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The Dish

On Eating Healthy and Being Fabulous!

About The Book

Welcome to The Dish, where new nutrition aptitude meets stylish lifestyle attitude! Serving up heaping helpings of nutrition know-how designed to fit a busy schedule and a sense of taste, The Dish is here to proclaim that you can have your chocolate torte and eat it, too!
Forget starve-yourself regimens and diet gimmicks that just don't work; instead join Carolyn O'Neil and Densie Webb as they invite you to wine and dine, entertain and travel, and feel fabulous. As registered dietitians, they know their stuff, but call them the Dish Divas as they put the fun into eating right and feeling great.
In these pages they dish out smart tips on how to fit nutrition into hectic days, how to make healthy eating stylish, and how to be trim by eating more, not less (yes, it can be done!). There are no food police on patrol here, just some real-life advice from two nutrition experts, who talk you through food challenges with wit and wisdom.
Eating out? The dish is here, from four-star tables to the fast-food lane. What about a bit of the bubbly? The Dish Divas offer the lowdown on the liquid portion of portion control. Need to get your rear in gear? From power walking to karate kicks, they'll help you find the moves that appeal to you. They've even dished up plenty of fresh advice on beauty and fashion.
To show you how to maximize flavor with flare, there are loads of easy-to-cook recipes from top chefs, dubbed Gourmet Gurus. And to answer that oft asked question, how do stylish women stay fit and still live the high life, Carolyn and Densie gather the secrets that work for their Hip & Healthy Heroines.
A marvelous mix of nutrition advice, culinary wisdom, and chic insight, The Dish is here to help you create your own hip and healthy lifestyle.


The Dish

The Dish on Your Diet
Welcome to the club, girl! You’re about to become one of us now—that elite but growing group of smart, stylish women who have learned that the more you know, the more you can eat. That fact has been, up to now, a well-kept secret. But we see no reason to keep it that way any longer. You may have seen others who wine and dine while staying fit and trim and wondered, “How do they do it!” Well, we would like to answer that question for you. Because once the truth is revealed, it will set you free. Free to be a healthier, happier, more sane and more satisfied you. And, oh yes, there’s that little matter of your weight. By following our advice, you’ll be able to control your weight with less of the confusion, punishment, and emotional drama that usually go hand-in-hand with traditional “dieting.” This is the real deal. There’s no magic formula here, only the magic that lies in telling the truth. And the truth about eating is simpler and easier than you think. But more about that later.

Before we fill you in on the details about what you need to know so you can eat more, we’d like you to put yourself to the test. Take our Dish Diet Quiz to help you pinpoint the weakest links in your soon-to-be new way of looking at food. (No matter how committed you may be, we all have buttons that, once pushed, are hard to turn off.) We want you to be brutally honest with yourself. What sets off your irreversible eating launch sequence—emotions, circumstances, habit? What are your typical triggers—10 A.M. coffee break, after-work drinks, dates, no dates, late-night TV? There are no right or wrong answers, only revealing ones. So we’ll hold your hand while you take an honest look at your lifestyle, too. Does your job require a lot of business travel? Do you eat out more than four times a week? Are you super social and love to get together with friends for parties, cook-outs, or any excuse to eat, drink, and be merry? Or maybe you’re the type that favors dressing down in your most worn-out pair of sweats and throwing open the fridge door, as you pounce on the quickest bites to satisfy your raging hunger? Who are you? What are your food likes and dislikes? What makes you salivate? What makes you gag?

Once you’ve identified your individual problem times and situations, and can pinpoint what it is that makes you overeat (or do without), they become easier to deal with. And most important, you need to realize that with the freedom to eat more, comes responsibility. Are you ready for that? The Dish doesn’t mean you can have a splurge-fest on fudge, chocolate chip scones, and croissants. But it does mean you can enjoy all of those foods and other favorites if you just give your meals some forethought (at least as much time as you give to what you’re going to wear every day!). It means that you are ready to take full control of yourself and what you eat—eating more of the foods that make you strong, healthy, and full of energy, and less of those that do little but carry an excessive calorie load. By answering the questions in our quiz, you’ll know if you have what it takes to succeed at The Dish. The key here is self-examination. Have fun with it. Take your time, think before you answer, and be as honest as you can be. (It’s just us; come on, whisper it in our ear.) Then check out the Dish Divas’ Diagnosis for your answer and find out where to turn to in the book for the Dish on your issues. There, you’ll find simple solutions on how you can take control and make a big difference in your diet. Remember, you can be healthy without forfeiting taste or style. This is your first step toward making lifestyle changes tailored to you and your life. The more you know, the more you can eat, and that starts with learning more about you!
The Dish Diet Quiz Time Triggers
Q: You’ve just dragged yourself in from a long, hard day. No plans tonight. It’s just you and you’re all alone with the contents of your refrigerator. What happens next?

1 You head straight for the kitchen, following the urge to splurge, and man, oh man, everything looks good. You just know how this is going to end.

2 You put on blinders to everything else, and head in the direction of the healthy snacks you’ve stocked in your kitchen cabinets and begin your routine of weighing and measuring every morsel you intend to put in your mouth.

