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Kathleen Zelman - Diet, Nutrition, Healthy Eating


Contributing Experts

Kathleen Zelman

Nutrition, Diet, Healthy Eating

Kale: The Queen of Greens

Posted by Kathleen Zelman – March 28, 2012

Move over Popeye and make room for the "queen of greens," kale. Gaining in popularity, kale is an amazing vegetable being recognized for its exceptional nutrient richness, health benefits, and delicious flavor.

Eating a variety of natural, unprocessed vegetables can do wonders for your health, but choosing super-nutritious kale on a regular basis may provide significant health benefits, including cancer protection and lowered cholesterol.

Kale is one of the healthiest vegetables on the planet. Kale is a nutritional powerhouse – one cup only has 36 calories and 5 grams of fiber, and 15% of the daily requirement of calcium and vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), 40% of magnesium, 180% of vitamin A, 200% of vitamin C, and 1,020% of vitamin K. It is also a good source of minerals copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus.

Kale's health benefits are primarily linked to the high concentration and excellent source of antioxidant vitamins A, C, and K -- and sulphur-containing phytonutrients.

Kale might be a powerhouse of nutrients but it also contains oxalates, naturally occurring substances that can interfere with the absorption of calcium. Avoid eating calcium-rich foods like dairy at the same time as kale to prevent any problems.

Make kale chips by slicing kale into bite-size pieces, toss with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt, and bake for 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees in the oven.

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Bathing Suit Season is Around the Corner

Posted by Kathleen Zelman – March 22, 2012

Spring is in the air and not far behind is the season of skimpier clothing and beach romping. The best way to prepare to look your best this spring is to make a plan for slow steady weight loss. Losing weight slowly, about 1-2 pounds per week, is the kind of weight loss that stays off, without a round-trip ticket to return.

Learn from the successful losers who follow these simple tactics for permanent weight loss:

  • Keep a diary – record your food and beverage intake along with daily physical activity. The act of writing it down does wonders in keeping you honest, motivated and true to your goals.
  • Eat breakfast daily – most people think shaving calories at breakfast results in weight loss but scientific evidence shows otherwise. People who eat breakfast have healthier diets overall and are more successful at achieving healthy body weights.
  • Be active for at least 30 minutes a day – You don't have to run marathons nor do you need to do 30 consecutive minutes. Just do something physical every day.
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Slash and Burn 100 Calories: Your Questions Answered

Posted by Kathleen Zelman – March 15, 2012

We were delighted that so many of you took time out of your busy schedules to join us and engage in Simple Tips to Slash and Burn 100 Calories webinar and hopefully you were inspired to make small 100 calories diet cuts and exercises that you can sustain.

Mark your calendars and register today for my next webinar Connections of Food, Energy and Mood on April 10. Good nutrition, key nutrients and physical activity can give you the mental edge. Learn how you can keep mentally sharp, influence your mood, relieve stress, put a zip in your step and help overcome the blues. This webinar will provide simple things you can do to turn blue into 'can-do'.

Now for your questions:

  • Sugar vs fat When choosing snacks, which of these nutrients are more important? The best snacks don't necessarily have added fat or sugars such as fruits and vegetables. When reading labels keep in mind fats have more than twice as many calories as carbs (sugars). Choose snacks that contain protein, fiber and small amounts of fat or sugars.
  • Alcohol – one glass or red or white wine has about 120-150 calories. These calories could be considered empty but there are cardiovascular benefits if you consume any alcohol in moderation. Experts recommend one drink per day for ladies and two for men but do not suggest anyone start drinking for these benefits.
  • Exercise – no gym required! You can exercise at home or you can aim to be more active throughout the day. You don't have to work out 30-60 minutes consecutively, small 10-15 minute increments add up to the same benefits. Time of day does not matter other than morning exercise doesn't get squeezed out of your busy day. Yoga, Pilates, and push-ups all will provide strength training for your body. You will gain the heart healthy benefits whether you get activity daily for 30 minutes or for longer periods on fewer days. The best idea is to try and fit in fitness of any kind every day. Use light hand weights for exercise from a sitting position.
  • Sleep – most people perform best with 6-8 hours of sleep each night. Sacrificing sleep for exercise is a personal decision – if you can get by with a little less sleep, the benefits of exercise are worth it.
  • Close the kitchen after dinner – You pick the time but if you nibble and nosh all night long, those calories add up quickly and affect your waistline.
  • Vitamins and minerals are essential – if your diet is healthy following the 2010 Dietary Guidelines, you don't need supplements but most people fall short somewhere. My advice, take a once-daily multivitamin mineral or check with your doctor.
  • Water – most of us need about 8 glasses a day of liquids but don't forget you also get fluids from foods. Hydrate yourself often and don't rely on thirst to tell you to drink more fluids.
  • Weight loss plateaus – these are the Achilles heel of dieters but don't get discouraged. Power up the exercise by doing something different or a higher intensity because maybe your body has adjusted to your routine and it needs something different to burn calories. Another option is to measure your portions to make sure you are not eating more than you think.
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Natural vs Organic – Do You Know the Difference?

