On Dishing Up Nutrition: Hidden habits that sabotage weight loss

I was on Dishing Up Nutrition this past Saturday talking about habits that hold back weight loss. You can listen here or download the show from iTunes. We talked about a lot habits that keep us from reaching our weight loss goals, including “closet eating” episodes like wolfing down a bag of M&Ms in the Menard's parking lost. It was a great show, and I hope you enjoy it!



2 great bags for transporting all the food you need to be healthy

One of my biggest struggles I have with eating real food, in balance (aside from all the planning and prep), is transporting food to work, events, etc. I also bring a huge container of water to work every day, which adds to the problem. Most insulated bags do not have the space or strength to contend with the number meals and snacks that I have to carry around. Until now!

2 great bags from Whole Foods

I stumbled upon two of the most well-designed insulated bags at Whole Foods the other day (believe me, I've gone through many in my day): the insulated messenger bag and the square insulated bag.

Insulated bags from Whole Foods

Insulated bags from Whole Foods

They have nice wide straps that make carrying even the heaviest loads more comfortable. The square bag is smaller than the messenger bag, but it can carry a lot because it doesn't taper at the top like most bags. I use two ice blocks in the large bag and one in the smaller bag to keep stuff cold.

And what's best–I just saw that they have new colors. So you fashion-conscious people can get the bags in berry and blue or whatever color will match your outfit!

What's your favorite tip for transporting real food? Leave a comment.


Reader Q and A: Post cruise weight loss slump

I have wonderful readers. This week, I wanted to feature a question I got from Jane, and my response. I thought many of you could relate to her question and my response.

Feet on a scale

Question from Jane

Back in April I attended your “Get Inspired” session at Nutrional Weight and Wellness in St. Paul; I was so inspired by your story.  I follow your blog and have been following the NWW plan since December 2011.  In the last couple of months I’ve been having a much harder time staying on plan and staying focused.  I was doing really well until July when my husband and I went on a cruise since then I’ve had a terrible time getting back on track and I’ve put on weight and feel so yucky!
I’ve been meaning to email you for months to ask how you do it?  How do you stay on plan and focused?  And when you were losing your weight did you have to be perfect all the time, or could you have the occasional slip but get back on plan and continue to lose weight?  At times I still worry that I’m eating too much fat, but then remember what I’ve learned and resolve not to cut back, but when I don’t lose I worry that that may be the culprit!  Before our trip I noticed that my body felt so good and looked good, but hadn’t really lost weight or inches.
Since we’ve come home and I’m not following like I was I’ve gained both inches and weight!  I’m so frustrated and thought maybe you’d have some quick advice for me.
Thank you so much for any help you could offer.

My answer

I am so glad you wrote. It’s such a struggle sometimes, isn’t it? Believe me, over the last four years I’ve gone through it all. And I am still going through it. I am working on losing the 10 pounds I gained in 10 days in Paris! My body is getting more and more fussy when I go off plan.
I absolutely was not perfect when I was losing the 90 pounds. I think I was on plan about 90% of the time. It was when I tried to be perfect that I slipped up most often. When I gave myself permission to be flexible and try my best, I did much better than aiming and missing for perfection. I found that over time, I was able to minimize the damage from those slip ups, and they didn’t matter as much.
It sounds like you are where I was at the end of my first year. The year that I didn’t lose one pound. I also wasn’t following the plan but for 40% of the time. I was still sliding into fast food drive ups and getting M&Ms at the checkout of Menard’s. I needed that year to get used to this way of eating. I know some people change overnight. I took a year to get ready for the change–I see this now in hindsight.
My body also needed that year to heal my metabolism. After all, I had been on a one woman mission to destroy it for the previous 25 years, with diets and bad food.
The fat (butter, coconut oil, olive oil) is key to getting your cravings under control. If you don’t have the fat, you are going to crave the bad stuff (donuts, bread, grains, etc.–the stuff that makes you fat).
Lately, my cravings have been SO calm. I really do have a “take it or leave it” attitude toward carbs and sweets. Why? I think it is my pre-meal cocktail (3 times a day that is):

I also am getting all my meals and snacks in so I am not hungry. I have been doing this ever since I got back from Paris–when I went on a bread and beer binge–and my cravings have never been quieter. Now that my cravings are quiet, I can focus on getting good food, and I am SLOWLY losing those 10 pounds. I asked my nutritionist  about this and she told be that glutamine works so well for cravings because it is the only amino acid that the brain can use to make glucose. So, with your brain getting the glucose it needs from the amino acid, you don’t crave bread. It also heals your gut, which is key to metabolism and weight loss.

I hope this helps you re-ignite your efforts. I was totally hopeless after trying to do this for a year in 2008. In 2009, I really decided to eat this way most of the time. I started doing yoga and walking more, and things started happening. And they can happen for you too!
I will answer your questions, too. Just leave a comment!

Two hours of cooking made fun with recipe, music apps

I get many questions from people about how I maintain my 90-pound weight loss, and even better, lose weight. It's pretty simple and a bit boring–I plan, plan, plan, then cook, cook, cook. The key to my having healthy carbs, fats, and proteins at the ready is my weekly two-hour cooking session. Here's what I made today.

Wild rice meatballs, salmon patties, and healthy sloppy joes

Wild rice meatballs, salmon patties, healthy sloppy joes, cranberry wild rice salad, and zucchini supreme

I will use the food from these recipes to make: meals for my family, my son's lunches, my husband's snacks, and my ample snacks and meals (remember, I eat 5-6 times a day to keep my blood sugar balanced–the best way to lose weight for the long term).

