healthy eating

A New Plan For Weight Loss

January 10, 2014 at 8:00 am , by

We were skeptical at first when we heard that Rick Warren, D.Min., founder of the Saddleback Church in California and author of The Purpose Driven Life, was writing a diet book. Really? A weight-loss program based on religion? But when we got a copy of The Daniel Plan, he hooked us on page 1 with his candor and humor. In fact, the first three words of the book are: “Wow! Everybody’s FAT!”

You see, a few years ago, Warren had a eureka moment when he was baptizing members of his church and noticed that the majority of them were, well, obese—and so was he. That baptism was a wake-up call to the health issues in his own life and to those of his parishioners. So he teamed up with Daniel Amen, M.D., and Mark Hyman, M.D., two of the top doctors in the country, to create The Daniel Plan.

From left to right: Dr. Amen, Maggie, Julie, Pastor Warren and Dr. Hyman.

Warren got 12,000 of his church members involved, and in their first year of following the program, they lost more than 250,000 pounds! But when his son Matthew committed suicide last year, Warren stopped making healthy choices and gained back half of the 65 pounds he initially lost.

Yet relapse is part of recovery, he says. After grieving for Matthew, Warren got back on the plan—and re-lost 30 pounds. He knows what it’s like to be overweight and discouraged, so he made sure his plan is realistic, relatable and doable.

Our health director Julie and I met with Warren (second from right in the photo) and his co-authors to talk about The Daniel Plan. As the three told us (sometimes all talking at once, they were so excited), it’s not a diet but rather a prescription for living a healthy, happy life. The plan incorporates five factors: faith, food, fitness, focus and friends. Here, a few of the basics:

1. Faith
There’s nothing preachy here! For many people, faith is about religion. But it doesn’t have to be. The faith factor refers to your motivation for getting healthy, says Warren, and it’s essential for everyone, regardless of religious beliefs. Faith can simply mean wanting a better quality of life. Identify what motivates you—and use it to get healthy.

2. Food
Eat real, whole foods as much as you can. “It’s all about learning to love foods that love you back,” says Warren. The Daniel Plan plate is half non-starchy vegetables, 25 percent lean proteins and 25 percent whole grains or starchy vegetables. Add a side of low-glycemic fruit and drink water or herbal tea. Eat this way most of the time—but remember it’s a learning process and be gentle on yourself when you slip up.

3. Fitness
Make exercise fun! Don’t worry about what other people are doing—choose activities that you enjoy. Try to fit in 20 to 60 minutes of aerobic exercise, three to five days a week.

4. Focus
Change the way you think about food and about yourself. Dr. Amen suggests writing down your automatic negative thoughts, such as “I’m weak” or “I’m fat.” The more you repeat these thoughts to yourself, the more you believe them. “Writing them down gets them out of your head and forces you to question your erroneous beliefs,” he says.

5. Friends
Find a buddy or start a group—with your family, friends, coworkers, church. “The secret to living healthy is people loving each other in a community, and helping and encouraging each other,” says Dr. Hyman.


Dishing It: Low-Fat Carnitas Tacos

January 21, 2011 at 2:43 pm , by

Slow-cookers are like magical dinner-making fairies. Or really awesome sous chefs. Seriously, I throw a bunch of ingredients in a pot, set it on low, go to work and come home to a fantastically yummy meal? Best thing ever. Someone needs to give its inventor a medal. Or at least a hug, on my behalf.

All that said, I don’t use my cooker as often as I intend to, mostly because I want the prep to be as simple as possible and I balk at anything requiring more than 5 ingredients and 10 minutes. (It’s tough enough for me to get up extra early to get the ingredients together. Added thinking or excessive time cannot be required, or I will go right back to bed.) So when I saw this taco recipe from our fabulous food editors, Tara and Khalil, in our February issue, I couldn’t wait to make it!

A small disclosure: The recipe called for pork loin, which is lower in fat than the cut I used, pork shoulder. I happened to have pork shoulder in the freezer and wanted to use it, so my tacos were a bit less good-for-you than Tara’s version! (Hers is above on the left, and mine is on the right. I could have benefited from some better lighting.)

Prep could not have been easier. I cut the meat in half, chopped up onions and carrots in my little food processor, minced some garlic and a chipotle chili and plopped it all in the pot with the rest of the ingredients: cannellini beans, diced tomatoes, tomato paste and spices. Besides the spices and cilantro, there are only eight ingredients, and I already had most of them!

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A Chat with Hungry Girl

January 7, 2011 at 12:29 pm , by

For any woman that’s had a hard time trying to put together a quick snack or a meal from readily-available ingredients and pantry products that aren’t loaded with fat and calories, Lisa Lillien, the woman behind the Hungry Girl phenomenon, is a savior. She was kind enough to chat with us about her popular diet and recipe newsletter and books, her TV show (premiering tomorrow on Cooking Channel),  as well her favorite guilt-free foods — she even gave us an exclusive recipe for her fab Pizza-fied Nachos!

