Slimming Down? Books for Dieters

November 3, 2011

Getting reliable nutrition or diet information is a challenge in today’s information super-highway. Out of the thousands of diet books out there, I have found maybe a handful which merit recommending. My specifications?

• The content is based on verifiable facts and good science
• The recommendations, if followed short or long term, will improve your health, rather than damage it
• It advocates a variety of foods, and doesn’t cut out important, nutritious food groups
• It promotes a positive attitude toward food and eating
• It’s practical and doesn’t require special drugs, diet foods, packaged foods or supplements which would be impossible to maintain
• It doesn’t advocate a way of eating with unacceptable side-effects
• It advocates a well-balanced existence, including physical activity, which is known to be essential to good health
• The reading is interesting, while the recommendations are simple and easy to follow.

My choices for some of the best diet books out there, authored by academic researchers and dietitians:

“The Volumetrics Weight-Control Plan,” Barbara Rolls
Hands-down, “Volumetrics” is my favorite diet book. Barbara Rolls is a respected Penn State University nutrition researcher and the first to recognize the importance of high volume foods for weight loss and weight maintenance. Her philosophy is “Don’t deprive yourself — lose weight while eating more!” and it works. I live by this rule and have taught countless clients to do the same. I feel so positive about this approach I’ve adopted the “Volumetrics” concepts, among others, for my own book, “Diet Simple.” “Volumetrics” is full of practical ideas which work, and are proven by science and my own experience. The author treats the reader with respect by explaining the science behind the theories. It essentially includes 60 recipes, which my clients have found to be excellent.

“Thin for Life,” Anne M. Fletcher
Anne Fletcher is another author who knows her stuff. “Thin for Life” is based on highly respected research which has followed and studied people who have lost weight and kept it off for many years — the real pros. The chapters are divided into ten “keys to success.” “Thin for Life” refutes the oft-quoted claim that it’s impossible to lose weight and to keep it off. One of my favorite “keys” to success in the book, which I try to drill into my own clients, is “nip it in the bud.” Research has found that everyone experiences the same number of “slips” and stressors in their lives. The difference is the weight-relapsers let the slips turn into prolonged relapses and re-gain their weight. Successful weight loss maintainers view the “slip” as natural, as something to learn from, and get right back on track.

“Mindless Eating,” Brian Wansink
“Mindless Eating” is written by Cornell researcher Brian Wansink, an eating “behaviorist” who specializes in the passive ways people eat too much and how to change them. He’s discovered that we’re basically clueless about how much to eat (and if it’s in front of us, we’ll eat it!). If you’ve ever wondered why you ate all the popcorn at the movies or the whole serving of nachos for dinner — and have felt terrible — this book is for you. Wansink does ingenious experiments where he rigs bowls of soup to keep re-filling (with an apparatus under the table the subject knows nothing about) and finds the person keeps eating, and eating, and eating. He has found if food is less convenient, we are 10 times less likely to eat it. If the label announces “fat free,” we’ll eat more! If our food is on a smaller plate, we’ll eat less without realizing it. You get the idea. I use his research every day to improve my own eating habits and those of my clients.

“Weight Loss Confidential,” Anne M. Fletcher
This is a great book for teens (and their parents) that proves teenagers have the resources, with the proper support, to eat healthy, achieve appropriate weights and enjoy it.

“How to Get Your Kid to Eat…But Not Too Much” and “Child of Mine: Feeding with Love and Good Sense,” Ellyn Satter
A registered dietitian and clinical social worker, Ellyn Satter has written the best books to teach you how to raise your children to love healthy food and live healthy lives, without adverse side-effects of eating disorders or weight problems. Some of her topics include: “Is Your Toddler Jerking You Around at the Table?” “The Individualistic Teenager,” “How Much Should Your Child Eat?” “What is Normal Eating?” and “Nutritional Tactic for Preventing Food Fights.”

“Red Light, Green Light, Eat Right,” Joanna Dolgoff
This is a great book with simple techniques for teaching children healthy eating and how to lose weight healthfully. I recently heard the author, Joanna Dolgoff, give a presentation about her book and found her very practical and insightful — she advocates strategies I’ve used and know they work. Her philosophy: no food is off-limits, but she divides foods into three categories to make it easier for children to make decisions without being hung up on calories. Green light foods mean: Go! (unlimited, first choice foods), yellow light foods mean: Slow! (caution, eat in moderation), and red light foods mean: Uh oh! (an occasional treat).

Katherine’s favorite healthy cookbooks:
1) “The French Culinary Institute’s Salute to Healthy Cooking,” Jacques Pepin, et al.
2) “Mediterranean Light,” Martha Rose Shulman
3) “The New American Plate,” American Institute for Cancer Research
4) “Provencal Light,” Martha Rose Shulman

Katherine Tallmadge, M.A., R.D. will customize an easy, enjoyable nutrition, weight loss, athletic or medical nutrition therapy program for you, your family or your company. She is the author of “Diet Simple: 192 Mental Tricks, Substitutions, Habits & Inspirations,” and national spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. Contact her at or 202-833-0353. [gallery ids="99128,102659,102700,102691,102682,102675,102668" nav="thumbs"]

Exercising This Summer? Drink This

A client of mine was thrilled when, after a recent run outside, he lost several pounds. He figured, as he put it, “losing any weight is good!” I hated to burst his bubble, but had to inform him, under no uncertain terms, that losing weight during exercise is caused by water loss and is not only unhealthy and hurts performance, but can kill.

I work with many athletes to improve their tennis game or their running, for instance, in preparation for an important match or a marathon, and find that avoiding water losses — among other things — effects a huge improvement in their performance, and increases their energy levels and recovery time.

Ignoring your hydration and nutrition needs as an athlete is a huge mistake. There have been many reported cases of teenage and adult football players who have died from heat stroke, which is excessive water loss caused by exercising without proper rehydration or cooling off. Football players are particularly vulnerable because of the heavy equipment and clothing they wear while playing outside in the heat. Sadly, simple measures can prevent these tragic deaths.

I witnessed these techniques firsthand last year when I was assisting in the emergency medical tent at the Marine Corps Marathon. A couple of women staggered into the tent, their temperatures were taken and it was determined they were experiencing heat stroke. Their body temperatures were about 105 degrees; they were so disoriented, they didn’t know their own names or birthdates. Emergency measures had to be taken there and then. Luckily, the tent was equipped with absolutely everything needed, including some of the most compassionate, experienced and dedicated doctors I’ve ever encountered. The heat stroke victims were immediately dunked into one of the many ice water tanks in the tent and given IV fluids until their body temperature came down to the point when they could be rushed to the hospital emergency room. It took some time and a lot of hair-raising screaming. But it saved their lives.

It’s important that all athletes have access to cooling areas, plenty of fluids and ice water tanks. These measures save lives, and they’re so simple.

How you can avoid danger:

Nutrients don’t only come in the form of food; water is the most important, and often most forgotten, nutrient. You can last a long time without food, but only days without water. Your lean body mass contains about 70-75 percent water, with fat containing much less, or about 10-40 percent water. Because of increased muscle mass, men’s and athletes’ bodies contain more water than women, overweight or older persons, because of their proportionately lower muscle and higher fat content.

