Saturday, April 4, 2009



Hope to see you there!

Joanna Dolgoff, M.D.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Why you must not allow your child to skip breakfast!

What is the worst diet mistake that many parents make for their kids? Skipping breakfast!

Eating breakfast refuels your body and replenishes your blood sugar levels. If you want your car to go, you have to put gas in it. Breakfast is the gas that gives children the energy they need to last all day long. Breakfasts that combine protein, calcium, and fiber rev the metabolism, which, for most kids, has been dormant for ten hours or more after a night of slumber. Kids who eat breakfast daily not only do better in school, but maintain—or even reduce—body weight and reap the benefits of overall good health.

According to the American Dietetic Association, children who eat breakfast are more likely to have better concentration, problem-solving skills and eye-hand coordination. They may also be more alert and creative, and less likely to miss days of school. Breakfast eaters also have better muscle strength during the morning. Kids who eat breakfast tend to have lower weights than kids who skip breakfast. These kids also tend to be less hungry throughout the day!

Many dieters skip breakfast in order to 'save' the calories. This thinking is flawed because studies show that those who skip breakfast wind up taking in MORE calories throughout the day than those dieters who start the day with a substantial meal. Skipping breakfast sets your body up to feel hungry throughout the day. And as we all know, hungry dieters often make poor choices!

Skipping breakfast also puts your child's body in a mini-starvation mode. When the body thinks it is starving, it will do anything it can to hold on to calories. First, the resting metabolic rate is lowered. This means that your child burns fewer calories all day long. Second, the body starts to break down muscle mass for energy. When your child does finally eat something, the food is immediately turned into fat to help last through the next 'famine'! This pattern sets your child up for weight gain and obesity.

On days when the family sleeps late, have to-go breakfasts planned. Busy schedules run on the energy and nutrients found in a healthy breakfast. Fiber One bars, cheese sticks, or yogurt can be packed in a backpack and eaten on the bus or before class.

Planning is the key to breakfast. When you know your morning will be hectic, plan breakfast the night before. Don't wait until the last minute.

Give your child the edge he/she needs to have the most productive and happy day possible. Start each day with a healthy breakfast!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Is 'added fiber' as beneficial as the fiber naturally found in foods?

Is 'added fiber' as beneficial as the fiber naturally found in foods? Marketing campaigns certainly seem to indicate so. Ever since fiber became the new nutritional savior, companies are adding it to just about everything, even water! Consumers are unaware that this added fiber does not have all the benefits of natural fiber.

The fiber that is added to foods is called 'functional fiber'. Functional fiber does not have the same properties as the fiber found in whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Companies have invested lots of money into producing these new fibers and many of them have not been well-studied.

Natural dietary fiber is divided into two categories: soluble and insoluble. The soluble dietary fibers becomes viscous in water and lowers cholesterol by escorting it out of the body. Lower cholesterol levels help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. Insoluble fibers add stool bulk and promote regularity. Insoluble fiber is not digested in the stomach or small intestine. They get transported to the large intestine where they have their main effects. Bacteria ferment the fiber causing an increase in the acidity of the large intestine. This increased acidity leads to many health benefits, including a decrease in inflammation, an increase in immune function and increased calcium and mineral uptake. Further, many illness-causing pathogens don't tolerate the acidic environment and die before causing disease. Fiber in the large intestine also helps to add bulk to stool, helping to decrease constipation.

Functional fiber is a nondigestible carbohydrate that has been shown to have some benefits yet studies are not clear. By definition, functional fiber is fiber that is extracted or isolated chemically or some other way. Like soluble fiber, functional fibers are often soluble in water but they are not always 'sticky' and therefore can't lower cholesterol levels the way that soluble fiber can. Functional fiber does seem to increase stool bulk and help prevent constipation. Functional fibers have names such as inulin (from chicory root), polydextrose, resistant maltodextrin, oligosaccharides, fructooligosaccharides and methylcellulose.

According the the American Dietetic Association, consumers should get fiber from a variety of sources. The ADA maintains that fiber found in natural foods is superior to 'added' or 'functional' fiber. More studies must be done to fully determine the difference.

Marketing campaigns are extremely misleading. They imply that these added fibers are equal to natural fiber. Even the nutrition label is no help; functional and natural fibers are lumped together under the dietary fiber category.

The basic idea is that while it is okay to get some of your fiber from these added sources, it is not okay to get all of your fiber from added sources. The key is variety. Try to get your fiber from a bunch of different sources.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Beware of Hidden Sugar!

Dr. Dolgoff's Weigh: Learn how your child can lose weight... today!

Children in America eat way too much sugar each day! Much of the sugar is obvious. Cookies, candies and cakes clearly contain sugar. Sugar cereals and soda are other large sources of obvious sugar. But there is lots of sugar hiding in non-obvious food sources.

Even sugar-free pudding has sugar in it! The sugar is in the form of lactose, a natural sugar found in dairy products. So how can they advertise the product as sugar-free? Sugar-free simply means that there is no added sugar. It doesn't mean that the food item is entirely free of sugar.

Why do we care about foods containing extra sugar? Eating too much sugar leads to being overweight, obesity, metabolic disorder, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

Read on for some foods that contain hidden sugar; you will be surprised what you learn!

Foods That May Contain Hidden Sugar

Pasta sauce
Barbeque sauce
Peanut butter
Bread (White and Wheat)
Canned beans
Energy bars
Salad dressings
Vanilla soy milk
Canned sweet peas
Deli meats
Frozen pizza

When picking your food, be sure to look at the nutrition label. The grams of sugar on the label include both natural (healthy) sugars and the added (less-healthy) sugars. Obviously it is preferable to choose foods that contain natural sugars because they are usually found in foods that also contain vitamins and nutrients.

How do you know which type of sugar is in the food? Read the ingredient list. The trick is to look out for these sugar traps. If you see the following words on a nutrition label, the product contains sugar.

* Brown sugar
* Corn sweetener
* Corn syrup
* Dextrose
* Fructose
* Fruit juice concentrate
* Glucose
* High-fructose corn syrup
* Honey
* Invert sugar
* Lactose
* Maltose
* Malt syrup
* Molasses
* Raw sugar
* Sucrose
* Syrup
* Table sugar

How much sugar should a child eat each day? A good rule of thumb is to limit added sugar to less than 10 percent of total calories. Note that we said 'added sugar'; this does not include naturally occurring sugars found in dairy products (lactose) and fruits (fructose).

Maximum Sugar Intake

Daily Calorie Intake





















Monday, March 16, 2009

Probiotics for kids

Dr. Dolgoff's Weigh: Learn how your child can lose weight... today!

Probiotics are getting more and more attention these days but it is hard to separate fact from fiction. Are probiotics necessary for healthy children? Will probiotics help to prevent illness? Is it safe for a child to take probiotics? According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the answers are sometimes, possibly, and yes. Read on to learn more...

More and more studies are supporting the use of probiotics to treat and prevent GI (i.e. stomach) problems in kids.

What are probiotics?

Probiotics are harmless microbes that live in our body. These microbes are helpful because they take up space that could otherwise be used by harmful microbes. When we have plenty of 'good' microbes in our body, there is no room for the 'bad' microbes that could cause illness and disease.

How can we increase the number of probiotics in our bodies?

Probiotics are found in dietary supplements or in some of the foods we eat. Probiotics are naturally found in fermented foods, such as buttermilk, yogurt and sauerkraut. However, it is hard to get high enough doses just from eating these foods. Dietary supplements provide higher doses of probiotics and are usually more effective in treating/preventing illness.

Which are the best probiotics to take?

Lactobacillus GG, Bifidobacterium, and Saccharomyces sp.

What diseases/illnesses can probiotics help treat/prevent?

Studies show that probiotics may help to prevent and treat many different GI disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, acute gastroenteritis, and antibiotic-related diarrhea. They may also help with constipation, eczema and pancreatitis.

What are some common side effects of probiotics?

So far, studies have not revealed major adverse effects of probiotics in healthy individuals, and long-term consumption also appears to be safe and well tolerated. However, there are case reports of severe side effects in severely debilitated, immuno-compromised children and in neonates.

Is it safe for my child to take probiotics?

Studies show that L acidophilus, Lactobacillus GG and Saccharomyces sp are safe for use in children if administered in appropriate doses. Studies have been done on children as young as one month of age (although I would wait until your child is older than that before starting him/her on probiotic supplements!)

