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Meet the Guru

Catching Up With Dr. Katz

America's favorite nutrition expert, David Katz, MD, shares some inspiration and healthy tips.

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Quick Takes

How do you start your day?
I start with cleaning out my overloaded e-mail accounts, and then I’ll usually do some writing, followed by a morning workout. Then the workday begins in earnest. Twice a week, as my schedule permits, I start my day on horseback, which is one of the things I love the most.

What’s your favorite guilty pleasure?
Rereading Edgar Rice Burroughs’s Tarzan novels I loved as a kid.

What’s your favorite way to unwind?
I enjoy vigorous physical activity- skiing, hiking, horseback riding. A perfect day for me would be a 10-15 mile hike through beautiful but challenging terrain, followed by a hot shower, and then a wonderful meal and good wine.

If you’ve recently picked up a newspaper or magazine, chances are good you’ve read something by David Katz, MD. This nationally renowned authority on nutrition and weight control contributes a monthly column to O, The Oprah Magazine, a weekly health column to The New York Times syndicate, a daily blog to Prevention magazine; and is a medical consultant for ABC News. He also finds time to serve as professor of public health at Yale, and as director of the Yale Griffin Prevention Research Center. To date, he has authored more than 100 scientific articles and 11 books, including the popular The Flavor Point Diet. If you’re tired of counting calories, this diet just might be for you.

Can you provide a brief description of the Flavor Point concept?
It works by limiting an excess variety of flavors at any one time. Everyone knows that at the end of a big holiday meal, when we’re too full to eat another bite, we still have room for dessert. This has to do with how the appetite center in our brain is hardwired. Simply put, the more flavor variety there is in a meal or snack (e.g., sweet, salty, savory, etc.), the more calories it takes to feel full. If you simplify meals and snacks so there are fewer flavors mixed in at one time, the fewer calories it takes to feel full. If you can feel full on fewer calories, you can lose weight and control your weight without being hungry. And since the meal plan is designed for optimal nutrition and to be delicious, it’s ideal for families.

Why is exercise an integral part of weight management?
Exercise is crucial to weight maintenance because the more muscular and fit your body, the more calories it burns each day at rest. Exercise, in other words, raises basal metabolic rate. And exercise is simply essential for overall health and vitality.

Describe your ABC for Fitness program.
Schools are allocating less and less time to recess and physical education. Concurrent with this trend, we have rising rates of both childhood obesity and behavioral disorders such as ADHD. Coincidence? I doubt it. Inspired by my son Gabriel, ABC for Fitness provides detailed instruction to run brief bursts of aerobic activity throughout the school day anytime kids get restless or bored. The name stands for “Activity Bursts in the Classroom,” and that’s just what it provides-in increments as short as 3 to 5 minutes. Over the course of every school day, the kids can accumulate 30 minutes or more of physical activity. Our initial testing of the program in 13 elementary schools in Independence, Mo., shows just what we hoped: enhanced fitness, fewer disruptions in the classroom, better scores on standardized tests, and reduced use of medication for ADHD. Rambunctious children should be treated with recess, not Ritalin; ABC for Fitness makes that substitution possible.

If you were stranded on a deserted island and could pick only one nutritional supplement and one food to have with you, which would you choose?
That’s a tough one because with so little variety, you’d be in trouble. I’d probably choose fish oil as my supplement and lentils as the one food-they’re extremely nutritious, and a good source of protein. Eggs would be another good option for maximizing survival. If I were just going to die anyway, I’d go with a wonderful crusty French baguette-it wouldn’t keep me alive for long, but I’d go out happy! What is some nutritional advice that everyone should know? Fruits and vegetables really are good for you! The closer to nature your diet is, the better.