Avocado Lovers Rejoice- Even More Benefits to Love!

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I was so thankful to be invited to the HAB Research and Culinary Event at the 2014 Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo (FNCE) that was hosted at the White Oak Kitchen in Atlanta by Hass Avocado. Not only did the event include an amazing menu, but networking with many of the top nutrition experts in the country along with avocado growers, researchers, and HAB Executive Director Emiliano Escobedo, was an experience unlike any other.

If you are an avocado lover, or a health care provider that recommends avocados, I am sure you are aware of many of their great health benefits, such as being a great source of heart healthy monounsaturated fats. With avocados, they are so versatile, you can find ways for almost anyone to include them in their diet from mashing them to use as a butter substitute in a baked good recipe, to slicing them up to have on a sandwich. But, the menu at the HAB event, along with a great cooking demo by the White Oak Kitchen chef, really opened my eyes to so many additional ways avocados can be incorporated into a meal. For instance, when you think of dessert, you don’t always think “avocado,” but after this event, I certainly will.

We ended the night with a delicious Easy Grapefruit Panna Cotta with Herbed Honey Recipe which tasted amazing. I wish I had left even more room for it after finishing all of the other great courses! It was, to me at least, a completely new way of incorporating avocado into a meal and I can’t wait to replicate the recipe at home for my family and friends.

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The highlight of the entire event for me was also learning of new, exciting research on the benefits of avocado presented by Jessica Cooperstone, PhD, of Ohio State University. This new study found eating avocado with tomatoes or carrots significantly increases the conversion of provitamin A (inactive form) to vitamin A (active form) more than eating tomatoes or carrots without avocado. This is great news for any of us working with clients who can benefit from additional dietary vitamin A and just another great reason to recommend including avocados as part of a healthy meal plan.

It was a privilege to take part in such a great event and I continue to look forward to working together with the Avocado Goodness Community in the future.
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Disclosure: Erin Palinski-Wade is a founding member of the Avocado Goodness Community

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Making Time for Dinner Time

Now that school is back in session, you may find that you’re family is running in all different directions. Homework, clubs, sports, group projects… the list can go on and on! Unfortunately, sitting down for family dinner is usually placed last on the to-do list, and often falls by the wayside.

It’s time to make a change and prioritize family dinner once again. Winding down at the table to share a meal teaches children the importance of nutrition and how to build a healthy, balanced plate. It also allows for fewer distractions, which helps them pay better attention to their hunger and fullness cues. Family dinner will promote healthy habits while also getting extra family time in- sounds like a win/win!

If you feel like there’s no way you have time to fit it in- maybe you just have to take a look at your strategy. Dinner does not have to be an elaborate meal in order to be delicious, satisfying and healthy. Make more family meals happen with these tips:

Dinner Place Setting

Make a schedule! Take a look at the calendar and choose a time that will work for all or most of your family members. This may mean eating a little earlier or later than you are accustomed to, but you’re body will get used to it. Mark ‘family meal’ on the time that works best each day and commit to it like you would any other appointment.

Plan ahead! Write down what you plan to serve for dinner each night of the week. This will save you time having to ponder what you want to make, but more importantly you can buy all ingredients needed over the weekend-preventing the need to make a hurried stop after work. In addition, there will be less temptation to swing by the drive thru if you already have a meal in mind.

Prepare! Complete any meal prep that you can over the weekend to make the cooking process even quicker. Slice up the veggies you will need in advance and keep them in little containers so they are ready to go. You can also cook and freeze an entrée; just heat it up later on it the week!

Keep it Simple! Again, no one is expecting you to prepare an elaborate meal with 20 ingredients. Look for recipes with short ingredient lists and minimal prep time. Aim for a balanced meal that provides lean protein, complex carbohydrate, fruits and veggies.

Get the kids involved! As always, have the kids help with the food shopping and cooking. Not only will it be nice to have the extra hands, but it is also a great way to get kids excited about nutrition and making healthy choices. They are also much more likely to eat their veggies if they had a part in choosing and preparing them.

Making time for family dinner often just requires a bit of planning and prioritizing. What are the biggest barriers to incorporating family dinner for you?

