paris part deux (the french paradox)

two quick things first: thanksgiving week (how did that happen so fast?). it’s one of my favorite holidays (because of the food), but can also be hard to navigate if you’re working in weight loss or weight maintenance (because of the food…). Check out Miranda’s recent post on The Crunchy Radish for tips from six wonderful RDs (including yours truly) on having a healthy holiday. And also make all of her recipes because they are amazing. second: thanks for reading my last post :)

the beauty of paris is like something I’ve never experienced before – it even overshadowed the food, which is a pretty hard thing to do!


taken on an early morning run (11/16/15)

But oh my goodness, the food.

now, I love a good kale salad as much as the next RD, but I definitely didn’t go to paris for the leafy greens. I wanted to experience the cheese, meats, pastries, and wine while observing how the French ate and structured their meals. I could almost call this “work,” as the eating habits of other cultures fascinates me and there is so much research on different diets and their affect on our health. The “French paradox” – or, the finding of a low incidence of coronary heart disease (CHD) in the French despite high intake of saturated fat (think butter, cheese, higher fat meats) – was at the top of my mind for a lot of my eating adventures here. The term was conceptualized in the 1980’s, but now, thanks to media and some non-scientific literature, I think may also be associated with glamorous French women who consume rich foods and regular wine but remain thin (and of course, glamorous).  I’ve always hypothesized some of the reasons for these phenomenons are due to smaller portions (even if the food is rich), less processed foods and red wine. But, as most things, more specific research would be helpful to clarify current findings and inform any big changes in my recommendation to patients and clients.

Scientific research aside, though, I definitely fulfilled my goal to see (and taste!) what this idea is all about.

day 1
cafes: le nemrodbar de le croix rouge, boulangerie famille delattre
I went out and got a pan au chocolat pretty much as soon as my plane landed, and ate it on the go as I was too excited to sit still and not walk around. Like new york, paris is definitely a walking city, and it bustled with people heading to work, running errands and going about their days. After roaming around for a few hours, my stomach was growling (hi, no sleep and total body confusion), so I sat at a cafe near the eiffel tower and ordered my first french meal – croque madame, salade and a cafe creme. A croque madame, I learned, was basically a grilled ham sandwich with a very generous amount of gruyere cheese and a sunny side up egg on top.



after an insane amount of more walking along the champs-elysees (this was the day of the attack but before it happened, so the holiday shops were open and it was quite magical) and a short nap at my hotel, I had a dinner of roast chicken, salade and french fries. Kind of simple but it really hit the spot. I also had a glass of wine (a bordeaux, I think) and another with some chocolate cake at a different cafe before heading back to my hotel for some sleep (but not really, because then everything happened later that night).

day 2
cafes: le flores, le trait d’union
as I mentioned in my other post, this was definitely a strange day. After walking (cautiously) around outside for a bit, I stopped for lunch at a random cafe and had another croque madame – these may be my new favorite thing ever. Here I learned that if you don’t ask for the check (l’addition, s’il vous plait), the servers won’t bring it automatically because that is considered rude. It was weird (in a good way) to not have servers breathing down your neck with the check and to almost be encouraged to relax and enjoy meals. For dinner, I wanted to stick fairly close to my hotel and was in the mood for something a little lighter after having all the cheese for lunch.


salade with smoked salmon, tuna, veggies and poached egg

day 3
cafes: robert et louise, les deux magots
after having breakfast in my hotel and wandering around the cathedral de notre dame (so, so beautiful!), I ended up in the marais district on a really cute street called rue vieille du temple. A friend had recommended a restaurant in the area that grilled meat on an old fireplace right in the middle of the restaurant, and I hit it up for lunch to refuel from my walking adventures.


rib eye, fried potatoes, salade and a glass of red

this place was super cute and rustic inside, and i literally watched my meat being cooked. A perfect meal and atmosphere – I was a happy camper after this one. Since this lunch was a bit on the heavy side, I went for another salade with grilled chicken and green beans for dinner (and more wine, because… wine) at les deux magots, a very historic cafe near my hotel.

day 4
cafes: cafe de flore, le rousseau
cafe de flore is right next door to les deux magots, and I really wanted to check it out as well (partly because my sister said it was one of ina garten’s favorites). I planned to go for a late breakfast after a run, and once again couldn’t resist the melted cheesy deliciousness of the croque madame. This by far was the best I had had (total count being a respectable three), and the coffee was also superb – very strong and flavorful. I loved the atmosphere here and the morning vibe of the city just waking up.


there is so much cheese under that egg

after this meal, I once again walked around the city for hours, meandering my way through the marais and the bastille, les halles, jardin du palace royal, place vendome, the jardin des tuileries and back to saint germain. I didn’t really have a lunch but rather a nutella and banana crepe from a street cart, followed by a cappuccino and some macarons, which were all delicious and probably satisfied my sweet tooth for the next decade. For my last night in paris, I wanted dinner to be something I like but usually don’t eat – one last indulgence. I ended up at le rousseau, a super cute and very classic french cafe and paired duck breast fillet with some bread, salad and a great (big) glass of cotes du rhone. It was perfect and the best way to end my trip, which again was everything I had no idea it would be (and more).

