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NBC’s “Today” Nutrition and Health Guru Joy Bauer Shares Nutrition Tips

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Joy Bauer is a foodie, but not in the traditional sense. As the nutrition and health authority for NBC’s Today, Bauer shares practical and straightforward advice. She hosts Today’s Joy Fit Club series, which celebrates determined people who have lost more than 100 pounds through diet and exercise alone. Also, Bauer’s diet and weight-loss books have hit the New York Times Best Seller list. She lives in Westchester with her husband and their three teenagers.

What foods do Americans eat too much of? Soda, other sugary beverages, white starches, hot dogs…processed foods. It would be great if people started eating more whole foods and preparing their foods, as opposed to nuking it out of the box right from the freezer.

What types of foods do we eat too little of? Vegetables. If you can incorporate them into each and every meal—and I know that breakfast is a little bit trickier—you’re way ahead of the game.

What do you think of canned vegetables? Go for the frozen. Frozen are just as nutritious as fresh vegetables.

What foods are not as healthful as some people think they are? Swordfish and tuna, because of the mercury. Also, people tend to think that when a label says ‘organic,’ the food is automatically healthy. Organic white pasta and organic cookies still have sugar; sugar is sugar is sugar. Organic and gluten-free junk food is still just junk food.

What foods are bad to keep in the kitchen? It’s a personal thing. You have to identify your personal trigger foods—the foods that once you start eating, you can’t stop—and just get them out of your house.

How can people eat healthy foods when they’re dining out? Have a plan. Know where you’re going to go, and don’t set yourself up, because there are so many great places out there that really offer the right stuff. There’s even healthier fast food, like Chipotle Mexican Grill. Elevation Burger has veggie burgers. But if you just can’t control yourself when you’re out, then give yourself a limit as to how many times you eat out. Get what you want, and the rest of the time, try to prepare your meals at home.

How can you get your kids to also do that? My motto is, ‘Control what I can control, and lay off when they’re out on their own.’ It’s striking the fine balance between getting your kids to eat healthy without causing eating disorders or eating issues. I have to hope that my kids are smart enough to ask the server to swap the fries for vegetables, or to order a turkey burger instead of the beef burger, or to order a vegetable and thin crust on their pizza.

When cooking, what are some of your best substitute secrets? My oils are olive, canola, and grapeseed. And I use them in an oil mister, which helps you cover a lot of surface area on the pan without a lot of oil. I use nonfat Greek yogurt instead of sour cream in a lot of things, 2 percent reduced-fat cheese, and whipped butter. And I always use lean ground turkey in recipes that call for fatty ground chuck.
 

â–º For more from the 2013 Health and Fitness Supplement, click here