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Archive for the ‘ Buffets ’ Category

9 tips for a guilt-free July 4th BBQ

Below is my latest blog post for Huffington Post, 9 tips for a guilt free July 4th BBQ.

You can also read it HERE.

The 4th of July marks the season for summer barbecues. For many of us, that means burgers, hot dogs, and more diet disaster. But it doesn’t have to be.

As a nutritionist, I spend a lot of time educating clients on how to stay healthy, or even lose a few pounds, when attending summer BBQs and parties. While I know lots of people who simply decline invitations to parties for fear of overeating, I generally suggest that you enjoy the company of great friends and family, and make some wise food choices as well.

These days, most hosts, offer some healthy choices in addition to the usually barbecue fare. So, it is not too difficult to choose health.

Here are 9 simple and painless strategies to try at your upcoming July 4th barbecue.

1. Eat before you go.

Eating a healthy snack before heading to your summer food fest may seem silly, (after all, you are going to eat at your party, no?), but it is actually one of the best ways to fend off overeating. Eating a healthy snack, preferably with fiber and protein, will cut the edge off your hunger so that you don’t arrive at your party famished and ready to eat anything. Some good choices include: a yogurt with fruit, hummus and baby carrots, or an apple with a thin schmear of nut butter.

2. Wear tight fitting clothes.

Wearing tight fitting clothes is a simple way to remind you not to overeat. After all, you don’t want to see your belly bulge. For men, this means wear a belt. It would be great, of course, if we listened to our internal hunger as a cue to stop eating. But unfortunately, so many of us are not in tune with our bodies in that way. While we are working on it, wearing tight fitting clothes can help.

3.  Drink a glass of water or seltzer before eating.

Oftentimes, we think we are hungry, when we really are just thirsty. So I suggest starting off with a glass of water or flavored seltzer as a way to hydrate.  Also, if we drinking water, we are less likely to guzzle down sugar-laden soda.

4. Do a lap around the buffet line before filling up your plate.

Check out what foods are available instead of starting at the beginning of the buffet table and piling up on everything in sight. When we survey the selections first, we can pick a few healthy choices while also choosing a small portion of our favorite treat food. Taking a treat also makes it easier to skip the high calorie unhealthy foods we can do without.

5. Choose something green.

Yes, I know it’s July 4th and we’ll be patriotic for dessert (more on that later), but be sure to fill up in some greens: mixed lettuce, spinach, kale, cucumbers, celery, or broccoli. Your host will probably offer at least one of these healthy vegetables.  These green veggies are low in calories and high in fiber and antioxidants—a great way to fill up. Another healthy green option is choose some guacamole which contains heart-healthy unsaturated fat.

6.  Try a veggie burger.

These days, with so may people following vegetarian diets, many hosts offer veggie burgers, a healthy addition to a summer barbecue. Give it a try. Top your burger with tomatoes, fresh avocado and you’ve got a super healthy meal. Free of  artery clogging saturated fat.

7.  Go bun-less.

I often suggest skipping the refined white bread and choosing a whole wheat bun, if available, or skip the bun altogether. Choosing a fresh salad and topping it with a burger makes for a delicious and nutritious meal. And you save room for a healthier starch option.

8.  Enjoy corn on the cob

If you decided to skip the bun, corn on the cob makes for a great starch option. Corn on the cob is high in fiber and will keep you feeling full for a while.  And fresh corn on the cob also tastes delicious right off the grill.

9. Be patriotic for dessert.

Here’s how to be patriotic—enjoy a delicious fruit salad for dessert. Choose red cherries, fresh blueberries, watermelon, and pear. If your host doesn’t make a fruit salad, offer to bring one.

We would love to hear your healthy tips.

Happy 4th! Safe travels.

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Healthy vacation tips

Developing Healthy Habits on Vacation

Last week, I went away for spring break and was the resident nutritionist in a warm weather resort answering all sorts of nutrition and diet questions. Vacations often take on a life of their own when it comes to maintaining healthy habits. So often, people just “let themselves go” and justify that they are on vacation. And, they end up feeling worse when they return home.  However, it is really ok to indulge every now and then while away, while also maintaining healthy habits overall.

Here are some common vacation pitfalls and tips for how to conquer them:

All you can eat meals/buffets.

Have you ever felt that you paid for something so you want to “get your money’s worth?!” Well, you are not alone. This is very common and often leads people to overeat, and to rationalize about it as well. I deal with this issue so often when I counsel clients.  As I tell my clients, you will get your money’s worth if you eat healthfully and feel satisfied, not stuffed. Good health is your greatest wealth. The good news about buffets is that there will usually be some healthy choices. And, so often, there will be a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. My rule of thumb: do a lap around buffet and sample the choices BEFORE making your selection. Take one plate of food (not 5 mini plates) and make sure your plate is not piled so high that food is ready to fall off the plate. Eat till you are comfortably satisfied (and it’s ok to leave a little room for your favorite dessert) and enjoy the company.

Remember to:

Practice portion control

Fill up half your plate with fruits and veggies.

Take one portion and sit down. Do not pick or eat standing.

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Lounging on the beach.


Going to a beach resort can be a great way hide away on a lounge chair and curl up with a good book or… it can a great way to get in some exercise too. Since I am a fan of varying your exercise routine, when you are away at a beach resort, use it as an opportunity to enjoy the breathtaking views and to exercise. Taking a long walk either with your travel partner or solo is a great way to get your heart rate moving. Your ipod will certainly come in handy here! If you are a runner, taking a jog on the beach is also a way to break from your usual routine. You are also more likely to take that walk or jog if you are already on the beach as opposed to going indoors to the gym.

Lack of structure. The lack of structure on vacation often throws people’s health routine off. But you can totally turn it around and use it to your advantage. Eat structured meals and eat mindfully. Set aside some time most days to get in exercise. And, since you are away from your usual obligations, you certainly have time. Just, be sure to structure it well.

Enjoy, and have a fun—and healthy–vacation!!


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