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7 Nutritionists Reveal How to Order Healthy at Any Restaurant

Brit + Co

When you’re trying to make healthy lifestyle choices, like mixing in exercises to tone your whole bod or adding superfoods to your diet, eating out can quickly throw a wrench in your plans. Menu anxiety is real, and the thought of derailing all of your healthy choices is no joke. That’s why we decided to call in the experts to help us enjoy our date nights and girls’ nights out, without any stress about ditching our healthy goals. Scroll on to discover how these seven nutritionists stay on track with their healthy lifestyles.

1. Review the whole menu. “Take a moment to look at everything on the menu so you know what your options are. I try to find an option with a great source of protein, like fish, chicken, eggs or beans, and then I try to make sure the rest of the plate is filled with leaves or green vegetables. If you fill yourself up with the best choices, you’re less likely to want any desserts later.” — Jess Scott, in-house nutritionist, Graze

2. Practice moderation. “I follow a simple acronym when trying to stay healthy while eating out — B.A.D. (bread, alcohol or dessert). I encourage my clients to choose one, not all three, in order to keep their overall meals in check.” — Melissa Buczek Kelly, MBK Nutrition & Wellness LLC

3. Sharing is caring. “If I’m eating out with friends and family, I try to find shareable plates. This helps me with portion control, because I don’t have a giant plate of food in front of me. Instead, I have an empty small plate which I can portion food throughout the meal. Splitting a meal means sharing the calories. Same rule goes for dessert.” — Thomas Ngo, registered dietician

4. Know how your food is cooked. “Stay away from options that include words such as battered, creamed, breaded or crusted. These are often deep fried or loaded with butter and cheese, making them both calorie and fat bombs. Opt for dishes that are grilled, roasted, baked or broiled for a healthier option that is not drowning in fats and oils.” — Emily Cooper, RD, LD of Sinful Nutrition

5. Snack before you eat. “Peruse the menu ahead of time online and chose your meal before going to avoid spontaneous decisions and decision anxiety (‘I should get this, but I really want that’). Also, have a healthy snack an hour before going to the restaurant so you’re not starving when you get there and dive right into the bread and appetizers.” — Jenny Berk, nutritionist and certified eating psychology coach

6. Eat your food. “Eat your meal in order of lowest calorie to highest calorie. By filling up on the lower caloric items, like veggies and broth-based soups, and then moving on to lean protein, you will be feeling nice and full by the time you get to the starchy, more caloric items on your plate.” — Chelsea Fuchs, nutritionist and registered dietician

7. Consider asking for sauces on the side. “When eating out, I skip the extra calories by asking for any sauces or dressings on the side. That way, I can control the amount I use or forgo altogether. I also ask that veggies be steamed or sautéed in olive oil rather than butter, and replace starches like potatoes, rice or pasta with extra veggies or a side of mixed greens.” — Lori Kenyon Farley, certified nutritional consultant and co-founder, Project Juice

16 Foods Nutritionists Never Eat

The Stir

We’re all familiar with the expression “You are what you eat,” but have you ever looked down at your food and truly wondered, “What’s in here anyway?” or “Should I really eat this?” We asked nutritionists to reveal the foods they’d never consume and the reasons they shun them.

While some foods on the “No List” were to be expected, others are a bit of a surprise! Check out their top picks and see if you’ll be crossing these items off your grocery list.

1. Artificially-colored anything:

“I don’t even want to think about the amount of artificially colored stuff I ate when I was a kid,” says Frances Largeman-Roth, RDN, nutrition expert, mom of three, and author of Eating in Color. “While there’s no proven link between artificial food dyes and ADHD or other behavioral issues, I’d rather have my family stick to foods that contain naturally derived colors. And these days there are so many for companies and consumers to choose from!”

2. Juice:

Chelsea Fuchs, MS, RD, CDN regards juice as “empty calories and loaded with sugar!”

“In fact, just one cup of orange juice has around 110 calories and 20 grams of sugar. The added sugar in OJ is stored as fat. There is also little protein or fiber, meaning that if you’re hungry, juice won’t help to hold you over. Instead of juice, I recommend patients have the whole fruit instead. It delivers more nutrition — think fiber and antioxidants — and there is no added sugar like there is in that glass of OJ, meaning your body will burn energy instead of storing fat.”

