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Vegan substitutes are available at markets like Whole Foods and Yes! Organic Market. Photo by Rowena Waack via Flickr.

Sticking to a vegan diet can be challenging without the right information. Food blogger Angela from The Veracious Vegan has some tips on how to play by the rules and love what you eat.

1. Meat substitutes

Both vegans and vegetarians commit to swearing off meat. For those transitioning to either diet, opting out of a steak dinner or crispy bacon can require an enormous amount of will power. However, there are plenty of vegan meat substitutes available for virtually any product. Angela suggests Field Roast deli slices as a vegan alternative for cold cuts, and Field Roast sausages as an alternative for heavier meat.

Both Field Roast products, which can be found at Whole Foods, come in a wide variety of flavors—for example, smoked tomato deli slices or smoked apple sage sausage.

Field roast sausages can be a great substitution for meat. Photo by Sharyn Morrow via Flickr.

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Posted at 12:15 PM/ET, 07/13/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
These services help you to eat more healthily by doing most of the work for you. By Melissa Romero
Photograph via Shutterstock.

Between morning workouts, a stressful job, and shuttling kids from school to practice, how does one find the time to plan and prepare healthy meals? Busy Washingtonians have turned to services that whip together nutritious food, often delivered to their door. As a plus, all of the following services use local meat and produce as much as possible.

If You Have No Time at All

Delivery areas
DC, Montgomery County, Arlington, Fairfax County. Meals are also available for pickup at 5329 Georgia Avenue, Northwest.

How it works
Users choose from a Lite Bites or Veggie Bites menu each week. The meals are delivered fresh to your home and come with the option of snacks. Kid-friendly meals are also available.

Recent menu choices
Ginger shrimp with mango, green beans, and brown rice; roasted-red-pepper chicken with sautéed spinach and quinoa; turkey meatballs with whole-wheat pesto pasta and veggies.

Three-to-seven-day packages range from $33 to $275;

If You’re a Gym Rat

Delivery areas
DC; Northern Virginia; Baltimore; Montgomery, PG, Howard, Anne Arundel counties.

How it works
Chefs create Paleo and vegetarian lunches and dinners, gluten- and dairy-free. Order meals online and pick up Monday through Thursday at more than 55 gyms and fitness studios.

Recent menu choices
Buffalo chicken with cumin-carrot salad; Paleo corned-beef-and-sauerkraut Reuben with parsnip hash and grilled zucchini; stuffed-grape-leaves casserole; Hawaiian chicken salad with sautéed garlic kale.

Lunches and dinners range from $9.50 to $15.50, with the option of three or five days of meals;

If You Want to Feed Your Inner Chef

Delivery areas
DC, Alexandria, Arlington.

How it works
Monday through Thursday, Scratch DC posts a nutritionist-advised dinner on its website; users can order online and set up a 30-minute delivery window. The package contains the recipe and fixings required to create that day’s meal. To save time, all ingredients come chopped, measured, and marinated.

Recent menu choices
Mushroom-and-goat-cheese beef stroganoff; mozzarella chicken caprese and asparagus in a balsamic reduction; butternut-squash-bacon-and-Gruyère risotto and spinach vinaigrette salad.

$25 to $30 per meal, which feeds two;

This article appears in the February 2014 issue of Washingtonian.

Posted at 02:00 PM/ET, 02/21/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Diet and exercise haven’t gotten rid of your love handles? New body-contouring devices can do the trick—sometimes after one session. By Melissa Romero
Photograph by Andres Rodriguez/Alamy.

Consider this all-too-common scenario: You’ve lost weight and can almost get into the skinny jeans you’d lost hope of ever wearing. The only problem? Those love handles are still in the way of making the pants a perfect fit.

Dr. Marilyn Berzin can relate—she has the same problem.

“Some people, no matter how much weight they lose, still have troublesome areas,” says Berzin, a dermatologist at DC Derm Docs.

The good news is that these days expensive weight-loss surgery, such as liposuction and tummy tucks, isn’t the only option. Body-shaping devices to heat and break down fat cells without damaging the exposed skin have become an appealing—and less painful—alternative for those hoping to shave off the last few inches from their waistlines. The treatments are short and noninvasive, and they allow you to return to work the same day.