aside from a new but deep love for paris, I think I got what I came for in the whole “learning about the food and culture” category. Some things really stood out as compared to my observations and experiences eating as a dietitian and new yorker. People in Paris eat and drink outside a lot, even in the cold (every cafe has heat lamps!), facing out onto the streets to enjoy the scenery and people watch. This paired with slower service conveyed more of a “relax and enjoy your meal” kind of vibe, and once this crazy new yorker got acclimated, I really dug it. I’ve talked a little bit about mindful eating before, and I think that may come into play here as people may take the time to be a bit more in tuned with hunger levels and therefore less likely to overeat.


le deux magots (morning, 11/15/15)

portions were never enormous at the cafes (aside from my giant rib eye), which differs greatly from the typical western diet (think cheesecake factory here). So, even though a lot of french meals are fairly rich and higher in saturated fat, they’re also simple, small and satisfying without a lot of processed crap. Meals around me consisted largely of bread, cheese, meat and some vegetables like my salads above. Wine was on almost every table – a combination of red and white, but mostly red, which has been linked to a lower incidence of CHD and packs a very potent antioxidant punch.

so while I will always be a big proponent for a plant-based diet (both for myself and my patients), paris gave me a new appreciation for cheese, meat, good bread and red wine*, and reinforced my nutrition philosophy that indulging every now and then is an important part of a generally healthy diet.

*wine in moderation! the current recommendation remains no more than one glass per day for women and two for men

five days in paris

last Thursday, I went to Paris. At first I was excited about the potential to write about the different foods I was going to try, my observations of the French culture and that whole “French paradox” thing. I spent my first day there, Friday, November 13, in a sleep deprived awe of just how beautiful the city was and how I was never too far from the now familiar scent sweetly wafting from the patisseries (can we bottle that somehow?).


zero hours of sleep, too excited to care (11/13/15, morning)

After walking around the city for hours, sitting at the cafes for dinner, dessert and wine, I went to bed early, hoping to get some good sleep for another day of exploring. I always put my phone on silent when I go to bed, but with the ringer on if my dad, sister or mom calls because to me, that would usually signal something important.

around 11:30 p.m. Paris time my dad calls and I’m awoken from a dead sleep. He asked if I was ok because “I’m watching the TV and they’re saying people are being attacked in Paris.” Now, my dad tends to exaggerate things so I assured him I was fine, in my hotel room, everything was great. It wasn’t until we hung up and I realized a ton of missed text messages, Facebook messages, tweets, Instagram comments, etc. were waiting for me that I knew something was very wrong. What? Why is everyone asking if I’m ok? Paris is under siege? Terrorism? What are all of those sirens? The news headlines hit me like a ton of bricks. I wasn’t familiar with Paris yet and didn’t know where the bombs, shootings and hysteria were in relation to me and had no idea if it was over or just starting. It was terrifying.

long story short, I spent the next several hours refreshing news sites, messaging with family and friends and calling the U.S. Consulate to figure out just what I was supposed to do. The basic message; listen to French authorities and stay inside. I slept a few hours and woke up to a Paris forever changed. I didn’t know if we were allowed to go outside, though news that many (or most?) of the terrorists had died was somewhat comforting. I nixed my plan for a morning run and had breakfast in the hotel to assess the situation and figure out what to do next. Though the mood was somber, I started seeing people on the streets and decided the only thing I could do was stay, support the city, and most importantly, not be afraid.

I put on my running shoes without much of a plan other than to be careful (or “watch my six” as my dad told me) and see things. Museums and some stores were closed, but a lot of cafes and shops were open and I meandered my way around Saint Germain des Pres to the Eiffel Tower and then along the Seine, stopping for lunch at a warm café and then some hot chocolate. I never felt unsafe and could tell the Parisians (and other tourists) had the same idea as me – we are not afraid. To me that sends a strong message to any and all who are watching.


#love (11/14/15, afternoon)

the strong feeling of solidarity continued throughout my stay, and reminded me of how Boston, and the whole country really, came together after the marathon bombings. It all culminated during a mass of which I happened to stumble upon at the Cathedral Notre Dame de Paris on Sunday. Not a religious person in the least, the mass had just started and the beautiful music and cathedral itself drew me in. Maybe it was a bit of sleep deprivation, but as I took my seat I felt a release as my “survival mode” clicked off. The tears soon followed, and kept spilling out for the people and the city of Paris, and really life in general, which I am reminded again is all too precious.

I’m completely overwhelmed by the messages of concern and caring via all forms of social media, texts and calls that I got while away – as independent as I am, it really helped to know I wasn’t truly alone.

yeah, I didn’t mention this before, but I went to Paris totally alone. Ironically, I did it in an effort to see and experience more of the world, something that has largely escaped me up until now, usually due to in part to fear. When fear takes over our lives – whether it’s fear of flying (ME), trying new things, traveling alone, telling people how you feel – we can miss out on SO much. And as it would be, these are the things that matter the most. Back when I booked this trip a few months ago, it was a pledge to myself to see everything I’ve been missing out on for way too long. I knew it would change me, but had no idea at the time just how much.


cathedral notre dame de paris on a beautiful day (11/15/15, afternoon)

*don’t worry, I’ll talk about the food in my next post :) 

snacks and super foods (nutrition and info)

like a lot of RD friends, I love a good super food. But as per most things, there are ongoing debates on what exactly constitutes a “super food” as opposed to a “healthy food” or just a “food.” Like the term “clean eating” (which I really dislike), super foods do not have a hard and fast definition, so what they are is fairly subjective.