3. Dippin Dots:

“Kids love this stuff,” Largeman-Roth says. “They always sell it at zoos and amusement parks. It’s ice cream that’s been cryogenically frozen into little beads. No thanks, I’ll take the regular stuff that has to be scooped any day.”

4.  Peanut butter:

“Peanuts are highly allergenic and not the kind of nuts I encourage you to eat,” explains Gabrielle Francis, naturopathic doctor, chiropractor, acupuncturist, and author of The Rockstar Remedy. “Most peanut butter is filled with ingredients like corn syrup and hydrogenated oils -– it’s like a tub of peanut-flavored Crisco. If you must eat peanut butter, buy (the) all-natural variety or go to a store where you can grind it yourself –- but try to make the switch to all-natural almond butter.”

5. Breadsticks and cheese dip combo packs:

Sofia Abdelkafi, nutritionist. R.D. Bsc says any package with the words “made with real cheese” scare her.

“For me, not real cheese or not real food is not even an option. Then, the list of ingredients is huge: preservatives, emulsifiers, artificial flavor, colors, hydrogenated. This list is a nightmare,” she says.

6. Lunch meats:

“Even if you aren’t vegetarian or vegan, avoid lunch meats,” Francis advises. “If you can’t live without your salami or charcuterie, buy brands that contain zero nitrates and nitrites. They may be labeled as ‘uncured’ or ‘nitrate-free.'”

7. Hot dogs & sausages

“Ultra-processed animal food usually disgusts me,” Abdelkafi says. “High high chances they use animals ‘living’ in extremely bad conditions and the ingredients are really shady.”

8. Non-dairy creamer:

“Non-dairy creamer is total junk, a concoction of gross high fructose corn syrup, mono- and diglycerides, and straight trans fat,” says Michelle Davenport, PhD, RD.

9. Artificial sweeteners:

“They contain aspartame, saccharin, or sucralose,” Francis says. “Basically, they’re chemicals in a pretty little packet. Try natural sugar alternatives like local raw organic honey or agave.”

10. Diet soda:

“Diet soda is full of artificial ingredients. Artificial sweeteners are just one of the ingredients in diet soda which I avoid,” notes Lisa D. Ellis, MS, RDN, CDN, LMSW, CEDRD

11. Maraschino cherries:

“These things are full of sugar, artificial dyes, and are nothing like the natural fruit when it comes to nutrition,” Davenport says.

12. Energy bars:

“There’s a fine line between energy bars and savvy marketing that puts a healthy-sounding twist on what’s essentially a Snickers,” notes Francis. “If you’re looking for a great alternative bar, look for brands that contain at least 10-15 grams of protein coming from hemp, nut butters, whey protein, or pea or rice proteins. The junk to avoid: soy isolates, chemical sweeteners, preservatives, artificial colors or flavorings casein, which is cow’s milk, and anything hydrogenated. Ideally, keep the carb count less than 25 grams. Better yet? Switch to all-natural raw protein bars, which are high nutritious energy boosters.”

13. Conventionally-grown strawberries:

“I love strawberries, but when they’re grown conventionally, the risk isn’t worth the reward. Strawberries are so absorbent that they retain pesticides even after washing. Stick to organic strawberries,” Davenport says.

14.  Stick margarine

“(Stick margarine) is loaded with trans fat –- yes, that’s the bad type of fat the increases LDL cholesterol and can increase one’s risk for heart disease,” Fuchs says. “I actually like to use algae oil in place of margarine. Algae oil is a new trendy cooking oil that has a super high smoke point, so it can be used in a wide variety of applications, in place of margarine. It has unprecedented levels of monounsaturated fats (the good fats!) and low levels of saturated fat, so it’s a great choice for anyone looking to move the needle toward a healthier diet.”

15. Microwave Popcorn:

“It’s a processed food that is loaded with fat and sodium and even worse, the bag lining has diacetyl in it,” notes Rebecca Lewis, in-house RD for HelloFresh. “This chemical gives popcorn it’s buttery flavor, however, it is also toxic when heated!”