If it sounds too good to be true, consider Dr. Dale Isaacson’s new, slimmer look. In 2013, Isaacson—who is Berzin’s partner at DC Derm Docs—underwent a few fat-blasting sessions and ultimately shed three inches off his waist.

Body-contouring devices use radiofrequency or ultrasound technology to heat and break down fat cells without damaging the exposed skin. Liposonix, a one-time ultrasound treatment that takes an hour in a doctor’s office, not only melts fat but also tightens loose skin that tends to stick around after weight loss. Some bruising and tenderness are expected post-treatment, and results appear gradually over 8 to 12 weeks.

“Your best candidate,” Berzin says, “is somebody who is in good shape but just can’t lose that little bit of weight.”

A new option is Vanquish, which Isaacson underwent and which uses radiofrequency to heat and melt fat from the stomach or love handles. Patients undergo a 30-minute treatment once a week. While most cases require four to six sessions, some people have reported a difference after the first one.

DC dermatologist Melda Isaac began offering Vanquish this past October after undergoing the treatment herself and being impressed with the lack of pain—although patients may experience some tenderness afterward. Currently, it’s offered in only a few offices locally, including DC Derm Docs and MI-Skin Dermatology Center.

The biggest competitor to the melting devices are cooling treatments that freeze away fat cells and have been FDA-approved since 2010. CoolSculpting—available in 21 doctors’ offices in Washington—suctions areas of fat and then crystallizes and kills the fat cells at about 32 degrees Fahrenheit. After the hourlong treatment, the fat “has a consistency almost like that of frozen meat,” says Sibley Memorial Hospital chief of plastic surgery G. Wesley Price, who recently began offering the procedure at his Chevy Chase and Annandale offices. The fat pocket is massaged briefly and eventually disappears from one’s waist after two to three months.

According to Price, one session eliminates 20 to 25 percent of the fatty layer. Depending on the number of areas the patient wants to target, multiple treatments may be required. As with Liposonix, the ideal patient is not overweight, he says: “We select patients who have a localized area of fat accumulation and are not better suited for regular liposuction or tummy tuck.”

While the results of CoolSculpting are promising, Isaac says the major downside is that the technology targets only a certain amount of fat that will fit into the suction device. Heating devices can melt fat over a larger area.

Body-sculpting treatments aren’t cheap—ranging from $600 to $800 for one CoolSculpting session to approximately $2,000 for Liposonix and Vanquish. But Berzin says for many patients the results are worth the investment: “You all of a sudden fit into your clothes and have that confidence. We’re all trying to find ways to look better, but we’re trying to find things that will not hurt us.”

This article appears in the February 2014 issue of Washingtonian.

Posted at 10:00 AM/ET, 02/21/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Need a little help reaching your weight or nutrition goals? These personal trainers and dietitians come highly recommended. By Melissa Romero
Photograph of Ingrid Nelson by Rob Strong.

Personal Trainers to Keep You Fit

When you need an extra push to tone up or to drop those last few pounds, these personal trainers can help. Many work with TV personalities, politicians, and other well-known faces and are recommended by both fitness professionals and clients.

Abdul-Karim al-Jabbar

The former NFL running back brings his athletic knowledge and experience to clients as head of personal training at Sports Club/LA. 240-277-3929;

Photograph of Errick McAdams courtesy of McAdams.

Elizabeth Brooks

In her private fitness studio on DC’s H Street, Northeast, Brooks specializes in helping seniors and people with injuries. 202-399-3160;

Tom Brose

The founder of the first CrossFit affiliate in DC coaches a wide range of clients, from former Division I athletes to top executives. 202-450-6432;

Margo Carper

A personal trainer to some of Washington’s elite, including Madeleine Albright and Ben Bradlee, Carper offers sessions at Definitions Gym and the Four Seasons Hotel, both in Georgetown. 202-329-5569;

Grant Hill

The personal trainer is also a golf-conditioning specialist and a certified indoor cycling, TRX, and CrossFit instructor. He leads high-intensity boot camps throughout DC, Arlington, Alexandria, Rockville, and Bethesda. 866-639-0566;

Michael Lin

The co-owner of Verve Health & Fitness and CrossFit Rosslyn is known for using sport-specific, high-intensity training tactics with athletes, politicians, and business executives. He’s also one of the personal trainers for the Four Seasons Health Club in Georgetown. 703-465-8100;;

Nino Malong

Clients of all ages turn to Malong for his expertise on martial arts, kickboxing, and self-defense. He offers training at City Fitness in Cleveland Park, CrossFit DC on 14th Street, and Balance Gym in Thomas Circle and Foggy Bottom. 202-758-4085;

Errick McAdams

After his 40-pound weight loss, McAdams became a personal trainer and Lululemon “ambassador.” He offers private sessions in an Adams Morgan studio as well as at clients’ homes and apartment gyms throughout DC. 347-731-2740;

Photograph of Danielle Omar courtesy of Omar.

