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Saturday, 1 February 2014

Weight Loss...I Want For You What YOU Want For You!!

When people tell me they are going on the newest popular 'diet' or on some fad diet or they come to me and ask me to put them on such a 'diet', I used to cringe.  But, now, I finally, after ALL THESE YEARS, get it! I now use this information wisely, and more importantly, to the advantage of my client(s) to truly help them achieve what they want. For, I now know what they are REALLY asking for and want: to lose weight fast and/or as much weight as they can in a short period of time! You know -- magic -- the proverbial silver bullet?!  Haha! 

And, you know what? This, actually, is, quite useful. Quick-starting a good weight loss can really be motivating and a helpful segueway into getting people to follow a balanced, sustainable healthy way of eating -- for continued weight-loss (primarily fat loss) and, ultimately, for weight maintenance with an optimal muscle:fat ratio and a healthy way of eating -- for life.

I want for you what YOU want for you!! And I am open and willing to do my utmost to help you get it! :) 
So, I do keep in my 'tool box' some options for initial rapid weight loss:  1) a hypocaloric diet that I, myself, have developed based on what I believe is an optimal proportion of carbohydrate:protein:fat that affords a very quick weight loss result-- mainly fat loss; 2) a quick weight-loss plan based on and around proprietary products such as shakes, bars, soups, oatmeal, packaged snacks, etc; 3) plans based on 'diet' meal delivery programs; 4) plans based on whatever a client tells me is their 'go-to' quick weight loss regime -- even plans that include some sort of fasting period(s). If a client needs medical supervision, in any way, I make sure they get it. But, usually, I am totally involved in the short period of time a client follows such a plan and have 'tweaked'  any extreme regimes that are outlandish, crazy, or downright dangerous to be less extreme, more agreeable, but as effective, if not even more-effective versions of the diet, so medical tests and supervision are not necessary. Being an experienced, properly trained and educated RD(N) and longstanding member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Association for the Study of Obesity helps...alot! I rely on keeping up-to-date on ever-evolving evidenced-based approaches and my large network of experienced colleagues, as much as I do on my strong background and long years of clinical practice and expertise. 

And I keep well in perspective that any quick weight-loss plan is a means to an end. The endgame, here, being that people feel good quite early-on and then, they actually appreciate balanced, healthy eating with its variety of textures, flavors, colours, and tastes once they see how boring, unsatisfying, and unappealing fad diets truly are! Moreover, people DO lose weight rather quickly with fad diets, but they are also quick to realize that these are diets that do not yield lasting results and are just not sustainable in the long term. Most folks quickly regain weight if they 'cheat' or even as I 'wean' them onto more balanced plans. The good thing is -- as long as they undergo these diets under my supervision, I prepare people for these realities and explain, up-front, the truth of the quick weight-losses  -- ie -- the 'weight' can come from water loss or fluctuations. And we work through this, together. A person is not left to feel they failed, yet again :(... or that fitness and a trim body is something they will never achieve. We also discuss the fall-out of regimes that are SO strict that they often result in people feeling lousy and often how these extreme plans actually encourage binge-ing. This cycle of fast:feast is so counterproductive, hormonally, for the body. It is MUCH better to get the necessary balance of carbs, protein, and good fats in the diet -- even when on a quick weight-loss plan. Depending on the baseline condition of a person, genetic pre-disposition, a person's age, sex, and level of physical activity-- certain people respond better to a balanced diet with a higher protein skew -- so I include carbs, but ONLY enough to take that craving edge off their appetite and to give the body what it needs to physiologically kick in the hormones that help to make that happen! Other people may respond better to a balanced diet, yet a bit higher in their proportion of carbohydrates, which, for them, works to keep hormonal balance and cravings in check.