16. Soy sauce:

“It’s ridiculously high in sodium — one tablespoon equals 920mg of sodium — and contains MSG, which is something many are sensitive to (and has been) linked to headaches, ringing in the ears, bloating, among other symptoms,” Lewis says.

If you want to eat like a nutritionist, or even just a bit healthier, here’s a great starting point!

The Best and Worst Stadium Foods for Game Day  

The Daily Meal

Summer is almost over, which means it’s time to enjoy good company and cheer your way through a game. With an exhilarating game comes a lot of mindless eating and unwanted calories. Except this football season will be different, because you will be equipped with tools for staying healthy before, during, and after the big game. We spoke with registered dietitian Chelsea Fuchs about which stadium foods you can enjoy and which foods you should stay away from.

“Focus on the game and the good company rather than the temptations,” Fuchs says. “Have a bottle of water or club soda nearby, as it’s easy to get dehydrated during a game, and we can often mistake thirst for hunger. Also, pack your own healthy snacks! Not only will your waistline thank you, but your wallet will, too.” Just be sure to check the stadium’s guidelines for bringing in outside food into the venue so you can be prepared!

Fuchs admits that it is difficult to avoid danger foods completely, and says that if you really want to have something unhealthy, you should enjoy it in small doses. You can even share a treat with someone else so that you are less likely to overeat. “No one is perfect, so if you find yourself indulging in some of those danger foods at the stadium, grab a bottle of water and do a quick reset,” Fuchs says. “In fact, there are even some quick and effective exercises you can do from the bleachers, right on your phone. Whenever I have one too many peanut M&M’s at the stadium, I make sure I do the Cosmo Body bleacher workout right from my seat to get some extra crunches in!”

With this list of best and worst stadium foods, you’ll navigate game day in the healthiest way possible.

Worst: Fries

Say hello to fried carbs! “Eating fries at the stadium will certainly not help you to feel full, as white carbs spike blood sugar and have little to no fiber or protein,” Fuchs says. “In addition, fries are quite easy to overindulge in — you might find yourself springing for the large and sharing with a friend, or allowing yourself to have just a few more. Whether you are having fries plain, drenched in ketchup, or smothered in cheese, this popular snack food can pack on the pounds quickly.”

Worst: Nachos

Ooey, gooey, cheesy nachos might sound delicious, but you will regret the indulgence later. “The chips are loaded with sodium, which can cause fluid retention and make you look and feel bloated,” Fuchs says. “On their own, the chips are bad enough, but add some chemically processed cheese on top and you have an artery-clogging snack that is sky-high in calories and will wreak havoc on your waistline.”

Worst: Peanut M&M’s

Add up peanuts, salt, and chocolate and you get one unhealthy snack. “In fact, one serving of King Size Peanut M&M’s contains 480 calories, 46 grams of sugar, and 24 grams of saturated fat, and let’s face it, they usually only sell the king-size package at the stadium,” Fuchs says. “The other problem is that this is an incredibly addictive candy — who stops after just 10 M&M’s?”

Worst: Popcorn

We are not talking about air-popped popcorn. “Stadium popcorn is cooked in tons of oil, flavored with butter, and incredibly salty,” Fuchs said. “If you decide to make it a combo snack and pair it with a medium Coke, you’ve easily put yourself north of 1,000 calories.”

Worst: Pizza

“Deep-dish pizza means loads of white, starchy carbs, globs of mozzarella cheese, and greasy toppings like sausage, pepperoni, and bacon,” Fuchs says. “Talk about a calorie bomb! Also, when you’re at the stadium, you usually have to order a small pie rather than an individual slice — another way to tack on calories quickly.

Best: Cracker Jack

“A half cup of Cracker Jack clocks in at around 120 calories,” Fuchs said. “Since this snack includes peanuts, you get some of those health benefits as well. Indeed, peanuts are rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats which can help to aid in management of type 2 diabetes. They’re also packed with vitamin E, which can help reduce the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration.”

