Is Diet a Dirty Word

Ok, as the mother of girls, I struggle with this…the sad truth is that childhood obesity is a serious problem for Americans today. Being overweight in childhood sets you up for a host of adult diseases, like diabetes and heart disease, just to name two of the deadliest. Not to mention self esteem issues and a general inability to enjoy life to the fullest. On the other hand, the “mainstream” media bombards us with pictures of airbrushed, impossible to live up, super thin girls and women. While I enjoy my vegetables and exercise, I don’t want to spend all of my time running to the gym, or worrying about what I eat (which means I want my Trader Joe’s vanilla sandwich cookie without feeling guilty). So what’s a mother to do – just when should be worried about our kid’s weight? So we called in an expert: Sass Moulavi M.D. Medical Director of Smart for Life – aka Dr. Sass and asked him – is it ever okay to put a tween on a diet?

And here are his answers:

Q. Is it ever ok to put your kids on a diet – especially with girls – what has to do with the body naturally maturing vs. really gaining too much weight?

A. If the kids are overweight, and all parents should find out the child’s BMI, then yes, it’s okay to put them on a diet. The diet must be rich in nutrients and protein in order not to stunt growth. But the risks of staying overweight are much greater than going on a weight loss program.

Q.How do you know when to be concerned about their weight and/or eating habits? Who or what guidelines should you trust?

A. You must use the BMI scale adjusted for kids. Visit your family doctor or pediatrician. The USDA has a great BMI tool for kids or visit

Q. What are some tips that any tween girl and her family can use for healthy weight management?

The key is for them to have a high protein, low sugar breakfast. Excellent examples are egg white omelets and Smart for Life cookies, cereals and granola squares. Cut out all sugary drinks and junk food. Increase the amount of green leafy vegetables. Eat small, multiple meals throughout the day. Never eat anything fried. Do one hour of exercise per day – anything counts (walking, dancing, skating, exercise).

Q. Overall, tweens get conflicting messages – on the one hand, the media shows us too skinny, but on the other hand, many Americans are overweight – how can parents reconcile this conflicting information and help girls have healthy body images?

A. Tweens often get conflicting messages. We want them to be a healthy weight. Once a tween knows what a healthy weight is for her height and age, it is very easy to get to that range. Many tweens will unfortunately think of themselves as too fat even when they are at a healthy weight. Parents, doctors, teachers should get involved in explaining to these young girls what a healthy weight is and that a certain amount of fat is necessary for a healthy body and a long life.

Q. What else should parents be concerned about?

A. Obesity is a big problem in America and children are not excluded. The main causes of childhood obesity are the following:
• Huge increase in portion sizes in restaurants, schools, fast food and at home
• An increase in sedentary kids sitting in front of the computer, television, electronic hand-held games, etc.
• Very powerful advertising from the food industry showing high-calorie, sugary foods that are supposedly “good for you”
• High fructose corn syrup being added to sodas, juices and many other foods that provide lots of calories, no nutrition, and actually make kids hungrier than they truly are, so they eat more
• Finally, overweight kids are now almost the norm. It is not unusual to see a group of kids where 50% of them are overweight. When such a big number of kids are overweight, there is very little incentive to lose weight because kids and their parents feel fine because “everyone else is like that.”

Parents are the key to prevent obesity in their children. Parents must vote with their wallets and not buy poor quality, sugary food. Parents must lobby the food industry and government agencies for better quality food, labeling and healthier choices. Parents must educate their children on nutrition and its link to health just like they educate about “Stranger Danger”, Smoking, Drug and Alcohol abuse, even car seat safety. Parents need to set an example and share how some foods are bad for children. Schools should offer healthier food choices including white milk without sugar added! The medical community and insurance companies have to get serious about this issue as well and work with families, schools, and children’s organization to educate, inform and monitor children.

So what can you do to help an overweight/obese child? Consider Smart for Life’s THIN ADVENTURE or another healthy, balanced diet alone and incorporate exercise with it. If your child does not lose weight, seek the help of a medical professional. Overweight children get adult diseases much earlier including diabetes, heart disease and elevated cholesterol. These children should be screened to identify any of these symptoms and work with a medical professional to control the disease now rather than later. Keep in mind that overweight children also suffer from self-esteem issues and may need help with that as well. An overweight child becomes an obese adult.

The worst misconception about overweight/obese children is that a lot of parents think that their child is not suffering from being overweight. Many children tell their parents that they are okay with their weight and it does not bother them. Absolutely not true. Studies show that overweight kids do suffer socially and psychologically from their weight. Think about the rise in bullying in the schools; kids can be cruel and this will most certainly impact a child’s development, physically and emotionally. It is imperative that parents do not accept this type of answer from their kids, but instead learn how to talk to their kids about their weight in a gentle and supportive manner. Acting as a role model, providing encouragement and motivation, and becoming an advocate for better nutrition will ultimately be one of the best contributions a parent can make towards their overweight child’s fight to lose the weight.