How I make it fun and easy: apps, podcasts, music

Seems like a tall order–making food prep and cooking a fun activity and not a chore–since I have a long list of things I'd rather do. I use Paprika, an iPad/iPhone recipe manager app, to help me keep my recipes organized and easy to follow. I enter recipes into the app or load them from the browser, and then when I'm ready to shop I simply add the recipe to my grocery list. The app is also on my iPhone, which I use to shop and track what I buy.

I like to listen to nutrition podcasts while I cook (yes, I'm that much of a nutrition nerd). I use Downcast to download them and keep them all organized. If I'm in more of a music mood, I turn on the 70's station on Spotify.

Food planning is self care

This is what it all comes down to. When you make food that nourishes your body, you are caring for yourself and your family. I've found that unless it's fun, or at least enjoyable, I won't do it.

I hope you can use these tips and apps to inspire your self-care cooking session!

Have a favorite app that helps you plan? Share a comment now.


Reader Q and A: Why is NOTHING happening with my weight

I have wonderful readers. This week, I wanted to feature a question I got from Linda, and my not so polished response. I thought many of you could relate to her question and my response.

Feet on a scale


Question from Linda

I finally had a phone consultation [with a nutritionist at Nutritional Weight and Wellness] 3 weeks ago. So, I’ve been ‘working the program’ and so far, I do not see any results. I had actually been following along since February and saw no big weight drop, so that’s why I decided to finally go for it and have a consult.

I haven’t eaten bread or flour since the middle of February and I truly expected to see something happening. My weight keeps going up and down the same 5 to 7 pounds it’s been bouncing for the last two years! We eliminated dairy, too. BUT this is where I need to ask a question. Do you totally eliminate dairy or do you use any yogurt or cottage cheese? I stopped eating any sliced or shredded cheese, but I sorely miss my Greek yogurt. I tried making my smoothies without it, but I miss it and I loved that it is so packed with protein.

I can’t tolerate milk – but not yogurt or cheese, so we thought eliminating it would be a good idea to test out a dairy intolerance. I see no change. I talk with Cassie again next week, but I am really stumped as to why I am not losing weight. Funny thing is, my clothes fit better or are loose. It’s crazy!

I’m kind of disappointed because I feel that I have really worked hard and have eliminated a lot from my diet. Anyway, next week I will definitely be working this out with my nutritionist. The ONLY thing I can think of is that I use cream in my coffee and now I’m even cutting back on that. Do you drink any coffee or tea with cream?

Call me frustrated.

My answer

You are not alone. I went ONE FULL YEAR before anything happened eating this way. One full year. I am not saying that this will happen to you, but it really does take time for your metabolism to heal (at first when Kara told me this “healing” stuff, I thought it was BS; but it is true). In fact, Dr. Schwarzbein says, “You have to be healthy to lose weight, not lose weight to get healthy.” It is really true. Our bodies are conservative systems, and they need time to “get on track.”

So, it is no surprise to me that you are getting these results (no weight loss, but clothes that fit better). I have been through this very cycle about 5 times. I have just come through a really sticky one that went on and on for a year! Same 10 pounds just not budging. Now, things are happening. This is why quick-fix diets are so enticing and addictive. They really get you hooked on the process of quick weight loss in those first few weeks, but then fail in the long term. This one takes time to get going, no way around that, but really works in the long term.

As for the dairy, I moved away from everything, including yogurt. I would ask your nutritionist about the greek yogurt. I know the goat milk stuff doesn’t contain the hormone that can cause weight gain. So, maybe that kind would work for you. I still eat goat cheese even though I am dairy free.

Now cream is considered a fat, not dairy. So, I still have whipped cream and full fat cream in my coffee. So, don’t worry about that.

One thing to do, is verify with your nutritionist that she is giving you the Nutrition 4 Weight loss eating plan. It is slightly less fat than their regular plan. The idea being that a bit less fat frees up the liver to metabolize more of your body fat (I think this is how it works).

Also, I am gluten-free. If you haven’t gotten rid of the grains, this could be just the trick. Did you hear the Dishing Up Nutrition podcast from this past week with the doctor who wrote “Wheat Belly”? It was really interesting. He talks about the amazing weight loss from people who have given up wheat and other troublesome grains.


Thank you Penzeys for making my food taste better

I want to shift the focus of my posts for the next few weeks from my struggles with weight loss and stuff in the news to more practical information about what to eat. One of my most-read posts is What I Eat to Lose Weight. Message sent and heard! I want to tell you about my food to inspire you to eat well!

Pitcher of Salad Dressing

Dressings are a great source of healthy fat

One of the keys to eating well and losing/managing weight–with protein, carbs, and fats in balance–is to eat foods that taste really good. That’s where Penzeys spices come in. Over the past few months, I have been experimenting with various spices to make my food taste better and be more satisfying. Needless to say, I am so impressed with how good their spices make the most common of dishes taste.

My salad dressings in particular had become so boring, I had almost stopped eating salads all together. I discovered Penzeys salad dressing starters about a month ago–and salads are again a big part of my diet. I love their Green Goddess dressing (most store-bought green goddess dressings are horrid slurries; this starter helps you make one that is divine), and their ranch is to die for.

What is so great about these starters (really just herb mixes) is that you can mix them with healthy fat (like Hain mayo or olive oil), to make them unlike the gross soybean oil and trans fat-laden dressings at the grocery store. They taste so good with cut up veggies as a dip (add 2 ounces of protein and you have a perfect balanced snack).

I can’t tell you how much of a difference it has made for me to have really tasty, well-seasoned meals and snacks to look forward to. It helps me stay on track and not feel like I am missing out. When people have to give up gluten, dairy or other foods to improve their health, they often feel somewhat depressed about it. But when you start to experience how wonderful vegetables and meat can taste, those foods seems much less appealing.

Share your favorite dressing recipe by leaving a comment!