Here are a handful of ideas you can implement into your daily eating now:

1. Whole, unprocessed organic foods, as close to their natural state as possible.

2. High nutrient density food choices instead of nutrient deficient processed foods.

3. Fruits and vegetables (lots of vegetables) as your main source of carbohydrates instead of so much reliance on grains as is so prominent in most people's diets these days.

4. Moderate amounts of high quality protein at each meal.

5. High fiber intake to help appetite control and glycemic control (maintaining more balanced blood sugar).

6. Don't neglect healthy fat intake from nuts, seeds, organic eggs, wild fish or fish oil, virgin coconut oil and olive oils, avocados, etc (helps appetite control and hormonal balance).

Once you grab on to the ideas listed above, everything else usually works itself out in your diet... you no longer crave sweets or junk food because your body finally has all of the nutrients it needs.


Loaded with alpha-linolenic acid, an essential fatty acid that helps reduce inflammation, flaxseed has been used for centuries for medicinal and health reasons. Flaxseeds have terrific nutritional value, a great source of usable protein, tremendous fatty acids, and minerals like magnesium, potassium, and zinc. Additionally, they're a great source of fiber.

The best protein source on the planet, eggs consistently outrank milk, beef, whey, and soy in the quality of protein they provide. In addition to containing all nine essential amino acids, eggs are loaded with nutrients. Please eat the yolks! People think that if they avoid the yolks they won't have to worry about cholesterol, but egg yolks contain choline, which helps protect heart and brain function and prevents cholesterol and fat from accumulating in the liver. Eating a moderate amount of eggs will not likely be the cause of your high cholesterol.

Pomegranates have up to three times the antioxidants of red wine and green tea, and the juice has been shown to reduce artery-clogging plaque, which in turn prevents heart disease and stroke. Research shows that long-term consumption of pomegranate juice may also help slow aging and protect against cancer. Always consume the juice in its purest form without added sugars.

An apple a day really does help keep the doctor away! Apples are loaded with the powerful antioxidants quercetin and catechin, which protect cells from damage. That means a reduced risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease, especially if you eat the skin. Research shows that the apple peel contains five times more polyphenols than the flesh. Apples and their skins pack a lot of fiber too, about twice that of other common fruits, including peaches and grapes.

Antiaging superstars, blueberries are loaded with antioxidants, especially anthocyanins, which have been shown to improve vision and brain function. Studies show that eating blueberries slows impairment in motor coordination and memory that comes with aging. These little berries also reduce inflammation, which is  linked with virtually every chronic disease from Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, to diabetes and heart disease. Other studies show that blueberries have much greater anticancer activity than other fruits.

Sure they are higher in fat, but it is the good fat. (Refer to my blog on Good Fat and Bad Fat). Avocados contain healthful monounsaturated fat, which has been linked to a reduced risk of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Avocados aid in blood and tissue regeneration, stabilize blood sugar, and are excellent for heart disorders. They're loaded with fiber (11 to 17 grams per fruit) and are a good source of lutein, an antioxidant linked to eye and skin health.

Almonds are loaded with fiber and monounsaturated fat, both of which have been shown to lower cholesterol. Once again, the good fat. According to the Food and Drug Administration, eating 1.5 ounces of most nuts, including almonds, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease. And even though almonds are relatively high in fat and calories, studies show that eating almonds can actually help with weight loss (their protein, fiber, and monounsaturated fats provide the feeling of fullness, preventing overeating).

Eating fish helps cut the risk of heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer's, stroke, diabetes, and arthritis. The fatty varieties may also help alleviate depression. The American Heart Association recommends that adults eat at least two fish meals per week, especially wild salmon, herring, and sardines, because those varieties provide the most heart-healthy omega 3s. Avoid mercury-containing varieties like shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish.

In the vegetable world, the Brassica genus reigns supreme, and the cabbage is the most impressive. Brassica vegetables (including broccoli and bok choy) are highly regarded for their nutritional value. They provide high amounts of vitamin C and soluable fiber and contain multiple nutrients which have been shown to reduce the risk of cancer dramatically. Eating cabbage more than once a week can cut colon cancer odds by 60 percent. Cabbage is also great for the immune system, kills bacteria and viruses, and is a good blood purifier. If you go for the red variety, you'll also get a healthy dose of anthocyanins (the same pigment molecules that make blueberries blue), another powerful antioxidant with an anticancer punch.

Used for centuries in Eastern medicine, mushrooms have powerful effects on the immune system, especially the maitake, shiitake, and reishi varieties. Mushrooms help prevent and treat cancer, viral diseases, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. In fact, mushrooms are used in cancer treatment throughout Asia because of their ability to counteract the toxic effects of chemotherapy and radiation while simultaneously shrinking tumors. What's more, Japanese researchers have found that regularly eating shiitake mushrooms lowers blood cholesterol levels up to 45 percent.

Research shows that garlic lowers total cholesterol and triglyceride (blood fat) levels, helping prevent clogged arteries. Two to three cloves a day can cut odds of heart attacks in half for heart disease patients. Garlic also tops the National Cancer Institute's list of potential cancer-preventive foods. Whole baked garlic helps detoxify the body of heavy metals like mercury (from fish) and cadmium. Garlic also acts as an antibacterial, antiviral, blood purifier and boosts resistance to stress-induced colds and infections. Chew on a sprig of parsley to take care of garlic breath.

When it comes to chocolate, darker is better at least in terms of health. The benefits of chocolate come from flavonols and antioxidants, the same disease-fighting chemicals found in cranberries, apples, strawberries, and red wine. The caveat: Only real cacao contains flavonols, so look for chocolate that boasts a high percentage of cacao (60 percent or more). Dark chocolate also has fewer calories than other varieties, and when eaten in moderation, it lowers unhealthy LDL cholesterol and prevents plaque from building up in your arteries. That should make you chocolate lovers happy. Also check out my recipe for Gluten Free Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies made with 63 percent cacao dark chocolate chips. They are super delicious!


