10 Steps to Shopping at Your Local NYC Farmers’ Market

Farmers’ market season is almost in full swing again! While many farmers’ markets are open year-round, truly the best time to shop locally is mid-summer to late fall, when most everything is in season and incredibly fresh. Learning how to shop for local produce at the farmers’ markets may seem a little daunting at first, but once you learn how it becomes autopilot.

union-square-farmers-market-photo-new-tork-city-cc

(Union Square Greenmarket image credit: http://www.jazzhostels.com/)

Shopping locally for your produce in the warmer months is simply the best way to get the most bang for your buck. Local produce is always in season, which means that the farmers have harvested their wares likely within the last few days. There are few, if any, grocery stores that can boast that their products are anywhere near this fresh. While most grocery store produce is harvested while it is still unripe (so that it may ripen and not spoil during transit), most market produce is left on the plant until it is ripe and then picked fresh, which not only allows for the best possible taste to develop but also allows the plant to plump up with more vitamins and minerals1.

June and July are the months that NYC farmers’ markets really kick off for the new season; but, August, September, and October in particular are the months when almost everything is in season and the prices drop––often even lower than the grocery store’s––as each farmer is trying to sell their food quickly since it’s all perishable. If you’re interested in canning, freezing, fermenting, or preserving food in other ways, those three months are the best time to buy.

In short, local food = tastier, healthier, and often cheaper!

Same as most other things, shopping at farmers’ markets is simple once you get a lay of the land. Here are 10 easy steps to guide any farmers’ market novice into becoming an expert.

1. LOCATION & TIME

First, find the nearest market to your house or work. This comprehensive map lists all current NYC markets (an updated map is usually released every July). Most markets in NYC are housed under the Greenmarket program, which is a part of the nonprofit GrowNYC, but there are other organizations such as Harvest Home and Down to Earth that host markets as well. Different organizations have slightly different models for their markets, so you may notice some variations among them.

Check the days and times to make sure you can make it. Most markets open early and close on the early side, too, so you might miss the entire thing if you wait until after work to show up. Arrive as early as possible so the farmers haven’t sold out by the time you get there.

2. CHECK OUT THE VENDORS

If you’re looking for a specific vendor or food item, be sure to search online for the name of the market and its list of farmers, vendors, and food categories. This should give you a good idea what you can find when you get there. Some markets only have produce, while other generally larger markets also have meats, cheeses, bread, honey, wine, pastries, seafood, or even locally made lip balm, lotions, tinctures, salves, soap, and teas.

The historic, world-famous, and ever-popular Union Square Greenmarket has the largest variety of local products in the entire city2, and you can almost always find what you’re looking for there. The prices can be a little higher compared to other markets, especially in the outer boroughs, but the quality and value is excellent. This market is open year-round on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 8am to 6pm, weather permitting. The Union Square Greenmarket also features constantly updated lists of the farmers and vendors that will be in attendance at the market each day, so visit the website on the day you plan to go for the most current info. Additionally, the Union Square market has an app for both Apple and Android mobile devices where you can also find regularly updated lists of vendors.

3. BRING REUSABLE BAGS

Okay, so this step isn’t entirely necessary, but it seems a little silly to go through the extra effort of purchasing food that is super healthy, flavorful, and more sustainable…only to carry it all home in incredibly wasteful and polluting single-use plastic bags. If you’re like me, you already have a plastic bag filled with plastic bags sitting at home that you hate even looking at, so why add to the pile? Instead, plan ahead and bring your own bags. I find that canvas tote bags are my favorite type of reusable bag. Although they aren’t quite as sturdy, I also really like this style of reusable bags from ChicoBag or similar companies, which can easily be stuffed into a neat little pocket and then clipped onto your keys, belt loop, wallet, or anywhere so you always have it with you. I find it easiest to always have a few reusable bags tucked into my daily backpack so I’m always prepared to avoid taking home those horrible plastic grocery bags. [Editor’s note: Be sure to regularly wash your reusable bags to avoid any cross-contamination or bacteria build-up.]

Caylee Market

4. VISIT THE MARKET

Now it’s time to actually head to the market––Go! Explore! Taste! Enjoy!

