8 Ways To Heal Your Food Issues Through Your Kids (and help them too!)

In coaching clients around nutrition and exercise for the past 17 years, sorting through my own food/body issues, and becoming a parent, there are a few things I think I've learned along the way. One thing I know for sure, is that all of us have learned something in childhood that we decide to unlearn as adults. In my line of work, many clients come to a consultation with food/eating habits and mindsets that developed when they were children. Much of the time, these same habits and mindsets are the obstacles they face as adults.

Below are some tips I wanted to share to help you and your kids have a healthier relationship with food TOGETHER.

1. Eliminate words like “treat” when talking about dessert. Call dessert by it’s name instead, for example; cookie, cupcake, ice cream, pudding, etc. Make “treats” special experiences instead. When we give foods extra special powers, we are doing our kids a disservice. Food is just food.

2. Do not use food (giving or withdrawing), as a reward or punishment. Many obese adults that I work with today are learning to unwind food related experiences of reward and punishment from childhood. There are many other effective strategies to celebrate or apply discipline.

3. Allow kids to eat according to what their stomachs feel is enough (never being forced to finish their plates). Teach them how to feel the difference between full and stuffed. It can be fun as a family to check in at the start of a meal, in the middle, and towards the end.

4. If your kids don’t want to eat, it’s ok. You can always bring food in a small bag or likely find food within (10) minutes if needed. No one will die from feeling hungry for a few hours. Remember, the average healthy human (with the exception of infants/very small children) can survive 30+ days without food.

5. Include kids in shopping and cooking as much as possible. The more they develop interest and confidence in buying and preparing food, the more likely this skill will continue to grow into adulthood.

6. Eat with your kids as much as it’s possible. Research shows that eating meals together as a family is healthier for kids and families than WHAT is on their plates!

7. We label food as “growing food” and “other food” at our house. There’s no right/wrong, good/bad, yes/no, junk/treats. Our daughter knows however, that if she wants to be strong, intelligent and energized, she needs more growing food. 🙂

8. Allow kids freedom and autonomy around food as much as possible. We've had a drawer full of age appropriate foods for our daughter since she could walk/talk. She has never stuffed her face till she was sick, and knows that if she had cookies today, she can choose to have chocolate tomorrow. (NOTE: If you feel your child is addicted to sugar and can never self regulate, you may feel it’s best not to have it in the house at all. Talk to a nutrition professional if needed.).


Feel free to contact me personally for individual support or to speak at your workplace.

Top 10 Ideas to Eat Well On the Go


When there's a will, there's a way, and it's simpler than you think! Here are my top 10 on the go foods which don't require refrigeration:

1. Organic Beef or Turkey Jerky. You can also find tuna jerky, but it tends to be pretty high in sodium if you are concerned about that.

2. Avocados. All you need is a dull knife and a paper towel to wipe hands.

3. Mary's Gone Crackers. Many of these products are made with 100% whole food ingredients.

4. Fresh Vegetables and Fruit (other than avodados :). I personally don't pack dried fruit or freeze dried vegetables because I find them to be easy to overeat.

5. Nuts/Seeds. You can buy in bulk, but if you're like me and you lose track of how many you have eaten, separate into small packs, or buy them in individual packets.

6. Nut/Seeds butters. Again, you can buy in jars, but if you keep putting the spoon back in, buy the individual packets which are much lighter too!

7. Roasted Chickpeas. There are tons of pre-made brands on the market, but you can easily bake your own!

8. Popped Corn. Popped corn is high in fiber and super low calorie if you eat it plain or with a light spray of olive oil and some salt.

9. Just add water - soups and plain oatmeal. If I am heading out of town for a few days, I'll take some of these with me because you can get boiling water at any hotel or restaurant.

10. Peel off top canned fishes. Warning! Don't eat these in a small space with other people or it may be hard to make friends :). That being said, they are an easy and portable protein rich food.

BONUS: A well insulated lunch sack with an ice pack can provide a day's worth of food if you don't have access to a fridge but want to keep certain things cool. A thermos is also a great addition to the lunch sack for hot or cold food.



Hey there friends!

My sincere apologies here. I have been hard at work on with our REFRESH program followers and private Facebook group, monthly newsletter (scroll to the bottom here), Instagram, and business Facebook page. We also moved to a new apartment, Loretta started second grade, I'm creating a cookbook, finishing up my CEU's, and blah, blah, blah. 

I would LOVE to connect more with YOU, so please find me often in any of the above spots. And I promise to show up here more often too.