How much should I give my child?

Studies have looked at doses from 1 million to 300 billion CFU units per day. Unfortunately, there is significant discrepancy in the literature as to the appropriate doses for children and doses vary between the different probiotics. Further, variations within the same product are broad because production usually is not standardized.

When should I give my child a probiotic?

Some doctors recommend giving a child a probiotic supplement daily. Other doctors suggest starting a probiotic when a child begins taking an antibiotic.

Why should I consider giving my child a probiotic when my child begins an antibiotic?

Antibiotics are useful because they kill the bacteria that cause infections and make us sick. Unfortunately, they also kill the 'good' bacteria (probiotics) that live in our bodies. Without these 'good' bacteria, our body is susceptible to infection from yeast and other harmful microbes. Giving a probiotic supplement when starting an antibiotic helps to replenish the supply of 'good' microbes that are being killed off by the antibiotic. Probiotic treatment should be continued for one to four weeks after resolution of symptoms from the initial infection.

How should I store my probiotic?

Be careful because some probiotics must be refrigerated and others should not be. Read the label carefully.

Should I give the probiotic with food?

Again, this varies based on the type of probiotic and the brand. Some can be sprinkled on food or dissolved in drinks but others must be given on an empty stomach.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Crumbs Cupcakes


I am experiencing eater's remorse. I had a lovely meal last night at an Argentinian tapas restaurant and everything I ordered was extremely low-calorie and delicious. And then our friends suggested we head next door to Crumbs for a cupcake. There are few things I like more than Crumbs cupcakes. They are just heavenly. So I decided to indulge. The four of us shared four cupcakes. Yum.

This morning, I decided to investigated Crumbs cupcakes. I knew that they were high-calorie. In fact, I had estimated about 500 calories per cupcake. Well, I was wrong.

Each Crumbs cupcake has about 780 calories and 36 grams of fat!

That is about half the calories I eat in a day! I am shocked and horrified. Wow! Next time I indulge, it will be with HALF a Crumbs cupcake.

Eater beware!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Why some people are 'naturally thinner' than others...

Did you know that not all fat in the body is the same? And that some fat helps to burn more calories than other types? It is true.

Brown fat burns more calories than white fat. Babies are born with brown fat- in fact, brown fat is what helps babies regulate their body temperature during those early days. Unfortunately, as we age, our brown fat begins to disappear.

Scientists now believe that people who are 'naturally thin' retain more brown fat than those who are more prone to weight gain. The thought is that brown fat helps people stay thin because it burns more calories than white fat.

Another possible reason some lucky ducks stay thin despite their calorie intake? It has to do with how efficiently our bodies uses energy. In this case, it is better to be wasteful than to conserve! Bodies that waste a lot of energy need to burn more calories to perform the same tasks than bodies that are super-efficient. Studies show that energy efficiency can vary from person to person by two or more percentage points which can lead to a big difference in body weight! In fact, an efficient body can 'save' enough calories to store up to 6 additional pounds each year!

I will keep you updated as new studies are reported!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The truth about High Fructose Corn Syrup

High-fructose corn syrup is a common sweetener and preservative. High-fructose corn syrup is made by changing the sugar (glucose) in cornstarch to fructose — another form of sugar. The end product is a combination of fructose and glucose. Because it extends the shelf life of processed foods and is cheaper than sugar, high-fructose corn syrup has become a popular ingredient in many sodas, fruit-flavored drinks and other processed foods.

According to the AAP, high-fructose corn syrup, the principle nutrient in sweetened drinks, is not a problem food when consumed in smaller amounts. The problem is that most sweetened drinks contain large amounts of the substance so it is not easy to consume it in small amounts!

According to the Mayo Clinic's website:

So far, research has yielded conflicting results about the effects of high-fructose corn syrup. For example, various early studies showed an association between increased consumption of sweetened beverages (many of which contained high-fructose corn syrup) and obesity. But recent research — some of which is supported by the beverage industry — suggests that high-fructose corn syrup isn't intrinsically less healthy than other sweeteners, nor is it the root cause of obesity.

While research continues, moderation remains important. Many beverages and other processed foods made with high-fructose corn syrup and other sweeteners are high in calories and low in nutritional value. Regularly including these products in your diet has the potential to promote obesity — which, in turn, promotes conditions such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and coronary artery disease.

If you're concerned about the amount of high-fructose corn syrup or other sweeteners in your diet, consider these tips:

  • Limit processed foods.
  • Avoid foods that contain added sugar.
  • Choose fresh fruit rather than fruit juice or fruit-flavored drinks. Even 100 percent fruit juice has a high concentration of sugar.
  • Choose fruit canned in its own juices instead of heavy syrup.
  • Drink less soda.
  • Don't allow sweetened beverages to replace milk, especially for children.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Family Fun Sunday

The nice weather is finally here. I don't know how long it will last but I do know that I am taking advantage of every sunny second. The best part of Spring is the opportunity to (finally) get the kids out of the house. Every weekend, my family and I pick a different State Park, botanical garden, or college campus to explore. Today we brought the kids' bikes (a bike with training wheels for 6 year old Zachary and a tricycle for 3 year old Danielle). My mom even decided to join us, making the day that much more fun! Zachary and I have a tradition: we race at every opportunity. Of course, since he is on a bike and I am running, I don't stand a chance. His self-confidence SOARS every time he beats me- which is every time we race. And this year, for the first time, Danielle was able to participate. Last summer we strolled her in the stroller but this year we tried out the tricycle. We went on a three mile trail, thinking we would walk a little bit and then turn back. It didn't turn out that way! The kids were having so much fun that they wouldn't stop! Danielle tricycled the entire three mile trail. Desite a few falls along the way, she had a blast. We kept asking her if she wanted to walk a little but she was persistent. And God forbid we try to help her by giving her a little push. "Mommy, I can do it by myself!"

Of course, Zachary and I were faster since we were running/biking so we would go up a bit and then come back for the rest of the family. In all, we must have done 4 or 5 miles! And Zachary didn't want to stop either. I came to dread the phrase, "JET POWER" because I knew it meant that he was going to sprint forward and I had to use all my energy to try to catch him! It was a blast.

Even my husband was a total trooper! He woke up at 7:30 (which was like 6:30 due to daylight savings time) to play soccer with his buddies and he twisted his ankle in the game. He wouldn't let that stop him though! And my mom had already taken a sixty minute strenuous bike ride when we called to invite her to join us- but she was into it too.

The bottom line? We had a FABULOUS family day that included lots of 'exercise' that didn't feel like exercise. It felt like fun. And that is what Family Fun Sunday is all about.

Try it with your family. Go outside and explore some part of nature. You can walk, jog, run, bike, rollerblade, or even use a scooter (just be careful!) Just get outside and get moving!

Friday, March 6, 2009

The dangerous condition your pediatrician most likely is not screening for...

According to the CDC, there has been a 90% increase in new cases of diabetes over the past ten years.

Unbelievable. Even more disturbing is that most children and adults with 'prediabetes' don't even know it. I am constantly diagnosing patients with pre-diabetes and the first question they have is, "How come my pediatrician never mentioned it?" The answer is simple... I really don't know. I can often tell that a patient has pre-diabetes simply by looking at the back of their neck. Acanthosis nigricans, or a darkening of the skin behind the neck or in the armpits and other skin folds, is all you need to see to know that your child has pre-diabetes. Look at the examples below... These are fairly advanced stages of acanthosis nigricans. Your child's may be lighter than this so look carefully.

Acanthosis nigricans is usually seen with conditions that increase insulin levels, such as type 2 diabetes or being overweight. High insulin levels can trigger activity in skin cells, resulting in this dark, thick, velvety skin. Acanthosis nigricans can also be caused by medicines such as human growth hormone and oral contraceptives (aka "the pill"). There is no specific treatment for acanthosis nigricans, although weight loss may decrease its appearance.

I always check fasting glucose and insulin levels to make sure that my patient has not yet developed diabetes. Acanthosis nigricans is a sign that a patient's weight is starting to affect his/her health. It should be a wake-up call that weight loss is needed immediately to prevent the development of diabetes. If your child is overweight, be sure to check their neck and make sure that they do not have this sign of "hyperinsulinemia" (higher than normal insulin levels). The absence of acanthosis nigricans, however, does not mean that your child does not have pre-diabetes or diabetes.

