Archive for November, 2012

I know it can be easy to overdo it with all the delicious food at family gatherings and celebrations, but maintaining a balanced lifestyle doesn’t mean you have to miss out on enjoying all of your favorite traditional treats. Food is a universal thing that brings us together; it is how we celebrate, especially around the holidays, so depriving ourselves during this special time of year is not the answer. Instead eat foods in moderation and savor all the sights and aromas of the season. Enjoying the foods you love is what makes a Good Life Holiday!

I’m planning to celebrate my own Good Life Holiday this year by eating some of my traditional faves such as pumpkin pie, sweet potato casserole and delicious turkey gravy poured over not just the turkey but just about anything else that is fortunate enough to get in its way. Ha! I’m salivating just thinking about it!

As you can tell, if I’m not careful, I could really be in for some serious calorie overload if I don’t have a plan in place to control my portions. But the good news is I do have a plan. I’m going to enjoy half of my plate filled with faves while I load up the other half with a fields of greens salad and caramelized Brussels sprouts. If I’m still hungry after my last bite, I’ll go back for more veggies! And in the Grotto tradition, everyone helps mom clear the table after we eat, load the dishes in the dishwasher and then head out for our traditional family walk while the dishwasher is running. It’s amazing how much longer everyone wants to walk when they know those dishes will be clean by the time we get home and have to be put away.

This holiday season, I am working with HERSHEY’S Moderation Nation, a go-to source for balanced lifestyle tips, as their Balanced Eating GOOD LIFE GURU to provide strategies to help make eating a balanced diet easier. For tips on how enjoy your Good Life Holiday and to learn more from me on how to maintain a balanced diet, visit

HERSHEY’S Moderation Nation is also spreading the joy this season by teaming up with How Does She to create the Good Life Holiday Pinterest Contest where participants will have chance to win a relaxing weekend getaway to the Hershey Spa in the New Year! Share all the ways you’re planning to live a Good Life Holiday by pinning your own “window display” of pictures, recipes and articles. Check out the contest rules on the HERSHEY’S Moderation Nation website.

How do you maintain a balanced diet around the holidays?

If you haven’t received the memo yet, we are a far cry from meeting the nutrition and healthy eating objectives of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs), according to studies. The DGA committee identified that many fall short of reaching minimal healthy levels of key nutrients including vitamins A, C, and E, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and fiber. One study showed that less than 5% of adult workers meet dietary fiber recommendations. This may explain why irritable bowel syndrome and sales of laxatives are on the rise.

In my new book, The Best Things You Can Eat, I talk about what foods can help bridge these short-gaps in nutrients. I’m sure this information will be helpful for many of my readers but I’m also a realist. Even those who follow a healthy diet (including myself) or have all the best intentions to do so, don’t always eat perfectly…everyday. That is one of the reasons I included information on dietary supplements in the new book and have always recommended dietary supplements for my patients, family and even myself.

Even if you are on a great supplement program, if you don’t take them, they aren’t going to do you much good. So what are some of the roadblocks to taking supplements? I asked Judy Blatman, senior vice president or communications from the Council of Responsible Nutrition (CRN), for her thoughts on why people either don’t take dietary supplements or why those who do may have a hard time sticking to their regimen. She mentioned that CRN conducted a consumer survey this year that investigated supplement habits of consumers and health professionals alike. “We did ask those who indicated that they didn’t always comply with their daily supplement routine, to select the main reasons why they didn’t,” says Blatman.  The top three answers were: 

1. I get busy and forget to take them
2. If they’re not in plain sight, I forget to take them
3. Some days, I just don’t feel like taking them.

These all make perfect sense to me. Even I forget to take my supplements for all the very same reasons! And to spin off the last reason of “Some days I just don’t feel like taking them”, swallowing huge capsules or tablets are a physical impossibility for me. Have you ever had a tablet or capsule get stuck in your throat? Owww! It’s painful and the most uncomfortable feeling I can possibly imagine. My solution? I chew EVERYTHING! Yup…that includes my fish oil capsules, too! Not pleasant, eh? So, it’s not surprising that even the espousers of dietary supplements don’t always take them if their own advice is literally “hard to swallow”!