Why The Whole 30, Is a Whole Lotta BULLSH*T

One of the first things my nutrition clients learn, is that any diet program which eliminates or vilifies a food group is a red flag for two main reasons:

1. Totally eliminating any food group is not healthy (or necessary) for successful long term fat/weight loss.

2. Targeting certain food groups and creating fear around them via pseudoscience and hype is a psychological disaster.

Programs like the WHOLE 30, in my opinion are waving neon red flags. During the month of programs such as this, we are to believe that MANY whole food carbs and even dairy products are evil. Have we learned nothing from the thousands of dusty fad diet books over the decades, or are we still addicted to quick fix "magic" programs that leave us chasing our tail?

Programs like the Whole 30 eliminate grains, beans, dairy, and certain fruit. We've seen versions of this over and over again from Atkins to South Beach. This strategy MIGHT make sense if a person had totally out of control diabetes, was morbidly obsese AND/OR was bedridden, but for a person whose blood sugar is normal AND/OR does any form of movement during the day (let alone exercise) this is a recipe for short term water weight loss, muscle weight loss and a long term weight loss battle.  

Two of my clients did the Whole 30 a few years ago. Both of them lost about 15lbs. Both of them lost only 2-3% body fat (should have been more like 7-10%) and both of them gained 20+ pounds afterwards. Both were also suffering from insomnia, lethargy, and nausea throughout the day while on the program. The worst part was that it took MONTHS to get their metabolism back in order and reverse the damage.

WHY would this happen?

1. Water loss and Muscle loss: When you remove carbohydrates from your diet in a big way, you lose water weight. This is because carbs break down into glucose and then glycogen which attracts water. Water weight loss is not fat loss and depending on how overweight you are, it can be deceiving as you can lose 5-10lbs relatively quickly. Ever had a stomach bug and lost a bunch of weight? Ever keep it off? I didn't think so. As far as muscle loss; if you are active at all while on the whole 30, you won't have the energy to put into your workouts and you'll find that your fatigue causes you to move less overall throughout the day. You can also expect to BONK during almost any workout. If you can manage to push through the fatigue for a few workouts, you won't have the carbs needed to help you refuel properly for the next ones. So bonk now, or bonk later, you will lose muscle because you won't be able to push yourself as you normally would. If you're not exercising at all during the month, you will lose muscle. Additionally, when we don't have enough carbs to fuel muscles during workouts, we are also more susceptible to injury and fiber damage.

2. In 16 years of working with clients on fat loss I have met maybe (2) people in 1000 who were overweight because they were overeating whole foods. However 998 people out of 1000 are overweight because of processed foods; (sugar, flour, alcohol in their many forms) and a lack of exercise or strategic exercise.

3. When you eliminate or vilify food groups, you fall right back into the mental cluster F*CK of misunderstanding nutrition and worse; creating more distrust with your body. I wish that nutrition 101 courses were part of everyone's education since we all need to eat. Unfortunately, many of us pick up fad diet books and expect to learn our facts there.

Do yourself a favor, and steer clear of ANY diet which suggests eliminating an entire food group unless you have an allergy or disease that warrants this decision. Have you seen all the gluten free diets coming under the axe lately? All the rice everyone is eating is leading to toxic blood levels of mercury and lead. As I can understand feeling frustrated and wanting change NOW, you can get this without losing your mind, damaging your metabolism, and following pseudoscience. 

If you are interested in trying a logical WHOLE FOODS program which includes ALL of the food groups and will yield lasting changes, trust with your body, and FAT loss, join the REFRESH. We have your back!


It really pains me to work with clients on making strength, body composition and/or health gains, when I know they hit the sauce most evenings. There's almost nothing we can do as personal trainers to counter the effects of alcohol because it has an exponential effect that goes WAY beyond calories.

Now don't get me wrong, I love a hipster cocktail (I live in Brooklyn), and an occasional glass of wine on a special occasion, but I respect the fact that booze doesn't pair well with my overall goals. And let's be honest, it's not becoming for your trainer to be sporting a beer belly.

So what's the big deal about kicking back and having a few drinks?

1. Alcohol is a toxin as far as your body is concerned. So when you drink it, all other functions including fat burning and immune system functioning are shut down or are severely compromised until alcohol is fully metabolized. Even ONE drink causes a sharp decline in metabolic and immune functioning (hello colds/flus/viruses/infection)!!

2. Alcohol not only reduces testosterone levels, which compromise your ability to build or retain muscle, but testosterone will get converted to ESTROGEN when usage is high. Yes, this includes MEN, and why male drinkers often develop breasts and an overall shape that is similar to women.