Best: Frozen Yogurt

“If you order a small size and get a fruit topping — skipping the candy — you will satisfy your sweet tooth without consuming a crazy amount of fat and calories,” Fuchs said. “Frozen yogurt typically contains live active cultures, which can help to increase the healthy bacteria in our gut and benefit our digestive systems. When compared to ice cream, frozen yogurt contains far fewer calories, fat, and sugar per serving. As long as you choose your toppings wisely, frozen yogurt can be a good choice.”

Best — Peanuts

“Even better than Cracker Jack are peanuts on their own,” Fuchs said. “When peanuts are in the shell, they take some time to eat, so you can pace yourself. Additionally, peanuts are rich in protein and fiber to help us feel fuller for longer, and make us less likely to overindulge.”

Best: Soft Pretzel

“A soft pretzel is about 450 calories, so if you share it with a friend and dip in mustard, it’s not a terrible choice,” Fuchs said. “Opt for a salt-free pretzel so that you are not overdoing the sodium. As an added bonus, mustard is rich in the minerals selenium and magnesium, and is also a lesser-known source of brain-boosting omega-3 fatty acids.”

Best: Sushi

Believe it or not, sushi is becoming a popular option at the stadium. “Some places even have a brown rice option,” Fuchs said. Just make sure you couple your sushi with some low-sodium soy sauce and go easy on the fried tempura rolls.  Stick to rolls that are place and simple, like salmon and avocado, shrimp and cucumber, or sushi pieces and sashimi.”

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Five Waist-Friendly Ways to Use Thanksgiving Leftovers

Appetite for Health

For many of us, Thanksgiving often lasts longer than one day—and it’s not uncommon for leftovers to supply a few days worth of meals. While it’s perfectly fine to splurge on that once-a-year delicious Thanksgiving feast, the temptation of leftovers might sabotage your plan to get back on track. To avoid the post-Thanksgiving bloat, try these five low-calorie leftover ideas:

1. Slim Down With Salad

Fresh turkey is super-lean and chock-full of protein, making it a perfect salad topper for light lunches. Remove the skin off the turkey to reduce saturated fat and calories, and feel free to use a combination of white and dark meat. I place the roasted turkey atop a salad of baby arugula, caramelized onions, Granny Smith apples, toasted pecans, and Brie cheese. A dressing of olive oil, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, and Dijon mustard is a perfect accompaniment.

2. Pile Pumpkin on Something Other Than Pie

Pumpkin is a true super food, bursting with beta-carotene for luscious locks and glowing skin. Did you know ½ cup of 100% canned, pure pumpkin contains just 40 calories? For breakfast, I take 2/3 cup nonfat, vanilla Greek yogurt and mix with 1/3 cup pumpkin. Top with a dash of cinnamon and 1-2 tablespoons of slivered almonds. The fiber in the pumpkin will keep you full and satisfied for hours. To turn this into a sweet treat, add 1 tablespoon of mini, semi-sweet dark chocolate chips for a healthy indulgence.

3. Concoct a Turkey Terrific

Turkey Terrific’s have been tradition in my family since we discovered the sandwich on Nantucket Island. While the original consists of turkey, mayonnaise, cranberry sauce, and stuffing on Portuguese bread, I like to put my own healthy spin on this classic. I slash calories by eating my sandwich open-faced, and use a high-fiber, whole-grain bread. Spread a thin layer of cranberry sauce on the bread, add turkey, and top with leftover vegetables, like roasted Brussels sprouts and caramelized onions. Serve with a side salad.

4. A Sweet Treat Using Potatoes!

Like pumpkin, sweet potatoes are a nutrient-rich vegetable with many health benefits. Sweet potatoes are rich in Vitamin A, which can improve eyesight and reduce the risk of cancer. I use this delicious root vegetable to make cinnamon sweet potato fries. Peel the sweet potatoes, slice into ½ inch strips, and place on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Turn potatoes over and bake another 15-20 minutes.

5. Cranberry-Goat Cheese Sliders

This is the perfect pick-me up to satisfy post Thanksgiving cravings. Slice a French baguette and drizzle with 1 teaspoon olive oil. Toast until bread is slightly browned and crispy, and spread a thin layer of goat cheese on top. Drizzle some cranberry sauce on top of the goat cheese and add a few pecans for a crunchy and enjoyable snack.