5. WALK THE ENTIRE MARKET FIRST

Unlike the grocery store where like items are usually placed together in marked aisles, at the farmers’ market, different farmers on opposite ends of the location may sell similar or the same products (e.g., eggs) and it’s up to you to find the best option and price. So, take a lap around the market first and compare what’s being offered that day, making note of prices (ask the vendor for the price if you don’t see it posted). Then, retrace your steps and purchase what you liked the most, but not before you figure out how you’re paying (see the next step). The same farmers generally come to the same markets all season, so, just as you’ve memorized where to find your favorite foods at your regular grocery store, over time, you’ll come to recognize the individual stands by name and shopping at your farmers’ market will become easier and easier.

Caylee Market3

6. HOW TO PAY

It’s easiest to bring cash with you to the market. Normally, $20-$60 should cover enough food for about 3 people, so plan accordingly if you need to buy for more people, or are shopping for a party or similar. However, if you’re the type that doesn’t carry cash, then know that you are usually able to use your credit card at the farmers’ market, but it’s important to know that most farmers do not accept credit cards directly. Instead, you should head to the “market information” tent where you will tell them how much you would like to charge to your card, and they will give you wooden tokens equal to this amount that you can then give to the farmers in exchange for their delicious wares. You can also use SNAP benefits in this same way. If you have a wooden token worth $10, for example, but only spend $9 at a farm stand, the farmer should give you the remaining $1 in cash. Farmers cannot give cash back for SNAP tokens, thought, so you’ll have to purchase exactly the dollar amount on the token. [Editor’s note: If you’d like to volunteer at a GrowNYC Greenmarket tent or other position, click here to fill out and submit an application. Help is always needed and appreciated!]

Caylee Market2

GrowNYC market information tent

7. GET FREE PRODUCE WITH HEALTH BUCKS COUPONS

It’s easy to get free produce from the market! First, check this map of all NYC farmers’ markets and locate the markets with a carrot symbol next to their name. At these markets, the NYC Department of Health and other organizations host cooking and nutrition workshops that are each about 20-30 minutes in length. At the end of each workshop, every participant receives a coupon called Health Bucks, which are worth $2 in produce. Take this coupon to any farmer in exchange for $2 in fruits and vegetables! There is no limit to the number of workshops you can attend.

If you receive SNAP benefits, for every $5 you spend in SNAP at the market, you will receive an additional $2 in Health Bucks to purchase extra produce. Using your SNAP benefits at the market in this way allows you to buy 40% more food!

8. TRY ONE NEW FRUIT OR VEGETABLE REGULARLY

The farmers’ market has an incredibly vast array of produce, much of which you probably have never seen or eaten before. Be adventurous! Buy a small amount of something new and ask the farmer how to cook it. Whether you opt to try Jerusalem artichokes, romanesco, purslane, ramps, papalo, or something else totally new, make sure you write down or take a photo of its name so that you can also look up recipes later. Many vegetables do well simply sliced or diced, then sautéed. Yummy and nutritious!

Romanesco

(romanesco image credit: http://puntdesabor.com/)

9. BRING YOUR COMPOST & TEXTILES RECYCLING

There are even more ways to reduce your carbon footprint at the farmers’ market. If your NYC neighborhood does not yet offer compost (food waste) collection, then you can bring your compost to the farmers’ market. Instead of throwing away food scraps where they will just end up trapped inside a landfill generating greenhouse gases, collect any and all unwanted food scraps and drop them off at the market. From the market, your food scraps will be taken to a facility where they will be allowed to break down completely and turn back into dark, rich, soil. Kind of stinky but also kind of magic, right? Find markets that accept compost here.

Also, you can recycle any old clothing or textiles at the farmers’ market. The average New Yorker tosses 46 pounds of clothing and other textiles in the trash each year3. Unwanted clothes do not belong in the trash, so give them a second life by recycling them properly. Find markets that accept textile recycling here.

10. ENJOY!

Go home and whip up your delicious, inexpensive, and local bounty into a mouth-watering meal!

