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Archive for the ‘ Holiday eating ’ Category

5 patriotic hacks to try this 4th of July. They are healthy too!

Below is my blog post for Huffington Post,  “5 patriotic hacks to try this 4th of July. They are healthy too!”

You can also read it HERE.

July 4th marks the official start of summer and a time for celebration—with family, friends, and of course, food. It does not, however, have to be a time for weight gain. First off, what you do every day (think portion control, more fruits and veggies, less junk food, exercise) is more important than what you do on just one day of the year (think July 4th, Thanksgiving, Halloween).

With that said, you can enjoy a summer barbecue with loved ones while also enjoying summer favorites, and still come out healthy and, perhaps, even down a pound or two! Let’s face it, it’s hard to have a holiday party without eating, but these simple hacks will help you eat less and stay on track.

Eat off of red plates.

This is the perfect trick to try this holiday. Researchers from the University of Parma, Italy, conducted a study that found that eating off of red plates reduced portion sizes. While the authors conclusion states, “Although the origin of the intriguing effect of the color red on consumption remains unclear, our results may prove useful to future potential explanations,” it can’t hurt to give it a try!

And, while you’re at it, use a patriotic tablecloth as well.

Choose a patriotic—and healthy—breakfast.

In my nutrition counseling practice, I recommend that clients eat a healthy breakfast to prevent hunger later on. If you are not a breakfast eater, no problem; it’s OK to keep it light and to eat something mid-morning instead.

Eating something healthy before heading out to a summer barbecue is one of the best ways to avoid overeating. Not only do I recommend this to my clients, but I practice it religiously.

Here’s a healthy patriotic choice to enjoy this July 4th (and all summer long): a low-fat yogurt topped with blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and red raspberries; include at least one blue and one red fruit. And in celebration of the holiday, top it with a sprinkle or two (1-2 teaspoons) of unsweetened coconut flakes.

Infuse your water to stay hydrated.

While we know we should drink more water to stay hydrated, easier said than done. especially if you are bored with the taste of plain water. Here are some tricks to try this Independence Day. Choose sparkling water or water and add fruit. Think red, white and blue this holiday!

I love adding watermelon cubes into my water or making ice cubes from the juice of watermelon. Another option is to throw in fresh or frozen blueberries, blackberries, red grapes, red raspberries, strawberries, or cubes of apple and pear (not exactly white, but close enough!).

Enjoy a (small) glass of sangria or red wine.

While it’s OK to enjoy a glass of wine or sangria, drink it out of a small glass. University of Cambridge researchers found that the larger the wine glass, the more people drink. This makes perfect size, as larger plates, bowls, and spoons, also lead to overeating.

To help keep your portion sizes in check, as I suggest in my book, The Portion Teller Plan, eat off of smaller plates, use smaller cutlery, and drink from a smaller glass this 4th of July holiday! Your waist will thank you.

Choose watermelon for dessert.

While your festivities will likely end with some sweet stuff—ice cream and cookies—with a little luck, it may often end with healthy watermelon slices as well. Watermelon is a delicious fruit, which will not only quench your thirst; it will also give you a boost of antioxidants (think lycopene!) And, remember, no one got fat eating watermelon, or any other melon for that matter, so please don’t skip this sweet tasting fruit. If you are not sure your guests will serve watermelon, offer to bring it along.

Here’s to a terrific—and nutritious—summer!

We’d love to hear your healthy summer hacks.
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7 tips to keep your weight—and waist—in check this holiday season

Below is my blog post for Huffington Post “7 tips to keep your weight–and waist–in check this holiday season”

You can also read it HERE.

Image courtesy of Suriya Kankliang at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Suriya Kankliang at                    FreeDigitalPhotos.net

With the festivities of the holiday season upon us, temptations are all around, and making healthy and smart food choices can be challenging. While people often think that they will gain several pounds during this season, truth be told, research shows that we only gain, on average, around a pound between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. The greater challenge, however, is losing any weight we may have put on, and keeping it off.

Cultivating healthy habits during the holiday season (with some cheat treats allowed!) which we can take with us into the New Year will help keep us trim well into 2017.