Just for our readers that might not already know about your fantastic newsletter and books – can you tell me about Hungry Girl in a nutshell?
Hungry Girl is a free daily email about guilt-free eating. There are food finds and reviews, shockers [about calorie counts and nutrition info], survival guides, and zillions of easy recipes. It’s all about real world eating. The books are recipe books filled with great ideas and crazy-easy and delicious recipes that will make anyone feel like they can cook — even if they think they can’t. And the ingredients used are all things you can easily find in supermarkets.

Tell me a little about your new TV show. What can Hungry Girl fans expect? Will it have any connection with your newest book?
The new show is info-packed and a lot of fun. It truly is the Hungry Girl brand and daily emails coming to life onscreen. Fans can expect tons of recipes,  survival tips, shockers and supermarket finds! All of the recipes on the show are similar to the recipes you find in Hungry Girl books — they’re easy, guilt-free and delicious!

Speaking of your newest book, what is the trick to coming up with so many low-calorie recipes?
The trick is to always stay HUNGRY — hungry for new and exciting foods. I love that I never run out of good ideas because I love food and am constantly looking to make over EVERYTHING. I’m inspired by things I see on TV all the time – whether it’s a cooking show or a restaurant commercial.

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How To Reform Your Picky, Junk Food Eater

August 26, 2010 at 6:50 am , by

p_101363623It’s so green. I hate vegetables. I want meatballs, only!  Does any of this sound familiar? Then you may be one of the many mothers out there who think pleasing the picky eaters at your table is next to impossible. And, be assured, there are lots of you.  In fact I just spoke to TV stations across the country – from Atlanta, to Kansas City, to Salt Lake City – to share the good news:  every picky eater can be reformed! Here are a few great tips to turn “eww ” into “mmm” in healthy and budget-friendly ways.

Try new, healthier varieties of old favorites. Kids are more likely to dismiss something because it looks foreign to them. A great trick is to replace foods they already eat with the whole grain variety. Chef Boyardee, for instance, now offers some of its most popular pastas in whole grain, so you can serve up a wholesome meal that includes protein, a full serving of vegetables and now whole grains.

Make meals look mini. Smaller serving dishes or bowls are a great illusion.  Kids will think there’s less of a particular serving and it makes it more manageable, when in reality the bowl might just be deeper or the meal piled on.

Decorate your food. Think about throwing a bit of shaved cheese on top of the meal.  It can help divert attention from what the cheese is supplementing, and add flavor.

Get kids involved in preparation. Kids are more likely to eat something they’ve helped prepare. Set them up with small tasks, like peeling or measuring (or shaving that cheese!). Cooking with kids teaches them a skill, gets them invested in their meal, and is time well-spent together. Also, let them have ownership over some of their food decisions.

Make snacking smart, healthy and fun. It’s tempting to go for the cookies and sweets for that after school snack, but that can make kids hyped-up on sugar and too full for dinner.  Try to offer snacks that pack in protein and flavor like Sabra Hummus’ 2 oz servings paired with SunChips multigrain snacks (18 grams of whole grains per serving) or Tostitos Scoops (8 grams per serving). The dipping and scooping add an element of activity to these perfect sized snacks.

Don’t break the bank.  Remember that eating healthy doesn’t have be a financial burden. In fact, the free site ShopAtHome.com has the largest collection (over 1,200!) of printable grocery coupons, as well as coupons to your favorite restaurants and even free products samples.

If you have a picky eater, what are some of your tricks?


Healthy Summer Cooking: Enjoy Grilling Without the Guilt

June 8, 2010 at 9:21 am , by

What’s a lady to do when she finds herself caught between bikini season and backyard barbeque season? Eat up! Food Network’s Ellie Krieger dishes how to enjoy summer’s best fare without tipping the scale…

Think Outside The Burger
Summer’s such a bountiful time for incredible local produce, so take advantage of it. Most people think of putting zucchini or peppers on the grill, but Portobello mushrooms and corn on the cob are equally amazing. For a twist on salad, slice romaine  hearts or endive in half, brush them with oil, and throw them on the grill until softened. You get the beautiful flavor that you’re craving, but using seasonal produce versus protein.

Lose the Salt, Find the Seasoning
Even cutting salt modestly can make a big difference in your overall health, but it doesn’t mean you have to compromise flavor. I rely on potent flavors and aromatics like garlic, shallots, chili peppers, citrus, and fresh herbs. The important part to remember is that salt shouldn’t be the flavor foundation in any dish. Also, don’t be afraid of the spice rack – cumin and coriander are great to incorporate into rubs and marinades for grilling.

