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The Small Change Diet
Interview with author Keri Gans, MS, RD, CDN
Change your habits and change your life! The Small Change Diet by Keri Gans, MS, RD, CDN will help you do just that. This isn’t a typical diet book with a strict eating plan for you to follow, rather, it’s a balanced step-by-step guide to help you build and retain healthy habits for life. You set the pace by deciding which changes to make and when you’re ready to move on to the next step. The author’s vast experience in private practice shines through as she offers easy solutions to common obstacles (it seems as if she’s heard them all!), tasty ways to “slim” your favorite recipes and guilt-free “check-ins” to help keep you on track to building healthier habits. The book is peppered with real-life examples of how small changes add up to big successes and how you can incorporate all foods (yes, desserts too!) into your new healthy lifestyle. With The Small Change Diet, you can change your life and your health – and still feel like yourself.
Your book has an appealing “one step at a time” approach, with a single change to be incorporated in small steps so that it becomes habit before making more changes. Why do you think this works so well?
When must people take on too many changes at once it can be overwhelming and they are more likely to fail. I have been seeing patients in my private practice for over ten years and the individuals who have been successful in reaching their health goals are those that have done it slowly. When a change becomes natural to them they feel a huge sense of accomplishment making it so much easier to move on to another.
What steps can an individual take that is struggling with motivation? How can they help motivate their partner to make changes with them?
Motivation is a huge part of being successful with any type of change, especially weight loss. I always ask my patients when we start working together “what is your motivation” because I believe they need to identify it? It really can vary, such as – fear of diabetes, family history of heart disease, favorite jeans no longer fit, better role model for their children, etc…BUT what they all have in common is that they personally matter to the patient. Without constantly focusing on one’s own motivation you can lose sight of why you even wanted to change in the beginning.
Motivating a partner can be challenging and unless you are clear on your own motivation – you can’t expect anyone else to change. When and if you are successful, your success and determination will speak for itself and motivate your partner without even really trying.
How can someone determine which small changes are best for them to tackle first? Should healthy eating changes come first? Exercise? Meal timing?
The best small change to tackle first is the one that you think might be the easiest for you to do. It makes sense that if you can easily accomplish something you are more likely to give another a try. I am big fan of exercise, however, many of my patients claim they just don’t have time. So we focus first of adapting a healthy eating schedule; and the better they start to feel the more open they are to finding time to exercise. One change leads them to another.
Change is hard! Throughout the book you mention common “excuses” and offer practical solutions. What are your top 3 steps to overcome common obstacles and say “yes” to building a healthier lifestyle?
What is your favorite meal to order out that isn’t typically over-loaded with calories?
Whenever I dine out for dinner I start with a mixed green salad, make sure it has tomatoes and onions, and ask for vinaigrette on the side. I love pasta – so I usually choose it served with veggies and either a tomato or olive oil base and request that beans be added (but not always possible). If I have a feeling the serving is going to be huge I ask for a half order and order a side of spinach or broccoli sautéed in garlic and oil.
You travel for work – how do you fit works-outs into a busy schedule?
I’m a yogi, so exercise in my hotel room is always possible if I make the choice to exercise. However, sometimes when I am away for work I can’t spare any extra time on my mat in the morning. What I try to do, is just walk more — take the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator for example. What I tell my patients if they travel a lot for business, they must figure out a way to include exercise. But, if traveling is rare for them then it is ok to take a small break every once in a while.
If you had to choose one small change to recommend to everyone, what would it be and why?
So hard to choose; it’s like asking a parent to choose a favorite child !!! BUT I think it is so important to eat regularly and not skips meals so I would have to go with small change #1, Create a Healthy Eating Schedule. I think if you get that under control the rest falls into place so much easier. It really is hard to focus on making healthy food choices and exercising if you are starved and irritable from skipping your last meal.
Are there any tips, suggestions or solutions that didn’t make it into the book? Can you share a few with us?
Everything I could think of was included in my book. However, I am constantly coming up with new ideas from working with my patients daily and chatting with colleagues. Some of the newest:
1. To use less salad dressing — put salad in a bowl that has a cover, add dressing, close lid and shake — then serve.
2. When it comes to exercise lately i am always being asked when is the best time to do it — my answer — whenever you will do it !!!
3. Follow me on twitter or other Registered Dietitians for helpful tips to help motivate you daily.
Keri Gans is a Registered Dietitian and has had a private practice in Manhattan for over ten years. Read more about her book and her services, The Small Change Diet. She is a Spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association Spokesperson (ADA), an ADA Delegate for New York State Dietetic Association (NYSDA) and a Past President of NYSDA. Keri is a Steering Committee Member of NYSHEPA (New Yorker’s for Healthy Eating and Physical Activity) and is on the Medical Advisory Board for Women’s Voice For Change. Keri holds a Master’s Degree in Clinical Nutrition from New York University and Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Ohio University.