I first met rockstar diet and nutrition guru Joy Bauer when appearing on NBC’s Today Show to mark my 250+ pound weight loss by being inducted in the Joy Fit Club, which celebrates people who’ve lost over 100 pounds of weight through common sense diet and exercise.
Having been a lifelong dieter (and someone who still has to think about health and nutrition daily in order to maintain the weight loss), I was in awe of Joy, knowing that the kind of information she shares on the air and writes about in her New York Times best selling books are helpful morsels of knowledge that anyone can use to get or to stay healthy. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that Joy also has a razor sharp wit and is as energetic off the air as she is when cameras are rolling.
Besides being NBC’s Today Show nutrition and health expert, Joy is also a contributing editor and columnist for Woman’s Day Magazine as well as the resident nutritionist for the New York City Ballet. Her recent book releases include The Joy Fit Club: Cookbook, Diet Plan & Inspiration, Slim & Scrumptious and Joy Bauer’s Food Cures.
Joy has a new television special, Joy Bauer’s Food Remedies, currently airing on PBS stations that focuses on easy nutrition fixes for various health ailments and issues. In celebration of this, I recently sat down with Joy to not only get the scoop on her TV special and pick up a few tips we can all use to win the battle of the bulge, but also to find out about Joy, herself — including which food tempts her the most.
Gregg McBride: Joy, you have a lot of initials after your name (when seen in print) — MS, RD, CDN. Do you think these professional affiliations are important for someone letting people know how they can lose weight and get healthier?
Joy Bauer: I’ve met a lot of wonderful counselors and people who can guide others to better health who do not have professional affiliations. There are individuals who have an innate gift for helping others as well as knowing which articles and books to recommend. But at the same time, there are certain advantages to working with an RD (Registered Dietitian) or an RDN (Registered Dietitian Nutritionist) because it means they’re affiliated with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly known as the American Dietetic Association) and can apply that level of nutrition and even medical education to peoples’ needs.
GM: What will people learn when tuning into your PBS special?
JB: I’m really excited about Food Remedies because for the first time I have more than 2- to 3-minutes to share how approaching food differently can change someone’s life for the better — both mentally and physically. People are used to seeing me via small segments on the Today Show. But in this new special I have enough time to show how various foods and food combinations can boost energy, increase memory, get rid of unwanted weight, alleviate aches and pains, assist with Type 2 Diabetes and more. It’s a fresh approach everyone can implement to feel and look markedly better. In fact, people that watch will get a lot of the same benefits and knowledge I give to my one-on-one clients. Everything I discuss in this special is on the cutting edge of science and nutrition and has the potential to change viewers’ lives starting almost immediately. I even share a recipe I call my “Pretty Potion” (or “Handsome Helper” for the guys) that can help give people a glowing complexion, thicker hair and improve overall appearance, naturally.
Why do you think there are so many confusing messages about how to successfully lose weight? And how can people clear the clutter?
JB: Sad to say, but freedom of speech can be a potential culprit when it comes to weight loss and health-related advice. Anyone can say, write or publish virtually anything they want. This equates to a lot of confusing — and often incorrect — messages about what it really takes to get control of one’s health (whether to look better, feel better or both). At the same time, there are experts out there who have all the book knowledge, but don’t necessarily communicate it in a way that people can easily apply to everyday living. This is why I’m thrilled to be part of the Today Show and Woman’s Day. Both provide me with opportunities to take complicated information and deliver it in a way that’s inviting, realistic and helpful (not to mention easy to digest — often literally).
What do you think the biggest mistake people embarking on a diet plan commonly make?
JB: Without a doubt, it’s having an “all or nothing” mentality. In other words, people starting out on a healthier eating (or living) routine without allowing any leeway. Then, once a cheat (or momentary binge) has occurred, these people give up and go hog wild in the other direction — as far away from common sense nutrition and good health as they can. But the fact remains that no one gains weight from a couple cookies or a slice or two of pizza. In fact, every one of my success stories admits to yo-yo-ing in the past (going up and down the scale). It’s when they learned to forgive and even allow themselves the occasional treat or slipup that they finally began to win the battle of the bulge. Eating well and living a healthy life isn’t about 100% perfection. It’s about balance, forgiving yourself and getting right back on track once the slipup has occurred. Too many people wait for the next week, next month or even next January 1st to try again. I promise that getting right back to your commitment to better health will definitely be the differentiator from all the other times you’ve tried to lose weight in the past.
GM: If someone wanting to get healthier was only going to make one change, what would you recommend that single change be?