3 You strip and head for the shower, giving yourself time to unwind and relax, then contemplate over a glass of wine which amuse bouche to indulge in before you decide on dinner.

The Dish Divas’ Diagnosis

1 If you find yourself scarfing down whatever’s on hand in the late afternoon or at night, you’re not alone. Even we strong-willed women who make it through the day unscathed can find food cravings in the late-afternoon and evening hours just too much to bear. That wheel of Camembert and leftover baguette that you wouldn’t have dreamed of munching on during the day is like a magnet. One slice is too much, but once you get started, ten aren’t quite enough. Go ahead and blame it on fatigue, fluctuating hormones, depression, a really, really bad day, or just plain old habit. Whatever the cause, identifying and recognizing when you’re most likely to throw caution to the wind and eat whatever tastes good is half the battle. If you know you’re eating too much of the wrong foods, but can’t quite put a finger on when is your weakest time, keep a food journal, jotting down not just what you eat, but what is driving you to eat. (Journaling can be an eye-opening experience—does your journal reveal you’re using food as an emotional rescue? Does it fill a void? And it can zero in on your dietary Achilles’ heel—chips, chocolate, muffins, café latte with whipped cream—in short order.) And as much as possible, clear your cabinets of high-sugar, high-fat munching foods (there’s no reason to tempt fate) and have a cache of healthy foods at the ready.

2 Okay You’re good. Too good. We hate to be the bearer of bad tidings, but there are actually scientific studies that show that people who become obsessive about what they eat, even when it’s all good, are actually more at risk for gaining weight farther down the road. All that steel will has to break sometime and it won’t be pretty.

3 Now you’re talking. Okay, maybe this is an idyllic scene. If you notice, there’s no one else, not even a dog, demanding your undivided attention when you walk in the door. But you get the drift. The idea is to do something to shift your focus from food and find your own way to dissolve some of the day’s tension before you succumb to temptation. What’s that? You say you can’t resist the siren call of the fridge? Hey, even Odysseus found a way to resist the hypnotic call of those sexy temptresses. Okay, so he tied himself to the mast, but you don’t have to go that far. See what works best for you, and stick with it. Just took a shower this morning? What about perusing the latest issue of a celeb rag? Or listen to that new CD (away from the kitchen).

Want more? Check out chapter 4 for The Dish on Eating In and chapter 8 for The Dish on Cheating.
It’s All Relative
Q: Are you cursed with fat genes?

1 Your mom is overweight.

2 Your dad is overweight.

3 You’re overweight.

The Dish Divas’ Diagnosis

All we care about is if you answered (3). Okay. So your hips are wider than you wish (just like Mom) and you wish you were four inches taller (than your mom). And your dad has a real spare tire. But, hey, you didn’t get to pick your parents. You work with the raw materials you’ve got. We can’t all be Jennifer Aniston or Cameron Diaz. You might as well accept your inglorious DNA heritage and take it from there. You can’t change your inherited tendency to put on pounds any more than you can change the color of your eyes. But you can work with and around it. (That’s why colored contact lenses were invented!) Don’t be fatalistic. Your family tendency doesn’t have to be your genetic fate. Your smarts, diet, and lifestyle can overcome any passed-on predilection you have to hang on to pounds. Take what you’ve got and create your own style and be proud of it.
Life’s Little Hassles
Q: You’ve just lost your job, been dumped by the love of your life, your dog failed to notice the difference between his favorite spot outside and the rug. Maybe all three in one day. What do you do?

1 You head for the nearest ice cream place for a double dip of super fudge caramel swirl with nuts and whipped cream. Once you’ve finished you feel nauseous and guilty.

2 You quietly plot your revenge.

3 You indulge in a massage, you head for a double-feature of those foreign flicks you’ve been dying to see, you plan a weekend trip to your best friend’s for a heavy dose of talk therapy.

The Dish Divas’ Diagnosis

1 Well, you did have a really bad day. And splurging like this, while not great, isn’t the end of the world. So you fell off the wagon. No big deal. Just pick yourself up, brush off your new snappy, strappy stilettos, and start again. Stop mentally flogging yourself for your ice cream indulgence. A little oral gratification won’t hurt (as long as your life isn’t a series of life-altering disasters). If you experience a temporary slump because you feel guilty (and nauseous) because you overate, and anxious (and nauseous) over the big, fat consequences, keep telling yourself, “This too shall pass.” And it will.

2 Revenge is indeed sweet and best of all, it’s calorie-free. But forgive poor Fido. He was having a bad day, just like you.

3 If you have the means and the opportunity for any of the above, go for it. These solutions might sound a little too perfect to be true, but the point is, find what works for you. Consider any and all options that won’t add any more to your calorie load.
Is TV Your Trigger?
Q: You’ve planted yourself in front of the tube for an evening of vegetation. (Whatever your secret pleasure, the latest reality TV series, old Joan Crawford flicks, or vintage Japanese sci-fi—to each her own.) What happens next?