Ingrid Nelson

Besides private training, Nelson runs popular boot camps at Nike’s Georgetown store. She’s also a certified indoor-cycling instructor. 612-618-7732;

Jonathan Ross

Deemed personal trainer of the year by both the health-and-fitness association IDEA and the American Council on Exercise, Ross offers training at Sport Fit Total Fitness in Bowie as well as in-home sessions. 301-367-6843;

Aaron Sterling

Big-name clients such as New York Times columnists Maureen Dowd and Frank Bruni have worked with Sterling, who trains clients at his three-floor gym in Adams Morgan. 202-380-6987.

Thomas Tomlo Jr.

Clients of the former US Marine have included Condoleezza Rice, Jenna and Barbara Bush, and a long list of collegiate and professional athletes. He is fitness director of the Energy Club in Shirlington.

Jason Yoo

A two-time US national featherweight champion in tae kwon do, Yoo specializes in sport-specific performance training in his Alexandria studio. He also has been assistant coach for the under-17 US national tae kwon do team. 703-200-5939;

Good Nutritionists and Dietitians

When it comes to losing weight, exercise and nutrition go hand in hand. These peer-recommended nutritionists and registered dietitians offer consultations in a variety of specialties, including weight loss, weight management, and sports nutrition.

Ann Gerber

The registered dietitian offers consultations in her Bethesda office, specializing in childhood, adolescent, and adult weight management. 301-656-5424;

Lise Gloede

Named Distinguished Dietitian of the Year by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Gloede is a certified diabetes educator and an expert on vegetarian and vegan diets. 703-516-4973;

Photograph of Rebecca Scritchfield by Geri Gooddale.

Cheryl Harris

Nutrition adviser for the DC Metro Celiac Organization, Harris is an expert on gluten-free diets and h as consulted with Children’s National Health System on childhood obesity. 571-271-8742;

Anu Kaur

Named the emerging dietetic leader for Virginia by the American Dietetic Association, Kaur specializes in weight management related to heart disease and diabetes. 703-880-5469;

Faye Berger Mitchell

A nutritionist in Washington for 26 years, Mitchell has been a consultant and spokesperson for a variety of organizations including the YMCA, Kraft, and Dannon. She specializes in overcoming eating disorders and in family nutrition. 301-309-9395;

Danielle Omar

Omar offers nutrition counseling in Fairfax as well as monthly healthy-cooking classes in Chantilly. She has consulted for a variety of organizations including Fairfax County Public Schools and the American Legacy Foundation.

Rebecca Scritchfield

The registered dietitian doubles as a certified health-and-fitness specialist and provides sports-nutrition counseling to runners and triathletes. 202-375-8942;

Katherine Tallmadge

The author of Diet Simple and former spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Tallmadge has designed weight-loss and nutrition programs for clients in Washington for more than 25 years. 202-833-0353;

Robyn Webb

The nutritionist is author of several books, including The Smart Shopper Diabetes Cookbook, published with the American Diabetes Association. Webb offers nutrition counseling in weight loss and gain, type 2 diabetes, and cholesterol management. 703-683-5034;

This article appears in the February 2014 issue of Washingtonian.

Posted at 09:20 AM/ET, 02/20/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Can eating gluten-free help you lose weight? Is the Paleo diet a good idea? Plus—why Italians are thin. By Melissa Romero

Changing how and what you eat is often the first step to losing weight, but for many people that’s no easy feat—especially when yet another fad diet pops up promising to help you shed pounds and feel healthier.

Experts say there’s one simple question to ask when deciding if a diet is right for you: “Could I eat like this for the rest of my life?” If you answer no, it isn’t likely to be a success.

We asked dietitians to rate some popular diets, from one that bans cooking to a diet that turns out to be best for heart health.