1. Follow the 80-20 rule.

Yes, it is ok to indulge. Just not all the time. When I work with clients looking to lose weight, I generally advise them to follow a healthy eating plan most of the time while allowing them to enjoy an occasional treat meal, drink, or snack. For example, if you are going to a holiday party, eat a healthy breakfast and lunch and allow yourself to indulge (sans guilt) in your favorite holiday treat.

2. Plan in advance (when you can.)

Whenever possible, planning in advance, is a great way to go. If you are going to a favorite restaurant, decide in advance what you are going to order and work your day around that. If you know you want a pasta meal, have a salad instead of a sandwich for lunch. If you have an idea what will be served at a holiday party, you can plan what you will eat. While we may not always know what will be on the menu, often times we have an inkling, and for those occasions, pre planning helps.

3. Be a social butterfly.

Remember why you went to a holiday party in the first place. It probably wasn’t for the food, but rather the good company. Enjoy friends and family, and engage with them. Don’t make food the most important part of the gathering. When you arrive at a party, instead of running toward the buffet table, look around at the company and say hi to those you know and even those you don’t yet know.

4. Eat before you eat.

Rather than save up all your calories for a holiday party, I suggest eating a healthy snack before you go. Filling up with some protein and fiber will help satiate you and keep your hunger pangs at bay. Some of my favorites include a Greek yogurt with berries, hummus and fresh veggies, a bowl of lentil soup, or almond butter with an apple and whole grain crackers.

5. Size does matter.

As I like to say, it is OK to enjoy your favorite foods (just not all at once) and the key to avoid gaining weight during the holiday season is to watch your portion sizes. For a main meal, I love using the visual method—fill half of your plate with veggies and roughly a quarter with protein (fish, chicken, beans, lean meat) and the remaining quarter with a starch (whole grain such as brown rice or quinoa, if possible.) No need to go low carb at your favorite gathering! If you are having an alcoholic beverage, have just one drink (in a normal size glass) and enjoy it with the meal. Want a dessert? Choose just one treat—either your favorite pie or one holiday cookie. And, if your “one” cookie looks oversized, share it with a friend. Get the idea?!

6 Don’t start a diet.

The holiday season is not a time to begin a diet. Rather, think maintenance at this time of year and try keeping your current weight steady. While I find it courageous when a new weight loss client comes to see me during the holiday season, I outline a healthy food plan while also building in some wiggle room for holiday festivities. It is important to set realistic goals during this time of year and not be too hard on yourself.

7. Keep moving.

A great way to keep your weight in check without dieting at this time of year is to stick to a regular exercise routine. Whether it be a morning swim or run, or a weekend yoga class, keep the exercise going. It will help de-stress you while giving you some wiggle room to eat a little more than you usually do.

Wishing you and your loved ones a happy and healthy holiday season.

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10 tips to supercharge your health this holiday season

Below is my blog post for Huffington Post “10 tips to supercharge your health this holiday season.”

You can also read it HERE.

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net byApolonia

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‘Tis the season for overeating.

The weeks leading up to Christmas and New Year’s are filled with lots of social gatherings and food festivities. Food is everywhere, whether the office party, family events, buffets, cocktail parties or holiday candy gifts. It is also a stressful time for many people which, in and of itself, can lead to additional overeating.

With some advance planning, and smart pointers, however, you can come out healthier and more rejuvenated, and maybe even a few pounds thinner in time for the New Year.

To help you avoid gaining weight this season and reduce “food-related” stress, below I offer strategies that I’ve successfully used with clients in my talks and nutrition counseling practice. I invite you to try incorporating them into your daily routine.

1. Plan your day.

Part of the reason we overeat is that we do not pay much attention to what we are going to eat. We forget to eat, wait till we are famished and then overeat, or just grab whatever we can find when on the run. I suggest trying to map out your day in the morning and thinking about some of the healthy food choices you can make. For example, if you are going to a dinner party, plan for a healthy snack an hour or two before you go so that you are not starved when you arrive. If you are going out to lunch or dinner, view the menu in advance so you can get an idea of what you may want to order.

