Holiday & Party Strategies

July 26, 2011


-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

The Great Joy Ride

Wanna know a secret? Grownups, even some very grownup grownups, are playing…with sex toys! In fact, for couples and singles alike, there is a revolution occurring for people over 50. Adult sex toys, pornography, erotic literature, game playing, and other pleasure products and practices have become much more mainstream than ever before. This is good news for those in good health, as sex toys can add fun and excitement to adult life. And it’s even better news for those in ill health because of new products available to help make sex easier, possible, and more satisfying for those with health challenges—like eyeglasses and hearing aids for the bed.

You’re Never Too Old to Play with Toys. Whatever your situation or age, jazzing up your sex life with sex toys
and perhaps pornography can be a great way to feel vitally alive and sexy for all your years. Single folks
may find that a little help from a manufactured friend can be a welcome addition. And for couples in long-term relationships, some added spice is always nice. While no sex gadget can fix a broken relationship, experimenting with sex toys, erotic books, educational sex films, role playing, and perhaps even working with a sex or relationship therapist can be very helpful for lifting an otherwise good relationship out of a passion slump.

The Joys of Toys As We Age.

While vibrators are the most popular after-50 sex toys, there are many other passion playthings on the market today. Now that we are living longer, it’s the perfect time to incorporate adventure (and convenience) into your sex life. After all these years, we’ve finally arrived at the joys of sex unzipped. Adults of advanced years are grownup enough to enjoy their sex lives to the fullest, and they are going for it in droves.

Researchers attribute the widespread use of adult sex toys to easier availability and a cultural shift away from the bad boy, X-rated sex toy industry. New Internet sites for sex products aimed at mainstream couples now feature images of middle-aged models and realistic sex scenes. Women, as well as men, are buying more sex toys and pleasure products than ever before, which hasn’t gone unnoticed by the adult novelties industry. In fact, several companies now market exclusively to postmenopausal women. In many regions of the country, Tupperware parties have given way to adult toy sales gatherings, almost always attended and led by women. Not only are women buying and using more sex toys, but the sales of erotic novels are up, even in a slumping economy. An entire flourishing industry now markets erotica especially for older women.

Overcoming shyness and shame is part of the way to keep those hormones healthy. If you don’t know where to shop, you might be surprised by what you find in your local Target, Walgreen’s, or department store under body back massagers (Use your imagination.). Even local drug stores and supermarkets now carry vaginal lubricants. Read the label, and make sure to use one that’s water-soluble. This kind of between-the-sheets shopping can be useful as well as fun.

Try some of these toys as surprise stocking stuffers. There are hundreds of thousands of sex toys on the market today. With a little creativity and fun, you can come up with all kinds of ways to spice up your love life just in time for the holiday chill!

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)

Communication Is Not the Key

Yes, you read that correctly! People always say communication is the key to improving your relationship, but clearly, that’s not true. We’re already always communicating. Yelling is communicating, abuse is communicating, the raised eyebrows of countless unsaid criticisms are communicating, unfulfilled sex is communicating, and bickering over who didn’t put the top on the peanut butter jar or why the toothpaste was squeezed the wrong way is communicating. And we can probably agree that little of any of that helps to improve relationships, feel close, or have great sex.

The real key is honest, positive communication that renders your relationship better for both of you, so that you feel more understood, appreciated, connected, bonded, trusting, and/or turned-on. However, honest, positive communication does not always mean being nice. It does mean learning how to be truthful about your own needs without purposely being hurtful, and actively listening to what your partner has to say without getting wounded every time he or she tells you something you would rather not hear.

Truth and authenticity are never easy to achieve–they require a fairly good understanding of yourself and the courage to reveal your inner workings. Everyone wants to feel understood, especially by his or her lover. But since few of us understand ourselves all of the time, how do we learn to help our partners understand us, no less learn how to better understand them? It is a process that requires practice and possibly help. If this were something you could learn in ten easy steps, everyone would be doing it overnight. The truth is that honest, positive communication takes much skill, awareness, effort, and sometimes also the help of a good counselor or therapist; most new learning takes some guidance.

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.