Remember, the farmers’ market is local, which means you will never find tropical fruits such as bananas, mangoes, or coconuts, because those plants simply cannot grow in or near New York. And, since the market is seasonal, you won’t find peaches, berries, tomatoes, or other summer and fall produce in the winter or spring months. Often, there is confusion between actual farmers’ markets and other produce stands. If a stand has produce that isn’t locally grown or is out-of-season, then it is not part of a farmers’ market. [Editor’s note: For example, the carts you may pass on the street corner near your apartment or office building, or subway may sell fruit that is fresh, but not necessarily local or in-season.]

To conclude, I’d like to leave you with a list of some of my all time favorite farmers’ markets in the city:

  • Of course, the Union Square Greenmarket is not to be missed. At its peak, this market has more than 250,000 customers per week, and boasts more than one thousand varieties of fruits and vegetables4.
  • Another great market is the Jackson Heights Greenmarket in Queens, #128 on the map. This market has a wide variety of products, including meat, cheese, honey, and wine. They also host nutrition workshops where you can get Health Bucks for free produce. Bonus: There are nearby street vendors selling Mexican tamales that make for an excellent breakfast!
  • Finally, the 125th Street FreshConnect Farmers’ Market (#79 on the map) not only has a wide array of products, but also plays music and hosts events that celebrate the cultural roots of historical Harlem. In a quickly gentrifying area, it’s exciting to connect with the history of the area.

Happy shopping!

[Editor’s note: If you don’t live in New York City, you can learn about resources and programs in your state by visiting the Farmers’ Market Coalition website.]

References:

  1. Frith, K. (2007). “Is Local More Nutritious?” The Center for Health and the Global Environment website.
  2. Union Square, Manhattan. Wikipedia.com.
  3. Clothing Is Not Garbage.” GrowNYC website.
  4. Union Square, Manhattan. Wikipedia.com.

Caylee Clay Author Pic

Guest post by Caylee Clay, RDN. Click here to visit Caylee’s website or find her on Instagram: @eat_yer_veggies. All photos property of Caylee Clay, RDN, unless otherwise noted.

Change Food (Sat, 11/12/16): Growing the Good Food Movement

If you’re a part of my Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn network, you might have seen that I announced that my boyfriend and I will be hosting a viewing party of the Change Food live-streaming event “Growing the Good Food Movement” at our apartment in the East Village, New York City, on Saturday, November 12, 2016. As I did for the past two years with the TEDxManhattan events we hosted, I’m opening the invitation to anyone who follows me (or reads this post).

DETAILS:

  • Food will be provided (menu still TBD), but you can BYO food or beverages, if you wish.
  • Kids are welcome.
  • We have cats in case you are allergic.
  • This is not a fund-raiser; there is no charge to attend.

The entire event is from 10:30 am – 6:00 pm ET. Since we have a teeny apartment, we are asking everyone to RSVP by Wed, 11/9 for their preferred session(s), noted below, so it doesn’t get too crowded. (I’ll e-mail you our exact address after you’ve replied).

Session 1 (10:30 AM – 1:30 PM)

“The Changing Business of Food” – How we shop, eat and dine is changing. In this session, we’ll explore this change and some of the impacts on our food. Speakers:

  • Bruce Friedrich, The Good Food Institute & New Crop Capital
  • Andrew Ive, FOOD-X (Quickbites)
  • Tera Johnson, Food Finance Institute
  • Eric Kessler, Arabella Advisors
  • Dawn Moncrief, A Well-Fed World
  • Erica Orange, The Future Hunters
  • Paul Willis, Niman Ranch Pork Company (Quickbites)

Session 2 (1:45 – 4:00 PM)

“Business Doing it Right” – As more entrepreneurs enter the marketplace, more companies are looking toward safe, healthy, delicious food. Meet some who are doing it right and are part of the force behind today’s food system change. Speakers:

  • Erika Block, Local Orbit
  • Alain Coumont, Le Pain Quotidien (Quickbites)
  • Adam Eskin, Dig Inn
  • Jason Green, Edenworks
  • Justin Johnson, Sustainable | Kitchens
  • Ashley Koff, Ashley Koff Approved
  • Annalyn Lavey, Square Roots Urban Growers
  • Sophia Mendelsohn, JetBlue
  • Scott Norton, Sir Kensington’s (Quickbites)
  • Sam Polk, Everytable