As promised in my last discussion, I am listing some foods that have a high GI and some that have a low GI so that you have a better understanding of why it is that some foods cause those cravings I spoke about earlier. First, let me give you a review of the meaning of the Glycemic Index.

It is a scientific rate on how quickly foods release their natural sugars into your bloodstream using a number called the Glycemic Index or GI. Foods with a low GI release their sugars slowly over a long period of time, which controls the quick return of hunger. When a lower GI food is consumed it acts as a constant source of energy, providing you natural sugars minute by minute. It will not let your blood sugar climb too high, therefore it cannot come crashing down, causing the prompt return of hunger and more snacking later in the day. If you are someone who has struggled with your weight most or all of your life or if diabetes runs in your family, these GI values will be something you will want to pay close attention to. To give you some perspective on number rating, any rating 69 or below is considered a low to medium GI food and any rating 70 and above is considered on the high side of medium to a very high GI food.

Apple (57)
Banana ripe (69)
Banana unripe (30)
½ Grapefruit (36)
1 cup grapes (62)
1 med. Mango (73)
1 med. Orange (69)
1 med. Peach (40)
1 med. Pear (53)
1 cup Pineapple (84)
1 cup Watermelon (103)
Strawberries (32)

Baked Beans (vegetarian) (69)
Black beans (43)
Black-eyed peas (59)
Chickpeas (54)
Kidney beans (42)
Lentils (41)
Lima beans (46)
Navy beans (54)
Peas (56)
Pinto beans (64)
Soybeans (25)

Asparagus (0)
Broccoli (0)
Carrots (23)
Potato, baked (121)
Spinach (0)
Sweet potato (77)
Yam (73)

1 plain bagel (103)
1 slice white bread (100)
1 slice rye bread (83)
1 slice pumpernickel (72)
1 cup Bulgar wheat (65)
1 cup Barley (37)
1 cup steamed brown rice (60)
1 cup white rice (85)
Oatmeal, instant (83)
Oatmeal, slower cook (55)
Air-popped Popcorn (79)
1 cup spaghetti, al dente (55)
1 cup Cereal, All-Bran (54)
1 cup Cereal, Cheerios (106)
1 cup Cereal, corn flakes (130)

1 oz. Jelly beans (114)
2 Life Savers (100)
1/2oz. Chocolate (70)
1 tbsp. Honey (104)
1 tsp. Sugar (95)
½ cup Ice Cream (90)

Remember that in some of my other posts I did say that the right combinations of some of these slow and fast carbs combined with proteins can do a lot to keep the fast carbs from spiking the blood sugar, therefore you do not have to be a slave to eating only low GI foods all of the time. You can enjoy most of your favorite foods when combined and portioned correctly.



Food cravings, or seductions as I like to call them, usually come in cycles. Some hit every 24 hours, usually in the evenings, others like chocolate cravings hit on monthly hormonal cycles and there are even yearly craving cycles. It may surprise you to know that breaking these cycles has nothing to do with having enough will power to overcome them. Timing and biology have the largest roles in controlling daily binges.

Indulge me for a moment while I whip up a daily scenario of what I imagine a day in your life may be like if you are someone whose midsection has expanded over and beyond your belt. Okay, you get up in the morning to prepare to go to work. As usual you skip breakfast because you just don't have time and oh what the heck, I will save some calories anyway. You are in a hurry because you probably didn't get up early enough so you are rushing out the door to go sit in traffic for an hour or so. Then you finally get to the office where you are hit by the bagel tray and the candy machine. You grab one or two of those items and some coffee and get to work. Or you just get the coffee and wait until your late morning hunger craving starts and grab what is now an old dried out bagel and some M&Ms from your co-workers’ always full candy bowl on her desk or the candy machine. By the time all of this has taken place it has probably been a good 12 or more hours since your last real meal. Do you get where I am going with this yet? Stay with me. Next it’s time for lunch and you are famished so anything will do because your blood sugar is spiking all over the place. You’re now craving carbs and sugar and fat all at the same time. Your co-worker suggests going out to grab lunch and you say, “Yeah! Let's go to the burger or pizza place down the street,” where you binge or overeat on a cheeseburger with sauce cooked in grease and fried onion rings dripping with enough heavy oil to lube your car. Okay, now you’re back at work and ready to tackle the rest of the day. You start working and then suddenly you realize you’re trying very hard not to fall asleep face down on your desk. Do you feel like a yo-yo at the end of a string yet? Next, 3:30 or 4 o'clock rolls around and you’re having a craving and need something to get you through the rest of the day. Here we go again for another round. You quickly grab a handful of the ever-so-present M&M's on so-and-so’s desk and if that isn’t enough, you go to a vending machine, or to the kitchen for leftover cookies from an earlier staff meeting. With all of that your blood sugar is once again spiking. Insulin is desperately trying to get into the cells of your body in order to control all of the sugar that you slammed yourself with. Since it’s just too much it instead is sent into the bloodstream where it will eventually be stored as fat. When insulin is busy trying to get the sugar into the cells it slows down your body’s ability to burn fat. If your insulin is working efficiently, it quickly stores the sugar coming from whatever food you just ate, then quickly goes away so fat burning can resume. Okay, on with the rest of your day. You get home from work and now it’s time to have dinner but you decide you’re hungry again and want to snack before then. The merry-go-round you’ve been on all day has produced another craving. Typically people with this craving problem will go for cheese, chips or god forbid, some more candy. This snack almost fills them up but they go ahead and finish up dinner anyway. Before you know it, you’re craving something sweet again, so let's have some dessert! Later you want another snack that you know you don't really need and it happens the same way the next day and the next day and the next. Once these cravings arrive predictably every day, you find yourself planning your next binge. These habits are not cued by hunger but by time and your surroundings. These are learned behaviors and this type of merry-go-round schedule can be broken.
Whatever merry-go-round you are on you can get off it anytime you want to. Here are six key ideas you can start with:

1)  Be sure to make time to eat a healthy breakfast. Choose foods with a low Glycemic Index. This means how quickly foods release their natural sugars into the bloodstream using a number called the Glycemic Index or GI. These types of foods release their sugars slowly over a longer period of time, therefore you maintain an even amount of energy and you don't have spikes or crashes in your blood sugar during the day causing cravings. Eat an adequate amount of food especially early in the day (in my next discussion I will post a list of some of these foods and the GI numbers that coincide with them).