Scandinavian Midsummer: Feast the Night Away

Diet Simple (June 2011, LifeLine Press)

Swedish cuisine is the ultimate “nouvelle” cuisine. It is simple, fresh, and is naturally local and seasonal. It’s elegant, yet down-to-earth, which is also a perfect description of the Swedish people, and even Swedish design.

I’ve had a life-long love affair with Sweden, its culture, cuisine and people. I’m so grateful that finally the world has caught on that my beloved Sweden is a recognized culinary destination.

The daughter of a Swedish mother and an American father, I’ve been visiting Sweden since I was a little girl. During my regular visits, I soaked in every possible aspect of Swedish food and cooking. I took many fishing trips in the North Sea on my Uncle Olle’s small motor boat. I received early lessons on cleaning, smoking, grilling, pickling – and any other method one could name – of preparing fresh fish.

I was raised in the Swedish culinary tradition. I’ve picked wild blueberries, strawberries and mushrooms in the Swedish archipelago, then watched as my grandmother (Mormor) and Aunt Ingrid prepared treats with the bounty. Growing up, I and my mother dined regularly on crepes with lingonberries and cream – one of my favorite dinners (though now I use yogurt instead of cream! Naturligtvis!). I’ve delighted in all the unique foods my family introduced me to: the grainy rye breads, the special cheeses and yogurts, the smoked reindeer meat, the delicate, sweet, and tiny Swedish shrimps, caviar, crayfish, and of course, meatballs and lingonberry sauce!

If you are not a Swede or Scandinavian, you may not know that this is the most special time of year. For weeks on end the sun never sets in Sweden’s summertime. It’s daylight round-the-clock.

Every ear, during one of those “white nights” – the Friday nearest the 24th of June – the nation turns out to feast until morning. After long winter months of what seems like never-ending darkness, sun-starved Swedes join the rest of Scandinavia in celebrating the summer solstice – the year’s longest day.

Swedes call the celebration Midsummer Eve. It is more than just a holiday, however. Midsummer Eve, often lasting through Saturday – and sometimes the whole weekend – is the national excuse for the biggest parties of the year. The revelry is non-stop.

Beginning Friday morning, families gather to set the scene. Every spare piece of furniture is moved outdoors, setting up a festival atmosphere. Large wooden crosses are turned into maypoles decorated with flowers, ribbons and leafy branches.

The maypoles are raised, and hours of dancing, singing and community wide camaraderie get under way. By late afternoon the revelry has served its purpose. Gnawing hunger has prepared the celebrants for the main event: the feast, Sweden’s famed smorgasbord.

Smorgasbord is a Swedish invention and is literally a table of open-faced sandwiches. Though its origin was a simple array of hors d’oeuvres, smorgasbords today are exhaustive buffet-style spreads, the Swedish version being the best known.

There are appetizers, salads, main courses and desserts. The dishes signal summer’s first harvests: freshly clipped dill, tender root vegetables, fish and other seafoods, and strawberries grown in the country.

There are cured ingredients, as well. Pink rolls of cured salmon are wrapped around dill sprigs, with yellow mustard sauces and peppercorns alongside. There is marinated herring and coarse salt, as well as dill and other pickles. Dairy products also are important, including eggs, cheese and cream.

The traditional drink is aquavit, Swedish vodka spiced with anise and caraway. It is served in tiny schnapps glasses. The Midsummer toast, which loses something in translation, usually amounts to a unanimous gulp followed by a chant of “rah, rah, rah, rah.”

Actually, preparation of Midsummer food usually begins a couple of days before. Local fishermen stack their just-caught salmon in rickety wheelbarrows, roll them into town and go door to door displaying their wares for inspection by anxious cooks.

The fish are carefully examined in solemn transaction, the cook – usually my Grandmother – signaling the final selection with an abrupt, “This will do!” The fisherman nods, satisfied, and carries the fish to the kitchen where it lands on the table with a thud. The smell of the sea enters the house with the day’s catch. The best knife has been sharpened for this moment: the start of Midsummer Eve cooking.

Aquavit and Marcus Samuelsson’s Gravlax Club Sandwich
(excerpted from Diet Simple (June 2011, LifeLine Press)

This sandwich is such a popular item in Aquavit’s café that it is never off the menu. It combines the velvety textures of guacamole and gravlax, with the crispy nature of iceberg lettuce and great chewiness of whole grain bread. If you want to make this sandwich and don¹t happen to have any gravlax on hand, you can substitute smoked salmon with equal success.

