Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Cup of Tea

Though cooler today (thank god) it’s been hot as hell in NYC this week. When it’s hot you want cold food and cold drinks and so Sunday I made a pitcher of iced tea. I used chamomile tea bags, fresh mint, a squirt of honey and put it all in a glass pitcher that, along with husband and I, has made it the 12 years since our wedding. I’ll admit I feel a little virtuous when I make iced tea or slice lemons and limes for my water or anything else that requires going that extra preparation mile.

After letting the iced tea chill, I poured a glass for myself and another for my husband. My husband likes iced tea as much as I do; at least I thought he did. He took a sip from the glass and said nothing. “So…” I asked, fishing for feedback. “I’m sorry but that tastes way too healthy.” “I don’t think so, I think it tastes great and can you define what healthy tastes like anyway” I asked, appropriately defensive. Truth is, I knew what he meant. Chamomile tea is a little bland; I hadn’t overloaded the pitcher with mint or sweet and so the tea was a little blah but I liked it (not being defensive this time). Or am I just used to it?

The more I thought about it, the more foods I came up with, green juices, walnuts, hemp protein, brown rice that I enjoy but could see others describing as “too healthy”. Some of these foods, I can say I honestly say I love. Others I may enjoy because I know they’re healthy. For example, I don’t jump for joy when I take my E3 Live every morning. Some of these foods have grown on me over time. I don’t think tempeh and I were love at first bite but now I really like it.
As far as the Chamomile, I ended up finishing my husband’s tea. It just wasn’t his cup of tea and he knew it.
Do think healthy foods are sometimes an acquired taste? Are you, like me, willing to try a few times until you like them? Or are you, like my husband, never going to drink a green juice?

Monday, June 28, 2010

Tweet it Don't Eat it

Summer is pretty much one big food and beverage booby-trap. From the time you wake up caloric coffee concoctions and super sweet smoothies call your name. Later in the day, friends, having been confined to offices and apartments for months, want to go to lunch and meet for a drink. And that’s during the week; the weekend has pool parties and bacchanalian barbeques to contend with. If you feel the weight loss deck is stacked against you, you’re correct, it is.
And we’re not that rigid. Of course there are times where partaking is the way to go but you can’t have the extra glass of wine and dessert every summer night, can you? We’re introducing something to keep you accountable whether you’re in Sag Harbor or Sardinia. It’s called Tweet It So You Don’t Eat it. Here’s what to do:

1. Sign up for twitter if you haven’t already.

2. You can access twitter from your Blackberry or iPhone.

3. When you’re tempted to stray from health eating tweet us by writing @Foodtrainers. Here are some examples

@Foodtrainers, does one have to have frozen margaritas at a Mexican restaurant #TIDEI

@Foodtrainers, I am in London surrounded by fish and chips trying to resist #TIDEI

@Foodtrainers, my kids are at the ice cream truck I am trying to scream “no” ice cream #TIDEI
You get the idea
Use the pound sign (in twitter-speak called a hash tag) and TIDEI. TIDEI stands for Tweet It Don’t Eat It. Once up and running you can search on #TIDEI and see what food or drinks others are passing up. You’ll have the accountability of calling yourself out. We’ll be able to see it, tweet you back and offer some encouraging works. Try it. You may find it sort of fun and be sure to tell your friends about it.
*The person who tweets @Foodtrainers using #TIDEI or comments on the blog the most in the next month will win a free Foodtraining or Market Foodtraining session.
Like the idea? Let us know and TIDEI, ok?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

You Smooze, You Win

Around this time of year, much like fireflies, frozen yogurt, ice cream, sorbet and the like start to appear. Clients want to know how often we suggest having various frozen concoctions and of course our favorite picks. I’ll admit, I’m a Pinkberry (and Red Mango) fan but let’s face it Pinkberry is expensive and it isn’t everywhere. My new favorite frozen treat is everywhere (or can be thanks to shipping) and it’s reasonably priced too. They are shipped and often sold unfrozen and you pop them in the freezer once home. They’re insanely delicious and only 70 calories. They’re called Smooze .