A big goal of getting people to eat healthy-for-life is to STOP folks from thinking about food all the time! When people go on extreme plans -- they end up thinking more about food than is emotionally or psychologically healthy and, in the end, (with the help of, as I mentioned above, the physiological processes happening in the body), the self-fulfilling prophecy kicks in and people just end up binge-ing/gorging on food, caving in to cravings, and/or return to old weight-gaining eating habits because of all the ' food cue-ing' happening in their brains. The importance of having a good RD(N) supervising, when people are on quick weight-loss plans, is that we can help you to be aware and mindful of what's happening, and work you through the process until you succeed at the initial goal of quick weight-loss. We help in minimizing the rebound effects of spurious 'weight-loss' and help you keep most of this initial weight off, which maximizes the whole point of this initial great result, in moving forward to an optimal diet plan for life. We can continue to work with you on a long-term, sustainable plan for continued weight-loss, followed by an enjoyable weight-maintenance plan, until you are confident you have mastered your healthy-eating plan for life!

Working with an RD(N) to objectively assess, monitor, re-assess, and coach you through this process, can be the difference between lasting results and a temporary quick 'fix' that goes awry within a month or two!

So, I believe the services of an open-minded,  experienced RD(N), can help you feel safe and free to choose a quick weight-loss plan. Working together with an RD(N), you can make the plan work the way YOU want it to work and you will get the results you are looking for, but it will be a safer and more effective process than doing it on your own. Losing the weight and keeping it off will be a much more positive experience and will give you energy and momentum to be and STAY healthy and fit -- for life! 

If you have further questions or comments, feel free to ask:

Star Bene! 

Mary-Jo Overwater-Gervasio, MSc, MMSc, RD

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Dutch Apple Pie :)

There's a few birthdays coming up in our bi-cultural (half-Dutch) home, and, hands-down,  Dutch apple tart is the birthday treat they always want and truly appreciate! Well, at least the 'half' whose birthday is coming up who's Dutch and the other one's birthday who's got a great affinity for her better-Dutch side ;). Did you get that? Good, because I didn't! I'm Italian! I prefer ricotta pie or Italian rum cake any day!!

As I've been making Dutch Appel Taart for the past 28 years and could probably make it in my sleep, which, hot oven alert, I never would, for the life of me, because I don't follow a recipe anymore when I make it, I can't seem to delineate a recipe for 'jullie'. So I have found one that I'm linking you to that is VERY close to the one I think I follow:

Just some comments as I peruse the recipe link -- I sometimes use brown sugar for the dough and other times I use regular granulated, even caster sugar -- it's whatever I have in the home. And I also don't use 1/2 cup sugar for the dough -- usually more like 1/3 cup. It doesn't seem to make a big difference that I use whatever sugar I have around and a bit less than this recipe calls for (well, so far, so good!). I also like to add dried cranberries or Craisins in place of raisins, but I've been known to use raisins if no Craisins are lurking in the cupboard.  I do have to mention, it is important to use the right kind of apples -- Goudrennet or Granny Smith work best -- apples that are not too sweet, not too tart. But, don't tell anyone -- I have been known to use whatever apples I know I need to use up before they go rotten -- no matter what kind they are. So, the inside of the pie ends up being a bit softer than it should -- no one's complained yet!! (They better not!). I often add chopped walnuts or pecans, too. I'm also not too fussy about how I lattice the top-- I only know that it's important to keep plenty of breathing space for the apple mixture as the tart bakes -- never to cover it fully or tightly as one would do with an American apple pie.  No matter how messy it looks when I lattice, it always bakes out to look fantastic -- well -- considering that I always lightly dust the top, after the pie cools a bit, with sifted icing sugar or 'poedersuiker'. Oh, and if I have any egg left over, I actually just pour that over the apple filling after I've filled the tart with the apple mixture and BEFORE I lattice the top and, of course, before baking! I also don't necessarily sprinkle semolina on the bottom of the crust -- breadcrumbs or even some of the self-rising flour or even rolled oats (so healthy of me, yes?!!)will do just fine. But, if I have semolina in the cupboard, I use it.