1 TV, for you, is fattening. Every time a commercial comes on, you’re up and in the kitchen, scrounging for something to eat. The food commercials are the worst.

2 You bring a limited amount of pretzels or popcorn to the sofa and indulge your craving for salty snacks, while you indulge in your craving for trash TV. You’re so thirsty by the time the next commercial comes on, you quench your thirst with a cola (you keep a stash on hand for emergencies).

3 When you watch TV, you only watch TV. And when the commercials come on, you find something else to do. When you feel your stomach rumbling, you head for the kitchen and pick from all the healthy stuff you have to choose from.

The Dish Divas’ Diagnosis

1 Watching food commercials is like watching gorgeous men and women seducing each other on screen. You can’t watch all that smooching and heavy breathing without thinking about, well, you know. Okay, maybe you don’t bring the box of cookies to the sofa for some serious munching, but when the ads for KFC come on, you’re a goner. And the fridge is just a few steps away. What to do? Hit the mute button and use the few minutes of back-to-back ads to do something else—anything else. Pick up that magazine or book and read a couple of pages, finish making that “to-do” list for tomorrow’s dinner, or paint your nails. Better yet, do some sit-ups or jumping jacks. Just get the focus off the tube and on to something nonfood related until your show comes back on.

2 Number one: Toss the sodas or at least switch to the diet version. Better yet, how about keeping lemon-flavored seltzers, bottled water, or peach-flavored iced tea in the fridge? Or make this one of your planned snacks and get in another serving of fruit—a six-ounce glass of nutrient-packed grapefruit juice over ice. (Carolyn Says: Make mine pink!)

Number two: You shouldn’t be eating in front of the tube, anyway. That’s a basic lesson in Healthy Eating 101! When you’re lost in the story, someone could put doggie treats in your bowl and it probably wouldn’t slow you down. But at least you got one thing right; you’re better off with a bag of popcorn or pretzels than with a quart of Häagen-Dazs and a spoon! If you really must eat, try a handful of nuts (keep them in the kitchen, so you at least have to get up to go get them), or some appealingly sliced up fruits and veggies with a yogurt dip.

3 We’re speechless. ’Nuf said. You’ve got the situation under control (if you’re telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but).
What’s for Dessert?
Q: You’ve just finished a fabulous meal at one of your favorite restaurants in town, but you really, really need something sweet to top the whole thing off. What do you do?

1 You throw caution to the wind and decide to go all the way, ordering the most decadent thing you can find. (Fried Mars Bar, anyone?—yes, it’s a real menu item at a little eatery on New York’s Lower East Side.)

2 You fight the feeling, watching everyone else ordering from the dessert tray. You feel tortured but superior, sipping on your hot water with lemon.

3 You share a luscious passion-fruit tart with a fellow diner, catering to that sweet craving, and walk away feeling satisfied but not stuffed.

The Dish Divas’ Diagnosis

1 Could it be any worse? Well, yes, but it’s still a setback. If you’re going to indulge in possibly the most decadent dessert on the planet, you could at least split it two, or better yet, three ways, to minimize the damage. The next time, avoid restaurants that offer such “delicacies” as Fried Mars Bars and you’ve already won half the battle.

2 Self-sacrifice taken to the extreme almost always comes back and bites you in the butt. It’s okay once in a while to feel like you’re in control and superior, but try not to let your swollen head stretch your halo. It could come crashing down on you. Might be a better idea to at least sample that dessert—the one that’s making you salivate like Pavlov’s dog.

3 You may have found the best of both worlds—a serving of self-indulgence, seasoned with a dash of self-control. But better make sure that crust isn’t drenched in butter or that cream isn’t a part of the filling (no wonder it tasted so good). It’s best to ask the chef what goes into those dishy desserts, since it’s easy to be deceived. And try to order smart—fruit instead of chocolate, sorbet instead of ice cream.

Want more? Check out chapter 5 for The Dish on Eating Out.
Name That Craving
Q: You’re standing in your kitchen looking for something to eat. This is your third round of checking out the contents of your pantry, the freezer, then the fridge. You know you want something, but what? Does that leftover salad sound good? What about an orange? Maybe a few slices of kiwi? What’s your next move?

1 Nothing really “hits the spot,” so that container of leftover Chinese takeout will simply have to do. It’s better than digging into that box of Godiva chocolates shoved way in the back of the refrigerator. (Out of sight, but not out of mind?)

2 You’re not in the mood to cook anything. Even warming leftover kung pao chicken seems like too much of an effort. So, you head for the quart of cookies ’n cream ice cream sitting front and center in the freezer and dig in.

3 Through sheer willpower, you run the Godiva and cookies ’n cream gauntlet and settle on an apple, feeling proud of yourself for making such a healthy choice, even though it does little to diminish your growing craving.

The Dish Divas’ Diagnosis

1 You could do worse, but don’t make a meal of it. If Chinese food is what you’re craving, a few bites should tame the urge without pushing your calorie intake over the edge. If it’s not, it could end up just being an appetizer to the real object of your desire.