so what is a super food?
as an expert in the field of nutrition, I use the term “super food” when talking about foods that have high levels of multiple nutrients with proven health benefits – antioxidants, omega 3 fatty acids, complete proteins, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals. Basically, foods that give you a lot of “bang for your buck.”

a lot of times when the term super food is used, it’s linked to antioxidant content of a food – think blueberries, rich in the flavonoid anthocyanin, and with good reason. These nutrients inhibit inflammation, increase detoxification, and upregulate some antioxidant enzymes, and studies have shown people with diets high in antioxidant-containing foods may have a lower risk for chronic disease and some cancers (though the research is very much ongoing, and fascinating). As I said in my last post, eating antioxidant-rich foods after a tough workout or race can also aid in recovery because of the above functions.


eat the rainbow!

that said, though, most of these super foods high in antioxidants are also high in other important nutrients, which in my mind, is what makes them super foods.

how can I incorporate super foods into my diet?
the most important thing to know about tweaking your diet in the name of super foods is that it doesn’t have to break the bank. Sure, the latest and greatest trends like maca, acai, goji berries, spirulina, cacao are packed with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, but man are they pricey. Instead, go back to basics and focus on having a variety of colorful fruits and veggies at every meal first. The deeper and darker the hue, the greater the antioxidant content is likely going to be, and you’ll also benefit from the vitamins, minerals and fiber found in all fruits and veggies. Some of my favorites of late:

raspberries (get them frozen this time of year – cheaper and fresh tasting!)
sweet potatoes
enoki mushrooms

seeds and powders can also be a nice way to add a “super food” boost to a meal, and although initially on the expensive side, can last quite a bit of time. I usually pick one or two that I use a lot and buy in a larger package (like hemp seeds and chia seeds), and use the bulk bins at whole foods to experiment with smaller amounts of different items (like goji berries, cacao nibs) to manage the budget.

super food snacks
lately I’ve been into making different types of “super food” snacks and treats (mostly from this book) as a way to mix things up in the kitchen and experiment with different flavors. Obviously, the dietitian in me also nerds out at the nutritional benefits, which are pretty impressive.

these new and improved rice crispy treats below are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids with a bit of protein due to generous portions of hemp seeds, pack a potent antioxidant punch via cacao powder and other healthy fats, protein and fiber with the almond butter. Because of the agave and coconut sugar, these do contain some sugar, so I will definitely keep them in the treat or dessert category for the most part.

almond butter, cacao, hemp crispy treats (adapted slightly from Julie Morris’ Super Food Snacks cookbook)
makes about 16 squares, depending how big or small you cut them

3 cups organic crispy brown rice cereal
2 tsp cacao powder
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup hemp seeds
1/2 cup almond butter
1/3 cup maple syrup or agave nectar
3 tbsp coconut sugar
1 tbsp coconut oil
1/8 tsp sea salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 chopped dark chocolate chips

line a 9 x 9 inch baking pan with parchment paper. Combine the crispy rice cereal, cacao powder, cinnamon and 2 tbsp of the hemp seeds. Then, combine the almond butter, maple syrup (or agave), coconut sugar, coconut oil, sea salt and vanilla extract in a small sauce pan heating to medium heat. Stir constantly for about 5 minutes, until all ingredients are melted well together. Pour the hot mixture over the dry and mix until the cereal is completely coated. Pour this mixture onto the baking pan/parchment paper and spread evenly (I press thoroughly with a spoon or spatula). Sprinkle the top with the remaining 2 tbsp hemp seeds. Refrigerate this for about an hour.

Then, heat the dark chocolate in a small sauce pan and once melted, drizzle over the top of the crispy rice treats. Refrigerate for another 30 minutes or so, then cut into squares and enjoy, because these are DELICIOUS.


marathon recovery nutrition (with) kitchen sink granola bars

marathon recovery starts the second you cross the finish line. Yeah, I’ve heard this one before too and still have taken exactly zero ice baths after all of my 26.2s. Typically, recovery isn’t as at the top of my thoughts post-race as celebrating the accomplishment as soon as the radiating pain throughout my body subsides.

usually I come to my senses after a cold beer or two (seriously, is there anything better post-marathon?) and do a little stretching at some point before bed to loosen up tight muscles. My appetite can be all over the place after a long, tough race and can range from ravenous to nauseous, so if I can get some kind of carbohydrate and protein source in, I’m happy.


something like this (pizza with pesto, ricotta, veg and red wine) tends to go down pretty easy by race night

ideally though, refueling with carbohydrates and protein in that 4:1 ratio within 30 minutes of finishing a race is key to help rebuild broken down muscle fibers and replenish glycogen stores (just like you do after a long run). If this isn’t totally possible – race away from home, nausea, beer – all is not lost. Nutrition is still essentially important for marathon recovery in the days following the race. Here’s how I tend to break it down:

it takes a while for your muscles to recover from such an effort, and they need protein to do so. Making sure that every meal you have includes a good protein source is key – eggs, Greek yogurt, lean turkey, chicken, fish, beans, nuts and nut butter all help make your muscles a bit happier. For meats, try to have at least a palm-sized portion, about 1/2-1 cup for yogurt, beans, 1/4 cup of nuts and 1-2 tbsp nut butter.

