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How To Feel Great In Your Body: Nutrition 101

Oct 24, 2022

We are excited to introduce you to Brigitte Zeitlin, MPH, RD, CDN! She is a celebrated women’s health coach & registered dietitian and Founder of BZ Nutrition. She has been featured in Vogue, Well+Good, Women’s Health, Us Weekly, Self & more. She is the “go-to” expert in personalized, effective, real-life nutrition. We met Brigitte during a BNI Networking Meeting! We had some questions for Brigitte about healthy eating, dieting, confidence and more. We hope you find her insights as helpful as we did!

A lot of your clients come to you during a transition (new baby, recently divorced, changing jobs, etc), what is something you recommend people keep in mind nutrition-wise during a major change?

Women go through so many transitions in life!  The first thing to always keep in mind – and what all healthful habits stem from – is practicing radical self-compassion. Life is in flux, things are going to feel uneasy or stressful – even when the change was something you wanted– it is still stressful and a shift in your routine. So, self-compassion goes a long way here and is an essential part of every self-care routine. 

Once you have a compassionate mindset, it is SO much easier to add in tangible tips and strategies that can help you feel your best. The first is to hydrate – aim to drink half your body weight in ounces of water – studies have shown that even a 1-3% loss of hydration can result in more irritability and mood swings, increased food cravings, and decreased ability to focus…all things that increase our stress levels. Then, focus on eating whole, fresh foods like veggies, fruit, whole grains, fish, and legumes – when in transition your body needs nutrient-dense foods loaded in the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that will boost mental cognition, keep your immune system strong, fight inflammation, and promote a healthy weight. 

What are some of your top tips for feeling confident & great in your body?

First, the way you talk to yourself and about your body is a BIG factor. It is hard to feel great in your body if you are always putting it down or focusing on what you want to “fix”. We all know language matters, and that includes our self-talk. 

Second, find a physical form of movement that you love – yoga, walking, spinning, HIIT, tennis, Pilates, anything! When you love the type of movement you’re doing, you feel sexier in your skin when doing it.  And that energy, plus those endorphins will carry through into the rest of your day. Plus you’re working toward a physical goal at the same time – it’s a win-win-win scenario. 

Third, prioritize SLEEP. Research has shown that sleep lowers anxiety, reduces stress, improves our mood, and quality sleep of 7+ hours a night can result in a 5–10 pound weight loss—without making any other changes! So quality sleep will help boost your mood, so you feel better and more confident in general, and it can help your body feel leaner in the process.

And, I would say to wear clothes that you feel comfortable in. Even if this means going up a size (or 3) for the time being. Trying to force yourself into clothes that don’t fit right now is a mental landmine that we do not need. Buy fresh, fun, comfortable clothes and you can get them altered or buy new ones when you need a smaller size. Alison can definitely help you here (more information on our styling services)! 

We love that your approach to weight loss isn’t about dieting & that you make figuring out what to eat as simple as possible. If someone wants to lose weight, what’s the best place to start?

Thank you, I appreciate that!! I often say that I do not teach my clients how to diet, I teach them how to live. Because being “on a diet” inherently means you will be “off the diet” too – and I want my clients to live lifestyles that feel good for the long-term. Because health is a long-term game.

When it comes to weight loss, I encourage people to eat more. More veggies, more fish, more legumes, more fruit, more whole grains, more quality fats (like avocado, olives, nuts, and seeds). Focus on more.  And a great simple tip to start with is to double up your daily intake of veggies. So if you have 1 cup at lunch and 1 cup at dinner – double it to 2 cups at each. Fresh or frozen veggies are great! Raw or cooked, your choice! But start with doubling your intake of them. 

Any favorite anti-inflammatory foods?

The spice rack is my secret weapon for all anti-inflammatory gems. I add turmeric to my salad dressings and sprinkle it on tip of every veggie roast – and add black pepper so that your body is able to absorb more of the benefits. Also, cinnamon is a great spice to fight inflammation. I add it to my teas and oatmeal.

The food sources that I recommend the most are blueberries, dark leafy greens, and sweet potatoes – the antioxidants and phytonutrients in all of these guys help to fight inflammation before it even starts and squash the inflammation that creeps up. Add them in to your daily and weekly routines! 

What should we eat to help ourselves de-stress?

The biggest factor for de-stressing is sleep. So, aim for quality sleep by putting the wine glass down at last 2 hours before going to bed, and finishing your dinner or dessert with at least 3 hours before bed most nights. Of course, there will be nights when that does not happen, just aim for those to be the outliers and not the constant.

Then foods highest in omega-3 fatty acids (like salmon, avocado, nuts and nut butter), B vitamins (like whole grains, and bananas) and magnesium (legumes and dark chocolate- a personal fave!) will help lower your stress hormone, cortisol, to ease the stress and anxiety. 

