healthy eating

Six Ways to Fight Holiday Weight Gain

Written on December 12, 2014 at 11:51 am , by

Dessert trays, cocktail parties, big family meals—it’s the perfect combo for a happy holiday, but for a trim waistline? Not so much. Of course, occasional indulging is okay, but to stop you from overdoing it, we pinged Amanda Butler, a trainer at NYC’s BFX studio, a boutique gym that offers classes like barre, group cycling and circuit workouts. She gave her top exercising and eating tips for keeping the number on the scale steady throughout the season.

Amanda doing the squat for a burpee

1. Take Four for Fitness
Making time to break a sweat will torch some of those calories from pie and cake. To quickly maximize the burn, try a Tabata routine—a type of high-intensity interval training that requires you to push yourself as hard as you can for 20 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds and repeat for eight rounds. That’s just four minutes of work!

The move Amanda says works best to sculpt from head to toe: burpees. To tackle this exercise, stand with your feet hip-width apart. Squat down and place your hands on the floor, then jump your feet behind you so you’re in a push-up position. Perform one push-up. Next, jump your feet forward toward your arms, then stand and jump straight up, clapping your hands over your head. You’ll burn approximately 75 calories in just four minutes with this move—that’s about one chocolate chip cookie. For similar results without the full-on burpee, alternate jump squats and push-ups (you can put your knees on the floor to modify it) for your 20-second intervals.

2. Keep Moving
While you’re waiting to take the ham or casserole out of the oven, do a few quick moves, such as triceps dips or step-ups with the kitchen chair. It always helps to take the stairs and walk more too, so park farther from the mall entrance or grocery store to get more steps.

3. Grab and Go
At the dessert table, put the two treats you love the most on your plate and walk away. Enjoy each bite and then start a conversation with someone at a spot located away from the sweets so you’re not tempted to snag more.

4. Graze at a Slow Pace
When you’re having a group dinner, eat slowly and put your utensils down every now and then to help you do so. Savor the flavors and pay attention to how you feel. If you let out a big sigh from being so full, it’s definitely time to stop nibbling.

5. Plan for Celebrations
Don’t show up to your company’s or friend’s bash on an empty stomach. Have a snack, like an apple, before you go so you’re not feeling ravenous and ready to scarf down whatever you see first. Also, sip water between cocktails and swap the sugar- and fat-filled choices, such as eggnog or a flavored martini, for lighter beverages, like a vodka soda with lime or red wine.

6. Mentally (and Socially) Prepare
Give yourself a little pep talk before a full day of dining so you’re ready to turn down the second (or third) helping. And let others know you’re trying to watch your weight so they don’t peer pressure you into having more food and drinks.


Q&A with the Author of “Year of No Sugar”

Written on May 14, 2014 at 2:36 pm , by

Listening to NPR, I heard about a new memoir called Year of No Sugar. The author, writer Eve Schaub, is a married mom of two school-aged girls who got her family to agree to avoid all foods with any added sugar for an entire year. As a mom with a wicked (and too-often-indulged) sweet tooth, I was fascinated by this. The book was an enjoyable read (gotta love chapters called “Out of the Opium Den,” “Waitresses Hate Us” and “Poop Doesn’t Lie”) and offered plenty of food for thought about the amount of sugar in a typical family’s day-to-day diet and the Herculean effort required to circumvent it. Last week I had a chance to speak to Eve. This is an edited, condensed version of our lively conversation. To learn more about her, go to

Family Circle: Okay, first things first. I was sort of obsessed with your book and mentioned it to a bunch of my work buddies and friends. Every one of them asked me the same question: Did she lose a bunch of weight?

Eve Schaub: (Laughs.) Everyone asks that. Everyone asks two questions, actually: The first one is, Did you lose weight? And the second one is, Were the kids so much calmer without the sugar? I hate to disappoint people, but the answers are no and no. That said, weight wasn’t an issue for me before the Year of No Sugar, and losing weight was not my goal. As for my girls, they were never what I would call hyper, so that wasn’t a problem I was looking to solve. In other words, cutting out sugar wasn’t about either of those issues. In my mind, the whole thing was really about sugar as a long-term toxin, as something that could make us sick in the long term if we kept eating so much of it.

FC: How receptive were your husband and daughters to this concept?

ES: I would say they were pretty open. The girls cried at first, but we talked it through quite a bit. They were willing to give it a go as a family. But let’s also just say that I’m aware I’ve likely used up my allotment of crazy-things-mom-gets-us-to-do ideas for a while.