Check out these recipes for quick healthy meals ideas!
http://greatist.com/health/52-healthy-meals-12-minutes-or-less
http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/recipe-collections-favorites/quick-easy/easy-healthy-dinner-recipes-00100000074775/page2.html#6
http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20415761,00.html

Visit me at www.erinpalinski.com to sign up for my FREE nutrition newsletter. Follow me on twitter @DietExpertNJ for all of my latest nutrition and fitness tips and like me on Facebook!

Healthy Lunches Kids & Moms will Love from Pre-k Through Senior Year

BackToSchool_glass
It’s that time of year again. As children and teens everywhere worry about which outfit to choose for the first day of school, parents have another thing on their minds. How can you send your child back to school with a lunch that they will actually enjoy eating, but that you can feel good about giving them as well? The good news is that regardless of your child’s age, you can find great tasting foods they will love that are also loaded with nutrients to boost their energy and brain power throughout the entire school day! Here are some of my favorites:

Pre-K and Kindergarten
At this age, it’s all about making food fun! Finger food can go over great for younger children and can be an excellent way to get them to try new foods and increase their intake of fruits and vegetables. For an easy lunch almost no kindergartener can refuse, try making a healthy pizza “face”. Using a whole grain tortilla, sprinkle shredded cheese to cover the tortilla. Then, use fresh vegetables slices to create the mouth, nose, ears, and eyes. For instance, make a face using mushrooms for ears and a nose, shredded carrots for hair, olives for eyes, and sliced peppers for a mouth. Heat in the oven to melt the cheese and crisp the tortilla or serve cold- it’s up to you. You can even send baggies of cheese and sliced vegetables and let your child build his own pizza!

Elementary School
If you have a picky eater, getting them to take in enough fruits and vegetables can be a challenge. However, with a little creativity, you can get even the pickiest eater meet the goal of 5 servings per day. When it comes to increasing your child’s veggie intake, try mixing them into favorite foods. For instance, if your child loves to have a turkey sandwich for lunch, mix it up by making turkey pinwheels. You can make these by wrapping a tortilla with turkey breast, cheese, shredded carrots, spinach leaves, and tomato slices and cutting it into small pinwheel pieces. Not only will this add great flavor, it it’s fun to eat as well!

If you have a hard time getting your child to eat whole fruits, consider 100% fruit juice. As a complement to whole fruit, 100% fruit juice can make it easy to squeeze more fruit into a healthy diet. My favorite juice recommendation is Welch’s 100% Grape Juice because of the unique dark-purple Concord grapes. Welch’s uses the whole Concord grapes– including the seeds and dark purple skin –which are crushed to release natural plant nutrients, called polyphenols, straight from the grape. One 4-oz. cup counts as one serving (1/2 cup) of fruit with no added sugar, and has a taste all kids will love!

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Middle School
At this age, your pre-teen may be more concerned with how their lunch looks than what is actually contains. Fitting in and not sticking out are vital qualities to the lunch of a pre-teen. Take the traditional lunch route, but with a twist, to boost the nutrient content. If you child wants to bring “junk food” with his lunch, offer healthier options such as freeze-dried fruit or seasoned nuts over regular chips. A traditional sandwich is fine to bring, but boost its health qualities by using 100% whole grain breads, and topping it with sliced avocado or hummus over mayonnaise.

High School
Your high-schooler has a long day and needs to keep her energy up. Pack her lunch full of foods that will boost brainpower. Whole grains, lean proteins, and omega-3 fatty acids are all essential for fueling the brain. A salad topped with tuna, avocado, and chopped walnuts with a side of whole grain crackers can be a great brain booster. For the teen on the run, consider making a smoothie he can sip on throughout the day. Toss together 1 cup frozen berries, ¾ cup low fat Greek yogurt, 1 Tbs chia seeds, and ¼ cup spinach along with ice for a delicious on-the-go meal or snack that will fuel your teen on even the busiest days!


Disclosure: This blog was sponsored by Welch’s. I was compensated for writing this blog. Words and opinion are my own.