In case you’re not already on Amazon or on your way to Whole Foods, a little more about Smooze. Smooze is dairy free, gluten free and free of nasty sweeteners. Smooze comes in 4 fantastic flavors pineapple, mango, passion fruit and pink guava. Truth be told I have only tried 3 of the 4 fantastic flavors and mango is my current favorite (pineapple second). All of the Smoozes have coconut milk so while they’re dairy free they are creamy and not icy. This product may fall into the there’s something wrong if you if you don’t like them category, that good.
What are your favorite frozen treats? Have you tried Smooze? Is there something wrong with you?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Heat-beating Eating

I recently contributed this piece to a fantastic site called Blisstree. You can check out the original post (and my enormous head) there or read my pasted version below:

Summer means more outdoor exercise, but also beach, pool, and backyard parties with (let’s face it) lots of drinking. Plus, it’s hot, and (if you’re where we are) way too humid. We love a good summer afternoon barbecue, but heat waves and multiple mojitos can leave us feeling exhausted and sluggish. Foodtrainers to the rescue.
• Water and White Tea, Not White Wine: Much of how we feel during the summer has to do with our hydration status. Both sweating and alcohol can dehydrate us, so pump up your water drinking with 2-4 cups more than your norm (10 cups a day for most people). And bad news: Avoid drinking at lunchtime altogether. That glass of wine or couple of beers at a midday barbecue is a surefire way to crash. Instead, we’re huge iced tea fans in warm weather. Try Republic of Tea brand tea bags with fresh mint or lemon or orange slices.
• Olives and Pickles: Not what you’d expect from nutritionists, but we tell our active clients to include some salty foods in their summer food plan. This is something athletes are accustomed to and a trick we can all benefit from. Yes, sodium is the villain behind bloating, but it’s also one of the electrolytes lost via sweat. The key is striking that balance where you feel energized but not enormous. Note: Healthy salty foods only, so chips and the salt on your margarita don’t count. 1-2 healthy sodium sources a day is perfect during a heat wave.
• Be Cool – as a Cucumber: Choose fruits and vegetables with high water content. In addition to cucumbers nothing says summer like a slice of watermelon. And cukes and watermelon even work well together.
• M & M Smoothies: Don’t get too excited – last we checked, M&M’s didn’t have an anti-sluggish claim to fame. But smoothies are a refreshing way to get fluid into your breakfast or snacks. Our secret energy-boosting ingredients are matcha (a powdered green tea) and maca, which is a South American root with fatigue-fighting properties sold in powdered form.
• Summer Soups: Nobody wants to eat anything hot and steamy in the summertime. Cold soups made from celery, sweet potatoes, or avocados are perfect warm weather meals. And don’t forget gazpacho. Think of summer soups as vegetable smoothies eaten with a spoon. You get a couple cups of much-needed liquid, and often potassium or B vitamins which help with mood and energy.
• Stay in Good Humor: Ice cream may temporarily cool you down, but, sadly, it’ll leave you feeling like a summer slug. (Plus, it’ll blow your diet.) Instead, try frozen banana slices or frozen red grapes. And don’t roll your eyes until you try them, they’re really good.
Have you ever made any heat eating mistakes? Any of the foods above you're going to try? Do you agree with us that day drinking is a disaster?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

In Fatness and In Health

My husband and I once had what seemed like a light-hearted conversation. I was getting dressed to go out and asked that totally loaded question “does this look good?” To which my husband intelligently answered “honey, everything looks good, I love it.” And out of my mouth came “so what if I gained 100 pounds would you still think I looked good?” Without pause my husband said “no.” I was shocked at his honesty but dug deeper and asked “so if I gained 100 pounds you wouldn’t be attracted to me?” My husband, not the least bit ashamed of his stance, said “being fit is part of who you are, it’s what I signed up for.” We talked a little further, he ended up acknowledging that if a medical condition led to weight gain it would be a little different but still.

I was reminded of this conversation this past Sunday. I was scanning the Weddings/Celebrations in the NYT. There was a time when it was fun to pick out the couples we knew or read about weddings of our colleagues or clients. Lately it seems as though most of the brides are a good 10 years younger than I am which is a little depressing but makes sense since, as of Sunday, I have been married 12 years. As I glanced at the child brides I saw an article entitled “For Better, for Worse, for B.M. I.”

