Interviews / August 16, 2012

Tanya Zuckerbrot, MS, RD

By Charles Platkin, PhD

Tanya completed her Master’s degree in Nutrition and Food Studies, graduating with honors from New York University and completing a Dietetic residency at NYU Hospital. She is an accredited member of the American Dietetic Association and the Greater New York Dietetic Association. She is also a member of Nutrition Entrepenuers, Dietitians in Business and Communications, and Weight Management Dietetic Practice Groups. In 1997, she received the Julia Child Award for Healthy Cooking from New York University’s Department of Nutrition and Food Studies.

Tanya has appeared on The View, The Today Show, The Early Show, The Rachael Ray Show, MSNBC, ABC News, Good Morning America Health, CBS Evening News, The O’Reilly Factor, Extra, Good Day New York, and in many other local and national media platforms.

Diet Detective: Is there anything about yourself that you’ve changed your mind about in the last 20 years?

Tanya: Yes, When I first graduated from college I thought I was going to pursue a career in the culinary arts. I wanted to apply to the Culinary Institute of America and become a chef. I worked in a restaurant for one summer and realized working in a kitchen, on your feet, was a lot harder and less glamorous than I had thought. The hours were brutal. I knew that I had a passion for food and wanted to do something with it so I applied to get my Masters in Nutrition and Food Studies at NYU. The rest is history.

Diet Detective: What’s the most bodacious chance you’ve ever taken?

Tanya: After graduating from NYU, instead of getting a paying job, I decided to take my life savings and open a healthy cooking company called Tanya’s Tastees. I made fat-free baked goods and distributed them all over the tri-state area. Sadly, after a few years, I realized that I had grown very far from counseling patients and was basically running a healthy cookies company. I shut the company down and returned to my roots as an RD.

Diet Detective: If you could eat one forbidden food whenever you wanted without gaining weight, what would it be?

Tanya: Lasagna.

Diet Detective: What dessert do you dream about?

Tanya: I love Warm Apple crisp (warm apples topped with that crispy, crunchy, buttery oatmeal topping).

Diet Detective: If there were one healthy food item (something you love) that you had to eat every day, what would it be?

Tanya: Fiber One cereal, hands down. I start every day and take it with me when I travel. Eating Fiber One for breakfast keeps me full all morning and sets the tone for healthy eating all day. I recommend it to all my patients too.

Diet Detective: What do you think is the most important thing that makes or breaks a diet for someone?

Tanya: A person must enjoy the foods they are allowed to eat on the diet. If they don’t, they will constantly feel in a state of deprivation and denial. These negative feelings will eventually cause the individual to go off the diet, making most diets a temporary solution to a permanent problem (weight gain). On the other hand, if you are enjoying the taste of healthy foods and have variety in your diet, you are more likely to stay on a program and embrace it as a lifestyle.

Diet Detective: What physical activity do you do to keep yourself in shape?

Tanya: I run (and outside, when the weather permits). Running is one of the best exercises for burning calories. I also use this time to think about things and clear my head. In addition, I do some light weight training and yoga.

Diet Detective: Do you have a Calorie Bargain?

Tanya: I love peanut butter. If I sit down with a jar and a spoon, I can polish almost half of it off. The trick for me was to switch from regular peanut butter to natural peanut butter with no sugar added. The taste isn’t quite as smooth or sweet as other brands, so I tend to eat less. I also don’t allow myself to eat it straight from the container. I take two tablespoons and put it on a plate and use just that for dipping apple slices or spreading on fiber crackers. When the peanut butter is gone, I am done with my snack. That has saved me at least a few hundred calories (I could easily eat four-five tablespoons of regular peanut butter from the jar, at 100 calories per tablespoon — scary!).

Another one of my calories bargain is egg whites. I love eggs. By using just the egg whites, I save approximately 45 calories for each egg and 7g of fat. For a four egg omelet, that’s close to a savings of 200 calories and 28g of fat. To make my eggs taste even better and more filling, I add lots of veggies (I buy them frozen so I always have a bag on hand to use) and low-fat cheese. Yum!

Diet Detective: How did the F-Factor Diet Begin?

Tanya: Over 10 years of practice as a registered dietitian, I have observed firsthand the feelings of deprivation, guilt, and low self-esteem experienced by my patients on other diets. “The F-Factor Diet” is a new way of looking at food. Instead of focusing on cutting out foods like protein or carbohydrates, it focuses on adding the right kinds of foods, such as high fiber foods.

Diet Detective: Why Fiber?

Tanya: Fiber is the secret weapon for healthy weight loss. It fills you up without filling you out. “The F-Factor Diet” is more than just adding fiber — you must eat protein too! As I like to say, “Fiber and protein at every meal, makes losing weight no big deal.”