Paleo Diet

Also known as the caveman’s diet, Paleo emphasizes eating from the same food groups as Paleolithic hunter-gatherers did. Though it promotes grass-produced meat, seafood, vegetables, fruit, and nuts, it bars dairy, grains, beans, refined sugar, and processed foods.

Rating: C
Registered dietitian Rebecca Scritchfield says that while eliminating highly processed and sugary foods from your diet is always a good idea, this regimen loses points because it “cuts out entire food groups that offer good nutrition, especially beans.”

Raw-Food Diet

Raw-foodists refrain from eating food that has been cooked above 115 degrees Fahrenheit, processed, microwaved, genetically engineered, or exposed to pesticides. Raw animal products are allowed, but fruits and vegetables are the mainstays.

Rating: B minus
Dieters are bound to lose weight from eating raw food, but Fairfax dietitian Danielle Omar warns that the lifestyle can be a chore. “Because of the restrictions, you need to dive into the whole raw-food community and become a part of it,” she says. “That’s unrealistic for a lot of people.”

The 5:2 Fast Diet

This diet promotes intermittent fasting, in which you eat normally for five days, then fast for two. While fasting, dieters cut their typical caloric intake by 75 percent, amounting to approximately 500 calories for women and 600 for men.

Rating: D
“Of course fasting is going to help you lose weight—at least temporarily,” says DC dietitian Katherine Tallmadge. But she warns: “You can more than make up for the two days by binge-eating during the other five. I can understand fasting as a religious rite, but beyond that it’s not healthy.”

Gluten-Free Diet

This diet eliminates gluten, a protein in grains such as wheat and barley. The regimen is aimed at people with celiac disease and those who are gluten-intolerant, although professional athletes have credited the diet for their leaner bodies and improved performances.

Rating: C
“There are benefits to going gluten-free because you choose healthier grains, avoid processed foods, and opt for more plant-based options,” Omar says. Yet Tallmadge says that gluten-free products contain the same carbs, calories, and sugar as similar foods with gluten, so a balanced diet is still key.

Mediterranean Diet

This regimen is characterized by a high intake of olive oil, fruit, nuts, vegetables, and cereal grains; a moderate amount of fish, poultry, and red wine; and low consumption of dairy products, red meats, and dessert.

Rating: A
“I support the Mediterranean because it’s a lifestyle and not based on calories,” Scritchfield says. “Plus there’s no one food group that it eliminates.” Research shows that the Mediterranean diet can reduce your risk of heart disease by 30 percent, and it also promotes cognitive health.

K-E Diet

Made popular by brides willing to go to extremes before their wedding day, this diet allows just 800 calories a day. A dieter ingests liquid food through a tube that’s inserted in the nose for up to ten days.

Rating: F
Not only is it “disgusting,” according to Omar, but it’s not sustainable. “You’re not focused on behavioral change,” she says.

This article appears in the February 2014 issue of Washingtonian.

Posted at 11:00 AM/ET, 02/19/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Their techniques varied from a change in diet to a three-month fitness challenge. By Melissa Romero

After photograph by Andrew Propp. Before photography courtesy of Artley.

Will Artley

Before: 330 pounds
After: 245 pounds
Height: Five-foot-ten

How he did it: In June, the executive chef at Falls Church’s Pizzeria Orso entered a three-month weight-loss challenge against other local chefs to raise money for the American Cancer Society. Although he was the heaviest competitor at the start, Artley, 36, lost the most weight thanks to 5 am workouts that involved either a six-mile run, a 30-mile bike ride, or a one-mile swim. He also ditched late-night drinking for more sleep. “People will constantly find excuses why they can’t work out,” says Artley, who plans to run the DC Rock ’n’ Roll Half Marathon in March. “It’s all about finding the willpower.”

After photograph by Andrew Propp. Before photography courtesy of Coaston.

Jane Coaston

Before: 265 pounds
After: 170 pounds
Height: Five-foot-eight

How she did it: In college, Coaston’s diet consisted of cereal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. “It really wasn’t healthful at all,” she says. Coaston later learned about the Paleo diet, which promotes meat, seafood, vegetables, and nuts while eliminating dairy, grains, beans, and processed foods. Cutting carbs and sugars from her meals helped her go from a size 10 to a 6 in the past year. “It’s taken a really long time,” says Coaston, now 26 and press secretary for an environmental organization. But the weight loss “has been the biggest success of my life.”