2 There’s just something about a quart of ice cream sitting in the freezer . . . it actually seems to be calling your name! The attraction is like a moth to a flame, as they say, and just as self-destructive. Do yourself a favor and don’t keep quart-sized frozen confections on hand. If you must have ice cream at the ready, opt for the individual servings (you know, the kind you were served at birthday parties as a kid, with those impossible-to-eat-with, woody-tasting, so-called spoons) and limit yourself to one. A better alternative is to keep frozen fruit bars on hand for those emergency cravings. Or, go retro and keep a stash of Fudgsicles on hand. (Densie Says: Save the banana-flavored for me!) Okay, so they’re not quite as rich and creamy as the real thing, but you’d be surprised how suitable a substitute they can be.

3 You made the kitchen rounds. You should know by now if something healthy, like a piece of fruit, is going to work on your craving. If yes, what about tearing into a bag of prewashed Caesar salad greens and go ahead and sprinkle on the croutons and the Parmesan cheese? Now, how about adding other veggies like baby carrots or tasty grape tomatoes? And who knows . . . maybe all the tossing and crunching into those crisp veggies will be positively therapeutic and help you ride the wave of your craving. Yes, croutons, cheese, and salad dressing have calories, but don’t forget you’re getting fiber and vitamins and you’ve probably come out ahead calorie-wise compared to taking a dip into the ice cream carton. If all that healthy stuff still doesn’t sound good, then you probably weren’t hungry at all. Note to self: Learn the difference between hunger and “a cappuccino with biscotti sure would taste good right about now.” It’s not always easy to know the difference. It’s a skill that takes practice. But, hey, you’ve got time!

Want more? Check out chapter 8 for The Dish on Cheating.
Good Morning, Mary Sunshine!
Q: The sun’s not up yet, but you are. The coffee is made (gotta love those automatic timers!) and you’re ready to face the day. But first things first—time to break your overnight fast. Not big on breakfast, you say? Don’t have the time? What’s your morning mode?

1 You can’t face food so early in the morning. Coffee will have to do until your taste buds wake up and your stomach has taken down the “do not disturb” sign.

2 You’re an early riser. Always have been. You like watching the sun come up and having some quiet time to read the paper before the activities of the day kick into high gear. Part of that early-riser gig is to eat breakfast.

3 Getting up with the sun is definitely not you. You savor every delicious moment of slumber you can steal. You have just enough time in the morning to grab something before you leave home and scarf it down in the car, bus, taxi, or subway on the way to work.

The Dish Divas’ Diagnosis

1 There’s no sense forcing yourself to eat early in the A.M., if the body just says no. But if you’re up with the sun, you’ve got plenty of time for your taste buds to warm to the idea of food. If you’ve been skipping breakfast more often than not, your mother’s words should be ringing in your ears: “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.”

Eating in the A.M. recharges your batteries, giving fuel to your brain and your muscles, making it less likely you’ll succumb to a mid-morning munchies episode. If you’re new to the idea of breakfast, take it slow, but be adventurous. Anything is fair game, if it’s healthy. You can try more traditional fare, like scrambled eggs and whole-wheat toast or opt for last night’s leftover Greek salad or California rolls, if that’s what sounds good. Just try to make breakfast your new good habit. It will make choosing the right foods and not going overboard the rest of the day that much easier.

2 More power to you, if you enjoy getting up early. Now take advantage of your unique body clock and use that extra time to make a nutritious breakfast. (Densie Says: My motto—I literally have it hanging in my kitchen—is “All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast.”) Whip up a vegetarian omelet, whole-wheat French toast, or a boiled egg with a toasted English muffin. Top it off with some fresh-squeezed orange juice (all it takes is an inexpensive, plastic juicer and a few oranges). Yum!

3 Since you’re obviously not a morning person, and eating on the run is a fact of your busy life, just accept it and work around it. You’re not about to whip up a mushroom/onion omelet or even wait for oatmeal to come to a rolling boil. Never fear; quick is okay too, as long as it’s something that serves as a nutritional down payment for the rest of the day. Don’t reach for sugar-laden breakfast bars or low-fiber breakfast cereals that try to lead you astray with healthy, wholesome-sounding names. Read labels and choose something that provides you with a healthy dose of fiber (at least 3 grams per serving), a minimum of sugar (no more than 3 teaspoons per serving—4 grams sugar = 1 teaspoon) and, if you’re not taking a multivitamin, is fortified with vitamins and minerals. As long as you’re going the cereal route, be creative and beat cereal boredom by mixing two or three different kinds of cereals in your bowl. (Carolyn loves crunchy Grape-nuts mixed with chewy Raisin Bran. Densie’s top breakfast cereal combo: shredded wheat, sprinkled with honey crunch wheat germ.) There are plenty of other good, speedy alternatives. Try instant oatmeal packets that come to life when mixed with a cup of water heated in the microwave. (Tear, zap, pour, and voilà, breakfast is served!) Make it with skim milk or soy milk for an extra nutrition punch. Look for whole-grain frozen waffles that you can drop in the toaster, breakfast drinks that provide vitamins, minerals, and fiber along with a third of the calcium you need for the day. And grab a banana, an apple, dried fruit, or grapes to take with you as you dash out the door.