Diet Detective: The American Dietician Association recommends 20-25 grams of fiber per day. In The F-Factor, you recommend eating 30 – 35 grams of fiber daily. We know people fall short — is it realistic to think people will be able to increase their intake so much?

Tanya: There are so many foods that are already rich in fiber such as fruits, vegetables, certain breads and pastas and legumes.

Diet Detective: Doesn’t fiber taste terrible?

Tanya: No, the truth is fiber can taste great and is found in many delicious foods, including fresh fruit, crunchy vegetables, nuts, cereals, breads, pasta and legumes. And, there are products available, such as Fibersure, which can be added to most foods and beverages to increase their fiber content without altering their taste or texture. In fact, just one heaping teaspoon adds five grams of fiber.

Diet Detective: What are the health benefits of Fiber?

Tanya: The benefits are numerous. It protects against heart disease, decreases the risk for diabetes, decreases the risk for breast cancer, reduces blood pressure, protects against colon cancer, alleviates constipation and much more.

Diet Detective: Why is the F-Factor Diet Different?

Tanya: “The F-Factor Diet” is different in many ways. First of all, it is created by a registered dietician, unlike other diets created by successful cardiologists. It is based on a nutritionist’s unique understanding of anatomy and physiology. Also, many diets on the market promise a fast and easy path to weight loss by focusing on reducing portion sizes or restricting food choices. Unfortunately, this often leaves dieters hungry or unsatisfied. The “F Factor Diet” is different because it focuses on adding foods that are rich in fiber to help you lose weight. It’s an easy to use, flexible plan that offers many realistic choices and allows people to enjoy many of their favorite foods.

Diet Detective: How does the F-Factor Diet Work?

Tanya: Fiber is the “silver bullet” — it has an incredible ability to help with weight loss. The diet has 3 stages that are easy to follow and stick to:

  • Step 1: Jump Start Weight Loss. 3 servings of high-fiber carbohydrates and expect to lose between 4-6 pounds (2 weeks)
  • Step 2: Continue Weight Loss. Add 2 more servings of high-fiber carbohydrates and expect to lose 2 pounds every week on step 2
  • Step 3: Maintain your desired weight. Once you have reached your desired weight, you enter maintenance phase where you will be eating a total of 9 servings of high-fiber carbohydrates each day, for the rest of your life.

Diet Detective: Who is your target audience for this diet?

Tanya: The “F-Factor Diet” is intended for anyone interested in losing weight in a safe, natural and healthy way. Whether you are constantly on the go or have time to prepare your favorite recipes every day at home, the “F Factor Diet” provides the information and help needed to create a healthy lifestyle.

Diet Detective: Can you eat out on the plan?

Tanya: Of course! Dining out doesn’t have to sabotage a healthy lifestyle. In fact, the “F-Factor Diet” was initially designed to suit the hectic lives of many of my Manhattan clients, with little time for home-cooked meals. The book has an entire chapter dedicated to tips for dining out and ordering in!

Diet Detective: Will people be hungry on this diet?

Tanya: No. In fact, this diet is designed to help people feel full longer, which will help them avoid hunger pangs associated with dieting and achieve weight loss. One of the great benefits of fiber is it fills you up before it fills you out. And, fiber-rich foods have a low caloric density, which means you can eat a lot of them for a small amount of calories.

Diet Detective: Can you drink alcohol on the plan?

Tanya: Yes, except for the first 2 weeks. After that you can drink in moderation, meaning no more than 1 drink per day. Most people enjoy a glass of wine with dinner or a drink at social occasions. I kept this in mind when creating the “F-Factor Diet.”

Diet Detective: What about dessert? Am I allowed to “cheat” at all on this plan?

Tanya: Most processed sweets — the ones that give you the biggest sugar fix — have no redeeming nutritional value and leave you feeling lethargic once the initial high wears off. There are better dessert choices such as fresh fruits, whole-grain crackers with low-fat cream cheese and some jam, or sugar-free Fudgsicles. But, if nothing but the real thing will do, go ahead and have a bite or two, or try a mini version of your favorite item. Plus, you also can add a product like Fibersure to dessert recipes such as cookies and cakes, which will boost the fiber content easily. That way you’ll at least be getting some fiber in those foods if you absolutely feel like you have to have them.

Diet Detective: What about Exercise?

Tanya: No book about weight loss can ignore the vital role of exercise in burning calories and improving cardiovascular health. No question, adding exercise to any diet program is the most efficient and healthiest way to loose weight.

Buy Tanya’s book on Amazon here.






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