Session 3 (4:15 – 6:00pm)

“Real Change Right Now” – There are people you might not know, working on a grassroots level, who are not only growing and providing food, they are bolstering local economies and saving lives. Meet some of them. These are the real rockstars of today. Speakers:

  • Loren Cardeli, A Growing Culture
  • Tessa Edick, FarmOn! Foundation
  • Tony Hillery, Harlem Grown
  • Cary Junior, SouthEast Michigan Producers Association (SEMPA)
  • Ashley Koff, Ashley Koff Approved
  • Angel Rodriguez, Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha

We look forward to sharing good food and conversation with you!

If you are unable to attend, but would like to learn more about the event or watch on your own, click here to visit the official Change Food website. Please feel free to post comments below about what you thought after watching the event.

Get Your Macros Here!

Macronutrients—proteins, carbohydrates, and fat—are vital to health and well-being. Regardless if you are a meat-eater or follow a plant-based lifestyle, it is important that you get the full range of what your body requires to function properly.

Macronutrients

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) create dietary guidelines for Americans, listed on the Nutrition Food Labels on packaged foods and also found online at Health.gov. These amounts are fairly arbitrary—not to mention often confusing—and do not take into account a person’s life stage, level of physical activity, or existing chronic conditions, so understanding your own habits will help you make the eating choices that are best for you.

Proteins, which break down into amino acids when eaten and serve to function in metabolism and immunity, are critical components of all tissues in the human body. Protein is in everything from lean, ground beef (22g/serving), skinless chicken breast (29g), and plain yogurt (13g) to tempeh (18g), kidney beans (8g), and oatmeal (6g). Diets with too little protein can lead to low energy and illness; too much protein may worsen chronic diseases like osteoporosis and kidney failure. Protein functions best with adequate amounts of carbohydrates and fats.

Carbohydrates are mainly found in plant foods and break down into sugar molecules (most abundantly, the monosaccharide glucose) during digestion. Carbs are the primary source of energy for the body’s red blood cells, brain, and other nervous tissues. They also deliver fiber, which may reduce the risk of some cancers, prevent digestive problems in the colon, and provide satiety. Fiber can be found in foods like navy beans (10g/serving), blackberries (8g), broccoli (6g), and whole-wheat bread (2g). Too few carbs in the diet can lead to ketosis, an unhealthy metabolic state; too many carbs—especially if the food is considered “high-glycemic” as in white starches, candy, and dried fruit—may cause spikes in blood sugar levels, especially detrimental for anyone with diabetes.

Fats (and oils) turn into fatty acids when digested, provide the body with energy, transport the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K to cells, and are found in everything from butter to walnuts. The main issue with a low-fat diet is that the fat, which contributes to the flavor and texture of food, is usually replaced with sugar or salt to make the food more palpable. High-fat diets, especially in saturated or trans fats, can lead to obesity and heart disease.

Consider the following:

  • What are the primary foods you’ve been eating? Were there plenty of proteins, but not enough nutrient-dense carbs? Did your lunches consist only of what was in your office mate’s candy bowl.
  • Check your plate and be sure each macronutrient group above is represented in some way. Add what’s missing or include it as a snack in between meals.
  • Every season, replace the foods you seem to be eating most often with others that you haven’t tried yet.

Everything you eat plays a role in running—or ruining—your body. Incorporating varied, balanced, and high quality forms of energy is the best path toward a long and healthful life.

[A version of this article was written for, and first appeared in, YoffieLife.com on September 28, 2014.]

Image credit: Fitnut

TEDxManhattan (Sat, 3/7/15): Changing the Way We Eat

If you’ve been keeping track of my Twitter feed or are a part of my LinkedIn network, you know that my boyfriend and I will be hosting a viewing party of the TEDxManhattan live-streaming event “Changing the Way We Eat” at our apartment in the East Village, New York City, on Saturday, March 7, 2015. As I did last year, I’m opening the invitation to anyone who follows this blog.

