Q/A with LBT Author Lauren Slayton

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LBT Hope you’re having a wonderful new-moon week. Now that we’re in the final days of January, do you feel like you’ve had a chance to settle in to your 2014 routine? Maybe you’ve started to get an idea of what’s working and not working with your resolutions, be they health-related or something else entirely.

Those of you who’ve been reading this blog a while will not be surprised when I tell you that one of my pet peeves is when someone tells me, “I decided I need to lose weight, so I bought this book…” Basically, I just want to hit that person over the head with said book because nine times out of ten, said book is written by someone without any actual health credentials.

Once in a while, though, an exception graces the shelves. Enter the Little Book of Thin (aka LBT) by Lauren Slayton, MS, RD, founder of the NYC nutrition practice, Foodtrainers. Not only is this slim volume packed with practical advice on how to “plan it to lose it,” it’s a fun read, showcasing the sharp wit and no-drama approach to healthful eating that’s made me a longtime fan of the Foodtrainers blog.  You’ll also love the LBT cheat sheets and No-Roll-Odex of healthy products!

Lauren was kind enough to engage in a little Q&A about the book and share some of her favorite NYC restaurant eats.

Jess: Thanks for being game to do a little Q/A, Lauren. Can you tell us a little about the inspiration behind LBT?

Lauren Slayton: I opened my practice Foodtrainers in 2001. While my sessions are 1 on 1, there is so much when it comes to situations (socializing, traveling, work life, family life) that’s universal. I wanted to distill what I’ve learned into one little book. It was very important to me that I wrote the book myself and that it was a good read.

J: I love your section on being “choosy” with your foods when it comes to dating—what are some of the most common mistakes you see your single clients making?

LS: Whether it’s dating or simply socializing there’s a lot of posing when it comes to our food (an Elle magazine article where even women who diet are embarrassed to admit it comes to mind). Either women or men eat in the way they feel they are expected to eat OR they come on too strongly as the “diet chick.” Healthy isn’t shameful, right?

J: You talk a lot about planning ahead in LBT—your Food First Aid Kit for travel is brilliant. For a slightly shorter trip (say, a marathon day of jetting about town between appointments), what are a few of your favorite purse-friendly foods?

LS: I am a bit of a tea freak- currently toting pukka tea bags everywhere (cleanse is a favorite). I fill my Foodtrainers Nutcase daily with a different nut or seed. Hail Merry rosemary pecans, KOPALI superfood mix with cacao and mulberries are great. Bars work well too.

J: Which weight-loss myths annoy you the most?

LS: Either “everything in moderation” which often leaves us feeling only moderately well OR calories in versus calories out which ignores the quality of the calories and the timing of our food both subtleties that can affect our health and size.

 J: You talk a bit about healthy restaurant options in LBT—what’s one of your favorite restaurant meals lately?

LS: Ooh if I’m being honest I’ve been on planet book and haven’t been out a ton but I adore Green Square Tavern—chef John Marsh made chia shrimp for my book signing, and I am hounding him for that recipe. The scallop crudo at ABC kitchen and the warm Brussels sprout salad (and polenta fries, yes) at Candle 79 make me happy. How great is it that restaurant eating is no longer synonymous with unhealthy?

J:What surprised you most about the process of writing/publishing a book? Any advice for aspiring writers out there? 

LS: Yes, talk to anyone you know who has written a book because there’s so much that’s untold. Mark Ellwood (Bargain Fever) Rachel Hofstetter (Cooking up a Business) and Aidan Donnelley Rowley (Life After Yes) each pulled me aside and said “make sure you do this”. In turn, I’d be happy to do the same for anyone in the writing process.

You can get your copy of LBT here.

What are some of your pet peeves when it comes to weight loss and diet myths? What are your favorite busy-day snacks? Do you eat differently on dates? What are some of your favorite restaurant meals of late? 


First Fall Weekend

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Happy Monday guys! How was your first weekend of fall? I myself am very happy about the return of boots & tights weather and spent a good portion of my time outdoors.