Water is:

• The solvent for important biochemical reactions, supplying nutrients and removing waste

• Essential for maintaining blood circulation throughout your body

• The maintainer of body temperature. As you exercise, your metabolism and your internal body temperature increase. Water carries the heat away from your internal organs, where it can do serious damage (leading to heat stroke and even death), through your bloodstream to your skin, causing you to sweat. As you sweat and the sweat evaporates, this allows you to cool off and maintain a healthy body temperature, optimal functioning and overall health.

Daily water intake must be balanced with losses to maintain total body water. Losing body water can adversely affect your functioning and health. Once you are thirsty, you’ve probably lost about 1 percent of your body water and are dehydrated. With a 2 percent water loss, you could experience serious fatigue and cardiovascular impairments. It’s important to note that individual fluid needs differ depending on your sweat rate, the temperature, clothing, humidity and other factors.

It is important that you:

• Drink enough water to prevent thirst.

• Monitor fluid loss by checking the color of your urine. It should be pale yellow and not dark yellow, too smelly, or cloudy

• Begin exercise well hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids the day before and within the hour before, during, and after your exercise session

• Supplement water with a sports drink that contains electrolytes and 6-8 percent carbohydrates any time you exercise in extreme heat or for more than one hour.

• Avoid alcohol the day before or the day of a long exercise bout, and avoid exercising with a hangover

• Consider all fluids, including tea, coffee, juices, milk and soups, as acceptable sources of hydration (excluding alcohol, which is extremely dehydrating). The amount of caffeine in tea and coffee does not discount the fluid in them, even if they have a slight diuretic effect, according to the most recent report by the National Academy of Science’s Food and Nutrition Board

• Eat at least five cups of fruits and vegetables per day, which all contain various levels of water.

• For those who experience high sodium losses during exercise, eat salty foods in a pre-exercise meal or add salt to sports drinks consumed during exercise

• Rehydrate following exercise by drinking enough fluid (water or sports drinks) to replace fluid lost during exercise. Replace fluid and sodium losses with watery foods that contain salt (soup, vegetable juices). Replace fluid and potassium losses by consuming fruits and vegetables.

• Determine your individualized need for fluid replacement using the following method:

During heavy exercise, weight yourself before and after exercise. If you lose weight, you’ve lost valuable water. Add 3 cups of fluid for every pound lost; use this figure to determine the amount of water you’ll need to prevent pound loss during exercise in the future. Drink that water before exercise and sip throughout the exercise until you find the best formula for determining your personal water needs.

Katherine Tallmadge, M.A., R.D. specializes in customized, easy and enjoyable athletic, weight loss and medical nutrition therapy programs for individuals and companies. She is the author of “Diet Simple: 192 Mental Tricks, Substitutions, Habits & Inspirations,” and national spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. Visit or call 202-833-0353. Mention this column and receive a special 20 percent discount on your initial consultation!

Thanksgiving: A Life-giving Holiday

The coming of the holidays, for each of us, is symbolized by different events and moments: the first turning of leaves, a bracing snap of cool air, relaxing with a good book, a hot cocoa or a glass of wine in front of a blazing fireplace. For me, it’s Thanksgiving which marks the beginning of regular family
and friend get-togethers, cozy rituals which give us excuses to relax a little, and spend time with the people we care most about and don’t often have time for during the year.

Thanksgiving dinners started as early as the 1600’s by either the pilgrims in 1621 or the Jamestown settlers, as their version of the ancient British “Harvest Home Festival.” But it wasn’t until 1863 that President Abraham Lincoln made Thanksgiving a national holiday.

Based on this heritage, it isn’t surprising that the foundation of a traditional Thanksgiving meal consists of an amazing variety of health-giving foods.

Turkey: The turkey, a “true original native of America,” according to Benjamin Franklin, has been eaten in America since at least the 1500s by early explorers. It’s an exceptionally lean meat – lower in calories, cholesterol and fat than even chicken.

Sweet Potatoes: A major superfood, sweet potatoes are loaded with fiber, low in calories, and full of immune-boosting, cancer- and heart disease-preventing nutrients. Starting with beta-carotene, which provides the deep orange color. Beta-carotene is critical for your immune system, your skin, your vision, bones, reproduction, and more. Studies show that people who eat foods high in beta-carotene and people with high blood levels of beta-carotene have a lower incidence of certain cancers.

Greens: The most powerful food of all, deep green leafies, as we call them – such as spinach, collards, beet greens, kale – have the highest antioxidant score of all vegetables. They are high in many nutrients, including beta-carotene, iron, vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, but are uniquely high in a compound called lutein. People who ate greens 2-4 times per week had a 46% decrease in risk of age-related macular degeneration (the leading cause of preventable blindness) compared to those who consume these vegetables less than once per month. They also experience a lower incidence of cataracts. This is attributed to lutein, in the carotenoid family. Absorption of carotenoids—yellow/orange-colored phytochemicals found in orange and yellow fruits, vegetables, and leafy greens—is increased by cooking and by the presence of fat (cook in a little healthy olive or canola oil).

Cranberry Sauce: Cranberries, because of their potent flavor and deep color are one of the highest fruits on the antioxidant list, surpassed only by blackberries and blueberries. They contain compounds which act as antioxidants, stimulate the immune system, reduce inflammation,
enhance cancer-fighting enzymes, influence hormone metabolism positively, have antibacterial and antiviral effects and may even reverse some aspects of brain aging. The tannins in cranberries may be responsible for helping to prevent urinary tract infections, stomach ulcers, gum disease and even ear infections in children. Cranberries are also effective against antibiotic-resistant bacteria,
and 20 percent of urinary tract infections are resistant to antibiotics. The tannins work by blocking the disease-causing bacteria and preventing it from adhering to human cell walls.

Giving Thanks: Giving thanks for this bounty is an essential part of the Thanksgiving
tradition. Most places of worship have services on Thanksgiving day. And there are many institutions which could use volunteers. Also, to help yourself relax and enjoy the day, start a new tradition and take a walk with your family members and friends – in the morning, after the feast – or both. We live in one of the most beautiful and walkable cities in the world. Walking along the Potomac River, on the National Mall, or in Rock Creek Park is free and open for everyone. Try a yoga class: Down Dog Yoga has a traditional Thanksgiving Day class from 10 am to noon. Both Down Dog Yoga and Spiral Flight Yoga in Georgetown have classes the days before and after Thanksgiving.

Visiting your place of worship to connect spiritually, volunteering for the needy, taking a walk or a yoga class are great ways to relax, center yourself and remind yourself of everything you have to feel grateful for.

Katherine Tallmadge, M.A., R.D. will customize, an easy, enjoyable weight loss, athletic or medical nutrition therapy program for you or your company. She is the author of “Diet Simple: 192 Mental Tricks, Substitutions, Habits & Inspirations,” and National Spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. Contact her at or 202-833-0353.