Let the healthy post-Thanksgiving feast begin!

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Soul Cycle vs. Flywheel: Which Studio Matches Your Speed?

Appetite for Health

Gone are the days when spinning was reserved exclusively for hardcore cyclists.  Today, spinning is a trendy workout with a religious following—celebrities included.  At a steep $32 per class, two upscale studios, SoulCycle and Flywheel, have reinvented traditional spinning and turned it into the ultimate posh workout experience.

Walking into SoulCycle feels like entering a spa with every possible amenity.  Complimentary gum and hair ties line the reception desk next to grapefruit scented candles, bottles of SmartWater are available to purchase for $2, and locker rooms are chic and spacious.  If you don’t have your own cycling shoes, you can rent from SoulCycle for an extra $3.  Maybe we should call it $37 per class?

As for the actual workout, get ready to sweat—the room is kept hot and dark to promote an intense calorie burn.  SoulCycle emphasizes rhythm throughout its workouts, so be prepared to move with the music. Your instructor will let you know what resistance to pedal at by telling you how far to turn the knob on your bike.  Toward the end of the class, you will use 1-pound weights for a series of upper-body strength training exercises.  After the weight portion of the workout, many instructors play one or two freestyle songs where you “listen to your body” and spin at your own pace, followed by light stretching to conclude the class.  If you want to try SoulCycle but are limited by a tight budget, select studios offer “community” classes once a week, where you can ride with an instructor-in-training for free.

If you are looking for a less rhythmic oriented, more standard spinning workout,Flywheel might be a better choice.  Flywheel’s atmosphere channels a state-of–the-art athletic facility, with three-tiered stadium seating for easy instructor visibility.  Shoes and water are complimentary, and every bike comes equipped with a small Torqboard so you can easily monitor your resistance, RPMs, and total workload.  If you want to compete with others in the class, there is a monitored computer screen in the front of the room to see how you stack up compared to other spinners.

Your instructor will let you know what level of resistance and speed you should be riding at, and you can monitor your progress on your individual Torqboard.  Similar to SoulCycle, light weight-bearing exercises are incorporated into each session for a comprehensive full-body workout.  At the end of class, the results of each ride get saved into your Flywheel profile, which you can access online and use to track your progress.  Unfortunately, no community classes are offered, but purchasing a Flywheel package will shave a few bucks off your ride.

Bottom line? Both studios offer a fabulous workout, complete with top-notch equipment and stellar instructors.  If you are on the fence, your first class at both studios is free, so take advantage.  Be aware that classes do fill up quickly, so it is recommended to reserve far in advance.  Happy spinning!

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5 Ways to Lighten Up the Festival of Lights

Appetite for Health

While most holidays last one day, Hanukkah is unique and spans over eight nights.  Unfortunately, a long holiday can sabotage a healthy eating plan if you don’t exert caution.   The most popular Hanukkah delicacy is the latke, a crispy fried potato pancake, served with applesauce and sour cream.  Other Hanukkah staples include chopped liver, beef brisket, noodle kugel, and jelly donuts—yikes!  To ensure that the Festival of Lights doesn’t derail your diet, follow our five waist-friendly tips to halt Hanukkah weight gain.

Slim-Down Your Latkes

Instead of frying latkes in calorie-laden oil, bake in the oven, or cook in a nonstick pan using a combination of cooking spray and cooking oil.  Try poufing up your latkes with vegetables for added fiber and nutrition.  Instead of drowning your latkes in sour cream and applesauce, use a dollop of light sour cream, nonfat Greek yogurt, or natural; unsweetened applesauce.

Make Mock Chopped Liver

Chopped liver is a classic Hanukkah appetizer but it’s sky high in calories and fat, a bad combination for those watching cholesterol.  The good news is you can still enjoy chopped liver by making a vegetarian version.  Try combining lentils, walnuts, and brown rice to get a similar texture and consistency as the original–it’s delicious and heart-healthy.  Serve with high-fiber crackers.