2)  Change the people and places in your life that tend to trigger your binges. If you are alone, arrange to be with someone or go to a lecture, library or take a walk or a run. If being at home triggers sitting on the couch, snacking and watching TV, then go somewhere else.

3)  Break your schedule. You need a new pattern, not just with food, but also with time. If you stay in the same schedule, your internal clock will wake up cravings right on schedule. You have to break out of your time of vulnerability.

4)  Get plenty of exercise. Run, walk, and go to the gym with a friend. Exercise lifts mood. After a good workout your body feels like you accomplished something important. You can feel the work your muscles have done, the air in your lunges, and the heat in your skin. You feel calmer and more resolved and you get a bit of an endorphin effect that dissolves depression and anxiety. You feel better than on sedentary days and you’re motivated to stick with healthier habits.

5)  Go to bed an hour earlier. Fatigue fuels cravings. Plenty of sleep insures muscle repair. If you are sedentary your sleep will be more restless.

6)  Don't seduce yourself by leaving little presents of the very foods you would like to get away from by having them lying around in your cupboards or in your desk drawer at work. That is a sign that you have not made up your mind for a real change.

As you can see the focus here is on time and the times you eat. If you plan for your time of vulnerability and break up the cues that lead to binging, you’re on your way to controlling the problem.



One of the most asked questions I get from my vegetarian clients is “since I don't eat meat what other protein sources can I eat to lose weight, build muscle and get flat abs”? OK here it is. First, if you want to flatten your abs let's start with these seven steps:

1. Water
Drop the sodas, lattes, sweetened juices and drink 60 to 120 ounces per day of water. Put a lemon or orange slice in it for flavor if you really need it, but water is important. Keep it at your desk; drink it in the car, at the gym, while shopping or wherever you’re at.

2.  Simple sugars
Cut them out! If you are having a craving, go with a small piece of dark chocolate. Not the whole bar! You still get some of the antioxidants in the dark chocolate and fulfill the craving at the same time.

3.  Portion Control
This is a question I get asked often as well. How much of or what size should each portion of food be? The best and easiest way to measure is with your own hand. Your protein source should be the size of the palm of your hand. Your carbohydrate source should be about the size of your fist. Your fat source should be about the size of your thumb. OK, you say wow that seems like a small amount of food. Well it probably is less than what you're used to, but hey, do you want a flatter stomach or not!

4.  Balance Your Foods
Every time you have a carb, have some protein with it. The carb raises your blood sugar and the protein lowers it back down. The key to flat abs is to keep the blood sugar level low. Eat foods that lower blood sugar or low GI (Glycemic Index) foods. Another great source for lowering blood sugar is to take an Omega Fatty Acid (OFA) supplement such as Ultra Omega Oil, Borage or Flax Oil with Omega 3, 6 and 9. OFAs also help to regulate your hormones as well so you’re not having sugar and hormone ups and downs, causing you to crave sweets.

5.  After Dinner Snacks
Try a Greek style yogurt with fruit in it. You get protein, a little fiber and a lot less sugar than ice cream or frozen yogurt. If you feel like you need a little crunch, add some broken almond or walnut pieces to your yogurt for a little extra flavor and protein.

6.  Lose the Salt!
Do not add salt to any of your food. There is enough salt in just about everything we eat. Read labels for sodium content on processed or frozen foods. You should have no more than 1,000mg of salt in an entire 24-hour period. DO NOT eat anything that has more than 300mg of sodium per serving. Salt equals bloat. Salt is yuk, throw it out.

7.  Plan Ahead
Do your grocery shopping on the weekend so you can prepare your foods for the week to take with you to work. Have some small plastic portable food containers to put your recommended portions of food in so you won't grab fast food or whatever is handy.

As I mentioned earlier, my clients often ask me about alternatives to meat protein sources. Here is a quick list of some that I really like:
There are so many great tofu recipes out there these days and they are so easy to find. Tofu is a great source of lean protein and it is great for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Try a tofu scramble instead of eggs for breakfast this weekend.
Quinoa is called the Mother Grain in ancient Inca cooking and today it is still a staple in South American cuisine. It contains more protein than most other grains and is a great alternative to rice or couscous as a side dish. It can be added to vegetables, meat or tofu as a main dish and in stir-fry too. Quinoa is truly versatile and gives you 5 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber per ¼ cup serving.
Smart Dog Veggie Hot Dogs
These are great for an alternative to regular beef hot dogs. They have protein without the high sodium and fat content and are a healthy snack for kids too. They taste so good kids don't even know they’re not real hot dogs.
Greek style yogurt
Greek yogurt is lower in fat and sugar and a good source of protein. Have it with some almonds for a healthy low fat snack. You can get it with fruit added for yummier flavor.
Egg Whites
Anything you use eggs for you can substitute with egg whites. Egg white scrambled or as an omelet. Use them in baking instead of eggs with the yoke. Hard boil an egg, cut it in half, take the yoke out and take it with you as the quick protein part of your snack.
Protein powder
When adding protein powders to your foods, I recommend using a Whey protein isolate powder.
Make sure it is gluten, wheat, lactose and fat free and contains at least 20 grams of protein per serving.
It also contains important amino acids for feeding muscle cells. For example I use protein powder in my morning oatmeal, (I recommend vanilla flavored) or in my fruit and protein smoothie after my workout. It can be used in baking healthier muffins or cookies and is also great for adding protein to pancake batter.
Lowfat or nonfat cottage cheese
This is another great source of protein to which so many things can be added. For example cherry tomatoes cut in half added to a serving of cottage cheese and a couple of carrot sticks makes a great snack. You can add some sliced strawberries or pineapple to your serving of cottage cheese also for another type of snack.
Low fat cheese sticks
My favorites are cheddar or mozzarella. It's a great low calorie snack with the addition of some apple slices or whole grain unsalted nonfat crackers.
Beans and legumes
I cannot say enough about beans for a wonderful protein and fiber source. How can you go wrong with these little darlings? There is a long list of healthful benefits from eating beans. My favorites and recommendations are pinto, kidney, garbanzo, black beans, all lentils, adzuki, mung, cannellini, green beans, edamame and the list goes on and on.

