Tips from Tyra Banks’s diet guru

Heather BauerBefore Tyra Banks discovered nutrition guru Heather Bauer, we did. We liked her practical approach to health, weight loss, and nutrition. I suspect that is why she was such a good match for no-nonsense Tyra, who freely admits that she likes to eat. 

Registered dietician Heather Bauer knows that a fast-paced high pressured career makes it hard to maintain a healthful diet and almost impossible to lose weight. She made her reputation with a high-profile clientele that includes bankers, lawyers, CEOs and creative people at the top of their game. They have drive and focus; all they’re missing is a strategy that works with deadlines, entertaining, and stress. If this sounds like you, my darling DolceDolce Type-A achievers, don’t miss this reprise of our exclusive interview. It’s full of Heather’s tips and her book, The Wall Street Diet, is a great read. She has a truly different and inspiring approach to weight loss and healthful eating.
DD: How did you come up with the Wall Street diet?
HB: This diet was created because most of my clients told me that they had tried and failed at any number of popular diets. They simply were too busy to follow any particular ‘plan’. So they’d start a diet and do well for a period of time, but then slip back into their regular ways. They needed something different and that’s what the Wall Street Diet is. It’s not a series of menus. Rather it’s a whole new approach. You figure out your Eating ID, you read through my basic list of recommended foods – The Template – and then you learn the strategies that work for your lifestyle. I wrote the book because the diet was so successful with so many of my clients that it seemed it would translate well for many people who don’t have time to fit another project – a diet – into their busy lives.
DD: Can someone really lose weight and eat a few favourite foods, or as you call them “non-negotiable” foods?
HB: Yes. Absolutely. It’s all about making good choices and making decisions in advance. The extra ‘non-negotiables’ that people really can’t live without – like a couple of Hershey kisses, some cream in your coffee, or an extra glass of wine – they’re fine as long as you pay attention to what you’re doing. It’s all about the bigger picture. You can lose weight if you pay attention. If you’re consistently making healthy choices, you will lose weight. Now you can’t make a pint of ice cream or a daily bag of chips a non-negotiable. But a bit of extra alcohol or a reasonable dessert – that’s okay. You just have to make it fit into an overall healthy picture and not let it encourage you to slip into a ‘might as well’ day where you let a single treat begin an avalanche of bad eating decisions. I’m very clear in the book about how you can enjoy ‘non-negotiables’ and still reach your goals. It’s not hard; it just takes a little attention.
DD: Is it possible to diet, lose weight, and still have a cocktail or glass of wine?
HB: Absolutely. Again, that’s figuring in your non-negotiables. One glass is always free. If it’s a cocktail, it can’t be a Mojito or a Cosmopolitan which are too caloric and too tasty! You have to make a good choice – a choice you can enjoy but limit. For example, many clients have told me that they can’t stop with one glass of wine. For them, a vodka and soda would be a better choice because they can sip it for a long time but they’re not tempted to order two more. (Also, a waiter in a restaurant won’t automatically re-fill a mixed drink as he might a glass of wine.) The point is, it’s never that one drink that makes you gain weight. It’s the two or three drinks that encourage you to make bad food choices. It’s not the alcohol calories that count: it’s the loss of inhibition that allows you to chow down on wings and fries that night and then the next day feel so badly that you continue with the binge. It’s never just about the calories; it’s about the kind of calories and how you feel. That’s why I think that diets that rely just on calories are tough to stick with, and effective strategies are what it’s all about. 
DD: How much of successful weight loss is habit?  
HB : Most of successful weight loss is habit. Creating a plan or a system that works for you every single day. That’s why I promote what I call “phase eating”. Being a Phase Eater means that you rely on certain food choices day after day. You might have the same simple breakfast – say, yogurt with fresh fruit – every day for weeks. Your lunch could be salad with protein. And then one of two or three frozen dinners that you keep on hand. When you’re super-busy, having automatic meal choices makes your life easier. Eating well becomes second nature and the pounds disappear. It may feel odd in the beginning but most of my clients tell me that “Phase Eating” works very well for them.
DD: What are some of the classic ways your clients sabotage their weight loss?
