About Sonja
Thanks to Sonja Goedkoop for guest blogging.

Sonja Goedkoop, MSPH, RD, is a clinical dietitian at the Massachusetts General Hospital Weight Center. She has a passion for promoting a healthy lifestyle and reducing obesity through improved nutrition and physical activity. You can follow her on twitter @SonjaGoedkoopRD.

Giving the Gift of Flavor

I love giving food-related gifts during the holiday season. They are fun for everyone, from food connoisseurs to your friend whose idea of cooking is boiling water for pasta. I try to give gifts that are tasty, healthy and encourage the recipient to try something new. While everyone indulges a bit over the holidays, it’s great to help others prevent cancer through healthier food and fitness-related gifts.

One of my favorite ways to flavor and season vegetables is also turning into one of my favorite gifts to give. Working with individuals trying to lose weight, I often hear people talk about how much they dislike vegetables. Flavored balsamic vinegar and olive oil can change that.

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Why olive oil? It’s rich in antioxidants and heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, and including it in your diet can help lower your LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. However, since olive oil is also high in calories, highly flavorful oils – like lemon or walnut – can boost the taste of your food with small amounts. Continue reading


Thanksgiving Turkey – Porchetta style

The forecast for a chilly, November weekend got me excited to try out AICR’s new recipe for porchetta-style roasted turkey breast. I’ve never cooked a whole turkey, so starting with just the breast seemed more manageable than an entire bird. Since the turkey takes several hours to roast, I knew it would be the perfect way to warm my apartment and fill it with scents from two of my favorite herbs—rosemary and sage. These herbs are also packed full of cancer-protective flavonoids and phenolic acids.

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Porchetta is a traditional Italian roast pork dish that is stuffed with garlic, salt, rosemary, sage, fennel, and other herbs (such as coriander or red pepper flakes). The pork cut is generally high in fat (e.g. pork belly) with a crispy skin and very salty seasoning. I love that this recipe keeps all the flavorful spices found in traditional porchetta, but instead can be enjoyed with a lean turkey breast and less sodium. The skin still crisps up nicely and the broth keeps the turkey juicy.

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Lifestyle changes are hard: You make the difference

Working as a dietitian specializing in weight loss for the past two years, my patients consistently report similar challenges. Lifestyle changes are hard – going from daily take out/fast food to home-cooked meals, for example, requires a dramatic change in your daily routine. Suddenly you have to not only plan out a grocery list, but you might also have to develop cooking skills and allow extra time in your day for food preparation.

One major thing I’ve leTop View Of A Pair Of Shoes With Laces Making Heart Shape On Wooarned in helping people manage their weight is that anyone can make a lifestyle change, but the motivation and commitment comes from you.

Most people are aware that maintaining a healthy body weight leads to health benefits (from reducing risk of cancer, to diabetes, to increasing life span and improving quality of life). Your doctor, a friend, or a significant other may have put pressure on you to lose weight. However, at the end of the day, the one thing that really matters is your own desire and motivation to make that change.

I like to show my patients a model called the Stages of Change Transtheoretical Model, developed by a health psychologist at the University of Rhode Island and his colleagues. This model depicts 5 stages and can be a helpful tool for anyone interested in embarking in the life-long commitment that is necessary to lose and maintain weight loss. Here are the stages: Continue reading