2. Eat healthy most of the time.

This is not a time to begin a diet. Or to ban your favorite foods. My suggestion for this holiday season is to pick a few foods that you absolutely love and legalize them, that is, allow yourself to include them, sans the guilt. The key is not eating them all at once. Plan for one treat a day and this way you will have something to look forward to.

3. Downsize your portions.

What I love about practicing portion control is that you can still eat what you love, just less of it, which will help you trim calories. You also do not have to say no entirely. For example, if your family is going to your favorite steakhouse, instead of not joining them, allow yourself to sharing a steak and order an extra portion of vegetables. Instead of saying to yourself “I need to cut out all alcohol,” allow yourself to include an occasional glass of wine with dinner. I offer additional portion-control tips hereand here.

4. Swap and substitute.

I am a big fan of swapping out unhealthy foods for healthier ones. As a nutritionist, instead of telling clients not to eat this or that, providing them with healthy options helps to empower them to make smarter choices. Healthy substitutions allow you to give something up while including something else so that you do not feel deprived. Swap out refined grains for whole grains instead of cutting out grains entirely. For example, choose quinoa over white rice, if possible. You can also incorporate smart substitutions at home. Try using Greek yogurt or applesauce to cut some of the butter in your favorite recipe.

5. Drink more water.

Drinking water regularly will keep you hydrated. So often, we think we are hungry, but we really are just thirsty. I recommend including water, seltzer or herbal tea to keep you hydrated. Fruits and vegetables, along with vegetable-based soups also count toward fluid. Skip the soda and juice, and go easy on alcohol and caffeinated beverages. I suggest keeping a water bottle on your desk or in your brief case. It will serve as a great reminder to drink up!

6. Spice up your favorite dish.

I love recommending spices for several reasons. Spices offer up a multitude of health benefits, ranging from containing anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, to acting as antioxidants and warding off disease. Also, when you incorporate spices into your diet, you tend to use less sugar and salt, which is a good thing. Spices are simple to keep on hand and don’t take up much space. Instead of adding sugar to your coffee, try using cinnamon; instead of sprinkling salt on your eggs, try turmeric.

7. Include a fruit or a vegetable at each meal.

Many of us fail to eat enough produce. Fruits and veggies contain lots of fiber as well as vitamins A and C, folate, and potassium. They are also relatively low in calories. Make an effort to add fruits and vegetables to your meals and snacks. Add berries to your yogurt, choose a salad with lunch or order a veggie-based soup, munch on baby carrots as a snack, and include a colorful assortment of veggies at dinner. Engage your kids and make a smoothie as an evening snack. The fruit and veggie servings quickly add up.

And here’s an added benefit–when you eat plenty of fruits and veggies, you tend to eat less junk food.

8. Keep moving.

Even though this is a busy time of year, trying to incorporate some kind of exercise will really help you to not only keep your eating–and weight–in check but also to help you stay centered. Go for a swim or a run in the morning to get you going or go to a yoga class to help you slow down and be more mindful. Weather permitting, it’s great to exercise outdoors in nature. Call a friend and go for a walk in the park.

9. Practice gratitude.

Being grateful for your life and all of the good things going your way is so important. While things can always be a bit better, it is so important to take time out and have a grateful heart.

10. Enjoy the company of family and friends.

Last but not least, instead of focusing on food, nurture your relationships. When getting together with family and friends, savor their company, and enjoy catching up with them. At a dinner party, take a portion of food, grab your loved one, and focus on filling each other in on what has been going on in your lives.

We would love to hear your favorite holiday survival tips.

Wishing you and your loved ones a happy–and healthy–holiday season!

Follow Dr. Lisa Young on Twitter: www.twitter.com/drlisayoung

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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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Holiday tips to keep you healthy this season

Below is my latest blog post for Huffington Post, “7 holiday tips to keep you healthy this season.”

You can also read it HERE.

The weeks leading up to Christmas and New Year’s are filled with lots of food festivities and socializing. Whether it’s dining out, going to a holiday party, or seeing treats everywhere, from the office to the candy jar at your favorite store, the holiday season really puts our willpower to the test. However, with some planning, and simple tips, there is no reason why you can’t come out healthier — and maybe even a few pounds thinner — than you were before.