3. After alcohol is metabolized, blood sugar drops sharply causing excessive hunger and cravings.  (This is when the pizza, fries, cheese steaks, and desserts come tumbling in). Additionally, we all know that WHILE we are drinking, our decision making skills around food,  portions, and everything else become lax as well.

4. Alcohol disrupts your REM cycle (the restorative portion of sleep) which causes next day drowsiness and often poor decisions - like skipping the gym or choosing unhealthy foods. Alcohol also suppresses breathing and can cause sleep apnea.

5. Heavy drinking shrinks and disturbs brain tissue. The neurotransmitter balance gets off kilter in heavy drinkers and can cause depression, mood swings, anxiety, memory loss and seizures. This is why seeing a medical professional is key, especially if a person decides to quit drinking altogether.

6. Chronic use is linked to high blood pressure, leaky gut, osteoporosis, cancer, high risk of stroke, arrhythmia, pancreatitis, liver disease, malnutrition, and permanent brain damage.

Bottom line: although certain kinds of alcohol contain antioxidants and can help make platelets less "sticky", you can get the same benefits with a small cup of grape juice, without all the risk. And if you find that you can't cut back or live without alcohol, speak to your doctor, therapist, or other medical professional for support. 



How is it possible that some people, no matter how educated, financially stable, healthy, how blessed their upbringing, and/or how few major stressors they have in life, are perpetually stuck in the mud? I am 99% certain that anyone reading this knows someone who despite seeming to have every resource available to them, can never get over the goal line. Why does this happen? I'm not a psychotherapist, but working in the field of training and nutrition where excuses are rampant, I have formulated a strong opinion on the matter.

Excuses, in my opinion are like pain killers, but far more dangerous. Anytime we choose to create reasons why we can't reach a goal that are outside of personal responsibility, we risk an addiction to emotional numbness. Excuses like painkillers allow us the opportunity to pause right below the pain, take a break from feeling, and never directly address the issue. The more the excuses continue, the more we go from situational numbness, to complete emotional paralysis. We are all susceptible to daily seemingly benign rationalizations; (why we didn't eat well, exercise, or do the laundry). As our day-to-day excuses become more habitual however, we set ourselves up to rationalize more major life concerns; (why we can't get/hold a descent job, cultivate loving relationships, or pay our bills). I am entirely convinced that chronic excuses lead to a chronic avoidance of pain and responsibility, which can keep us struggling just short of success for a lifetime.

Think about it. By experiencing discomfort as an infant (a soiled diaper, feeling hungry, too hot/cold), a baby begins to learn key survival skills. Yet if at some point during our lifetime, we decide that pain/discomfort; (anxiety, sadness, boredom, fear, anger, guilt, loneliness) is something to be avoided, rather than used as a platform to learn, we can never EVER move forward. The moment we become chronic excuse addicts, we begin to live in a state of emotional neutral, where taking steps forward is truly impossible.

Can a person who is shoulders deep in the mud ever get out? 

Yes. The first step in getting unstuck is to detox from excuses. STOP MAKING EXCUSES, TAKE PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY, and START FEELING. Stop using statements that imply, insinuate, or suggest that nothing can be changed, nothing can be fixed, and others are to blame. Any statements that eliminate responsibility for the situation must cease. Here are some examples of statements made by excuse addicts: 

  • "I had no choice."
  • "I couldn't possibly say no."
  • "What was I supposed to do?"
  • "If it wasn't for x, y, z, I'd really be ..."

Instead, use personal responsibility statements and ask questions like:

  • "This was the choice I made."
  • "I am having a tough time with this."
  • "How can I handle this situation better?"
  • "What obstacles do I need to circumvent in order to achieve this?"

This process is going to FEEL weird. You will often FEEL icky, uncomfortable, and confronted. Withdrawal from pain avoidance is going to hurt. 






You know what's cool? Tossing leftover pie.

We bought three traditional pies for two thanksgiving celebrations this year - pumpkin, sweet potato, and apple. Unfortunately, two of the pies just weren't that terrific; one was way too sweet, and the other was sweetened with agave which had a strange metallic aftertaste. Back in the day, I would never have been able to throw them away. I would have continued to eat every bit of the crappy leftover pies for another week OR attempted to remake them into something else (which has never ended successfully for me).

I remember working with a a woman from Texas on this very topic. She was a proud and longstanding member of the CPC (Clean Plate Club). After practicing the habit of leaving something on her plate without feeling guilty, we tackled the concept of WASTE. At the end of our work together she realized that eating something she didn't need, or continuing to eat something that she'd already had enough of, was wasteful too. 