The article focuses on the trend to gain weight after getting married. I started reading “call them happy pounds, love chub or the marriage 15. No matter what gaining weight during marriage is about as common as holding your breath under water.” With my research-minded head firmly on my shoulders, my first question was, says who? No sooner did I ask than a research study was quoted. My next assumption was that this must be some miniscule study done on 5 people. Maybe it’s just age that puts weight on us not necessarily our marital status. Turns out the study included 12,000 people (not so small). What’s more, the weight gain accounted for age. B.M.I (body mass index)  for married couples increased above and beyond what it would normally as couples aged.

It’s not just cohabitating that leads to weight gain. Cohabitating without marrying resulted in some weight gain but not as much as after saying “I do.” “If you’re married, the thinking goes, you’re somewhat settled. You don’t have to prove yourself; your spouse will ostensibly love you, muffin top not-withstanding.” I get the settled/not proving yourself part. My lingerie collection may as well have stayed on our honeymoon. As for my husband, he played tennis last night and crawled in bed when he got home. “Did you shower” I asked him. “No, I probably should, I guess.” As I mentioned above though, my husband admitted he’s not a "for muffin top, for cellulite” kind of groom. I now had 2 questions. First, what does it say about husband and I that we don’t have “happy pounds”? And second, is it superficial that, unlike Mr. Deans in the article, my husband may not love me “no matter what?”

As these questions sprinted around my brain, I kept reading, in search of some answers. I got an answer, from a professor (no PhD mentioned!) at UNC. With regard to the Slaytons status quo weight, “the less stable the relationship the less likely you’ll gain weight because the chance that you’ll be out there, back on the market is greater and thus, the need to be attractive once again is heightened.” Whoa now Penny Gordon-Larsen. Why does the need to be attractive not apply to your spouse or yourself? And what does the weight gain do to feelings of self esteem? Is weight gain really being used as an indicator of relationship stability?

More questions. I cannot argue with the results of the study. I will share them as a cautionary tale for my Bridal Foodtraining clients. All married people can become complacent and that’s never a good thing no matter how it manifests itself. As for me and my husband, “in fatness and in health” doesn’t work. Though it stung a little when he first said it, I wouldn’t be as attracted to him if he gained a huge amount of weight. We see eye to eye on this which is really what’s important for any couple.
Are you married? What has happened to your weight or your spouses’ weight? Would you have avoided marriage if it meant adding 15 pounds to your frame (remember cohabitating may only mean 5 pounds)? Do you think it’s superficial to be anti-muffin top when it comes to a mate?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Peer Pressure and Brutal Bridesmaids

This past week, a 16 year old American sailor activated a distress signal from the middle of the Indian Ocean. This emergency beacon told others she was in trouble and in need of help. Abby Sunderland has since been rescued and is well aboard a French fishing boat. A couple of days after Abby’s cry for help one of my nutrition clients activated her own distress signal. Though perhaps not fearing for her life, I’ll let you be the judge, this devoted Foodtrainers client was trapped in a sea of belligerent bridesmaids at a bachelorette party weekend.

Her email sent to me on Saturday night follows:

I need some help these girls are brutal, some quotes:
This morning, bagels all around. No other options. I passed for my protein bar.
Me: wow those bagels look good
Bridesmaid 1: you should eat one, you're on vacation, and it doesn't count
Me: no thanks, I'm going to be good. (Proudly) I haven't had a bagel since January!
Bridesmaid 1: oh please all the other shit you ate last night, way worse
Me: speak for yourself (I didn't snack or drink at all)
Bridesmaid 1: yeah, I watched you shove that sausage down your throat, that's way worse than a bage
*Note: I did eat one, 3" turkey sausage over mixed green salad, no dressing...Seriously though??