Posted by Kathleen Zelman – March 13, 2012

When it comes to understanding food claims and food labels, sometimes it is hard to know what is fact and what is fiction. If you see a product with a green and white round "USDA Organic" label, you can be sure it has met the following rigorous standards:

  • No toxic synthetic pesticides, herbicides, or fumigants
  • No chemical fertilizers or sewer sludge used as fertilizer
  • No planting of genetically engineered crops or use of cloned animals
  • No synthetic hormones or antibiotics
  • No artificial preservatives
  • No artificial colors or synthetic flavors and sweeteners
  • No trans fats
  • No irradiation

Natural labeled products are not quite so clear. According to the USDA, there is not a specific definition or standard for 'natural' products. Manufacturers determine their own terms and conditions for natural products. Many, but not all, natural products have one of the following conditions:

  • No pesticides or artificial chemicals
  • No artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, preservatives, or other additives
  • "Family farm" raised
  • "Only natural ingredients"
  • "Whole ingredients" or "natural" foods
  • "GMO free"

When you see a food product claiming to be natural, it really is up to the manufacturer and is not a term that the USDA enforces.

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Are Detox Diets Necessary?

Posted by Kathleen Zelman – March 2, 2012

Detox diets are touted as a way to remove harmful toxins in the body and promote weight loss. If you believe all the hype, detox diets are hotter than ever. Hollywood stars do it days before gracing the red carpet, and many diet books are based on detox beliefs.

But despite the popularity of detox diets, they are not necessary nor are they scientifically proven to work. Detoxing is based on the concept that your body needs help getting rid of unwanted toxins from contaminants in processed foods and the environment. The liver, kidneys, colon, skin and immune system are your body's own built-in organs and systems to remove toxins from the body.

Most detox plans are glorified fasting regimens that if prolonged, can be dangerous.

If you want to detox the natural way, make sure your diet contains plenty of water, high fiber, less processed foods like whole grains, fruits, vegetables and beans to help your body's organs and immune system take care of the toxins that need to be excreted.

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Healthy Snacking

Posted by Kathleen Zelman – Feb. 24, 2012

Since 1977, Americans are snacking more than ever. Most of us snack at least once a day, accounting for about 25 percent of total calories. On average, those extra snacks add 200 calories to our diets.

Snacks can be important additions to the diet as long as they are well-chosen and portion controlled. With every eating occasion there is the risk of overeating so you need to make sure you control the portions. And when it comes to choosing snacks – think healthy. Snacks that contain the combination of protein and fiber will fill you up, keep you feeling satisfied until the next meal, and manage your blood sugar.

Some of my favorite nutritious snacks: hummus and veggies; apple and nut butter; cheese and crackers; low fat popcorn and tomato juice; trail mix; fruit and low fat yogurt; smoothies; almonds or pistachios and low fat pineapple cottage cheese.

Think mini meals when you choose your healthy snacks -- these foods contribute to meeting nutritional needs without too many extra calories.

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Eating for a Healthy Heart – Webinar Questions

Posted by Kathleen Zelman – Feb. 14, 2012

We were delighted that so many of you took time out to join us and engage in You Are What You Eat: Eating to Improve Your Heart Health webinar and hopefully you were inspired to make small changes that you will sustain.

Mark your calendars and register today for my next webinar Simple Tips to Slash and Burn 100 Calories on March 13. Find out how you can painlessly lose 10 pounds in a year by cutting 100 calories per day.

Now for your questions:

  • Sugar: Lots of questions surrounding sugars. Sugar does not turn to fat, eating more calories than you need makes your body store extra calories as fat. Sugar causes a rise in blood sugar followed by a low dip in blood sugar which can make you feel hungry soon after eating sugary foods or drinks. Sugar restrictions DO NOT include the natural sugar in fruits. Artificial sweeteners are not included in the sugar restrictions.
  • Alcohol – there are cardiovascular benefits in moderate consumption but experts do not suggest anyone start drinking for these benefits.
  • Butter vs Margarine: it is your choice. A small amount of butter can fit in a healthy diet, as can trans-fat-free margarine (make sure the ingredients do not contain the words hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated).
  • Coconut oil is a hot topic, not to be confused with coconut water which is a natural sports drink. Coconut oil, like palm oil, is a tropical oil that is saturated but liquid at room temperature. They do not contain cholesterol and part of the fat may be beneficial. Use it sparingly. Vegetable oils are healthier alternatives.
  • Healthy recipe book suggestions: Ellie Krieger Foods You Crave, Eating Well magazine, Cooking Light magazine are my go-to favorites.
  • Red meat, as long as it is lean, can be part of a healthy diet. A recent study showed that lean cuts (such as sirloin, tenderloin) in modest portions of 4-6 ounces are fine. Another study showed that processed meats should be limited.
  • Gallstones, Triglyceride and Cholesterol levels are questions best answered by your healthcare provider.
  • Exercise – you will gain the heart healthy benefits whether you get activity daily for 30 minutes or for longer periods on fewer days. The best idea is to try and fit in fitness of any kind every day.
  • Increasing fiber – the best way to increase fiber is with food, but using supplements is another acceptable alternative.
  • Salt – the limits range from 1500-2300 milligrams per day. Using sea salt may help because you may be able to use less and still get the desired taste. But the problem is not from salting our food, most of the sodium in our diets comes from processed foods.
  • Best oily fish: salmon, tuna, lake trout, mackerel and sardines.
  • All vegetable oils are unsaturated and a good choice, among the best are canola, soybean and olive.
  • Plant sterols (also called plant stanols) are substances that occur naturally in small amounts in many grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, and seeds. They look like cholesterol and actually prevent real cholesterol from being absorbed into your bloodstream. Instead of clogging up your arteries, the cholesterol just goes out with the waste. Manufacturers have started adding them to foods from margarine spreads, orange juice, cereals, chocolate, yogurt and even granola bars.
  • Omega 3 enriched eggs come from chickens that are fed a diet enriched with omega 3s and are another good source of the cardio-protective omega 3 fatty acid.
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Let's Move

Posted by Kathleen Zelman – Feb. 12, 2012

I had the honor of presenting with First Lady Michelle Obama at the WebMD Town Hall meeting in Homestead, Florida to celebrate the second anniversary of Let's Move on Feb. 10.

The First Lady, along with the panelists, shared tips to help families lead healthier, more active lives. Here are some of the highlight tips from the town hall meeting:

  • Find activities that are fun that you can do with your family.
  • Reserve treats for the weekends.
  • Fit in exercise in 10-15 minute segments throughout the day.
  • Eat more vegetables by being creative in the preparation such as grilling and roasting which makes veggies sweet.
  • Get up earlier and squeeze in a workout so it won't get squeezed out of your day.
  • Stretch family meals and cut costs by using beans, eggs and more veggies.
  • Snack on healthy foods like hummus and grape tomatoes, baby carrots and jicama.
  • Make sure all your meals and snacks contain the winning combination of protein (nuts, dairy, eggs, lean meat, beans) and fiber (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, beans) – together they fill you up but won't fill you out.
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Be Superbowl Savvy

Posted by Kathleen Zelman – Feb. 2, 2012

One month ago many of you made resolutions to eat healthier, get more exercise and lose weight.

Superbowl Sunday may be your first real temptation. By some estimates, Americans consume an average of 1200 calories in snacks alone during the game. Mindlessly eating, dipping and drinking can add up pretty quickly.

The good news is you can have a great time with friends and family without sabotaging your diet.

For starters, begin your day with a rigorous work out.

Eat light and right up until game time focusing on foods that contain protein and fiber like fruits, vegetables, broth based soups, beans, low fat dairy, nuts eggs and lean protein. These foods score a touchdown because they fill you up without filling you out.

When you get to the party, you won't be starving so you can check out the offerings (better yet, bring something healthy to share) and make wise food choices. Sit or stand away from the food to avoid mindless munching.

And when it is time to eat, make a plate, sit down and eat it slowly. Alternate your alcoholic beverages with calorie free mocktails to stay hydrated (Monday is a work day) and limit those extra alcohol calories.

Good luck, have fun and I hope your team wins!

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Revisit Your Resolutions

Posted by Kathleen Zelman – Jan. 27, 2012

As January comes to a close, I hope your resolutions to eat healthier are still top of mind. Here are some tips to help motivate you to continue your journey toward better health and wellness:

  • Plan a mid-afternoon mini meal that will help hold you until your next meal and prevent overeating at dinner. A half a turkey wrap, lean meat on a bed of greens or Greek yogurt with a few nuts.
  • Pile on the fruits and vegetables. These are the foundation of a healthy diet and will help fill you up so you eat less of the unhealthy foods.
  • Allow small portions of your favorite foods. Denying yourself can make forbidden foods more desirable so instead, treat yourself occasionally to small portions of decadent foods.
  • Evaluate your goals. Were they on target or too lofty? Adjust your goals so they fit into your lifestyle.
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Saboteurs Can Undermine Healthy Weight Resolutions

Posted by Kathleen Zelman – Jan. 19, 2012

Learning to eat healthy and staying clear of those decadent foods you love isn't easy. What makes it even harder is when loved ones tempt you to abandon your diet. It is not unusual to find yourself in a situation where instead of getting support for your healthy eating you get saboteurs who try to throw you off course.