Any overweight child should have their fasting glucose and insulin levels checked as a precaution.

Now overweight children all over the country can follow Dr. Dolgoff's Weigh online at We have a 96% weight loss success rate!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Obese Teens Risk of Dying Young Same as Heavy Smoker's!

Wow! A new study was reviewed in the NY Times that has some shocking results. They discuss a large European study published in this week's British Medical Journal that spanned decades. The study found that young men who were overweight at age 18 were as likely to die by age 60 as smokers who smoke up to10 cigarettes a day (aka 'light smokers'); these young adults were one-third more likely to die young! The study then went on to say that obese teens were as likely to die by age 60 as heavy smokers who smoke more than half a pack of cigarettes a day; their risk was DOUBLE the normal risk.

As with every study, there is some backlash that the risk is overstated. But either way, it does serve to remind us that being overweight or obese is not a cosmetic issue; it is a severe medical issue.

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in our country. According to the CDC, obesity will soon overpass smoking to take this dubious honor.

Parents: take action now! Do not wait. The time to help your overweight child is NOW!

Our site is live! Now your child can lose weight following Dr. Dolgoff'sWeigh online. Go to for more information. Your child's road to wellness starts here...

Monday, March 2, 2009

Lean Types of Protein

Not sure what to make for dinner? Many dinners revolve around the protein portion so I will review some lean proteins that are healthy and easy to incorporate into yummy meals.

Beef: Extra-lean beef can be surprising healthy. The leanest cuts are tenderloin and top sirloin. When opting for ground beef, choose extra-lean (not lean which can have up to 10 grams of fat per serving!) In terms of percentages, choose ground meats that are at least 93% fat-free.

Chicken: Chicken breasts are an extremely healthy source of protein. But the breast is not the only cut that you can eat. While dark meat does have more calories and fat than white meat, it is still okay to eat- as long as you remove ALL of the skin. Vary the type of chicken that you serve so your kids don't get bored.

Ground Turkey: It is a myth that ground turkey is healthier than ground meat. It all depends on the type of ground turkey and ground meat. Regular ground meat includes the light meat, the dark meat, and even the skin! It can have significantly more fat than 95% fat-free ground beef. And, in my opinion, ground turkey never tastes as good as ground beef. However, if you want to get really lean, opt for the 99% fat-free all white meat ground turkey. That is as lean as it gets!

Fish: It is not true that all kids hate fish. There are some types of fish that kids love (and no, I am not talking about the fried fish stick versions!) My daughter loves salmon and my son loves rare tuna. Other mild fish include cod and tilapia. Just remember, fresh fish should be used or frozen within two days. Once frozen, fish will stay good for about a month.

Tofu: Tofu is a source of protein that takes on the flavor of whatever you cook it with! For stir-fries and main dishes, use firm or extra-firm tofu. For baking or smoothies, try silken or soft tofu. For increased flavor, buy pre-packaged tofu that has already been marinated.





Sunday, March 1, 2009

A trick to get your kids to exercise

Your dog can truly be your child's best friend. Give your child the chore of walking the dog and voila- instant movement! Dogs love to run around outside. Chances are your child will feed off of the dog's enthusiasm. Encourage your child to play outside with the dog as much as possible. Studies show that simply getting your kid outside of the house helps with weight loss. So don't even mention exercise! Just tell your kids that the dog is getting restless and suggest they take him for a walk, play chase, or even play fetch. Once they are in the routine of walking the dog, tell them that their beloved pet is getting too heavy and the vet wants the doggy to run around a bit. All vets encourage exercise so it is not really a lie ;) In any case, suggest that your child jog with the dog for one minute and then walk for five minutes. Each week, increase the jogging by thirty seconds and decrease the walking by thirty seconds. In time, your child and dog will be jogging straight through! Gradually increase the length of the walks.

Not only will your child benefit- but your dog will be in better shape as well!


Friday, February 27, 2009

Let's Celebrate... without food!

My son lost his first tooth yesterday. It was really exciting. The tooth had been dangling and we knew it would be falling out soon. But I didn't realize how truly happy I would be when it finally came out. It hit me that my little boy is growing up. Wasn't I nursing him yesterday, praying that his teeth wouldn't grow in and hurt my boob? Time really does fly.

As I came in the door, he ran over to me. "Mommy, mommy. My tooth fell out at school today!" He was bubbling over with excitement. He sat me down and told me all about how he was playing basketball and tripped and boom- the tooth flew out of his mouth. He was laughing as he explained how everybody got on their hands and knees to hunt for his missing tooth. By the end of the story, I was laughing too.

And what was my next reaction? "Let's celebrate!" I then (almost) added, "Who wants ice cream?" That is how we celebrated everything in my house growing up. Piano recital? Hot fudge sundaes. Graduation? Banana splits. Good grade on a test? Well, you get the drift. It wasn't until I was a teenager that I realized my father would use any excuse to go for ice cream. And I grew up, as did many others, associating celebrating with eating fattening foods.

I don't want that for my children. But how do we celebrate the tooth without eating lots of calories and fat? Hmmm... I thought about that long and hard. Let's reward him with something he would like, that doesn't cost too much, and isn't bad for his health. "Let's go ice skating this weekend to celebrate!" I suggested. He immediately broke into a huge grin. "That's a great idea!" So- this weekend, we will go to the ice skating rink and spend a family day celebrating by doing an (active) activity that the entire family loves. I think that was a great solution!

Anybody else have other suggestions?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

New Study from Harvard and NIH determines most effective way to lose weight!

A landmark study just came out of the Harvard School of Public Health and the NIH.

Researchers recruited 811 overweight or obese older adults and put them on one of four diet plans. Two of the plans were low-fat plans with 20% of calories from fat. Two of the plans were high-fat plans with 40% of calories from fat. The calories from carbohydrates ranged from 35% to 65%. Protein was either 15% or 25% of calories.

All four plans adhered to heart-healthy guidelines, which emphasize eating less than 8% of calories from artery-clogging saturated (animal) fat, eating vegetables, fruits and whole-grain products, and consuming at least 20 grams of fiber a day.

The eating plans were based on the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet, not on popular plans such as the Atkins or South Beach diets.

Dieters were encouraged to attend regular individual and group weight-loss counseling sessions and keep an online food diary. Everyone was given a personalized calorie goal, and most aimed for 750 calories below their daily needs. No one was supposed to eat fewer than 1,200 calories a day.

Participants' exercise goals were modest: about 90 minutes of moderate physical activity a week. Researchers were focused on how the composition of the diets affected weight loss and did not want to distort the results.

Among the findings, presented in today's New England Journal of Medicine:

• In six months, the dieters lost an average of 13 pounds no matter which diet they were on.

• After two years, they had kept off an average of 9 pounds and lost 1 to 3 inches in the waist, regardless of which diet they were on.

• Dieters had improvements in heart-disease risk factors, including increases in the HDL (good) cholesterol, and decreases in LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides (blood fats) at six months and two years.

• People reported similar levels of fullness, hunger and satisfaction on the different diets.

'Reasonable range' of fats, protein, carbs

The plans did not include a very low-carb Atkins-type diet, Sacks says, because most "people don't stick with that low-carbohydrate intake, and we didn't want to try anything unrealistic. We tried a big range but a reasonable range of fats, protein and carbohydrates."

Some research indicates that dieters may feel full longer on higher-protein diets, but these dieters did not report any differences in feelings of fullness, says Catherine Loria, a nutritional epidemiologist with the heart, lung and blood institute.


They came up with "a very simple message that cuts through all the hype: To lose weight, it comes down to how much you put in your mouth — it's not a question of eating a particular type of diet," says Frank Sacks, a lead researcher and professor of cardiovascular disease prevention at Harvard.

* Information obtained from the New England Journal of Medicine and USA Today

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Medical Problems of Obesity

Being overweight affects every body system.

Overweight children are very often depressed and anxious.
Brains of overweight children don't respond well to leptin, a hormone that tells the brain your child is full. Therefore, overweight kids are even MORE likely to overeat and gain more weight.
Overweight children are more likely to have atherosclerosis (fatty deposits in the carotid arteries) that can lead to stroke.

Overweight children are more likely to have asthma. Asthma makes obesity worse because asthmatic children tend to avoid exercise, thus leading to more weight gain.

