EXCLUSIVE: Joy Bauer Shares Her Best Nutrition Tips and Tricks

By , SparkPeople Blogger
If you've turned on the Today show or perused the New York Times Best Sellers list in the last few years, you probably know who Joy Bauer is. Bauer, a registered dietitian with a master's in nutrition from New York University is the author of Food Cures and Joy's LIFE Diet. She also hosts Today's popular weekly series called the “Joy Fit Club,” which celebrates determined people who have lost and kept off 100 pounds or more through diet and exercise alone.

Now she has a new book coming out on Dec. 29: Your Inner Skinny (Your Inner Skinny was previously published as Joy’s LIFE Diet.

I recently got the opportunity to connect with Joy, and she offered to answer some questions from you--and our readers.

Stepfanie: How do you maintain your own fit physique when you have such a busy schedule?

Joy Bauer: I’m a huge multi-tasker! And being that exercise is a top priority for me, I find ways to combine my workout with other things on my to-do list. Most days of the week, I hop on the treadmill for at least an hour, and I read new nutrition research articles or take conference calls while I walk (I’m also capable of Blackberry’ing through an entire workout!) . I’ll squeeze in an exercise session whenever I can—in the afternoons if I’m at the Today show studio in the early morning, or right after the kids leave for school if I’m not on air that day. If the weather is nice and I have the extra time, I take my workout outdoors to enjoy some fresh air. Aside from my daily walk, I make sure to do 20 minutes of strength training three times each week.

Stepfanie: Do you have any tips for people whose weight-loss efforts are thrown off course by travel?

Joy Bauer: As I always tell my road warrior clients, it’s not where you eat, it’s what you eat. Thankfully, you can find low-cal, healthy meals around the country, across the ocean, in the airport…just about anywhere your travels take you—you just have to learn how to make smart choices from menus. Some diet-friendly standbys you can find at most restaurants include: egg white omelet or oatmeal with fruit for breakfast; whole wheat turkey sandwich (hold the mayo and cheese) or bowl of minestrone or lentil soup for lunch; and grilled/roasted/broiled fish, chicken, or lean beef with veggies and a plain baked potato for dinner. I also advise frequent flyers to pre-plan and pack some portable, low-cal emergency snacks.

Stepfanie: What sets Your Inner Skinny apart from other books?

Joy Bauer: Unlike some of the more extreme weight loss plans out there, Your Inner Skinny is an incredibly practical diet plan. It’s completely doable AND it delivers remarkable results. My number one goal was to create an effective plan that people with busy lives could easily adopt and make a permanent part of their lifestyle. My book includes tons of simple meal ideas that require very little time and only the most basic of cooking skills (scrumptious meals like chicken parmesan, turkey sausage with peppers and onions, mini meatloaves, omelets, burgers and more!). I also include delicious, low-calorie options that can be ordered at any restaurant, for people who dine out regularly.

The exercise portion is also 100% realistic; it’s as simple as walking for 30-60 minutes per day (plus some simple stretches and light strength training added in at later steps). You don’t need special equipment, loads of cash, or a gym membership, and you don’t need to be extremely fit.

Stepfanie: What is the No. 1 bad habit people have when it comes to negative eating patterns?

Joy Bauer: Soooo many people struggle with overeating late at night. It’s a time of day when we’re primed to make unhealthy choices; we finally have time to unwind from a long, structured, stressful day, and we turn to food as a form of comfort or a way to let loose. And when we talk about comfort foods, we’re talking about unhealthy, high-cal junk like cookies, candy, chips, and ice cream, typically in large portions. My advice is to pre-plan one small, portion-controlled PM snack (no more than 150 calories), then shut off the lights and close the kitchen for good!

Another nutrition no-no is drinking your calories, in the form of soda, fruit drinks, smoothies, and sugary coffee concoctions. Most drinks are pure refined sugar, which spikes your blood sugar and leaves you feeling irritable, moody, and sluggish. Plus, liquid calories don’t fill you up the same way solid food does. Skip the sugary stuff and drink plain ol’ water, naturally flavored seltzer, coffee, or tea instead (these are the preferred beverages in my Your Inner Skinny plan).

Stepfanie: Can you give an example of an easy swap people can make at snack time to help them boost their nutrition?

Joy Bauer: Instead of chips, chocolate, cookies, or candy, grab one of the following smart, energy-boosting snacks. Each provides the perfect combo of high quality carbs and protein to keep you feeling full and satisfied ‘til you next meal rolls around. And, because they’re all less than 150 calories, they won’t sabotage your weight loss efforts.
  • 6 ounces nonfat yogurt with 2 tablespoons chopped nuts
  • One apple spread with 2 teaspoons peanut butter
  • ½ cup cottage cheese topped with 3/4 cup fresh berries (or half banana)
  • 1 ounce reduced-fat cheese + 1 mini whole wheat pita (or rice cake)
  • 1 orange + 15 pistachio nuts

Stepfanie: Is a typical multivitamin enough for most people? Do seniors need anything extra from a multivitamin?

