Photo: CN Digital Studio
Alrighty, full disclosure: Eileen Daspin, author of The Manhattan Diet
(Wiley, April 2012), is a long-time pal of mine. Her book is a tell-all of sorts about how New York City women stay skinny. I pestered Eileen for some bite-sized, stay-slim info nuggets specifically for brides-to-be, and here's what she said.
If you had to pick five top tips from your book for brides-to-be...
1. Buy a pair of sneakers and use them. One way Manhattan women stay slim is that they walk everywhere. It's a way of sneaking in exercise so you don't notice it. Walking will also get you in a state of mind to do more rigorous exercise.
2. Eat foods that taste good to you, but not too much of them. Portions today are immense. Even coffee servings are obscene. Try less of better quality. Instead of a grande cappuccino at a chain, get a small macchiato at an arty coffeeshop. In New York, I love Sant Ambroeus. The coffee there tastes so much better, and I feel like I am treating myself. And instead of 150 calories (before sugar), it's about 40.
3. Make habit your friend. So many diets have endless suggestions for meals and recipes it's overwhelming. Instead, the women I interviewed told me they eat pretty much the same 50 or so foods again and again. Find what you like and stick with what works. You don't have to be Mario Batali.
4. Eat fat. Foods that have the fat zapped out of them are lower in calories, but less filling (and they taste bad!!) Eat the full-fat yogurt, just less of it. Eat real ice cream, but only half a cup. Use twp teaspoons of high quality olive oil and two teaspoons of vinegar to dress your salad instead of non-fat diet dressing. Good food will be more satisfying.
5. Cook! The biggest surprise to me was how many women I interviewed cooked at home. When you make your own food, you have control over the quality of ingredients and portion. You also feel more connected to what you eat and will pay more attention than if eating food prepared by others.
How can brides keep their expectations in check, and not get TOO obsessed about pre-wedding weight loss? Get Eileen's answer after the jump.
Many studies show that a high percentage of dieters gain weight back. I remember when I went on a crash diet in college (liquid protein) and lost 30 pounds in 6 weeks. I went off to work in the Poconos for the summer and gained it all back, plus another ten pounds or so. The hard part of dieting is mental. You need to train yourself. Instead of crash-dieting for the big day, think about the long term. You want to be fit and have it stick, not yo-yo. That's what "The Manhattan Diet" is -- a diet for every day, not just a quick weight loss plan.
After doing so much research, what do you REALLY think about cleanses?
I think cleanses produce really expensive pee. Your organs are designed to detoxify your system. You don't need to drink special juices to do it for you. If you do a juice fast, do it ONLY under a doctor's supervision and only for a day or two. Beyond that, forget it.
In your book, you include a list of "Cookbooks I Can't Live Without." For young brides-to-be, who may be intimidated by cooking, which one would you recommend?
The Joy of Cooking. Single best cookbook ever. I use it more than any other cookbook I own. The recipes are straight-forward and easy to follow, and it includes everything you could ever want to make.
Once the wedding is behind her, any advice for brides about avoiding those infamous "post-honeymoon" pounds?
Buy individual serving sizes or just small packages. The bigger the container, the more you use of it, whether it's detergent or yogurt. Think small!
Make a big pot of brown rice at the beginning of the week and throw it into salads, toss with different spices, add toasted, slivered nuts, dried cranberries - use it for everything. It's super-healthy and filling. Quinoa or other whole grains are also great.
Ditto for roasted vegetables. I'm especially into roasted kale at the moment. Buy a bag of kale that's been cleaned and torn into small squares (or save a few dollars and do it yourself). Place on a cookie sheet and sprinkle with salt and a few pinches of red pepper flakes. Spray with olive oil spray and roast at 425, stirring occasionally until the kale is toasted and crisp. It's a like a chip, but healthy.
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