Overweight children are more likely to have atherosclerosis (fatty deposits in the arteries of the heart). Atherosclerosis can lead to heart attacks!
Overweight children are more likely to have high blood pressure, also leading to heart attacks.

Overweight children are more likely to have GE reflux and constipation.

Overweight children are more likely to have bone problems that can lead to hip pain, knee pain, and back pain. This also makes weight gain worse because children in pain do not exercise!
Pressure from excess weight increases the risk of bone fractures.

Overweight children are more likely to become resistant to the effects of insulin, causing diabetes (type 2).

Overweight children are more likely to have gallstones. Gallstones are also common in overweight kids who lose weight too quickly.

Overweight children are more likely to have fat accumulate in the liver, commonly known as 'fatty liver'. If severe, fatty liver can lead to cirrhosis and liver failure.


Monday, February 23, 2009

Does skiing burn calories?

I just got back from a wonderful week in Vermont. We definitely had a blast- although I wouldn't call it a relaxing vacation. I could still use a week on an island somewhere to unwind! :)

It seems that most of my patients opted to go skiing this week. Before they left, we sat in my office and discussed what would be hard about eating healthy during a ski trip. Without exception, my patients all told me, "Don't worry. I will be burning so many calories skiing so it won't matter if I eat more."

I had my doubts and they were confirmed this week. First, the ski lift lines are endless. Then there is the time sitting in the ski lift. It seems that it takes at least a half hour of waiting before you get your five (maybe 10) minutes of exercise. And even the exercise is not too vigorous. I mean, you're going downhill! Gravity plays a large part! I am not denying that your muscles get sore from skiing. But I don't think your heart rate gets high enough to really count as vigorous exercise.

So, to all my skiing patients out there, you still need to stick to your healthy eating plans while on a ski trip! Skiing is certainly better (in terms of calorie burn) than lying on the beach but it does not give you carte blanche to eat whatever you want!


Saturday, February 14, 2009

I went to Burger King...

I know you have all been there. You are on a long car ride with the kids and suddenly, everybody is crying that they are hungry. You are in the middle of nowhere and suddenly a rest stop appears. You frantically search for something healthy only to be disappointed. Burger King and Dunkin' Donuts.

That is where I found myself last night. So I took the kids to Burger King. We each got a hamburger kids' meal. I was shocked at the price. TEN DOLLARS TOTAL! No wonder lower income families tend to be heavier. Where else can you eat for that price?

I do have to say that the kids' meal was plenty for me. I definitely wasn't hungry afterwards. How do people eat the supersize meals? All in all, I think we did pretty well in what could have been a calorie disaster.

I am taking the holiday week off so I will be back blogging next week. Enjoy your vacations!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

5 Diet Tips For Kids That Don't Involve Food or Exercise

Obviously diet and exercise are the key to losing weight. However, there are many other little things we do every day that either help or sabotage our 'get healthy' efforts. Here are some tips on how you can make your child's weight loss easier without starving of spending hours at the gym.

1. Teach your children to like what theysee in the mirror. Focus on their great legs or strong arms. Remind them that their bodies have many wonderful attributes. Dieters with higher self-esteem lose more weight!

2. Help them lose their inner negative voice. We all have that little voice in our heads, telling us that everything we do is wrong. "You shouldn't have eaten that..." "Why didn't you go to the gym today?" This voice makes us feel worthless. When that voice arises, tell your kids to tell the voice to shut up! Or teach them to counter back with something positive. "Maybe I shouldn't have eaten that but I only had a half portion. To make up for it, I will cut back on my afternoon snack." "I really didn't feel like going to the gym today but I will go tomorrow, even though tomorrow is usually my off day. I don't want exercise to seem like a chore; I can reschedule my gym sessions as long as I get in my 4 or 5 days."

3. Celebrate small milestones. You don't have to wait until goal to congratulate your children. Set smaller mini-goals so they have that sense of accomplishment. And pick a (non-food) reward. Maybe let them buy that new shirt they've been wanting or let them go with their friends to the movies on a school night. Just find something that they want that doesn't involve food. It needn't be expensive!

4. Dieting can be stressful. Help your children find a non-food way to deal with stress. Some people like yoga. Others try deep breathing. I like taking a long, hot bath with a good book! Your child may want to spend a few minutes playing a video game. Exercise can also be a stress release. Plan in advance- make sure they know how to handle stressful situations so they don't instinctively turn to food.

5. Teach your children to enjoy food! It may seem counter-intuitive but if your children really enjoy a meal, they may eat less. First, teach them to eat slowly. Savor the flavors. Notice the feeling of the food on their tongues. They should not just throw the food down their throats. Have them pay attention to the food and allow their bodies the time it takes to realize that it is full.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Top Ten Healthy Foods To Add To Your Child's Diet

Here are some healthy foods to add to your child's diet.

1. Blueberries- full of antioxidants and delicious! Blueberries don't last long in my house- my kids usually eat them all in a day!

2. Salmon- Omega 3 fats lower cholesterol and protect your heart!

3. Edamame- Full of soy protein and fiber, edamame will keep your child full longer than most other snacks. My daughter calls them "the beans that pop".

4. Eggs- Surprised to see eggs on this list? Eggs have protein and contrary to popular belief, will not increase your child's cholesterol level.

5. Peanut butter- Once the salmonella scare is over, take another look at this kids' favorite! Peanut butter is protein... just watch the portion size. One tablespoon is plenty.

6. Nuts- Peanuts, pistachio nuts, almonds, and walnuts all taste delicious and have lots of protein and fiber to keep your child feeling full and the fat in nuts is the good kind. Nuts do have lots of calories, however, so watch your portion sizes.

7. Low-Fat cheese- Calcium is very important for growing kids. But regular cheese has saturated fat. Be sure to include dairy in your child's diet but make sure it is either low-fat or (even better) fat-free. 2% string cheese is a great choice to put into your child's lunch.

8. Low-Fat yogurt- Healthy for the same reasons as the low-fat cheese. But beware- some yogurts have lots of added sugars and calories. Pick a yogurt that has less than 100 calories.

9. Avocado- Avocado is full of good fat. Add some to your child's turkey sandwich or mash it up and serve it on whole-grain crackers. I started my kids on avocado at six months old and they have been enjoying it ever since!

10. Pomegranate- Pomegranates, while hard to find and messy to eat, are delicious and full of fiber and antioxidants.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Kids' Fave Meals Made Healthy

Let's make-over some of our kids' favorite meals. Delicious meals don't have to be unhealthy.

Hamburger: Instead of using regular beef, use 93% or 95% fat-free ground meat (also called extra-lean meat). You can also try all white meat ground turkey (although I don't find it as tasty). Put the burger on a light hamburger bun.

Hot Dog: My family loves the 97% fat-free Hebrew National hot dogs. Try two hot dogs on one light hot dog bun. Yummy!

Grilled Cheese: At home, use two slices of reduced-calorie whole wheat bread with two slices of fat-free cheese or one slice of 2% cheese. Then, put it in the toaster or put it in a panini maker or on the George Forman Grill. At a restaurant, order the grilled cheese on whole wheat bread with just one slice of cheese, no butter, no oil, no mayo.

French Fries: Two options here. The easy route is the frozen baked fries found in the freezer section of most supermarkets. Just put them on a cookie sheet and bake them without any butter or oil. Your other option is to take a potato or a sweet potato and slice it thinly. Then bake it on a cookie sheet that has been sprayed with Pam.

Pizza: Pizza is not as unhealthy as many people believe. If your child can stick to just one slice, pizza can be a great meal. The problem begins when kids start eating two or three slices in one sitting. To make pizza more filling, load on the veggie toppings. Some pizza places even offer whole wheat crust which adds needed fiber. You can also order the pizza with half the amount of cheese to save calories and grams of fat. At home, use a thin crust whole wheat Boboli pizza crust and top it with reduced-fat or fat-free cheese and tomato sauce.

Quesadilla: A staple in my home on nights when we just don't have time to cook. We take a flour tortilla and top it with pre-cooked Perdue chicken strips and shredded, fat-free cheddar/Mexican blend cheeses. Just microwave for 30 seconds and enjoy! Top with salsa, if desired.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Insufficient sleep may cause Diabetes!

New evidence suggests that not only can lack of sleep lead to obesity, it can also lead directly to Type II Diabetes!