Want more? Check out chapters 4 and 5 for The Dish on Eating In and Eating Out.
Do You Know When to Say “When”?
Q: You’re halfway through your meal. You’re not famished anymore, but you’re not really full either. Do you know when you’ve had enough?

1 You know it’s time to stop eating when your plate is empty. It’s a leftover vestige from dear old Mom and her admonitions to “think of the starving children in China.”

2 You make sure that you dish up only half as much for yourself as you would for anyone else. You limit your intake, so you can cut calories.

3 You fill your dinner plate with small servings of meat, large servings of whole-wheat pasta, vegetables, salad, and a whole-grain roll. But you fill up about a third of the way through. You couldn’t eat another bite.

The Dish Divas’ Diagnosis

1 So you’ve become a lifetime, card-carrying member of the clean-plate club? It may have served you well when you were a skinny little kid and your mom was concerned you weren’t eating enough to fuel your growth spurts. But now you’re all grown up and the only way you’re going to grow is out. It’s time to join the lean plate club and get smaller plates! (Size does matter!) It’s a behavior modification trick that’s been around forever and it really works. If the plate is smaller than your typical dinner plate, you’re forced to dish up less and the brain tells the stomach that you’ve eaten a whole plateful of food. But you wouldn’t have to resort to playing mind games with yourself so that you’ll eat less if you dish up lots of eat-more foods like brown rice, vegetables, lentils, topped off with a whole-grain roll. If that’s what’s on the menu, then grab that dinner plate and dish it up!

2 If it works for you and you’re not just deluding yourself and following up with second helpings of your micro-servings, then go for it. You should be forearmed, however, with comebacks to comments like, “Is that all you’re going to eat?” “Are you on a diet? Oh, pleeze! You don’t need to lose any weight!” Try: “Me? Diet? No way!” Or you can try the ever popular, “I ate a huge breakfast [or lunch]. Believe me, if this was being served two or three hours from now, I’d be eating twice this much.”

3 You are one with our eat-more philosophy. When you fill your plate with all the right stuff, there’s little room left for the foods that are slackers in the nutrient department and weigh you down (literally) with an excessive calorie load. And don’t forget to take your time eating and drink a tall glass of water (sparkling, bottled, or tap—as long as it’s H2O) before your meal, garnished with a tangy twist of lemon or lime. Bottom line? When you eat more of the right foods, you actually end up with fewer calories.

Want more? Check out chapter 2 for The Dish on Diet Basics.

Get Off Your Derriere!
Q: How much do you move? A lot, you say? Okay, check it out: Do you take the elevator, even though the door to the stairwell is always open? Do you park as close as you possibly can to the store, the office, the supermarket, even when the weather is great? (Admit it, you’d use valet parking if they had it!) Do you consistently make an effort to minimize effort? Why take two trips (to the car, up the stairs, to the bedroom) when you can do it in one?

1 Oh, yeah. This is you. Why take four steps, when you can take only two? Why get up to get a cup of coffee, when someone just offered to bring it to you? You drop a bath towel on the floor and decide you’ll pick it up later. Why in the world would you park at the far end of the parking lot when there are plenty of spaces just a few steps away from the entrance?

2 Well, maybe yes, maybe no. You’re no sloth and no one has ever described you as a couch potato, but sometimes you just feel like your get-up-and-go just got up and went.

3 No way. You’re always up and movin’. Friends and family marvel at your energy level. You seldom sit and if you do sit, you can’t sit still. Fidgeting is just a fact of your life.

The Dish Divas’ Diagnosis

1 Whoops! Sounds like you have an undiagnosed allergy to activity. You need to turn your current philosophy on movement on its nasty little head. Think calories, not convenience. A calorie burned is a calorie gone forever; you can kiss that bad boy good-bye! And every calorie-burning movement counts. Take the stairs at the airport instead of the escalator. Waste steps at home. Make two trips upstairs to get what you need, instead of one. Those seemingly small and insignificant movements can add up. Even bending over to pick up that dropped towel is an opportunity to stretch and tone.

2 Maybe you’re no slug, but if your energy level is not exactly at its peak and could stand a boost, you’ll benefit from being more active, not less. On those days when you think submitting yourself to a painful flogging would be more enjoyable than going to the gym (at least you wouldn’t have to move!), that’s your signal that you need to go. Not only will it get your blood pumping, studies clearly show it can lift your spirits, making it that much easier for you to face the challenges of the day (dietary and otherwise). Unless you have some undiagnosed health issue that’s draining your energy, it’s guaranteed you’ll feel better, rather than worse, once you’ve gotten active again.

3 So, you’re one of those Nervous Nellies (the ones bobbing their knees up and down under the table). Lucky you. Research shows that you and others like you actually fidget away calories and tend to have an easier time of it when it comes to preventing weight gain. But that doesn’t get you off the hook completely. Strength training to keep upper body muscles toned is a must and a little heart-pumping activity should still be on your to-do list, to keep you mentally alert and keep your cardiovascular system in good shape.