Saturday involved a trip to the LowLineon Manhattan’s Lower East Side. It’s a really cool exhibit that gives a taste of what the proposed underground park could be like. It runs until September 27th—definitely worth checking out if you have time this week!

stealth photographer caught me totally unaware
egg-white omelet with spinach, tomato, mushrooms, and goat cheese

Brunch nearby also happened. I love the idea of adding omelet toppings on top of the omelet…no awkward flipping required!

After walking around lower Manhattan (and taking a quick nap), I made my way to Williamsburg for Emma Straub’s Hollywood Variety Hour at Public Assembly. The event, part of this weekend’s Brooklyn Book Festival (I think?), featured author Andrew McCarthy, musician Stephin Merritt of the Magnetic Fields, blogger Maris Kreizman, and This American Life‘s Ira Glass. Sunday afternoon, I actually spent a few hours at the festival, where I got to enjoy the crisp weather and some excellent people-watching in Brooklyn Heights.

After a week spent seeing ICU patients, it was good to get out of my own head for a little while. When I saw my astrologer back in early March, she mentioned that in the fall months I’d likely find myself surrounded by death and dying, to put it simply, that I would develop a deeper understanding of pain and suffering and, on the other side of the coin, healing. No shit. This was before I’d told her about the internship, and I remember feeling kind of relieved that, well, duh—hospitals are full of death and dying! It took away a bit of that fear of the unknown.

But yeah…this rotation is kind of heavy. I try not to be that asshole acting cranky in the company of people fussing over things like hardcover editions, but it’s been tougher than I generally care to admit. To deal with feeling extra irritable and emotional (even after adjusting for PMS), I’ve been making time for Things That Work like yoga and writing and quite alone time so I can just, like, decompress (and do my goddamn homework—not to sound all Holden Caulfield or anything).

I know that this is also part of the learning experience—how to go into these settings and come out at the end of the day and go about the rest of your life without feeling all disillusioned or pissed off at someone blabbing about where to get the best cocktail in Paris or whatever. Still, I’m looking forward to when this part is in the past tense and I can talk about how valuable it all was.

Hey, one week down, only two more to go! And a weekend in between that I already have fun plans for! Six months ago, my nutrition support rotation was just this abstract mess of “OMG how the f*** am I gonna do any of that stuff” taking up real estate in my brain. Now that I’m actually in it, it’s kind of neat to see how much I’ve learned so far.

How did you spend your first weekend of fall? What works for you when you’re going through a challenging time? 


Dudes, you matter too!

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I feel like I’ve been seeing a lot in the media lately on the role men’s health plays in children’s genetics and health. It’s about time. While I can’t say I’d bring it up on a first or third date (at least not on purpose), it’s an important conversation, and I’m glad to see it brought more prominently into the public sphere. This article from this week’s New York Times Sunday Review section by Judith Shulevitz discusses some of the current research.

For so long, the focus has been on how women can help or hurt the in-utero development of their children (Annie Murphy Paul’s Origins  is one of my favorite books on how we’re shaped before birth), while men have been free to do whatever they damn well please without the nagging concern of “Gee, I wonder how this could effect the kids I’m going to have one day.”

I’m being slightly hyperbolic, of course, but I feel it’s far more common for women in their twenties, for example, to say they’d like to have children by age 35 to reduce the risk of various birth defects than it is for a 25-year-old dude to say they want to procreate before 50 in order to reduce the risk of autism, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or any of the other conditions being linked to older fathers.

I have plenty of female friends who aren’t even in relationships or planning to have children anytime soon who are taking prenatal vitamins, quitting smoking, and cleaning up their diets to prepare for whenever their personal “someday” becomes present-day. On the flip side, I know a lot of men who smoke and drink excessively on the regular, boasting about their copious bacon consumption and (outwardly, at least) appearing cavalier about a potentially shortened lifespan.

From an early age, women are conditioned to think of are body as not just our own vessel of existence and experience but also as a home/greenhouse/oven/whatever you want to call it for another life. There’s a sense of responsibility that comes with that. I’m not saying it’s inappropriate—on the contrary. What I find inappropriate is the way that men have not been expected to exhibit the same kind of responsibility in caring for themselves so they can eventually care for someone else.