It seems that when you don't get enough sleep, your body needs needs more insulin to keep sugar levels normal. Lack of sleep impacts your central nervous system and your hormones, both of which play a large role in sugar regulation. Remain too tired and your insulin-producing cells stop functioning normally, causing high sugar levels and then diabetes.

There are also other, less direct, ways that lack of sleep leads to diabetes. Everybody know that you eat more when you are tired. Eating more leads to obesity which leads to Type II Diabetes.

But there is now evidence that sleep deprivation can lead to diabetes even in somebody who is not overweight.

Just another reason why EVERYBODY, regardless of weight, should eat a healthy diet.


Thursday, February 5, 2009

Liquid Candy (aka soda)

Just how bad is soda? Well, let's look at the statistics.

A can (12 fl oz) of soda has 150 calories.
If you drink one can of soda a day, you will have consumed 54,750 extra calories in a year.
It takes 3,500 calories to form a pound of fat.

You will gain 15.6 pounds each year by drinking just one can of soda a day.

It gets worse...

Look at the vending machines around you. It is now rare to see soda cans in them. Instead, we have 'upgraded' to the 20 fl oz bottle. What happens if you drink a bottle of soda a day?

A bottle (20 fl oz) of soda has 250 calories.
If you drink one bottle of soda a day, you will have consumed 91,250 extra calories in a year.
It (still) takes 3,500 calories to form a pound of fat.

You will gain 26 pounds each year by drinking just one bottle of soda a day.

And let's not discuss kids who drink soda with lunch, snack, and dinner. They are at very high risk for obesity.

More on soda tomorrow...

Launching March 1, 2009: Dr. Dolgoff's Online Weigh! Your child can follow Dr. Dolgoff's Weigh online from anywhere in the country. 96% of children following Dr. Dolgoff's Weigh lose weight. Your child can be next! Go to for more details.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Being tired can make you heavy!

A recent study from the University of Chicago showed that people snack more when they are tired. I could have told them that from my own 'study' during my residency! Surprisingly, their study did not show that tired people eat more at mealtimes. Adults who got fewer than 5 hours of sleep consumed 221 more calories from snacks than adults who got more than 8 hours of sleep. The tired eaters also tended to choose a higher percentage of calories from refined carbohydrates.

So- if you can't get a full night sleep, watch your snacking! Make sure you have healthy snacks on hand for when hunger strikes. Your snacks should be a mixture of protein and fiber. Aim to have two snacks a day, each worth 100 - 150 calories.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Work out at home on a budget!

Ready to start your child on an exercise program but don't have the money to pay for a personal trainer or a gym membership? There are lots of inexpensive ways to get your child to exercise. Read on for some examples of equipment you can use at home that won't break the bank. I found these products on

Jump Rope- It's fun and easy to do. $4.95

Speed Agility Ladder- Just lie it on the floor and run, hop, shuffle your way through the squares. You can find lots of exercises for the ladder with a quick search of the web. $24.95.

Step: Step aerobics are a fun way to get your child moving. Start with the step on the floor and (depending on your child's height) work your way up to using the blocks. You can find lots of step routines on demand or on the web. $29.99

Tubing: You don't need to buy an entire set of dumbbells to strength train. Just pick up some tubing with handles. They are cheap and effective. $9.99

Bosu: Use the bosu for cardio by using it as a step or for core conditioning by lying on it while doing crunches. The possibilities are endless. $59.75

Adjustable Dumbbells: Each weight can be adjusted to weigh from 2.5 pounds to 12.5 pounds. Be sure to consult a trainer before allowing your child to lift dumbbells. $77.40

Medicine Ball: You can work your entire core with a
medicine ball. You can also look online for suggestions on how to incorporate the medicine ball into a cardiovascular workout. $9.75

Kid's Exercise Bike: A moderately priced exercise bike built for kids. $89.99

Kid's First Treadmill: Start them early! $129.99

Sunday, February 1, 2009

New Product Recommendation

I came home early the other night and found my kids having dinner with our nanny. I looked at their plates and immediately got upset. The kids were eating potato pancakes which looked fried and greasy. I tasted them and got even more fired up. They were so delicious and clearly fattening. My nanny knows that I don't like my kids to eat fried food. "Katie," I said. "I would rather you didn't serve my kids such unhealthy foods." As I was about to start a lecture on the dangers of saturated fats, I noticed that Katie was smiling. "So you like the new vegetable pancakes I found?" "Vegetable pancakes?" "Yes, they are made with all natural ingredients, no trans fat, no preservatives. Only 70 calories each." "Wow!" I was shocked. They tasted way too good. But she showed me the package.

The brand is Golden and they are called Vegetable Pancakes. Ingredients: potatoes, water, meal, canola oil, string beans, dehydrated onions, corn, carrots, whole eggs, peas, egg whites, deydrated potatoes, red peppers, salt, green peppers, pepper, parsley.

All you do is put them in the oven and bake them for 10 minutes.

I served them for my husband at dinner tonight and he couldn't believe they were healthy, either. They got a strong approval rating from my husband and kids; we all fought over the last one!

Try them. My nanny found them at Pathmark.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Gym Tax???

I just heard some very disturbing news. Governor Paterson and the New York Legislature are considering imposing a sales tax on health club dues and services (including personal training) to make up for New York State's budget deficit. How shortsighted is that thinking? Are they not aware that we are in the midst of an obesity epidemic? One out of every three children in this country is either overweight or obese. Do they know how much money is spent on obesity-related health expenses in this country? More than 10 million American children are overweight, leading to an annual health-related cost of 117 billion dollars. Studies show that obesity-related health costs will total 860 billion dollars by 2030. Is this really the wisest way to save money?

Governor Paterson has talked extensively about the medical and economic importance of healthy lifestyles and is proposing an "obesity tax" on non-diet, sugary sodas and advocating a "Healthier New York". Therefore a tax on health clubs is directly in opposition to this goal. The State should be encouraging, not discouraging, memberships to health clubs to stem the obesity epidemic and promote good health.

Here's how you can help - visit today to quickly and easily tell your lawmakers to oppose this proposed tax.Thanks in advance for participating. I will update you as the details unfold.

* Special thanks to LIFT gym for providing the link to

Thursday, January 29, 2009

"Mom, am I fat?"

How do you respond when your overweight child asks if she is fat? Do you sugarcoat the truth and tell her she is perfect? Do you go for the hard love angle and tell her that yes, she is fat? I would advise for something in between.

It is not easy to talk about something as sensitive as weight, particular with a pre-teen or a teenager. Parents must walk a fine line between acknowledging the problem and promoting self-confidence.

Children know they are overweight. And if you don't mention it, their peers certainly will! If you pretend everything is fine, your child will learn that her weight is a shameful topic that can't be discussed. She will then try to lose weight with her own methods, usually by starving herself or binging. These are the children who are most at risk for disordered eating. Studies show that if you acknowledge and treat an overweight child in a sensitive manner, you actually decrease the risk of disordered eating!

Ideally, the conversation would go something like this...

"Mom, am I fat?"
"What makes you ask that, honey?"
"The kids on the playground called me names today."
"Well that is not nice. But maybe we would be healthier if we did learn to eat better. We could all use to revamp our diets." Notice how I have chosen to say 'we' could be healthier and 'we could all use to...' This sounds less accusatory and alerts your child that you are both in it together. I have also turned it around to be about health and eating better rather than about fat or thin. This way, even a thin parent can have this conversation. Most thin people I know could eat healthier if they tried. "Why don't we try to make some changes together. We can learn how to eat right and we can start getting more active. Would you like that?"

I have had many parents call me after this conversation, worried that they said the wrong thing. Often, the parents responded with, "Don't be silly. Of course you are not fat. You are beautiful." And then they want to know how they can help their children. It is better off not to lie. If your child demands an answer to the question, I would say...

"Fat is such a nasty word. You look good but you might be healthier if you weighed a little less. Let's work together to learn to eat better and exercise more." Notice again that I didn't say 'you would look better if you weighed less'. It is important to focus the discussion around health- not around looks. Again, bring it back to the 'we' as soon as possible. And always end the discussion with next steps... "Why don't we go online and look at some websites about healthy eating." "Let's call the pediatrician and see if she has any suggestions." "Let's go to the supermarket and pick up some healthy foods so we can get started right away."