HB: Two big issues for most people are The Slip, where they eat a meal that’s not healthy, and then their day becomes a “might as well” day. This often happens if they’re at a meeting, for example, and there’s nothing to eat but bagels, muffins and scones. Or if they’re at a dinner party and they overindulge. Then they feel that their bad choice has ruined their day and they ‘might as well’ eat anything in sight. They write the day off and tell themselves they’ll start tomorrow. This is why I’ve included recovery tips in the book, such as Protein Days and other specific ways for people to recover from a bad choice.
Another common issue is weekend eating. Many of my clients have told me that they used to do well all week, but when the weekend came, it was no holds barred! It’s obvious that your eating opportunities are going to differ weekdays to weekends. That’s why the Wall Street Diet devotes a chapter to weekend eating and how to manage the challenges that weekends pose, such as making breakfast for the kids or how to get through a fast food restaurant with the kids after soccer practice, or how to order when you’re having brunch with friends. I even have a no-brainer snack plan for a rainy Sunday.
When people have strategies to help them cope with the weak points in their diet lives – and it’s amazing how many of us share the same weaknesses – it really makes a difference.
DD: How important is exercise to weight loss? How can someone still manage to work out when they are super busy and exhausted?
HB: Exercise is a tough issue for many people. I am an avid exerciser so it’s automatic for me, but many of my clients have used their inability to exercise – no time! – as a reason to avoid any effort to lose weight and get healthy. This really is a mistake. In the end, eating well should be your priority. If you can’t find time to exercise now, don’t worry about it. You can find time to eat well. Weight loss is largely the result of diet. Exercise is important for the body – the heart, stress relief, etc. – but if you start with the right foods, exercise will follow. I can almost guarantee that once you lose five or 10 pounds, you’ll be eager to exercise. I’ve seen it happen time and again with my clients. So start with the Plan, the Strategies and the healthy eating. Don’t let exercise aversion stop you from losing weight!
DD: Do you have just a few quick tips for anyone who feels totally depressed and overwhelmed by their weight and inability to diet and exercise?
HB: Start right now, at your next meal. Don’t be overwhelmed by what you think you have ahead of you – the time it might take to lose weight or the problems you’ve had losing in the past. Start with one simple goal: cut out the Dry Carbs – the white refined starches and sugars. Eliminate them completely. Choose a couple of healthy breakfasts you’ll enjoy. If you’re a Controlled Eater, pick a snack that will get you through the afternoon and maybe an evening snack. Get yourself a few frozen dinners and make today the first day of your Wall Street Diet.
Buy yourself a new pair of shoes. You’ll feel great, and feeling great is an important part of successful weight management. Remember that everyone these days is stressed and overcommitted. But good health and losing weight is about time management as much as anything else. There are lots of things in your life that you can’t change and that you have to juggle but you can always choose what you eat.
DD: Can someone who flies a lot and entertains for business really stay on a weight loss program and not feel totally deprived?
HB: Absolutely. Again, they just need to know the strategies that work. My blanket suggestion for business travel is to make it a spa trip. Change the way you look at it. Take advantage of the wake-up call to get to the gym or exercise in your room. Order a healthy breakfast. Without the responsibilities of home and family, you have some time to devote to yourself, so take advantage of it. Of course I also have lots of specific strategies on how to cope with the mini-bar in the room and how to get a great breakfast running through the airport at 5 a.m. Remember, losing weight is not about willpower; it’s about strategies.   
Strategies are especially important if you have to do a lot of business entertaining. Many clients have told me that they never had trouble with their weight until they had to eat out all the time. At first, it’s “Wow! Free food!” But 20 pounds later, it’s less about the food and more about how to navigate the situation so you can reach and stick with your goals. So you need to learn how to be a Stealth Diner and hide your goals from business associates (no editing the menu, which many people find so annoying.) You need to learn how to master the menu and choose the best, healthiest options. You also need to make decisions in advance – this is very important – about how you’re going to handle alcohol, the bread basket and dessert – the three diet challenges we all face. Once you’ve developed strategies to cope with these issues, you’re on your way to successful weight loss.
For more tips check out Heather’s website