A diet for better living

Clinical dietician Dr. Maya Rosman’s new book shows how dieting, if done properly, need not involve abstention or self sacrifice.

vegetables 311 (photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
vegetables 311
(photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Dr. Maya Rosman, a clinical dietitian in her 40s whose own figure is a walking advertisement for her expertise in getting people into shape, used to have 20 superfluous kilos on her body. But she lost the weight using the principles – some of them unconventional – that she explains in her latest book, and has kept them off for years.
The just-published hardcover, Hebrew-language volume, called Harazim Shel Maya: Dieta Im Metukim (Maya’s Slimming Secrets: Diet with Sweets), promises that anyone who follows her advice over 10 weeks will lose some weight, even a lot.
Rosman, who appears frequently as a nutritional adviser on TV Channel 2’s 7.30 p.m. Tochnit Hisachon (Savings Plan) program, has an impressive resumé. The Rehovot resident has a bachelor’s degree from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in human nutrition, and is registered as a clinical dietitian; she earned a master’s degree in biochemistry and human nutrition from HU, with a focus in the effects of diet on osteoporosis; and earned a doctorate in molecular biology, genetics and nutrition with expertise in colon cancer and chronic inflammatory disease.
She is also a certified aerobic exercise counselor and coaching instructor for individuals and groups. She has a private weightloss clinic and also runs workshops for individual and small groups.
WHILE HER career path is quite standard, some of her opinions are unconventional. For example, there is nothing wrong, she says, with dieters eating three small portions of higher-calorie comfort foods daily if this frees them from the feeling that they are suffering and sacrificing. Pizza – although regarded by some dietitians as a fast food to be avoided along with hot dogs, felafel, hamburgers and chips, Rosman writes in her 200-page, NIS 95 volume (http://dietmaya.co.il) – should not be demonized.
In fact, pizza has the amount of carbohydrates, protein and fat recommended by the health authorities as being ideal and balanced, she explains.
A slice contributes lot of calcium (from the hard cheese), antioxidant lycopene (from the cooked tomato sauce) and complex carbohydrates (from the dough). Yellow cheese, which she favors, is relatively low in cholesterol. Making pizza from scratch at home is preferred to frozen pizzas warmed up, as what you make can include higher-quality ingredients. You can also make the dough thin to reduce calories and add a variety of nutritious vegetables, Rosman suggests. But avoid eating a lot of olives, because each one contains five or 10 calories. Just 10 contain the same amount of calories as a big apple or a “lite” bread sandwich.
The book is divided into 10 chapters, one for each week in her recommended diet. At the end of each chapter are two pages of grids to list every item you’ve eaten during seven periods of the day. You won’t eat seven full meals, but eating nutritious, low-calorie food frequently makes it unlikely you will suffer from hunger pangs, which trigger the consumption of undesirable foods.
“Every diet must include ‘soul food’ and be suited to the individual according to his daily schedule, with special treats chosen according to what the person likes. When you feel good, she insists, your behavior changes. You are in the mood to succeed.
ROSMAN’S APPROACH is to present a healthful diet as a lifelong habit, “fun” rather than punishment, an accompaniment to regular, enjoyable exercise and something that can be adapted even to Shabbat meals, attending weddings and other high-calorie eating events and going out to restaurants. When going to an event such as a wedding, Rosman advises deciding before your arrival that you will eat prudently only from the pre-event reception and not from the fullblown meal – or vice versa. Eating some lite bread an hour before leaving for the wedding will also give you the feeling of satiety and eliminate the feeling that you must eat all you can to justify the size of the wedding gift you deposited at the entrance.
But if you’ve “sinned” with a fattening dish, you should eat one of the book’s satisfying but low-calorie “replacement meals” instead. Such a meal consists of an unlimited amount of fresh vegetables (without fattening dressings), an egg, chicken breast or low-fat white cheese and plenty of lite breads.