OTHER INFO:

  • Food will be provided (menu still TBD), but you can BYO food or beverages, if you wish.
  • Kids are welcome.
  • We have cats in case you are allergic.
  • This is not a fund-raiser/there is no charge to attend.

The entire event is from 10:30 am – 6:00 pm ET. Since we have a teeny apartment, we are asking everyone to RSVP by Wed, 2/25 for their preferred session(s), noted below, so it doesn’t get too crowded. (I’ll e-mail you our exact address after you’ve replied).

Session 1 (10:30 AM – 12:25 PM)
Introductions
Nikiko Masumoto – Legacy of three generations of Japanese American family farmers.
Anim Steel – Food justice.
Ali Partovi – What’s the real reason organic food costs more? (Hint: It’s not because it’s more expensive to produce.)
Stephen Reily – How do cities build platforms to help the local food economy achieve sustainability and scale?
Film clip: The Meatrix, re-make and re-launch of the hugely successful 2003 viral phenomenon
Michele Merkel – What is legal is not always right: Fighting for justice in rural America.

BREAK 12:25 – 1:35 PM (webcast offline)

Session 2 (1:35 – 3:35 PM)
Marcel Van Ooyen – Scaling up local food distribution to take it from niche to mainstream.
Robert Graham – Teaching doctors about the importance of food to health.
Stefanie Sacks – How small changes in eating can make big differences.
Joel Berg – The only real way to end hunger in America.
Dana Cowin – The power of ugly vegetables: Why ugly, bruised vegetables are the future of food.
TEDxManhattan Award Winner – Stephen Ritz, Green Bronx Machine. School. Kids. Community. Food. The educational community center Steve is building in a school in the Bronx.
DJ Cavem – Health education through art and hip hop music.

BREAK 3:35 – 4:15 PM (webcast offline)

Session 3 (4:15 – 6:00pm)
Henry Hargreaves – How end-of-the-world doomsday preppers are thinking about their food.
Film clip: Anna Lappe, Real Food Media Project winner
Shen Tong – The impact of venture capital money and investment dollars in the food system.
Kendra Kimbirauskas – The rift between the good food movement and the explosion of factory farms in the U.S.
Film clip: Regina Bernard-Carreno and Alison Cayne
Danielle Nierenberg – Why the food system will fall apart without women farmers.
Danny Meyer – Fine dining and chain restaurants: The evolvement and overlap of the two.

END 6:00 PM (webcast offline)

We look forward to sharing good food and conversation with you!

If you are unable to attend, but would like to learn more about the event or watch on your own, click here to visit the official TEDxManhattan website. Please feel free to post comments below about what you thought after watching the event.

What’s Eating You?

While the human body needs proper nourishment to survive, nutrition is not a one-size-fits-all concept. A healthful diet can prevent or reduce the risk of certain diseases and chronic illnesses, but sometimes, certain foods can cause adverse reactions. Not everybody consumes, digests, metabolizes, and stores food in the same way.

If you notice that, within minutes of eating a particular food, you have a specific, physical reaction, you probably have a food allergy and should ask your doctor for a diagnostic test to confirm. However, if you have general bouts of lethargy, are in a constant state of fogginess, or always feel bloated and uncomfortable, you might have a food intolerance. In this case, an elimination diet can help determine sensitivities and may make a noticeable difference in your overall health and well-being.

Food allergies and intolerances may sound interchangeable, but they are actually quite different. An allergy is when your immune system reacts to an ingredient in food and fights against it. These reactions can be as mild as an itchy mouth or as severe as shortness of breath leading to anaphylaxis. The eight most common food allergies are eggs, fish, milk, peanuts, shellfish, soy, tree nuts, and wheat. (Click here to learn more about food allergies and product labeling.)

A food intolerance, on the other hand, relates to how your digestive system reacts when something in food cannot be properly digested. Lactose intolerance is the most common one—which occurs in individuals who lack the proper enzyme, lactase, needed to break down the disaccharide sugar found in milk—but, there can also be much less common intolerances involving spices like paprika, dill, and ginger; vegetables like asparagus and bell pepper; and fruits like banana and mango.

