Can’t Stop Cravings? 10 Strategies For Making Better Choices

iStock_000013851318XSmallDo you ever wonder why you can’t stay away from junk food?  I mean…what is it that makes it so irresistible?  It’s definitely not the nutritional value I can tell you that.  In fact, the more junk food you eat, the more likely you are to feel lethargic and unmotivated.  Even though most of us know what the ramifications of junk food overload are, we still eat the stuff!  WHY? What is the allure with these foods and how do you get it under control?

First, there is something you need to know.  Junk food is addictive.  When I say addictive I mean that we can develop “dependency-like” behaviors towards food based on how their chemical make up impacts the receptors and hormonal responses in the brain and body.

The main content in most junk food can be divided into three main groups: salt, sugar and fat which can all be “addictive” especially when artificial versions of these are used in the right combinations.  In addition to these three main ingredients, food additives such as preservatives, food coloring, and artificial flavorings can also have negative influences on your health.

Tips to Lower Daily Fat Intake and Choose Healthy Carbs

iStock_000011394253XSmallSometimes simple and concise information is the easiest to remember and put into practice.  Here a some quick tips for reducing your daily fat intake and choose healthy carbohydrates.

Daily Nutrient Recommendations:

  • Fat: 20-30%
  • Carbohydrate : 40-60%
  • Protein: 30-40%

These recommendations are for those who participate in regular exercise strength training and cardiovascular activities.  These guidelines are a healthy starting point from which you can see some results and make any necessary tweaks based on what YOU respond to (genetics), the types of physical activity you participate in (mostly aerobic vs mostly strength training) and your compliance level (do you struggle with food addiction, stress eating, binge/purge…etc)

Reduce daily fat by:

  • Replace a four egg omelet with one full egg & three whites
  • Cut out kielbasa, bacon and sausage
  • Measure quantities when snacking on nuts, butter and nut butter
  • Choose lean red meats (sirloin), cold water fish & poultry
  • Regulate dairy & cheese intake
  • Monitor your use of dressing, olive oil and cheese on salads (some is ok, but keep the portion small)

Healthy carbohydrate sources:

  • oatmeal
  • fruit
  • brown and wild rice
  • legumes, chickpeas & quinoa
  • sweet, yellow & red skin potatoes

When I look back over this menu, it seems pretty limiting…but let me assure you, just like anything new it takes time and strategic planning to adopt new long term habits.  I encourage you to be creative and try new recipes that utilize these strategies…you’ll love how you look and feel!

Recipes for Success!

When I first started out in fitness, I often heard (but never believed) the phrase “you can’t out train a bad diet”.  In my opinion the people who said that were kindof full of themselves with their perfect eating habits and nutrition know-how…Wouldn’t you know it…all these years later…they were right (F!).  If you want results, you must do both, you must eat the right amounts of healthy foods and work out.

If you want results, you must focus on both nutrition and exercise (except for a rare few genetic freaks and high school kids who can usually eat whatever they want), implementing a productive routine over time so they become a regular and consistent part of your life.  Being patient and doing things over time is the only way to learn to manage your own psychology as it relates to health habits, to address various circumstances that often lead to over eating, and to find the best way to fit exercise into your lifestyle and improve your health.  I’ve included 5 recipes, one for every meal & snack that fit within the standard nutritional guidelines.  Take a whirl at including these in your nutritional strategy and see what happens!


Breakfast Bacon & Egg Scramble, with “Sweet” Fries

  • 3 egg whites, 1 whole egg (4 total eggs whites)
  • 2 slices turkey bacon
  • 1 small sweet potatoes
  • 1 whole roma tomato
  • 1/4 tsp. dill

Microwave sweet potato about 1 minute (until soft).  Allow to cool.  Slice sweet potato into 1/8 inch “fries”, toss with 1/2 tbl. Olive oil & salt to taste.  Bake potatoes at 375 for 15 minutes or until cooked through. Microwave or broil turkey bacon and allow to cool on paper towel to drain fat.   Wisk egg together w/salt & pepper to taste, chop & add tomato.  Cook  in skillet sprayed with spray olive oil.  Chop bacon and add to scrambled eggs as cooking.



Super Smoothie

  • ½ apple
  • 2 Tbl. Flax meal or 1/2 Tbl. Flax oil
  • ½ c. blueberries (frozen)
  • 1 c. Almond Milk
  • ½ – 1 RAW protein powder
  • 5 Ice cubest

Mix all ingredients together in blender. Add water for smoothness (if needed). Enjoy!!!