I’ve used this recipe at parties. Just cut the sandwiches into smaller appetizer size sandwiches, into quarters, and place a tooth pick through all layers for easy grabbing. It’s always a hit.

Makes 5 sandwiches.

2 avocados
Juice from 2 limes
1/2 medium size red onion, finely chopped
1 medium-size ripe tomato, finely chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, cored, seeded and finely chopped
8 sprigs cilantro, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
10 thin slices of whole grain wheat or rye bread
5 thin slices of Gravlax
1 cup shredded iceberg lettuce

1. Mash the avocado with a fork and add the limejuice. Add the chopped onion, tomato, jalapeno pepper, and cilantro and toss everything to mix well. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

2. Toast the bread slices lightly and let them cool.

3. Place a slice of gravlax on a slice of bread. Spread 1 to 2 tablespoons of the avocado mixture over the gravlax and sprinkle with shredded iceberg lettuce. Cover with a second slice of bread. Repeat with the remaining bread slices and gravlax.

1 Gravlax Club Sandwich: Calories; 300, Total Fat ; 15g, Saturated Fat; 2g, Cholesterol; 5mg, Sodium; 740mg, Total Carbohydrate; 38g, Dietary Fiber; 15g, Omega 3 Fatty Acids; 0.82 g, Protein; 11g

2-1/2 pounds fresh salmon
4 Tbsp Sugar
5 Tbsp Coarse Salt
1 Tbsp White Peppercorns, coarsely ground
1 Bunch Fresh Dill
Lemon and additional dill for garnish
Mix sugar, salt and pepper in a bowl. Set aside.
With half of the dill, cover the bottom of a shallow baking pan just slightly larger than the fish. Pour two-thirds of the sugar, salt and pepper mixture evenly over the dill and place salmon on top, skin side up.

Cover the salmon with the remaining mixture and remaining dill. Cover pan with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for two days (at least 24 hours).

To serve, scrape off the marinade, slice fish thinly and roll. Garnish with lemon pieces and dill. Serve with mustard sauce on the side. Serves 8 to 12.

Mustard Sauce
1-1/2 Tbsp Chopped Fresh Dill
3 Tbsp Gulden’s Mustard
1 Tbsp Sugar
3 to 4 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
All ingredients should be at room temperature. Place mustard in a small bowl, add sugar. Blend in the oil slowly. Add the dill and mix thoroughly.

Nordic Food Days June 19 to 26, 2011
The embassies of the Nordic countries are bringing five of the world’s best chefs from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden. Among the events: Nordic Jazz and Cuisine on the rooftop of the house of Sweden in Georgetown on June 19, and June 21 to 26: Nordic Restaurant Days at select DC restaurants. For more information, go to:

I will see you there!

By Katherine Tallmadge, author Diet Simple: 195 Mental Tricks, Substitutions, Habits & Inspirations (LifeLine Press, June 2011), designs personalized nutrition and wellness programs for individuals and companies.

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Soothing Summer Sensations

Grocery store items aren’t the only summer goodies that can be compared in Georgetown, so this week we brought you a whole new perspective on pricing. After experiencing the heat wave with triple-digit weather last week, we realized items to protect and moisturize your skin might be good to explore. Plus, let’s be honest, these sorts of items smell great!

So this issue for “Is the Price Right?” we looked into summer skin goodies at Lush, Sephora, Blue Mercury and CVS.

CVS faired the best this time as the cheapest place to buy your summer products. Yet we’re not sure if we would say CVS is the highest quality, especially when compared to Lush, Blue Mercury and Sephora.

For a lotion that sooths sunburn, CVS charges $6.49 for an 8-ounce bottle of their name brand item. Lush’s 8.8 ounces of Dream Cream Lotion, which soothes the skin and contains chamomile and lavender, is $24.95. Blue Mercury has Kiehls lotion with aloe vera at $19.50 for 8.4 ounces, and Sephora has a 7-ounce bottle of Lavanila Laboratories lotion for $15.