 And here's what it looks like -- one I've baked earlier ;)

Really, check that recipe link out and make this soon! It's an easy 'pie dough' to make as there's no intricate rolling involved! You just need to press the dough into the bottom and sides of the pie tin. You can roll it first, if you want to, but it's not necessary. Same with making the lattice -- you can roll the dough first, then make the strips, but, honestly, I just press it lightly on my floured board and then make strips -- works fine! I also like this recipe because it doesn't require SO much sugar and it uses real butter -- hey -- sometimes it has to be butter! I've made it with margarine, too, but calorically, it's the same, so why not use butter, I say! It actually works better with butter. PLUS -- this is a treat -- remember?! Not something we eat habitually. Whoops -- the RD in me had to get that in :( While we're on that subject, you can add low-fat vanilla yogurt or even fat-free plain Greek yogurt :( on the side instead of the usual whipped cream (slagroom), vanilla custard, or vanilla ice cream :)

Enjoy! :)

Tot Ziens!
xo MJ

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

The wisdom in happiness

One of my great kids just sent me this article:

It's so cool having one of your children caring enough about you that they want you to know what's up in the world re: how to be happy.   

THAT makes me happy! :)

I do agree with points made in the article -- alot of it is true,  
especially being thankful and spending more time with people you WANT to be around, not people who make us feel bad about ourselves.  But, through the course of my life, it's become abundantly clear that it's sometimes necessary to spend time with people who make us feel bad. So,  I've learned to really try to see as much of the good in these people as I possibly can -- well, as long as I have to be with them. For years, I just put up a front and cried in secret or comfort ate while still thinking how mean or nudgy they were to me. Now, I just try to accept people the way they are. I'm not going to change them nor will confronting them really change them or what they think of me. But I CAN change how I feel about them or how I feel what it's like being around them and how it affects me.

And that's what I wrote back to my daughter. She answered me that this was a really wise comment and she will work on doing this, too.  

THAT made me happy!

I also told her to make a nice cup of  hot tea and to stay warm!

These are the beautiful moments that keep me going!

xo MJ

Monday, 6 January 2014

Cupboard Soup: Nutrish&Delish!

I don't know about you, but I'm tired of going to the shops and spending money. OK, that's code for not having money at the moment to shop--ha! Even though, I was frugal and sensible on my food shopping and splurges over the holidays, I still ended up cooking and baking more than usual. I like to do both, but I was determined to not gain my hard-earned lost pounds over the feast days, thus, I chose to not overdo stocking up on too many ingredients to make and bake too many rich meals and treats. The family didn't even notice! They were just as happy, if not more appreciative of the couple specialties we DID enjoy and we are so thankful to start the new year feeling healthy and ready to keep up the momentum! With both my husband and myself having a genetic predisposition to obesity, and thus, my children having that double-whammy legacy (sorry, guys!), we all really have to work at it in this house! Being an RD, I take on the extra responsibility of trying to set a good example. I always tell my children, too, that we have to look at the positive aspects of our reality -- that is -- we are the chosen -- those who MUST be careful and selective about our food intake and, in the end, we choose wisely and most deliciously and really appreciate and enjoy eating, food, treats, etc, and keep all in perspective. Do my kids buy it? Well, they get it, for sure, but they feel screwed -- haha! Like it did me, I think it will take another 25+ years for them to truly appreciate how ahead of the curve and our time we all are! Yep, real visionaries -- trendsetters -- that's us!

