Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Is Calories In vs Calories Out the Final Word?

Anyone who has heard me speak, read much on this blog, or worked with me, surely understands that I don't often worry about calories.  You have seen here recipes for delicious smoothies with coconut, luscious fruits, tahina; my raw brownies and peanut bars resplendant with dates and nuts; creamy banana oats and other carb-heavy dishes.   I personally find that by staying away from processed foods, from sugar, from too much wheat and animal products, I can enjoy a bountiful diet without having to count or watch calories.

But what about what we have been taught:  "Weight is controlled quite simply by calories in versus calories out." Isn't this an indisputible Law of Thermodymanics?

Total honesty here:  I don't know.

I do know that when I was following a 100% Raw Vegan Diet, I ate whatever I wanted as long as it was raw, and I lost weight. I ate loads of fruit, veggies, avocados, as many nuts and seeds as I wanted, agave nectar, raw honey, raw cacao, coconut oil, loads of flaxseed crackers, and gourmet raw dishes and I continued to lose weight. Sometimes, just for fun, I input everything I ate into fitday.com to see where I stood calorie-wise. Not surprisingly, I quite often came in well-over the 1400 calories I had needed to stay below in order to lose the 70 lbs I had lost up to that point. It was pretty clear to me then, that NOT all calories were created equal. Calories from raw, unadulterated sources seemed to be used by the body more efficiently.  (By the way, I lasted as a 100% Raw Vegan for 30 days.  Twice.  It's not easy).

Then there is the lecture I recently listened to by Marc David, author of The Slow Down Diet, Nourishing Wisdom, and Mind/Body Nutrition, founder of The Institute for the Psychology of Eating, and a graduate of and guest teacher at my alma mater, the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. In the lecture, David discounts the calories in-calories out theory completely. He points out that if that formula really worked, so many of us wouldn't still be struggling with our weight. David goes on to explain that a meal, eaten under stress, anger, or self-loating isn't going to be digested the same way as a meal eaten in happiness, joy and calm. He's got the scientific data to back up his claims.  I personally think he's on to something.

And what about hormones and their role on weight?  What about toxins in the environment.  What about the thyroid, the master gland that controls our calorie burn rate, the metabolism?

In my own practice, I've had plenty of clients keep meticulous records of their intake and output everyday for days on end. Often where there is a calorie-defecit and we would expect them to lose weight, they don't. Other times, they lose weight when they are clearly eating a surplus of calories. I am pretty convinced that weight loss adds up to quite a bit more than just calories in vs calories out.

The method I try to teach my clients is to follow their hunger. Eat when hungry, don't eat when not hungry. This takes some practice for many of us, especially those who have not allowed themselves to feel actual hunger for years, but I have a great technique that makes this so simple and easy.

I also advise everyone to eat as natural whole food as possible and to avoid artificial flavors, chemicals, preservatives and other ick. Fruit is your friend people! It is not a high-calorie bomb!! Who came up with that anyway? I so often hear people tell me they are avoiding fruit because it is too many calories and too much sugar, as they chomp on their artificial chemical filled diet bar and their skim latte. Perhaps their snack is fewer calories, but what about nutrition? What about satisfaction? What about fiber?? Will that lower calorie, albeit lower nutrtient snack actually help them lose weight? Will they then be skinny but sick?  This is not an experiment I am willing to take with my health. I am not eating food created in a Lab. I do not believe that those reduced calorie items will keep me slim and healthy. Pass me the peaches.

I also ask my clients to find a form of movement that they love and then get out there and do it regularly. It should be hard enough to make you sweat and breath, but fun enough to make you want to do it again.

BUT, and this is a very big but:  More times than not, I will also ask my clients to submit food logs or to track their calories for a few weeks on http://www.sparkpeople.com/ or http://www.fitday.com/.  Why?  Because it is all too easy to think we are eating great and within reason, but in reality we are eating more than we need.  How many people reading this have been frustated that they did everything "right" and still didn't lose weight?  Yeah, me too.  Then I logged it all and saw I was overeating enough of the time to undo the lower calorie days and halt any weight loss progress. Food logging and calorie counting can be THE KEY to figure out why your weight is not going in the direction you want it to be going.

So, I am divided on the issue.  I think calories DO count.  I also think there is more to weight loss than just calories.

What do you think?  What has been your experience with calorie counting?

