Celebrity dietitian Kim Shapira has been counseling all the beauties in LA for over 18 years. She herself is the vision of health — a mom, wife, business woman — i.e., a gorgeous human we all want to emulate. She has a busy husband, 3 kids and a grueling schedule – but you’d never guess it by her physicality, her energy, her youth.
Kim Shapira is the go-to gal for huge media spots like Glamour Magazine, Dr. Drew and Fox Morning News’ “Ask The Experts” segment. Her impressive client list consists of actors, writers, makeup artists, accountants, kids, athletes, cancer patients, and a slew of clients suffering from IBS and digestive issues. The common denominator amidst her list is that they are mostly just normal stressed out people who are full of confusion on how to do the right thing. Or people who want to lose weight, keep it off and get and stay healthy! Doesn’t that sum you up?
With swimsuit season coming up and with all of our urgent needs to shed some winter weight and toxic bloat, I called up celebrity dietitian Kim Shapira to get the secret tips and tricks to share with you.
The advice she dishes is wise and science backed. Utilizing her medical and science background as well as her innate therapeutic compassion, she successfully insinuates health guidance, mindfulness and weight loss know how to her clients — and today she provides it for lucky us!
Hi Kim! Tell us a little about your background. So you grew up in LA, right? What made you decide to take on a path of wellness as a career? Did you grow up with a healthy lifestyle?
I did! I grew up in LA.!
My passion in the medical and wellness field was influenced a lot by smart and compassionate individuals I met at UCLA Medical Center as well as throughout my education in both college and grad school. There was this one influential doctor who suggested that I would be a great dietitian because of all my know how and what I was seeking to accomplish.
After my hospital rotations, I recognized I was extremely disheartened by the way we deal with those diagnosed with diseases. And I became cognizant and confident that diet could fix diseases and prevent many of them from materializing in the first place. So after all these years of education and internships and private practice, I’ve taken on the role of nutritional therapist and I help my clients achieve a state of healthfulness with respect to both their mind and body. I aim to treat and prevent disease through diet, mindfulness and exercise.
How would you say your coaching style differs from other dietitians out there?
I call myself a nutritional therapist. I help people do what’s right for their body, holistically. I incorporate emotional therapy as it relates to what we put in our bodies, as well as the necessary science-backed nutritional needs.
We make 221 food decisions every single day! Our society puts so much emphasis on treating diseases and its symptoms — so my job is to prevent diseases in the first place through diet, mindfulness and exercise.
It’s the favorite part of what I do.
So – we’re all multitasking. How are you supposed to stick to a plan of healthy eating when there are so many distractions and alluring foods? My downfall is my mindless eating and constant snacking — whether it’s “healthy options” like spoonfuls of almond butter, coconut butter, dark chocolate, fruit. I eat because I feel anxious and stressed or bored.
Yes, that’s a problem for a lot of my clients. So I focus on getting my clients to understand to be mindful of when they’re full and when they’re hungry. You should not eat when you’re not hungry. Any sort of noshing should be eliminated because you’re just eating it because it’s there for emotional reasons.
So – we eat for 3 reasons:
- Because it’s in front of us.
If you’re hungry, then eat.
If you’re not hungry – you need to ask yourself, are you eating just because it’s in front of you or because you’re feeling anxious, stressed, happy, depressed? You need to address these emotional issues – whether it’s in therapy or meditation or by taking a walk.
Or ask yourself — are you eating just because it’s in front of you? If food is in front of you when you’re not hungry, then move it away from you. Get it away from your car, your computer, your TV, etc.
I teach my clients to seek satisfaction from life and not from food.
Well, I eat nonstop in the car from work to home because traffic is so bad, I’m stressed out, my 4 year old is yelling at me to turn around every second to look at her art, to pick up her pretzels or her paper or her My Little Pony that fell on the floor. I want Calgon to take me away, but since it can’t, I turn to food.
Yes, so try to turn these stressful and anxious situations into happy opportunities. Put some nice lotion or oils on your hands. Something relaxing and soothing. Play music with your child and sing. And make sure food is not in the car. If it wasn’t available to you, then you won’t be able to eat it, right?
You should only be eating as an individual activity. Not multitasking it with something else — even if it’s just driving.
What I like to do is have a PLAN B. PLAN B is something that we use as a coping mechanism. Things to try instead of food – like you’re preparing for a rainy day.