studies have found antioxidant-rich food sources can also help with muscle recovery by reducing oxidative stress and inflammation. My favorite antioxidant sources are colorful fruits and veggies, though lately I’ve been experimenting with more potent, concentrated options like cacao nibs, goji berries, dried tart cherries (or tart cherry juice) and raw, cold-pressed green juice. A lot these are really versatile and can be tossed on top of salads, oatmeal, yogurt or added to smoothies.


berries, Greek yogurt, granola, green juice and coffee

glycogen stores are pretty depleted after a marathon, and it takes a while to replenish these back to a more normal level. The body is super sensitive and most efficient at restocking these stores less than 60 minutes following activity, so if you can get something down (even if it’s Gatorade, fruit or pretzels) do it and you’ll feel a difference. If not, try to include a complex carbohydrate source next to your protein at each meal once you’re able to eat. Some of my favorites are oatmeal, quinoa, sprouted grain toast and sweet potatoes. Carrot cake totally counts too.

fluids and electrolytes
after a marathon, it can take a few days to replenish fluids and electrolytes lost in sweat. Keeping a water bottle nearby at all times is helpful, and listening to your body is key as it will probably tell you how thirsty it is. Salty snacks are also incredibly helpful, especially if you’re the type of runner who usually ends up with a crusty salt ring around your face post-race. Tortilla chips, cheeseburgers, french fries can all be life savers and are also a perfect post-race treat. As I said earlier, there is nothing that tastes better after a tough race than a cold beer… But! It’s still dehydrating, so limiting yourself a bit or alternating brews with water could save you a big headache the morning after (the inability to walk down stairs is enough of a pain!).

it’s normal to feel super hungry during recovery week – your body is scrambling to repair itself and running for 2-6 hours (depending on your speed!) burns a ton of calories. Satisfying, nutrient dense snacks can be super helpful to quell crazy hunger pangs and further help recovery. I’ve been making my own granola bars lately to fit this nutritional bill, and these are a great blend of complex carbohydrates, protein and antioxidants – perfect for marathon recovery.

kitchen sink granola bars (adapted from Julie Morris’ Superfood Snacks cookbook)
makes ~10 bars

1 1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup coconut sugar
2 tsp cacao powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped, salted & roasted almonds
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/4 cup hemp seeds
1/4 cup goji berries
1/4 cup chopped walnuts and/or hazelnuts
2 tbsp coconut oil
1/4 cup smooth almond butter
1/4 cup agave nectar or maple syrup

line an 8×8 inch pan with parchment paper. Then, mix together the oats, coconut sugar, cacao powder, sea salt, cinnamon, almonds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, goji berries, chopped nuts in a medium sized bowl.

In a large skillet or pot, heat the coconut oil and add in the almond butter and agave nectar (or maple syrup) and stir until combined. Pour the dry ingredients and mix well until all liquid is gone. Then transfer the mixture to the pan with parchment paper, spread evening and press firmly with a spoon or spatula. Refrigerate for at least 60 minutes, then cut into squares and enjoy!


2015 nyc marathon thoughts

“if you’re losing faith in human nature, go out and watch a marathon” – the great kathrine switzer.

this quote can go both ways, because running a marathon is almost always a life-changing experience as well. Even after nine of these (how the hell did that happen??), I learn something new about myself, the distance and my fellow humans every time. The NYC Marathon is especially unique, both because of how grand it has become and that it’s essentially in my backyard. I had no idea what to expect from this year’s race, given I had run a hard but awesome marathon three months ago in San Francisco, but I felt pretty good going into it.

the short story: 3:40:08, 8:24/mile (~3:30 minute course PR)

the longer story: looking back now, I think I can break the race into three parts.

start to the half: feeling great, yay running! (1:46 and change)
These miles felt pretty good/fairly easy and my pace was around 8:00min/mile, though it was A LOT warmer than I would have liked (I think 60s with 70% humidity, yikes!). Towards miles 12 and 13 I started to feel a bit fatigued and knew I probably wouldn’t be able to keep up the pace. I had also already finished all of the Nuun in my water bottle, which usually lasts until at least mile 16-17 in a cooler marathon. I got a little worried and started stopping at aid stations to stay on top of hydration – I was SO thirsty. I repeated positive mantras in my head and tried to look forward to my favorite part of the race – First Avenue.

miles 13-16: omg this is the most terrible thing ever in life why am I doing this to myself (very slow pace)
as per usual, I don’t really remember much about Queens, except this time a noticeable fatigue started to set in and I got a bit concerned about the many miles to go. The Queensboro bridge loomed by mile 14.5-ish, and upon entering the VERY, VERY LONG incline, I felt awful. This was the first part of the race when I contemplated either stopping, jumping into the east river (ew) and got a bit negative in my thoughts. But, just as my body slowed to a shuffle, I dug as deep as I possibly could, got over the incline without stopping and settled into the glorious decline to First Avenue. I knew if I got to that point, the crowds would pick me up and hopefully, I’d feel better.