Remember to eat every three hours and stop eating 2 to 3 hours before going to bed and you will be on your way to flat rock hard abs. Of course there is my hellish ab workout that really kicks it up a notch too, but you would have to come and workout with me to experience that. See ya at the gym!


Let's say you are someone who trains in the gym one to two hours a day somewhere between three to five days a week. Let's say your purpose for doing this is to build muscle and to lose fat, whether you are trying to be a bodybuilder or you’re going for the toned long lean body. If one to two hours a few days a week is where you’re at, that would still leave you with lots and lots of hours where you are not working out, so that means that your muscles are going to rely heavily on what you do or do not put in your mouth. Muscle nutrition can also be applied to fat loss as well. Here are seven strategies intended to help you maximize your muscle to fat ratio:

1. Stay with real foods.
How do you know if it’s real food? It should only have one ingredient in it. How many ingredients does broccoli have in it? One. That is a real food. Fill your grocery cart with foods like lean meats, fish, eggs, nuts, vegetables, fruits and whole grains, which contain nutrients that your muscles crave. Plus they supply a steadier release of amino acids and glucose than “fake food” that is packaged and found in the middle of the aisles of your local grocery store. Make protein the starting point for each meal and snack, then surround it with a supporting cast of carbs and healthy fat, it’s that simple.

2. Cook at home                                                                           You do not need to prepare every meal with a calculator or a food scale.  I’ve never weighed my food in my life. I don’t even own a food scale. Any diet that requires more than basic measuring of ingredients is a diet that is too complicated and will ultimately fail. I never even use a recipe book, I create my own meals out of what nutrients my body is feeling a need for at the time. That also may depend on how intense my workout was that day.

3. Eat some fatty fish.
Show your muscles some love by treating them to some fatty fish such as mackerel, rainbow trout, salmon and sardines. Fish is excellent post workout food because the protein digests quicker than beef, poultry and pork. Fatty fish is abundant in omega-3’s, which reduce inflammation, are good for the heart, arteries, skin, hair and muscles. I highly recommend you eat some three to four times per week. Fatty fish also contains a high amount of vitamin D, which improves muscle function and strength. Low vitamin D levels are linked to low hormone levels, which can lead to fat gain.

4. Try different colors.
Your diet should consist of a variety of colors from fruits and vegetables to ensure a wide range of antioxidants, which help in muscle recovery and promote growth. Research studies show that a diet with a variety of fruits and vegetables prevents cell DNA damage, which can cause slower hypertrophy (increased size in muscle) and initiate disease. Next time you go grocery shopping, include these foods: broccoli, carrots, cherries, kale, blueberries, kiwi and red bell peppers. These are some of the highest anti-oxidant rich foods in the produce section.

5. Got game?
Find yourself some game meat like bison, elk, ostrich and venison, which have been in the top quality muscle-building foods for a long time. They have a superior protein-to-fat ratio that results in lean muscle mass and they are mostly grass-fed with plenty of room to roam. Unfortunately our stores are now filled with industry-raised cattle that lack the same quality “beef” as game meat contains. Look for farmer markets that carry grass-fed beef. Do not eat anything raised on a big corporation feed lot! For that matter do not eat chicken or eggs raised from big company-contracted chicken houses either. If you need to know why, I highly recommend viewing the movie called Food Inc.

6. Become friends with your local organic farmer.
A lot of local farms are the best place to stock your fridge with muscle building power foods such as eggs, meats and vegetables that have not been abused by pesticides and hormones. You can often get better deals buying locally, which means you can eat good on the cheap.

7. Eat two breakfasts.
That is what I do. Because I am a trainer I have to get up early anyway. I'll get up before 6am; slam a bowl of oatmeal with 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed meal, 2 tablespoons of vanilla protein powder and a handful of fresh blueberries. I train my first clients, and then stop home for another breakfast about one to two hours later. That might consist of one soft boiled egg on a slice of sprouted grain Ezekiel bread or a protein shake with a banana and some almond butter, flaxseeds, more protein powder and almond milk. Then I'm off again. I get my workout in sometime in the late morning and because I ate well prior to my workout, I have the sustained energy to get through an intense cardio and weight lifting session. I then eat again so I can move on energetically to my next client. I eat five to six times a day (on rest days too) even though I only workout one to two hours, five days a week.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so why not have it twice?


OK, so last week I discussed which helpful solutions you can use when ordering a meal in a restaurant that will not sabotage your weight loss, muscle building or other fitness efforts. This week, for part two, I want to help you find more solutions in different types of restaurants. Ethnic restaurants often have a full range of healthful options.

Let's start with one of my favorites, Italian restaurants.  A good quality Italian restaurant usually serves vegetables sauteed in garlic and olive oil, chicken breast dishes, pasta and bean soups, pasta with marinara sauce or pesto. When you add tons of Parmesan cheese to your food is when you add too many calories. A good example of a balanced meal in an Italian restaurant would be a chicken breast dish combined with a serving of pasta marinara and a side of sauteed veggie. With this combination you have your lean protein, your fast carb and your slow carb. This combination will avoid storing the food as fat. In fact, it will actually help you to burn fat because your insulin levels won’t be spiked. To make sure of this, the portions should be of normal size, not super sized. If the portions are huge, I highly recommend eating half, then taking the other half home for lunch or dinner the next day.