Good luck. And if you are still nervous about broaching the subject with your child, feel free to call my office (516-801-0022) or e-mail me ( for more advice.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The family that eats together...

New studies prove what we all believed to be true: children whose families eat together tend to be happier and healthier. The importance of the family meal has now been proven.

Science daily magazine revealed that teens who regularly eat meals with their families are less likely to drink and smoke. In fact, a study of middle school children followed over five years showed that girls who regularly ate meals with their families were half as likely to use alcohol/drugs than girls who did not regularly eat meals with their families. The research also shows that children who regularly eat with their families are closer to their parents than children who do not.

The beneficial effects of the family meal are vast. These children are also less likely to be overweight or obese. And family mealtime is a great opportunity to reconnect with your children. Discuss their day. Ask them about their friends. Find out what is happening in school. In other words, GET INVOLVED!

Notice that I have been referring to family mealtime and NOT family dinnertime. Contrary to popular belief, the family meal does not have to be dinner! I often work late nights but I try to eat breakfast with my children in the mornings. That is the time that I find out what is going on in their lives. And we always have Saturday lunch, Sunday brunch and Sunday dinner together. Even with my busy schedule, I carve out time to eat meals with my kids. It is important to have that uninterrupted time for conversation!

So sit down with your kids and enjoy a nice meal. The benefits are immeasurable.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Wrap vs. Pizza: Which is a better choice?

I went to a birthday party with my son this morning. While the kids were being entertained by a 'mad scientist magician', the moms sat around a table, eating and chatting. Finally, lunch was served. The options were wrap sandwiches (turkey and cheese or roast beef and cheese) or pizza. All the moms took wrap sandwiches. They looked at me with horror as I picked up a slice of pizza. I laughed... "You do know that this slice of pizza has fewer calories than those sanwiches you are eating, right?" Apparently, they did not.

Look at the nutritional information for the wrap. Note that this doesn't include the sandwich meat or the cheese. The information is for the wrap bread itself.

Wrap: 320 calories, 8 g fat, 53 g carbs

Now look at the nutritional information for a slice of pizza.

Pizza: 250 calories, 10.5g fat, 54.8 g carbs

Surprised? So were my friends. One slice of pizza has fewer calories than a wrap sandwich.

Bon Apetit!



Friday, January 23, 2009

Tips for helping your child stick to an exercise program.

The only thing harder than getting your child to start an exercise regimen? Getting them to stick to it! Here are some tips to help.

1. Set up an exercise schedule.

These days, kids are used to being tightly scheduled. A typical child's schedule includes music lessons, religous lessons, tutors, and homework. Why not squeeze some exercise in there? For example:

Mon: school, piano lesson, 45 minutes exercise, dinner, homework

Tues: school, religous school, dinner, homework

Wed: school, free time for playdate, 45 minutes exercise, homework

Thurs: school, religous school, dinner, homework

Fri: school, tutor, 45 minutes exercise, dinner, homework

Sat: tennis lesson

Sun: day off from schedule!

Make sure the exercise is as an important part of the schedule as school and lessons.

2. Be flexible...

It's Friday afternoon and your daughter really wants to have a sleepover with her friend. You know that she won't exercise if you let her. What do you do? Let her have the sleepover and reschedule the exercise session. Tell her, "You can have the sleepover today but we will make up the exercise session on Sunday." That way you allow her to have her fun without getting her weekly exercise off track.

3. Make it fun!

Exercise does not have to be a chore. Pick activities that your child truly enjoys. Tennis, jumping rope and bouncing on a trampoline can all be great forms of exercise. Wii Fit is another great exercise option. Try to think outside the treadmill!

4. Exercise with friends.

Everything is more fun when done with a friend. Have your child pick an exercise buddy and let them get fit together. They can keep each other on track while making the experience more enjoyable.

5. Buy a few exercise accessories.

You don't need to break the bank to have some workout equipment at home. Consider a rope ladder that you lie on the floor and do running drills on. A small, individual-sized trampouline is also quite inexpensive. You may also invest in a step for step aerobics. Consider buying your child some new exercise clothes so they feel excited to put them on and get moving!

6. Don't start by running a marathon.

The easiest way to get a child to hate exercise is to push them too quickly. Take it slowly and build up. Remember, if your child doesn't enjoy the exercise they will soon give it up.


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Habits of Naturally Thin vs. Successful Dieters

I just read a very interesting article that I wanted to share with you. The study looked at the habits of the naturally thin, successful dieters, and failed dieters. The study was from Consumer Reports and looked at 21,632 people.

Group 1: 'always thin', never overweight.

Group 2: 'successful dieters', people who now weigh at least 10 percent less than they did at their heaviest and have been at that lower weight for at leat 2 years.

Group 3: 'failed dieters', people who would like to lose weight but still weigh at or neaer their lifetime high.

Only 3% of the 'always thin' group said that they never exercise and eat whatever they want.

The study shows that the eating and exercise habits of the 'always thin' group was the same as the eating and exercise habits of the 'successful dieters'. Both groups said that they regularly eat healthy foods, such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and routinely stay away from excessive dietary fat. Both groups also watch their portion sizes and follow a regular, vigorous exercise plan.

It seems that the only advantage the 'always thin' have over the 'successful dieters' is that those habits seem to come a bit more naturally to them, according to Consumer Reports.
"When we've compared people maintaining a weight loss with (those) who've always had a normal weight, we've found that both groups are working hard at it; the maintainers are just working a little harder," Dr. Suzanne Phelan of the California Polytechnic State University and co-investigator of the National Weight Control Registry, which tracks people who have successfully maintained a weight loss over time, noted in a Consumer Reports press statement.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Tips to cut costs at the supermarket

The recession is causing us all to watch our bottom lines. It is true that healthy foods often cost more than junk foods. Read on for some suggestions to help you keep your supermarket bills in check.

Look around your house before you head to the market. Make three shopping lists: what you need immediately, what you will need soon, and what you definitely don't need. When you get to the supermarket, buy the items that you need right away. Then consider your list of items you will need soon. Any of them on sale? If so, buy them now. If not, wait until next week. You never know when a sale will pop up. Do not buy the items that you definitely do not need.

It is diet and wallet sabotage to shop hungry. Hungry shoppers fill their baskets with all kinds of non-essentials. Make sure to have a healthy snack before heading out the door.

Instead of pre-packaged foods, buy bigger containers and make your own single servings! For example, buy a large barrel of pretzel rods and portion them into small baggies at home. Consider going to a wholesale store for your non-perishables.

Fruit can be reasonably priced when it is bought in season. Each season offers delicious produce options. Take advantage of nature's natural variety!

If fresh produce is too expensive, consider frozen. Frozen produce has almost all the same vitamins and nutrient as fresh.

Many supermarkets offer coupons. Clip the coupons and save them until you need the item. Coupons can help you save lots of money.


Monday, January 19, 2009

Obese in the US now outnumber the overweight

The obesity crisis is getting worse and worse! A new report states the the number of obese individuals in the US now outnumbers the number or 'merely overweight' individuals. Congratulations America. Something must be done before every American is considered overweight or obese.

Where can we start?

1. New York City now requires most restaurants to post calorie information for all food offerings. The calorie information must be at least as visible as the price information. This law should be generalized to the entire United States.

2. I love the idea of an obesity tax. Let's make unhealthy foods more expensive. And let's try to lower the cost of fresh fruits and vegetables. Maybe fruits and vegetables could be tax-free. The government could use the money from the obesity tax to offset any lost tax money from fruits and vegetables.

3. Serve ONLY healthy foods in schools. Get rid of all vending machines. Lose the cookies, cakes, and other junk food. Stick to lunches that are nutritious. Do you know that many schools serve mozzarella sticks and nachos for lunch? Let's get rid of all of that stuff and turn our schools into healthy havens.

4. Let's put more money into school physical education programs and after school athletic programs. Nowadays, the money for school athletics goes to the elite athletes who are good enough to play on the sports teams. None of that money is used for the chubby, non-athletic student who needs it the most! We should take the emphasis off of competitive sports and start building non-competitive sports leagues for those students who are not currently physically active.

5. Limit child-targeted advertising. The average child sees 40,000 commercials a year, mostly for high-fat, high-calorie foods. The reason companies spend so much money on child-targeted advertising? Because it works! These commercials prompt children to crave these unhealthy foods. Remember when commercials for alcohol weren't allowed on TV during certain hours? Let's do the same for child-targeted junk food commercials.