For those of you on SparkPeople, please friend me:  EmilySegal.  Sometimes I track my food there too for all to see.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Where the Heck Did I go?

Yowsa!  I did NOT mean to let 2 weeks go by without blogging.  I was just so busy getting the 21-Day Group Detox underway.  We are now in the midddle of Week One and my participants are beginning to get their Sparkle on!  Yay!  I will report more on that as I am able.

Aside from the Daily 9-5, we have been awfully busy having FUN lately.  Here's a sample of what's been on tap:
We picnicked with friends in a beautiful forest...

where we allowed our children to play with fire, neat.

We made whole wheat popovers...

and ate them.

We met old NY friends in Tel Aviv.

We drank luscious smoothies with coconut and loquat, in season now.

We built things from Lego.

We watched the Air Show for Israel Independence Day.

Don't I looked thrilled?
I was actually. 
And notice how I'm the only person who seems to think shade is important?
And how my 8-year old is almost as tall as his adorable, shrinking grandfather?

We ate Soba Noodles with Veggies and Tofu.

And my son has begun creating his own dishes and photographing them.
Friends, a Baby Food Blogger, has been born!

That's about it.  I'll be back to regular blogging, bli neder (no promises!)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Fastest Way to Get Unstuck

The Triumph Wellness Fast-Track 21-Day Detox Class
3 classes to choose from beginning April 21, 22 and 23 in Kfar Saba and Tel Aviv

Are you ready to revitalize your health and achieve a whole new level of Triumph? 
Why go on another diet, when this is the quickest, easiest and FUNEST way to get unstuck, unclogged and unfrumped?

Make lasting changes in your life and feel exquisitely fit and happy by adopting my super-simple, straightforward approach to healthy living through holistic nutrition.

There are SO many glowing testamonials from past participants in this program that is was hard to choose just a few:

"I never thought I would be able to make it through a single day without sugar and soda. Here I am 30 days later, several kilos lighter and feeling better than I could have imagined. I will never go back to the way I ate before. I could never have done it without Emily and the group!" - L.R.

"Emily, I cannot thank you enough. Since the detox I have lost 19lbs and feel fanatstic!!" -S.G.

"I lost 4kgs and have finally gotten on the right track to healthy living. I always knew what I was supposed to be eating before, but just was never able to DO IT before Emily showed me how." - T.W.

"Emily is lively and knowledgable. She provides valuable information week by week along with great recipes and yummy tastings! She makes a month-long detox seem very easy." -I.R.

"Emily's programme might seem daunting at first but once you begin and taste all the wonderful recipes and immediately start reaping the benefits, you really do not want the month to end. Anybody who cares about their body should do this programme!" - SK

"My whole family is eating better thanks to Emily's wonderful recipes and inspiration." - D.R.

Quite simply....   YAY!

Do you want to…

Restore your body to a healthy weight and fitness level?

Say goodbye to stress and hello to unswerving energy?

Turn your back forever on fad diet programs?

Live a life that allows for “me time” and lavish, restorative rest?

Never again be held back by the limitations of your health?

Me!  Me!  I do!  Sign me UP!

If you recognize your own goals in the list above, then join the class people have been raving about all year!

You are cordially invited to participate in an extraordinary 4-week detox program where I’ll share my top, tried-and-true tips for permanently eliminating negative food forces that keep you from living your best life. I’ll personally guide you along a clear-cut path toward total health and wellness.

What You Must Know About “Detoxing” (and why it’s not what you think it is): Detoxification – at least as I teach it – is about removing the negative habits that keep you trapped in a life you do not want while adding positive steps that help you live a healthy life ful of vibrance and energy. The Triumph Wellness 21-Day Detox is a bridge that leads to rejuvenation and restoration and launches you fully into total wellness.

For ALL of the details, check here. 

To speak to me in person or to register: Emily@TriumphWellness.com or 054-441-9858

(Here's the obligatory 3rd person intro-elevator-shpiel:)
Emily Segal is a Board-Certified Holistic Nutritionist, a graduate of The Institute for Integrative Nutrition in NYC, and a member of the American Association of Drugless Practioners. To learn more about Emily visit www.TriumphWellness.com

Oh, and by the way, I'm Emily and this is my Blog.  Have a look around and get to know me a bit.  I'm nice.  A little crazy, but in a totally good way.

Thursday, April 8, 2010


How do you know if the Triumph Wellness 21-Day Detox is for you?  Here are some frequently asked questions:

Q:  When does it meet?

