Archive for the ‘Healthy Foods’ Category

Sane Eating – Part 3: A Road Map

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

 Many thousands of entries pop up when you enter “diet” on or any search engine.    At the very least, this confirms the fact that what works for one person may not work for the next.  But if you’re asking yourself how to manage weight and eat more sanely, you can come up with a few rules of thumb to follow, no matter who you are.

To start with, keep in mind that any eating issues exist in a complicated social, biological, and psychological environment.  If you’ve reached a point of discouragement because of repeated weight loss failures, this will hopefully feel at least a little freeing to you.  It’s not your fault, and you can learn some new ways.

So, first, you must figure out what is the best way for you to eat.  Many healthy diets exist (and of course the books to explain them).  Each and every one of us must learn what foods, in what quantities, contribute to our maintaining a healthy weight.  This must be a pattern of eating and food choice that you can live with forever, period.  Anything that is short-term will likely lead to regain and a return to diet craziness.  Furthermore, diets that require special foodstuffs and odd concoctions won’t last for the long run.

Finding a diet pattern you can live with usually takes some trial-and-error, paying attention to how you feel physically, whether or not you feel satisfied, how the plan fits with your lifestyle and preferences.  Many people need help with this part of their plan—for example, from a coach, nutritionist, or doctor.  On the other hand, many, maybe most, former dieters know what works for them and feel that what they really need are better skills for sticking with it. 

Then, you get started, with the intention of creating a path and a chain of habits that can survive a lifetime.  How do you prepare yourself to get started?  Do you start all-at-once or in baby steps?   Understanding how change happens, and what helps you to change, can help. (more…)



Friday, March 4th, 2011

            As I prepare to launch my new workbook (the Eat Sanely course in convenient paperback form), I’m focusing on that first crucial step in sane eating:  identifying a way of eating that will work for you.   And by that I mean—work for you on and on, not just for the course of a diet that will fall apart.   While both the workbook and my coaching services offer concrete help with this, I’m blogging about the topic in general for the next couple of weeks.  Look for the initial entry at Psychology Today:   Here, I start the discussion with “One Diet Doesn’t Fit All”. 

            I’ll post workbook information here later this week….stay tuned!



Monday, September 20th, 2010

 There’s no one best diet for everyone.  Looking at how much people lose and keep off, research tells us a little about which diets might slightly outdo the competitors.  A few constants emerge, nevertheless, from the many studies carried out over the years.      Most of these rules of thumb not only help manage weight, as it happens, but also minimize cancer, cardiac, and other major disease risks.  Put in very short form, the best diets usually include lots of vegetables, along with fruits, lean protein, healthy oils, whole grains and legumes.   The best diets keep sugar and refined carbohydrates to a minimum.  And they are consumed within a lifestyle that includes exercise. 

Different diets prescribe these food categories in different proportions and amounts, and that’s where individual needs and choices—and outcomes—enter the picture.  It’s proving true that people with a lot of weight to lose (nearing 100 pounds, say) often do better on diets that emphasize protein, rather than those that emphasize complex carbohydrates.   (Let me say here, though, that the adage “the best diet is the one you’ll stick with” often applies even in these cases). (more…)



Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

 I’m always combing the media, looking for both the useful and the absurd on food and diet and eating.  There’s certainly never a shortage of either.  Much of what populates the print and other media is not particularly helpful.  But it is possible to glean some excellent advice and guidance.  The best pieces can help us navigate what journalist Michael Pollan has called the “truly treacherous landscape” of our food world.  Or, as I’m more apt to put it, to help us find and stay on our path to sane eating.

This past week, I’ve encountered three such pieces.  For starters, I point to the most recent Nutrition Action newsletter (, and its cover interview with Kelly Brownell, Ph.D., of Yale’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity.  Here, in just a few brief passages, Brownell sums up how the food industry keeps us eating too much, and too much of the stuff that makes us fat and unhealthy.  (See also David Kessler’s book The End of Overeating,  Rodale Press; 2009.)   A big part of EatSanely’s premise—“It’s Not Your Fault”—emerges clearly here.  So does the question that inevitably follows, “So what should I do about it?” (more…)



Friday, March 26th, 2010

I return now to thinking about “food rules” (see January 31, below).  These recent guideline sets, like those offered by Michael Pollan and others, aim to help us eat more healthily.  And, I would add, to relate to food and eating in a healthier, happier way than is often possible in today’s world.