Consider the following:

  • Track your meals and moods. For an entire week, take note of every single food item you eat, read the ingredients list on all labels, and log how you feel after eating. Are you bloated and gassy? Do you have less energy? Are you unable to focus?
  • Make adjustments. Now that you have an idea of which foods may trigger which symptoms, entirely eliminate one of those items from your meals for an extended period of time—three to six weeks—or make a smart replacement. For instance, if dairy is the culprit, try almond or rice milk instead. If sodium is doing you wrong, add a squeeze of citrus or a flavorful dried herb where you normally would use salt.
  • Be patient. It can take up to three days to notice if symptoms have been alleviated, so continue to track your foods, moods, and other signs during the elimination. If you find the eliminated food is unlikely to be the problem, try not to add it back until you have tested some of the other trigger foods on your list or slowly integrate it back into your regular diet and pay close attention if any symptoms act up again.

You know your body best. If you have puzzling symptomatic issues over months—or perhaps years—of your life, you might find an elimination diet brings to light unfavorable reactions to food(s) you consume regularly. With that finding, you can make informed decisions about what you eat going forward.

[A version of this article was written for, and first appeared in, YoffieLife.com on July 27, 2014.]

TEDxManhattan (Sat, 3/1/14): Changing the Way We Eat

If you’ve been keeping track of my Twitter feed or are a part of my LinkedIn network, you know that I’ll be hosting a viewing party tomorrow, Saturday, March 1, 2014, for the TEDxManhattan live-streaming event “Changing the Way We Eat.” This may seem like a nutty move, but I’m very trusting of my readers, so I’m opening the invitation to anyone who follows this blog. I’m not crazy enough to post my exact street address here, but I’ll say that it’s at my apartment in the East Village, New York City.

If you’re interested, please click here to RSVP and I’ll send you the address.

OTHER INFO

  • Food will be provided, but you can BYO food or beverages, if you wish.
  • Kids are welcome.
  • We have cats in case you are allergic.
  • This is not a fund-raiser/there is no charge to attend.

The entire event is from 10:30 am – 6:30 pm EST, but you can drop by whenever your schedule allows and stay for as short or as long as you wish; however, if you’d prefer to join us for a particular session, here are the details:

10:30 AM – Session 1
Brian Halweil, Editor, Edible East End; Publisher, Edible Manhattan and Edible Brooklyn
Peggy Neu, President, The Monday Campaigns
Kathy Lawrence, Program Director, School Food FOCUS
Michael Rozyne, Executive Director, Red Tomato
Tama Wong, Principal, Meadows and More
Megan Miller, Founder, Bitty Foods
Steve Ritz, Founder, Green Bronx Machine
Andrew Gunther, Program Director, Animal Welfare Approved
David McInerney, Co-Founder, FreshDirect
Dr. Lance Price, Professor, George Washington University
Bill Yosses, Executive Pastry Chef, The White House
David Binkle, Director of Food Services, Los Angeles Unified School District

1:40 PM – Session 2
San Van Aken – Tree of 40 Fruits, Artist
Stefani Bardin, Faculty, The New School
Matt Moore, Family Farmer, Artist, Activist, The Digital Farm Collective
Maisie Ganzler, Vice President, Bon Appetit Management Company
Regina Bernard-Carreno, Assistant Professor, Baruch College, CUNY
Ann Cooper, Founder, Food Family Farming Foundation
Sunny Young, Director, Edufood Consulting
Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director, Food & Water Watch
Virginia Clarke, Executive Director, Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Funders
LaDonna Redmond, Founder, Campaign for Food Justice Now
Alison Cayne, Owner, Havens Kitchen
Elizabeth Meltz, Director of Food Safety and Sustainability, Batali/Bastianich Hospitality Group
Nikki Silvestri, Executive Director, Green for All

4:20 PM – Session 3
Mitchell Davis, Executive Vice President, James Beard Foundation
Myra Goodman, Co-founder, Earthbound Farm
Kerry McLean, Director of Community Development, WHEDco
Saru Jayaraman, Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC United)
Cheryl Kollin, Founding Principal, Full Plate Ventures
Clint Smith, Educator, Parkdale High School
Peter Hoffman, chef owner of Back Forty and Back Forty West
Chellie Pingree, Congresswoman, U.S. House of Representatives (Maine)
Kenneth Cook, President and Co-founder, Environmental Working Group
Tom Colicchio, Chef, Restaurant Owner, Head Judge “Top Chef”, Cookbook Author

We look forward to sharing good food and conversation with you!