A:  There are 3 groups this time around.  All meet for 4 sessions.
Group One meets Wednesdays in Kfar Saba from 12:00 - 13:30   Dates:  21.4, 28.4, 5.5 and 12.5

Group Two meets Thursdays in Kfar Saba from 20:00 - 21:30   Dates:  22.4, 29.4,  6.5 and 13.5

Group Three meets in Tel Aviv, days and times TBD so let me know what works for you Tel Avivians!

Q:  What is the cost?

A:  500 nis which includes all four 90-minute meetings, a binder full of handouts, recipes and notes, round the clock access to ME on our own private yahoo group, food demos and tastings at each session.

Q:  Is this a Fad Diet?

A:  Not at all!  The 21-Day Detox will show you how certain foods are affecting the way you look and feel.  Once you make this connection, you will begin to think about feeding yourself in a different way forever.

Q:  But what happens when the Detox is over?  Don't we just go back to eating how we were before?

A:  By our last meeting, 99% of participants have said "I feel so amazing.  These are changes I will be making for life!"  Yes, many go back to eating wheat, dairy, sugar, coffee, but most are permanently changed in the addictive nature they once used these foods and now ALSO include a huge variety of healthier options.  I have a few clients who continued on eating the "detox way" and have been maintaining large and effortless weight losses of up to 10kgs!

Q:  I am an Emotional Eater / have had food issues all my life / am seriously over-weight / addicted to dieting/ etc.  Can this 21-Day Detox help me?

A:  Yes, the 21-Day Detox is a great starting place.  I am a skilled and experienced Holistic Nutritionist and Counselor with many years of experience dealing with those issues, including my own personal experience with obesity, sugar addition and binge-eating disorder.  But these are not issues that will dissapear in a 21-Day group program.  I do not have time in a group to delve too deeply into any single person's food issues.  HOWEVER, additional, affordable, private counseling is available and encouraged for those who wish to go into greater depth once the detox is over.  Many Detox clients have gone on to become private clients and have reached the point of peace with food and with their bodies through our work together.

Q:  What exactly do we give up during the Detox?

A:  Week one we go off sugar, artificial sweeteners, coffee and sodas.  Week two we add the elimination of wheat (bread, pasta, couscous).  Week three we add the elimination of dairy products.  Throughout the detox you will be encouraged to eat less red meat and drink less alcohol.

Q:  There is NO WAY I can go off of coffee!  I wouldn't even want to.  Can I still do the detox?

A:  Yes!  My philosophy is always one of "do as much as you can".  If going off of coffee is not in the cards for you, come anyway and do what you can do.  That said, I WILL encourage you to decrease your intake, I will show you how to do so painlessly and help you understand why it might be important to do so.  I can't even tell you how many coffee addicts have come in saying "I can't and I won't" and find themselves coffee free and feeling great by the end of week 3!

Q:  I'm a real sugar / bread addict.  I don't think I could do this.

A:  Everyone comes in saying that and everyone succeeds despite their fears.  Sugar addiction is my specialty.  I have brought about the recovery of many sugar addicts, myself included.  I will show you how to make so many delicious sugarless desserts that you will do just fine.  And again, you can go at whatever pace you choose without judgement or negativity.

Q:  What CAN we eat???

A:  Luscious fruits with no limit, delicious fruit smoothies, all my sugar-free desserts such as the much-loved brownie balls, all your normal foods such as chicken, fish, rice, potatoes, corn, quinoa, rice cakes, sweet potatoes, polenta, beans, legumes, tofu, barley, oats, and a wide varray of vegetables, soups, salads, etc etc etc.  You will NOT go hungry!!!
Q:  What's wrong with wheat?

A:  Many, many people have varying degrees of sensitivity to wheat.  If you are suffering from gas, bloating, fatigue or stubborn weight gain, wheat is quite often the culprit.

Q:  Why eliminate dairy?

A:  Dairy is not the health food it has been touted as!  I will tell you all the truth about dairy, but bottom line is many people are not digesting it well and feel SO much better when it is gone!

Q:  How can we get enough calcium without dairy?

A:  Come to the detox and I will show you!  There is in fact LESS osteoporosis in countries where dairy products are NOT consumed!  I will also show you how to make and enjoy delicious non-dairy milks, creams and dips.

Q:  Will we have to use any powders or supplements or buy strange, expensive foods?