Here are some tips that I’ve successfully used with clients in my nutrition counseling practice. Even if you just incorporate a few of them into your daily routine, you are taking a step in the right direction, and by the new year, these small steps may develop into full-fledged habits.

1. Eat structured meals.

Skipping meals often leads to overeating. I’ve had many clients rationalize that they can nibble on treats because they skipped lunch. I guarantee that you will probably end up eating far more calories in these so called “treats.” Skipping meals also leaves you hungry, so you are often inclined to eat just about anything you can get your hands on when you arrive at a holiday party. I suggest eating well-balanced meals with some protein and fiber to help keep your blood sugar steady. Yogurt with fruit in the morning and a salad with grilled chicken or beans for lunch can certainly sustain you and also leave some room in your tummy for your favorite treat here or there.

2. Pack a healthy snack.

This is the season for running around, shopping, and going all morning or afternoon without much of a break. You may be hungry before your evening festivities. To avoid making the wrong choices when you get to a holiday event, pack a healthy snack before you head out for the afternoon. A piece of fruit and string cheese, a yogurt with an apple, or a single-serving of nuts make great choices to keep your hunger at bay.

3. Indulge in favorite treats sparingly and watch your portions.

This is not the time to totally ban your favorite holiday treats. In fact, I have never been a fan of entirely omitting your favorite foods, unless you have no idea how to portion control them. The important message is to choose a treat you love and savor it. For example, if you are at a holiday dessert buffet, do a lap around to check out the selections, and pick a reasonable portion of the one dessert you enjoy most. No need to skip starches entirely either; a cup of brown rice, quinoa, or butternut squash can certainly fit into a well-planned diet.

4. Stay hydrated.

Drinking enough water will keep you hydrated. So often, we think we are hungry, when we really are just thirsty. When I say stay hydrated, I recommend water or seltzer or herb tea. Fruits and veggies with high water content also count toward fluid. However, skip the soda, and go easy on alcohol, which will just dehydrate you even more. As I previously blogged on HuffPost, develop the healthy habit of limiting liquid calories.

5. Include plenty of fruits and veggies.

Incorporating my two favorite food groups into your eating routine will enable you to get nutrients to keep you healthy (vitamin C, beta carotene, and potassium) and fiber which will help you to feel full. Plus, fruits and veggies do not have too many calories. And what I like best is: If you eat more fruits and veggies, you may just end up eating less of the more fattening treats.

6. Stick to your exercise routine.

I know you are busy at this time of year. Keeping to your exercise regimen, however, will help you keep your weight in check, and may even prompt you to make healthier food choices. Center yourself with a yoga class to help you be more mindful or grab in a morning run which doesn’t take too much time out of your day.

7. Don’t fret.

If you overate today, don’t fret about it. Tomorrow is a new day, and get back on track without calling yourself “bad.” After all, food should never define us as people. Also, no one gained 20 pounds overnight. Weight gain occurs from a steady accumulation of overeating. So if you ate too much today, eat a little less tomorrow, and get back on track.

We would love to hear your healthy holiday tips. Happy holidays!

Follow Dr. Lisa Young on Twitter: www.twitter.com/drlisayoung

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Diet mistakes not to make on Thanksgiving

Below is my blog post for Huffington Post “5 common diet mistakes not to make on Thanksgiving.”

You can also read it HERE.

‘Tis the season for overeating. This is the time of year that many of us give up healthy eating and tend to overindulge. However, with some smart planning and helpful tricks, the holiday season can be a time to enjoy special foods in moderation while still eating healthfully and not gaining weight.

Having spent the greater part of my career advising clients on weight loss, I have come up with common mistakes people make on the holidays that can derail their diets. Here are five common diet mistakes not to make this Thanksgiving.

