Zonya's in the News:
HAP event teaches women about weight loss

By Jessica Schrader, C & G Staff Writer, (jschrader@candgnews.com)
Troy Times, January 26, 2006

Zonya Foco, R.D., wants to warn people about a serious danger in the workplace. It's free, round, and likely to be found in the lunchroom one or more mornings per week.

It's the doughnut — a staple and a crowd-pleaser in many workplaces.

"When someone brings doughnuts, we're either on a diet or we're not on a diet. And when we're not on a diet, we eat not one, but two or three, because hey, they're free," said Foco, a popular nutrition speaker who addressed 500 women Jan. 14 in Troy for a Health Alliance Plan weight loss seminar. "I want to do a lobotomy on everybody in the room and be able to change the way they think about doughnuts, and put them really where they belong," Foco said. Where they belong is far, far away from kitchen counters, refrigerators and office cafeterias. To get this point across, Foco showed the women just how much sugar and fat are in a doughnut — about four teaspoons of sugar and 6.5 teaspoons of fat, totaling about 26 grams of fat in one doughnut. One volunteer from the crowd held these ingredients in her hand.

"When we look at all of that together, it's like, ‘wow,'" Foco said, noting that she calls the demonstration the "doughnut healing" because it aims to get people to win the battle in their mind and see doughnuts for what they are.

"Doughnuts are everywhere, they're at church. Do they want us to meet God sooner?" she laughed. "Knowledge is power. We have choices."

These choices were the theme of the first of three seminars in HAP's Weight Wise Wise Women Program, designed to teach female HAP members ages 35 to 54 to plan simple and nutritious meals, incorporate exercise into busy schedules and improve health without resorting to fad diets or pills. Each woman received a copy of Foco's book, "Lickety-Split Meals For Health Conscious People on the Go!"

The program's goal is to help people modify the diets and lifestyles they have instead of taking on drastically new ones. For example, Foco said women should try "halfing" one thing in their diet each day for a year.

"Pick one thing each day to half, then double your vegetables. You get to have it, but you half it," she said, and it can make you lose 26 pounds in a year.

"You didn't go on a fancy diet, you didn't give up anything. It's the power of changing one habit at a time," Foco said, noting that eating three fruits a day can help fight sweets cravings.

Maintaining healthy eating requires people to be defensive at the supermarket. Just because items are approved by the Food and Drug Administration doesn't mean they're OK, she said.

"There are over 60,000 food products on food shelves known to cause heart disease and diabetes," Foco said. "They're all FDA approved, so we have to know more. We have to get the control back."

When shopping, look for foods that are low in sugar, high in whole grains and low in refined flour.

Foco recommends simple lifestyle changes such as having a serving of fruit and a glass of water every four waking hours.

"It's guaranteed to work on the cravings," she said, and fruits should be stored in a large bowl on the kitchen table, not in the "rotter," also known as the refrigerator crisper.

And stop waiting for that 30-minute chunk of time to exercise, she said.

"Just getting up in the morning and doing some jumping jacks," or doing leg lifts while brushing your teeth, makes a difference.

"Just that would change your life if you did that every morning," Foco said. "You're not going to weigh less the next morning, but by the end of the year, you'd lose six pounds. We're always wanting to see it the next day or within the same week, but do something for a year — and once you do it for a year, it's a habit anyway."

For more health tips from Foco, visit www.Zonya.com, or watch her TV show "Health Bites" at 3:30 p.m. on Saturdays on the Detroit network PBS.

Bethany Thayer, R.D., founded the Weight Wise Program as a "non-diet approach rather than counting calories or fat grams."

"It looks at how changing even one bad habit to a healthy habit can have a lasting impact on their weight control," Thayer said, noting that the number one request HAP gets is for information on nutrition and exercise.

"If you look at the environment we're surrounded in today, it's hard to make good choices. You've got fast food, convenience stores and vending machines," everywhere, Thayer said, so people need to look at ways to change the environmental factors they can control by making healthy foods readily available wherever they are.

"When you open up the fridge, the first thing you should see is cut up vegetables and skim milk and a fresh fruit bowl – not potato chips and doughnuts."