Eating a heavy meal, she says, naturally causes the diner to want to top it with a sweet, fattening treat. She does not recommend much fruit, which can be very fattening due to the sugar content, or any fruit juices (which are even more packed with sugar). But plain water is always a good way to promote satiety and banish hunger pangs for a while, not to mention prevent dehydration.
The psychological boost of reaching your optimal weight, she says, is a big plus, because the “new you” earns a boost in self confidence and “learns to love himself.” Looking good can affect one’s whole personality and help achieve other life goals. All one needs to lose weight, according to Rosman, is “a little motivation and a positive approach along with patience.” That is what is needed to achieve your dream. “If you hit a crisis, you don’t abandon the diet or the difficulties. You cope with it,” says Rosman. For every problem created, one can find a way to return to the right path with a positive approach and renewed motivation.
The body is clever, the author suggests. When you diet, the tempo of your metabolism (how many calories your body burns daily according to the physical activity you carry out) changes. Body cells don’t know that we are eating less and are intentionally ‘starving’ ourselves to look better in fashionable clothes. For body cells, diets don't give them the necessary energy for their activity because they have nothing to “eat.” The body uses its energy from food more efficiently and will be able to expend fewer calories on the same amount of exertion.
Rosman recalls that when she was 15 years old, she gained two kilos and decided to follow a temporarily extreme diet to lose them fast. He friend recommended eating only dairy products and green vegetables. After a week, she had lost the two kilos, but her body “learned” to burn less energy – only 1,500 instead of her usual 2,000 daily. When she started to eat her normal diet containing 2,000 calories, she gained weight. The phenomenon is even more common and extreme among people who adopt restrictive diets lifelong. The more diets one attempts, Rosman notes, “weight reduction is slower and gaining weight is faster.”
Her advice is to use the first week for a balanced diet including all the nutrients, proteins, vitamins and minerals one needs. Healthful food in midmorning and mid-afternoon should be included, along with small amounts of almonds, pretzels, ices or even cookies or cake if you feel a hankering for a treat. A few squares of high-quality dark chocolate will improve moods and raise antioxidant levels.The maximum one could expect to lose is some three kilos a month – and not more, the clinical dietitian declares.
Before eating breakfast cereals, take a close look and prefer whole-grain brands with little or no sugar, as the sweetened, overprocessed kind mean a lot of empty calories.
Rosman is a strong advocate of lite bread, especially whole-grain, and does not insist on 1%- fat milk if it seems to you too watery, noting that 3%-fat milk doesn’t really add many calories. To those who think that eating one heavy meal instead of numerous small ones provides real satisfaction, she advises not doing so because the body naturally needs a certain amount of energy to function properly throughout the day.
She writes that in general, it’s easier for men to diet than for women, not because they have more self control but because they have more muscle tissue, which uses more energy than fat tissue, which women need for their reproductive capacity. In addition, women’s smaller fat cells usually accumulate on their hips, and are harder to “empty” with a diet than men’s larger fat cells on their abdomens.
The notion that you’ll lose weight if you eat nothing after 6 p.m. is not suited or healthful for all, says Rosman. And don’t eat snacks in front of the TV set, as without being aware of it, you may have gobbled up 1,000 calories’ worth.
When going out to a restaurant for lunch, chose a tuna or low-fat chicken-breast sandwich using fullgrain bread or one filled with avocado or Bulgarian cheese. She turns thumbs down on sandwiches containing vegetable spreads containing a lot of oil or mayonnaise and almost no protein (such as eggplant and mushrooms). As for sushi, it is considered dietetic by many fans, but in fact, as finger food that can be eaten in large amounts, it can be very fattening, especially if a lot of sugar is added.
The book is full of meal suggestions, calorie lists and recipes that include treats such as reduced-calorie apple pie and chocolate and coconut mousse. There are also special suggestions for coping with meals for Pessah, Independence Day and Lag Ba’Omer.
Rosman, who appears on the cover in a black bodysuit with a scale, measuring tape and food diary, has given Israelis plenty of material to chew on and digest.