To keep your skin moisturized and safe from UV rays, we checked each store for SPF lotion. CVS had Olay Complete All-Day Moisturizer with SPF 15 at $9.99 for 6 ounces when it is normally $13.19. Sephora was the most expensive at 2 ounces of Baby Block SPF 40 for $20. Blue Mercury was the second cheapest for their 8.4 ounces of Kiehls for $22. An 8.4-ounce of Ultra Light SPF 30 at Lush was $49.95. Lush’s lotion is designed to protect your skin from sun, wind or cold and can even be mixed in with your foundation.

After a long day of walking around the city, everyone could use some ocean salt scrub to soften their feet. Blue Mercury has a 12-ounce container of Bliss Hot Salt Scrub for $36 and Sephora has the same brand as Blue Mercury at 14.1 ounces for $36. Lush has an 8.8 ounces of Ocean Salt, containing lime and coconut for $34.95. At CVS you can’t get a salt scrub, but a 6-ounce Neutrogena Sugar Scrub is $12.29.

Then for a special treat, we chose one summer item from each store. Lush has Glorious Mud Body Mask squares for $5.95, while Sephora has a sun safety kit, which contains 12 sun protection products, two single-use UW monitor bracelets and a travel bag for $25. Blue Mercury has a Bliss Poetic Waxing Kit for $45 and CVS has two for $3 Bioluxe Hair Products.

Check out our next issue for another new spin on “Is the Price Right?”

Lotion – 8.8 ounces for $24.95
SPF Lotion – 8.4 ounces for $49.95
Ocean Salt – 8.8 ounces for $34.95
Special Summer Item – $20

Lotion – 7 ounces for $15
SPF Lotion – 2 ounces for $20
Ocean Salt – 14.1 ounces for $36
Special Summer Item – $25

Blue Mercury:
Lotion – 8.4 ounces for $19.50
SPF Lotion – 8.4 ounces for $22
Ocean Salt – 12 ounces for $36
Special Summer Item – $45

Lotion – 8 ounces for $6.49
SPF Lotion – 6 ounces for $9.99
Ocean Salt – 6 ounces for $12.29
Special Summer Item – 2 for $3

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Between the Sheets

It seems like the longer my wife and I are together, the less we make love. I always wanted more sex than she did and that felt bad. But in the last year, my erections aren’t what they used to be, and now she’s the one who wants to make love more and I’m not so sure I can. Is it too late for us?
— Ray, 57

It can be very frustrating when you first realize that “old faithful” (your penis) can’t deliver like it used to. So what are you going to do, just give up on the party now that your wife is finally in the mood?

Many people say that as they have aged, they have evolved new ways of being sexual. Instead of the super-stud, wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am sex of their youth, they have experimented with different permutations, positions and possibilities. For most people, the process can become slower, richer, fuller and better than ever. But the learning curve requires us to be more vulnerable and exposed, and that can be scary. Up to this point, most of us were too busy making our lives in the present to think about how to live them in the future. The word “intimacy” may not even have been in our life lexicon. Who had time or inclination? Performance-oriented intercourse, culminating in a predictable orgasm and a quick trip to the bathroom, does not always involve deep intimacy. Talking secrets together, cuddling, touching, caressing, connecting, kissing and allowing yourself to deeply melt into someone else who at the same time is melting into you, is a different experience — a deeper level of intimacy that you can have for the rest of your life, even as your body and health change.

Getting from wherever you are to wherever you want to go will take some effort. But we don’t think it’s drudgery, do you? It’s both an inner exploration and an external execution that involves other people. There’s even opportunity to become more “holistic” and learn about the sexual arts from the East, such as Indian kundalini. In the last decade or so, the ancient Indian art of tantric sex has been quietly slipping into American bedrooms. Rather than the usual foreplay-intercourse-climax, tantric sex teaches lovers how to extend the peak of sexual ecstasy — sometimes for hours — so that both women and men can experience several orgasms in a single sexual encounter.

Dr. Dorree Lynn is a Georgetown-based psychologist and life coach committed to helping people have better relationships fulfilling sex lives. She has appeared on “Good Morning America,” MSNBC, CNN, PBS and other major programming. She is the author of “Sex for Grownups,” available from Amazon.