Pollan’s book Food Rules, in particular, contains 64 small bits of wise advice to keep you focused on eating real, unprocessed food and avoiding fads, dubious health claims, and unwholesome habits.   Every single one of these bits makes sense:  from “avoid foods you see advertised on television” to “eat well-grown food from healthy soil” to “eat slowly” to “treat treats like treats”.   I frequently encourage people to choose one or two such guidelines to start with, knowing that this will most likely open the door to further changes and more improved habits in the future.  The process of changing how you relate to food often starts that way.

If you have weight to lose, though, will following these kinds of rules be enough?  Don’t you have to stick with low-calorie, low-fat, or low-carb things to get those pounds off?    Once you’ve lost the weight—isn’t that a better time to think about this other stuff?  I think the answer is, “Not really”.  In fact, changing your thinking and habits in line with these kinds of rules is probably the best insurance you can ever have for getting to and keeping a good weight. (more…)



Thursday, December 10th, 2009

For many of us, going to work means structure and routine and therefore easier sane eating. However, this is often not true in the month of December—when it can seem like everyone feels obliged to bring cookies, candy, their famous holiday torte, their gift tins of chocolate and sugared nuts. Then there’s also the holiday lunch buffet, and maybe the after-hours office party, too.

Some of this is fun, but some of it indeed feels obligatory. And the hard-to-resist food really adds up. While an occasional treat is fine, daily platefuls can throw eating and weight off track for weeks or even months to come. I know that many do worry about all those cookies, and try to resist, but not always successfully.

To minimize the pull of those treats, talk to coworkers who you know share your healthy eating goals, or a desire to keep weight off. Maybe you can create some solutions together. Maybe you can suggest limits on how much or how many days a week treats come to work. Maybe you can ask people to keep their goodies at home, or at least out of common view. Or maybe you can simply support each other in keeping to your own limits.

Here are some other ideas: (more…)


VEGETABLES: More and More and More!

Friday, December 4th, 2009

The number keeps rising! I remember 4-5 a day, then 5-8, and now it’s 11. That’s the currently recommended number of daily fruit and vegetable servings.

This new recommendation comes from the most recent OmniHealth study, which follows various diets (higher-protein, higher-carb, higher-healthy fat) for blood pressure and cholesterol improvements. (For a full description, see Nutrition Action, October, 2009,

Even if you’re not hypertensive or pre-hypertensive, you’ll keep hearing “more vegetables” as the way to better health and weight. How do you get even 8? Well, keep in mind that a “serving” is usually only ½ cup. The Nutrition Action article suggests a 4-cup salad for lunch and a 4-cup stir-fry for dinner as one possibility. It also raises the idea of “vegetables as the new main dish.” I like this idea, though I realize that for many, it’s a big jump. Families with kids may find this particularly hard.

If you do think of “vegetables as the main dish”, recipes like ratatouille, curries, stir-fries, soups and stews work well. So do simple “gratins”—casseroles with vegetables topped with cheese and baked. For really fast meals, try steamed vegetables topped with cheese shreds or sesame seeds as protein. Or, put them in tortillas with beans and salsa. Mark Bittman, a New York Times food columnist, wrote about making pasta with sauces as the main attraction—in other words, a hearty, stew-like sauce with just a little pasta beneath. These can work nicely as vegetables-as-entrée vehicles. Look for his recipes in

Another potential solution to the “How can I get 11?” question: How about an added vegetable serving at each meal? That’s three extras right there. Add a fruit snack or two, and you’re up to five additional. In the summer, at least here in the Northeast, this is easy. Nice produce, gardens, and farmers markets supply us cheaply and well. As the weather gets colder, there’s apples and squashes and potatoes. Winter presents more of a challenge….but the important thing is to start where you can, and find ways to enjoy eating and cooking more veggies. Making some move in this direction makes sense for the new year ahead.