Now don't get me wrong, when we can give leftovers to a neighbor, a homeless person, or place in our compost bin, those are always the best ways to go. The moral of the story however is to give ourselves permission to LET GO. Learning to be thankful and grateful for our portion is how we redefine ENOUGH. When we understand this concept, we can finally take the first most critical step in moving forward toward fulfillment. This goes for buying and acquiring things too, something we can all be reminded of, especially as we enter the holiday season.




As an adult, I hired a swim coach because I wanted to compete in triathlons and I was a pathetic swimmer who would gasp for air after a lap or two.

The lessons were at a NYC pool from 7pm-9pm during the week - a time frame when I am typically hungry and cranky and I remember wanting to bail on my way over that first day. We all filed in and our coach gave a brief description of himself and the program and then blew this obnoxiously loud whistle, a Pavlovian symbol to jump in and start swimming as best or poorly as we knew how. If you know me at all, I can barely get into a pool without cringing the entire way as the cold water literally feels like sharp needles to me. I was so annoyed and remember thinking, "I'm paying for THIS? Where's the empathy? Where's the coaching? I hate this!"

What I didn't realize is that "jumping in" despite it being late, despite being tired and crabby, despite being a pathetic swimmer, was the ceremonial ripping off the bandaid that was needed to get me from point A to point B. Let me tell you that I thought I was going to drown that day AND I was hands down the worst swimmer in the class. It was ego flattening and embarrassing.

My coach Doug gave me techniques to work on. I had to kick faster and harder, stop criss-crossing my arms in front of my body, pull back with my hands cupped, bring my arms tighter to my body, and turn my head differently to breathe more effectively. I was totally overwhelmed, but I practiced anyway. In 6 weeks I ended up being one of the top 5 in the class.

Then I met Doug to practice in a dark lake somewhere in upstate New York to get used to "real water". It was cold and raining that day. I also have irrational fears of alligators and sharks. He paddled out on a row boat and blew that loud stupid whistle which I was now trained to respond to. I swam to him and around that dark water lake for an hour fearing for my life. (I also finished in the top 10% of the triathlon.)

Doug taught me so much. You can't be given the answers if you want to learn. You have to jump in, fuck it up, and still take the coaching. It's not pretty, organized, or comfortable. You may hate it. The breakthroughs are often subtle, but the practice is what builds your resilience. To practice when you DON'T want to, when you don't know exactly how, when you are full of doubt, fatigue, and often some pain...this is what gets you to the other side.

This is the golden ticket.



Unless you have some kind of muscular or joint dysfunction which require leg lefts to help - please please STOP wasting your time with these. Don't get me wrong - I loved my Jane Fonda VCR workouts in the 80's too, but sometimes, (like g-string leotards with leg warmers), it's good to change. As a wise woman once said to me, "Toner is for printers. I lift."

If you are trying to tighten up or reshape your body, the only way to do this effectively (assuming your eating habits are on point) is through full body resistance training at least twice per week. If you like doing leg lifts, go get em, but if you are trying to create change, please spend your time in the weight room. And as always, if you don't know a thing about strength training, ask a physical therapist that you trust for a referral. 


You've likely heard people say that abs are made in the kitchen. I'll go a step further and clarify that:

STRONG ABS ARE MADE IN THE GYM and LEAN ABS ARE MADE IN THE KITCHEN. The truth is that if you care about your health, you'll want to aim for both. I'm not even talking about aiming for washboard abs - just a strong and healthy midsection that protects your spine and would help reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and even some types of cancer.

Although you can choose from dozens of FACT-FREE diets with short term results - there's also a science-based, individually created way to reduce your body fat while regaining essential trust and respect for food and your body. Contrary to the fad diet beliefs - you do not have to choke down pills, powders or magical potions. You do not have to be afraid of or eliminate food groups, count calories, or weigh/measure food. You do not need to continue following other's opinions blindly, while ignoring your own needs. Your body really does know what is best. All you have to do is give yourself a fair chance. 







Help is here!

Check my 3 top exercises for a STRONG backside. Not only is a muscular tush nice to look at, but it's essential for good posture, core strength, and power. Want to walk/run faster, bike uphill with greater ease, stand straighter? Below are some key exercises. Note - not all exercises are for EVERYONE. Make sure you speak to an exercise professional to have your body's needs evaluated and your form perfected.




If you aren't familiar with these exercises, you can google them for explanations. Most importantly, ask a certified professional for an evaluation and guidance if you are new to strength training.