Joy Bauer: When it comes to healthy adults, I personally feel that a multivitamin is important for filling any nutritional gaps in your diet. In fact, I take a daily multi myself. Try to find a brand with at least 800 IUs of Vitamin D, and all men--and women who are no longer menstruating--should look for brands formulated without any iron.

Beyond a multi, depending on their diet, some women may benefit from a calcium supplement with added Vitamin D. And, because we are now aware of the many wondrous health benefits of omega-3 fats, if you don’t regularly eat fish, you should consider taking a fish oil supplement (speak with your doctor first). For seniors, my supplement recommendations are condition-specific. So it's impossible for me to advise this population at large, without knowing individuals’ personal health histories. Sorry!

Stepfanie: Which do you recommend for cooking and baking: butter or margarine? Why?

Joy Bauer: This is a tough one! Here’s why; butter is higher in saturated fat than margarine, and when eaten in excess, saturated fats increase “bad” (LDL) cholesterol, which can increase the risk of heart disease. The problem with margarine– specifically stick margarine—is that most brands contain partially hydrogenated oils, a major source of trans fat. Like saturated fats, trans fats increase “bad” (LDL) cholesterol, plus they lower the “healthy” (HDL) cholesterol. Double whammy!

With that in mind, your best bet is a soft-tub margarine spread that contains 0 grams trans fat and does not include any “partially hydrogenated oils” in the ingredients list. These spreads act a little differently than butter when you bake with them, so you may have to tweak your recipe a bit if you make this swap. On the other hand, if baked goods are an infrequent splurge, and you think the butter is critical to the taste or texture of the recipe—or the amount of butter per serving is minimal—then I personally think it’s okay to use a little butter once and awhile. Another tip: search for dessert recipes that use heart-healthy canola oil instead of margarine or butter as their fat source.

Stepfanie: Do you have any tips to get teenagers to eat more vegetables (and a better diet in general)?

Joy Bauer: Here’s a trick I use in my house: I put out a bowl of vegetables (sliced cucumbers, baby carrots, micro-steamed green beans, anything goes) on the kitchen table before dinner, when my kids are hungry and willing to eat just about anything. They never fail to polish off the entire bowl…honestly! I’ve shared this tip with friends and clients with teens and they see the same positive results.

Also, when you’re trying to “sell” your kids on veggies, speak their own language. In other words, figure out what interests your kids most and then work it to your advantage. If your daughter is a fashionista, explain to her that the vitamins in colorful produce help make her skin radiant and her hair thick and shiny. If your son is an athlete, describe how the nutrients in veggies keep his body energized and make him stronger and faster on the soccer field.

Finally, get creative with your presentation. Rather than serving plain raw or steamed veggies, try pairing them with a tasty dip, dressing, sauce, or seasoning blend.

Stepfanie: What is your favorite healthy snack?

Joy Bauer: I’m a self-diagnosed nut-aholic! I especially love almonds and pistachios. I like developing my own seasoning blends to jazz up plain almonds (you know, like the flavored kinds you can buy in cans in the grocery store)—my favorites are dark cocoa, chipotle, and cinnamon sugar. I also love to munch on pistachio nuts. I buy them unshelled, because the shells slow me down a bit as I snack.

Stepfanie: Do you have any tips on quelling a sweet tooth with nutritious food?

Joy Bauer: Frozen purple grapes, a fabulous cup of flavored tea, a mug of low-fat hot cocoa….or my favorite sweet treat, a simple recipe I call Vanilla-Pumpkin Pudding. I combine a 6-ounce container of non-fat vanilla pudding with 1/2 cup canned 100% pure pumpkin puree and a good dash of cinnamon—it’s pure indulgence for under 150 calories!

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer our questions, Joy!

Are you a fan of Joy Bauer? What do you think about her slim-down tips?