Chinese restaurants have entire sections of their menus devoted to vegetable entrees that are main dishes made from broccoli, tofu, spinach, green beans and other ingredients that are available steamed instead of fried. There are also various soups, along with noodle and brown rice dishes. Only eat at Chinese restaurants that do not prepare their food with MSG (Monosodium Glutamate).

Mexican restaurants, and I don't mean Taco Bell, have lower calorie items such as chicken fajitas with vegetables or bean burritos (if prepared without lard and not stuffed full of cheese), which are lower in fat and free of cholesterol. Top them with salsa and have a serving of rice on the side. As with the free bread basket that I mentioned in last week’s discussion, ask the server to please take away the free basket of chips so you won't be tempted to sit there and eat most of your calories before your meal is even served.

Japanese restaurants are another of my favorites. They serve Miso soup, salads, fish and vegetable sushi - all of which are very low in fat and healthfully prepared. This would be another place where you can order brown rice instead of white and still combine it with other foods for a balanced meal. Try Sashimi style instead of sushi with rice to cut down on the extra carbs.

Thai restaurants also serve vegetable dishes with soft noodles, tofu, low fat sauces, soups and salads or you can have a chicken entree as well. My favorite is Thai barbecue chicken. I recommend staying away from the sauces made with cream.

Indian restaurants always have a great selection of vegetarian choices, which are delicious as are their soups. Turmeric or Curry spices used in Indian cooking have wonderful medicinal properties for lowering inflammation in the body. You can request that they use less oil and I would avoid the dishes made with dairy products.

Cuban restaurants can keep it simple too, with black beans, salsa, salad and plantains and many other options. There are many elements in Cuban cuisine that fit with American health consciousness. Grains, beans, and high fiber root vegetables figure prominently in the Cuban diet. Adobo (Cuban lime garlic marinade) makes a great marinade for low fat grilling, while Mojo, a Cuban table sauce is ideal for those who are trying to lighten up on sauces.

Ethiopian restaurants have some wonderful vegan dishes where they turn simple chickpeas, split peas, lentils, green beans and peppers into delightfully spiced meals eaten with thin soft bread instead of cutlery.

Many American restaurants and steak houses offer vegetarian selections and salad bars with lots of healthy options. Even our fast food restaurants are getting on the bandwagon offering healthier options as well. If you find yourself with no choice but having to eat at a fast food restaurant, a couple of choices you could check out is the Veggie Delite at Subway or the Garden Pita at Wendy's (hold the dressing) and have a baked potato with it instead of french fries. Also Denny's and Burger King offer a veggie burger.

Remember eating out in restaurants does not have to be intimidating, because you do have many choices and options.

Eat to live, don't live to eat.



If I had a dollar for every time one of my clients or friends asked me about what to eat when they go out to a restaurant, I could buy my own restaurant. Here is the deal, first of all do not let going out to eat intimidate you. You have many choices and making the right ones are key to maintaining your health, weight loss or muscle building goals. Here is a list of 14 choices you can make the next time you go out to eat:

1. Slow down and take smaller bites, take your time and chew your food well. Inhaling or gulping your food results in larger amounts of food entering the stomach at one time. This is bad for digestion and absorption of the nutrients in the food and can leave you feeling bloated and too full. Eating slower will help to keep you from overeating because it takes your brain about 20 minutes to register when you are full.

2. Do your best to order your food either grilled, broiled, baked or steamed. These cooking choices remove fat during the cooking process as opposed to frying or deep frying which ads tons more fat and calories.

3. Send away the free breadbasket. If it is not on the table while you are eating you won't be tempted and your belly won't have to pay for it later. If the person you’re dining with wants bread then have them take what they want and send the rest back.

4. Book your reservations early so you’re not eating late in the evening. Some experts would say that it is the total calories consumed in a day that causes weight gain and a small amount of carbs in the evening is OK, and I would agree, but restaurant dinners contain more than just a small amount of carbs. Therefore, the excess calories get stored as fat because of the spike in your insulin levels which causes fat storage while you sleep.

5. Skip the salt. Enough salt has already been added to your food during preparation. Too much salt is connected to heart and kidney disease. Bottom line; do not add salt to your food.

6. Ask your server if you can order your veggies steamed lightly or served to you raw. Cooking destroys much of the nutritional value. Restaurants typically boil the veggies, which destroys 50 to 75 percent of the vitamins and minerals.

7. When eating out for breakfast ask for oatmeal instead of the bread that typically comes with your meal. You do need the carbs for building muscle so order a carb that will not spike your insulin level and be stored as fat. You can also ask for fruit or tomato slices as a substitute for items on the menu that contain too much fat.

8. Skip the appetizers. Do you have appetizers at home before dinner? Restaurant appetizers are a great money grab for them. Enjoy a nice entree and don't get filled up and pay for food your body does not need.

9. Limit the dressings and sauces, ask that your sandwich be made with more mustard than mayo and if your meal comes with sauce, ask to have it served on the side so you can control the amount going into your meal. Or better yet, ask that they hold the sauce.

10. Never order sodas, always have water served with lemon or lime and unsweetened ice tea. Drinking sodas at mealtime, with the unlimited refills can add on 500 extra calories. This includes diet sodas too.

11. Never be afraid to customize your meal, if a restaurant will not serve your food the way you need it, get up and leave.

12. Save the alcohol for special occasions. Not only is alcohol in restaurants overpriced but it costs your waistline seven calories for every gram and impairs your thinking leading to ordering foods like extra bread, fried foods and desserts.

13. When finishing your dinner with a coffee, cappuccino, or espresso, only sweeten it with a sugar substitute. The ideal would be to avoid all sugars and artificial sweeteners, but I don't want to kill all of your fun.

14. Leave the table hungry and you will lose weight. Leave the table satisfied and you’ll maintain weight. Leave the table full and you will gain weight.