FC: In terms of eliminating sugar, how did that play out? Did you do a hard cutover or a gradual phase-in?

ES: We went cold turkey. Some people might prefer to do more of a phaseout, and of course, that’s fine too. For us, though, at a certain point it was “Let’s just start.”

FC: How did you feel as the sugar left your system—any different?

ES:  Well, I don’t have that usual midafternoon slump anymore; my energy is very consistent throughout the day. There’s no more roller-coaster effect from sugar surges and then crashes.

FC: Did you all crave sweets?

ES: Actually, I was pretty astounded at how dramatically our taste buds changed. Craving sweets wasn’t a big deal. Figuring out the logistics of how to shop for groceries, navigate social events like parties and order in restaurants, those things were huge. Huge.

FC: How did you manage?

ES: Definitely one day at a time. If I thought about the big picture, it was way too overwhelming. The first few times we ate out at restaurants were extraordinarily challenging. Grocery shopping literally took hours, because I had to scour all the tiny print on all the labels, looking for any of the many different names of sugar. Parties were hard. Like, can you really celebrate someone’s birthday but refuse a piece of their cake? And to be honest, for a while I was worried it was just going to keep getting harder. But over time, I learned a lot. We found our strategies. After about six months, we really just knew what to do, and it wasn’t a big deal anymore.

FC: So now that the Year of No Sugar project is officially over, what’s your status sugar-wise?

ES: We aren’t as totally fanatical as we had to be during the Year of No Sugar, but I would definitely classify us as high-level sugar avoiders. We still read food labels closely and don’t buy anything that has sugar as an added ingredient. It’s just not necessary. Also, we never drink sugared beverages. But we do enjoy treats now and then, at parties and on special occasions.

FC: In the end, was the Year of No Sugar harder, easier or about what you expected?

ES: At points throughout, I would say it was all of those things.


Are you concerned about your family’s day-to-day sugar consumption? Would you consider taking action? Tell me in the comments.

Chew on This: Talking Breakfast with Teens and Tweens

Written on March 31, 2014 at 2:28 pm , by

By Danielle Blundell

The ironic thing about breakfast is that we’ve been hearing it’s the most important meal of the day for years, yet many of us skip it anyway. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become better about eating in the morning. But for teens, staying up late watching TV or texting with friends, then hitting the snooze button repeatedly in the a.m. sometimes makes breakfast a luxury reserved for the weekends. A good analogy to illustrate the importance of breakfast for kids—and even ourselves—might be sports. Performing like an athlete requires the proper fuel, and it all starts with breakfast.

To that end we asked the New York Giants’ colorful running back Victor Cruz and The Chew’s Carla Hall, who’ve partnered up with Fuel Up to Play 60 to increase school breakfast participation across the country, for their tips on getting tweens and teens excited about breakfast. And who better than skeleton silver medalist Noelle Pikus-Pace, fresh off the Sochi podium and now spokesperson for Kellogg’s Give a Great Start Program, for additional ideas, since she’s mom to—and chief breakfast maker for—children Traycen and Lacee.

1. Convenience is key. 

Kids are always on the go, so breakfast options should be flexible too. Stock up on breakfast bars and instant oatmeal, or prepare baggies of dry cereal ahead of time, like Pikus-Pace does, for kids to grab fast from the pantry. Cruz remembers, “Even if I was running late, I always fit breakfast in because of my mom. She’d say, ‘At least eat some cereal,’ or she’d have a granola bar ready for me to eat in the car on the way to school.”

2. Splurge once in a while.

Sure, a well-balanced, healthy breakfast is ideal, but sometimes kids form good habits faster when you let them indulge in their favorites from time to time. For Cruz, it’s French toast. “I’d eat that every day if I could,” he says. Hall favors pancakes. Make it a point to get the family together and enjoy a splurge breakfast at least once a month.

3. Go pro athlete with your menu.

“On game days, I’ll have a vegetable omelet for protein, oatmeal for extra energy and a glass of orange juice,” says Cruz. Before your athlete’s big game or on a test day, give that combo a try. You don’t even have to bust out a pan or skillet if you don’t have the time. Hall uses an on-the-go omelet recipe made with eggs, a little bit of milk, cheese and veggies or meat that she shakes up in a microwave-safe Mason jar and microwaves for 2 minutes.