Build a Better Lunchbox

representative_of_eating_healthy_foodsThe summer sun may still be hot but school is just around the corner! Providing your child with well-balanced, nutritious meals is essential to keeping them energized throughout the day, and performing at their best academically. Although many school lunch programs are taking steps to provide healthier options, research still shows that menus in most school lunch programs are too high in saturated fat and cholesterol and too low in fruits and veggies. For this reason, packing lunch for your child may be the best bet to ensuring they have a nutritious meal to fuel them for the rest of the day.

With busy schedules and hectic mornings, packing lunch every day may seem like a nuisance- but it doesn’t have to be! A great way to save time is to write down a little ‘lunch menu’ for the week; ask the kids to help you do this to get them excited about preparing their own meals. If you are able to plan ahead, you won’t have to worry about running out in the middle of your busy week for groceries.

When planning meals, focus on lean proteins, whole grains, and plenty of fruits and veggies. Remember that lots of colors= lots of nutrients so encourage the kids to make their meals as colorful as they can!

Here are some healthful lunch ideas to consider:

• Sandwich made with low sodium cold-cuts of turkey or ham on whole wheat bread or wrap. Substitute hummus for mayo and add lettuce and tomato. Serve with plain yogurt and strawberries.
• Tuna fish made with fresh salsa, avocado, and small handful of craisins for a touch of sweetness. Serve with whole grain crackers for scooping, baby carrots, and an apple.
• Chicken fingers made by breading with corn flakes and baking. Serve with side of broccoli and carrots with low-fat ranch for dipping.
• Chickpea salad made with chickpeas, tabouli, avocado, and tomatoes. Serve with whole grain crackers, grapes, and piece of low-fat string cheese.
• ‘Mini pizzas’ made with tomato sauce, low-fat mozzarella cheese, spinach, and served on a whole wheat pita. Serve with fresh pineapple.
• Whole grain pasta salad made with olive oil, roasted red peppers, broccoli, and topped with tofu. Drizzle with low-fat Italian dressing. Add herbs like cilantro and basil.
• Roasted bell peppers stuffed with quinoa, onion, chopped carrots, and drizzled with olive oil. Serve with fruit salad.

Get creative and remember to involve the kids in the cooking process! If you’re short on time in the AM, try preparing lunch the night before or making alongside with dinner. For beverages, skip the juice and soda- they’re way too high in sugar! Water, coconut water, and low fat dairy are better options.

For more tips and tricks, like me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter @DietExpertNJ!

Erinpalinski.com

Low Calorie Cocktails- I’ll Cheers to That!

What’s better than a refreshing cocktail in the hot summer sun? One that won’t wreak havoc on your waistline! Summer is a time for social gatherings, vacation, and relaxation- and let’s be honest, often that means enjoying a cocktail (or two)! Alcohol and weight loss plans often don’t mix all that well; the calories in alcohol can add up fast! Furthermore, alcohol can stimulate your appetite and cloud your judgment; so not only will you feel hungrier, you may also be more likely to choose a less healthy option than you normally would. But remember, losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight is dependent on a lifestyle change- not a short term diet. Cutting out alcohol forever isn’t realistic for most- and that’s okay! Enjoy in moderation and follow these simple tips:

– Smarter options include light beer, wine, or alcohol with low calorie mixers such as soda water, seltzer, lime juice, lemon juice, coconut water or light juice.
– Modify cocktails by asking for less simple syrup or replacing juice with soda water and just a splash of juice.
– Enjoy your beverage in the middle or towards the end of a meal instead of before a meal; alcohol can stimulate appetite and cause you to overeat.
– Frozen drinks often are made with high calorie mixes that contain LOTS of added sugar. Skip them! Make your own version with frozen fruit for all of the sweetness and none of the guilt.

So remember, alcohol can be a part of your healthy lifestyle as long as it is enjoyed in moderation and you make smart choices. Below are links to low cal cocktail recipes to try! And make sure to check out my book Flat Belly Cookbook for Dummies for even more recipes like the refreshing Blueberry and Mint Spritzer.

Cheers!

Low-Cal Summer Drinks

Healthy Cocktails

Skinny Cocktails

Visit me at www.erinpalinski.com to sign up for my FREE nutrition newsletter. Follow me on twitter @DietExpertNJ for all of my latest nutrition and fitness tips and like me on Facebook!