So, this morning -- the day after the particularly long holiday break, imo, I'm snooping into my fridge and cupboards for my usual Monday morning inventory check before I head out to the grocery store, and I see the following:

1/2 of a 500g bag of dried yellow split-peas (so, about 250g dried split-peas -- these are the kind Indians make dhal with)
3 carrot sticks
3 celery sticks
3 small onions
5 wandering cloves of fresh garlic
1/2 bunch fresh parsley
8 small vine-tomatoes
1/2 bag baby spinach leaves

and I get to thinking, "Why go shopping? With all this cornucopia in the home ;), I'm making Cupboard Soup!!"  OK, I didn't call it 'Cupboard Soup' at that moment, but I did soak the split-peas for a couple hours (it says this was not necessary, but I still do it to rinse off some of the excess starch anyway), put them in a soup pot covered with cold water (about 1 1/2 liters -- you can add more or less depending on whether you want a thick or 'soupy' soup), bring to the boil, lower to a gentle boil for 10 minutes (to 'de-gas' the split-peas) and then add a bay leaf, and lower further to a simmer for about an hour. At this point I added an organic chicken stock-cube, but you can add any stock you want (or stock gel or best to add is homemade stock, if you have it!). I chopped up the carrots, celery, onions and garlic and sauteed them till soft (about 12-15 minutes) in olive oil, chopped up the vine tomatoes and roasted them in a hot oven till slightly charred, and then mixed the softened vegetables and the tomatoes into the split-peas while simmering and simmered for another 20 minutes. While the soup was simmering this extra 20 minutes, I tipped in the 1/2 bag of baby spinach leaves (they were pre-washed, otherwise, I would've washed them), chopped and added the parsley, seasoned with salt&pepper to taste, and also added about 1/2 tsp of dried thyme, 1/4 tsp dried oregano. And.....Voila! I have tonight's meal -- Cupboard Soup! I usually sprinkle some fresh-grated parmesean cheese over before serving and, for those of us in the home who want it ( I want it, but I forego it as I am 50+ and have to watch my carb intake -- lucky me!!), a toasted slice of whole-grain bread or a whole-grain cracker or two and the meal is complete!

And the best part -- I didn't spend a red pence today!!!! Bring it on, Tuesday ;)

Happy HEALTHY New Year, Everyone!

xo, MJ, RD

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

What No One's Talking About-- Discipline!

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.  Robert Frost, from 'The Road Not Taken'

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Erring on the Side of the Foolishness and Weakness of God

Words of any 'wisdom' and comfort really fail me now as I continue to watch the footage of the heartbreaking, tragic killing of those 20 children and all the adults and listen to the unfolding circumstances.  

All I know is, during a time like this, and, in fact, upon thinking about how often -- too often -- this type of tragedy has occurred in the past several years -- 61 times, in fact, since the Columbine massacre, I turn to God.

I know  we are living in a skeptical age of all things religious. But, to me, God is not 'religion'. God is real. Or rather, I believe God is real. Because if you ask me if I KNOW that God is real and that God exists and that I have definitive proof -- well, I don't! Not in the way that you and most people want certainty, unequivocal scientific evidence, a binary positive assertion, and logical explanation able to withstand scrutiny under the most rigorous analyses and arguments.

Nope -- no can do! That's why it's called  faith. 

I have faith -- much more than religion.  Don't get me wrong, I'm actually quite a religious person. I LIKE going to church, practicing the sacraments, and praying. I need it. It's what keeps me faithful. It helps me to ground and center myself in the teachings I purport to have faith in. Those would be the teachings of the Bible and in Jesus Christ.

It amazes me how universal and true of all that is Written reverberates to the human condition today! And, ok, much of what is Written is in context to the wisdom of what had already been written, but then, there comes along Jesus Christ -- born in such humble circumstances, living such a common -- really, actually, totally unregal life, hanging out with a bunch of fishermen, and scooting around the towns and countrysides of his world doing his 'thing', and then DYING like a common criminal -- no the death of the worst of criminals of that day -- and He ends up being the King of kings!!!! Yeah -- it ends up, all that He says and all that He came to do -- is that what makes people live GOOD lives, and what gives hope, and love, and  faith in the BEST of what people and what this world can be!

That's what believing in Jesus and God, CERTAINLY, does for me! 

And let me give you that example of the realness of God's Word and what listening and believing in Jesus actually makes me DO.

