It’s Thursday, but I’m still thinking about a ridiculous experience I had at a restaurant last weekend. We were at a new trendy – but casual – neighborhood place for dinner. I scanned the salad offerings – dismissing the vinaigrette-dressed roasted beets (not my favorite) and the “southwest” (loaded with refried beans and cheese) – and zeroed in on the mixed baby greens with creamy buttermilk dressing. I asked my server (“Mike, I’m happy to be taking care of you tonight”) if I could please have the mixed baby greens with the vinaigrette instead of the buttermilk dressing. “I’ll need to check with the chef,” he told me. “Our menu clearly states, ‘no modifications’.” Huh? After a few minutes he came back – with attitude. “The chef said he’ll make an exception.” Looking down his nose at me, I half expected him to add, “… just this once.”
Posts tagged: nutrition
If you keep up with the latest in dietary advice, you can probably list a few reasons why protein is such an important nutrient. It’s necessary, of course, to help you build and maintain your muscle mass, and it’s also known to be a much better at filling you up than either fat or carbohydrate – which is why we suggest that people aim to have a good source of protein at each meal or snack. The idea is simply this: high carb meals don’t stay with you, while higher protein meals can help control hunger from one meal to the next. But here’s something else… a recent study by Heather Leidy1 suggests that a high protein breakfast not only helps control your appetite until the next meal, it might reduce unhealthy snacking in the evening.
I’m nudging you now, because many people have the tendency to put this off. As in, “I’m going on a surfing trip next week and I can’t be seen looking like this” A crash diet to take off a couple of pounds in a week might make you slightly less self-conscious in your board shorts, but if you really want to make some headway before swimsuit season, the time to start is now.
“They call me the vacuum cleaner!” one of my patients told me recently. He’s been a fast eater his entire life. “I grew up with six brothers and sisters – so, counting my folks, there were nine of us at the dinner table,” he told me. “As soon as mom put the food down, we’d all scramble to get our share, and then eat it up as fast as we could – because the fastest eater had the best chance of getting a second helping before it was all gone!” Even though he no longer has nine people at his dinner table, those old eating habits die hard. This guy can still demolish a plate of food in seconds flat.
For most of us, the last thing we need is the pressure to eat more. But it happens all the time. A few years back, one of the fast food chains in the US began a push to add a whole extra meal to your day – “the meal between dinner and breakfast”. I do understand the desire for an occasional midnight snack – sometimes you eat dinner early, you stay up late and you get hungry. But once that midnight snack morphs into “the fourth meal”, it starts to sound more like an everyday need – which just makes it easier to justify why we cave into the pressure to eat it.
Now that the holidays are solidly behind us, the reality of those New Year’s promises we made to ourselves are starting to settle in. Many of us start out the New Year with big plans for big changes…which is why all this month we’re focusing on the ‘little things’. That’s because small steps – taken together – can add up to big results, and are often easier to handle than huge sweeping changes that can be unsettling. In the last post, I made some suggestions for small changes you can make at the grocery store – that is, after all, where the path to healthy eating begins. But now that you’ve brought your healthy ingredients into the house, you want to make sure to keep them that way when it’s time to cook. And with just a few small changes, you can make every dish you prepare at home a little bit better for you.
Have you heard of carbo loading? It’s a potential energy booster for endurance athletes – but for everyday exercisers it could lead to weight gain. Here’s the lowdown on carbo loading.
If you were to sit down for dinner with a bunch of runners the night before a marathon, chances are good they’d be chowing down on carbs – lots of them. You’d be surrounded by people eating heaping piles of spaghetti, rice, potatoes and bread – all in an attempt to top off their fuel tanks before the race. Most endurance athletes know that it takes a lot of carbs to keep their engines running – so there’s always a big push to pack in as much as they can the night before an event. But many endurance exercisers that I talk to don’t think about what they’re eating for the last few days before a race – which is too bad, because it could make a big difference in how well they perform.
If you were to ask a group of 40-somethings if they have more trouble managing their weight now than they did when they were in their 20s, you’d likely hear a chorus of ‘yeses’ in response. They know all too well the meaning of “middle age spread” (which always sounds to me like margarine that’s been in the refrigerator too long) – the slow, steady march towards a thicker waistline that seems to go hand-in-hand with getting older. Many of my middle-aged patients consider this ‘creeping obesity’ to be inevitable – something that just “happens to everybody” and is therefore completely out of their control. But is it?
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A friend and I were swapping stories about last week’s Thanksgiving feast, and she mentioned to me that her uncle was the fastest eater she’d ever seen. When she was a little girl, she used to think her uncle was a magician – it seemed to her as if one minute he had food on his plate, and the next minute… zap!… his food had simply vanished. One Thanksgiving, her aunt set a mirror infront of his dinner plate, thinking that he might just slow down if he watched himself shoveling it in. Instead, he simply sat down – and complimented his wife on the creative table decor.
Want to change your diet behavior? Break through these diet barriers first! Getting out of your usual comfortable routine is hard and the first step is figuring out why you’re resisting change in the first place.
When my son turned 5 years old, we had an “inside-out, upside down, backwards” birthday party for him. We handed his friends their goodie bags and waved goodbye as soon as they arrived at the house, and we ate cake and ice cream before the pizza. The parents had a lot of laughs, but the kids were totally bewildered – in no small part, I’m sure, because we were also wearing our underwear over our clothes. So why am I telling you this? Because sometimes when I’m talking to clients about the lifestyle changes they need to work on, I see that same bewilderment – as if I’m suddenly turning their world inside-out, upside down and backwards. Why is change so hard for some people?
Years ago, I had a client who was truly ‘fat phobic’. If she could detect any trace of fat in her food, she’d reject it. She’d dissect a piece of roast chicken into tiny pieces, teasing out any specks of fat she could find between the muscle fibers, and she dressed her salads with straight lemon juice – never a drop of oil. She did this primarily as a weight control strategy – she was a tiny woman and intended to stay that way – but she’d also heard that people need to eat fat. So she was worried. Was being this finicky about fat bad for her health? And – more importantly – did she really need fat in her diet at all?
Do you remember the old nursery rhyme about Jack Sprat who ate no fat, while his wife “could eat no lean”? As the tale goes, things with Jack and his wife worked out pretty nicely – he ate his foods, she ate hers – and between them, they “licked the platter clean”. But what happens in real life? How do couples work it out when one person needs to lose weight and the other one doesn’t?
Vegetarians are usually advised to eat slightly more protein than omnivores – this is to ‘make up’ for the slightly different makeup of the amino acids in the foods that are eaten – and also because of slight differences in digestibility between animal and plant proteins.
In truth, though, vegetarian diets can offer up plenty of protein, as long as they’re well-balanced. Let’s talk about the options.
One of the more entertaining aspects of my work is that whenever I meet a new weight loss client, I never know where the conversation will lead. Usually, I’ll start by getting some history – I want to know what’s the most and the least they’ve ever weighed, what motivates them to eat better and get into shape, and also what’s worked for them in the past and what hasn’t – that sort of thing. From there, I can start to get a sense for how much effort each particular patient is willing to put forth, and what their expectations are. And then we come up with a plan. But I can’t just tell someone what they need to do – I need to help them figure out how they’re going to do it, too. And we work together to figure out what’s going to work best for them.
While women tend to fret about their weight and pore over food labels, men often have a more relaxed attitude when it comes to their diets. Maybe it’s because most guys burn through calories a lot faster than women that they figure they can get away with eating whatever they want without gaining weight. The male assumption seems to be that as long as their weight is in check, they really don’t have to give much thought to what they put in their mouths.