More than one-third of Americans are trying to lose weight. Thirty billion dollars are spent each year on diet programs and products that do not have lasting effects and in my opinion, simply do not work. Often people do lose some weight, but if you check back with these people in 6 months or a year, you will find that they have gained back most or all of whatever weight they lost. Commercial diet centers are like Starbucks, there is one on every corner. To their credit, some do offer counseling, exercise and other programs that may be helpful, but usually the people who buy into these centers are looking for the easy answer. Believe me, the marketing companies for these centers know that, therefore sales are great.
They still prescribe foods that have a higher fat content than is advisable and they get predictably poor results. I recommend a diet that derives about 10% of its calories from fat. Check out the fat content in these diet programs:

Lean Cuisine—25%

Diet Center—23%

Jenny Craig—20%


Weight Watchers—27%

All have one serious flaw; they contain substantial amounts of animal products and oil. The result is at least 2 times more fat than is optimal for weight control. The fat content of these plans is still below what is normal for most Americans, but too high for good and lasting results. Most of the frozen dietetic meals are high in fat too, but the manufacturers know that most consumers are not looking at the fat content; they are looking at how many calories are in each meal. The plan is to put no more than 300 calories in the box and keep the serving size small enough to stay under the required limit. This approach is ultimately useless.
Another of these types of useless fad diets is the Supplemented Fasts and High-Protein Diets. Medifast, Optifast, and other high protein formulas are designed for “supplemented starvation.” They use a high-protein liquid formula instead of real food. These types of diets can result in rapid and profound water loss and can cause various metabolic disturbances. They are so dangerous that they have to be given under a physician's supervision. I can see why some physicians don't mind prescribing these awful diets, being that they include a detailed prospectus stating that the physician can expect to pocket nearly $16,000.00 per month in profits from selling these so called supplements. If you all remember Oprah Winfrey demonstrated how useless these supplemental starvation diets are when she lost a phenomenal amount of weight and then quickly put it all back on and became completely discouraged about any possibility of lasting weight control.
Ultra Slim-Fast another bad choice. All you really need to do to understand this unhealthy choice is to read the labels. If you still have questions about it, please ask me and I will answer all of them for you.
Some other weight loss plans, such as Dr. Atkin's Diet Revolution, promotes high protein and the elimination of carbohydrates completely. There are several things wrong with this idea. First this is not a formula for permanent weight loss. High protein diets cause a rapid loss of water in the body, therefore the weight returns because the body tissues require a certain amount of water in order to function properly. High protein diets are also usually high in fat because the food choices now are meat and dairy products that are accompanied by generous amounts of fat and cholesterol. High protein diets are linked to osteoporosis and kidney disease because they cause calcium to be lost in the urine. This diet releases by-products that act as diuretics, forcing the kidneys to work much harder and weakening the kidney's filtering abilities. Don't get me wrong, we do need a certain amount of protein in our daily diet, but we now know that the dangers of too much protein are very real indeed. Grains, beans and vegetables contain more than enough protein, but not in excess. Keeping balance in your diet is key.


Most people do not associate sleep as part of their fat loss plan, but you would be surprised at how much of an important role regular sleep habits play in our ability to lose weight. Our bodies give us plenty of signals when we're tired, but some of us are so used to being sleep deprived that we remain oblivious to how impaired we really are. Some people believe that if they sleep more on the weekend, they will make up for all of the sleep debt they accrued during the work week. It actually can take weeks of building up restorative sleep habits. To erase your sleep debt, you would need to aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night. In the meantime, here are some signs you might be sleep deprived.

1.  You have trouble making simple decisions and are overwhelmed by
       everyday minor details.
2.  You're eating all day and are still hungry.
3.  You keep coming down with cold viruses or infections.
4.  You're emotionally volatile or feeling blue.
5.  You have impaired reflexes or have become clumsy.

Studies show that chronic sleep loss can disrupt blood sugar levels and cause the body to produce less leptin, a hormone that curbs appetite, and more ghrelin, the hormone that stimulates hunger. Because of these physiological changes, you may be more likely to overeat when you skimp on sleep and the food you pick probably won't be either nutritious or a lasting source of energy. Tired people tend to be particularly drawn to sugars and other simple carbohydrates, because the body is looking for a quick pick-me-up. Sleep deprivation also tends to erode self-control, making you more likely to choose a brownie over carrot sticks. Here are some ways you can suppress daytime fogginess, and possibly get better sleep.
  1. An early morning walk will help you sync up your internal clock to the sun, avoiding an energy slump in the afternoon.
  2. A power nap of 20 to 30 minutes may help ward off fatigue. Try to take a siesta after lunch, when your energy levels are particularly low.
  3. Work on something interesting. Even tired people pay better attention to tasks they find mentally stimulating.
  4. Big meals and high-sugar foods can cause blood sugar to spike, then plummet, so every few hours eat a snack (about 100 calories), or try smaller meals (of no more than 400 calories) that contain complex carbohydrates, some protein, and a small amount of healthy fat. Try a handful of nuts or reduced-fat cheese and whole grain crackers at low-energy times of the day, typically, early morning and late afternoon.



Reducing the size of abdominal fat cells takes more than just cutting calories, it takes exercise to reduce the size of these cells. Abdominal fat is associated with metabolic syndrome, a cluster of symptoms that increases the risk for heart disease and diabetes.
The metabolic syndrome is diagnosed when someone has at least three of the following:

  1. abdominal obesity
  2. high triglycerides
  3. low levels of high-density lipoprotein ("good") cholesterol
  4. high blood pressure
  5. increased levels of sugar in the blood.

In addition, excess belly fat raises the risk of developing cancer, migraine headaches, dementia, Alzheimer's disease and a host of other health disorders.

Knowing the causes and some of the dangers of excess belly fat, lets talk about how to get rid of it. I know what you are all thinking, “Oh God, she’s going to say we need to exercise.” Well, yes I am going to say that because there is no other “magic pill.”

Now, if you have read some of my other posts in this blog, you are already aware of some of the causes of excess body fat and belly fat. You may want to refer to “GOOD FAT vs BAD FAT,” for a quick reminder.