This can either be a journal or notebook where you chart why you’re eating. For example, you write in your book, “I’M BORED.” Then draw an arrow to the word, “EAT.” Is that an appropriate reaction or solution? Of course not. So be mindful of your emotional state and what you should do to resolve it. If your physical state is not hunger, then eating shouldn’t be your course of action. If you’re bored, then you should read a book, watch a movie, go for a walk. Those are appropriate actions. Pretty much, ANYTHING that isn’t eating.
Or you can write the word “STRESS” and then link it to the word “EATING.” Is this appropriate? No, instead do a walking meditation or take a shower where you’re washing off your stress. Identify that this is emotional.
If you are feeling hunger, then draw an arrow to the word “EAT.” Then that is the one appropriate time to eat.
So your PLAN B can be the notebook or journal I just described.
OR, your PLAN B can be a bag of tricks. For example, you can put gum, lotion, lip gloss, aromatherapy, etc. in a little makeup bag. If you’re struggling from eating something just because it’s in front of you or because you’re bored/depressed/angry, etc. — then pull something from the bag to occupy you. Luxuriate in the relaxing scents. Or give your self a massage or engage in aromatherapy (I love Tata Harper!).
Or take a shower to wash away your stress. Create some sort of new mechanism to cope.
It sounds like you’re a crazed person doing too many things. You’re just stressed and not thinking. So just identify that this is stress and then engage in PLAN B.
I will! I’m excited to try it! Thank you.
Do you have any morning rituals? Do you require eating within 1 hour of waking? Lemon/water practices?
Well my fabulous husband brings me coffee in bed every morning. That’s the first thing I do and it’s the favorite part of my day.
I just get going. Make sure you have a clear intention of where you’re heading and take ownership of that and everything else follows. Make yourself the priority!
What’s your take on exercise?
Very important. In terms of weight loss, I think 90% is diet and 10% is exercise. However, you need to exercise to keep the weight loss off. Once you’re in maintenance mode it becomes 50/50. I exercise every single day.
And I suggest that everyone owns a pedometer. People should be getting at least 10,000 steps daily (!) which doesn’t include the additional exercise you are doing whether it’s weights or a barre class, etc. We need strength training, flexibility and cardiovascular exercise. It increases the good hormones and makes us feel good and keeps our body at a healthy weight.
And what are your recommended before and after exercise snacks/meals?
First, hydration is absolutely crucial before and after your workouts.
To find out if you’re adequately hydrated, weigh yourself before your workout — and if you’re maintaining your weight, then your water intake is enough. If you lose weight, you’re dehydrated. Hydration is the key for performance!
Regarding eating, you never want to have fats before or after workouts. It’s too hard for the digestion and can cause stomachaches and upsets.
Before workouts, you want good carbs like yogurt and fruit approximately 45-60 minutes prior.
Post workout, you want a little protein and a little carb. Carbs can be from fruit, milk, vegetables or dairy. These carbs replenish glycogen and the protein restores the muscle. The perfect post workout protein/carb combination is chocolate milk.
I can’t have dairy, so is soy or almond chocolate milk OK?
Yes! You can always substitute with chocolate soy or chocolate almond milk since they’re fortified. They have the necessary calcium and protein. Almond milk may be lower in calories but it’s still good enough.
Do you recommend calories, points, measurements? For those who can’t yet use satiety as a guide, what do you recommend?
Again, it’s all about mindfulness. I don’t recommend counting anything. Instead, focus on your hunger. Hunger is your best friend. You don’t want to be hungry for too long, but once your hunger signal strikes, you know it’s time to eat.
If you’re eating when you’re not hungry, that’s going to turn to fat. Your body doesn’t know if it’s eating a strawberry or ice cream. If you’re full and you eat — then that food isn’t needed and it will just turn to fat.
So, I know that you’re down with dairy and wheat — and in fact, encourage it. What’s your retort to all the holistic nutritionists out there these days who say we need to eliminate dairy, gluten, soy and corn arguing it leads to an inflammatory response in the body?
Those are real things. Any sort of intolerance or allergy or autoimmune issue is very real. But if you don’t have medical issues requiring the elimination of certain food groups, then it just becomes another fad diet. Like the Zone or Atkins or the days of Snackwell’s. If you’re not allergic to milk or not lactose intolerant, then dairy can be a wonderful weight loss tool. I’m always sure to have 3 cups of milk or yogurt a day. The protein and probiotics in milk and yogurt are wonderful and so helpful in weight loss!
