by Dina Eliash Robinson
• Who Needs Fluorides? Keep your teeth cavity-free with organic pomegranate juice. In addition to antioxidants, this exotic fruit also packs polyphenol, mighty killer of the Streptococcus mutans bacteria which is responsible for most tooth decay.
• Cooking To Lose Weight? Not that we needed another study to tell us what chefs and their kitchen staff have always known: No gym session or morning run could equal in intensity the workout required to prepare even a half-way decent meal. One hour of chopping, cutting, whipping, stirring, flipping, zooming from counter to fridge, bending, lifting, sweating and sweltering around hot stoves has been found to burn away some 180 calories—give or take a calorie or two—when performed by a 155-pound person.
The secret to stopping the calories from sneaking back at dinnertime, is drinking plenty of water and munching on sliced apple and/or carrot and celery sticks during the cooking ‘workout.’ The water replaces the fluids lost in sweat, the apple and carrot provide a healthy version of ‘sugar-boost,’ the celery replaces he sodium lost in sweat, and all of it fills the hungry stomach enough to prevent overeating when the meal is consumed. The most powerful inducements for overeating are being hungry, tired and in need of reward for preparing the meal.
• Have Your Way When Eating Out. Find restaurants that are willing to cater to their customers’ dietary restrictions and preferences. Their numbers are increasing every day. Don’t let the menu intimidate you. Fried items—whether fish, chicken, vegetables or anything else—can be grilled to your order. Ask that the pasta listed with cream sauces be served with olive oil, garlic and basil (or a low-fat tomato-based sauce). Order vegetable pizza with (lower fat and more easily digestible) goat cheese as a substitute for mozzarella. Refuse the mashed potatoes and ask for it to be substituted by more veggies, or coleslaw. If you must have the starch, choose a baked potato. Top it with olive oil and vinegar, or with chopped parsley, salt and pepper—not sour cream. Oh yeah… and share half or more of your potato with your dining partner(s).
Which brings us to the most important health tip: Share all your meals—many restaurants compete for customers by increasing portions. A main course is usually enough for two. One or two teaspoons of dessert are more than enough. Remember that the more people there are around the table, the more we tend to eat—both because we are distracted and induced by the sight of others’ eating (monkey see, monkey do). Be aware of this phenomenon and ask for a small plate right at the beginning; then take a small portion from the plate on which your dinner arrives—using it as a serving plate and inviting your table-mates to ‘dig in.’ If you eat alone, or with just another person, ask for the take-home box before you start eating, and fill it with at least half your main course. If you choose to have dessert, remember: one or two teaspoonfuls and share or take home the rest. Soups, of course, can only be shared with an intimate, or left in the bowl. (If the restaurant offers a lidded cup, ask for a plastic bag too, in case the cup leaks.)