How to Indulge Without Overindulging on Thanksgiving.

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I have been repeatedly asked if I skip Thanksgiving or only eat the healthier foods on the table. My go-to answer is that it’s a holiday and take the day to enjoy yourself. Enjoy a little of everything you like and stop when you’re full. Skipping foods you love and only get to have once a year leads to resentment. Life is too short.

That said it is possible to indulge without being overindulgent. If you have a weakness for your mom’s sausage stuffing.  take a helping of it. It doesn’t need to be a huge portion in order to feel satisfied. Are there healthy options on the table that you enjoy? Add them to your plate as well but don’t make yourself to eat something you hate because it’s good for you. I despise green beans in all forms and never add them to my plate.

Make smart choices. Appetizers can add up to a lot of calories quickly. Take a small plate with your favorites and savor it. The same goes for dessert, take sample sizes of a few pies or one slice of the cheesecake you love. If you’re not a fan of dessert don’t feel forced to have it because it’s Aunt Carol’s famous pecan pie recipe. If you do feel pressured, simply say you’re too full, maybe later.

Keep your drinking in moderation and have glass of water for each alcoholic beverage. Many cocktails are very high in calories and sugar so try to stick with wine, beer, or use club soda with a splash of fruit juice as a mixer.

I also recommend getting some exercise, especially if you will be sitting most of the day. Not because you need to burn a bunch of calories in order to “earn your food” but because you’ll feel more energized and happy from the workout. Run or walk in your local turkey trot, go for a bike ride, play football in the backyard, or do whatever activity you enjoy best.

Finally, when it comes to leftovers take the turkey and some veggies but pass on the heavier sides. The holiday is Thursday, not the entire weekend. 🙂

Happy Thanksgiving!

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12 Foods That May Seem Healthy but Aren’t

Last week I was at a breakfast meeting and the person sitting across from questioned if my omelet was indeed healthy. I am asked to defend or explain my food choices fairly often and this was an easy one. Eggs are healthy, doctors no longer think that they raise your cholesterol and it’s safe to eat an egg per day.

I had a new client tell me when he wants to eat light he’ll order tuna salad or a grilled cheese. I had to explain that the mayonnaise in traditional tuna salad made the sandwich pretty high in calories and fat. I’m not sure why he thought grilled cheese was healthy but fried cheesy things may be tasty but they aren’t healthy.

Flavored instant oatmeal

The fruit names sound good and oatmeal is healthy. Unfortunately flavored instant oatmeal packets have less fiber than rolled or steel cut oats. They also have much more added sugar and artificial ingredients. Stick with whole oats and add your own fruit and toppings.

Flavored yogurt

Similar to instant oatmeal flavored yogurts have either a lot of added sugar or a lot of artificial sweeteners. Plain, regular or Greek, has much less sugar, a good amount of protein, and probiotics.


Granola can have a lot of oil and sugar added to it. Choose a granola that is low in sugar and calories to ensure that your snack stays healthy.

Wheat or whole grain bread

Whole grains are good for you but unless the bread says 100% whole grain or whole wheat you aren’t getting only whole grains. Many commercial breads are mainly regular white flour with some whole grain flour added. Read your labels here.


Wraps sound like a light choice compared to a regular sandwich but most wraps are high in calories, sodium, and fat and low in fiber. If you want a sandwich stick with 100% whole grain bread.

Yogurt muffins

Many of these claim to be low-fat and while some are most are high in sugar. They are also way larger than a homemade muffin and pack a lot of calories as well. Since there isn’t much nutritional value you’ll end up hungry in a few hours.

Fruit juice

Many juices aren’t whole juices and they are high in sugar but low in nutrients. If you need to drink juice stick with one that is 100% real fruit juice and stick with a 6oz serving. The best choice is just to eat a piece of fruit, since it also includes fiber.


Smoothies can be a very healthy choice but pre-made smoothies are often very large servings, have added unhealthy ingredients, and are high in sugar. Your best bet is to make your own smoothie at home.