And what are your thoughts on pressed green juices made so popular by Pressed Juicery, Blueprint, etc.?
I love the taste of those juices — but to be honest, they’re just trendy and all-the-rage right now. I think everybody should know that the quickest way to destroy a vitamin or mineral is to chop it, blend it or grind it. Most of the vitamins and minerals are UV light sensitive and they depreciate very quickly so you’re basically drinking a lot of water with sugar! That’s not to say there aren’t nutrients in the juices — but they are severely diminished.
So if something had 1000 mg of vitamin C to start – it ends up with maybe a couple hundred. But, of course, the hundreds of calories are still intact. Someone would never eat hundreds of calories of regular fruits and vegetables in one sitting because we would get a terrible stomachache! These juices can also upset your digestive track! Try and really think about why you’re drinking them to begin with — and maybe just go for the real food.
However, if you are going to drink them, look for organic juices at least. And honestly, you just need to do everything in moderation.
AND – WHAT WE’VE ALL BEEN WAITING FOR! THE MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION:
What’s your summation on the top tips to shed weight for the swim season, quickly and safely?
- Eat only when hungry. This is the most important thing!
- Try to eat only half your portion and then wait 15 minutes. You probably won’t go back for. If you can distract yourself in that 15 minute period, you probably won’t go back because you’ll find you’re satiated. During those 15 minutes, find pleasure in anything – whether it’s reading a book, calling a friend, going for a walk. Any distraction! Turn on music with the kids, play a game. If you’re alone, just put the food away. You can even set a timer to 15 minutes.
- Eat water based foods. There’s a scientific study that shows that you end up eating 60 calories less. So start your meal with soup or a giant apple or watermelon. Drink a giant glass of water before you start eating. And then wait 5-10 minutes.
- If you’re craving dessert, wait until you’re hungry. Or else it just goes to fat. Your body just knows you’re full — and like I said, it doesn’t know the difference between a strawberry and ice cream.
- Exercise every DAMN DAY! In addition to the 10,000 steps. The 10,000 steps is necessary to maintain your weight. But you need to exercise to maintain muscle, flexibility, cardiovascular health, etc.
- Drink enough water. Everyone needs at least 8 glasses of water a day. If you’re 20 lbs overweight, you need 2 additional cups. Or if you drink caffeine, for every cup of coffee, you need 2 additional cups of water. Water is key. and Calcium!
- Calcium. It’s been proven that if you’re not taking in enough Calcium, you will gain an extra 7 lbs in your lifetime. We need about 1200 mg (3 supplements or 3 cups of milk/yogurt) spaced out. And it’s best to get it from nonfat diary foods.
- 5-7 starches. This provides us with the necessary B Vitamins which line our digestive track and keep us healthy with a little bit of everything we need. The amount depends on your activity level. If you’re an elite athlete, then go for 5-7 servings. But if you’re going for weight loss, then aim for 5. But don’t go below 5 – as you will need all the vitamins and nutrients for the day from them. A serving is 1/4 cup of rice, 1/2 cup pasta, 1/2-3/4 cup of cereal, one slice of bread, 1/2 a potato or sweet potato. (By the way, sweet potatoes and potatoes both offer different nutrition and are great for digestion. The skins are great for IBS!) All of these starches have different nutritional benefits so you should vary your starches up. Rice doesn’t have that much nutrition so it should be at the bottom of everyone’s list.
- If you’re going to have bread, stick to whole grain rather than whole wheat. I usually stick to rye bread and sourdough. Those are my favorites.
- 5-7 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. It doesn’t matter which you pick because they have the same nutrition. If you’re more of a vegetable person, eat your veggies! If you’re more of a fruit person, eat your fruit!
Such helpful, wise and doable advice! Thank you!
Where do you want to be 5-10 years from now?
On Oprah! And I’d love to be the spokesperson for a great probiotic company. I’m a firm believer of probiotics.
Awesome! I have a feeling that’s going to happen.
And where are the best places to follow you and keep up with you and your tips?
Amazing. Thank you, Kim so much for your wisdom. You have such heart and expertise in what you do. All your clients are gifted to have you in their lives!
+ AND STAY TUNED READERS: In the coming weeks we have interviews with the creator/showrunner of MARVEL’S AGENTS of S.H.I.E.L.D., MAURISSA TANCHAROEN WHEDON + NATIONAL TAEKWONDO CHAMPION, 5th DEGREE BLACK BELT and TECH TOY LEADER, MASTER MASON WILLIAMS.