As you know, I'm a dietitian. I have studied and worked as a nutritionist for more years than not, at this point in my life. I KNOW alot about nutrition and things like carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals, metabolism, diets, diseases, food, cookery methods, health promotion, etc. and so on. But what good is it if ALL this knowledge and understanding doesn't inspire me to apply and LIVE this knowledge and understanding in my own life, for sure, but also to have what it takes for me to teach and guide and help people I meet and work with to do the same in their lives??!!
It is an incredible witness to me that the TRUTH of nutrition really does bear out! When I choose to eat according to what I have studied is helpful and necessary for my body to be healthy and function optimally and that what makes me feel and look great -- this is GOOD. Conversely, when I choose to negate all the information I've studied and all the practices I KNOW truly work and I start eating junk, overeating all foods, stopping with my exercise and the physical activity I KNOW my body needs to keep it limber, agile, and healthy -- well -- I feel BAD. Furthermore, when I'm feeling bad, I am not very effective and motivated to reach out to my clientele to share the TRUTH about nutrition, health foods and cookery, and fitness, so,  I fail them. It's such a waste of my talent, energy, vocation, and need in the world!

So, in the simple realm of my profession -- there's 'Good' vs 'Bad'. I follow the 'TRUTH' and I'm 'good', I negate the 'TRUTH' and 'bad' results.

And time after time, folks, my natural tendency is to do all the things that make me feel 'bad' -- overeat, go for the high-fat, sickeningly-sweet crap that's out there and put on weight and be less of the person and less of the professional that I am and called to be. Because, I don't know about you, but when I feel like crap, I shun the world. I'm not good to myself nor am I of any use or good to anyone else. Things like worthlessness, self-loathing, self-pity, self-absorption, etc. occupy my time and space --- BAD!

You know what makes me choose for the TRUTH, to carry my cross,  and to walk the right path?? Faith. Plain and simple. The belief in a Caring, Forgiving, Loving, Renewing God!!!  That's what Jesus came into this crap world to tell me, to teach me, to show me, and to die so that all that is BAD in me could be, somehow, redeemed by God to make me new again and on the road to becoming GOOD!!! The more I read about Jesus, the more I realize -- I don't just love Jesus -- I actually LIKE Jesus. He seemed to be really nice, even though He was the Son of God!  He was SO normal -- yet a King!

So, when bad -- very bad things happen in the world, I'm just that much more seeking out to look to God to be there to do what's needed to give hope, comfort, and to bring love back to the world. To the lives and world of those who are suffering through this tragedy, for sure. I pray to God to be side-by-side with every parent, every brother, every sister, husband, wife, son or daughter, mother, father of anyone gunned down -- and to love, comfort, restore, strengthen, renew, forgive and inspire forgiveness! I ask God to send all the right people to be truly helpful and to say the words that are needed to bring peace and love back to the world of the victims of this tragedy and to all of us!

I pray for the world to come back again to having faith in God, and to listen again to Jesus and to the Word.

As I said, I have no proof whatsoever that God exists, but I have equally no definite proof that He doesn't exist!!! 

I DO have MORE proof that all the scientific explanations and knowledge, all the technological advances, and all the wisdom and power of men -- even the wisest and most famous of men -- well -- it all seems to be worth not a whole lot when I look around at what's happening in the world today.

In our needy, broken-hearted, suffering world,  I'm choosing to err on the side of the foolishness and weakness of a Living, Forgiving, Loving, and Life-Renewing God!

For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength.  1 Corinthians 25.

May the Peace and Love of Christ be with you and yours! Make someone Happy this Christmas!

xo mj

Thursday, 23 August 2012

A Great Donut Will Never Love You Back

I love a freshly baked donut.

I really enjoy a slice of homemade cake of ANY kind with a beautiful cup of properly brewed tea.