Good news. I was approached earlier this year by the folks at Nature Made who clairvoyantly knew of my supplement plight. They were excited to announce that they created new lines of dietary supplements with the sole purpose of making the task of taking supplements doable if not downright pleasurable! I was all ears. Long story short, they sent a variety of products for the whole family to try out that included adult gummies, full strength minis and a new type of small tablets called vita melts that literally melt in your mouth! They were amazing and really solved my swallowing challenge. I liked them so much that I started working with Nature Made to spread the good news! So I thought I’d share what the Grottos are taking as a core program as a result of trying the new products. Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t thow in a bit of advice to seek out a qualified health professional for dietary supplement guidance. Okay? Do it! I also provided links in the photos in case you want to know more about the supplements.

My three daughters, who are all in their teens, take the full strength minis. So does my wife Sharon.

This is my base program. I take the men’s full strength mini’s multiple plus two of the the smaller omega 3 supplement. I also take an additional 1000i.u. of vitamin D in the vita melt series. They taste GREAT!

Lastly, I wanted to share some cool gizmos and apps that address the first two reasons that folks don’t take supplements from the CRN survey.

I forgot:
CRN’s Life Supplemented campaign also designed a cool iphone app that can be used on your ipad as well. Besides reminding you to take your supplements, it eve has a restock reminder to tell you if you are getting low.

They don’t have an android version out yet but rumor has it that there may be one available in 2013. Meanwhile, I ran across another app that works great for android devices.

Having them visible.

“Having your supplements out on your kitchen counter, on your desk, in your pocketbook so they’re visible can really help,” says Blatman.  
Even for those times when your supplements aren’t in a direct line of sight, here’s a great carrier for them that will sounds an alarm when its time to take them. Cool eh?

I hope that helps break down some barriers to taking your supplements regularly. Have you found any supplements, apps or supplement carriers that you would recommend that make taking supplements easier? I’d love to hear from you!

Thank you to my intern, Jamie Digiovanni, who helped me with this story.

1. Kachan D, Lewis JE, Davila EP, Arheart KL, LeBlanc WG, Fleming LE,
Cabán-Martinez AJ, Lee DJ. Nutrient intake and adherence to dietary
recommendations among US workers. J Occup Environ Med. 2012 Jan;54(1):101-5.

2. J Am Coll Nutr February 2009 vol. 28 no. Supplement 1 69S-72S


As seen in WebMD Real Life Nutrition

What’s standing in the way of having the body you always wanted? Maybe it’s your kitchen!

After visiting hundreds of patients in their homes, I’ve stumbled on one undeniable fact: skinny people “do kitchens” differently than those who aren’t so svelte. And it’s not just that thin folks spend more face time with their kitchens, it’s what’s in their “skinny kitchens” that’s dramatically different than their weight-challenged counterparts. The kitchen, as it turns out, contains secrets that are the linchpin to long-term success in managing weight and health. So what are these secrets? I’ve narrowed them down into four key areas. This week, I’ll let you in on secret #1.

Skinny Secret #1: Stock a Skinny Pantry

Fill your pantry and fridge with these essentials to keep hunger at bay, belly bulges busted, and metabolisms boosted:

Hunger and Calorie-Blockers:
High-protein breakfast foods like eggs and Greek yogurt keep hunger at bay for hours compared to carb-laden breakfast choices.

High-fiber foods such as whole grains, cold or hot breakfast cereals, dried fruits, and fresh and frozen veggies are all excellent ingredients that can be added to most dishes to pump-up fiber and diminish calories from being absorbed in the digestive track.

Go nuts! Studies on nuts, especially almonds and pistachios, show amazing hunger-busting and fat-shedding effects for those who add them to their diets. Two studies showed that substances in nuts increase fecal excretion of calories when a handful of them are added to the diet. In fact, 55-75% of calories provided by nuts may not be fully absorbed. Research has also demonstrated that people who add nuts to their diet stick to their diets longer and achieve greater weight loss than those who forgo these foods.