miles 16-26.2: you are doing this, and it’s awesome so freaking enjoy it (slower pace but more steady, probably 8:20-8:40/mile)
i really wish everyone could experience running up First Avenue on marathon day – you feel like a celebrity and it’s so cool. The amazing crowds made all the difference and I knew I would be ok. I had friends up along the course here and later on Fifth Avenue, and looking for them really gave me something to look forward to and kept the pace steady. I also kept making sure to stop at most of the aid stations for Gatorade and water – for most of these I walked through them so as not to get most of the fluids up my nose. It definitely took up precious seconds/minutes, but I was too thirsty to care much. The crowds were awesome the whole way, and seeing some friends along the hill up Fifth Avenue (right near the hospital I work at) really helped pick me up. I hadn’t paid too much attention to my watch for most of these miles, but as mile 24 neared, I thought that maybe I’d still be able to eek out a sub-3:40 race. I pushed as hard as I possibly could along Central Park South and around Columbus Circle, and as the finished neared I kept pushing but knew I would be just a few seconds short.


finish photos = the struggle is real

even though I would have loved another BQ-worthy time, I can’t be upset or mad at how the day turned out and as always, learned a lot about the distance and how I handle it. I feel really lucky to be able to run this race every year (through NYRR’s 9 +1) and to have pushed myself to finish pretty strong. After crossing the finish and the long and painful poncho walk, I took a lengthy subway/bus journey home to the east side, got a falafel sandwich, showered and met some of my favorite running buddies for some well-earned cold beer.

for the rest of this week, I’m focusing on refueling with good protein, complex carbohydrates and antioxidant rich foods for recovery, stretching and foam rolling (OW).


greek yogurt, fruit, granola, hemp seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, green juice and coffee

next up (and I already can’t wait): BOSTON!

race week nutrition (some dos and some don’ts)

for 40,000 or so humans in nyc and across the world, it’s race week. That means a whole lot of freaking out, phantom aches and pains, shakeout runs with or without a Meb or Deena spotting on the bridle path and hopefully, rest. Aside from parking it on the couch a bit more than usual (again, REST), nutrition ranks pretty high on the list of things that matter during the week leading up to race day. This is because we’re finally allowing our bodies to rest and repair – we need adequate protein to rebuild broken down muscle fibers, complex carbohydrates to replenish the glycogen stores we’ve been depleting all throughout our training cycles and good hydration to aid in both of these processes. Whenever I do a sports nutrition talk or have an athlete client I get a lot of similar questions, all in the name of peak performance. So, here are my top dos and don’ts:

do: make carbohydrates a priority
there is no way around it, carbs are the body’s main energy source, and as such, your best friend during race week. Aim to have 3.5-4 grams per pound of your body weight daily, which is typically more than most folks usually consume. Try to include at least 2-3 servings of complex carbs (e.g., oats, breads, pasta, rice, sweet potatoes) with each meal and 1-2 servings (15g = 1 serving) with your snacks. By making a conscious effort to carb it up combined with rest and reduced mileage, your body is able to top off glycogen stores so they’re ready for use on race day


carbs and other delicious things (sprouted grain english muffin, banana, PB, raspberry, greek yogurt)

don’t: stuff yourself daily to “carbo load”
it’s a common misconception that the week and days leading up to a marathon incite the need to inhale all the food. This usually results in overeating, uncomfortable fullness and potential GI issues – all unpleasant at any time, let alone while running 26.2. Instead of adding more carbs to your current meals, replace some fat and a little protein with carbohydrates to balance out the overall calories. The key here is for carbohydrates to be a greater percentage of your total calorie intake, but not necessarily to increase your intake of calories total (so, more carbs but not more food). Try to stay in tuned with your hunger and fullness levels and eat as mindfully as possible.

do: hydrate on the regular
we need water in order to store glycogen, so keeping fluids in reach all day, every day, is a must. This becomes even more important in the days leading up to the race, because going in adequately hydrated can help prevent dehydration and a subsequent drop in performance. The key to hydration before and during a marathon is staying one step ahead the game – drink before you’re thirsty but stop if your stomach feels at all “sloshy” or full. One to two days before the race, try alternating regular water with a low sugar electrolyte-enhanced beverage (I like Nuun) to prepare for electrolyte losses in sweat.

don’t: freak out about weight gain
since your body is storing water with glycogen, a few pounds of water weight gain is totally normal. Going into race day feeling slightly bloated (but not uncomfortable) actually means you did the whole hydrating and carb eating thing right.

do: cut out some fibrous foods
this is most important two to three days before race day, especially if you’re prone to GI issues on your long runs. The goal here is to reduce residue in the intestines and keep them calm and happy leading up to the race. Swap out brown rice, whole wheat pasta and bread for the white stuff, limit the raw fruits, veggies and beans. I tell my GI patients on this diet (called “low fiber” or “GI soft”) that it’s basically the opposite of what I’d tell you to do normally as part of a healthy diet. For just a few days, this is ok, especially if it means zero porto-potty stops after the gun goes off.


save the raw veg and alcohol for post-race!

don’t: do anything new
i think we’ve all heard this one before, but it’s worth repeating. Now is not the time to try that new Mexican restaurant, deep dish pizza joint or sushi bar. Keep your meals simple and familiar, and save anything else for after your race. The same goes for alcohol here – if you normally have a glass of wine or a beer with dinner, that’s ok if you really want it but try not to have much more than that. I’d still caution limiting alcohol at least 2-3 days before the race (ideally, cutting it out completely) because it can be dehydrating and even interfere with glycogen storage. Save it for the post-race celebrations!

