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Secrets from Weight-Loss Spas

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Healthy Eating Tips from Top Weight-Loss Spas

The One Number to Read on the Nutrition Label

No, not calories — it's fiber. Fiber helps absorb fat and cholesterol as it travels down your digestive tract, reducing the amount of fat the body absorbs, says Linda Illingworth, RD, the director of nutrition for Cal-a-Vie Health Spa in Vista, California. Here's a sample day's diet to help you get the recommended 30 grams of fiber daily.

Breakfast: 1 cup Greek yogurt with 1/4 cup granola and 1/4 cup raspberries

Snack: 3 cups air-popped popcorn

Lunch: Salad with grilled chicken, 2 cups romaine, 1/2 cup chickpeas, and 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes

Snack: Large apple and 10 almonds

Dinner: Baked fish with 1/2 cup cooked quinoa and 1/2 cup broccoli

Daily fiber total: 30 grams

No-Fail Plan to Lose the Last Five Pounds

A simple switcheroo, like the one that's done at Cal-a-Vie Health Spa, is a practically effortless way to drop stubborn pounds. Most people consume the majority of their calories at night. Big mistake, because your metabolic rate decreases when you sleep, and calories that aren't torched get stored as fat. A smarter strategy is to make breakfast your biggest meal. If you eat 1,600 calories a day, have 500 calories at breakfast, 400 calories for both lunch and dinner, a 100-calorie morning snack, and a 200-calorie afternoon snack.

Conquer Cravings for Good

Yearning for chocolate ice cream or potato chips? When people postpone a craving, they may end up eating less than when they dig in immediately. While chowing down right away and depriving yourself entirely can both bring on a binge, telling yourself that you'll indulge later gives you time to consider how much you want the food, how big a portion you'll have, and how you'll feel afterward. "We call this riding the wave," says nutritionist Marsha Hudnall, RD, the owner of Green Mountain at Fox Run in Ludlow, Vermont. When you finally go for the chips, you're more likely to eat one serving, not the entire bag.

Beat Diet Boredom

There's only so much grilled chicken a woman can eat. We consulted John Beverly, the executive chef at Wellspring at Structure House in Durham, North Carolina, for savory swaps for your go-to healthy foods.


Tired of That? Dig in to This Here's How
Salmon Trout or orange roughy In a baking dish, marinate a 6-ounce fillet for 1 hour in 1 tablespoon rice vinegar; 2 teaspoons each soy sauce and sesame oil; 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger; 1 garlic clove, minced; and 1 green onion, chopped. Cook in a 450-degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes.
Turkey burger Buffalo burger Combine 5 ounces ground buffalo with 1 tablespoon each chopped onion and tomato and 1 teaspoon each capers and Dijon mustard. Form into a patty and grill to desired doneness.
Grilled Chicken Pork tenderloin Combine 4 garlic cloves, minced; 1 teaspoon minced sage; and 2 tablespoons minced rosemary. Spread mixture on pork; roast at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 140 degrees. (Serving size: 4 ounces)

How to Eat to Lose Weight

Navigate the Dine-Out Danger Zone

It all hinges on the first 10 minutes at a restaurant. The carbs you consume on an empty stomach (hello, bread basket!) cause a spike in serotonin, the feel-good hormone that can make you crave even more carbs, Illingworth says. And inhibition nose-dives after a glass of wine, so you're more likely to order fettuccine Alfredo than grilled salmon. To keep your brain in the right place, refuse the rolls and immediately order soup or salad, then wait until your meal arrives to have a cocktail.

How to Drink and Still Shrink

Women think that to lose weight, they need to ditch booze. Not true. "We use this simple rule: If you're going to eat refined carbs, don't drink them too," says Derek Johnson, the executive nutrition director at the Biggest Loser Resorts. Alcohol is a carbohydrate. If you're in the mood for wine, skip the white pasta. Instead, fill your plate with veggies and lean protein and save your carbs for the vino.