Want more? Check out chapter 3 for The Dish on Superfoods and The Dish on Looking Fabulous in chapter 9.
Holidays: Occasions for Overindulgence?
Q: It’s ______ (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Easter, Passover, birthday, anniversary, Mardi Gras, SuperBowl, vacation)—you fill in the blank—and food is everywhere. It’s only once a year; what could it hurt to throw caution to the wind and eat all those mouthwatering dishes? What’s your approach?

1 Your philosophy is carpe diem! You want to grab the gusto, so you grab whatever strikes your fancy on the buffet and savor every delicious mouthful. Where’s the joy in living if you can’t stimulate your senses and take advantage of every opportunity afforded you? The only way to get rid of temptation, you say, it to give in to it. Self-deprivation is so overrated. (You’ll worry about the big fat consequences later.)

2 You make a conscious decision to let loose on some special occasions, like Christmas, and keep your impulse to overeat under control on others, like birthdays. You allow yourself a little decadence, without totally giving in to the dark side.

3 For you, it’s all or nothing, so you opt for nothing. Self-restraint is the order of the day, no matter what the occasion. So, you miss out on all those comfort foods. At least you didn’t overdo.

The Dish Divas’ Diagnosis

1 With that philosophy, there won’t be a lot more days left to seize! Food is one of life’s joys, to be sure, but you need to get a grip on your carpe diem approach to eating. There are ways to deal, without giving in to every twinge of temptation. You need to get your priorities straight and decide which of these holidays are can’t-miss in your mind. And if it’s vacation that’s at issue, remember, excess calories turn to excess pounds whether you’re overindulging in Paris or Poughkeepsie. On those holidays you decide you just can’t miss, you can let loose and enjoy, as long as you don’t replace all your eat-more foods with those that positively flash “proceed with caution.”

2 You’re the solution for the carpe diem crowd. Do a good deed and have someone who fits the seize-the-day profile shadow you during the high-temptation holidays and follow your example.

3 Well, well, what have we here? Vying for first place in a self-deprivation contest? First prize: an empty plate? You’re either a saint or you’ve gone over the edge. Resisting temptation is a good thing . . . up to a point. Resisting the urge to eat anything you find especially appealing on special occasions is a setup for feeling sorry for yourself and creating a rebound effect. (On the rebound from the table, where you ate almost nothing, you land with your head in the refrigerator, making a move on the leftovers.)

Want more? Check out chapter 7 for The Dish on Entertaining.
The Ever-Popular Eyes vs. Stomach Matchup
Q: You’re eating out—something you do at least four or five times a week. Still, it always feels like a special occasion. You’ve been so crazed today, you just grabbed a breakfast bar on the way out the door, and barely made time for takeout soup and crackers at your desk . . . and you’re starved! What’s for dinner?

1 You throw caution to the wind. You deserve a reward today, big time. When the waiter arrives and rattles off the specials of the day, everything sounds awesome! You’d take one of each if you could. It’s Mexican fare tonight and you start off with a giant frozen margarita, and chips and chile con queso dip as an appetizer. Then you move on to three-on-a-plate chicken-and-cheese enchiladas supreme with sides of refried beans, rice, guacamole, and sour cream and top it off with a delightful little serving of flan for dessert. Hey, some places even have deep fried ice cream for dessert. How about another margarita? It feels so good to be bad!

2 You’re into deprivation dining and even the smell of warm tortillas wafting from the kitchen can’t melt your steely resolve. You order grilled chicken, with no sauce in sight, pinto beans with no cheese, and unadorned rice. No guacamole. No chips. And certainly no chili con queso. You order ice water with a lime wedge and stare at your friends’ margaritas. You leave feeling like you’ve dodged the bullet.

3 Mexican is one of your faves and one of the hardest to resist. And you know if you don’t at least taste some of the good stuff, you’re going to feel like you’ve got an itch you just can’t scratch. You order the light version of a Mexican beer and toast your friends! You’ll skip the chips. Just too tempting. Or maybe you’ll take a few, put them at your place, and know that’s your chip quota. You ask if you can get half portions or a child-size plate of the enchiladas and request a light touch of sour cream. Same good food, just smaller portions. And you skip the flan, since you’re already satisfied. Maybe you’ll top the meal off with some strong, sweet Mexican coffee instead.

The Dish Divas’ Diagnosis

1 With your schedule of eating out, if you throw caution to the wind every time the urge strikes, you’ve got some serious weight issues ahead. If you’ve had a stressful day and you know you’re going out to eat Mexican, when Mexican food is the weak link in your food chain, then plan ahead. Drink plenty of water during the day and grab something to take the edge off your hunger just before you get there. No healthy foods in sight? Surely, you can find some bottled water? A small bag of peanuts? An individual bag of pretzels? Anything to quiet those hunger pangs and dampen your enthusiasm for ordering everything on the menu.