Dr. Sasson E. Moulavi (Dr. Sass), M.D. is the Medical Director of Smart for Life™ Weight Management Centers ( headquartered in Boca Raton, Florida and is a graduate of the University of Toronto where he received the degree of Doctor of Medicine. He completed post graduate training at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. Dr. Moulavi holds Board Certification in Bariatric Medicine and is a member of the American Society of Bariatric Physicians. He has completed the Annual Practical Approaches to the Treatment of Obesity at Harvard University and is a member of the American Board of Anti-Aging Medicine as well as the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine. For more than 13 years he has specialized in the study and treatment of Bariatric Medicine. Dr. Moulavi has directed the operation of multiple Weight Loss Centers in both the United States and Canada. Prior to 1995, he practiced as a family doctor in Canada. His passion is also to protect our planet by keeping our food supply clean of toxins and providing healthy choices for generations to come.

You can visit his Blog here: or at sit me at the Smart for Life Clinic in Boca Raton Florida

Burn Ab Fat the Healthy Way

Like many women, you probably struggle with an excess of ab fat.  It just seems to pile right there in the middle.  And let’s be honest, there’s not much else that will make you feel less like a HotMama than toting around an inner tube.  But it’s not just about looks.  Too much ad fat has been linked to a number of health issues like diabetes and heart disease.  If you’re looking to get healthier, than now’s the time to find a way to blast away the belly fat in a healthy, non fad way.  Read on for tips on how to make it happen.

The Science of Losing Weight

Burn Ab Fat

Moms Can Burn Ab Fat the Healthy Way

Just like with everything else, there is a science to losing weight – that’s great – it means that there’s no mystery involved.   The fact is it takes a deficit of 3,500 calories to lose one pound of fat. That seems like a lot but if you are eating a diet filled with fast food, fatty foods and unhealthy fats, simply changing one meal can bring about a deficit that will help you lose weight.

Also, different foods have different compositions. Fats, protein and carbohydrates all have a different caloric value associated with them. Fat calories are more dense than other calories, so even when you think you’re eating a small amount of it, you’re typically getting more calories – all to your stomach area.

We all ab have fat on our bodies. Fat cushions our bones and organs, but it can also endanger our health in large amounts. T

Unhealthy Fat Loss

Unhealthy weight loss is no fat loss at all, since diets that ask you to cut your fat intake to unhealthy levels will actually trigger your body to increase your fat stores. Your body will work to preserve itself from what it perceives as starvation by holding on more tightly to the fat it already has stored.

Following a diet where you eat high amount of protein and high fat can lead to muscles loss – not fat loss.  so even though the pounds might be slipping away, you’re not doing yourself any favors.

So what can you do to burn ab fat away?

* Eat – Some experts argue for 3 main meals (not major ones) coupled with 1-2 snacks throughout the day.  This keeps your blood sugar at the proper level and prevents your body from going into starvation mode.

* Healthy diet – Kick the processed and pre-packaged foods to the curb.   These are filled with hidden fat, sugars and calories that can easily sabotage your fat burning efforts.  Be mindful of how much animal based protein sources you eat, as they contain higher levels of fat than plant sources. Plants also contain fiber which is hard to digest. As it passes through your system, it takes some fat with it. Fiber gives a feeling of fullness that lowers cravings and blood cholesterol.

* Add healthy oils – Healthy oils contain more omega-3 fatty acids, which help reduce inflammation in the body and increase heart health. Try eating cold water fish, as well as nuts like flaxseed.

* Exercise – While food is a big part of the equation, exercise increases the amount of calories you burn. When the body is filled with wholesome foods, the body will use stored fat to burn for energy, thus reducing your total body fat. The good news about exercise is that your body doesn’t care if you get in it short 10 minute bursts or if you commit a chunk of time to it.  Even taking the stairs, parking your car farther from the store, or sneaking in a walk around the parking lot during your lunch break all count.

Want to be a FitMama? To burn ab fat in a healthy way doesn’t require huge changes in your life.  Rather small steps will get your there.  If you want to learn more about ways to lose weight and get into shape (and hey, who doesn’t) then check out Isobel de los Rios’ The Diet Solution Program – this affordable program is a common sense approach to weight loss – and hey it totally helped the HotMama shed those post pregnancy pounds.  Find out more here.

Black Rice is the New Superfood

Black Rice Superfood

Black Rice is the New Superfood

You’ve heard all about your superfoods, that class of foods that supercharge your body – making you more energetic, healthier and can even help you lose weight and stave off the effects of age.  Foods on that list have included things like blueberries and almonds, but now there is a new superfood out there – black rice, a whole grain with a nutty flavor.

Why is it a superfood – black rice is loaded with healthful antioxidants like anthocyanins (also found in blueberries).  The butritional benefit comes from the fiber rich barn husks which are oacjked with minerals and antioxidants – which have been shown to help protect against diseases like cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

So how can you get some of this nutty black rice goodness.  For now the rice is available in its raw form and is most easily found at health food stores and Asian markets, and some of the bigger supermarkets.  You can use it (and cook it) as you would any rice – as side dish with a lean protein or the base of a yummy stir fry.