JB: I would suggest incorporating produce into every meal — mainly because produce offers high volumes of food at lower and better-for-you calories, while also being loaded with fiber and other nutritional benefits. For breakfast, add sliced tomato to a toasted English muffin with melted cheese; or simply add fresh berries to your bowl of cereal. At lunch you can add roasted peppers to virtually any sandwich. Grab a handful of baby carrots as an afternoon snack. And try my Vegetarian Eggplant Lasagna recipe or something similar at dinner time. Produce instantly ups the health quotient of a meal and is easier to incorporate than people might think.
GM: Which of your many best-selling books is your personal favorite?
JB: That’s a tough question because I have different reasons for loving each of my books. Your Inner Skinny is a great resource for dieters, while Slim and Scrumptious offers a bunch of great recipes that anyone (even people who aren’t trying to lose weight) will enjoy. For the “feel good” and “inspiration” factors, I recommend Joy Fit Club: Cookbook, Diet Plan & Inspiration, which features amazing success stories, tips and recipes from the very people who lost incredible amounts of weight. But if I had to choose one of my books as the crown jewel, it would likely be Joy Bauer’s Food Cures, which I poured every bit of of my 20+ years of experience into — making it a go-to resource for anyone who wants to increase bone strength, improve mood, lower cholesterol, take off unwanted pounds, boost memory, reduce risks for certain kinds of cancer and more — all through different foods and easy-to-whip-up recipes.
GM: Do you test out recipes on your family (husband Ian, daughters Jesse and Ayden and son Cole)?
JB: In a word? Yes. But I can never trust my husband Ian’s opinion because he attests to liking every new recipe I try (and he’s a wise man to do so). Because of this, I rely a lot on my kids, meaning two out of the three have to be won over by my new creation in order for me to pursue it further or present it publicly. At the same time, I have a whole extended family (including friends) who live close by and who I often refer to as my “Guinea Pig Taste Testers.” I’ll throw big picnics and encourage people to fill out anonymous comment cards so I get their feedback on what they liked or didn’t like about a new dish. (And yes, there have been a few duds! But don’t tell my husband that.)
GM: What is your go-to snack for filling up without filling out?
JB: My name is Joy. And I’m a nut-aholic. Whether it’s walnuts, pecans, pistachios — you name it — I’m nuts for nuts. Seeds, too. I love sprinkling pumpkin or sunflower seeds on salads, Greek yogurt and just about any other kind of food. They’re packed with nutrients like omega-3 fats, zinc, niacin, and vitamin E, nuts and seeds can help boost eye health, reduce the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration, and slow the progression of vision loss — not to mention reduce your risk for a slew of other health conditions.
GM: Aside from the PBS Special, what else is coming up in the world of Joy Bauer in 2014?
JB: I’m actually jumping out of my skin with excitement over my very first food venture, Nourish Snacks. For the past two years, I’ve been searching the globe for the most premium and mouth watering ingredients including naturally-sweet pineapple from Sri Lanka, crunchy chickpeas from 4th and 5th generation family farms here in the United States, and rich dark chocolate made in France from the highest quality share of the cacao bean crop. Now I’m using these ingredients to create snack blends with the perfect mix of nutrition and flavor. There’s an amazing variety including Posh-tashios spiked with EVOO and Mediterranean spices, Cashew Colada made with roasted cashews, toasted coconut and dried pineapple, and Cocoa Loco which is loaded with dark chocolate, cacao nibs, chia seeds and puffed quinoa. Each is formulated to keep people feeling energized and full — all for no more than 200 calories. There are no GMOs, no artificial sweeteners, no harmful preservatives, no soy protein isolate, no hydrogenated oils — in other words, no B.S. Plus, all Nourish Snacks are naturally gluten free, dairy free and vegan.
GM: Do you ever have days when you feel like your clothes are too tight?
JB: [Without any hesitation] Absolutely. Doesn’t everyone?
GM: If I wanted to make you gain 5 pounds, which tempting food would I need to send you that you wouldn’t be able to resist?
JB: Please promise not to tell anyone — but it would be vanilla ice cream with some sweet mix-ins on the side (chocolate crunchies, peanut butter chips, granola, coconut… Yum!).
GM: Don’t worry. Your secret’s safe with me.
You can click here to find out when Joy Bauer’s PBS special, Joy Bauer’s Food Remedies, is airing on your local PBS affiliate. You can also pick up more of Joy’s recommendations, recipes and tips by visiting Joy’s website.