Ready…Set…Grill!

It’s that time of year again! Sun’s out, spatula’s out, and fire up that grill! For those trying to lose weight or just focusing on a healthier lifestyle, a backyard BBQ might seem like a diet disaster. Hamburgers, hotdogs, chips, soda,- it’s true that these food items can wreak havoc on the waistline, but who invited them to the party anyway?? With some healthy swaps and nutritious additions to the menu, your next barbeque will leave you and your guests feeling (and looking) good!

Sandwich Clipart

Appetizers:
One thing barbeques are known for is the array of delicious munchies usually provided before the grill is even fired up. With high calorie, high fat appetizers like chips and dip, you may find yourself finishing a meal’s worth of calories before dinner even reaches your plate.
Make it healthier: Keep the appetizers simple. Serve a tray of pre-cut veggies with low fat dressing or hummus for dip. Toss together a big green salad dressed with olive oil and vinegar. Thread veggies, fruit, and one or two pieces of cheese on a skewer to make healthy kebobs. Can’t give up the chips and dip? Choose whole grain chips or pretzels and serve with fresh salsa, which is much lower in calories and fat than a creamy dip.

The Main Course:
Good news! Grilling is one of the healthiest cooking methods there is! Hamburgers and hotdogs have long been staples of the backyard barbeque- but it might be time to make room on the grill for some smarter choices.
Make it healthier: Fish and poultry are excellent sources of lean protein that taste wonderful on the grill. (Bonus: most seafood contains heart healthy omega-3s!) Salmon, tuna, shrimp, and white meat chicken are all great options.
Still pining after a burger? Try a veggie burger! Veggie burgers are gaining popularity for being low in calorie but bursting with flavor. If you choose to have meat, choose ground beef or turkey that is at least 90% lean; pork tenderloin is another lean option as well.

The Sides:
Creamy dressings, extra butter, and oversized portions are often the high calorie culprits when it comes to side dishes.
Make it healthier: Go for lighter options, such as a quinoa salad or grilled veggies. Lightly brush corn on the cob with olive oil and grill for five minutes to get delicious flavor without the need for butter. Cut sweet potatoes into wedges, brush with olive oil, season, and grill for yummy sweet potato fries. For a healthier pasta salad, try whole wheat pasta, add lots of veggies, and use light Italian dressing. Get creative with the side dishes; it is usually possible to make a much lighter version of your favorite dish with just a couple substitutions!

The Dessert
Treats are fine in moderation, but if you know you’re going to be hosting or attending a bunch of gatherings, sugary desserts can add up fast and slow your progress.
Make it healthier: You might already know where I am going with this one… fruit salad! Summer means many delicious fruits are in season, and there is nothing prettier or more refreshing than a bowl of colorful, fresh fruit! For a little extra indulgence, dip a few pieces in dark chocolate or provide light cool whip for topping. This isn’t to say you can never have a cookie or brownie, just remember to indulge in moderation and choose a healthier option more often.

Get active!
Barbeques are a great time to gather friends and family and get active together! Toss around a football, put on some music for dancing, or take a walk together after dinner. Encourage kids to play outside, whether it is a game of tag, swimming in the pool, or going on a bike ride. Make screen time off limits during the festivities.

Barbeques are a great way to gather with friends and family and enjoy the warm weather. And with so many great options for the menu, there is no need to compromise your healthy lifestyle! If you are attending a barbeque and have less control over what’s served, contribute a dish to the event so you know there will be something healthy for you to have. Remember, a healthy lifestyle is all about balance and smart choices. Happy grilling!

*Here are some great grilling recipes to get you started. Be sure to follow me on pinterest for links to more recipes!

What’s your favorite dish at a barbeque? Do you have any go-to recipes?

Visit me at www.erinpalinski.com to sign up for my FREE nutrition newsletter. Follow me on twitter @DietExpertNJ for all of my latest nutrition and fitness tips and like me on Facebook!

