Women's Health: Lose Weight, Be Healthy (cont.)
ZELMAN: Most women take care of everyone else before themselves. What are your favorite tips on fitting nutrition into a hectic lifestyle?
O'NEIL: I think every time you are making a decision on what to eat, whether you are having a fun lunch with girlfriends or you are preparing a quick meal at home for the family, think about what you are adding to your plate.
So rather than thinking "I can't have," scan the menu for items that add health to your diet. If something comes with a side of steamed seasonal fresh vegetables, look around the room, see if you can spot the portion size. Often it's really small. Then ask your server to double the vegetable portion, biggie size it, if you will, and there you're adding more nutrition to your plate.
Another tip in a restaurant, we all hear about splitting entrees or ordering appetizer portions, splitting desserts. Yes, all good options, but in The Dish we recommend you engage your server's help first, saying, "If you help us eat a little less, we'll tip you a little more." The server's likely to say, "Oh, don't get this, that's a dumb thing to split, get this." The end result: Bigger tips, smaller hips!
ZELMAN: The Dish covers every topic from soy to the raw diet. But every day a new study sheds light on health and nutrition, adding to the confusion that already exists. How should we interpret the news -- whether or not to eat salmon? Is organic worth the extra money? Should we take supplements? In light of your motto -- "don't tell us what is new, tell us what is true" -- how can we figure out new from true?
O'NEIL: This really goes back to "The more you know, the more you can eat."
The Dish is your hand-held registered dietitian. I think in order to digest the latest nutrition news, you have to have a baseline of knowledge, and reading The Dish gives you an edge. So when the latest, greatest, diet or supplement or food hits the headlines, you'll have a way to put it into perspective.
For instance, blueberries have been getting a lot of attention because of research indicating they contain nutrients which may help our memories. Now, there are foods other than blueberries that may contain antioxidants, but maybe the blueberry council got their message out louder and stronger.
Again, when you see a headline about a certain food that contains these antioxidants, it doesn't mean it's the only food that does.
ZELMAN: I love the way you take the science and sizzle it down into no-nonsense, useful, and very amusing advice. You really tell it like it is!
O'NEIL: Learn nutrition basics so you have the knowledge to be able to make the differentiation. Then we all know that if it sounds too good to be true it probably is. Consider the source of the information.
For instance, when you read stories or studies on WebMD it always gives the source of the information, whereas one of the tabloids in the store may have a sensational nutrition story, such as Celery Cures Arthritis and maybe it says, from a study done in Peru. How do you even chase that down? Or they quote experts but don't say who those experts are.
So I would be sure the information is coming from a credible source. I'm just a real proponent of everyone learning about nutrition science. It's exciting that so many universities are offering Nutrition 101 and it's very popular. When students take a basic nutrition course, whether they're going to become a lawyer or architect, those are life-survival skills for themselves and for their families in the future.
ZELMAN: Can you lose weight with your guidance or is it more about being healthy?
O'NEIL: The book is really dedicated to the No. 1 nutrition concern of our readers, and that is weight control -- but weight control with the benefits of good health. The original reason for nutrition is optimal health, meaning a glow in your skin, a sparkle in your eye, shine in your hair, and pep in your step.
We really want to help our readers not only achieve and maintain the body weight they want, but we want them to do it in a way that makes them feel fabulous. That is the payoff in adding nutritious foods to your diet, as opposed to seeing how few calories you can consume in a day. So when you stand on the bathroom scale you see the numbers going down.
When you look at food, say "what have you done for me lately," not "how few calories can I consume." And Kathleen, we know as registered dietitians that people don't know automatically what that means, how to eat healthy; they have to learn how to do it.
It's a simple term, but it's the customization to your lifestyle -- what foods you should be adding. Our publisher asked Densie and I if we were going to include a diet plan in the book. You know, the kinds of things that say, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday; I never really liked those.
Oftentimes it's those kinds of diets you fail at, because real life gets in the way. For instance, Wednesday lunch: tuna fish sandwich with light mayonnaise with whole-grain bread, small apple, carton of nonfat milk.
OK, you're at your desk, it's Wednesday, the phone rings. A colleague says, "Oh my gosh, it's Diane's birthday, we need to take her out to lunch. Remember she took you out to lunch for your birthday." And then you think, "Oh, no, today is tuna sandwich, apple, milk day and it's only Wednesday and I'm already falling off my diet."
To help that woman escape those feelings of failure we designed the last chapter, What to Eat Today and Everyday, depending on the kind of day you're having.
We use real-life examples like the last minute birthday lunch, or what should I eat when I have to drive in the car for three hours, etc. We also wanted to give a gold standard, a template for healthy eating. So we did a three-day plan that we called "In a Perfect World." A reader knows this is an example, and knows it's for "in a perfect world," so they're off the hook if they can't stick to it meal by meal.
ZELMAN: At WebMD Weight Loss Clinic we feature a customized, individualized approach to losing weight and being healthier and dare I say, 'fabulous.' Your advice is similar to Mireille Guiliano -- author of French Women Don't Get Fat -- and is quite sensible. I love the way you recommend a bite of something wonderful rather than more of food or drink that is less exciting. The real trick is to make small changes. But how do we go from knowledge to changing behavior?