Eating Healthy all 9 Months and Beyond!
An interview with Tanya Rosen, founder, and owner of the Tri-State area’s largest, most sought-after Jewish Nutrition Company
As an experienced Nutritionist, why do you believe so many diets fail?
The simple fact is that most diets are completely unrealistic. Sure, you can pull it off for a week or two, maybe even a month or two, but in the end, it simply won’t work. Most dieters feel hungry, weak, irritable and deprived. The key to a successful program is to make sure it is normal and realistic.
In our program, we encourage our clients to eat on the following schedule: breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner. In order to keep your metabolism active, it is important not to deprive yourself of vital nutrients and calories. We also incorporate each person’s favorite foods, in moderation, into their meal plan. This is critical in order not to create a sense of deprivation that can ultimately lead to an abandonment of the program.
What advice can you share specific to expectant and nursing women?
During pregnancy, you will need to gain weight, but it is important to be careful and gain weight at a reasonable pace. The more unnecessary pounds you gain, the harder it will be to return to your old weight. Even if you work hard and manage to shed all your baby weight, except five pounds (a remarkable feat for most of us), you are still at a disadvantage. Think about it. Five extra pounds after each pregnancy means that you may be 25-30 pounds overweight after a few children. And that is a best case scenario! It is worthwhile to be vigilant and eat healthy during your pregnancy and not have to pay for it later.
Losing weight while you are nursing is a delicate proposition. Eat too little, and your milk can dry up. Eat too much, and you will never shed your baby pounds. The trick is to find the right balance of ample, yet healthy caloric intake.
What is it like being a nutritionist?
I love my job! The simple fact is that gaining weight is devastating for people’s self-image. This is often compounded by pressure, real or imagined, from spouses or parents to lose the extra pounds. Your typical overweight person will attempt all sorts of diets with little effect. They end up being trapped in their situation and feel terrible about themselves. Even when a diet works, they feel miserable. Unless properly calibrated, many diets make people feel moody, unfocused, and irritable from deprivation and hunger. Eventually, people cheat and abandon their diet, feeling more useless, fat, and miserable than they were when they started. All in all, a terrible experience.
It is amazing to help people break the cycle, gain control of their weight, and start feeling fit and healthy. When people eat right, lose weight, and keep it off, shalom bayis improves immensely, and they find themselves living happier, fuller lives than in the past. In my career, I have helped many overweight and unhealthy people completely transform. Clients have walked into my office with a full medicine chest of daily pills, and after the program, their doctors were able to drastically lower their daily medication regimen.
Aside from helping people lose weight, we often end up helping in other capacities. I remember one client who struggled with secondary fertility for 9 years. Her doctor told her that losing weight was an important step in the journey to have more children. I remember meeting her sometime after finishing our program. After 9 years of waiting, she was pregnant with twins!
What made you decide to become a nutrition counselor? Were you always health conscious?
(Laughing) Actually not. Growing up, I always ate what I wanted. I never dieted or watched my weight. Everything was fine until my first pregnancy. During those nine months, I gained a whopping 50 pounds! After my baby was born, I was determined to lose weight, but I had no idea how to get back to my old self.
I was in the midst of preparing for law school, but, intent on losing my baby weight, I started doing copious research about various diets and exercise regimens. To the untrained, the diet world is a confusing place, full of terrible advice, and all sorts of crazy ideas. The more I experimented and learned, the more I realized I had a passion for nutrition and wanted to help others live healthy lives. To my family’s shock, I dropped my law school plans, and threw myself full time into nutrition, gaining the expertise and knowledge to help other people.
How did you launch your career?
I started giving exercise classes in someone’s basement. From there, I eventually expanded and launched my first storefront. It was expensive and I had no idea what I was doing, but I took the plunge and hoped for the best.
Baruch Hashem, my clients lost weight, kept it off , and enthusiastically referred their friends. We quickly expanded past our first location. Over the past decade, we have expanded our operation to include 40+ employees and 5 branches around the Tri-State area. We are in the middle of launching 3 more locations!