Ordering apps at dinner
Me: wow these apps look good
Bridesmaid 2: this diet you’re on is unhealthy
Me: well I feel like I'm making healthy choices; it’s just that everything looks so good
Bridesmaid 2 (yelling): well I think its fucking ridiculous and mentally unhealthy
Me (calmly): yea well you don't have my problem, can you please stop
Bridesmaid 2: whatever

On passing on potato skins
Me: no thanks
Bridesmaid 3, pointing to the plate: this area doesn't have bacon
Me: no thanks
Bridesmaid 3: is it you don't like bacon or can't have bacon, because I would think there are a lot of worse things u can have than bacon...
Me: I don't like bacon
Bridesmaid 4 (in an extremely rude tone): I highly doubt you will BLOW up if you have ONE BITE, seriously?
Me: (shocked, I had no comment for that one, but I might cry)

I just need some moral support, these are just a few of the harsher comments, but it’s been non-stop since I got here. Never mind the peer pressure over not drinking during the day (it’s been going on since mimosas at breakfast) WTF?! Lauren - don't put this on your blog LOL (she since gave me permission).

Peer pressure certainly doesn’t end in high school. It exists for adults and can take many forms. Generally peer pressure has less to do with not partaking in a certain food, drink, drug or trip than how your refusal, of whatever it is, makes the others feel. While this email was particularly detailed (and amusing) I hear versions of this from other clients both male and female, young and old. A few pointers for peer pressure:
  • Don’t call attention to what you are doing. While my client, we’ll call her B (for bridesmaid) was complimenting the food and not being negative her “that looks good” may have alerted others that she wasn’t eating it. Simply having the protein bar for breakfast may have been more discrete.
  • Make an excuse. Instead of saying “I never eat food x, it’s unhealthy and terrible for you.” Say “I’ve been working out hard” or “food x doesn’t really agree with me.” You only need the excuses if questioned. I feel if someone can put you on the spot, you can fudge things a bit.
  • Plate it. In many situations a good strategy is to take some of the bagels or potato skins or whatever food others are eating on your plate. I’ve found people notice if you pass on something but do not notice if you don’t finish (or even start) it. Sure, this is a little risky for the person trying to lose weight.
  • Pick 1 treat a week. Although it may not seem the case from B’s report above, Most Foodtrainers clients feel they can survive any eating situation. They have budgets for carbs and alcohol and can plan to use these throughout the week. Clients also have one treat a week. If you are away and know there will be fried clams or birthday cake or anything else not Foodtrainers-approved clients can partake when appropriate. It’s sometimes easier to refuse one thing when you are indulging in another.
  • And finally, don’t eat to please others. If you have a bagel or bacon or loaded potato skin it should be because you want to eat it and it looks good to you, not because others say “it doesn’t count.”
And what was my reply to B Saturday night? I told her to say strong. I also said “in my professional opinion you should have a shot of tequila (no sweet mixers) and go for a run in the morning." Sure enough, B sent me the photo above she snapped during her run. And if you look closely enough you can see where she pushed bridesmaids 1, 2 and 3 off the cliff. Like Abby Sunderland, B is now safe and sound and happy to be at work eating a salad.

Stay tuned (and sign up if you haven’t) for our June newsletter where we announce a very exciting way all of you can activate food-related distress signals and have Foodtrainers come to your rescue!
Have you experienced food-related peer pressure? How do you handle it? Any amusing anecdotes to share?

Friday, June 11, 2010

New Balance

Here is a piece I did for The Daily Green, it seems our meals are in need of a makeover.

Is your idea of a balanced meal meat and potatoes, with some obligatory vegetable? You should read this. Is your idea of diet evil fats and carbs? You should read this, too.
6 Steps to a Balanced Meal:

When I say balanced meal, what comes to mind? I revert back to childhood dinners and the mainstay meat, obligatory vegetable and the banal baked potato or rice. While we may now know so much more about food and health, it's hard to argue with the straightforwardness of the old system. I think many parents still stick to this formula when feeding their children – which is not necessarily as fiber-rich, nutrient-dense or eco-conscious as it could be. We can be current with our food choices and maintain the clarity when meal planning with the following tweaks:

1. Let Veggies Dominate
Vegetables should replace meat as the principal of the plate. If you picture a plate veggies should occupy half of it. And if the thought of a ton of broccoli doesn't excite you try to compose dinners with 2 veggies (one green and one starchy or some salad and another seasonal vegetable).