I can still remember the cake that my Italian parents served at my wedding reception for close family and friends -- an Italian Rum Cake made by my Dad's baker cousin, 'Junior'.  It had the most exquisite taste and texture with the perfect combination of a light vanilla sponge with just the right hints of rum, chocolate, custard, and cream and it looked GORGEOUS!  That's the idea of a 'wedding cake' ! It's meant to symbolize what a happy marriage is all about -- a perfect combination with hints of all the good things that we can add to the mix, so as to give joy to all that we can share a piece of ourselves with -- to one another, for sure, but also to family, friends, and everyone we meet along the way. AND, still look gorgeous! Haha!

But, seriously-- think about what I just wrote above. That is -- here's me, on my wedding day -- remembering my CAKE! I admitted in my profile introduction that I'm a 'foodie' -- and so I am. But I am not the kind of foodie who is a fabulous chef (just taste my tofu cheesecake), an expert on all fine and rare food finds, or who can tell you each fresh, foodie market in the world to fulfill all your food fantasies.

I just love great food and have been blessed to have been brought up with always having it around.

Great food was a priority in our home -- not just for ourselves, but, mainly having it to share with anyone and everyone who came to visit. That's just the Italian way! You were 'talked about' if you didn't have something delicious to offer when people came over -- even if they just casually dropped in.  And, it didn't have to be a homemade piece of cake or pie or cookie, etc.  A slice of honeydew with a chunk of cheese and hunk of bread would do just as well -- BUT -- we're talking the ripest, most succulent melon you'd ever sink your teeth into, a fine, aged cheese that you could savor as the perfect foil to the sweet melon, and the freshest, crustiest bread you could get your hands on!

Sounds wonderful, doesn't it? And it was and IS wonderful! One can't help becoming a 'foodie' with this background. But, as I said earlier, calling myself a 'foodie', for me, simply means I have a great appreciation of great food....

Almost too see, I also grew up obese.

In families and cultures where food is made such a priority -- and there are many -- not just Italian -- there's that proverbial 'double-edged sword' ready to strike to bring one or two of the happy 'campers' down. 'Priority' turns to 'obsession' -- NOT good!

In fact, it's downright destructive.  All that was meant  to show love and joy turns into a source of heartache and struggle. What's really dangerous is that often no one knows what's happening until it's too late. That's because, in many cultures -- a chubby child is considered 'normal' -- even a good sign --  prosperity, contentment -- good times!

And not all chubby children become obese -- in fact, it IS normal for pre-pubescent children to go through growth phases when they can look chunky or shapeless, but they are actually right on track. And many children and people are 'self-regulators' and really and truly develop a healthy autonomy about food selection and eating.  But, it's extremely important that parents and family members keep a watchful, YET unobtrusive eye on the behaviors and attitudes that your children exhibit toward food. Because many OTHER chubby children DO grow up to become obese adults and/or people that struggle with eating disorders, food addictions, and often, other addictions.

The travesty is that we are, otherwise, healthy, happy people who set ourselves up for many diseases, disappointments, and frustrations -- all that could have been prevented if our overeating and/or food obsessivness, somehow, could have been caught early -- before it became problematic.

So, I'm not saying that being a 'foodie' is a BAD thing. Just be careful that it doesn't foster an obsession with food -- for yourselves, but also for your children!

'Loving' great food IS about the food itself, yes -- but MORE IMPORTANTLY -- it's about the time and attention into creating great food and in sharing it to give joy and pleasure to others.

THAT actually IS the lasting legacy I have from my very loving, great food-loving Italian parents and family.

And, I feel very fortunate to be a dietitian who truly understands what it means to enjoy food and yet struggle with food. This helps me minister better care to my clients.  It's very important for me to help clients get results and to become not just better-nourished people, but BETTER PEOPLE!!! :)

I STILL love a great donut -- every now and then -- and then I TRULY find joy from it. Believe me!

But, I guess, I MORE love also learning about the how, why, who, where, and what about the donut.  Because I NOW know -- no matter what, where, why, how, and who....

A great donut will never love me back!

Share something good today with someone! :)