You know who they are, the friends and family who prod you into eating 'one more piece', or having 'another glass of wine'.

Why? Loved ones can feel threatened by your weight loss success and afraid of how the weight loss will impact the relationship or change you. Outside the home, competitive co-workers can view your weight loss success as business success and it can trigger jealousy.

The best way to deal with these people is to be prepared and be frank. Tell your friends and family you need their support. Ask them to help you resist temptations, encourage your efforts and be there for you when the going gets tough. Talk about your feelings openly to help those around you understand how damaging it is when loved ones sabotage your weight loss efforts.

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Go The Distance Webinar Follow Up

Posted by Kathleen Zelman – Jan. 12, 2012

We were delighted that so many of you took time to join us and engage in Diet and Lifestyle Changes That Go The Distance and hopefully you were inspired to make small changes that will last beyond the usual New Year's resolutions.

Mark your calendars and register today for my next webinar You Are What You Eat: Eating to Improve Your Heart Health on Feb. 14. This is an important topic because heart disease continues to be the leading cause of death in the U.S. and it's preventable! Learn what you can do to lower your risk and improve your health. And check back each Friday for my regular blog post answering your questions and addressing food, nutrition and health issues that are important to your health and wellbeing.

Now for your questions:

  • Breakfast: If you don't enjoy breakfast, start small with a smoothie, cereal, granola bar or yogurt with some fruit for a nutrient rich way to begin the day. Remember you have fasted since the night before and you need to get your metabolism perking but you can eat breakfast within a few hours of rising. Good protein sources at breakfast: eggs (never eat raw eggs), dairy, salmon, lean meat, beans and nuts.
  • Water: As a rule, adults should drink the equivalent of eight glasses of fluids per day. But this is a guideline and does not include the naturally occurring fluids in foods like soup, lettuce and more. Using thirst is not always reliable, especially in warm climates and during sports. Drinking plenty of plain water is a great idea that keeps muscles working well and can help satisfy urges for food when you are trying to slash calories. Drinking water won't lead to gaining water weight; instead it helps naturally detox your system.
  • White Foods: Refined grains using white flour (pasta, bread, cereals, crackers, cakes, cookies, etc) have gotten a bad reputation because the whole grain is stripped during processing. Keep these foods to a minimum; instead choose whole grains that are rich in nutrients and fiber.
  • Supplements: Our diets tend to be lacking in calcium, vitamin D, iron (younger women) and more. A once daily multivitamin mineral for your age and sex is an easy way to fill in the nutritional gaps.
  • P.I.N.K. Method plan: I am in the process of reviewing this diet plan, go to in a few weeks to learn more about it.
  • Appetite suppressants: I do not recommend these over the counter pills. Suppress your appetite the healthy way by drinking water, eating lots of fruit and veggies along with lean protein at every meal.
  • Meal plans and portion control: to get a detailed meal plan, go to, put in your height, weight, sex and activity level for a meal plan, portion control guidelines and a tracker that will help you control calories and make sure your diet is rich in the nutrients you need for good health.
  • Too many vegetables? No such thing, eat until your heart is content. No one gains weight from eating too much broccoli.
  • Hypothyroidism: if you suspect you have a thyroid condition, consult your doctor.
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Find the Right Diet Plan that Works for You

Posted by Kathleen Zelman – Jan. 9, 2012

As we embark on another year, most of us are thinking about how to eat healthier and lose weight. To help find the right plan just for you, U.S. News & World Report's recently rated 25 different plans in their 'Best Diets 2012'. A panel of 22 nutrition experts rated the plans according to the best overall, best commercial, best diabetes, and easiest to follow.

The DASH Diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) was the big winner. Why? This is a super healthy plan that can help control or prevent high blood pressure. Other winners included:

  • Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC)
  • The Mayo Clinic Diet
  • The Mediterranean Diet
  • Weight Watchers
  • Biggest Loser
  • Jenny Craig

If you are looking for a healthy weight loss plan, be sure to choose one that appeals to you and can fit into your lifestyle. Ideally the best diet is one you can sustain long term. Good luck!

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