A:  No.  You probably will want to make a trip to the health food store for things like miso, tahina, natural peanut butter, dates, nuts and flaxseeds, but nothing any wierder than that and I will explain exactly how to buy and use everything you are unfamiliar with.  No supplements or fake food or meal replacements or anything - yuck, yuck, yuck!  Real, whole, natural food - that's my program.

Q:  I have diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, IBS, or another illness.  Is this program safe for me?

A:  Yes it is.  Feel free to ask your doctor is he/she approves of a plan that takes you off of sugar, artificial sweeteners, coffee, alcohol, wheat, and dairy.  What do you think he/she will say?  He/she will probably want to join you!

Q:  Can my teenage child join in?  He/she is a terrible eater!

A:  The program is only open to adults age 18 or older.  But you will learn many delicious recipes and become empowered to share health info with your family.  Many husbands end up joining their wives on detox "unofficially" and I receive so much positive feedback from parents who have changed the way their entire family eats for the better!

Q:  I did your 30-Day Detox program last year.  Is this going to be different?

A:  I have re-written the program based on client feedback from last year, so there will be a lot of new stuff.  Some of the content and recipes will be the same, but the majority will be new.

Q:  Is the food you prepare in class Kosher?

A:  My kitchen in Kfar Saba is Kosher and Shomer Shabbat.  The kitchen in Tel Aviv is not Kosher, but all the food will be Kosher, Parve and Vegan.

Q:  Is this program available only to people in Israel?  I live in another country.

A:  It is only available as a group program here in Israel, but I do counsel people from all over the world via skype.  I would be happy to privately walk any skype client through the exact same 21-Day Detox Program.  Email me for details Emily@TriumphWellness.com

Q:  I have additional questions you didn't answer here.  Where can I ask them?

A:  Please email me at Emily@TriumphWellness.com or call 054-441-9858, or leave a comment below.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

BOOK REVIEW: Food For the Soul

Disclaimer:  I was sent the following book as a gift from the publisher, Gefen Publishing House, in order that I could write an honest review.  Other than the free book, I do not profit in any way by the following review.

Food for the Soul:  Traditional Jewish Wisdom for Healthy Eating by Chana Rubin, RD
copyright Gefen Publishing House, Jerusalem, 2008

Chana Rubin is a registered dietician from the US now living and teaching in Beer Sheva, Israel.  Her website is:  http://www.healthyjewisheating.com/  Although I don't think she mentions this specifically, it is pretty clear to me at least, that she is also an observant Jew and is writing for a predominantly religiously Jewish audience.

I was pretty skeptical upon receiving this book.  I have heard most dieticians spouting off bad advice about eating "lite" bread and artificial, fake diet foods.  But Food for the Soul turns out to be a wonderful book, spot on with the latest nutrition data and advice, with totally sane suggestions for a balanced lifestyle of health and happiness AND a fabulous recipe section.

Chapter 1, called "Diet and Health: The Jewish Connection" gives inspiring textual sources for Judaism's view of healthy diet and lifestyle.  You wouldn't know there was such a thing in our texts based on the dietary habits of most modern Jews, but from the Bible through Maimonides and the Mishnah, we Jews are commanded to mind the body as our temple.  For instance:

"Since maintaining a healthy and sound body is among the ways of G-d - for one cannot understand or have any knowledge of the Creator if one is ill - therefore, you must avoid that which harms the body and accustom yourself to that which is healthful and helps the body become stronger."  (Rambam, Hilchot De'ot 4:1)  page 7 of Food for the Soul

"There are two reasons to avoid eating harmful foods:  First, to prevent the food from causing physical harm.  Second, to humble the yetzer hara (evil inclination) and break his cravings...because certainly a person must be careful not to eat foods which he knows are bad for him."  (Ra'avad, Ba'alei Ha'nefesh)  page 10 of Food for the Soul

The next chapter, "Jewish Women:  Setting the Tone with Food" is chock full with wonderful advice for women charged with feeding and caring for the family.  Ms. Rubin encourages her women readers to behave in a spiritual fashion with food and make time to nourish and care for themselves as well.  Bravo!  This is a beautiful section in my opinion.

The following chapters get into specific nutrition and exercise information.  I particularly like the chart on healthy substitutes for trans-fat laden dairy substitutes.  There is even a section supporting Vegetarianism from a Jewish perspective, although the main tone of the book is to use chicken, fish, eggs and dairy moderately while decreasing red meat and increasing plants, grains and legumes.  I can fly with that.