Easy Way to Blast Flab

"Eating healthy fats helps your body burn fat," Johnson says. When you consume carbohydrates, your blood sugar spikes and plummets. But combining them with fats actually stabilizes blood sugar, keeping you full longer. "Fats also produce heat in the body, which stimulates metabolism so you end up burning more stored fat," Johnson adds. Aim to get 25 to 30 percent of your calories each day from healthy fats. For an 1,800-calorie diet, you could eat 450 calories, or the total amount in three ounces of salmon, a quarter cup of pistachios, one teaspoon of olive oil, and half an avocado.

Three Weight-Loss Wonder Foods

Fill up on this trio and watch the pounds come off, says Kelly Grant, RD, a nutritionist at Canyon Ranch in Tucson, Arizona.


Add this hearty green to soups, salads, and stir-fries; its high water content helps you feel full, and its nutrients increase the liver's ability to remove toxins from the body.


Drink at least two ounces of this fermented milk daily. It's loaded with live, active cultures that enhance digestion and ease bloat. Can't find or don't like kefir? Try organic yogurt for similar benefits.


To stay full longer, replace refined grains like white rice and pasta with this grainlike seed, which provides a satisfying balance of fiber, protein, and carbs.

A Healthy Detox Diet

A Detox That's Doable

There's no need to do a drastic detox, but there are benefits to eating cleanly. "Processed foods create inflammation in our cells that slows us down and packs on the pounds," says Johnson, who recommends doing a 14-day detox twice a year. Follow his plan to boost your energy, break the junk-food habit and kick-start a healthy relationship with food.

  • Begin each day with an 8-ounce glass of water with a squirt of fresh lemon juice (citrus is a natural detoxifier). Drink 64 to 100 ounces of water daily.
  • Eliminate alcohol, artificial sweeteners, caffeine, dairy, gluten (found in pasta and white bread), processed foods, red meat, and sugar.
  • Eat three meals and one or two snacks a day to keep your blood sugar level steady. Include green veggies, such as spinach, kale, and broccoli (the darker the hue, the more nutrients); berries (their fiber naturally clears the GI tract); and anti-inflammatory omega-3s (in salmon, walnuts, and olive and grape-seed oils).

Sample Detox Meal Plan


Breakfast: 8- to 12-ounce smoothie made with protein powder, berries, unsweetened almond or coconut milk, and ice

Lunch: Spinach salad with 3 to 4 ounces grilled chicken, sliced apples, and 2 tablespoons diced walnuts, dressed with olive oil and vinegar

Dinner: 3 ounces turkey breast, 1 cup spinach, and 1 sweet potato

Snack: 1/3 to 1/2 avocado with 8 rice crackers


Breakfast: Vegetable omelet made with 1 egg and 2 egg whites, with berries

Lunch: 2 tacos made with organic corn tortillas, 3 to 4 ounces ground turkey or shrimp, 1/2 cup black beans, 1/3 avocado, and peppers and onions

Dinner: 3 ounces grilled salmon, 2/3 cup whole wheat couscous, 1 cup steamed green beans

Snack: 20 almonds or baby carrots with 2 tablespoons hummus

Outsmart Motivation Meltdown

"It sounds counterintuitive, but zeroing in on the triggers that demotivate you can help you catch yourself before you go off track," says Ann Pardo, the director of life management at Canyon Ranch. Keep a food-and-exercise journal to see what gets in the way of your goals. You may learn that once you hit the couch after work, your gym plans go kaput. Or perhaps you sleep through your 6 a.m. Spinning class after a late night catching up on TiVo. Only when you ID those energy busters will you be able to create a plan to defend yourself (by going straight from the office to the gym or powering down the TV by 11 p.m.).

Put an End to Overeating

Chowing down with friends and family can create a case of food amnesia: When people dine together, they tend to subconsciously mirror one another bite for bite, says Danine Fruge, MD, the director of women's health and family medicine at the Pritikin Longevity Center and Spa in Miami. Next time, you set the pace. If you're eating with your guy, take two bites for every three he eats — and silently curse Mother Nature for letting men get away with eating more.