Granola bars

Many granola bars are comparable with candy bars. They are often made with high fructose corn syrup and partially hydrogenated oils (trans fats) without much nutritional value. Choose bars with limited ingredients that are low in sugar and are made with 100% whole grains.

Gluten-free snacks and breads

Gluten-free doesn’t automatically mean healthy. Many of these foods are made with less nutrient dense flours and oils. If you need to avoid gluten for health reasons choose foods that are naturally gluten-free such as lean proteins, whole fruits, vegetables and grains such as buckwheat and quinoa.

Fat-free snacks

Fat-free is another term that seems to have a healthy halo. Fa-free snacks and foods have extra sugar, salt, and additives to make them taste better. They can also be surprisingly high in calories while lower in vitamins and minerals. Naturally fat-free foods such as whole fruits and vegetables are the wise choice.

Frozen diet meals

While many of these meals practice portion control, they don’t pack a nutritional punch. They have too many preservatives and sodium and too few vegetables. A better quick meal is precooked frozen brown rice, frozen veggies of your choice, and beans or shrimp which cook up fast.

Need more ideas on what to cook and what to skip? Follow The Empowered Plate on Facebook where I share healthy meals, health, and fitness tips.

Staying active and eating healthy while on vacation

Bike riding on vacation

Bike riding at the beach

I get asked why I workout on vacation and do I also watch my eating while I’m away. I workout mainly because I feel best when I do. It’s also a great way to get a little time to myself and to explore my vacation spot. I often vacation with family and that hour or two by myself gives me energy and peace.

I carry fitness bands with me so I can strength train and on rainy days I’ll do a fitness video from YouTube or Fitness Blender. There is something to be said for running and biking in a new place. It makes the time fly by and I meet some interesting people. If you have run with me you know I stop to pet ALL the dogs who want to be pet. On vacation I stop for photos of things that interest me along the way. It keeps the workout fun and I have a digital memory of the sites.

Food is slightly more complicated. I bring snacks with me for the car (or plane) ride. I keep healthy snacks on hand for a quick breakfast before a workout or to tide me over to the next meal. I stock up on fruits and vegetables, keep oatmeal, whole grain breads, chia seeds, and sunflower butter on hand for breakfast and healthy options around for lunch.

I rented a house on our last trip so I generally ate breakfast and lunch there. Dinners were split between going out and grilling at the house. I enjoy a salad with both lunch and dinner to help keep me full and get my veggies in. Sometimes lunch is a large salad with some protein.

I do have dessert because I enjoy it. I get the smallest cup of ice cream, sometimes that’s the kiddie cup, or I get some local treats to share with the rest of the family. Dark chocolate also makes a good treat and a square or two is all I need to satisfy me.

When I am in a hotel room I still keep healthy snacks and breakfast on hand. If breakfast is included I usually choose the same options I would have at home: eggs, cereal, yogurt, fruit, etc. If there are waffles I will splurge one day and eat one; lunch that day is a healthier choice.

One thing I generally skip are mixed drinks, I would rather get my calories elsewhere. I do have a glass of wine or a beer but most days I leave it at one. Obviously there are exceptions and I don’t sweat about them.

I keep my choices healthy about 80% of the time on vacation. It’s an easy way to stay in balance without feeling deprived.

What are your tips for staying healthy and still enjoying yourself while on vacation?

Do you need help creating a balanced and healthy eating plan? Email me at and together we can come up with a plan that works specifically for you.

Eating Healthy on a Budget – 15 Money Saving Tips

GroceryBagI often hear that it’s almost impossible to eat healthy on a budget. It does seem tough at first, especially if you’re used to buying prepackaged convenience foods. It is possible to eat healthy, however, without breaking the bank. I’ve developed some strategies for saving money without sacrificing my healthy habits.