Lunch Broccoli Salad w/Tuna

  • 1 ½ c. Broccoli slaw
  • ½ can Tuna
  • 1/2 Tbl plain yogurt mixed w 1/2 Tbl. Canola Mayo
  • Salt and Pepper

Mix tuna with mayo, then add to broccoli slaw. It’s good. Or, if you hate it, experiment by replacing yogurt with mustard.  Serves 1



Caribbean Chicken

  • 2 chopped chicken breasts
  • 1 chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 chopped red bell pepper
  • ½ cup corn
  • ½ c. sliced olives
  • 1 sliced avocado
  • 1 medium tomato diced


  • 2 tbl. Honey 2 tbl.
  • Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • Juice from two ripe limes

Cook and dice chicken.  Then cook and dice veggies.  Place in bowl.  Shake  all ingredients for sauce together in small container (you may have to heat up  the honey a little) Drizzle sauce over veggies and chicken and mix thoroughly.   Adjust sauce to your taste preference (limey to honey).  Serves 2-3


There are certain things that we all love to eat.  A few of my favorites are chocolate and red wine.  I’ve found a few things that satisfy cravings while keeping you within our meal plan.  If I know I’ll be having a glass of wine with dinner, I might decide to skip the potato or the bread.  If I know I’ll be enjoying chocolate covered fruit, I  might not eat as much during the previous meal.



Dark chocolate covered strawberries

  • 12 strawberries – washed
  • 1/2 c. dark chocolate chips

Melt chocolate in microwave 30 sec. – 1 min. Stir around until smooth.  Dip strawberries in melted chocolate and set on plate or wax paper.  Allow to cool or refrigerate 4-6 strawberries = 1 serving

When I train clients, I often have them do a food log or an online nutritional tracking system that helps me monitor what they eat.  As the days go by, I am able to give practical advice on how to deal with different situations such as family parties, work pot lucks, or working the midnight shift.  Clients get tips and ideas on how they can apply the nutritional guidelines to their own lifestyle.  If you are interested in nutritional counseling, send an email to and we can get started today!

Trip to Panera Gone Bad

“Maybe I’ll go to Panera today for a healthy, balanced lunch.”  Seems like a reasonable idea, right?

Many people with the best of intentions unknowingly sabotage themselves because of presumptions like this.  The fact that Panera seems to use healthy ingredients, offer apples as a substitute for chips, and have the option of adding chicken to any salad is a great reason to believe that eating most things on the menu is reasonable and within healthy dietary guidelines.

Today, I decided to take a look at the real facts about Panera and see how, if the right things aren’t ordered, a trip to Panera can go bad (for your weight).  If you’re following nutrition instructions from me, you stick to “the plan” 95% of the time….order a salad with dressing on the side, add chicken, substitute chips for an apple (save the apple for later), and you’re out of there without too much damage.

But that’s if you stick to the plan…

Most of the people I talk to about nutrition often go into the restaurant with one idea in mind and leave with an entirely different set of decisions having been made.  So let’s review exactly how a trip to Panera could go bad.  Below is a little snapshot of some of the popular, non-salad items that might be ordered if the conditions were right.  If you would like to see the full pdf (including salads, bagels and pastries), click on the picture.


As you can see, most of the full sandwiches are way too many calories for one sitting, especially when combined with chips and a drink other than water… even the healthy apple becomes too much food at one time!

Full sandwiches range from 420 – 720 cals, salads up to 790 cals!  Take a look at the full document and you can see that even other seemingly “healthy choices” are unexpectedly dense in calories.  As I’ve mentioned in many posts before, managing portion control and reducing consumption of foods dense in calories are important methods for long term weight control.

So how can a healthy trip to Panera go bad????

Let’s say you’re daily caloric goal is 1800, and you are doing great all day, you have 350 calories left in your plan and you decide…”I’ll go to Panera and get a salad”, unknowingly ordering the 790 calorie salad and a decafe latte (150 cals) for a total of 940 calories in one meal. Even though the portion didn’t seem overly huge, combined with other foods from the day and lack of information about the 900+ calorie meal, you are now over your limit on what you thought was a good day.

On and on it goes and you don’t lose weight!

To succeed long term, you need to be aware of not only portion sizes, and how many calories are in certain “health foods” before you order.  A quick review of the sheet will help you order something that fits within your daily caloric needs, and you don’t need to have a healthy trip to Panera “Gone Bad”.

Good Luck!

5 Tips for Calorie Control

DietNo matter how hard or how long you work out, if you want to lose weight you have got to get the calories right.  We all know too many calories means weight gain… but did you know the wrong type of calories and even too few can also make you fatter?  Use these 5 tips as a guideline to finding the caloric range that works for you.

1) Calculate RMR
RMR stands for resting metabolic rate and it’s the number of calories your body needs to perform basic functions.  Combine your RMR with your daily activity level and that’s the number of calories you need to maintain your current weight.  Knowing your RMR +daily activity total will help you stop eating once you’ve hit your calories for the day because you will KNOW FOR SURE that you are getting fat if you eat that next piece of cake!