Trim The Fat
Hot dogs and ribs aren’t the only proteins worthy of the grill – lemon-filled salmon, for one, is another favorite of mine. For the more carnivorous crowd, try sticking to leaner cuts of meat (look for words like ‘loin’ or ‘round’). Rather than indulging in a gigantic steak as a whole, try thinly slicing it and serving as soft tacos with lots of chopped veggies and topped with fresh cilantro.

Slim Down On Sweets
I love grilling fruit, but just a piece of fruit seems more like a snack to me. So how do you make it into dessert? Try this: slice a peach in half, pop out the pit, grill it, and put a scoop of ice cream in the center. (full recipe below). Opt for lower fat ice cream that is all natural (no artificial flavors) or frozen yogurt. The important thing to remember when curbing your sweet tooth is to be mindful of portions. Even an ice cream cone, in moderation, is OK because it’s a contained portion compared to spooning it from the pint!

For more healthy ideas, check out Healthy Appetite with Ellie Krieger  airing M-F at 9:30am on Cooking Channel.

Photos Courtesy of: John Wiley & Sons, Inc./ SO EASY: Luscious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Week

Recipe: Read more


Let’s Make a Pledge For Our Health!

February 12, 2010 at 10:29 am , by

Jul jumping

I love this photo of myself—even though a friend tartly commented that it looked like I was auditioning for a feminine hygiene commercial. But I was truly filled with joy when my niece snapped me on the beach at Sanibel, Florida, about this time last year. No stress, just long walks looking for shells, swimming, reading—all fueled by fresh-squeezed orange juice, grilled local fish and some of the reddest, juiciest strawberries I’ve ever eaten.

That was then. This is now. And we’re in the midwinter doldrums, with much of the country covered in snow and slush. It’s easy to cower under a blanket in front of the TV, craving chocolate, chips, spaghetti and meatballs. Am I right?

But spring is coming. And I know what I need to be doing. You probably do, too. So let’s make a pledge for better health. It’s part of a national campaign starting now and focusing us toward National Women’s Health Week, May 9-15. Putting it in writing can help motivate us to keep our sacred vows. We’ve made it easy for you. Just add yours to our Health Pledge page.

You can see what others have promised by clicking on the map. They include these:
• Stop using bad food as a reward for good behavior.
• Start taking the stairs.
• Walk to work every morning.
• Eat fewer doughnuts.

You get the  idea. I’m going to go there now and make my pledge to try to get back to my healthy and stress-free Florida self.

Promise you’ll do it, too. In fact, do it right now!

Pass this link on to all the women in your family—and friends, too. Let’s do it for our health! And tell us what you pledged in the comments below to help inspire others.


Chef Tom Colicchio’s Advice on Eating Well

October 7, 2009 at 5:40 pm , by

me&tom1Diet Coke partnered up with the The Culinary Institute of America, the American Dietetic Association, and Chef Tom Colicchio (of Bravo’s Top Chef) for their Eat Tastefully campaign, which aims to educate people about eating and living well, and not sacrificing delicious taste and culinary style for nutrition. The campaign features an online guide at DietCoke.com filled with recipes and tips for cooking and entertaining, as well as pop up kitchens in New York. I visited one and got to sit down with Chef Colicchio (I almost squealed like the total fangirl I am) to talk about the project and get some tips.

Our readers are mostly women — busy women who juggle husbands, kids, jobs– sometimes all three at once. What kind of advice can you give them on feeding their families delicious meals that are healthy at the same time?

Making a good meal doesn’t have to be fancy — you can take some shortcuts and still have a gourmet meal ready that’s tasty and healthy. Keep using fresh vegetables, fresh meats, but it’s ok to buy prepared marinades and things as shortcuts. But, after a certain point, you really have to realize it’s less about shortcuts and ways to cut time and more about finding the time. Families need to place more importance on cooking and eating — these days there’s always someone in front of the TV, someone on the computer, someone on their video games — when I was growing up, everyone had to be home before dinner, and everyone had to pitch in. If you get everyone to pitch in and appreciate making and eating food, then you spend less time doing it and worrying about it. Buy fresh food, appreciate the process of cooking and eating, make more time. It’s easier than you think.

That’s good advice — a lot of families these days are too wrapped up in other activities to actually realize that eating well is one of the most important things that need attention. That said, I still want to know — what’s one really simple thing a busy person can squeeze into their food routine every day? Something they barely have to think about but that can really make a difference?

Too often people equate good health with dieting and changing their lives around to diet — you don’t have to sacrifice good taste and the food you like to be healthy. You can incorporate little things like cutting corn syrup out of your diet, eating flavorful vegetables and fruits that are in season…and what’s most important is to walk away before you’re stuffed. We should go by the French diet — eat what you want, eat better, richer tasting food, but in moderation. You’ll get satiated faster than when you try to diet and you’ll enjoy what you’re eating too, which is important.

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