Fall’s Delicious Bounty

July 26, 2011


-The coming of fall is symbolized for each of us by different events and moments: the first turning of leaves, a bracing snap of cool air, rediscovering a favorite sweater, children returning to school, the palpable shortening of September and October days.

For me, one of the harbingers of autumn is the huge array of beautiful vegetables, such as winter squashes at my local farmer’s market. Squash, technically a fruit, comes in a dazzling array of sizes, shapes and flavors. Butternut is one of the most popular, flavorful and nutritious.

Winter squashes, particularly butternut, are far richer than the summer squashes and zucchini in terms of taste and nutrition because of their deeper color and higher carbohydrate and nutrient content. The most potent squashes are the more deeply colored varieties, especially pumpkin and butternut. Their color is provided by one of the most powerful nutrients: beta-carotene.

Characterized by a chubby bowling pin shape, a buff, beige color on the outside, and a deep orange on the inside, the butternut is an exceptional source of beta-carotene, an antioxidant which converts to vitamin A in your body. Beta-carotene is critical for your immune system, skin, vision, bones, reproductive systems and more. Studies show that people who eat foods high in beta-carotene and people with high blood levels of beta-carotene have a lower incidence of certain cancers. But you will not get the same results with a beta-carotene supplement. Study after study has shown disappointing
results with the supplements. So only the food will do! But that’s a good thing for us squash lovers.

Each squash is a bustling little factory of nutrients and phytochemicals the plant compounds
into potent, potentially healing properties. When acting synergistically in a food, these nutrients pack a more powerful health punch than the individual nutrients alone. Some of the most important nutrients in squash are antioxidants, such as beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, and vitamin C, which are substances believed to reduce inflammation, improve immune function, and help prevent heart disease and certain cancers.

But there are other good reasons to eat butternut squash and other similar winter squashes. They are a great source of fiber (good for your gastrointestinal system), potassium (important for your heart and lowers blood pressure), magnesium (important for improving muscle function, the heart and bones, while preventing blood clots and diabetes), manganese (important for metabolism and bone formation), and calcium (important for your heart and bones). Another big plus — they are low in calories, with only 82 calories per cup of baked squash cubes.

Speaking of low in calories: broccoli is especially delicious this time of year and can be found in abundance at farmers markets. Broccoli belongs to the family of food called “brassica,” which has extremely high nutritional values and contains high levels of antioxidants and nutrients such as vitamin C, selenium, calcium, potassium, folic acid, and choline, as well as soluble fiber, which reduces cholesterol and helps level blood sugar. Brassica, a huge category of foods including cabbages, mustard seeds and greens, also contains potent anti-cancer compounds which help detoxify carcinogens in the liver before they continue to circulate in your bloodstream. These compounds also aid your immune response with antiviral and antibacterial properties.

Broccoli Soup with Carrots, Potatoes and Thyme

Makes 6 – 8 servings
2 Tbsp Canola Oil
1 Cup Chopped Sweet Onion (about 1 medium)
1 Clove Garlic, crushed
½ tsp dried Thyme or 1-1/2 tsp fresh Thyme (or more)
5 Cups Chicken Broth (or Vegetable Broth)
6 Cups Fresh Broccoli, Chopped (about 1 medium head)
2 Cups Wax Potatoes, Sliced (about 2 medium)
1 Cup Carrots, Sliced (about 2 medium)
Salt (1/8 to ¼ tsp) and Freshly Ground Pepper to taste
Optional Garnish:
Top each bowl with a 1 Tbsp dollop of fat free, plain yogurt, salt, and pepper

Heat oil in large iron skillet or dutch oven (soup pot) on fairly high heat. Add onion, garlic, and thyme. Saute until golden. Add 4 cups broth and the rest of the vegetables. Cover, lower the temperature, and let simmer about thirty minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Let the mixture cool down a bit, add the rest of the broth (2 cups) – or milk – then puree in a blender or food processor.

NOTE: Instead of using the 2 cups of broth for the puree, you could use 1% milk or buttermilk for a “creamier” soup (this only adds 200 calories to the whole pot of soup, but adds protein and nine essential nutrients!).

The entire pot of soup makes about 8 cups and is about 650 calories (850 with the milk).

Butternut Squash Soup with Curry and Ginger

About 6 servings
1 Butternut Squash
4 Cups Water
2 Tbsp Canola Oil
1 Cup Chopped Sweet Onion (about 1 medium)
1 Clove Garlic, crushed (2 cloves, if you like it spicy)
1 tsp Curry Powder (2 tsp, if you like it spicy)
1 Tbsp fresh Ginger, about 2 inches, grated (2 Tbsp, if you like it spicy)
1 Cup Chicken or Vegetable Stock
Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper to taste

Cut Butternut Squash in half, lengthwise. Scoop out seeds. Place squash face down in baking pan with 4 cups water. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until soft when pierced by a fork.

While the squash is baking, prepare the aromatic vegetables and spices: Place the oil in a large iron skillet or soup pot on medium-high. Add onions and garlic, and fry until golden. Stir in curry powder, ginger, and a pinch of salt, and simmer on low for a few minutes.

When the squash has cooled to the touch, pour the water in which the squash was cooked into the skillet and stir to scrape up the bits of aromatic vegetables and spices. When squash has cooled, scoop out the butternut squash meat, leaving the skin, and stir into the mixture in the skillet. When room temperature or cool, puree the vegetable and spice mixture in a blender or food processor with the broth.
NOTE: Adjust seasonings by adding more salt, pepper, or spices if desired. Adjust consistency by adding more water or broth. Also, any similar winter squash will work well if Butternut is not available.

The entire pot of soup makes about 6 cups and is about 500 calorie.

Nutritionist, Katherine Tallmadge, M.A., R.D. Author, “Diet Simple: 192 Mental Tricks, Substitutions, Habits & Inspirations”

Sweets Strategies: the Science Behind Cravings and What to do About Them

Halloween can trip up even the most conscientious dieter. Last year, this happened to a client who had lost and kept off 20 pounds successfully. The Halloween trap caught her by surprise. She bought several bags of Snickers, her favorite candy bar, and began a binge that didn’t end until the candy was gone – long before Trick or Treating even began! That brought her up a couple of pounds. The holidays came and before she knew it, she had gained almost ten pounds before winter was out.

With Halloween passed and holidays looming, it’s important to determine your strategy for dealing
with the temptation of sweets: what you eat, what you bring in your home, and what you serve others. My philosophy is that all foods can be enjoyed in moderation. But there are special challenges
posed with some foods, particularly sweets, which have been confirmed by solid science – it’s not just in our heads! Understanding the science behind sweet craving and overeating can help us eat in a more moderate and healthy way.

People have an inborn attraction to sweets. If you don’t believe it, simply watch an infant’s response to something sweet versus, say, a vegetable. There’s an automatic acceptance, even joy, after eating something sweet. On the other hand, vegetables are an acquired taste, which may take 10 to 20 tries before acceptance. This is partly explained by evolution. We’ve been eating naturally sweet foods such as breast milk and fruit for millions of years. They contain life-sustaining nutrients, and a love for those foods helped keep us alive. Also, during evolution, an attraction to scarce calorie-dense foods, such as sweets and fats, improved our chances for survival.