If you are unable to attend, but would like to learn more about the event or watch on your own, click here or here. Please feel free to post comments below about what you thought after watching the event.

Honey v vinegar

I’ve had a handful of conversations over the past couple of weeks involving motivational approaches to helping others achieve their goals and some of the information I was receiving bothered me. One friend relayed to me that she was berated into quitting smoking when she went to a clinic for help, another told me that her professor said if he was moving too quickly through the chapters in their textbook, she had better figure out a way to catch up because it wasn’t his responsibility to help her understand the material.

I’m not a fan of “The Biggest Loser” tactics—or any challenge-type TV show for that matter—where contestants, i.e., clients, get yelled into submission. (It’s no coincidence that I’m writing my post days after this news story broke.) While I believe in tough love when needed, I also believe it can be delivered in an encouraging way. To berate someone into a behavior change might land them in a temporary state of accommodation, but not necessarily a long-term, sustainable way of being. Ultimately, isn’t the one who benefits from the motivational approach supposed to be the client, not the coach? These power plays irk me and I realize that it’s because I am not a fan of being yelled at, but, perhaps, other people feel differently; that to be accountable for change, they need to be scolded into it.

While I doubt I will change my opinion about this, especially as I coach my clients in my own supportive, encouraging way, I would love to know what others think. Please leave a comment below or e-mail me with your thoughts.

Aging

We are all getting older.

That is not meant to bum anyone out; it’s actually very good news. Recent data show that the U.S. population’s average life expectancy is now 78.6 years, over three years more than 20 years ago; and it is estimated that, by the year 2030, those 65 years old and above will account for about 20% of all Americans. People 85 years of age and older now represent the fastest-growing subgroup in the U.S. and the number of centenarians continues to grow as well.

As I approach my 45th birthday (I KNOW!) and reflect on the past year with some of my DishWithDina clients, I noticed that one major lesson we all have been learning is that success lies not only in having a plan, but sticking with that plan consistently. When we prepare in advance both our food and our physical activity, we make healthier choices overall. With that in mind, it will be extremely easy to embrace the years ahead of us, and, as we further develop our routines and incorporate better habits in our lives, we will surely have healthful and successful futures.

The best thing we can do to slow or minimize some of the inevitable physiologic changes that will come with aging—like loss of sensory perception, gastrointestinal function, and body composition—is, of course, to always keep moving. Incorporating aerobic activity, muscle strengthening, and flexibility and balance exercises on a daily basis will help us achieve longevity and quality of life.

That said, I’ve been pretty stagnant this past week—gearing up for a new school semester is exhausting—and a few conversations recently have made me realize I haven’t been practicing what I preach when it comes to regular activity. So, I hereby declare that I shall get back on that track henceforth and hope you’ll renew your sure-to-be-stale-by-now fitness resolutions with me.

I guess what I’m asking is, be my workout buddy, won’t you?

Here’s to the future…and beyond!

Open Wide

After months of migrating, fiddling, uploading, revising, sweating, pulling all-nighters, and collaborating with some of the most awesome people on the planet (Marc and Shilpa, I am talking to you), the DishWithDina brand is official!

That said, this site is a work in progress, so please be patient as I continue to make some minor tweaks to it over the next few months. If you have any comments, suggestions, or happy thoughts, please feel free to contact me.

I look forward to working with you, hearing your stories, and helping you out however I can. Please stop by often to check out new blog posts, recipes and interesting articles…or click the “follow” button below or to the right.

Now, go eat something yummy, play outside, and treat yourself well!

Gone fishin’

…not really, but I am going to be unplugged for a bit, mostly due to an intense summer school schedule. I am very much looking forward to getting back to blogging as soon as I get my life back, probably sometime in August…of 2014.

Have a fantastic summer, everyone!

UPDATE (7/17/2013):

I’m learning so much stuff at school and can’t wait to get back on here to share everything with my wonderful readers.

I bet you’re both excited!