1. Going hungry and skipping breakfast and lunch.

Many people skip early meals on the day of Thanksgiving in an attempt to “save up” calories and use them later. My advice: Don’t do it! You just may end up eating more. One trick to help keep your eating in check at the Thanksgiving meal is not to go hungry early in the day. It is OK to eat lightly, but I suggest you include some protein and fiber earlier in the day. Enjoy a yogurt with fruit or eggs and a slice whole wheat toast for breakfast and perhaps a salad with some kind of protein at lunch (beans, legumes, fish, chicken, hummus). Eating something before you get to the party will prevent you from being famished when you arrive at your guests’ house. It will be easier for you to pass up the high caloric appetizers, many of which you probably do not even like.

2. Wearing loose-fitting clothes

One sure way to avoid overeating is to wear form fitting clothes. When you wear loose clothes, you may not register that you are full, making it easier to overeat. Wear pants with a belt, a form fitting skirt, or your snug skinny jeans. These clothes will signal that you’ve had enough.

3. Treating Thanksgiving like your Last Supper

Thanksgiving is just one meal and I suggest that you not treat it like The Last Supper. Interact with the company, eat slowly, and savor holiday treats. I suggest that you enjoy your favorite foods in moderation, but I do think you need to exhibit some kind of portion control. While it is okay to fill up on salads, veggies, and turkey without meticulously worrying about amounts so much, I do suggest that you watch your portion of starch and do not eat every type of food available. Choose between the stuffing, sweet potatoes, and rice, and try to eat a portion that is around 1/2-1 cup (no larger than your fist), and making up no more than 1/4 of your plate. You can always get more turkey and salad if you are still hungry, and it’s best to save room for your favorite dessert.

4. Starting a diet and banning all treats

The holiday season is NOT a time to start a diet and to ban all of your favorite foods. While I do suggest that you avoid your trigger foods — foods that you tend to eat too much of — it is not a time to ban all foods, especially your favorite holiday treats. As a nutritionist, I think it is perfectly ok to have one portion of your favorite starch — approximately a half cup portion of rice ,stuffing, or sweet potato; and one small piece of your favorite pie. Skipping these foods entirely, may end up causing you to feel deprived which can end up leading to overeating later.

5. Drinking alcohol on an empty stomach

While it is unrealistic to say that you will not drink at all on Thanksgiving, I suggest that you choose to enjoy a glass of wine or your favorite cocktail with the meal. Drinking alcohol tends to decrease your inhibitions and if you drink early on, you may end up overeating and having several drinks. Looking forward to a drink with dinner is the best way to avoid eating too much.

We would love to hear your common Thanksgiving mistakes and some tricks that have kept your weight in check.

Wishing you a happy — and healthy — holiday season!

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5 Ways to Build a Better Burger

Below is my blog post for Huffington Post. “5 Ways to Build a Better Burger.”

You can also read it HERE.

Summer is the season for barbecues. That often means burgers and hot dogs. As a nutritionist, I suggest limiting our intake of red meat and processed foods. However, if you want to indulge in an occasional burger, here are five ways to build a better one.

1. Top your burger with sliced tomato.

Instead of using ketchup, opt for fresh tomatoes, which are low in calories and sugar and contain the antioxidants lycopene and vitamin C.

2. Add fresh avocado to your burger.

Instead of adding mayonnaise to your burger, try adding several slices of fresh avocado instead. Not only is avocado moist and delicious, it offers up health benefits as well. A UCLA study found that eating one-half of a fresh medium Hass avocado with a lean burger, rather than eating a burger alone, may curb the production of compounds that contribute to inflammation. Inflammation is a risk factor that may be associated with heart disease. An added benefit to eating avocado is that it contains heart-healthy monounsaturated fat and the antioxidant vitamin E.

3. Choose a whole wheat bun.

Instead of grabbing for a white bun, use a whole wheat bun instead. A whole wheat bun is more nutritious, boosting your fiber intake and your intake of vitamins and minerals including magnesium and folate. Current guidelines suggest that we limit our intake of refined grains and choose whole wheat products instead.

4. Go single.

Watch your portion size by choosing a single hamburger patty instead of the double and triple burgers we so often see at fast-food chains. Indeed, a double burger will give us twice the calories and fat as would a single burger.