Slim Down For Swimsuit Season

Are you looking to slim down for swimsuit season? Do you have diabetes and want to learn easier ways to control your glucose levels while still eating what you love? If so, you need to watch our fun and interactive Diabetes Influencers Goggle Hangout Event on Slimming Down For Summer While Still Eating What You Love. This link brings you to the recording of the live event with myself as well as Trim & Terrific cookbook author Holly Clegg (author of Kitchen 101) and our happy healthcare host Mr. Divabetic, host of the Diva TalkRadio. Watch to learn the best foods to blast away belly fat from my book Belly Fat Diet For Dummies, along with how to convert any recipe into a healthier option that still tastes as terrific as the original, and how to pack your beach bag to manage your blood sugar no matter where you go this summer.

Click here to watch!

Difficulty Losing Weight? Your Personality May be to Blame!

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When it comes to weight loss, a lifestyle change that is customized to you and your dietary habits is the key to success. Just as we all have different personalities, we also each have a unique weight loss personality. This is why a ‘one size fits all’ approach to weight loss just doesn’t work. Tailoring a plan to your lifestyle is necessary for both weight loss, and most importantly- weight maintenance following weight loss. Let’s discuss different weight loss personalities and identify strategies for each one to promote long term weight loss success.

The Personality: ‘Perfectionist’
Do you find yourself always trying to do everything right, all of the time? Are you hard on yourself when things do not go exactly as planned? If so, you likely have a ‘perfectionist’ personality. When it comes to eating, it is nearly impossible be perfect 100% of the time. Life is going to throw curveballs that require a bit of leniency in your diet; and while you may not be able to make the perfect food choice every single time, you can still lose weight and maintain a perfectly healthy lifestyle! Often with this personality we see over restriction and emphasis on ‘forbidden’ foods. Even one diet ‘slip up’ can cause feelings of failure or hopelessness and lead to a cycle of overeating followed by over restriction.

The Strategy: Stop the cycle! Work on learning to forgive yourself when you do have a diet ‘slip up’, and try incorporating a small weekly indulgence to your diet. Adding flexibility to your diet will not hinder your health or your weight loss efforts, and you will likely feel more relaxed and at peace with your new lifestyle changes.

The Personality: Impulsive
Do you get halfway through the bag of Doritos before you even realize you grabbed them from the kitchen? Do you take seconds at dinner just because the leftovers were sitting there? These are habits seen often with ‘impulsive’ personalities. Changing your lifestyle usually requires a bit of planning and thoughtfulness, especially in the beginning while getting used to new foods and eating habits. Those with impulsive personalities are more likely make a poor dietary choice in the moment and less likely to consider the feelings of guilt that usually follow. Impulsive eating often leads to poor dietary decisions, disregard of hunger cues, and overeating.

The Strategy: Get rid of temptation! Think about the food temptations you give into throughout the day and find a way to eliminate these temptations altogether. Stock your fridge and cabinets with healthy snacks and avoid buying sugary and salty treats. Contribute a healthy dish at the next BBQ so you know there will be something nutritious there for you to eat. Keep dinner leftovers on the kitchen counter or somewhere they will be out of reach. Making your food choices more planned and deliberate throughout the day will help you stay on track!

The Personality: Night Owl
Do you find yourself staying awake late into the night even when you don’t need to? The ‘night owl’ personality is a common one, and it can have a substantial impact on your weight loss efforts. Studies have shown that people who stay up later often engage in night time snacking and consume significantly more calories than those who hit the sack earlier. Additionally, sleep deprivation can lead to clouded judgment when choosing foods the following day, and can also mess with your hunger and satiety hormones.

The Strategy: Commit to a bedtime! Choose a bedtime that is realistic for your lifestyle, preferably early enough to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night, and commit to it. To promote a more restful sleep, turn off electronics 30 minutes to an hour before getting into bed. Try practicing nighttime yoga or meditation to relax your mind and body. It will take consistency and patience while your body adjusts to the new sleep schedule, but I bet you will find the new rested you makes healthier choices throughout the day!

The Personality: All or Nothing
Have you started a nutrition or exercise program, strayed a bit off course, and then abandoned the program all together? This ‘all or nothing’ personality can sabotage weight loss efforts; any deviation from the plan will lead to feelings of failure and subsequent giving up. This personality often relies on a very structured plan for weight loss success. While structure can be helpful while losing weight, flexibility is essential for long term weight loss and weight maintenance.