2) Don’t slash calories~ gradual, consistent deficits get results
Once you know your RMR + daily expenditure, you can create a caloric deficit to lose weight.  If you are creating a deficit…BEWARE, too large a deficit can cause your metabolic rate to go way down and will prevent you from losing weight.  I recommend a 350 -500 calorie deficit each day.  Allow the weight to come off over time instead of trying to create dramatic changes all at once.

3) Learn nutrient breakdowns
Learning the different food categories (protein, carbohydrate, fat) will help you create healthy, balanced meals.  Balanced meals promote healthy digestion, more even blood sugar levels, and ensures you are getting the proper foods for your needs.  Knowing your nutrient breakdowns keeps you from eating too many bad fats and too much sugar (the dreaded enemy of weight loss!).

4) Eat 5 times a day
Eating regular meals and snacks throughout the day helps keep your blood sugar levels stable, gives you energy throughout the day, and stimulates your metabolism.  It also prevents you from eating a huge meal (that will be stored as fat!) because your starving from trying not to eat (impossible for healthy adults).

5) Track your food
Conveniently forgetting about that huge Chipotle burrito you ate with a side of chips last night… you’re right that would never make you gain weight… NOT!!!!!  Use one of the many calorie tracking apps to see your eating patterns on paper.  This opens the door for you to analyze where you are falling short and see what the real problem is.  You can develop new strategies for success once you know the truth about your eating habits.  I recommend MY FITNESS PAL to my clients.

Need more help with nutrition planning?  Send me an email at and maybe we can set up a month of nutritional coaching!


1.  Web MD Link:

2.  Use Your Brain to Change Your Age: Dr. Amen


Recipe: Bell Peppers Stuffed with Turkey & Grains

First and foremost, please remember I am not a chef.  Not anything even close to a chef in fact.  While my recipes often turn out, I am usually “winging it” and by winging it I mean that I don’t use a cookbook and occasionally find myself eating alone…because recipes have not turned out as planned. 🙂  I should probably start watching cooking shows so I can learn more about how different flavors work together, but until then you’ll be taking a risk when trying things like “Dirty Vegetable Soup” (delicious!) and “On the Go Snacks“.

I saw stuffed peppers at Whole Foods Market and tried one.  I thought they were pretty good, but really heavy and maybe a little too garlicky.  I decided to recreate what I had purchased in my own context.  It turned out so great that I thought I would share the recipe with you guys.


1 Package extra lean ground turkey (I used Jenny-O)
1 Medium yellow onion – chopped
2-3 Cloves garlic – chopped
1/4 cup Italian parsley (+ or – to taste)
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup Quinoa
2 cups Organic chicken broth (if you check the label organic is lower in sodium than the low sodium kind)
4-6 Medium sized bell peppers
Small amount of shredded mozzarella cheese (to taste but don’t use a lot or its bad for you)
Small amount of your favorite canned spaghetti sauce (I used Romano’s ~ a local Michigan company)

Preheat oven to 350 or 375 degrees

~ In a saucepan, sauté chopped onions and garlic in olive oil until onions are softened.  Add turkey and cook thoroughly until turkey is no longer pink.  Add parsley.  Once everything is cooked keep warm on low.  Stir occasionally.

~ In a separate pot bring quinoa and broth to a boil, cover and simmer until quinoa absorbs all broth.  Stir occasionally.

~ While those are cooking wash peppers, cut the tops off, and clean all the seeds out.  I rinsed the insides out and let them dry upside down on a paper towel for a few minutes.

~ Once quinoa mixture is complete combine with turkey on low heat stirring until quinoa is evenly distributed throughout turkey.

~ Spray baking dish with high sides with non-stick spray and set peppers upright in dish.  Fill peppers 3/4 full of quinoa-turkey mixture, sprinkle some mozzarella cheese on top of each and then add another small scoop of turkey-quinoa mixture so pepper is pretty full.  Do not pack mixture down into the pepper though because it makes it too heavy and too big of a serving.  Once the peppers are stuffed, top with a little sauce and bake until peppers are soft.  I estimate about 30 minutes, however, you will have to keep an eye on them.  If the peppers don’t seem to be getting soft, increase oven temperature to 375 and cook for 5 – 10 minutes.

~ Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes

~ Super healthy!!!!!!

I served with a kale and tabbouleh salad which is another one of my experiments still being perfected… in other words, I ended up eating the peppers alone haha!  If I ever get it right, I will share the kale and tabbouleh recipe as well.  For help or assistance with nutrition planning, send me an email at!  Have a great day!