Belly Bulge Busters:
Whole grains: In a study from Tufts University of nearly 3000 men and women, researchers found that adults who ate three or more serving of whole grains and limited refined grain items to 1 serving or less had 10 percent less belly fat than those who didn’t eat this way.

Resistant starch (RS) food sources such as firm bananas, beans and lentils, potatoes, pasta, rice, and certain whole grains such as corn contain RS which increases glucagon-like peptide-1, a major appetite suppressant hormone. RS also helps make insulin work better and regulates blood sugar – the key essentials to stopping the accumulation of belly fat and reducing the risk of “dia-besity”.

MUFAS, also known as monounsaturated fatty acids, are found in such foods as avocado, almonds, olive oil, and canola oil. MUFAs help eliminate belly fat, especially in insulin-resistant individuals.

Anti-Bloat ingredients such as parsley, fennel, cabbage, watermelon, watercress, celery, and cucumber are not only low in calories but have unique properties that rid the body of unwanted excess fluid. Many of my bloated patients were poor water consumers when I first began to work with them. Ironically, drinking more water helps the body’s natural fluid regulators, the kidneys, do a better job of managing water balance.

Metabolism Boosters
Coffee & tea and less of me: Beverages that contain caffeine and antioxidants called catechins have been found to help burn calories through thermogenesis (the creation of heat). They counteract the decrease in metabolism that often accompanies weight loss efforts. The overall effect may be small (less than 50 calories a day burned) but this can add up to nearly 5 pounds on the scale in the course of a year. Combine this intervention with other metabolic boosters such as physical activity and proper rest and the fat-burning potential is substantial!

Poly wants a crack at her. Research shows that fruits like apples, pears, grapefruit, and grapes, long associated with helping to manage weight, are rich in naturally occurring plant chemicals called polyphenols. These polyphenol-rich fruits decrease skinny-phobe bacteria called firmicutes that accumulate in the gut and contribute to weight gain. These fruits also increase friendly bacteria called bacteriodetes that break down polyphenols into helpful substances that boost the body’s metabolism. In one study, people who drank Concord grape juice daily lost weight compared to a control group that consumed a sugar-sweetened grape beverage and gained weight. It’s possible that the polyphenols in the grape juice helped keep the weight off among the drinkers of unsweetened grape juice.

Hot stuff. There’s a spice that’s just dying to rev-up your fat-burning engine but rarely sees the light of day in culinarily impaired kitchen cabinets: hot peppers! Capsaicin is the active ingredient in hot peppers that boosts metabolism and decreases appetite – not only in the meal that it’s eaten in, but even for the next few meals, according to recent research. Capsaicin can be found in paprika, chili, and cayenne pepper powder, as well as dozens of other hot pepper varieties.

I’ve put some of these tips together in a killer egg salad sandwich for you. Hope you like it. What else do YOU put in your kitchen to help keep the pounds away? I’d love to hear about it in the comment section.

Hunger-Busting Egg Salad Sandwich

Servings: Makes 4 sandwiches
6 large eggs, hard boiled
3 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
2 stalks celery, washed and chopped
½ red onion, diced
2 tablespoons pistachios, chopped
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
4 large romaine lettuce leaves
8 slices of hi-fiber whole grain bread, toasted

Place eggs in a pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a gentle boil. Turn off heat, cover, and let sit for seven minutes. Meanwhile, fill a bowl with ice and water. When eggs are finished cooking, place them in the ice bath for three minutes. Remove eggs and peel them and then place in a medium mixing bowl. Add yogurt, mustard, lemon juice, and hot pepper sauce along with salt and pepper. Mash mixture with a fork, being careful to leave some texture. Stir in celery, onion, pistachios, and cilantro. Taste and add more hot sauce if you want more of a kick.
Toast bread. Spread mixture onto a slice of toast. Place lettuce leaf on top and cover with another slice of toast. Repeat for remaining sandwiches.

The Skinny
293 Calories, 13.7g Total Fat, 3g Saturated Fat, 317mg Cholesterol, 25g Carbs, 8g Fiber,
20g Protein, 495 mg Sodium