2 What’s the fun in eating out, if every meal feels like a battle of wills (you against your evil twin—the one that wants to indulge and enjoy)? If it feels like an all or nothing battle, and deprivation dining is the only way for you to win the war, then hey, we don’t want to change what works for you. But if eating out has morphed from an occasion for celebration into a nightly battlefield, then something’s gone wrong. Either seriously consider altering the eating-out aspect of your lifestyle or give yourself a break and enjoy some of what your café du jour has to offer. There are ways to enjoy the occasion and still keep your steely will intact. [check out option (3)]

3 Atta girl! Compromise, compromise, compromise. Hmmm. Sound like your relationship with your significant other? That’s because this is a relationship too! Your relationship with food. And as in any relationship, you can’t have your way all the time. Some things you know are good for the relationship (smaller portions of high-fat, high-calorie foods) and others can be destructive (overdoing on chips and splurging on flan, when you’re already full). And it never hurts to add a little spice to keep things interesting. (I ask you, what’s a Mexican meal without salsa? Salsa, green or red, is a great way to add flavor to any Mexican dish, and give you more taste satisfaction for less.) Carolyn Says: I always opt for grilled chicken or beef. Fajitas with green peppers, tomatoes, and onions are a good choice. Then I go easy on the cheese, guacamole, and sour cream, but heavy on the salsa and grilled veggies.

Want more? Check out chapter 5 for The Dish on Eating Out.
Fast-Food Frenzy
Q: Okay, admit it. Even a dish like you resorts to fast food once in a while. This is one of those times. You’re on your way home and you know there’s nothing in the fridge worth eating. Every day you drive by the best America has to offer in fast food, but today you’re going to the drive-thru. The menu board is huge. It’s easiest just to order a double cheeseburger and fries, instead of scouring the list for healthier alternatives. It’s your turn at the talking box and you’re on the spot. What’s your plan?

1 A cheeseburger and fries it is. Might as well get the package deal that includes a large drink. (I’ll have a number-three combo, please, and could you supersize it?) You’re not planning on eating the whole thing, anyway.

2 You never, ever partake of fast food. As far as you’re concerned, fast food is fake food. You’d rather spend an extra few minutes making a pit stop at the supermarket to pick up some Italian-seasoned rotisserie chicken (you’ll have plenty of chicken left over to make another meal), a bag of prewashed, precut salad greens, and whole-wheat rolls. And you plan to toss some rice with a pinch of rosemary into the rice maker.

3 You’re prepared. You bought a nutrition guide to fast food long ago and have already zeroed in on the best. You’re not settling for simply the best of the worst, you’ve actually discovered that some popular fast-food chains have such healthy fare as veggie burgers, grilled chicken salads, and grilled chicken sandwiches (ask for extra lettuce and tomatoes). Hamburgers are a fine choice too, if you don’t load them up with bacon, mayo, and cheese. And practice saying these three words, “Small fries please.”

The Dish Divas’ Diagnosis

1 What is it about a fast-food drive-thru? You always succumb to the smell of French fries. And bear in mind that in the lingo of fast food, “large” often means gargantuan. But there are better choices to be had. Forget about the cars behind you. If you’re not sure what the healthier options are, ask. There’s a real person on the other end of the squawk box that takes orders all day and is intimately familiar with what they have to offer.

Maybe there’s a grilled chicken sandwich you didn’t notice, or a green salad without a lot of cheese, or a bean burrito, sans the cheese and sour cream. And you don’t have to give up your burger and fries; just skinny-size it. Go for the kids’ meal with low-fat milk (1 percent or skim if they have it). There’s no twelve-and-under rule for ordering kids’ meals at fast-food joints. You satisfy that urge to splurge without diving into the fast-food pit.

2 Good for you. This is one time that deprivation is a good thing. Nothing wrong with “depriving” yourself of fast food, especially if you’ve already got a healthier alternative planned out. But if time is the issue here, maybe you should check out some of the healthier (and quicker) alternatives that some fast-food chains now offer, like baked potatoes (without an overload of toppings), chili (with more beans than meat), spicy grilled chicken sandwiches, veggie burgers, and yogurt. Next time, you can eat healthy and still save time.

3 We’re impressed. You already know about those healthful alternatives at some fast-food chains and come prepared to make the best of it. No pressure. You already know the best and the worst on the menu. You’ve got it under control—nutrition overload averted and with time to spare.

Want more? Check out chapter 5 for The Dish on Eating Out.
Taking Your Show on the Road
Q: You’re traveling this week and it’s become a blur of airports, hotels, and taxis. Your usual eating schedule is totally out of whack and you’re having a hard time picking the healthiest choices from less-than-appetizing options at airports and the huge serving sizes dished out at the hotels. You’re spending so much time getting from here to there that there’s no time to plan ahead for healthy meals. What’s your traveling diet plan?

1 No plan. No time for a plan. Your suitcases are bulging, because you threw in everything to cover all fashion contingencies, and you’re running late. The taxi is outside honking and you’ve got to make one last bathroom pit stop before you head for the airport. You know that if you get hungry, there are plenty of restaurants, snack bars, and fast-food franchises to fill you up. You’re outta here and on your way!