But there are other explanations. The research surrounding our attraction to sweets has stepped up in recent decades. Scientists are grappling with understanding the calorie imbalances causing the obesity epidemic, which is partly fueled by eating too many sweets.

Our brain chemistry holds an important clue. Research shows that sweets, like many antidepressants,
increase the brain chemical, serotonin, which helps regulate mood and appetite.

“Without carbohydrates, your brain stops regulating serotonin,” says Judith Wurtman, the director
of the women’s health research program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Clinical Research Center in Boston. “Eating carbohydrates profoundly improves mood; which is why a handful
of candy corn will make you feel better.”

When we are stressed, anxious or depressed, serotonin levels can drop, and one way people modify their moods is by eating carbohydrates. But Halloween and holiday sweet cravings may be uniquely influenced by seasonal changes, too. Studies show that as days get shorter and we are exposed to less sunshine, serotonin levels drop and this leads to increased carbohydrate cravings in susceptible people.

“It’s seasonal. If they sold Halloween and Holiday candy in July, people wouldn’t be as interested,”
says Wurtman.

Women are particularly vulnerable to sweet cravings because their brains have less serotonin than men, according to Wurtman.

There have been other explanations for women’s reported increased sweet craving and indulging. Some researchers attribute the difference to the female hormone, estrogen. It’s been reported that sweet cravings change according to where a woman is in her menstrual cycle—circumstantial evidence that estrogen may play a role. But the findings are inconsistent, as some report increased cravings during menstruation, while others report higher cravings as a premenstrual symptom, a time when serotonin levels may be low.

But the bottom line is clear: “Females overeat sweets compared to males,” says Lisa Eckel, assistant professor of psychology at Florida State University in Tallahassee. Eckel completed a study on rats, published in the American Journal of Physiology, which found that female rats ate more rat chow when it was sweetened, compared with males.

“In animals, having high levels of estrogen is associated with eating more sweets,” says Eckel. Yet this theory has yet to be proven in humans.

Cravings and overeating are difficult to study because they can be so subjective and multifactorial.
Other researchers stipulate sweet cravings are mainly determined by culture, or by psychological and behavioral factors, rather than physiology.

In some cultures, people don’t crave sweets because they haven’t been exposed to them as regularly as Americans. A study of chocolate, for instance, found that American women crave chocolate significantly more than Spanish women. And while a large percentage of American women reported increased chocolate cravings surrounding their menstrual period, Spanish women did not.

Other studies confirm that exposure during childhood is the major determinant of what we crave and are susceptible to overeating.

I copied my mother’s love for sweets and baking; it was a fun activity we did together. In college, to combat loneliness—and just for fun—I over-indulged my love for sweets (as the pounds went up and up). I would regularly bake my favorite chocolate chip bars and caramel popcorn, both of which I made in childhood. Study after study shows the importance of parental modeling on a child’s preferences.

Availability and proximity are two of the most important factors science has found that influence what we crave and overeat, and they probably trump all of the other reasons combined. When tasty foods, such as sweets, are around, we simply eat more of them.

Chances are, a combination of factors is responsible for cravings and overeating sweets at Halloween and the holidays.

“Holiday sweets are novel, they only comes around once a year. It comes in small pieces so you fool yourself into thinking you’re not eating as much,” says Wurtman. “You put it in bowls around the house and eat it mindlessly!”

Wurtman says if you have a strong desire for sweets, it may be a sign that you’re depressed, anxious or stressed. But she insists you don’t have to indulge in sweets to raise your serotonin levels or to feel good. Exercising, stress management and spending time with loved ones are activities which will also help reduce depression, anxiety and stress (My client discovered a psychological basis for her binges, which she is successfully averting these days).

Using candy to feel better is not a great solution for your waist line. It is so high calorie, it doesn’t take much to overeat and forget your weight loss plans. For the same calories in a candy bar, you could eat four apples—or maybe you couldn’t. And that’s the point!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not urging you to be a Halloween Scrooge. I believe it’s possible to have fun with Halloween, and even eat Halloween candy, but still avoid some of the excesses that many of us have fallen victim to in the past. Here are a few suggestions.

• To reduce the possibility of seasonal cravings, make sure you’re getting 30 minutes to one hour of sunlight each day by taking a walk in the mornings or at lunch. You may be able to “catch up” on the weekend if you didn’t get enough rays during the week.

• Eat plenty of healthy carbohydrates, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes, to keep serotonin at optimum levels and reduce cravings of less healthy carbohydrates, such as refined sugar.

• If you feel “driven” to eat sweets, it may be a signal that you’re depressed, anxious or stressed. Reduce tension and anxiety by exercising, meditating or talking with loved ones. It’s important
to understand the core of the problem, and for that you may need to seek help from a professional.

• If you want to lose weight, keep your candy – or other “extra” calories – to no more than 10% of your daily calories (that’s 200 calories for the average 2,000 calorie intake, or 150 for 1,500 calories). You may even get away with one big splurge on Halloween. But if you splurge for two or more days, it will probably effect your waist line negatively.

• If you can’t resist eating too much candy, wait to buy it on the day of the party or event (or, don’t buy it). This way, the candy won’t be sitting around as a constant temptation

• Buy only what you need for the event and buy your least favorite candy. Give away the remaining candy at the end of the evening so that there’s nothing left.

• Try fun and healthier alternatives to sweets to have around your home and serve to family and guests, such as popcorn, roasted pumpkin seeds, sliced apples and fruit with nice dips

• Most importantly, if you do find you overeat, lighten up, don’t dwell on the negative and get over it! Analyze objectively what you can do differently next time. With awareness and good planning, you can have your sweets and eat them, too!

Katherine Tallmadge, M.A., R.D. custom-designs nutrition, diet and wellness programs. You see her interviewed regularly in the media, on CNN, CBS Evening News, Good Morning America, NPR, POLITICO, Newsweek and others. (202)833-0353

Holiday & Party Strategies


-The social butterflies among us are very fortunate in some ways. They’re often out and about, meeting new friends and entertaining old friends at home. Life is full. Life is grand!

But then there’s the little (or not so little) issue of weight. Festivities can put a dent in even the staunchest weight loss resolve. Just about every party, after all, revolves around food. Just thinking about all the calories can make me feel heavier!

Parties and holidays are a time for celebrating life and for bringing families and friends together. No one’s perfect, and it seems almost antisocial to obsess over your weight when everyone around you is having such a great time. Still, parties present a lot of opportunities for overindulging. Even if you’ve managed to master the daily routines of exercising, eating in moderation and so on, parties and holidays don’t come around that often. That means we don’t have as much practice reconciling social obligations with our desire to maintain the same waist size.

