at Fox Run, Ludlow, Vermont

-“I say splurge on a little something absolutely divine that can not be consumed in a reduced calorie version, such as the authentic Turkish Baklava that was sent to my office as a holiday gift last week. It was not in my day's "plan" and it was absolutely (eyes roll in the back of my head) incredible. I just made concessions the rest of the week to eating and exercise so that I could really enjoy it and that is the key part or else it's not worth it.” Carrie Zisman, MS, RD ,
-“Splurge on things you really, really, really love. Too often we eat things that are mediocre or even bad. How many times have you been halfway through a Christmas cookie and thought, ‘This just isn’t that good.’ Holiday buffets are frequently covered with high-calorie muck. Slice-and-bake sugar cookies with reindeer on them? Processed cheese log? Eeewww, why bother? Homemade toffee? French champagne? Now you are talking. Ask yourself, “is this worth the calories?” If so, dig in and savor it. If not, make use of that little cocktail napkin, or the friendly dog, and get rid of the offending food.” Sanna Delmonico, MS, RD, family nutrition expert,
-“A splurge does imply extravagance or decadence so acknowledge it, sit and savorAll the swaps where you leave out ingredients or downsize might actually be worse for us. Or we fill up on all the lower calorie items and end up eating what we really crave later and are too full to enjoy! Leslie Bonci, MPH, RD, Director of Sports NutritionUniversity of Pittsburgh Medical Center

- “I agree that splurging is OK. If we only eat healthy foods all the time and feel guilty when we indulge then we are not living. Life should be enjoyed. Food is a large part of our lives. It is important to indulge occasionally in order to stay on track. If you don't indulge then you are holding yourself to a standard that will probably make you fail. We should set ourselves up to succeed.” Sarah Ludmer RD, Senior Nutritionist, Del Monte Foods

-“Eating healthfully is a lifestyle, which includes permission to step outside of the ‘healthy food box.’ Coming prepared to holiday events is your key to success. Never show up starving; eat a small healthful snack prior to dining out. Peruse the offerings and after waiting a minute or two if you still really want it, then it is more than an impulsive selection. A few bites of favorite foods should be enough to satisfy you. Feeling that you are controlling your choices will help you feel good during and after the meal.” Annette Schottenfeld, MBA, RD, Nett Nutrition, Inc.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Italian Lessons in Boston's North End

Salumeria Italiana on Richmond Street Open in Boston's North End for 40 Years

Walk the streets of Boston's North End and you'll find yourself thinking you're in Italy as you pop into the tiny shops specializing in cured meats, pastas, olive oils, breads,cheeses and all of the ingredients needed to cook authentic Italian meals including the Italian wines to go with them.

On a recent trip to Boston I joined a group of fellow foodies for an afternoon adventure led by Jim Becker of Food Tours of Boston. Jim knows the North End! At each stop he greeted the shop owners by name and told us the stories of how the family owned businesses began. It was a crash course in getting to know the neighborhood and nuances of Italian culinary habits with samples along the way. First stop was V.Cirace & Son on North Street ( now run by son and daughter Jeffrey and Lisa Cirace), a treasure trove of Italian wines from aperitivo to digestivo!

Jim's lesson in Italian libations included a primer on digestive health, "Italians don't like to complain of "agita" after a big meal. So they have a long tradition of sipping 'digestivo' after-dinner drinks that settle the stomach." They are often anise based or include bitter herbal concoctions. From grappa to aperola to lemoncello to averna ...seems there are almost as many types of digestivi as there are shapes of pasta! We samples a lovely lemoncello from the Amalfi coast of Italy called Sogna de Sorrento. It was not too sweet and very lemony.

Do You Know Balsamic Basics??

Jim Becker, guide with Food Tours of Boston, poses carefully with a pricey bottle of aged balsamic vinegar from Modena, Italy. The red cap indicates it's been aged more than 12 years, the minimum number of years to be designated "aceto balsamico."

The Older the Better

There are lots of "balsamic" vinegars on the market. If they are inexensive chances are they are a mix of some balsamic and mostly red wine vinegar. OK..but not the real deal. The Reggio Emilia region of Italy designates the different ages of their balsamic vinegar (Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Reggio Emilia) by label color. A red label means the vinegar has been aged for at least 12 years, a silver label that the vinegar has aged for at least 18 years and a gold label that designates the vinegar has aged for 25 years or more.
The Modena region uses a different system to indicate the age of their balsamic vinegars (Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena). A cream cap means the vinegar has aged for at least 12 years and a golden cap bearing the designation extravecchio shows the vinegar has aged for 25 years or more. Some of those bottles can be priced over one thousand dollars! A little drop will be enough to add power to a drizzle of olive oil on your salad.

One if By Land, Two if By Sea

You can take the Water Taxi to tour Boston Harbor. This stop next to the Fairmont Hotel, Battery Wharf is steps away from Boston's North End and right next to the Coast Guard station. And even if you forget to pack your walking/running shoes not to worry if you're a Fairmont guest. ( Or maybe you just didn't want to check an extra bag for your fitness gear!)

The Fairmont Fit program lends guests activewear and shoes to use in the hotel's spacious fitness center. Or you can hit the Harbor Walk and do your cardio along the waterfront or up and down the streets of the quaint North End. The aromas of bread baking, rosemary, basil and garlic wafting from restaurants along the way will inspire you to walk a bit faster so you can return in time for lunch!

Compare your Adidas borrowed from Fairmont Hotel's Fairmont Fit program with the Boston Celtic's Legend Larry Bird's Basketball Shoes. Look for this bronze plaque honoring the Bird in Quincy Market.