nutrition and mindful eating

one of the many things I love about yoga is that it teaches you to surrender yourself to the moment. Everything that happened before class or is planned for after class doesn’t matter, but more just that hour (or however long) that you have on the mat. This can be really hard to do sometimes, but I’ve found that honing in on whatever pose or breath I’m working on, the instructors words, etc. is immensely helpful for my yoga practice and I get so much more out of the class.

this mindfulness also really helps how I go about my normal every day life – work, running, eating and even wandering around the city. A recent study (kind of a small one, but there have been prior larger ones with similar results) found that “mindful eating” and being self aware in general may reduce risk of obesity. I am a big proponent of mindful and intuitive eating, and whenever possible try to reinforce this practice with my patients and clients.


favorite veggie sandwich from siggy’s good food

what is mindful eating?
The crux of mindful eating hinges on the ability to rely more on physical cues as they relate to food and consciously taking the time to do so. This means both eating when feeling true hunger as opposed to certain emotions, focusing on things like texture, smell and taste while eating and stopping when you feel comfortable and satisfied, not stuffed.

try to think of the last time you ate in silence, sitting down at a table, without distractions. I for one, am guilty of having most meals at home either in front of my computer or NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt. If I’m out at a restaurant, it’s either by myself with a book or iPhone or with friends with lots of chatting and noise. All of these distractions take the focus of the meal off the actual food, making it harder to register hunger and fullness. This can increase the likelihood of overeating, and takes away from the simple joy and pleasure we can get from food.

starting a mindful eating practice doesn’t have to be anything crazy or drastic, and easing into it is the best way to stick with it in the long term. Here are my top tips:

slow down
probably the most important yet hardest to do. Rushing through a meal to get to the next task on the to do list, shoveling down a salad or sandwich desk-side without stopping the workday – we’ve all been there (and a lot of times, daily). But slowing down a little bit during meals doesn’t mean a three hour lunch with multiple courses. It can simply be 10-15 minutes of you and your meal, taking the time to chew thoroughly and consciously taste every bite that goes into your mouth. This may feel weird at first, but it gets easier. Here’s a good exercise to help push towards this direction:

  1. Take a food such as a grape, raisin, apple slice or similar. Hold it in your hand and think about how it feels and looks visually. Raise it to your nose and register how the food smells. Take a deep breath, breathing in the aroma. Take a bite of the food with your eyes closed, but don’t start chewing.
  2. Think about how the food feels in your mouth and try to focus on these sensations.
  3. Start chewing slowly, and think about what this feels like. If your mind starts to wander, try to say present and focus on the food and chewing it very thoroughly.
  4. As you begin to swallow, hone in on how the food is moving toward the back of your mouth and into your throat. Continue to focus on this movement and any lingering flavors until you can no longer feel the food remaining.
  5. Inhale slowly and let your breath out gradually (yoga breathing, if you will)

for the love of all things holy, turn off the TV, push the iPhone/Pad/whatever to the side and even try to limit conversation if you’re with someone (this could be awkward, so maybe someone you know well…). If our senses aren’t going completely haywire with so much stimulation, it is a lot easier to focus not only on what you’re eating, but how you feel before, during and after the meal. Think about how physically hungry you felt beforehand and compare this to how you felt physically after the meal. You may notice yourself naturally stopping once you feel comfortable as opposed to full.


a small plate, but eating mindfully can bring out different flavors and textures over time and allow for true enjoyment (pan roasted scallops from little beet table)

now that things are quiet and you’re taking your time, savor the meal. Smell, taste and be in each moment of the eating process. As simple as this sounds, it’s crazy how little we do this on a regular basis. Really and truly savoring each bite can further help you stay in tuned to each sense that gives the food its characteristics, as well as those physical feelings of hunger and fullness. This can make all the difference for weight management and weight loss, and just as importantly, take your meals to a new level (even the simple ones!).


thoughts, facts and info on juice

Most dietitians shudder at the mere mention of a juice “cleanse” or “detox” because we know the body does an excellent job cleansing and detoxing itself (we have some really great organs for that!) without the help of any outside substances. I gave my thoughts on cleanses and detoxes a while ago here (bottom line: don’t do them), but I also get questions frequently on whether juice should or shouldn’t be incorporated into a normal, healthy diet.


favorite green juice from juice press

despite my thoughts on cleanses and detoxes, I am not a total juice hater and think they can absolutely be incorporated into a healthy diet – I’ve actually been drinking more green juice myself lately. But! Not all juices are created equal. With juice bars popping up everywhere these days and grocery stores stocked with a million different options, it can be hard to figure out which ones are basically like drinking a sugary soda and which add a good boost of nutrients to a meal or snack. Some things to keep in mind:

whole ingredients
first and foremost, make sure you’re looking at the ingredients lists. If numero uno is any type of fruit juice (e.g., apple juice, orange juice), nix it. These are often used to sweeten vegetable-based juices to make them taste more palatable, but they can add a lot of sugar and calories to the juice. In fact, some 16 ounce bottles of juice can have more calories than a typical meal and more sugar than a soda (I’m looking at you, Naked Juice).

you want the first (and only) ingredients on the list to be foods like kale, swiss chard, celery, cucumber, ginger, spinach and other veggies. Apples, pears, lemon, grapefruit (etc.) are ok too, as long as they are in their whole form and not added as concentrated juices.