Parties are not only about food. They should not even be mainly about food. Not convinced? Well, take a minute to make an inventory of the things that matter to you— things that really touch your heart around special occasions and holidays. Here are some of the things that I and my clients have decided are important:

-Showing kindness to others and making sacrifices for those less fortunate
-Getting together with friends and family you rarely have time for
-Observing religious significance of holidays
-Attending holiday plays and concerts
-Free time for special exhibits, ice skating and skiing
-Volunteering at the local homeless shelter
-Looking your best and feeling confident and energetic

Even without knowing you personally, I can say with some confidence that your list of priorities is probably pretty similar. Do we think about food when we go to parties or celebrate the holidays? Of course, but there is so much more!

Tips for Celebrating

Prioritize what is most important to you about the holiday.

Remember, the “holidays” are only three days, NOT every day between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.

Plan your holiday eating carefully. Savor and enjoy each bite to the fullest.

-Prioritize your high calorie items. Choose three of your favorite holiday foods and allow yourself to enjoy them. Don’t waste calories by sampling everything.
-Prioritize your parties. Choose one or two of your favorite parties during the week and allow yourself to indulge at them. Eat before going to the other parties. If you indulge at, say, all five parties you’re invited to in one week, you may gain more weight than you would feel comfortable with.
-ALWAYS eat normally and on time the day of the party. Don’t starve yourself during the day so that you irrationally overeat everything in sight once you get there.
-Eat a snack just before arriving at your party.
-Once you’ve arrived at the party, grab some sparkling water and wait at least 30 minutes before making a food choice. This gives you time to relax, get comfortable in your surroundings and to scope out the food offerings rationally.
-Location! Location! Location! Position yourself away from the food table. Focus on conversation, not eating.
-ALWAYS follow the “Mindful Eating Techniques.” Before eating anything, take the food to a table, sit down, take three or four deep breaths, relax, and focus full attention on the food while you are eating. If you want to talk with someone, put the food down and talk. When you want to eat, put your full attention on the eating. Notice the point at which you feel comfortable not full. As soon as you are comfortable, stop eating. Enjoy and savor every bite. Don’t waste any calorie by not paying attention to what you are eating.
-When you are in control of the party, try new healthy recipes to serve your family or guests. You’ll be surprised how much this is appreciated.
-Anticipate situations and plan your strategy ahead of time.
-Before the event, visualize yourself using your planned strategies and leaving the party successful.
-Reward yourself for handling the situations as you planned.
-Leftovers are what put weight on. Splurge on the holiday, then get back to normal eating ASAP.

Do’s and Don’ts for Holiday Buffets

Been invited to a holiday buffet? Don’t panic! I’ve surveyed the trendiest holiday buffets to come up with a list of dos and don’ts so you don’t leave the party stuffed with 2,000 calories beneath your belt. Which reminds me: This is not time to be shy, so wear confining clothing. There’s nothing like a death grip around your waist to remind you it’s time to leave the Swedish meatballs behind and start mingling.

Read closely. You may be shocked to find that even if you stick with all the “dos” on my list, your calories will probably top anything you’d be eating at home with your standard 600 calorie dinner. So, be picky. Don’t waste calories when you can enjoy yourself flirting or caroling!

1. DO! Add sparkling water and a twist of lime to your two ounces of white wine. It’s only 40 calories!

2. DON’T! Get started with several glasses of wine at 100 calories each!

3. DO! Start with healthy crudités. Dip carrot and celery strips, or any other veggies, in salsa! (Each dipped finger-sized veggie stick is about 7 to 10 calories and no fat.)

4. DON’T! Start with chips and dip. Did you know that each dipped chip could set you back 25 calories and 2 grams of fat? (Was that about 10 that you just gulped down in 2 minutes flat?)

5. DO! Savor Smoked Salmon on a whole grain cracker (about 35 calories and 2 grams of fat for 1/2 ounce of salmon and one cracker).

6. DON’T! Dig into the crispy and creamy appetizers. Bet you didn’t know that tiny egg roll packs are 200 calories and 10 grams of fat! The cheese and crackers? You jest! Each tiny slab (1/2 ounce) of cheese with a Town House cracker is 65 calories and 6 grams of fat.

7. DO! Take the edge off your appetite with the filling yet spicy Minestrone or Vegetable Soup at 150 calories and 2 grams of fat per 8-ounce bowl.

8. DON’T! Fill your bowl with the Seafood Bisque. It’ll pack on 300 calories and 10 grams of fat per 8-ounce bowl.

9. DO! Start with a fresh salad. Heap your plate with fresh, young greens, sliced tomatoes and onions (25 calories at the most). Top with 1 Tbsp of vinaigrette (50 – 75 calories, 5 – 9 grams fat).

10. DON’T! Start with garlic bread (200 calories for two small slices).

11. DO! Pile on the Grilled Vegetables like red peppers, mushrooms, and zucchini. They’re only 25 calories per 1/2 cup serving.

12. DON’T! Get creamed with the Creamed Spinach. The cream and butter adds 150 calories to the measly 25 for the spinach.

13. DO! Spoon up sorbet. It’s cool. It’s refreshing. It’s only 100 calories and zero fat per 1/2 cup.

14. DON’T! Spoon up the Haagen Daz! It’s 250 calories and 20 grams of fat per 1/2 cup.

15. DO! Indulge in a sliver of pumpkin pie. It’s creamy deliciousness is relatively abstemious at 300 calories and 14 grams of fat for 1/8 of a 9” pie.

16. DON’T! Indulge in a sliver of pecan pie. It’ll set you back 500 calories and 27 grams of fat!

17. DO! Try a meringue cookie or ginger snap. They’re only about 30 calories a piece.

18. DON’T! Grab a chocolate chip cookie with nuts. Even a tiny one is 120 calories.

19. DO! Enjoy hot herbal tea as a night cap to help you sleep (zero calories, zero fat).

20. DON’T! Indulge in a brandy. It’s 160 calories for just a 1-1/2 ounce jigger, and that’s before the cream!

And to get you started, here are some lighter alternatives for holiday cookies:

Kjerstin’s Swedish Almond Cookies

This Swedish cookie recipe was handed down to me from my mother. Because they’re almost exclusively made with nuts, they’re heart healthy!

Makes 24 cookies

8 1/2 9oz almonds
1 1/2 Cup powdered sugar
2 egg whites
2-3 drops green food dye (if desired)

Blanch and grind almonds until very fine, like flour. Add sugar, stir in egg whites and mix well. Make 24 tablespoon-sized round balls and push a piece of slivered blanched almond in the middle. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for about 15 – 20 minutes.

You can buy blanched and slivered almonds in most stores. Some stores even sell almond flour. You may also use other nuts in place of almonds, i.e. hazel nuts.

Nutrition Information per cookie: 82 calories, 2.5 grams protein, 5 grams fat, 9.6 grams carbohydrates (0.4 grams saturated fat), 1 gram fiber

Lighter Chocolate Chip Cookies

The following recipe is adapted from The Low Fat Epicure by Sallie Twentyman, R.D. (It’s out of print, unfortunately.). It’s a recipe I’ve been giving my clients and have been using myself for years:

Makes 36 2″ Cookies

2 Large Eggs
1 Cup Dark Brown Sugar
1/2 Cup White Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
2 Tbsp Skim Milk
1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
1 Cup White Flour
1 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Salt
1 Package (12 oz) Chocolate Chips
1 Cup Chopped Walnuts, or more to taste (and for increased Omega-6 and Omega-3’s)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and lightly coat two cookie sheets with vegetable oil spray.