4. Make breakfast a group effort when you can.

“Today’s kids are more little foodies than we think,” says Hall. “Getting them involved is key, and it starts with taking kids to the store to pick items out. Or ask them for a list.” Let kids customize their own jar omelets or pick out the fruits they want to top their cereal, oatmeal or yogurt. And remind them that not everybody has it so easy when it comes to breakfast. “Everyone deserves a great start, but every day one in five kids don’t get breakfast,” says Pikus-Pace. You and your teen or tween can help. Watch her video and share it with the hashtag #greatstart on Twitter or Facebook, and you’ll provide a meal to a child in need through Kellogg’s.

“So, What Do Your Kids Eat?”

Written on January 22, 2014 at 2:59 pm , by

By Haylie Pomroy, best-selling author of The Fast Metabolism Diet and The Fast Metabolism Diet Cookbook

Haylie PomroyAs a nutritionist who spends her days working with celebrities and regular folks alike, there’s one question I get all the time: “So, what do your kids eat?”

My kids aren’t immune to the lure of fast food and junk snacks. But nutrition is the family business, and by empowering them to make healthy decisions from an early age, I can trust them to use their good instincts.

This was one of the inspirations behind my new Fast Metabolism Diet cookbook and app. In the cookbook, I included over 200 tasty recipes that kids will love to eat and parents will love to cook. With the app, parents can streamline their shopping lists and plan a month’s worth of healthy meals.

Just last week I had a counter full of fresh veggies that I brought back from the store: kale, carrots, mangoes, avocados, raw nuts and apples—a whole pile of great foods. My son walked in from school, saw my groceries and said, “I want to eat all of that!” I sure was a proud momma!

Parents have a tough battle when it comes to healthy eating. We’re up against poor-quality cafeteria food, rows of vending machines and aisles full of sugary, processed junk marketed to kids. But you can plant the seeds to encourage healthy choices.

Here are three changes you can make to your daily routine.

1. Make the kitchen the heart of your home. My best memories are of my mom’s kitchen. This is where I learned to cook, and learned to love food. Try taking your kids shopping with you and teach them how to choose the juiciest lemons, the crunchiest carrots and the freshest salad greens. Or give them a “kids’ night,” where they can plan and prepare part of the dinner (if they’re old enough). Emphasize making healthy choices, and help them choose the recipes and do the cooking.

2. Broker a deal. When my kids want to eat something they know I won’t be crazy about, we negotiate. I rarely say no completely, but I will ask for something in return. Typically, I’ll say yes to the ice cream or nachos but ask that they eat two healthy things first. My kids are now so used to this that it’s part of the routine. My daughter will say, “I want this cupcake I got at school, so I’m eating celery sticks and almond butter.” This is a great way to get them to think about what they’re eating, but there’s a sneaky agenda in there too. By eating healthy and delicious foods first, they’ll want less of the junk. This isn’t a bad tactic for yourself, either. Want to splurge on birthday cake? Have some red-pepper strips and hummus, or a handful of raw almonds and an apple, first.

3. Try some healthy makeovers. You may not be able to convince your kids to give up chicken nuggets or macaroni and cheese altogether. But you can make those meals healthier and just as tasty. Here’s my no-fail recipe for pretzel-crusted chicken nuggets.

Pretzel-Crusted Chicken Nuggets

3/4 cup arrowroot powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 egg whites
1 cup finely crushed sprouted-grain pretzels (Unique 100% sprouted pretzels work well)
1 teaspoon seasoning of your choice (such as smoked paprika, chipotle powder, garlic powder or Italian seasoning)
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/4 pounds), cut into bite-size pieces

1. Preheat the oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet (you may need two) with parchment paper.
2. Whisk together the arrowroot, salt and pepper in a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until foamy.
3. Place the crushed pretzels in a third bowl and stir in a teaspoon of your favorite seasoning.
4. Dip a piece of chicken in the arrowroot until it is evenly covered. Then dip it in the egg whites, and then in the crushed pretzels.
5. Place the coated chicken on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining chicken.
6. Bake the nuggets for 15 to 18 minutes, or until the chicken is fully cooked and the outside is golden brown.

Serves 5
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes

Want more ways to make over your favorite comfort foods? Visit my website,, for healthy recipes, tricks and tips.


Nutritionist Haylie Pomroy is the best-selling author of The Fast Metabolism Diet and The Fast Metabolism Diet Cookbook. Ms. Pomroy lives with her husband, their five children and their four dogs in Los Angeles. Visit Haylie Pomroy and the Fast Metabolism community on Facebook.