These steps may seem severe but they are necessary. Without intervention, our country is going to eat itself to death.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Eat a food you hate!

Eat a food you hate...

I recently read this advice on Twitter and I love it!

Eat a food you hate... Why? Because taste is a learned process. Many people believe that you either like the taste of a certain food or you do not. But actually, taste develops over time. In fact, it often takes ten to fifteen times of trying the same food before you actually learn to like it. So when you eat a food you hate, you are training your taste buds. Before long, you may actually enjoy it!

I found this with brussel sprouts. My mother loves brussel sprouts. Growing up, she made them often. And although to this day she insists it is not true, she always forced me to eat my brussel sprouts. I didn't have to eat all of them but I did have to try them. At that time, I resented it. Even now, my son and I joke about how much I hate brussel sprouts. But the other day, I was served brussel sprouts at a dinner. I took a bite and to my surprise, I loved them! I even ate the entire serving. My son, Zachary, couldn't believe it and he agreed to try them also. He didn't like them but we are not giving up hope!

I don't believe in forcing kids to eat foods they dislike but I do believe in the 'two bite rule'. Insist your child try two bites of each food you put in front of them. If he/she doesn't like it, he/she doesn't have to eat more than two bites. But the next time that food is served, the 'two bite rule' still applies.

Eat a food you hate and you just might wind up with a food you love!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Treadmill Routines for Kids Age 8+

Too cold to walk outside? That doesn't mean that your child's fitness regimen needs to chill until Spring. That treadmill gathering dust in your basement can be safely used by a child (age 8+). Just be sure to get your child's pediatrician's approval before starting any new exercise regimen.

To begin, make sure your child is wearing a supportive pair of sneakers. Start the treadmill at a very slow pace so your child is walking comfortably. Do not go too fast or your child may fall down. You can SLOWLY increase the pace until your child is at a brisk walk. Then, choose from the following three workouts.

Workout One: Steady does it...

Keep your child at one pace throughout this workout. Make sure your child is walking fast enough; if your child is not breathing heavily and sweating, increase the pace. Ideally, your child will be unable to speak fluidly in complete sentences. The goal is to walk at this pace for a total of 45 minutes. Work up to this slowly. Start with 5 or 10 minutes and increase the length of time by 5 minutes every day or so.

Workout Two: An uphill battle...

Begin your child on a flat incline and have him/her walk at a brisk pace (as above) for 5 minutes. Then slowly increase the incline on the treadmill. Do this slowly. Increase by 0.5 every 2 minutes until you reach a maximum incline of 4 percent. (If this level of incline is too difficult, back off by 0.5 until your child is able to keep up. As the incline gets higher, you may need to lower the speed slightly. Adjust the treadmill so that your child is working hard but is able to tolerate it.) End the routine with 5 minutes at incline 0.

Workout Three: What goes up must come down...

This workout is an interval workout. You will be frequently adjusting the speed of the treadmill. Begin the workout with your child walking at a brisk pace for 5 minutes. Then increase the speed so that your child is either walking very quickly or jogging for 1 minute. Then lower the speed so that your child is walking at a reasonable pace for 3 minutes. Alternate between 1 minute at a fast pace and 3 minutes at a reasonable pace until your child has been working out for 35 minutes total. End the workout with 5 minutes at a reasonable pace.

A reminder: check with your doctor before trying this workout! Do not attempt these exercises without your doctor's approval.

Not sure how to teach this to your children? Go to to learn more. Our interactive website launches next month!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

10 quick tips to save calories...

1. Order grilled instead of fried. Avoid the word 'crispy'!
2. Ask for food cooked without butter, oil or mayo. If it can't be cooked without them, ask for as little as possible.
3. Avoid tuna salad. Order turkey instead or make your own tuna at home with low-fat or fat-free mayo.
4. Take your own snacks to the movies. You can pop your own 94% fat-free microwave popcorn at home and save over 500 calories from the movie theater oil-popped popcorn.
5. Avoid creamy or cheesy soups. Stick to red or chicken broth-based soups instead.
6. Be wary of salad dressing. Just because it has lettuce doesn't mean it is healthy. Instead of regular dressing, try fat-free dressing or some balsamic vinegar!
7. Always order the 'kiddie-size' version, when possible. Kiddie-size items usually contain at least one normal adult serving.
8. Serve dinner on smaller plates. You will trick your body into thinking you ate more than you did!
9. Skip regular cuts of meat. Go for extra-lean cuts whenever possible.
10. Limit yourself to one trip to the buffet table. Try to avoid seconds!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Mommy, how calories are in my sandwich?

The other night my three-year old daughter asked me how many calories were in her turkey sandwich. I was part horrified and part pleased. I couldn't help but wonder if maybe I had taken things too far. Sure, I want my kids to be aware that some foods are healthy and some are not. But calories? Hmmm...

I like my patients to think of food in terms of colors, not calories. Green light foods are the healthiest. Red light foods are the least healthy. And yellow light foods fall in between. There is certainly no harm in that.

But thinking in calories may be too much. Limiting total calorie intake is clearly necessary for weight loss. But not all calories are equally nutritious. For example, the calories in an apple are not the same as the calories in a few Hershey's Kisses even if they add up to the same total number. So it's not enough to just consider how many calories... you have to consider the type of the calories as well.

I would rather kids think about food quality and appropriate portion sizes. Of course, an overweight child should monitor how much they are eating to facilitate weight loss. In my program, I suggest how many green light foods should be eaten at each meal and snack. If they want a yellow light food, they must give up two green light foods. And red light foods are limited to twice a week.

So, in answer to Danielle's question about her sandwich, I replied, "Honey, a turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread is a very healthy food. Don't worry about calories. Just try to make healthy choices and eat green light foods." To which she responded, "okay!" Simple enough!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Nature Deficit Disorder

I recently read an article about a movement in New Hampshire called "No Child Left Inside". The movement is from the New Hampshire Children in Nature Coalition. They have coined the phrase "Nature Deficit Disorder". Basically, our children are not spending enough time outside (in nature) and are suffering. Children who spend time outside tend to be more active and much thinner. Most outside activities are fairly active: hiking, biking, playing on a swingset. Kids who spend a lot of time outdoors burn off excess energy and are more relaxed than those who shun the outdoors. They are calmer and do better in school. The benefits of taking your children outside are many. Don't let the cold weather scare you off. Bundle your kids up and send them hiking. Literally. Go to a botanical garden and admire the winter landscape. Teach them to enjoy nature's beauty. Start today.

Enough with the celebrity diets!

It seems everybody is talking about celebrity diets. Enough already. I don't think that information helps anybody. I bet it would be much easier to lose weight with a personal trainer, a private chef and a personal assistant. Plus, who has time to work out two hours a day? And most of these celebrities use very unhealthy methods. Detox cleanses? Please...

There is no secret to losing weight. Eat less. Exercise more.

My thoughts on the latest diets advertised by Us Weekly and their appropriateness for kids:

The Fresh Diet: High priced meal delivery system based on the Zone philosophy (40% carbs, 30% protein, 30% healthy fat).

Even if you have the cash for this, it doesn't teach you or your child anything about nutrition and making healthy choices. Once you go off the program, you will likely gain the weight back because you haven't learned anything. Plus, your child can't go to playdates and eat with friends. This may work for Paula Abdul, but it is definitely not a child-friendly option.

The Eat-Clean Diet: No sugar, white flour, alcohol and processed foods.

I don't know how long anybody could last on this one. Can you imagine sending your child to a birthday party on this plan? This could never work for a kid. And I don't really think this could work for an adult. It is too restrictive. How about going for moderation instead of total deprivation? Nicole Kidman and Halle Berry are on their own with this one!

Eating in the Raw and The Raw 50: No food cooked above 116 degrees.

Umm... I don't even know what to say about this one. The logic is supposed to be that the uncooked foods contain more enzymes, which may help you lose weight. There is absolutely no science backing this up. How could anybody eat this way for more than a day? I probably couldn't even do it for a day. Demi Moore, Carol Alt and Alicia Silverstone must have more (unnecessary) discipline than I do. No thanks! And I am not even going to address the suitability of this for kids. It's just too ridiculous.