Beat together eggs, brown sugar, white sugar, vanilla, and skim milk until thick and uniformly mixed (do not over-mix). Add whole-wheat flour, white flour, baking soda and salt, and beat again until well combined. Add more white flour a tablespoon at a time, if necessary, beating after each addition, until mixture is no longer wet-looking and is thick enough not to run off the beater when beater is lifted from bowl. Add chocolate chips and nuts and mix until chips and nuts are evenly distributed.

Drop dough onto cookie sheets by teaspoonfuls, leaving about 2 inches between cookies. Bake 8-10 minutes, or until only slightly browned and no longer wet when touched. Cookies will become hard if overbaked, so watch them carefully.

Cool 4 – 5 minutes on cookie sheets, and then transfer to rack.

I’ve mixed chocolate with butterscotch chips, added more nuts (for nut lovers), and even candied cherries. It’s a very versatile recipe…

Each cookie: 108 calories, 4.6 grams fat (1.6 grams saturated fatty Acid, 1.6 grams Omega-6 and Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids), 14 mg Cholesterol, 16 grams carbohydrates, 1.8 grams protein, 91 mg sodium

Katherine Tallmadge, M.A., R.D., custom designs nutrition and weight loss programs and is the author of “Diet Simple,” full of delicious holiday and everyday recipes by great chefs such as Jacques Pepin, Roberto Donna, Nora Pouillon, Michel Richard, Carla Hall, Janis McLean. Order at any bookstore, online at, or find copies at Griffin Market, 28th and P Street, in Georgetown. Katherine@KatherineTallmadge

Successful Resolutions

People are more successful at achieving their New Year’s Resolutions than widely believed. In fact, a study found the success rate of resolutions is ten times higher than the success rate of adults desiring to change without making a resolution.

Half of American adults make New Year’s Resolutions. In a study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, researchers found half of the people who made New Year’s Resolutions to quit smoking, lose weight, or start an exercise program were still successful at their goals six months later. The study, which compared people who carried out their resolutions and those who didn’t, clarified a few important things about how people successfully change.

They found desire to change and introspection didn’t make a difference. What made the difference were actions. While unsuccessful resolvers talked a lot about their problem, successful resolvers actively worked toward their goal. They controlled their surroundings, avoided difficult situations and rewarded themselves for changing.

If you want to lose weight, find strategies you can easily work into your lifestyle. Don’t try to make sweeping overhauls that are doomed to fail. Your goals should be realistic, specific and simple. Try just a few of the 192 tips excerpted from my book Diet Simple:

Minesweep for Calorie Bombs

Get rid of the foods in your house that you have a problem controlling.

Bottom Line: If that saves just one 500 calorie binge per week, you could lose 7 pounds in a year.

Choose “Surf”

The numbers tell the story: 6 ounces of prime rib is 600 calories, sirloin is 450, salmon is 300, white fish is 180 calories. Choosing seafood over fatty red meat could save at least 300 calories per meal.

Bottom Line: Do it four nights a week and lose 18 pounds in a year.

Irritate the Waiter

Shake up the usual order of things in a restaurant by ordering a salad or soup first, eating it, then ordering your entree. This will take the edge off your appetite so that you’ll order more modestly. Count on saving at least 400 calories per night out.

Bottom Line: If you “irritate the waiter” just once a week, that adds up to losing 6 pounds a year.

Hit the Ground Running

Wake up in the morning. Yawn. Roll out of bed, go to the bathroom, have a drink of water, and slip on some exercise clothes. Don’t check e-mail or phone messages. Start moving. Now! Right away! Exercising first thing in the morning is one of the best things you can do for yourself. And it’s over with before you’re even awake!

Bottom Line: Do it for just 15 minutes a day, and lose 10 pounds in a year!

Get Sexy Lingerie

After accomplishing just one of these strategies, reward yourself—or ask your spouse to—with something that’s not a box of chocolates or an elaborate dinner out. Make the substitution just once a week and you’ll save at least 1,200 calories.

Bottom Line: Lose 18 pounds in a year.

Successful weight loss is a lot like being successful at anything in life. Set a goal or resolution, plan concrete steps which will take you there and anticipate and avoid pitfalls while rewarding yourself along the way. Above all: Know thyself and plan appropriately!

Regardless of Oscar Wilde’s belief that resolutions are “pure vanity; their result absolutely nil,” you can be successful at achieving your New Year’s Resolution!

Katherine Tallmadge, M.A., R.D. is a weight loss and nutrition consultant with a 20-year private practice in Georgetown. She is a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association and author of, Diet Simple: 192 Mental Tricks, Substitutions, Habits & Inspirations (LifeLine Press)

The Science of Slimming, Satisfying, Sumptuous Soups

I love soups… Warm… Filling… Comforting… Psychologically Satisfying. What could be better right now than curling up with a hearty, delicious bowl of, say, Butternut Squash Soup with Curry and Ginger, Michel Richard’s Chicken Mushroom and Barley Soup, Spiced Red Lentil Soup? And it doesn’t hurt that studies show soups make it very easy to lose weight.

Classic studies have found that as long as the volume of a food is high, people can feel full with fewer calories. In one study, researchers varied the water content in three different first courses to see how it would affect peoples’ intake at the main course. The study subjects were fed either chicken rice casserole, chicken rice casserole served with a glass of water, or chicken rice soup, which is basically the casserole with water/broth added. They found the subjects who ate the soup consumed 26 percent less—about 100 calories fewer—at the main course, compared to the other conditions.

Researchers surmise that a large food volume caused by water, even without added calories, helps us feel more satisfied for several reasons. It causes stomach stretching and slows stomach emptying, stimulating the nerves and hormones that signal feelings of fullness. Just seeing a large volume of food can increase your ability to feel satisfied by it, even though the calories are relatively low. Finally, the larger a meal and the longer a meal goes on, your satisfaction declines and you lose interest in completing it. Water is the component in food that has the largest influence on how much you eat. This study, and many others like it, finds eating a high-water-content, low-calorie first course like soup enhances satisfaction and reduces overall calorie intake.

Start lunch or dinner with a bowl of broth-based vegetable soup or turn main courses into soups by adding water or broth. Save 200 calories a day! Do this every day and lose twenty pounds in one year. Wasn’t that SIMPLE? And oh, so painless!

Michel Richard’s Chicken, Mushroom and Barley Soup

4 servings

2 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 Small Onions, Peeled and Diced
1 Pound Mushrooms, ends trimmed and thinly sliced
2 Quarts Unsalted Chicken Stock (defatted)
2 Tbsp Lite Soy Sauce
6 Tbsp Pearl Barley
4 Cloves Garlic, peeled and minced
Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste
4 Large Chicken Breasts or Thighs, boned, skinned and sliced into bite-size pieces, at room temperature
About 1-1/2 Cup (about 3 ounces) freshly grated Parmesan Cheese (Optional)

Heat the oil in a heavy medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onion, cover and cook until translucent for about ten minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the mushrooms, increase heat to medium-high and cook uncovered until lightly browned, for about five minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chicken stock, soy sauce, barley and garlic. Simmer gently for 45 minutes to cook barley and then blend flavors. Season with salt and pepper. (This can be prepared ahead, cooled, covered and set aside at cool room temperature for up to four hours or refrigerated for several days.)