  1. Shop the sales. Read your local supermarket’s sale circular and purchase the healthy options that you enjoy while they’re on sale. Plan your meals for the week around the sale items you purchased.
  2. Use coupons. Most grocery stores have a loyalty card and send extra coupons for the items you frequently purchase. Check out the coupons for the week and use what you can. You’d be amazed how much you can save.
  3. Know the unit price. There are two prices listed on the shelf, the actual price and the unit price. The unit price is the actual cost per serving and that’s how you determine which brand is more economical.
  4. Buy the store brand. The store brand generally tastes the same but is cheaper since they aren’t spending money on advertising.
  5. Buy in bulk. I will double up on chicken and other meats when they’re on sale and stick them in the freezer. When seasonal vegetables and fruits are on sale I buy extra and freeze them to use later on. If your store has bulk bins for grains, nuts, etc., shop there as well. No packaging makes it a cheaper buy.
  6. Buy what’s in season. Seasonal fruits and vegetables are cheaper than those that are out of season. In the fall apples will be much cheaper than strawberries. Asparagus is cheaper in the spring and fall than in the winter and summer months.
  7. Stretch your meat. Adding beans to your meat dish, making a stir fry or stew lets you stretch the amount of meat you purchased. Vegetables and beans are less expensive and add nutrients to your meal.
  8. Skip the convenience foods. Sure, pre-chopped veggies save you time but you pay dearly for the time save. Spend a few minutes chopping the vegetables yourself. Make your own soups and freeze them in individual containers, rather than buying cans of soup.
  9. Repurpose your leftovers. A roast chicken can be eaten one night, used for tacos another night, and used for soup a third night. Do you have leftover brown rice? Make a stir fry with it another night. Using your leftovers in different ways lets you finish them up without becoming bored.
  10. Cook in bulk. Making soup or chili? Make enough to freeze leftovers. Making chicken breast? Cook extra and freeze unused portions. You’ll have foods for nights when you don’t feel like cooking and save money on ordering out. They can also be used for grab and go lunches.
  11. Buy less expensive cuts of meat. Less expensive cuts can be tougher but cooking them in the crock pot or slow roasting them makes them tender and juicy.
  12. Buy whole grains. Whole grains are another great way to stretch a meal. They are generally inexpensive, full of vitamins and minerals plus the fiber keeps you full longer.
  13. Go meatless. Pick a day or two to skip the meat altogether. Lentils, black beans, and chick peas are all delicious and healthy alternatives to a meat based dish.
  14. Shop a discount store. Do you have a discount grocery store, such as Aldi’s? The no frills approach can help you save big. You many not find everything you want but you’ll save money on many staples.
  15. Meal prep. Having the healthy foods in the house doesn’t do you any good if you don’t use them. Take a few hours one day to prep your meals for the week ahead. It will save you time and money during the week.

What are your tips for saving money on a budget?

Do you want to start adopting a healthier lifestyle? Do you need help with eating better? Email me at to see how I can help you reach your goals.

You are Better Than the Free Cone

DQ2Dairy Queen was giving out free ice cream cones last week and I mentioned to a past client that I didn’t like their ingredients. She commented leave it to a nutritionist to suck the joy out of a free cone. Ouch. I was going to apologize but I really wasn’t sorry.

I stand by it and own it. There are way better choices out there. Just because something is free doesn’t mean I need to go have it. (If Van Leeuwen wants to hand out free ice cream I will definitely wait in line). Read the labels on your ice cream, do you know the ingredients and do they belong in your food?

It reminds me of super-sizing an order. We go for it because it seems like such a good deal without regard to what it does to our bodies.Do you really need a jumbo soda, double burger and enough fries to feed a family for yourself? Do you need the Venti Mocha Frappucino from Starbucks with whip? (My friend had one of these every day and asked me what I thought the calorie count was. FYI: it’s 520 calories with 80 g of sugar. That is 20 teaspoons of sugar).

I love ice cream, it’s one of my favorites. My advice is to try to be mindful about the ingredients and make the better choice. Keep your portions manageable and enjoy every bite or sip of your treat.

Want a quick and easy treat? It’s not really a recipe because it’s ridiculously simple. No ice cream maker needed.