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Too bad she's on the air in mornings which is when I'm at work. So, I very rarely get to see her. But, I really enjoyed this blog. Great information! Report
No, I'm not a fan. Report
I have Joy's other book and it's great. It works. Report
Has Joy ever had a weight problem herself? Report
I have the eating too much in the evening problem.... I have been trying to be sure to measure out a snack as suggested in the article and find it effective.
Sam Report
Wow, some great tips here! I especially love the vegetable bowl idea and the pumpkin pudding snack. I will be stealing both of those! :-) Report
I really like the comments she gave and that pudding really does sound good. I'm new to this but I will try anything once. Report
Thanks for sharing. I think I will check out her book. The pudding sounds yummy! Report
Joy seems very down to earth. Her ideas are easy to adapt to. I think she's great!!! Report
Joy has a fresh and sane approach to good health. I greatly admire her ability to help people lose weight without resorting to surgery. Report
I like the pumpkin idea! Will look for the book. Thanks for sharing the information. Report
Will try and see if her book is available at the library. Report
Great tips for everyone! Will request her book from the library! Report
I don't watch TV, so I've never heard of her, but sounds like she and SP are more or less on the same page. I do have to disagree w/ the butter vs. margarine part - I believe butter, in moderation, is better for you than margarine if the latter is made w/ transfats. And having been a chef, I would NEVER use margarine for any purpose in my kitchen - butter's flavor and mouth feel is infinitely more palatable. Report
Thanks for sharing Report
Thanks Report
Another pumpkin idea -- Get the diet instant pudding mix - cheesecake flavor - and use one cup skim milk and one cup of pumpkin to mix it up. Add a bit of pumpkin pie spice to flavor it. YUM ! ! ! Report
That is some great information. I am going to have try some of these ideas. Report
I had not heard about her until now. Thanks for the blog. Report
I really wasn't very familiar with her before, but I'm a die-hard fan now! She combines the perfect mix of creativity and practicality in her approach. Hers is another book for my burgeoning arsenal :) Report
excellent tips. especially teen part.
i must eat pistachios with shells. if they didn't slow me down, i'd eat a pound of kernels.
britomart, she said 2 tspn p.b., not 2 TBLS. Report
I can't wait to read Joy's book! I love watching her segments and her tips in this article sound fantastic! Report
Joy Bauer is a great motivator she is so good at what she does and has very good , exercise tips love her so much I could lose weight with good information
like that. love to see her on the Today cause I know she will have very good eating tips as well as exercise tips .she is great at what she does . Report
Vanilla Pumpkin Pudding...sounds WONDERFUL and will be using this one! Report
I'm saving this one to be able to refresh her slim-down tips.TY Report
I think she is great and her exercised tips are just fine, easy steps one can follow easily! Report
Thanks for the great information. I will try some of them. Report
Thanks Great info!! Report
I directly asked my doctor about taking calcium supplements. He said that the current research shows that there are far more benefits from the Vitamin D alone and that the calcium isn't contributing much. He had me on 2000 IU of Vitamin D already as a preventative for female cancers. Report
Some really good info. The pumpkin puree dessert sounds great; and I might even be able to get my husband to try it! Great blog! Report
I enjoyed her comments and I'm going to try out that vanilla-pumpkin recipe. Report
Thanks for the information...it really helps. Report
Great suggestions from a lady with a common sense down to earth approach to health and fitness. Thanks for the great interview! Report
The pudding sounds wonderful. The tips are great. I am going to have to purchase this book. I need all the help I can get :) Report
I love the ideas she shared. I definitely will give a try especially the "sweet tooth" substitutes. Report
Great Ideas! I enjoyed the information! Report
Honestly, I'm not familiar with Joy, but I have to say, I have a problem with the title of the book. Why are we worried about " Skinny"? Skinny isn't a resonable goal for any of us. Especially for those of us over about 40. If we've been overweight, skinny looks awful. The skin just doesn't catch up. How about "Inner Fit"? Report
yeah she had really good tips and tricks that i never would have thought of. i liked the column Report
i really enjoyed everything about reading this blog. I am going to look for the book. I too like the vanilla / pumpkin idea. Report
Honestly never heard of her before this. That's what I love about SP - it introduces me to so many new resources for healthy living. I'm thinking of going back to school for a degree in nutrition and this interview fired me up again to really pursue that course in my life. I will definitely like to read more about and from Joy Bauer - she doesn't seem to be a wild food nazi (as I call those who are out on the edge) but presents a balanced view of nutrition and the real world. The Vanilla Pumpkin Pudding sounds so delish Report
Lots of great suggestions!
I like her idea about having the veggie platter conveniently on the table, just before dinner.
Also, I like the way she would get the kids to eat their veggies, to enhance either their speed
on the field,or their beauty. Report
Lots of great suggestions!
I like her idea about having the veggie platter conveniently on the table, just before dinner.
Also, I like the way she would get the kids to eat their veggies, to enhance either their speed
on the field,or their beauty. Report
Lots of great suggestions!
I like her idea about having the veggie platter conveniently on the table, just before dinner.
Also, I like the way she would get the kids to eat their veggies, to enhance either their speed
on the field,or their beauty. Report
Lots of great suggestions!
I like her idea about having the veggie platter conveniently on the table, just before dinner.
Also, I like the way she would get the kids to eat their veggies, to enhance either their speed
on the field,or their beauty. Report
Lots of great suggestions!
I like her idea about having the veggie platter conveniently on the table, just before dinner.
Also, I like the way she would get the kids to eat their veggies, to enhance either their speed
on the field,or their beauty. Report
I really knew nothing about Joy - I don't watch t.v. much - mother of 3. But I really appreciated her tips on getting kids to eat more vegetables. I will actually use them. Thanks. Report
Reread the recipe, luv. She didn't say 2 Tablespoons. She said 2 teaspoons...far less than the average person would use. Report
Great ideas, but her math's a bit off--I don't know any 'normal' peanut butter that would be under 200 cal/2 Tb, let alone under 150 WITH an apple. Maybe that's her cheat? Anyway, good ideas, intelligent approach.

And she is so right about pumpkin in vanilla yogurt--I have done that for years--high in fiber, tastier than anything--and a serving of veggies! Report