Health & Fitness

By Erin Brady

By the time February rolls around, many of your nutrition and fitness-focused resolutions may not be going as planned. Instead of beating yourself up about the lack of times you’ve visited the gym this week, start making some conscious nutrition changes that will be a part of and benefit your lifestyle. Luckily, for all of you out there that need a little push in the right direction, nationally known nutrition and health expert Cynthia Sass has shared some of her priceless advice on food and health. These easy steps will ensure you are less likely to fall off the wagon.

Cynthia believes in the power of food to optimize health and wellness, prevent disease and maximize the way you look and feel – inside and out. Cynthia has been counseling and educating for over a decade and has seen amazing transformations, from hunger free weight loss to reversing the side effects of chronic diseases, improved sleep and digestion and fewer aches and pains. Not only is Cynthia a Registered Dietician, but she has a master’s degree in nutrition science, graduate credits in counseling to improve her personal coaching skills. She’s a certified personal trainer, has completed formal vegan organic culinary training, and holds a master’s degree in public health, specializing in community and family health education. Cynthia is on a constant quest to continue her education and specialization in holistic nutrition and wellness. Here are this superwoman’s tips for getting back on the right track, for good!

Eating right during the work day:
• Sandwiches: Save at least 600 calories by ordering mustard instead of mayo or the special sauce, no bacon, no cheese and ask for grilled veggies instead of fries.

• Salads: Save at least 600 calories by skipping the cheese, croutons, bacon (or other fatty meats), and use with balsamic vinegar instead of dressing. If the dressing is a must, ask for it on the side and dip your forkful into the dressing; you’ll use less than if you just piled it in top.

• Burritos: Save at least 550 calories by skipping the cheese, sour cream and side of chips with any taco or burrito. Instead, ask for more fiber-rich foods like beans, pico de gallo or a few slices of avocado instead of guacamole.

Healthful happy hours:
• Eat before you drink: If you are going to a happy hour, eating before can ensure the alcohol does not get absorbed too quickly, lowering your inhibitions and upping your appetite. Before you down that beverage of choice, eat a small handful of nuts or a mini babybel or string cheese, protein and fat will create a better buffer for alcohol. Also, drinking a full glass of water between each alcoholic beverage will help slow your pace.

• Outsmart the late-night munchies: Before you leave for a night out, pop some low calorie popcorn and leave a small bowl out in plain sight so you’ll remember to eat that instead of pizza or leftovers in the fridge. Pop one-quarter cup kernels in one Tbsp sunflower oil to make 4 cups popped for just 225 calories.

• Dress for success: Cynthia advises to wear tight fitting clothing to parties or when you know you are going out to happy hour/dinner, as it can really boost your body awareness. Whether it’s a slinky dress, skinny jeans or stockings, constricting garments can definitely prevent you from overdoing it.

Less of a food-focused social calendar:
The holidays have come and gone but if you’re like me during the winter, much of my time with family and friends includes going out to dinner, getting drinks, etc, which can be a serious problem if you are trying to maintain or loose weight. Not to fear, Cynthia says there are many things you can do to change this unhealthy pattern.

Start a healthy recipe exchange or potluck club by inviting friends over for dinners and urging them to make healthy recipes, or at least ensure your recipe is lighter so you don’t have to worry.

Make your leisure time more active. Instead of going to a movie you’re not dying to see, rent some ice skates and go to one of the many ice rinks in NYC for a fun yet lively afternoon. Take a dance or workout class with friends, there’s plenty of gyms and studios offering discounted rates for the New Year, so try something new together. Mixing it up can help you avoid unwanted calories and it can be a great way to spice up your free time.

Aisle avoidance:
Eating at home or bringing your own lunch can definitely help keep your nutrition goals on track, and Cynthia suggests specific products to avoid in the aisles that are not as healthy as you might think.

• In the Snack Aisle: Avoid buying those puffed veggie snacks as at first glance they may look like just dried veggies, but most commonly the first ingredient is potato flour or rice flour and real veggies are much lower on the ingredient list. If you need to satisfy your salty or crunch craving, stick with good old-fashioned potato chips as long as the only ingredients are whole potatoes, pure liquid vegetable oil and salt, or reach for a handful of whole grain pretzels or pretzel thins.

• In the Meat Aisle: Don’t assume that any package of ground turkey is better than beef; it depends on the percentage of lean meat. The best option is to find the highest percent lean you can, regardless of the protein source. Look for 99% lean ground turkey or if you want a similar taste but fewer calories, swap ground meat for chopped portabella mushrooms.

• In the Peanut Butter Aisle: Avoid buying reduced fat Peanut Butter as it has about the same number of calories per serving and usually more carbs than regular Peanut Butter. Cynthia says that’s because carbs are added to displace the fat content (more carbs means less fat per spoonful). Stick with all natural regular Peanut Butter or other natural nut butters (almond, cashew, soy nut, etc.)



• In the Candy Aisle: Everyone needs that chocolate fix now and then, but stick to high quality dark chocolate and savor every bit of it as its sugar-free or reduced fat counterpart does not have much less fat, usually has more carbs and to me, tastes terrible. Plus, the sugar alcohols used in place of sugar can contribute to bloating and stomach problems.

Originally published February 2010
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