Banana Soft Serve

Freeze a large very ripe banana (peeled). Let it sit on the counter for 10 minutes and put it in your blender or food processor. Instant banana soft serve. You can add cacao, peanut butter, coconut or another frozen fruit if you like. I like mine with 1 – 2 TBS of cacao powder and a little almond butter. It’s satisfying, fun. and easy.

Need help in making better decisions in your eating plan? Not sure what portions should look like? Email me,, and we can come up with a plan that works for you.



Eat the Dessert! (or whatever it is that makes a holiday special to you)

chocolatecakeI was at a meeting the week after Thanksgiving and one of members told me I would be proud of him. He skipped all of the appetizers and dessert as his family dinner and stuck with the meal. Slightly horrified I asked him if he felt deprived? He said no, not at all and he really enjoyed the food that he ate.

So why was I horrified? Because skipping dessert would have left me feeling deprived. But I quickly realized that’s me, not him. He would have felt deprived if he didn’t eat his favorite foods during the meal itself. I get that.

No matter how much a holiday is really about family and relationships we have memories through foods as well. My feeling on this is to enjoy the holiday in what ever way that means for you. Not in love with dessert? Skip it. Can’t wait for the pie or cookies? Go for it. Mom’s lasagna is the best thing you’ve ever eaten? Savor it.

My two tips are: 1) Enjoy your food and stop when you are full. 2) Resist the temptation of taking leftovers home or keeping those tempting foods in the house if you are the one cooking. The 26th is a new day and time to go back to your healthy eating plan.

Some sites that I enjoy for healthy treats are:

Looking to lose a few pounds and gain more energy in 2015? I can help you with an easy plan that works for you and your busy life. Email me,, to set up a strategy session.

Did She Really Call Us Tubby?

e_may_photo_1I had tv on the other day while I was working. The commercial for the next day’s show proclaimed, “Tis the season to be tubby!” and assured us how we could avoid the dastardly fate. Really, you just called us tubby? The truth is the average person only gains 1 – 2 pounds over the holiday season. The bad news is we generally don’t lose those pounds but let them accumulate.

I’m not a fan of the scare tactic marketing or one that plays on someone’s fears. I want you to be healthy and fit, not obsessed. I hesitated to share an article recently because the title was really off-putting. A friend told me she agreed with my philosophies but couldn’t read the article because of the title. I explained why I shared it and that I agreed about the title. The site has really good articles with positive information, but the titles are rotten. I guess their experience is that these titles grab attention.

I didn’t tune in to watch the show. I hope there was good and sensible information on it for the sake of those who tuned in. I want to enjoy my holiday and I remind myself that the holidays are actually only a few days. The parties on the other hand can be a little trickier.

Or avoid/minimize weight gain by having a plan in place for parties that you attend. Make as many healthy choices as possible and pick one or two foods to splurge on. Enjoy them and move on. Be sure to get some exercise in that day, drink water and get some sleep. If you do put extra weight on make a conscious effort to shed it so you don’t slowly accumulate excess pounds.

So my question is what motivates you? Do the scare tactics grab your attention or do you prefer a positive approach?

Need more tips on navigating the holidays? Check out my Thanksgiving blog and party navigation blog from last season.

Happy Halloween!

snoopyIs Halloween something you enjoy or dread? I mostly love it. I get a kick out of seeing the kids in their costumes and their excitement. I can live without the eggs & shaving cream, especially when tossed at vehicles or when Missy is trying to eat them the next day.

The candy is no longer a big part of the holiday for me but I know how it can be. When I was on Weight Watchers I started buying candy I didn’t like so I wouldn’t be tempted by it. That worked pretty well, even if I tried a piece I generally wouldn’t dive headfirst into the bowl of treats. If I wanted something I bought a small portion of it and enjoyed it.

If skipping the candy makes you feel deprived then have some. Eat what you want and  enjoy it; eat some real food as well and drink water so you counteract the sugar. Then tomorrow get rid of it. The holiday is over and it’s time to get back on track. Have a healthy breakfast, continue drinking a lot of water, exercise and eat vegetables. (Your body will thank you).

