Tag: nutrition
November 28, 2014

4 Simple Steps for Surviving Holiday Parties

4 Simple Steps for Surviving Holiday Parties

Holiday weight gain happens to everyone, right? Not you. Not this year.

Holiday Weight Gain Basics

Research has shown that Americans are gaining more weight each year with most of the gain occurring between October and February.

The weight gain during this time of year can be attributed in large part to the increase in social eating situations. Have you been gaining weight slowly over the past several years? Do you always gain a little weight during the holidays, promise yourself you’ll lose it after the first of the year, but never really get around to it??

It’s okay, be honest.

The best plan is a proactive one. If you can avoid putting on the extra weight in the first place, then you won’t have to go through the much more difficult process of losing it. Fortunately, curbing your holiday weight gain is actually very simple.

Below, I have outlined 4 action steps that you can use to prevent holiday weight gain.

  1. Pre-Eat

The worst choice you can make is going to a holiday party on an empty stomach. This is setting yourself up for complete and utter disaster. Pre-eat before you go, with a small amount of food that will increase your feeling of fullness, prevent cravings, and slow the digestion of any foods that you do eat when you go out. My top pre-eating foods are:

Small Salad – This has been consistently shown in scientific studies to reduce the amount of food you eat in the subsequent meal. Having a salad before you go to a party, or having a salad as your first item at the party, could help you eat 200-300 calories less.

Apple & String Cheese – The apple provides fiber and volume while the string cheese provides fat and protein. These components will signal your body that you are full and slow down digestion (making you feel full longer).

  1. Skip The Crackers

Most holiday parties are loaded with breads, crackers, cookies and cakes. Just say no. Loading up on these starchy carbohydrates will send your blood sugar levels for a ride. This, along with the lack of fiber in these foods, will cause you to end up eating a lot of them and quickly stack up the calories….Honestly, when was the last time you ate just one cracker? Exactly. Skip the crackers.

  1. Shrimp & Veggies Please

So, what can you eat? Shrimp, smoked fish, cheese, and vegetables (not the fried ones) are staples at holiday cocktail parties and are all good choices. Many parties also have a featured meat item that would work, such as roast beef or a spiral ham.

Broccoli, carrots, celery, and whatever other vegetables sitting near the ranch dressing are all fair game. The protein-based foods like shrimp, smoked salmon, the meat entrée and cheese are nice compliments to your veggies, by providing fat and protein (components that help with fullness).

If you have a choice, opt for hummus over Ranch or Blue Cheese dressing to dip your vegetables. The carbohydrates in hummus have very little impact on your blood sugar and the chickpeas, which are the basis for hummus, will give you additional fiber. The calorie content of creamy dressing is a nutritional black box. Just 2 TBSPs can contains 7 to 17 grams of fat. These fat grams and calories can add up fast, thus it is best to save the dressing for another time.

  1. Watch Where You Stand

Holiday parties are full of mindless eating opportunities. I’m sure you’ve been in the following, or a similar, situation before. You’re chatting with a friend or colleague and a bowl of Chex Mix lays just within reach. Next thing you know, the conversation is over and the bowl of Chex Mix is empty. When it comes to feeling full, your body doesn’t sense these mindless eating calories, but your waistline does.

Watch where you stand at parties. Take a small plate and pile on your veggies and proteins. Then, go start a conversation on the other side of the room, away from the food table.

This tip alone can reduce how much you eat by 50%.

Holiday weight gain isn’t inevitable. Put these simple strategies into play to control the greatest source of holiday weight gain and keep the pounds off this year.



Dr. Mike Roussell PhD, is a nutritional consultant and author known for transforming complex nutritional concepts into practical nutritional habits that his clients can use to ensure permanent weight loss and log lasting health.


November 21, 2014

Eating Out Survival Guide

Eating Out is No Longer a ‘Treat’

Eating out at a restaurant used to be considered a treat. An uncommon indulgence. However, since the 1970s eating away from home has become more and more common with Americans, now eating upwards of 43% of their meals and 32% of their calories away from home (up from 25% and 18% in 1970).

When eating at a restaurant was an infrequent indulgence, you didn’t have to pay too much attention to what you were eating, but now that eating out is more and more becoming the norm, to lose or maintain your weight and improve your health, you need to be nutritionally savvy when on the go. Here are some steps to serve as your survival guide.

Avoid Empty Calories

Eating out is a constant battle of controlling calories. You can make a lot of headway by avoiding empty calories. This includes free bread or tortilla chips, and calorie containing drinks. Ask your server to take away the bread/chips and opt for beverages that don’t contain calories (water, sparkling water, diet soda, tea, etc).


One of the most important things to remember is that the portions you are served are not necessarily the portions that you should be eating. It is important to remember that chefs aren’t trained in nutrition. This is illustrated by the fact that 76% of chefs thought the portions of pasta and steak they were serving were regular but they were actually 2-4 times what would be considered a normal serving.