The 5-Factor Diet: Low-glycemic index carbs, low-fat protein, healthy fats, and fiber. Follow it 6 days a week and splurge on day 7.

This is the most reasonable of the lot but is still too restrictive for kids. Children would definitely not be able to eat anything from the school cafeteria and would have a tough time on playdates. Plus kids (and adults) can do major damage on their binge, I mean splurge, day. I would rather teach consistent moderation than six days of deprivation with one day of binging. I guess that Kate Beckinsdale, Eva Mendes, and John Mayer are sure to keep their splurge days in check.

Skinny Bitch in the Kitch: Vegan diet (no animal products, including fish, chicken, and dairy), no caffeine, and no simple carbs. Also no calorie counting.

Well, even the name tells us that this is not appropriate for children. Kids, teens, (and adults) need protein and this diet limits most of the palatable protein choices. Not many kids are content eating beans, nuts, and tofu at each meal and snack. Plus, where is the calcium coming from? Natalie Portman and Pamela Anderson must be eating lots of green, leafy veggies or they will have issues with osteoporosis in the future!

Let's stop this trendy fad diets. Watch portion size, make healthy food choices, and exercise.

Not sure how to teach this to your children? Go to to learn more. Our interactive website launches next month!

You do not need to give up entire food groups to lose weight.

Friday, January 9, 2009

We have managed to make sushi fattening!

Americans have the ability to take any healthy food and bastardize it into something fattening. We have even managed to ruin sushi.

I had a patient in my office, discussing which types of foods she likes to eat. I was thrilled when she mentioned that she loves sushi. After telling her that sushi is a particularly healthy type of food, I asked her which types she enjoys most. "Oh, I eat everything," she began. "Shrimp tempura rolls, spicy tuna rolls, Philadelphia rolls and Spider rolls." Each of those types of rolls is unhealthy in its own way! Shrimp tempura rolls are fried. Spicy rolls of any kind are made with mayonnaise. Philadelphia rolls contain cream cheese. And Spider rolls are also fried. Hmmm... not one of these rolls is nutritious.

Why have we created these unhealthy options? Sushi should be fish on rice. It's even better when served on brown rice! Don't order your children sushi that contains these fattening ingredients. Instead, opt for rolls that include combinations of fish, cucumber, avocado, and other vegetables. Refuse to order anything tempura, spicy, or with cream cheese. And give brown rice sushi a chance. Brown rice contains fiber which helps to keep your children feeling full longer! They probably won't even notice the difference.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Top Ten Least Healthy 'Salads'

Top Ten Least Healthy 'Salads': in no particular order

1. Taco salad- The beef, cheese, and sour cream make this a calorie nightmare. And that is before you add on the shell!

2. Tuna salad- Tuna itself is great... but the mayonnaise ruins it!

3. Potato salad- Carbs and mayo- not a great combination.

4. Caesar salad- Caesar salad wins the marketing prize. For some reason, everybody thinks it is healthy. But it is horrendous. The dressing, the cheese, and the croutons all add up to a disaster.

5. Chicken salad- Again, the mayonnaise makes this a nutritional no-no.

6. Any type of Crispy salad- Crispy equals fried. Enough said.

7. Macaroni salad- A white starch and mayonnaise. Not a healthy ingredient to be found!

8. Shrimp salad- I suppose this is the best of the worst. Still, not a great choice.

9. Cobb salad- Blue cheese, eggs, and bacon. Can you feel a heart attack coming on?

10. Egg salad- One of the worst!

Now- let's try to make these into healthy meals.

1. Taco salad- Skip the beef and order chicken instead. Hold the cheese and sour cream. Instead, ask for a small amount of heart healthy guacamole and lots of salsa! And definitely don't eat that taco shell!

2. Tuna salad- Use tuna packed in water, not oil. Instead of regular mayonnaise, opt for fat-free or low-fat mayonnaise and use it sparingly!

3. Potato salad- There isn't much you can do with the potatoes, but you can use fat-free or low-fat mayonnaise.

4. Caesar salad- Pass on the cheese and croutons. If possible, use a fat-free Caesar dressing. If that is not an option, ask for the dressing on the side. Mix a small amount of the dressing with balsamic vinegar (not vinegarette) to dilute. Use this mixture sparingly!

5. Chicken salad- Fat-free or low-fat mayonnaise will drastically reduce fat and calories!

6. Any type of Crispy salad- Order your protein grilled instead of fried. Your heart will thank you later.

7. Macaroni salad- Use a whole grain pasta and fat-free or low-fat salad dressing.

8. Shrimp salad- I am sure you can guess this trick... fat-free or low-fat salad dressing.

9. Cobb salad- How about using egg whites and turkey bacon? Also, try a fat-free blue cheese dressing, if possible. If not, quickly dip your empty fork into the dressing before spearing the lettuce. This gives each bite a small burst of flavor without all the calories and fat.

10. Egg salad- Egg whites and fat-free or low-fat mayonnaise. Voila! Your meal is healthy.

** Note that low-fat mayonnaise is not the same as light mayonnaise. Light mayonnaise has many more calories and fat grams and is not anywhere near as healthy.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Exercise for children

I had a great visit with a patient today. She is twelve years old and has already lost about 15 pounds. She has more to lose but is getting closer to her goal every day. Today we discussed exercise. She loves to dance! In fact, she takes about six dance classes a week (2 classes a day, 3 days a week).

This patient has tried lots of different exercise regimens. She sometimes goes on the treadmill. Other times she goes on her trampouline. But she always comes back to dance. It is truly her passion!

So we decided to base her exercise routine on her dancing. We determined that tap dancing is the most vigorous type of dance. When she is tapping, her heart is racing and she is sweating. So we decided that, instead of suffering on the treadmill, she would tap to her heart's content.

The patient (who asked that I keep her name confidential) aims to exercise five days a week. She takes her dance classes three days a week and taps on her own twice a week. She is getting the exercise that her body needs- and enjoying every second of it.

Tip for parents: Find an active activity that your child loves and try to base their fitness regimen around that. If they love soccer, have them do soccer drills for exercise. If they love jumping rope, let them do that for exercise. A child (or an adult) will only stick to an exercise regimen if he/she enjoys the activity. The more they enjoy the activity, the more they will exercise.

Monday, January 5, 2009


I just started referring patients to a new gym in Roslyn, called LIFT. And I am very impressed with it. First, I just love their catchphrase.

Lift: It's a lifestyle, not a competition.

How great is that? So many gyms get that wrong. I hate it when people are at the gym to show off. When I go to the gym, I just want to work out and relax. I can't stand it when everybody around me has their hair done and their makeup perfect. It's a gym- not a meat market!

But this is even more important for children, particularly overweight children. Overweight children need a place to exercise where they do not have to worry about being judged. And LIFT is just that place! It has a great, laid-back vibe. And the owners are always around, monitoring the gym and making sure that everybody is exercising safely. In fact, if they see that someone is performing an exercise incorrectly, they will stop what they are doing to go help the person. It is such a friendly environment.

My advice to parents who don't live near LIFT... shop around until you find a gym with a casual atmosphere. Don't bring your overweight child or teen to the trendiest gym in town. It is much better to find a smaller gym with caring staff. You don't want to have your child intimidated by exercise. Spend some time looking for the perfect gym. It is so very important.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The vacation is over...

Well, the vacation is over and tomorrow we all go back to work, school, or our regular routines. It is likely that many of you did not eat as well during this vacation as you had planned. Most people enter December with additional pounds hanging on them.

So, now what?

There are two mistakes that you do not want to make.

Mistake 1) Giving up. Don't get so overwhelmed by the extra pounds that you do nothing. Regardless of how much weight you gained over the holidays, you can still take them off.

Mistake 2) The starvation diet. It is tempting to try to starve the weight right off. That is the worst thing that you can do. Nobody can stick to a starvation diet without, well, starving themselves to death. And since you are clearly not going to do that, at some point you will give in and regain the weight that you lost (and then some). Even though the weight came on over a few weeks, you will not be able to (safely) take them off in just a few weeks.

The best thing to do is go back to basics. Eat a reasonable number of calories. Cut back on sweets. Increase your exercise. Eat mostly fruits, vegetables, lean sources of protein, and whole grains.

Don't try to lose it all at once. Slow and steady always wins the race.

And if you need help, by all means, give us a call at 516-801-0022 for more information on our weight loss program.

Good luck. See you at the gym!