calories and sugar
i tell my clients interested in incorporating juice into their diets to look for a ballpark of 60-120 calories per ~12 ounces of juice, and less than 10 grams of sugar. If a juice is truly veggie-based without added fruit juice or sugar, it’s not going to have much more than this. If a juice has something like beets, carrots, coconut milk, chia seeds or added protein powder, it may have a bit more calories and sugar – this can be ok as long as it’s balanced into your day.

cold pressed juice and high pressure processing
cold pressed juice basically meals a hydraulic press is used to extract juice from fruits and vegetables, which in turn makes the juice taste super fresh. Without any additional processing, these juices can labeled as “raw” and are not pasteurized, which makes them more susceptible to contamination and bacteria – it will clearly state this on the label. Since these juices are so fresh, their shelf life is only a few days. They are most often found at juice bars – if you’re in NYC, think Juice Generation, Juice Press, Liquiteria, etc. – and made fresh daily.

some cold pressed juices undergo high pressure processing (HPP) to make them safer, kill bacteria and extend shelf life. These are most often found at grocery stores. Since HPP applies pressure to juices but not heat, which reduces nutrient retention, some may still be labeled “fresh” or “raw.” There have, however, been recent debates on whether these labels are accurate or not due to this additional processing and extended shelf life. This is also due in part to the belief that cold pressed, raw and unpasteurized juices retain more vitamins, minerals and enzymes than those that have undergone HPP. There really isn’t reputable research that supports these claims right now, though, and either option packs a ton of awesome vitamins and minerals.

Cold pressed, raw, unpasteurized juice can be super expensive, so I tend to buy it sparingly and instead rely on the weekly free 16 ounce juice for running and hashtagging from Juice Press. Juice that has undergone HPP is slightly more reasonably priced, and I’ve found that a few of the least expensive option around these parts are Evolution Fresh juice – at Whole Foods (also at Stabucks, slightly cheaper at Whole Foods) and Suja juice for about $5-6 per 16 ounce bottle. This is still quite a chunk of change, but having a small glass with a meal or a snack can make the bottle last for the better part of a work week.


green juice plus breakfast

not a meal replacement
despite it’s high vitamin, mineral and antioxidant content, cold pressed green juice is lacking in two important nutrients – fiber and protein. Aside from many functions like regularity, cellular repair and development, they help promote satiety after meals and are key for weight management. Fruits and veggies are also not very high in protein, and when juice is made, all of their great fiber gets discarded. So while some juices contain the equivalent to 10 or more whole veggies and fruits, they won’t fill you up like, say, a big salad with a protein source like chicken breast or tofu would and can leave you feeling deprived and hungry if consumed in lieu of a meal. This is a recipe for overeating later on, because that hunger will catch up with you! Instead, I usually recommend a little bit of green juice (~6-8 ounces) in the morning with breakfast or in the afternoon along with a snack like fruit with 1 tbsp peanut butter or a handful of nuts to clients interested in trying it.

make your own juice
if you’re lucky enough to have your own juicer, my hat goes off to you. This is an awesome way to know exactly what’s going into your juice and experiment with different combinations of veggies, fruits (in moderation, remember!) and things like ginger, mint, parsley, etc. to enhance flavor and nutrition.

nyc restaurant recs – #rdapproved edition

I really love cooking and preparing my own meals, but lately I’ve been making more of an effort to balance that with some restaurant exploration as my list of places to try is becoming way too long with not enough checked boxes. If I’m dining alone or with RD friends, I/we tend to gravitate towards more plant-based options (call it a cliché if you will) – I love when inventive, fun things are done with vegetables. And let’s be serious, I just really love vegetables.

Here’s my list of healthy go-tos that are delicious but won’t break the bank (at least not in New York standards), in a variety of different NYC ‘hoods.

souen (union square, east village, soho)
favorite dish: macro plate
kind of an institution in the “healthy restaurant” world, souen is a macrobiotic, Japanese haven with three locations in NYC. I tend to frequent the union square spot because of its proximity to my favorite yoga studio (and what’s better than yoga followed by a veggie-pallooza?), the farmer’s market and the 4, 5, 6 trains. Even though the menu is vast, my choice usually involves the macro plate – brown rice, squash, kale, broccoli, carrot, a bean and hijiki seaweed with the sesame vinaigrette dressing. It’s reasonably priced at $10, filling and full of nutrients like fiber, folate, iron and vitamin A (to name a few).


siggy’s good food (noho)
favorite dish: garden veggie sandwich with tofu or the quinoa spinach wrap

one of my favorite little spots on a quiet-ish noho street, siggy’s has a ton of seasonal veggie options, grass fed, organic burgers and sandwiches as well as a juice/smoothie bar. The best thing I’ve had and my go-to for a quick lunch or early dinner is the garden veggie sandwich with hummus, avocado, carrot, sprouts, cucumber, tomato greens and added tofu. Crunchy and delicious.

westville (west village, east village, chelsea, tribeca)
favorite dish: grilled salmon salad or veggie burger with sweet potato fries
four locations in NYC and they can get super busy on weekends, but I’ve gone for early bird or super late dinners or random weekday lunches if I have the day off with good success. It’s hard to pick one thing from the menu that stands out because everything I’ve had is really good, and they always have pretty decent specials (like fish tacos!).