Do you want some videos? If so, let me know! :)





I'm not a terrific cook, but I have learned to prepare a handful of fool-proof of apps and main courses over the years. I also have a short attention span for cooking, so I need my recipes to be quick, simple, and of course taste good. It took me a while to create the type of hummus that I like (smooth, creamy, light, bright tasting, and versatile)


  1. 16oz of chickpeas (I get Eden's Organics)
  2. 8oz of cannellini beans (Eden again)
  3. 2 tbsp tahini
  4. 1 tbsp of minced garlic
  5. juice from 1 whole lemon
  6. 2 tbsp olive oil
  7. 1-2 tbsp of water if needed
  8. Salt/pepp to taste


  1. Toss everything into a blender
  2. Blend until desired creaminess
  3. Taste and add more salt, lemon, garlic or whatever you like if needed - you can also add your own flare and include dill, roasted red pepper, siracha, other cooked vegetables, etc.
  4. Blend again
  5. Serve

What can you serve this with?

  1. Pita bread or any bread - toasted or just warmed
  2. Chopped vegetables
  3. Chips
  4. In a sandwich
  5. Or straight up!







So listen, it takes A LOT for a packaged food to impress me. I look for things like:

  1. Organic ingredients 
  2. No fake sugars, sugar alcohols, artificial colors or flavors
  3. No more than 15g of sugar 
  4. A well balanced macronutrient ratio
  5. TASTE! Must not taste like dry mud, chalk, or have an after taste.

So here are my TOP 5 BARS:

  1. AMARITA - HIGH protein line
  2. GO MACRO - HIGH protein line
  4. RX BAR
  5. GLO BAR  - I actually prefer the taste of the lower protein (10-11g) bars

AND IF YOU PREFER TO CREATE YOUR OWN, but delegate the elbow grease - you can:




    Is Coconut REALLY Good For Us? It Depends

    I did a personal coconut experiment.

    As a person who has a steady history of very healthy cholesterol levels, I decided to experiment adding coconut and coconut products last year. As the new nutrition "experts" will tell us - coconut is made up of medium chain triglycerides, which will be burned as fuel and won't clog our arteries. (You should note that most cardiologists do not agree). So during 2015 I more than occasionally cooked with coconut oil, ate raw and dried coconut, ate coconut butter and swished with coconut oil - (I also got a cavity for the first time in 10 years which is story for another time). When I went for my annual physical my HDL (good) cholesterol went UP which is great - BUT so did my bad, which isn't so great. My triglycerides (although always very low were also up 10 points). Although my ratios were still fantastic, I was for the first time in my life very close to the 200 total cholesterol mark. 

    During 2016 I stopped using and eating coconut except for rare occasions. This year, my ratio is still excellent, but my HDL, LDL and Triglycerides dropped 10 points each - 30 points in total! 

    So should you or shouldn't you? It's not my place to advise you, but I will tell you from experience, that for my body, I'll stick with enjoying it on occasion instead of daily.

    Got Ripple?

    If milk doesn't do your body good, you have nut and soy allergies, but you also love a bowl of cereal every once in a while - what is there to do?

    Try Ripple! It's 80 calories, with NO sugar (or artificial sugar), 8g of protein, PLUS calcium and vitamin D. Pea protein = SCORE!






    Interview with ClearPoint Holistic Center

    ClearPoint Holistic Center interviewed Debra for their most recent podcast - released August 23, 2016. Check it out below!

    In this interview, Debra shares how she discovered the career path of nutrition and fitness. Also learn why it's vital to understand that no two bodies are alike. We all have different needs at different periods of life.

    Balance, Zone, LUNA, Clif or PowerBar?

    In my professional opinion - NONE.

    Sadly, these soy-based protein bars have very little to offer other than genetically modified (GMO), heavily sprayed (think herbicides, fungicides, pesticides) and processed soy beans. This combined with corn syrup, sugar, sprayed on vitamins and minerals, and other cheap ingredients, these are a LAST resort.

    Another Clue: Why are they sold at most gas stations and deli's?
    Cheap prices unfortunately = cheap ingredients.

    When it comes to nutrition bars, here are a few tips:

    1. Go organic
    2. Have a variety to choose from
    3. Make sure you recognize the ingredients
    4. Make sure the ingredients are whole foods (or mostly whole foods!) 
    5. Make sure the macronutrient ratio is appropriate for your needs.

    ** One Caveat: Balance now makes a whey bar called Nimble and Clif has one natural non-soy bar called: Clif Nectar.