The Strategy: Add flexibility! When you begin your weight loss journey, follow a structured plan while you are getting used to the changes. After a couple weeks, allow yourself to stray a bit from the plan. This may mean experimenting with one or two different meals a week, adding in a night at your favorite restaurant or enjoying a small treat at the Sunday barbeque. Adding flexibility to your plan will allow for continued weight loss while preventing diet burn out that can occur from too much structure.

The Personality: Short Attention Span
Have you ever given up on trying to lose weight after feeling bored with eating the same foods over and over again? Structure is important for weight loss, but that doesn’t mean the foods you eat have to lack variety! Someone with the ‘short attention span’ personality may find they get into a rut of eating the same foods every day that is not only boring, but is also unsustainable. Eating should be an enjoyable experience, and the greater variety of healthy foods you have in your diet, the more likely you are to feel satisfied and find success on your journey to weight loss.

The Strategy: Mix it up! There is no way to get around the fact that structure and planning are necessary components for weight loss. To add variety but keep structure, plan out a week of meals, Sunday-Saturday. Make sure these meals differ from day to day. Now, you have seven days of different meals that will help you stay on track without becoming bored. You can repeat these meals each week, or find new healthy recipes online or in a cookbook to swap with. Getting creative in the kitchen is a great way to stave off boredom while discovering new nutritious snacks and meals.

No matter what your weight loss personality is, the important thing to remember is that the changes you are making are lifestyle changes; they have to be sustainable if you hope to reach long term success. Once you identify your weight loss personality, work with the strategies that are tailored to you and your lifestyle (a registered dietitian can help you do this!).

Which personality do you identify with? Do you have a different weight loss personality that was not mentioned?

Visit me at www.erinpalinski.com to sign up for my FREE nutrition newsletter. Follow me on twitter @DietExpertNJ for all of my latest nutrition and fitness tips and like me on Facebook!

Just in time for Swimsuit Season- Blast Belly Fat & Fight Diabetes!

Summer is just around the corner and no doubt the thought of fitting into your bathing suit has crossed your mind. If you have noticed your waistline has been expanding over the past year, not only may you dislike the look of your swimsuit , but you may also be increasing your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

I have teamed up with CDiabetes.com to offer a fun and exciting Twitter Party this Thursday, May 15th at 12pm EST to discuss “Top Ways to Fight Belly Fat for Swimsuit Season.” Join us to learn what foods and nutrients burn up belly fat, what the main culprits of belly fat accumulation are, and simple solutions to help you slim your waistline and achieve a flat belly. In addition, a few lucky participants will win a copy of my book “Belly Fat Diet For Dummies.”

Follow @DietExpertNJ @CDiabetesMag @BethRosen and use #DiabetesChat to join the fun! Visit CDiabetes.com/spring2014 for more information. I look forward to seeing you there!


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Visit ErinPalinski.com for more information.

Belly Fat Diet For Dummies is Released Today!

Today is the day!!! My new book “Belly Fat Diet For Dummies” is now available in stores around the country! If you are looking to shrink your waistline and improve your health, look no further- your solution is here! This book incorporates the latest research along with practical advice to help you lose weight quickly and effectively, but most importantly- keep it off for good!

To kick off the book launch we are having a blog tour. Follow the tour over the next two weeks for great recipes, interviews, and even giveaways! And to wrap up the tour, join me live for an interactive web-based video chat at Shindig Events shindigevents.com on November 26th at 7pm to discuss the book and answer all of your belly fat blasting questions and concerns!

November 7th Wednesday- Interview with Chew the Facts
November 8th Thursday- Book Review by Healthy Mom Magazine Blog
November 8th Thursday- Recipe with Fat Fighter TV
November 9th Friday- Review and Giveaway with Appetite for Health
November 12th Monday – Glamour.com 5 Ways to Fight Belly Fat Before Christmas (Vitamin G Blog)
November 13th Tuesday- Interview and Giveaway with Around the Plate
November 26th Monday- 7:00PM EST- Live interactive web-based chat with author at Shindig Events

Belly Fat Diet For Dummies can also be purchased at online retailers here.