After photograph by Andrew Propp. Before photography courtesy of Fiore.

David Fiore

Before: 183 pounds
After: 163 pounds
Height: Five-foot-ten

How he did it: Fiore, 53, used to end his gym workouts without breaking a sweat. “Trainers would tell me, ‘You chat—a lot,’ ” Fiore says. Eventually, the federal employee realized that his lack of structure—plus his love of cheese and pasta—had caused his weight to spiral out of control. He signed up for personal-training sessions and group classes with two coworkers, limited his alcohol intake, and started a gluten-free and minimal-dairy diet. He lost one pound each week and now exercises Monday through Friday plus sometimes on the weekend. “The secret to success is making it a priority,” Fiore says. “I just feel good.”

This article appears in the February 2014 issue of Washingtonian.

Posted at 11:00 AM/ET, 02/18/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
A new study explains the science behind why many diets only work short term. By Melissa Romero
Research shows that maintaining a moderate-carbohydrate diet is the best way to keep the weight off. Photograph courtesy of Shutterstock.

Here’s the problem with plenty of popular weight-loss diets: They may shed those pesky pounds in the short term—but long term is a whole other story.

Once someone has lost a significant amount of weight, the real work involves keeping it off. It doesn’t help that long-term weight loss is not often a strong point for many diets, and it continues to be a frustrating health problem with the increasing prevalence of obesity.

So is there a diet out there that can keep our waistlines slim after we’ve, well, dieted?

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Posted at 03:15 PM/ET, 07/27/2012 | Permalink | Comments ()
Women desperate to lose weight quickly are turning to this extreme crash diet, no matter the health risks. By Stephanie Early Green

The feeding tube diet is popular among brides who want to quickly lose weight before their wedding day, but critics say the diet has deadly health risks. Photograph courtesy of Flickr user gurms.
Many people desperate to lose weight have turned to fad diets--the cabbage soup diet, the Master Cleanse, the cookie diet--but the latest method making the rounds, called the feeding tube diet, may very well put participants' lives at risk.

The feeding tube diet, which involves inserting a feeding tube into the nose, provides only 800 calories a day. Thanks to the shockingly low number, it's classified as a very low-calorie diet, or VLCD.

Just the thought of living on this diet for ten days straight has most people shaking their heads in disbelief, but it has gained popularity among brides willing to go to extremes to lose weight for their wedding in a short amount of time. As Dr. Oliver R. Di Pietro told the New York Times in a recent article, "People want to be perfect." 

Local registered dietitian Stephanie Mull is just one of the many critics who say the feeding tube diet goes one step too far. Mull explains that VLCDs are only recommended for clinically obese people with accompanying diseases such as diabetes or hypertension. In cases where a VLCD is appropriate, the diet plan should be "medically supervised to ensure that the formula being provided meets 100 percent of vitamin and mineral needs," and it should form part of a "multidisciplinary approach with dietitians, psychologists, and personal trainers," emphasizes Mull.

Four tips on how to lose weight in a healthy way

Posted at 11:10 AM/ET, 04/19/2012 | Permalink | Comments ()
A study finds that eating a high-calorie breakfast with a chocolate dessert can shed some serious pounds. By Melissa Romero

Chocolate for breakfast? If you say so. Photograph courtesy of Flickr user Mr Michael Phams.

Let them eat cake!

At least, that’s what researchers at Tel Aviv University are saying, after witnessing obese adults shed some serious weight from eating dessert for breakfast.

Even more surprising: Cookies, candy, and cake helped them keep the weight off in the long run.

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Posted at 10:03 AM/ET, 02/10/2012 | Permalink | Comments ()
This consultant is exercising a lot and eating healthy to shed pounds before she hits the big 4-0, but is it enough?


Gender: Female
Age: 38
Height: Five-foot-three
Weight: 196
Location: Southwest DC
Profession: Legal/technology consultant
Self-described activity level: Moderately active. I work out with a trainer once a week and repeat her workout twice a week, with cardio on alternating days. I ride my bike as much as possible. My downfall tends to be my unpredictable travel schedule for work. Once I’m out of town, I’m thrown off track easily by long days and eating out. When I am home, I try to eat seasonally and locally.

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Posted at 09:34 AM/ET, 02/09/2012 | Permalink | Comments ()