Then there are the recipes.  There are 108 recipes in the book.  Only 6 of them are for chicken, 12 of them are fish, 48 of are vegetarian (some with vegan option), and a whopping 42 of them are vegan!  (some do have honey, but that can be subbed).  NONE of the recipes contain beef or lamb or any other mammal, yay!  Here are the recipes I tried in no special order and how they rate:

Chana's Granola
5 stars for health - no sugar, low fat, lots of nuts and seeds
4 stars for taste - needs to be a tad sweeter - maybe add pureed orange next time

Peanut Butter Cookies
2 stars for health - there are TWO cups of sugar in these cookies!  But I gave points for whole wheat flour and oil instead of butter or margarine
4 stars for taste

Red Pepper Walnut Spread
5 stars for health
3 stars for taste (just not to our liking)

Eggplant Spread
5 stars for health
5 stars for taste

Soy Glazed Salmon
5 stars for health
Family says 5 stars for taste

Sephardic-Style Red Lentil Soup
5 stars for health
5 stars for taste
Easy too!

Easy Shabbat Brownies
4 stars for health
4 stars for taste
(The whipped cream was added b/c they were a bit flat and bland.  Good excuse, right?)

Spinach Mushroom Mina (pie for passover)
4 stars for health - it's still matzah after all
4 stars for taste

Matzah Lasagna
4 stars for health
5 stars for taste - the kids gave it a big thumbs up too!

the spinach mina and the matzah lasagna on my pretty pesach plate!

My overall impression of this book is very high and I think it makes a wonderful addition to any Jewish kitchen.  I actually think non-Jewish readers would also appreciate the spiritual aspects of eating as presented, the sound nutrition advice, and the delicious, healthy recipes.

One other thing:  For better or for worse, the recipes tend to be very simple and none require any fancy or specialty ingredients.  It is particularly nice for those of us in Israel to have a cookbook where we can find all the needed ingredients easily in our more limited marketplace.  On the other hand, there are recipes for "Simple Steamed Broccoli" and "Peas and Mushrooms" that truly not many of us really need a recipe for anymore.  For that reason, I think this book would be a particularly good book for a newly married couple, or a young adult off on his/her own for the very first time or someone new to cooking.

That said, I very much look forward to trying many more of these recipes.  Keep your eyes on my blog to see more from Food for the Soul.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Travels with Matzah

So for like one glorious, shining moment, my house was spotlessly clean.   Now it's all crappy again.  I think it was Phyllis Diller who said that "Cleaning your house when you have children is like shoveling the walk while it's still snowing." 

Anyhoo, if you want to see all the family pics from the last few days of our vacay, head on over to Facebook.  I'll be posting them there soonly.  (Friend me up here).

If however, you are here to see what we ate while traipsing around the country, scroll yourselves on down...

Here's vacation day lunch break Numero Uno at Qumran, the archaeological site where they found the Dead Sea Scrolls.  It's right across from the Dead Sea.
Cheese n' Salad Sandwiches in Matzoh
The kind tree that kept me from going Edward Cullen to Tomato Red all in one day.

Chocolate Spread on Matzoh (yes, I know this is pure trans-fat, but Pesach is the one time of the year that we eat it and it's YUM!)

Later on, after we had driven down to the Dead Sea, floated for a bit, slathered up in mud and all that, we cooked dinner on the beach.  Now, if you live in Israel, you will realize how funny the following pictures are.  If not, I will explain.  Here in Israel, everyone carries these little bbq thingies in their cars and whenever the mood strikes, right there on the side of the road, at a campsite or picnic grounds, voila, instant bbq.  On Holidays such as this one, where everyone is out enjoying the outdoors, the air is so thick with the smoke of charring meat, you can probably see it from outer space.

But did you ever stop to think, "Well what do vegetarians do when they eat outside?"

Pasta my friends, we made pasta (kosher for passover pasta of course)!

On to DAY TWO:

Floating down the Jordan River

Cutting up the grilled pepper (yes, this time there WAS a bbq indeed!)

But I made sure there was a fine spread anyway...
Fennel salad, tahina with lots of parsley, guacamole, mashed grilled eggplant, veggies, salad...

Finally, any vacation that ends with children in the following position, has been a success as far as I'm concerned!

Back with more after Shabbat!