You can throw the candy out, donate it to the troops or find a dentist who buys it back. And if you’re having a hard time getting rid of it remember it’s not like you can’t have it ever again. There really isn’t any reason to hoard a stash, you can always buy candy when you want it.

Have a happy and safe Halloween!


Top 3 Tips for Getting Back on Track After Thanksgiving

Assortment of High Fiber FoodsI hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and enjoyed the day of family, friends and foods. I’ve seen some posts of people complaining of how much they ate and the thoughts of leftovers. I try to think of the holidays as singular days. So the leftovers I have are turkey, vegetables and a little bit of stuffing. I purposely didn’t come home with dessert or heavy casseroles.

I find that it’s not what I do on the holiday, it’s what I do the days after that have the most impact on my eating plan. To counterbalance yesterday’s indulgences I decided to have a Savory Day today.  A Savory Day is a day when I don’t eat sweets at all.  It lets me balance out from the pecan pie, chocolate and wine from yesterday.  I’m eating oatmeal with blueberries for breakfast, smoked salmon with avocado & capers on whole grain bread for lunch and dinner is leftover turkey and vegetables.  If I need a snack it will be nuts or some carrots & hummus.

It’s also a Whole Foods Day, nothing I’m eating is processed.  It lets my body regroup from some eating that may not have been the healthiest choices.  These are good days to incorporate throughout the holiday season.  You’re not starving yourself nor are you constantly depriving yourself. It’s not fun being hungry and grumpy plus no one else wants to hang out with a grump.

Get some exercise in too.  It’s important to just move your body a bit every day. Find an exercise that makes you feel good, one that you won’t dread doing. I like getting a good sweat on, my brain is happy and I’m ready for any drama that may occur during the upcoming holiday.  There’s something about families in one location that brings out the crazy, but whatever.  I’m ready to deal.

Like these tips and want more? Monday, December 9, 8 pm, I will be having a free 30 minute teleclass, I will be giving insider tips and tricks for dealing with family, staying on track with food and money while keeping your sense of humor. Learn to identify your major stress triggers as well as what brings you pleasure. Bring pleasure and joy into your holiday season and let go of the guilt and shoulds. To sign up for the class please register here:

Ten Easy Tips for a Healthier Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving with catLast week I talked about celebrating Thanksgiving with your family and enjoying the day. I did have some questions on what to do when you are trying to eat healthy and don’t want to get too far off-track.

Get some exercise in. Participate in a Turkey Trot, go for a walk, play touch football or put on your favorite songs and dance for a while. You’ll burn calories and give yourself an endorphin boost.

Have a healthy snack or starter, something simple that will take the edge of your hunger and keep you from devouring everything in sight. Some cut up vegetables and hummus or an apple and a piece of string cheese. Shrimp cocktail is festive and low calorie or a butternut squash soup that’s not made with cream.

If you are doing the cooking or the baking mind the tasting. Bites, licks and tastes all add up calorie wise. (and, yes, you need to taste the dish to make sure the seasoning is right. Dip the spoon in for a small taste).

Turkey is healthy, go easy on the gravy and skip the skin.

Pick your sides wisely, veggies are a great choice but skip the cheese sauce.

It is a holiday so if you want the mashed potatoes and the stuffing take about 1/2 cup size serving of each. (think 1/2 a baseball). You’ll still get your favorites without feeling stuffed.

Skip the bread, you can have that any time of year.

I like cranberries and they are full of antioxidants. Cranberry sauce is also full of sugar so again, go easy. You could also make your own and substitute 1/2 the sugar with stevia.

For dessert pick one and enjoy it. Can’t make up your mind? Take sample size portions (think index finger width) of two or three desserts and savor them. I leave the pie crust because I simply don’t like it. I save a bunch of calories that way too.

Bonus tip: Cocktails, wine, beer and soft drinks add calories. Enjoy the wine with dinner but have a big glass of water to sip as well.

Have a happy Thanksgiving and enjoy your day. The next day go back to your healthy routine.

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