5. Try a veggie burger.

Eat a bean-based veggie burger instead of a regular hamburger. Bean and legumes are a great plant based protein while also contributing to heart health. Not only do veggie burgers taste great, they are rich in soluble fiber and devoid of saturated fat and fairly low in calories.

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Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle While Traveling

Below is my blog post for Huffington Post. “How to maintain a healthy lifestyle while traveling.”

You can also read it HERE.

This is the season for traveling and summer vacations. While we often do lots of research to find a great travel destination, we often do not have a plan to stay healthy while we are away.

As a nutritionist, I spend a lot of time this season teaching clients how to stay healthy, lose weight, and keep it off while enjoying summer vacations. I also enjoy traveling for fun and travel for work as well, so I am always fine tuning simple strategies to maintain a healthy lifestyle while being out of town.

Here are five simple and painless strategies to implement while taking on your next trip.

1. Drink a lot of water.

Staying hydrated is very important while traveling. Often, especially when flying, you may feel sluggish and fatigued due to dehydration. People also mistake feeling hungry when they are really just dehydrated. Keep a bottle of water handy while traveling. If you are going to an exotic location, find out in advance about the safety of drinking the tap water and then plan accordingly. If you are taking a road trip or a bike trip, always keep some water on hand.

2. Watch your diet.

Be mindful of what and how much you eat. As I tell clients, vacations are not a time to begin a diet. It is also not a time to go completely overboard. I suggest enjoying the local cuisine but do not overdo it. Planning in advance helps a lot. Identify the local cuisine that you want to try and plan your eating around that. If you want to enjoy local pasta in Italy, for example, skip the bread. An occasional alcoholic drink is also okay, but best to enjoy a glass of wine with dinner as opposed to on an empty stomach. When it comes to food and drink, think moderation.

3. Eat plenty of fruits and veggies.

One of the easiest ways to keep your eating plan in check and to avoid going overboard is to be conscious of including fruits and vegetables in your daily diet. I suggest incorporating a fruit or vegetable at each meal. Try to include a fresh fruit serving in the morning with breakfast or as a mid morning snack, and include some kind of vegetable dish with lunch or dinner. It can be a fresh salad, a cooked vegetable, or a healthy soup option.

4. Eat structured meals.

Eating structured meals is one of the best ways to keep your diet in check. Try for a healthy breakfast including some protein to keep your blood sugar in check. A Greek yogurt with fruit, eggs with whole wheat toast, or whole grain toast and peanut butter are some good choices. Try to skip the pastries, especially in the morning. Do not skip lunch. If you are on the run, be mindful to sit down and enjoy a healthy lunch even if it is a quickie. A salad with grilled fish or tofu, a turkey sandwich, or a veggie burger is a good choice. If you want to indulge in the local cuisine, that is ok on occasion, but think portion control. And skip the fried foods. Finally, don’t go totally overboard at dinner.

5. Get active.

One of the best ways to explore a new location is to walk, walk, and walk. Be sure to pack comfortable walking shoes so that you can get plenty of exercise. Other types of exercise, such as swimming and biking, are also great, especially in summer months. Find out if there is a pool where you are staying, or better yet, if possible, book a hotel with a pool. Regardless of what exercise you choose to do, the most important point is to incorporate it into your day and do it.

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Thanksgiving mistakes not to make this year

Blow is my latest blog post for Huffington Post “5 Thanksgiving mistakes not to make this year.”

You can read it HERE.

As a nutritionist coaching clients on weight loss, addressing common Thanksgiving pitfalls can help keep weight in check and help start off the holiday season on the right foot. With temptations all around us, making healthy and smart food choices can be challenging. Indeed, the average Thanksgiving meal is estimated to range from 2,500 calories to 4,500 calories, both estimates being too high in calories.

Here are five common mistakes to avoid. The aim is to enjoy your favorite foods without gaining a pound.

1. Skipping breakfast
It is important to eat a healthy breakfast the morning before the big feast. So often, when people skip breakfast they think they can eat more later in the day. You are often also very hungry if you skip breakfast altogether.