2. Eat Your BlackBerry
With vegetables taking center stage, protein can be put in its proper place. Whether grass-fed beef, lean poultry, wild salmon or pork we should think more like the Japanese and consider meat a condiment. Look at your BlackBerry, that's your portion cue.

3. Eat Double Stuff
Most foods are a composite of nutrients. Tofu, whole grains and legumes have significant amounts of both protein and carbs. Pair any of these with the veggies (see #1) and your meal is balanced and easy. And regardless of whether you are an omnivore, locavore or carnivore less meat and chicken and more (I didn't say only!) whole grains and legumes is really the way to go when it comes to health.
4. Eat the Real Stuff
In addition to considering the components of a meal, we now know the importance of investigating the quality and origin of ingredients used. When I was growing up fruit cocktail was a frequent stand-in for fruit. Fruit cocktail is not fruit. It does not taste like fresh, seasonal peaches or pears, nor do berries or peaches shipped from god-knows-where in the middle of January. When possible chose local, seasonal produce and humanely grown meats.

5. Eat a Larger Lunch
With the balanced meal we grew up with came the notion of the humongous dinner at the end of the day. Our workdays do not end at 5 anymore and there are many hours between lunch and dinner. Consider moving lunch up as the largest meal of the day.

6. Don't Forget Fat
I'd like to think we have enough distance from the '90s that fat phobia is finally waning. Fat helps make you feel full and adds flavor and interest to dishes. And it's not just about olive and canola oil. I love using sunflower seeds, pine nuts, walnuts and sesame oil when I cook. And when you feel satisfied with your meals, you can keep the cookie monster a childhood memory as well.

With these basic pointers in place, the possibilities are endless. I hope your meal planning has been simplified and that there's peace of mind knowing you're feeding yourself and your family well.
Any other areas you consider when planning a meal? How are your meals different from the family meals you grew up with?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Lauren's Little Helpers

I think everyone has a friend or family member who takes a ton of vitamins. Perhaps they have a shelf in the medicine cabinet devoted to their supplements or those little boxes with the days of the week written on them. I’m not one of those people. I tend to believe we can get most of the nutrients we need from a balanced diet. So I don’t take a multivitamin or calcium supplement. Yet I do take a couple of things. I don’t take all of these daily and I’m not saying you should take them, these are my little helpers:

E3 Live is my newest “dietary assistant”. I wrote about my 5 day raw/vegan experiment  and I feel a big part of its success was the morning chlorophyll. Fred Devito, one of the exhale founders, told me about E3Live. E3 Live is a blue green algae supplement. The first morning I took it I went to yoga and have to tell you my energy was noticeably different. Plus, I take a shot of E3 live and since I rarely take shots of anything else these days it’s sort of fun.

Eboost- I’ll admit, when I’m not exercising I’m not the best plain water drinker. Clients will notice I usually have orange or lime slices in my water at work. I do not use splenda or NutraSweet so a bunch of the low calorie drink mixes are out. Eboost is a green tea based drink that comes in little envelopes or tablets. I love the pink lemonade flavor. Today I doubled the pleasure and had E3Live and EBoost!

I am an omega 3’s fan. I think if there’s any cure-all when it comes to nutrition, omega 3’s may be the answer. Omega 3’s are important for athletes (they are natural anti-inflammatory), for heart health, for mood and perhaps for weight loss (or fat loss). I rotate between Coromega and Nordic Natural brands.

 I first found out about Zyflammend from a sports medicine doctor. Zyflammend is turmeric and ginger based supplement. Both ginger and turmeric have anti-inflammatory properties. Think of this as natural Advil.

 Natural calm is a powdered magnesium supplement. Magnesium is depleted in times of stress or by excessive exercise. As the name implies magnesium can also make you feel calmer. Magnesium can also help you “go”. I was at a party recently and someone, after reading my potty talk post , told me she thinks of me every day. I’m was flattered (sort of) but do think being regular (and calm)    seriously improves ones quality of life.
And it helps her on her way, gets her through  her busy day! Do you take any supplements? Which ones?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Foodtrainers Find: 4 Current Obsessions

As most of you know, we shouldn’t be eating too many processed or packaged foods. Most packaged foods are higher in salt or sugar or simply aren’t as healthy as fresh food sans package. For that reason, few items are listed here as Foodtrainers’ finds. Well every rule has its exception; I have 4 finds to report. Each of these comes in a package but none are heavily processed (I haven’t lost my mind just yet).