Wow! Over the years, how many people do you think you helped?
I would guess around 10,000.
What sort of clients do you typically see?
We serve different demographics with all sorts of needs. Our clients include men, women, children, people losing weight, underweight people trying to put on a few pounds, and people struggling with all sorts of medical problems. Over the years, we have pretty much-seen everything.
Tell me a little bit about your team.
Baruch Hashem, we have a remarkable group of nutrition counselors. I have a good sense of people and am extremely careful when picking new counselors. I need staff who are friendly, smart, warm, and most of all, super supportive. A counselor must be available, off hours, be it motzei-Shabbos or 10 PM on Sunday night, to help clients navigate any issues that arise. It is not an easy job, but I have been blessed with an extraordinarily talented staff. We are all very close, and everyone is always learning and helping each other grow from their experiences.
What happens when someone calls and requests your services?
We start with a 45-minute consultation. During this time, we learn the person’s health issues, weight goals, and previously attempted diets. We also ask about the client’s lifestyle. A businessman who eats on the run has different needs than a mother maintaining a household while trying to cook healthy. Once we understand the person’s situation, we build a personalized meal plan, factoring in Shabbosim, vacations, Yom Tov, and any necessary restrictions.
Armed with a plan, the client will come in every week for a reevaluation to assess the previous week’s progress and plan for the next week. We prepare for any upcoming events like bar mitzvas or kiddushim. Of course, throughout the week, we are available to answer any diet and health questions that arise.
I realized early on that every person must be treated as a unique individual. It is unrealistic to develop one diet program and force every client into that package. We are constantly innovating and thinking outside the box to tailor each program to the individual.
What do your clients do to survive Yom Tov, and most importantly, Pesach?
Pesach is a really hard time to diet. There are so many eggs, oil, and potatoes and many people simply drop their diets until after Pesach. To help, we spend a lot of resources hunting and researching healthy alternatives for standard Pesach products. We run workshops before every Yom Tov to educate and share tips, advice, recipes, and replacement ingredients to create a healthy Yom Tov.
Tell me about your “TAP” food line.
One of the challenges of maintaining a successful diet is properly limiting carbs. People crave that cake-y filling experience, and in a weak moment, end up cheating. We decided to try and create healthy alternatives. We got to work and whipped up our own muffin line. We experimented with all the recipes on the market and eventually crafted the perfect dietetic, yummy, big, and healthy muffin in 12 flavors. Because we were also catering to pregnant and nursing women, we had to avoid Splenda and all artificial sweeteners, making sure our product was all-natural.
From there, we moved on to our biggest challenge: Potato kugel. For yidden, potato kugel is a real killer, it is loaded with oil and carbs, and even a tiny piece packs a punch. We spent months experimenting, crafting a kugel that was low-carb, fat-free, had zero oil, and was gluten-free.
Eventually, we settled on a recipe, convinced it was as good as the real thing. To test our product, we served it at a large shiur full of men. We watched in amazement as they polished the entire tray and asked for doubles. Only after they finished raving about how good it was did we reveal that it was completely dietetic. Their faces were priceless!
Our next product was cheesecake. The goal was to give people a snack that was high in protein and low in fat. We tinkered endlessly trying to retain the decadent creamy texture of cheesecake, despite using completely dietetic ingredients.
After that, we went on to develop 4 different types of vegetable soups, a personal pie for on the go, and a whole line of cookies for healthy snack alternatives.
I see the TAP logo in restaurants, what does that mean?
At some point, we realized that for a diet to be sustainable, people need to go out to restaurants with a clear conscience. We partnered with a number of restaurants to help create that experience. We examine the ingredients and cooking process of each dish and create a tailored “TAP” menu.
What is next in the pipeline?
We are actually about to release a vitamin line. We are working very hard to produce high-quality supplements that increase energy, health, and digestion. Look out for it in your local pharmacy!