Choose Lean Cuts of Meat

Brisket can be a healthy choice if prepared properly and enjoyed in moderation. Try to purchase a first-cut or flat-half cut with the excess fat trimmed off.  Skip the fried chicken and rib roast and opt for roast turkey, pork tenderloin, or white meat chicken for the main course. And don’t forget about fish!  While fish isn’t typically thought of as a “Hanukkah food,” it’s not off limits.  Change things up and try our Cedar Planked Grilled Salmon Recipe.

Bring a Vegetable Side Dish

If you are going to someone’s house, prepare a vegetable dish so you are ensured a healthy option.  It’s the perfect way to lend a helping hand to your host–and do yourself a favor! Popular Hanukkah side dishes include roasted carrots and shallots, green beans and almonds, roasted fennel, and sautéed Brussels sprouts.  Prepare the vegetables with olive oil instead of butter.  Not only will you be incorporating a healthy fat into your cooking, but you will also be commemorating the miracle of Hanukkah, when the menorah in the Temple in Jerusalem remained lit for eight full days, despite an insufficient supply of lamp oil.

Go Gelt-Free

Did you know that one-ounce of chocolate gelt will cost you 220 calories? Ditch the gelt, and have a small portion of your favorite dessert offering with a side of fruit instead.  If you want a healthy chocolate fix to replace the gelt, try our Skinny Dark Chocolate Brownie Bites.  It’s the perfect portion controlled dessert, and won’t wreak havoc to your waistline.  *Note: If following a kosher diet, simply substitute ¼ cup mashed banana for the large egg.

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5 Slimming Solutions for Surviving Holiday Parties

Appetite of Health

Tis the season to…gain weight?  Holiday time is often an excuse to indulge in fattening fare, sip on caloric beverages, and forgo the gym.  In fact, research shows that the number of Americans who exercise regularly drops to its lowest point during December.  Fortunately, with some strategic planning before your next holiday affair, you can save hundreds of calories–without feeling deprived.  Employ these five waist-friendly tips throughout the holiday season to ward off weight gain:

Skip the chips and dip:

Did you know that just 11 Cheddar and Sour Cream chips has 160 calories and 10 grams of fat? Dip the chips in 2 tablespoons of creamy ranch dip for a total of 220 calories and 15 grams of fat.  Did I mention you haven’t even sat down for the actual holiday meal?  Yikes! Instead, have a high protein snack, like a nonfat Greek yogurt or handful of nuts, before the party.  This will help to curb hunger so you aren’t tempted to overindulge.  If veggies are available as an appetizer, definitely fill up. The fiber-rich veggies will keep you satiated until dinner.

Sip on spritzers and seltzer:

Instead of eggnog and other caloric drinks, opt for a white wine spritzer.  One 5 oz. glass of wine has 120 calories, but diluting wine with seltzer drives the calories down.  A good rule of thumb is to alternate between an alcoholic beverage and seltzer.  This way you will always have something to hold in your hand, and you won’t have to explain why you aren’t downing the spiced apple cider.  Flavor seltzer with lemon, lime, or fruit slices.

Pile on the greens:

While this seems obvious, opting for greens over holiday comfort food can be challenging.  When making your plate, fill half with vegetables first.  This way, you will have less room for the more indulgent fare, while still being able to try your favorite holiday classics.  Another trick is to eat your meal in order of lowest-calorie to highest-calorie.  By the time you get to the creamy, mashed potatoes you will be feeling full.

Bring a low-cal dessert:

Not only is bringing dessert a nice gesture, it also allows you to satisfy your sweet tooth for a calorie amount you are in control of—it’s a win-win! Check out this slim-style Holiday Sugar Cookie recipe or this delectable Fresh Anjou Pear Tart recipe if you need ideas.  Happy (healthy) baking!

Avoid BLT’s:

I’m not talking about the sandwich here–BLT’s stand for bites, licks, and tastes.  Did you know each little BLT has around 25 calories? That can add up quickly when you’re sampling delicious holiday fare. BLT’s will not keep you full and satisfied, and you will be consuming unnecessary calories.  The good news is if you employ the tips above, you probably won’t feel tempted to succumb to the dreaded BLT’s.  Have a sense of awareness of your hunger, stick to your game plan, and don’t deviate!

 HAPPY HOLIDAYS!