Any specific food we should eat to get that glow?

I love talking foods for our skin health! Two main things matter here, the first is hydration. Straight-up H20, drink unsweetened water – sparkling or flat is fine – just get in that hydration. It will keep your skin dewy and prevent dryness and flakiness.

Then focus on foods that are red. Foods are all different colors because of the various combinations of vitamins and minerals they have in them, and the nutrients that make red foods red are fabulous for skin health. So that means: strawberries, raspberries, tomatoes, red bell peppers, sweet potato, and salmon. 

How can we gain more energy via the foods we eat, but not overeat?

All food is energy, all food gives us energy – literally like gassing up the car. When a client tells me she is feeling low energy the first thing I want to look at is how much food she is eating and how frequently she is eating.  

Keeping your energy levels up is easiest by eating smaller meals more frequently throughout the day. I encourage clients to eat a meal or snack every 3-4 hours. This helps to keep the fuel tank full and running at full speed so you feel energized and alert all day. 

Of course, what you’re eating during those meals matters too – so aim for a produce like a fruit or veg with a good source of protein – this will give you the biggest energy bang for your buck, while also keeping you full and satiated for longer periods of time to prevent overeating.

What should brides keep in mind for their nutrition plan?

The main thing to remember if getting more in shape for your wedding is a goal, is that crash wedding diets are built to make you crash. Skip that stress and inevitable downfall and instead think about how you can best nourish yourself during an exciting, fun, stressful, and special time. Give yourself ample time to reach your wedding health goals of at least 3 months. And getting support from a registered dietitian or health coach is a great idea if you want some extra support, guidance, and motivation in the process.

Look for an approach to your goals that centers of Mediterranean diet. Heavy on veggies (fresh or frozen), fruit, legumes, fish/seafood, and quality fats. Make these foods the mainstay of your routine and aim to eat every 3-4 hours throughout the day. Do not skip meals! Skipping meals wreaks havoc on your hormones which in turn increases your stress, makes you moody, cranky, and irritable – the total bridezilla vibe that we want to avoid. 

We love the recipes on your website! What is an easy recipe you’re enjoying right now that you’d like to share?

Thank you! While I love to cook and do it frequently, I am no chef. For me, simple and easy is the name of my game. So right now, I am on a big stir-fry kick. It is so simple and tasty, and it helps me use up any veggies that are lying around.  

I always start with my protein usually lentils, edamame, or shrimp. Then I toss in the veggies I’m using and sauté with olive oil. Of course, I tap into my beloved spice rack – oregano, dried basil, turmeric, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, ginger…I mix and match some of these and it’s heaven.  

During the colder months I love a good Stracciatella soup or a white-bean vegetable soup (recipe coming to my site soon!)

Any nutrition myths you’d like to bust?

Honestly, TOOO many! I offer free masterclasses throughout the year where I dive into the latest and lamest of nutrition myths and why they backfire — I announce them through my newsletter and on my Instagram, and you are ALL welcome to join!!

One myth that I would love to call out here is that our bodies need to “detox” or “cleanse”. There is no science or research to indicate in any way that our bodies need to detox from eating whole foods. If you have healthy functioning kidneys, liver, and digestive tract – your body is already detoxing and cleansing on its own all day. Expensive juice need-not-apply.  

Any tips on how to keep our immune systems as healthy as possible as we continue to experience covid variants?

The biggest immune booster, whether it is covid, colds, or the change in-season-sniffles – is sleep.  Prioritizing your sleep is deeply critical for strong immunity. Aim for 7-8 hours a night. Switch to decaffeinated beverages from 2pm on, and put down the wine glass at least 2 hours before going to bed.

Another immune-booster is vitamin D, add in a vitamin D supplement into your daily routine. Vitamin D is crucial for every aspect of our health and well-being, but especially for combating chronic illnesses and strengthening our immune response. 

Will you tell us about how you work with your nutrition clients?

I would love to! As a dietitian for 10 years, I believe that being healthy does not have to be hard, it just has to be personalized. So I partner with my clients to create a lifestyle that feels nourishing, effective, and practical for their day-to-day. I take an all-foods-fit approach with all of my clients teach them how to blend enjoying the foods they love with taking radically nourishing care of themselves – no diets, no restrictions, no calorie counting. 

Through VIP 1-1 coaching and my group programs, I provide an abundance of support, expert guidance, and personalized strategies so that my clients receive the science behind what works in tangible, relatable tips. 

Where can we find you?

I would love to connect with the beautiful The Style That Binds Us community!! Follow me on Instagram @brigittezeitlinrd or via email brigitte@bznutritionny.com. And I offer of free nutrition tips and recipes on my website and newsletter and you can learn more about how to work with me there too: bznutritionny.com 

Alison + Delia

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