To serve, bring the soup to a boil, add chicken, reduce heat and simmer just until the chicken becomes opaque, for about two to three minutes. Ladle into four soup plates. Pass Parmesan, if desired.
1,200 calories for the entire pot of soup

Michel Richard is the owner and chef of award-winning Michelle Richard Citronelle in Georgetown.

Cauliflower Vichyssoise

4 to 8 Servings

1 Tbsp Canola Oil
2 Leeks
1 Head Cauliflower
1 Medium Potato
6 Cups Chicken Stock (or vegetable stock), fat removed
1 Cup 1% Milk
Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper
8 leaves Fresh Parsley, Chopped

Slice the white part of the leeks, cut the cauliflower into florets and set aside. Heat canola oil in an iron skillet over medium heat. Add sliced leeks, stirring frequently for about ten minutes until soft. Stir in the stock, cauliflower and potato. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about twenty minutes or until vegetables are soft. When mixture has cooled, puree in a blender or food processor, and add the milk. Serve hot in the cool weather, cold in the hot weather. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Garnish with chopped parsley.
700 calories in the entire pot of soup

Katherine Tallmadge, M.A., R.D., is passionate about helping people transform their health and their lives. Her book, Diet Simple, is called the “Un-Diet” by The Washington Post, and “The only good nutritionally balanced and easy-to-follow diet book” by Good Housekeeping Magazine. She also custom designs nutrition and weight loss programs. Find her book on Amazon

Eat More Fiber? That Depends!

The Harvard study found that, “dietary fiber may reduce the risk of death from cardiovascular, infectious and respiratory diseases,” published in February 14?s Archives of Internal Medicine.

But, this may not mean what you think it means.

Should you be looking for foods in your supermarket that exclaim “High Fibers” in bold, bright letters? Probably not.

The term “High Fiber Diet,” when describing an eating pattern that benefits your health, is more accurately described as: “A diet high in foods which are naturally fiber-rich.”

Those who eat a diet high in foods that are naturally fiber-rich are the ones who receive the health benefits from a high fiber diet.

That is because naturally fiber-rich foods are also naturally jam-packed full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other plant compounds (called “phytonutrients”), which have known health-enhancing benefits. It is the combination of nutrients, including fiber, that make people healthy—not the fiber by itself.

The National Academy of Sciences’ (NAS) Food and Nutrition Board, the group which issues periodic dietary recommendations for Americans, recommends Americans get 38 grams for men and 25 grams for women. But most Americans eat half of what is recommended, eating a highly refined diet instead. There are plenty of great reasons to increase your intake of fiber-rich foods.

Easier Weight Loss:?Not eating enough fiber may be one reason why people are getting fatter.

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that women with the highest fiber intake had a 49 percent lower risk of major weight gain compared with women eating less fiber.

High fiber diets are usually lower in calories. Though fiber is mainly carbohydrate, very little of it, if any, is actually digested. So, with foods high in fiber, you’re actually eating food that only partially counts as calories.

High fiber foods require more chewing and take longer to eat, which leads to more physical and psychological satisfaction with your meals.

Improved Intestinal Function:?Digestive disorders are on the rise, and a main reason may be the dearth of fiber in our diets. For most digestive disorders, such as reflux disease, constipation, diarrhea, hemmorhoids, diverticulitis, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome, a higher fiber diet relieves symptoms and can even prevent the disorder in the first place.

Imagine fiber as a dry sponge in your intestinal tract. Fiber pulls water into the system, keeping everything larger, softer and moving more quickly and easily.

Improved Immune Function: Harvard study found a reduced risk of infectious and respiratory diseases associated with a high fiber diet. This may be because many of the foods containing nutrients instrumental in a healthy immune system happen to be high in fiber.

Lower Diabetes Risk:?Numerous studies have shown that high fiber diets improve diabetes control and may even prevent diabetes.

There are several theories explaining why this may be true. First, high fiber foods tend to have a lower glycemic index. This means that after eating, blood sugar levels rise less (diabetes is characterized by high blood sugar). And studies confirm that people eating high fiber diets usually have lower fasting insulin levels, an indicator of overall lower blood sugar levels.

Also, high fiber foods contain many nutrients which may improve diabetes. For one, magnesium, a nutrient found in whole grains, legumes, tofu and some vegetables, improves insulin resistance, a cause of Diabetes Type 2, the most prevalent type of diabetes. Vitamin E, found in whole grains and nuts, may also improve insulin resistance.

Prevent Heart Disease:?Fiber helps prevent heart disease in a variety of ways. Lower circulating insulin caused by a high fiber diet reduces heart disease risk and heart attacks. Also, research shows viscous fiber found in legumes, oats, rye, barley and some fruits and vegetables, reduces LDL cholesterol (the bad kind which correlates with heart attack). In fact, it has been estimated by the National Academy of Sciences’ expert panel that for every gram of soluble fiber you eat, you’ll reduce heart disease risk by 2.4 percent.

High fiber diets reduce triglycerides, or blood fat, another heart disease risk factor. New evidence shows fiber intake is linked to lower C-reactive protein, an indicator of inflammation, which is an emerging heart disease risk factor.

Whole grains and some legumes contain many beneficial healthful substances, including phytoestrogens, which affect circulating hormone levels and may impact heart disease positively. Diets high in fruits and vegetables, containing high levels of the nutrient potassium, also significantly lower blood pressure and stroke.

High fiber foods such as dark green vegetables, legumes and fortified cereals contain the nutrient, folate (or folic acid). Researchers have found that low blood levels of folate are linked to heart disease.

Reduce Cancer Risk:?In populations eating low dietary fiber, doubling fiber intake from foods could reduce the risk of colorectal cancer by forty percent, according to findings in the EPIC study (European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition), an on-going study of 500,000 people in 10 European countries.

In fact, the majority of studies suggest that dietary fiber is protective against colon cancer, according to the NAS expert panel’s report on fiber.

Several mechanisms have been proposed for this beneficial effect. First, because it pulls water into the intestinal tract, fiber dilutes carcinogens and other tumor-promoters, and causes a more rapid transit, thus causing less exposure of your body to potentially damaging substances. Fiber also causes other beneficial chemical reactions, such as lowering the ph of the colon. And lower insulin levels caused by high fiber diets are correlated with lower colon cancer risk. The EPIC researchers stressed that foods supplying fiber also contribute many other nutrients and phytonutrients (beneficial plant chemicals) that have been linked to cancer protection, according to a study in The Lancet.

