Keri Glassman is living a nutritiously delicious life. As a leading nutritionist and creator of The Nutritious Life, Keri is helping change people’s lives, one meal at a time. We spoke with Keri about eating healthy during the holidays, what her secret indulgences are, and why losing weight is not about food, but what you, literally, bring to the table.
One would assume by your profession that you were always a healthy eater. Was that the case?
No, no, no! I loved junk. When I was younger, I was a gymnast. I used to do gymnastics four days a week for five hours. After practice on the way home, I would go to the drive-thru, every single night, and order chicken nuggets with the honey mustard sauce and French fries. I also loved sweets and I was always a huge candy person.
Didn’t the fast food and candy go against the training?[laughs] Of course. But then, it wasn’t paid as much attention to as it is now. Growing up, my mom cooked fairly healthy square meals—we would have a grapefruit and a salad to start, and it was always a complete meal. While it was generally healthy, it wasn’t what we would consider to be healthy today. She began to cook healthier as it became more popular.
How did you become into nutrition and healthy eating?
I played soccer and lacrosse in high school and college. The summer before my freshman year in college, I wanted to become healthier. It was from a more of a wanting to be strong and leaner. I was never really overweight, but the first time I dieted, I lost a ton of weight. But then I went to college and gained it all back…and even more! I started thinking about dieting again and that’s when I got into yo-yo dieting. It sparked a lot of emotional eating. I had friends who would drink Diet Coke and eat candy, but I wanted to be healthy. I wanted to play on the lacrosse fiend during the day and wear my skinny jeans at night. But I was doing it wrong; I was trying to be healthy with a diet-y mentality.
It’s not so much about the food; it’s how you relate to food.
Exactly. It doesn’t matter if you have 100 pounds or ten pounds to lose; if you let food control you, it’s miserable. It takes over your life, and you constantly live thinking about it. I knew people who were thin, but they weren’t necessarily healthy—or happy. I wanted to gain an understanding of how to fuel your body properly. So I went back to school for nutrition, and I took more and more classes and I just loved it. You have to fuel your body and you have to know how to do it. Some people feel good if they’re hungry, but if your child was hungry you wouldn’t say, “Great job!” [laughs] What I love is to teach people how to eat empowered. My whole practice, The Nutritious Life, is not just food. You need to set yourself up for success in other areas as well if you want to lose weight. If you’re highly stressed and you’re not sleeping right, your hormones are out of whack and you’re not in a place to be successful with food. That’s what I talk about in my new book, The New You and Improved Diet. There are eight chapters in the first half of the book; only one is on food. You need to look at all areas of your life with equal attention. And once you figure it out, the food becomes so much easier.
What would you say to people who are struggling to lose weight, who feel that they just can’t do it?
I hate the term “willpower”. To me it’s such a negative term. I think sometimes you have to fake it a bit until you make it. Instead of saying, “I can only have the blueberries,” you say, “I want those blueberries. Sure, I can have chocolate cake, but I want those blueberries because they are so good and healthy for me, and they are delicious, and a by-product is that I will lose weight.” Saying you can’t have the chocolate cake is just negative energy. Think about what you can eat instead of what you can’t. And if you have the chocolate cake, feel empowered when you’re eating it, instead of guilty. You’ve eaten a healthy dinner, and now you’re going to have that cake. I can listen to my body and stop after a few bites when I’m satisfied. Listening to your body and feeling empowered can change your entire relationship with food.
I think so many people have a negative relationship with food. Sometimes people don’t use it for the right reasons.
I tell people all the time that every meal is a Monday morning. Every meal is its own individual opportunity to start over. You can look at every meal individually so you don’t get caught up in a spiral of eating badly. You can get back on track instead.
Let’s talk about your company, The Nutritious Life.
I have five dietitians who work with me, all with varying specialties, although everyone does general health and weight loss. We do an extensive background on each person and go through their medical history; we even cover sleep, stress, sex and their relationships. For their second session, we give them a customized plan, including tips for exercise and even a shopping list to buy groceries. They come back for follow up visits and we provide them with accountability and education. You have to learn to change your behavior in order to conquer the behavioral aspect of food.
When we did the photo shoot, your daughter Maizy was chowing down on cashews, which I thought was great.
Our home is what the kids know. You create your home. You have the power to control your home, and to provide a healthy one. The cashews are normal to them; if I put out Goldfish crackers, they would say, “What?” and look at me funny. It’s important to show kids healthy eating habits. After the age of one, kids should be eating what the family eats, and the family should eat normal food. As much as I make my home healthy, I don’t go too crazy. I have at least a box of cookies, whether it’s an organic brand or a homemade cookie, so if they ask for something, I will give it to them. I don’t make it a huge deal about it. I don’t over talk health and what they can or can’t have. I emit the chatter and they know the difference between healthy and unhealthy foods. They know what I do for a living; I don’t talk about healthy and unhealthy too much. So if they go to a birthday party and have a piece of cake, they eat the cake.
We’re in the middle of the holidays. How do you safeguard your waistline?
You have to be consistent with your regular habits. Even if you have more decadent dinners, you still need to eat healthy. You don’t then eat a Danish for breakfast. And if you already eat healthy, take it up a notch and make your breakfast super healthy. Be consistent with your workouts. Snack before you go to the holiday party—have a plain yogurt and a fiber powder like Konsyl psyllium fiber to help you feel satisfied and full. Assess the situation at the party as well; they might have shrimp cocktail and crudité, so don’t dive into the mini hot dogs first. There might be perfectly balanced foods there, and then have a plan of attack when you get home. It just requires a bit of planning.
How do you find your own balance?
It’s really, really hard. [laughs] The thing I conquered the most is accepting that things slip through the cracks and not letting it get to me. That’s helped me to manage my stress better. I just hope that they’re not super important things! [laughs] If I miss a birthday party and forget to RSVP, I don’t stress about it. I’m doing the best I can, making sure to keep my kids as my priority. I’ll look at the week to see what is coming up—what school projects do we have, what play dates do I need to schedule, what classes do I have to sign them up for. I make sure everything is taken care of with them, and then I look at work to see what those priorities are. I try to keep things together by being extremely organized. And I have a lot of energy; I get up early and go through emails and get myself organized for the day. I try to be efficient with my time. I am reviewing the Nike Fit for the Xbox, and last night I did it with my son. I incorporate my kids into it as much as I can.
I find this is the new way of mothering. We bring our kids into our work life.
I recently took my son to LA with me. I wanted him to see what I do, so he came with me when I appeared on The Talk and Access Hollywood. We had great quality time on the plane. We worked on one of his projects. I love being with my kids, but I love work, too, and I think you can show your kids that you’re excited about your work without feeling guilty or apologizing for it. I love what I do, and it’s good to have something you love.
Okay, I have to ask—what is your favorite, overly processed indulgence food?
Oh my God, black jellybeans! Oh my God I love them so much! Or anything that is a mix of salty and sweet! Like salted caramels—YUM!!!