Dining in with Tanya Zuckerbrot
If you’re a foodie who likes to blend hearty and healthy, you’ve likely come across Tanya Zuckerbrot on your Instagram feed. Known for her fabulous “F-Factor” diet program, Tanya is a registered dietitian who is changing what it means to “watch what you eat.” We were lucky enough to speak to her recently about staying healthy during challenging times, and her take on the connection between music and food.
How did you find your passion for nutrition and starting the F-Factor program?
When I went to college, I gained the “freshman 15,” and it was the first time I realized that the foods I ate not only impacted my weight but the way I felt. It inspired me to learn about the connection between food and health. I applied to the food and nutrition program at NYU, learned that I loved the science and went on to become a Registered Dietitian and pursue my Master’s Degree in Food and Nutrition studies.
After graduating from NYU with a clinical degree in nutrition, I went into private practice to improve people’s health through nutrition intervention. I worked with diabetic and cardiovascular patients, and I prescribed them high-fiber diets for fiber’s clinical benefits. Following my program, these patients saw improvements in their health, and there was also an unexpected but much-welcomed byproduct: weight loss without hunger. Across the board, all these patients were losing weight while still dining out and enjoying their lives. I realized then I was onto something, but it was something deeper than weight loss—the impact it has on their health and well-being. When people lose weight, their quality of life improves; they are not only getting healthier but feel better about themselves and report feeling more productive, and more confident too. It’s because of that that I am so passionate about what I do.
As we continue to grapple with the Coronavirus crisis, what tips do you have for staying healthy even during a pandemic?
Use this time to honor your intentions to be your best.
- Focus on gratitude — Rather than focusing on what you don’t have, focus on what you do have. When you focus on what you’re grateful for, you become happier naturally. I recommend writing down 3 things you’re grateful for every morning to start your day off on a positive note.
- Aim for 35g of fiber or more per day — Focusing on high-fiber foods will keep you feeling full on few calories. Fiber is the zero-calorie, non-digestible part of a carbohydrate that adds bulk to food. It boosts metabolism and supports gut health. High-fiber foods are packed with antioxidants and nutrients.
- Pair fiber with protein — Fiber and protein at every meal makes losing weight no big deal. Clinical evidence shows that fiber and protein have a high satiety benefit in calorie-controlled diets and in weight reduction. The combination of the two nutrients keeps you feeling full, for the longest period of time, on the fewest calories.
- Stay hydrated — Aim for 3 liters of water per day to stay properly hydrated. Not only is water involved in nearly every bodily function, but the symptoms of dehydration and can mimic those of hunger — and that can lead to unnecessary snacking and eating. Staying hydrated is also great for digestion, and plump, beautiful skin.
- Get plenty of sleep — The amount and quality of your sleep affect the hormones (leptin and ghrelin) that control feelings of hunger and fullness — and as little as one night tossing and turning is enough to throw them out of whack. Aim for 8 hours of quality sleep to help prevent you from overeating the next day.
- Cook — Prepare healthy nutrient-dense meals. It’s no secret that preparing meals yourself can be much healthier than takeout/ delivery; when you’re cooking for yourself you are in complete control over what goes into your meals. Cooking is also a form of self-care. It can help to ease anxieties; many people find it meditative. Use this time to nourish your body with healthy, delicious recipes.
You’re involved in many food-related causes. What can people do to help others during this time?
Whether it be time, money, energy, or services, we all have resources we can give to help others that are less fortunate during this time. At F-Factor, for example, we have donated over 250,000 F-Factor FIBER/PROTEIN bars to hospitals, essential workers, food banks, and those in need to help battle food insecurity and keep those working long hours energized and satiated. Some people have the financial means to donate, and there are many amazing organizations out there working to help those facing food insecurity. For others, their resources are their time, and they can volunteer to deliver food, or help a neighbor out by doing an errand for them.
I’ve always lived by the saying, “When you take care of the needs of others, G-d will take care of your needs.” Keep your eyes open for opportunities in which you can give a helping hand. These are unprecedented times, and even the smallest acts of kindness can make a difference.
You’re also a supporter of the Israel Philharmonic. What inspired you to be a part of our work?
A friend invited me to see an ensemble of the musicians from the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra last fall and it was such a special evening. I’ve always been a proud Zionist and want to celebrate Israel’s creative spirit and talent.
Do you have favorite music to listen to while you cook, or a favorite track for a dining experience?
Yes, my favorite music to listen to when cooking is Andrea Bocelli. I’ve had the privilege of seeing him perform many times in person and find his voice unlike any other.
Read more about inspiring American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra supporters!
- Kfir Gavrieli, a member of our National Board of Directors and CEO of women’s shoe brand, Tieks
- Stephanie Yoshida, AFIPO’s 2019 New York YPC Gala Chair, in-house counsel at private equity firm Landmark Partners
- Abigail Stern, fashion designer and owner of technical performance intimates / apparel company Matek