But a few important studies have not found a link. Reasons given for some disappointing results connecting fiber to cancer prevention are:

1. The benefits of dietary fiber may not occur until fiber intake is sufficiently high. Americans eat very low levels compared with Europeans, so it’s hard for scientists to measure a positive effect in American diets.

2. Some studies tested fiber supplements as opposed to fiber in food, and researchers say that’s a completely different animal.

Human studies specifically looking at fiber supplements or fiber added to processed foods—such as a high fiber bran cereal—have not shown good results and did not find a lower incidence of colon polyps, a precursor to colon cancer.

Scientists believe that added fiber in processed foods or supplements will probably not produce most of the health benefits found with high fiber foods, except for improved gastrointestinal function and slightly lower LDL, if the supplement is made from viscous fibers such as guar gum or psyllium. But fiber supplements’ role in chronic disease prevention remains unproven. It is best to get fiber from whole foods in your diet.

Looking for a delicious way of eating your fiber? My book, “Diet Simple,” contains tons of recipes, tips and strategies. And try my Cranberry, Orange, Toasted Walnut Whole Grain Muffins…

Katherine Tallmadge, M.A., R.D. custom-designs nutrition, weight loss and wellness programs, is author of “Diet Simple.” For more information on the content of fiber in foods, go to

Cranberry – Orange – Toasted Walnut Whole-Grain Muffin

12 Muffins
1 1/2 cups King Arthur Traditional Whole Wheat Flour or King Arthur 100% White Whole Wheat Flour
3/4 cup quick-cooking oats (put through the food processor, depending on texture preference)
1/4 cup buttermilk powder or nonfat dry milk
2/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries chopped (I used fresh)
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (I toasted them)
1 tablespoon orange zest
2 large eggs
3/4 cup milk (I used buttermilk)
1/3 cup vegetable oil

2 tablespoons orange juice
3 tablespoons sugar, or 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
For a sweeter muffin, substitute 1 cup sweetened dried cranberries.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease the wells of a muffin tin, or line with papers, and grease the inside of the papers.

Muffins: In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients, then stir in the cranberries and nuts. Whisk together the orange zest, eggs, milk, and oil or melted butter. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, stirring until blended; don’t beat, or your muffins will be tough! Fill the muffin cups or liners about 3/4 full. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until golden brown. Remove them from the oven, leave them in the pan for 5 minutes, then take out of the pan and transfer them to a rack to finish cooling.

Glaze: In a small saucepan or microwave-safe bowl, stir together the glaze ingredients. Bring just to a boil to dissolve the sugar. Dip the tops of the warm muffins into the glaze.

Spring Cleaning: Sprucing Up Your Heart, Mind and Soul

Spring is the time of year I make an assessment of my life, my achievements, my mistakes, and how my life is going overall. Spring sends my spirit soaring, sharpens my senses, and forces an evaluation of my life and my health. And while there is so much to be grateful for, improvements need to be made as well.

I know, tradition says you make those evaluations at the new year. But I really don’t feel that sense of urgency for change until I can open my windows, hear the birds chirping, see daffodils sprouting (and perhaps, notice my belly has been expanding during the winter months… OOPS! We’ll talk about that later).

For the spiritual or religious among us, springtime means Lent: a time for reflection and change. “Lent is spiritual calisthenics; forty days to exercise self-discipline. This hard work transforms us toward a deeper respect for God, love for our brothers and sisters, and reverence for all creation for the entirety of the year,” says Rev. Dr. Albert Scariato, Rector, St. John’s Episcopal Georgetown Parish.

For the non-religious, spring can be an important time for reflection as well. We live in a society where a multitude of distractions keep us from serious personal work, self-reflection and improvement, close relationships, physical activity and healthy food. In order to thrive in this crazy, multi-tasking, often violent and unhealthy world, the first step is “mindfulness.”

“There are many health benefits to being more mindful,” says Jack Killen, MD, Deputy Director of the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. The following are excerpts from a recent interview:

Katherine: What is mindfulness?

Dr. Killen: Mindfulness is the ability to be present, more focused and clear; for concentration to be more sustained, and for attention to be on what’s happening, instead of on thoughts, memories, and associations.

Katherine: Why is it important to be mindful? What are some scientifically proven benefits?

Dr. Killen: There is neurobiological research demonstrating that mindfulness engages pathways in the brain associated with emotion and impulse control, attention, and focusing. It allows your brain to be focused on what is here and now so you are better able to respond to situations appropriately. People who are more mindful are better able to handle emotional situations in more appropriate ways, are more able to think through a problem, are less likely to be distracted by issues that won’t help…There is evidence that you improve at mental tests, that emotion regulation is better and more appropriate, blood pressure is lower and stress hormones are lower, thereby reducing stress.

Katherine: How can one become more mindful? I understand prayer or meditation may be helpful?

Dr. Killen: There is a lot of evidence accumulating that meditation in all of its forms has beneficial physiological effects. Meditation is a way of exercising neurological pathways in the brain, which help us become more mindful. But it is a bit like going to the gym and working out your muscles, it takes time and practice for the beneficial brain pathways to become established, similar to building muscular strength and flexibility.

Katherine: What are some examples of meditation that may have these kinds of emotional and behavioral benefits?
Dr. Killen: There are many ways you can train your mind to be more mindful. The jury is still out as to whether one is better than another. More likely, certain types of meditation will work well for certain people, and other kinds for other people. We are still working on how to measure and study meditation.

There are several types of meditation. “Mantra” meditation is repeating a phrase, or something with deep meaning over and over, or focusing on a candle, for instance. “Mindfulness” meditation is focusing on what is happening now instead of on thoughts, memories, and associations.

Katherine: Are yoga, tai chi, and other forms of exercise considered good ways to achieve mindfulness?

Dr. Killen: While mind/body interventions are difficult to research, there is some encouraging data. Yoga and meditation are intertwined in many ways. Studies suggest yoga is useful in increasing lung capacity, improving mood, wellbeing, posture, and there are similar benefits with Tai Chi. But there is a larger body of research on meditation and its benefits.

Katherine: Is there scientific evidence that these mind/body interventions such as meditation or yoga will promote healthier lifestyles?

Dr. Killen: This is what we are studying at the Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Getting definitive answers to those questions through rigorous scientific research could make these kinds of health interventions more widely available. Important work going on right now is defining research methods. We need to understand, for instance, which yoga postures benefit your health and in what specific ways. If we want to make health interventions more widely available and accepted, we need to be able to describe their effects better, thus magnifying their benefits. We are currently studying if these mind-body interventions are a means to help people with metabolic syndrome, if they’d be useful in weight-control programs, helping people eat less, or more healthfully.

In “Mindfulness in Eating and Living Part II,” I will further investigate mindfulness, clarify methods for achieving mindfulness, and how you can use it to improve your health and your life. In the meantime, read “How to Beat Emotional Eating,” in Diet Simple. Stay tuned!

Katherine Tallmadge, M.A., R.D., is passionate about helping people transform their health and their lives. Her book, Diet Simple, called the “Un-Diet” by The Washington Post, and “The only good nutritionally balanced and easy-to-follow diet book” by Good Housekeeping Magazine, is about losing weight without dieting.