I’m not saying we should all become sober vegetarians or anything, but what we should do is use the information we have to help us make decisions that will benefit our own health and—if it’s in the cards/part of the bigger picture—the health of our children. It’s never too early or too late to adopt a healthy habit.

What are some healthy habits you’d like to see more men (or women) pick up? Any guy commenters out there—how does the idea of children factor in to your health? 

Gay Men Don’t Get Fat

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I know lots of men who eat salad—straight men, too. At one time, I even knew more male than female vegetarians. However, I also know lots of men who find this hard to believe. Even in New York, there are tons of stereotypes about what kinds of foods are “gay” and which ones are “straight.”

Author Simon Doonan, photo by Joshua Bright for the New York Times

In Gay Men Don’t Get Fat, his nod to the popular French Women Don’t Get Fat, humorist Simon Doonan plays around with these long-held opinions by encouraging straight men to eat more gay food rather than the meaty, fatty “manly” grub he equates with heterosexual eating. To give you a little insight into the tone of the book, consider that this week’s New York Times article about the book and its author is titled “Pass the Large Grain of Salt.” Despite the emphasis on homosexual eats, Doonan recommends a balance, taking what you  might call a bisexual approach to eating. For example,  have your hetero meatloaf with a side of super-gay field greens.

I have to admit, I find this amusing. I like the tongue-in-cheek attitude and appreciate the emphasis on balance. Though not a “serious” diet book, I think it would be a fun read.

Would you read this book? What do you think some stereotypical “gay” and “straight” foods are?

Michael Pollan on the Leonard Lopate Show

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Michael Pollan is on WNYC’s Leonard Lopate show this afternoon talking about the latest edition of his book, Food Rules: An eater’s manual, which includes illustrations by Maira Kalman.

You can listen in at WNYC online.

Voodoo Vintners

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Personally, I don’t seek out biodynamic wine, but I do find it a fascinating method of winemaking. I recently had the chance to review a book on the process and some of its practitioners for Organic Wine Journal. Whether you’re a biodynamic wine enthusiast or a skeptic who thinks it’s something only dirty hippies and Sting are into, you’ll learn something new from Voodoo Vintners: Oregon’s Astonishing Biodynamic Winegrowers (Oregon State University Press/Corvallis). Renowned wine writer Katherine Cole paints a picture of biodynamicism as a spiritual, “beyond organic” style of farming, practiced by “off-the-wall characters making wines in an unconventional way.”

To read the full review of Catherine Cole’s Voodoo Vintners, hop on over to Organic Wine Journal.

Do you drink biodynamic wine?

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread

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Zucchini is one of those vegetables I forget about sometimes. For the longest time, all I could think to do with them was slice them thin and roast them. Then I got into sautéing them with onions, which I still do all the time. The zucchini fritters I made recently were something of a breakthrough, and got me curious to try other dishes featuring grated zucchini. Zucchini bread was bound to happen.

The other day I bought Mama Pea‘s new cookbook, Peas and Thank You, on my iPad, and within ten minutes of downloading it decided to turn the two zucchinis languishing in the fridge into chocolate chip zucchini bread. Seriously, you don’t need to be a vegan or a mom to enjoy the recipes, or author Sarah Matheny‘s writing. Her dry sense of humor and personal anecdotes are so refreshing! It’s so nice to read something where the author isn’t all, “One afternoon in the south of France, while enjoying a delightful lunch prepared by the midgets who tend my herb garden, I got the idea to build the yogic pizza oven…”

Another thing I love about the recipes in this book is that you’re not making a ton of crazy substitutions, once you get over the use of tempeh, seitan, and tofu, if that’s a barrier (Hey, Dad!). It’s all delicious, vegan food with ingredients you can actually pronounce and find in most stores. Cheers to making plant-based meals approachable!

Anyway, back to this zucchini bread…I was pretty faithful to the recipe in the book, except I added 1/4 cup of cocoa powder and in place of organic sugar, I used a 1/2 cup of honey. My “good quality dark chocolate chips” actually turned out to be an easter bunny that I took a hammer to (is it bad I found this extremely therapeutic?), but it all worked out in the end.

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