two hands (chinatown/little italy-ish)
favorite dish: acai bowl

new and aussie-owned, I think two hands makes some of the most Instagram-able (seriously) foods in new york and is usually pretty packed. I went alone once for their famous acai bowl and was seated right away at a window (solo dining for the win here), and it tasted as good as it looked. I love a good superfood (or five), and you get a lot of bang for your buck ($8/bowl) with hemp seeds, chia seeds, berries, granola, cacao and acai.


bareburger (tons of locations)
favorite dish: elk burger
if I’m craving a burger, it’s usually bareburger that I gravitate towards. They have a ton of different toppings and combo options with great grass fed, organic meats ranging from beef to bison to wild boar and veggie. The elk burger paired with a whole grain bun, leafy greens, tomato, pickles, avocado and whole grain mustard plus sweet potato fries and a cold beer has never let me down. Also a perfect post-marathon or long run treat!

angelica kitchen (east village)
favorite dish: dragon bowl with cornbread or new school sandwich

one of my favorite, 100% vegan restaurants in the city with a ton of creative, colorful dishes. The dragon bowl is kind of like souen’s macro plate but a little more pricey ($16), but the cornbread alone is worth the trip if you’re around the east village. Angelica has historically been a “cash only” restaurant but now accepts credit cards for bills of $15 or more. They have beer and wine but are also BYOB with a corkage fee of $15 (I think it used to be free or $5, so this is sad).


ellary’s greens (west village)
favorite dish: chickpea burger with a side of roasted brussels sprouts
not only does ellary’s have great food, but a really relaxing and fresh ambiance. Most of their dishes are veggie-based, organic and super tasty. It’s the perfect place to go and share a bunch of things, since so many of their sides are too good to pass up.

by chloe (west village)
favorite dish: the classic burger (tempeh, lentil, chia, walnut) with sweet potato fries and beet ketchup
brand new as of july this year but getting TONS of hype for it’s delicious veggie burgers, salads, baked goods and chic ambiance. The food is delicious, and every time I go in there it’s like beautiful people central all munching on the 100% vegan goods. One thing I have yet to try – the kale chocolate chip pancakes for brunch! Lines have been out the door, so I find going on off-peak hours (early dinner for the win!) is best.


if my wallet is willing to take more of a hit, here are a few pricier favorites of late: Cafe Clover, The Fat Radish, The Smith, Morandi, Market Table and Candle 79.

running strategy lately

crisp temperatures (finally!) and watching the Chicago Marathon on a live stream over the weekend while tracking runner friends really made it start to feel like marathon season. Or at least, marathon season in NYC with the buildup towards the first Sunday in November. I’m super excited to run the NYC Marathon this year – watching from the sidelines in 2014 (since I ran Chicago a few weeks prior) was fun, but I’d so much rather be running.

after the San Francisco Marathon in July, I took a week off completely to rest and then started building slowly back up to be ready for November 1 without feeling burnt out. So far so good, and I’ve got one 20 miler left this weekend before a two week taper – I’ve done this a few times and find I like it better than a three week taper. Throughout the last couple of months, I’ve been trying to pinpoint what worked so well in San Fran and in my training this past spring before finally breaking 1:40 in the half. Here are a few consistent factors:

more yoga
last winter I started doing more yoga, and it quickly became a constant in my weekly routine. It has really helped stretching and strengthening all of the different muscle groups (both running and non-running ones), and it also works wonders for my brain and anxiety-prone self. I look forward to going and never regret a class – on average, I probably make it to three or four classes per week and am happy to say my handstand game is almost as strong as the old gymnastics days.


bliss at my favorite yoga studio

less mileage
kind of related to yoga, I’ve been running a little less on yoga days so as not to overdo it, which means my weekly mileage has been lower than previous training cycles. In the past, I’ve topped out at 70+ miles and always thought that more equals better/faster/etc. Now, mileage is more around the mid-50s to low 60s at most, and it’s working pretty well for me. I would rather be able to fit more yoga and the occasional barre or spin class into my routine to get stronger overall than to push the envelope with more miles. Not to forget, of course, actual rest not involving any of the above activities. That’s an important part of training not to be overlooked (because I’ve definitely never done that before, cough cough).

no stress
above anything else, THIS. I haven’t gone into any of my races this year with a “plan” or even really a goal pace, and although I wear my Garmin I don’t really pay too much attention to the splits. Obviously I’ve wanted to break 1:40 in the half and BQ in the full marathon, but it hasn’t been the be all that ends all. I knew/know that if whatever time doesn’t happen, I will still be ok, nothing will really change and I’ll still have run X amount of miles so I better damn well enjoy it. I’ve gone into these races with the only goal of doing my best, having fun and being aware and grateful for my surroundings. When I do that, things have just seemed to click.


central park in the fall!

I’m a competitive person by nature, so I do like to push myself and train pretty hard (for me), but I also try to look at the big picture. What I want to get out of these races in the long run is more than just a time on the clock, but experiences that I’ll be able to look back on for a long time.

dr. levine/ART
I’ve been going to Dr. Levine for ART and the occasional Graston for four years now (!!) and he never fails to help get rid of aches, pains and prevent injury. He’s the best, hands down.

goals for new york?
make it to Staten Island in time to pee 100 times before the start, avoid freezing too much and any gnarly chafing, be cheered for, fuel well and run strong with a smile on my face. A course PR wouldn’t be so bad either, though…