The fix: Eat a healthy breakfast that includes a serving of protein, fruit, and healthy starch. A great choice is yogurt and berries topped with a whole grain cereal.

2. Wearing loose fitting clothes
When you wear loose clothes, it is common to keep eating… and eating without it registering.

The fix: Wear form-fitting clothes. Your clothing should not be uncomfortable or too tight but they should be fitting. Wearing a belt is also a good idea. If you feel the need to unbuckle your belt, you’ve probably eaten too much.

3. Eating 1,000 calories worth of appetizers
It is not uncommon to eat over a thousand calories when choosing the WRONG appetizers. And this is before the meal. When you nibble on franks in a blanket, cheese and crackers, and potato knishes, for example, you can easily consume upwards of a thousand calories if you do not pay attention.

The fix: Choose crudite such as carrots, red peppers, and celery, which are high in fiber and low in calories. And top the veggies with hummus or a healthy dressing.

4. Eating too much.
As a nutritionist helping real people who like to eat lose weight, I believe all foods can be eaten in moderation over the holidays and now is not a time to start a diet. However, going back for doubles or triples and overfilling your plate is a likely culprit for why you gain weight over the holiday.

The fix: Practice portion control! Here a few visuals from my book The Portion Teller Plan to help you eyeball a proper serving so that you don’t overdo it this holiday. If you can stick to these portions, you don’t need to worry about calories.

  • A deck of cards worth of turkey is around 3 oz.
  • A golf ball size of gravy is about ¼ cup.
  • A golf ball size of cranberry sauce is about ¼ cup.
  • A ½ baseball worth of stuffing is around ½ cup.
  • A ½ baseball worth of sweet potato is around ½ cup.
  • A shot glass worth of salad dressing is around 2 tablespoons.
  • And ok to enjoy an unlimited portion of nonstarchy vegetables.

5. Drinking too many liquid calories — that includes alcohol and soda.
Having several alcoholic beverages, eggnog, and sugar sweetened drinks including soda along with your meal can easily pack on unnecessary calories. I would much prefer that you eat your calories rather than drink them as liquid calories.

The fix: Do not drink on an empty stomach and allow yourself to enjoy one glass of wine or a wine spritzer with the meal. Skip the soda and choose water or sparkling water instead.

Wishing you a happy — healthy — Thanksgiving and holiday season.

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Healthy holiday tips

Holiday eating tips: how to enjoy a healthy holiday season

With Passover and Easter around the corner, I’ve been helping clients struggle with issues surrounding holiday eating. Holidays are a time for pleasure and enjoyment, family and friends, and food should be enjoyed during this time. Passover, for example, is a holiday focusing freedom and liberation, among other things, and I have, therefore, helped to free clients from challenging eating traps. Whether you are attending a Passover seder, an Easter dinner, or some other festive gathering, follow the principle of moderation. And remember, this is not your Last Supper. Happy holidays!

Here are some tips and tricks so that you can have a healthy holiday season. Enjoy!!

** Watch portion sizes.

Enjoy your favorite holiday treats but take a small portion.

Avoid portion distortion: moderation is key.

Fill up on MORE fresh fruits and veggies. Follow USDA’s  MyPlate guidelines by filling HALF of your plate with fruits and veggies.

** Banish your membership in the “clean plate club.”

Leave a few bites over.  Ask yourself: Am I hungry?

** Be realistic about weight loss during the holidays

Don’t try to diet during the holidays. Try to maintain your current weight. At the very least, now is not a time to begin a diet.

** Don’t go to a holiday festivity starving.

Eat a healthy snack—yogurt, fruit, veggie soup, salad– before a party

** Balance party eating with other meals.

** Don’t skip meals. Make a plan.

** Make only one trip to the buffet table.

Choose only the foods you really want, and keep your portions moderate.

** Move away from the buffet table when socializing.

** Eat your calories instead of drinking them.

Choose your beverages wisely.

Note: Alcohol is high in calories. Moderation is key.

** When you are the host, include nutritious and lower-calorie foods like fruits, vegetables, and lean meats. Reduce the fat in holiday recipes.

** Continue a regular exercise program.

** Enjoy good friends and family.

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