One of the best and most effective ways to lose fat, besides making good food choices, is strength training exercise. Here is how it works.

Because your body is an adaptive system, it will adapt to whatever load you place on it. Let's say you are a person with a high percentage of body fat or obese. Underneath that fat you have a strong skeletal and muscular system. Your body actually has to build muscle to carry the extra fat. Just the very act of standing, walking across a parking lot or lifting your arms up and down requires more effort when you are carrying excess body fat. Now the one advantage you have in this situation is, while you are in the process of trying to lose body fat with strength training, you can maintain your muscle mass and bone density which will maintain a higher metabolism. That’s good news because a higher metabolism is directly associated with lean muscle mass even while you are losing body fat. The big mistake people make when trying to lose fat is they try starving or eliminating certain meals out of their day. This will cause you to also lose your lean muscle mass, therefore slowing down your metabolism. You may drop a few pounds, but you will gain it right back and usually some extra.

Remember, it's the lean body mass that's burning calories day in and day out, even when you're doing nothing. If you reduce that muscle mass by allowing it to go away (by not challenging your muscles), then your metabolism is going to slow down. The solution to all of this, the strategy I want to focus on here, is to engage in strength training while you are losing body fat. This will leave you with a greater proportion of lean body mass to body fat, meaning that you will be slimmer, yet not loose any muscles along the way.



INSTEAD OF THIS                                  TRY THIS

White bread                                         Stone ground wheat bread

Whole wheat bread                              Ezekiel or sprouted grain 
Cream of wheat                                   Old fashioned oatmeal

Cheerios                                              Kashi Heart to Heart

White rice                                            Brown or wild rice

White potato                                        Sweet Potato or Yam

Microwave popcorn                              Air popped popcorn

Cream sauce                                       Tomato based sauce

Cream soup                                        Clear or broth soups

Ranch dressing                                    Italian dressing

Corn oil                                              Olive or grape seed oil

Milk                                                    Almond or Soy milk

Soda                                                  Carbonated water

Cheeseburger                                     Boca burger with soy cheese

Cheddar cheese                                 Soy cheese

Hamburger                                        Grilled chicken burger

French fries                                        Baked sweet potato fries

Fried chicken                                     BBQ or broiled chicken

Pork bacon                                       Turkey or soy bacon

Iceberg lettuce                                   Romain lettuce, baby spinach

Chocolate bar                                    Carb Control bar

Doritos                                              Blue corn chips

Dessert                                             Yogurt with fresh berries



Why most of us should be taking Vitamin D supplements
When it comes to vitamin D, a few minutes in the sun is all you need, correct? Well, that depends. As it turns out, that is easier said than done for many of us. Draw a rough line across the country from San Francisco to Richmond, Virginia. If you live north of that line, it’s impossible to get enough sun exposure during the winter months to maintain adequate blood levels of vitamin D. And even during the summer, you may not be getting enough vitamin D. That’s especially true if you spend a great deal of time inside, out of the heat—or, ironically, if you’re particularly meticulous about using sunscreen, covering up, and seeking the shade when you’re outside.
Aging and racial background also affect vitamin D status. As we age, our skin doesn’t synthesize vitamin D as efficiently, and our kidneys are less able to convert vitamin D to its active hormone form. As for ethnicity, melanin—the pigment that gives skin its color—reduces the efficiency of vitamin D synthesis from sunlight; therefore dark-skinned individuals require even more sunlight to maintain adequate vitamin D levels.
Compounding the problem of lack of sunlight exposure is that there are not many dietary sources of vitamin D. Supplements may be the most reliable way to achieve adequate vitamin D levels.

Why Vitamin D Is Critical for Bones
Vitamin D is actually a hormone that helps maintain bone strength by regulating the minerals calcium and phosphorus in bone. Vitamin D also regulates the absorption of calcium and phosporous from the intestines, thereby regulating bone turnover and mineralization. In children, a low blood concentration of vitamin D can lead to rickets. In adults, it leads to bone loss, osteoporosis, and an increase in fracture risk. Indeed, a number of studies have confirmed that vitamin D intake may help prevent osteoporosis in older adults and lower the risk of fractures.

The Role of Vitamin D in Preventing Falls
The lower risk of fractures may be due in part to another benefit of vitamin D: its role in muscle and leg strength. Leg weakness is a common symptom of severe vitamin D deficiency. But recent studies have found that even apparently healthy people may be negatively affected by less-than-optimal intake of vitamin D. In a study of more than 4,000 men and women age 60 years and older, people with lower vitamin D levels walked more slowly and had more trouble getting out of a chair than did those with higher levels. The study accounted for such variables as age, arthritis, and weight.

And in another study, of 1,200 older women, 400 IU of vitamin D per day cut a woman’s risk of being injured in a fall by more than 20%. Higher doses of vitamin D had an even greater effect.

How Much Vitamin D Do You Need?
The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends 400-800 IU of vitamin D per day for those under age 50 and 800-1,000 IU pr day for men and women age 50 and over. Most people will need to rely on vitamin D supplements to ensure an adequate intake. (One note: Because of potential toxicity, the upper daily limit from supplemental vitamin D is currently set at 2,000 IU for all adults.)

Relying on fortified milk is an imperfect strategy, as studies over the years have found varying levels of vitamin D relative to the label claims. Moreover, many people don’t drink milk because of lactose intolerance, and cheese, yogurt, and other dairy foods often aren’t fortified. Many ready-to-eat cereals are fortified (albeit with modest amounts per serving), and some researchers are urging the government to institute mandatory fortification of more grain-based foods, such as breads and pasta. While the amounts are likely to be modest per serving, the overall number of servings per day might boost intake as much as 200 IU per day of vitamin D.
A serving of fatty fish—such as salmon, tuna, or mackerel—is another option for people interested in consuming foods high in vitamin D. In fact, it provides roughly two to three times more vitamin D than milk, depending on the particular fish. But taste and cost are considerations for many people.