2 You know the airline food really bites, even if you are “lucky” enough to be on a flight with a meal. And the options at airport food malls aren’t much better. Your choices seem to be fast-food burgers, cinnamon rolls, pizza, and jumbo-sized servings of frozen yogurt. You think you’re better off waiting until you get to your hotel and have a better chance of ordering something healthy.

3 You’re a prepared traveler. You know that even if the airline serves a meal, it’s not something that is going to tempt your taste buds or that fits into your healthy lifestyle. And if your flight is food-free, as most are these days, you’ll be so starved by the time you touch down that you’ll overdo at the first sight of food. So, you’ve packed snacks and bottled water to help you make it through the next few hours.

The Dish Divas’ Diagnosis

1 No plan? Maybe you like to fly by the seat of your pants. But you should be prepared for a crash landing. Flying these days can mean long lines and big delays. That translates into missed meals and forsaken snack times. Not the best scenario for someone trying to eat healthy. You say you had no time to prepare? How long have you known about this trip? Unless you just found out about it two hours ago, there’s no excuse for not tossing a few healthy snacks into your carry-on bag, along with some bottled water or 100 percent fruit juice. If you just can’t bring yourself to plan ahead, at least be aware that most airport food is high-fat and the servings far too large. And fruits, veggies, and whole grains are rare finds. Think before you order. Stand back from the crowd and check out the options. While there may be slim pickin’s in the healthy food department, there are some better options for you to choose. Become familiar with airport food fare and be on the lookout for grilled chicken sandwiches, large green salads, with dressing on the side, crispy tacos with hot sauce, turkey subs with lettuce and tomato. You’ll start your trip off right and you’ll feel better for it.

2 Get a grip. Maybe holding off until you get to your destination might work in a perfect travel world, where you’re always on time. But in today’s traveling atmosphere, you’re really gambling if you hold off on eating until you get there. You could easily miss a couple of meals and a snack. By the time you get to your hotel room, everything on the room service menu will make your mouth water. And hotels aren’t known for their petite serving sizes or their prompt room service—you could end up raiding the snack bar before your food ever arrives.

3 See? That wasn’t so hard. Yes, indeed, you’re a woman on a well-planned mission. A few well-chosen snacks can make the difference between tolerable travel and the torture of trying to ignore hunger and the headache you feel creeping up on you from lack of food. You’ve even made room in your suitcase for running shoes and a swimsuit. Who knows? The hotel may have a pool (if you’re really prepared, you’ve called ahead and you already know about the exercise facilities) and you can grab a few wake-up laps before you head to your morning meeting. Your snack stash includes a few small bags of roasted almonds for an energy boost and even some tea bags, so you can use the hotel room coffeemaker to heat up some water and have a relaxing cup of chamomile tea before bedtime, instead of raiding the snacks in the hotel room fridge.

Want more? Check out chapter 5 for The Dish on Eating Out, and chapter 10 for The Dish on What to Eat Today and Every Day.
What say you, Dish?
Now that you’ve taken the quiz, do you see room for improvement? Lots of improvement? No biggie. There’s no winning or losing here, no right or wrong. Do you see your food habits in a new light? Was it flattering? Whether your answers reveal you to be the queen of overindulgence, the poster child for self-deprivation, or some combination in between, we think we can still dish out some helpful info that will enthuse, encourage, enlighten, and inspire you to be the dish you know you can be. Even you got-it-under-control eaters can learn a thing or two.

Remember, every day is another chance to eat right when you’ve chosen to eat healthy for life with The Dish. No matter how you answered the questions, we can help. We have the solution and are prepared to share it with you in these pages. We guarantee it’ll boost your nutrition IQ transform you into a confident eater, and maybe even provide a few grins along the way.

About The Authors

Photo Credit:

Carolyn O'Neil, M.S., R.D., is a registered dietitian who is best known for her award-winning national and inter-national reporting on food, nutrition, and cuisine as the senior correspondent and host of CNN's On the Menu and CNN Travel Now.

Photo Credit:

Densie Webb, Ph.D., R.D., a registered dietitian, has been writing about food, nutrition, and health for over fifteen years. She is the author and editor of seven other books, the associate editor for and a regular writer for the American Botanical Council.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Atria Books (March 26, 2009)
  • Length: 384 pages
  • ISBN13: 9780743476898

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Emeril Lagasse chef and host of TV Food Network's Emeril LIVE, and author of From Emeril's Kitchen The Dish! Healthy eating that's fun and prepared with lots of style.

Jane Fonda Academy Award-winning actor, activist, and author of Cooking for Healthy Living The Dish sends women an empowering message about food and fitness. You can eat great tasting food that promotes health, you can do it on your own terms, and have fun along the way.

Barbara Rolls, Ph.D. professor and Guthrie Chair in Nutrition at Pennsylvania State University author of The Volumetrics Weight-Control Plan Forget highly restrictive diets that force you to give up your favorite foods. The Dish combines the latest sound nutritional advice with lively tips on how to have fun while achieving a lifetime of optimal health.

Joan Lunden television host and bestselling author of Growing Up Healthy Carolyn and Densie dish up expert diet advice with extra helpings of fun. It's great to know that enjoying life is part of a healthy lifestyle.

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