Tonnino Jalapeno tuna

 I have written before about Zoe brand tuna in a jar. I was actually purchasing Zoe when I came across Tonnino. Tonnino is delicious tuna with Jalapenos. As a person who adds hot sauce to her salads, this omitted one step from my routine. I would suggest half the jar over greens for a meal. I will warn you that you may, if you are like me, eat the other half straight out of the jar.

Melissa’s Baby Beets
I’m really starting to repeat myself as I’ve written about beets before too. I previously used the Roncal packaged peeled and pre-cooked beets from France. I was thrilled when I discovered Melissa’s makes them as well. These are a staple on my Fresh Direct orders and available on Melissa’s website if you are outside the NY area. Simply cut the bag open and add to salads or chop them up in grain dishes or pilafs.

Monterrey Artichokes

My friend Keri mentioned these to me when we were at the ADA conference back in October. I was at Whole Foods Market on Sunday and spotted them, purchased them and sort of forgot about them. When I arrived home Tuesday, I was on a snack search. There was hummus and of course every type of nut…there were also these artichokes. I poured the pack into a ramekin and devoured them. Minutes later I had that post-artichoke sweetness in my mouth. I could see these in egg dishes or combined with Melissa’s Beets.

Zing Bar Chocolate Coconut

There aren’t many bars I recommend to clients. Personally I am happy with dates or figs most of the time. We have Kookie Karmas and Zings in the office. I have the holistic chocolate chip kookie a couple times a month. I save the bars for when I am on the go. This may change. Yesterday, I tried the new chocolate coconut flavor Zing bar. Oh my. I feel the world is divided into coconut lovers and haters. I am a lover and I am in love. These bars are also wheat free, dairy free and soy free (as I try to be).

Let me know what you think when you try these. My obsessions may not be your obsessions but I have a sense these are keepers.

What are your current food obsessions? Any recent food finds?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


I don’t think I’ve ever thought of it this way before but we’re halfway through 2010 though not exactly, I know. It was 6 months ago and 80 degrees colder when I outlined my resolutions for the year from a barstool (at the kitchen counter!) in Vermont. Each month, on the first of the month, I’ve reviewed my resolutions and noted progress, stagnation or setbacks with items on my list. When you’re halfway through a book, you get a sense of the characters and the story line. I now feel that way about the year and my resolutions. I may not know for sure how it’s going to turn out but I can detect certain patterns.

Let’s start with the good news. Running is coming along. I completed the Brooklyn Half Marathon in May. My time (just over 2 hours) is nothing to brag about but I really enjoyed it. I had forgotten about that semi-dorky feeling of accomplishment that comes with completing a race. I also, perhaps for the first time, enjoyed the race while I was running. I was aware that my body was working and grateful for that. I don’t know if this is a sign of being more appreciative or merely getting older. I am excited to really start to train for the Chicago Marathon. I have recently posted about my like/hate relationship with yoga. While I still cannot say I love it, I will say I am somewhat hooked. I find myself checking the class schedule to see where I can sneak in another class. I also practice poses at home.

I just realized, in reviewing my resolutions, how ironic it is as a “foodtrainer” that none of my resolutions really mention food. Part of this has to do with the fact that I am fairly stable with my cooking and eating and generally know what works for me, at least I thought I did. There has been a definite shift in my eating patterns. While I have joked about never being vegan (and don’t worry I’m still not vegan), I am eating substantially less animal protein. I still eat fish and eggs but given the choice do not eat much dairy, poultry or meat.

I am not on as much of a tea kick and so haven’t jumped into my “learn more about tea” goal and that’s ok. My personality is such that I probably learn too much about things and if it’s not tea it’s the 20 other things I am curious about where I channel my obsessive research tendencies. I still feel, with summer almost officially here, I can make weekly visits to farmers’ markets in the city  and make more pregress with that goal. And patience is proving to be a very elusive virtue but I’m working at it. I still have the second half of the year!
What were your 2010 resolutions? Do you remember them? Anything you’d like to work on for the rest of the year?