Vitamin D Recommendations If You Have Osteoporosis
If you’ve been diagnosed with osteoporosis and are being treated with a bisphosphonate or another drug, that doesn’t excuse you from keeping an eye on your vitamin D intake. In a study of more than 1,500 postmenopausal women who were being treated for osteoporosis, researchers found that more than half of the women had inadequate vitamin D levels. This persisted across all age groups and geographic locations. The researchers noted that the women in the study, because of their osteoporosis diagnosis, “were expected to be more aware of the importance of vitamin D to bone health than the general population.” The fact that they let it slide might mean that they thought that whatever drug they were taking for osteoporosis was all they needed—or that vitamin D is still not getting the attention it deserves.
 -Johns Hopkins Health Alerts-



I recommend not only avoiding these foods, but if you have any of them in your kitchen and you care anything about your health, throw them out. At the very least cut way back on them.

Hydrogenated Fats and Trans Fats - These are man-made fats used in bakery items and stick margarine. Studies have shown that it isn't so much how much fat there is in your diet that causes problems, it is more of what kind of fat you are eating, and hydrogenated and trans fats are the worst.

Nitrates - Many foods, especially cured meats such as bacon and hot dogs, use nitrates to preserve color and maintain microbial safety.

Alcohol This one item has created more problems than all the rest put together. Of course, it is possible to consume alcohol wisely and safely and enjoy it immensely, such as a fine glass of wine with a delicious dinner. I said a glass of wine not 3 or 4. But even if you exercise caution in no other area of your diet, this is the area where you should.

Saturated Animal Fats That means fatty meats, especially beef and pork, or the skin on poultry. It also includes full-fat dairy products such as cheese, milk and cream. Fatty meat and dairy products do have some contributions to make to a diet, but none that can't be found elsewhere.

Soda Drinking soda is a poor way to get fluids. They are full of sugar or artificial sweeteners and often contain caffeine, artificial colors and flavors. Substitute homemade soda by mixing sparkling water with fresh, 100 percent juice.

High-Fat Snacks, Chips These snacks are usually full of saturated fats and tons of salt. Instead, focus on fruits and non-fat whole grains for snacking.

White flour, salt, sugar, white rice, white potatoes.
These carbohydrate rich foods include, but are not necessarily limited to: bagels, breads, cakes, cereal, chocolate, cookies, crackers, danish, fruit juices, ice cream, potato chips, pasta, potatoes, pretzels, rice, pie, and sugar-sweetened beverages.
Whenever we have this commanding and powerful craving or hunger for carbohydrate rich foods, they may contain the ingredients listed above.  A regular and daily intake of these types of foods will only stimulate and escalate our insatiable need for junk food, sweets, starches, and prepared snacks. Carbohydrate cravings are actually caused by an imbalance in our body chemistry. The chemical imbalance is probably something that we have caused on our own. There is an over release of the hormone insulin when we ingest carbohydrate rich food, which helps make us fat, as I have explained in earlier blogs.



Did you know that snacking in between meals is actually good for you?   Here is a list of snacks to either keep on hand or take with you to work or just when you are on the go.  Remember one of the keys to weight loss and a happy body is to eat every 3 hours starting with breakfast.                                                                                                                                                                                                                         
Mixed nuts (unsalted)
Chicken noodle soup
Green or red peppers
Natural nut butters & whole grain crackers
Almonds (raw)
Whole wheat cereal with skim, soy or almond milk
Trail mix
Whole wheat bagel or toast
Pure bran muffins (no sugar)
Fruit smoothie
Spinach salad
Sweet potato
Broth-based vegetable soup
Light cheese stick and apple
Fruit cup



Antioxidants are nutrient rich molecules that boost the body's defense system against free radicals. These molecules or nutrients are in the foods we eat and they prevent or slow the oxidative damage to our body. When our body cells use oxygen, they naturally produce free radicals (by-products) which can cause damage. Antioxidants act as "free radical scavengers" and hence prevent and repair damage done by these free radicals. Health problems such as heart disease, macular degeneration, diabetes, cancer etc, are all contributed to by oxidative damage. Antioxidants may also enhance immune defense and therefore lower the risk of cancer and infection.

You are probably wondering where to get these important substances. The easiest and the best way of course is through the foods you eat. Some of the more commonly known antioxidant rich foods are the vitamin A or carotenoid group better known as carrots, squash, broccoli, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, kale, collards, peaches,cantaloupe, and apricots (bright-colored fruits and vegetables!) Then there is the vitamin C group also better known as citrus fruits like oranges and lime etc, bell peppers, broccoli, green leafy vegetables, strawberries and tomatoes. Last but not least the vitamin E and selenium group with foods like nuts, seeds, whole grains, green leafy vegetables, fish, shellfish, lean red meat, eggs, chicken and garlic. Other foods rich in antioxidants are oatmeal, flax seed and barley. Always look for brightly colored fruits and vegetables like the yellow in corn, yellow bell pepper or the deep orange in cantaloupe, butternut squash and mango, the red from lycopene in tomatoes and watermelon or the deep blues, purples or reds in berries.

So enjoy eating a variety of these foods. It is best to obtain these antioxidants from foods instead of supplements, but if you are not getting enough antioxidants in your diet then I do recommend adding supplements to your daily regimen. Vitamin C is an important antioxidant which protects against the harmful effects of free radicals. Vitamin C assists in the formation of collagen, which is important for the health of blood vessels and gums, development of bones and teeth, wound healing, resist infection, preventing and treating the common cold, has been found to decrease risk of cancer, heart disease, cataracts, and other diseases.

Co-enzyme Q10 is another antioxidant with important powers. Co-enzyme Q10 is considered a non-essential nutrient as it can be synthesized by our bodies. It is used by our bodies to produce energy. It also acts as an antioxidant protecting us from free radical damage. Its antioxidant effects are similar to those of vitamin E. Some studies also suggested that Co-enzyme Q10 stimulates the immune system.

Take these recommended antioxidants as directed and check with your doctor first to make sure they are safe with medications or other prescribed supplements.