Other research shows that 73% of chefs think they could reduce the calorie content of their meals by 10-20% without customers ever knowing (but they aren’t doing this!).

Know what portion is appropriate for you. Use simple guides like:

Protein the size of 1-2 of your palm(s).

Rice or Pasta that fits in the palm of your cupped hand

Oil or dressing the size of a poker chip

Do Nutrition Reconnaissance

Whenever Possible

The calorie content of meals is very often available on a restaurant’s website but it is not always easily accessible onsite. Online, some companies have nutrition calculators where you can create your ideal meal and see what the calorie, protein, carbohydrate, and fat breakdown would be. Use these tools whenever possible to empower your ordering decisions.

Vegetables, Vegetables, and More Vegetables

When eating out, vegetables are your friend. Dr. Barbara Rolls’ research on eating behavior is pretty clear and consistent, the more vegetables you eat (preferably green leafy ones) the less calories you are going to eat. Pile on the vegetables.

This means starting off your meal with a salad. Not a salad with bacon, cheese, eggs, avocado, walnuts, and salad dressing. A simple ‘house’ salad with lots of greens. Dr. Rolls’ research shows that having a salad before a meal can decrease the total amount of calories that you eat by 10-12%. If you aren’t big on salads, her research shows similar results with broth based vegetable soups.

Decode the Menu

How a meal is described on a menu can provide you with a lot of information about the calorie content of that meal.

Avoid Foods described as:







Au Gratin



Meals described in this fashion are going to be higher in calories and prepared using more fat.

Pick Foods described as:





Au Jus




Meals described in this fashion are going to be lower in calories. The amount of fat used in these preparation techniques is greatly reduced.

Dr. Mike Roussell PhD, is a nutritional consultant and author known for transforming complex nutritional concepts into practical nutritional habits that his clients can use to ensure permanent weight loss and log lasting health.


November 14, 2014

Power Food: Lean Beef

Heart Health Promoter or Destroyer?

Red meat has long been implicated as a food that will destroy your heart health…so how could it be considered a power food? Let’s look at the nutritional power of lean beef and the misinterpretation of scientific research that has given it a bad name.

Red Meat vs. Lean Beef

Much of the confusion about the healthfulness of lean beef comes from the way it is categorized in research studies and talked about. Red meat can mean a lot of different foods that have a very different nutritional profile compared to lean beef.

What is considered red meat?

Hamburger, beef hot dog, processed meat and processed meat sandwich, bacon, beef/pork/lamb as a mixed and main dish.

What is considered lean beef?

A piece of beef that contains <10 g total fats, =4.5 g saturated fat, and <95 mg cholesterol per 3.5 oz. serving

These two categories describe very different types of foods. In the 5 clinical trials that have compared the effects of eating lean beef vs. chicken/fish, there is no difference in the diet’s ability to reduce risk of heart disease.

10 Essential Nutrients

To be a power food, you need to bring a lot of nutrition without a lot of calories. Lean beef leads the way in this category as it contains 10 essential nutrients:


Vitamin B12




Vitamin B6




You would need 6 1/2 cups of raw spinach to get as much vitamin B6 as you would get from a 3oz serving of beef. You may also be surprised to know that almost half of the fat found in beef is monounsaturated fat, the same fat in avocados and olive oil.

Where’s the Lean Beef

Knowing that lean beef is what you want, the next questions is where in the meat case at the supermarket is the lean beef?

It is everywhere. Chances are that you are already buying lean beef without even knowing it. 69% of the beef sold in supermarkets is lean beef.

Currently, 38 cuts of beef meet the USDA criteria for lean. Here are some of the most popular lean cuts

Strip Steak

T-Bone Steak

Filet Mignon

Sirloin Steak

Top Round

90% lean ground beef


Pot Roast

Keys to Cooking Lean Beef

Cooking delicious lean beef doesn’t need to be difficult or tricky. The key is in the temperature.

Using a meat thermometer to ensure that you are cooking your meat to the correct temperature, will allow you to not just avoid food borne illness but will ensure that you get meat that is cooked to your liking every time.

Well Done: 170 degrees Fahrenheit

Medium: 160 degrees Fahrenheit

Medium Rare: 145 degrees Fahrenheit

More Flavor, Less Calories

Beef contains high levels of the amino acid glutamate. Glutamate is responsible for the 5 taste – umami or savory. By adding other umami flavor rich foods to your meal, you can exponentially enhance the taste and enjoyment of your beef dish without a lot of extra calories. Umami rich toppings to add include: aged cheese, soy sauce, fish sauce, mushrooms, and ripe tomatoes.

Dr. Mike Roussell PhD, is a nutritional consultant and author known for transforming complex nutritional concepts into practical nutritional habits that his clients can use to ensure permanent weight loss and log lasting health.