Teriyaki Turkey Bowl

Bowl-dishes are a great way to get all the important “stuff” (vegetables, protein, starch, and fats) into one dish. This version uses a store-bought teriyaki sauce and turkey chops, but you could use any marinade, any meat, and any vegetables to mix things up a bit.




4 turkey chops (roughly 1 – 1.25 lbs)
1/2 cup teriyaki sauce
2 cups cooked brown rice
1 bunch broccoli rabe
1/2 head of red cabbage, thinly sliced
1 cup sliced carrots
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, leaves removed from stems and roughly chopped



1. Marinate turkey chops in teriyaki sauce (at least 30 minutes). Cook rice from scratch per box instructions, or use pre-cooked brown rice packets.

2. Coat broccoli rabe with olive oil. Cook turkey chops and broccoli rabe on a grill, panini press, or in the oven – 4- 6  minutes per side on the grill for the turkey or 16-20 minutes in the oven. While items are cooking, prep the cabbage, carrots, and cilantro.

3. Once cooked, slice the turkey chops and roughly chop the broccoli rabe. Place 1/2 cup rice into a bowl. Top with 1 sliced turkey chop and plenty of broccoli, red cabbage, carrot, and cilantro. Add fresh teriyaki sauce or salt and pepper if desired.

Nutrition facts (per serving): 410 calories, 35 g protein, 6 g fiber

The body: What does it know that we don’t?

By: Raquel Willerman, PhD, MSW, LGSW

What can our bodies tell us about the way we experience ourselves, others and our environment?  This is the subject of a burgeoning area of scientific research on the psychology of the body.  It seems we are just beginning to understand the myriad ways our bodies “know” things that our minds might not recognize.  In other words, our bodies can react to things in the environment outside of our conscious awareness.  In addition, our bodies can “tell a story” even if we would wish to tell a different story.

A simple experiment by Dimberg et al. (2000) illustrates this idea.  They exposed subjects to subliminal images of either a happy or an angry face.  The duration of the images was so brief (only 30/1000 of a second), that subjects were not consciously aware of seeing anything other than a neutral face.  However, the activity of their facial muscles “mirrored” the emotion of the happy or angry face to which they were exposed.  In other words, subjects in this experiment reacted bodily to something they were not aware of seeing.

Results from another study strongly suggest that our bodies register unconscious communication from others, even though our minds may be completely unaware of any such communication.  Heller and Haynal (1996) used microanalysis of filmed interviews to study the non-verbal behaviors of a psychiatrist and the depressed and suicidal patients she was treating.  They found that the psychiatrist was unable to verbally (consciously) predict which patients would re-attempt suicide within the year.  Her success rate in predicting was only 29%, which is not better than chance.  However, a frame-by-frame analysis of the interviews revealed that the psychiatrist’s body made over 200 non-verbal gestures (such as shrugs, grimaces, frowns, gaze, voice quality, etc.) in reaction to those patients who did re-attempt suicide within the year.  These physiological reactions were mostly absent from the interviews with patients who did not re-attempt suicide.  Thus, the psychiatrist’s body correctly predicted most re-attempters even though she was unable to say or “know” that her body was doing this.

What does this mean to us — at the Washington Center for Weight Management and Research —  that our bodies can react to unconscious communications or stimuli without our minds even realizing it?  For me, a psychotherapist, it means that there is great value in being curious about what we are sensing in our bodies.  Just by focusing our attention on the connection between our physiological sensations and symptoms and our inner mental life we make ourselves open to new understandings of our histories, narratives and present situations.  We can listen to our bodies for themes or feelings that may have been kept out of our awareness, yet show up in our lives through bothersome symptoms such as weight gain, bingeing, depression, anxiety or difficulty with relationships.


Dimberg, U., Thunberg, M., and Elmehed, K. (2000). Unconscious facial reactions to emotional facial expressions. Psychological Science, 11 (1), pp. 86-89.

Heller, M. and Haynal, V. (1996). The Doctor’s Face: A Mirror of His Patients Suicidal Projects. In Guimon, J. (ed): The Body in Psychotherapy.  Int. Congress, Geneva, 1996, pp. 46-51.

Exercise and Mood

By: Rachel Trope, MS CEP

Each year, approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S experiences anxiety, depression, and other forms of mental illness.

Adults diagnosed with a mental illness are at an increased risk for chronic disease such as heart disease and diabetes. Certain forms of mental illness are associated with a 10-fold increased risk of mortality from preventable chronic disease.

What is it that makes this group so vulnerable to chronic disease? Psychotherapy and medications are often the first line of prescribed treatment for mental illness.

Exercise, which is widely used to treat and prevent chronic disease, may not be incorporated into the treatment plan. When exercise is recommended, it can prove challenging. Beyond the normal difficulty of starting an exercise program, mental illness symptoms act as additional barrier that must be overcome.

The benefits of incorporating exercise into a treatment plan for mental illness are expansive. On top of the cardiovascular benefits, regular exercise has been shown to decrease tension, improve, and stabilize mood, improve sleep, and increase self-esteem.

Just 5 minutes of aerobic exercise (walking, biking, dancing, swimming) can begin to stimulate the part of the brain that manages anxiety and stress. In fact, moderate intensity exercise can provide hours of relief for people with anxiety disorder.

Exercise also has a protective effect on the cardiovascular system which can be adversely effected by depression and stress. The best part, these benefits, and the ones outlined below, occur regardless of weight loss.

Benefits of Exercise

* Improves mental health by decreasing anxiety, depression, and negative mood

* Improves self-esteem and cognitive function

* Helps to alleviate symptoms of mental illness (low self-esteem, social withdrawal)

* Improves sleep

* Decreases stress

* Increases energy and stamina

* Decreases fatigue

* Increases mental alertness

Knowing exercise is good for you, however, is only half the battle. The biggest challenge we face is going from doing nothing, to doing something.

It is important to start small. If you’re doing no activity or exercise, set a goal of walking around your house for 1-5 minutes a few times a week.

Notice the change in energy level and mood. Keep a journal of what you did for exercise, and how you felt doing it. This can serve as a positive reminder when energy and motivation are running low.

Remember, some activity is always better than none!

1 Any Mental Illness (AMI) Among Adults. (n.d.). Retrieved October 23, 2015, from – See more at: http://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-By-the-Numbers#sthash.abIBmU4U.dpuf

Why Winter is so Hard for Maintaining Weight

By: Dr. Domenica Rubino


Why is winter so hard for maintaining weight (even after the holiday parties are over)? Food, mood and activity are all affected by the change in season.

On the average a person may gain 1-3 pounds, not the 5-7 often heard on the radio or seen in magazines. The problem is this new weight is typically maintained and every year this can add up.

Who is prone to weight gain? Research suggests that those who are biologically pre-disposed to weight gain and who may already be overweight may be more likely to gain weight. Men also seem to be at slightly greater risk compared to women.

The change in environment, cold, and darkness affects all of the key influences on weight—I mean who wants to go out for a walk when it is 30 degrees and dark? And for that matter, who wants a salad?  So understanding that food, mood and activity are all vulnerable to the cold of winter can help you manage.

First step is recognizing that we are going to be seeking warm, savory, comforting foods. Time to drag out the crock pot-explore making soups and chili –a good way to add vegetables, flavor and volume.

Like a thicker soup? Try adding a beaten egg, yogurt or milk to make your soup creamier, or take a portion of soup out and use a blender or processor to thicken it up by adding some cooked beans and add back to the soup.

For added texture, add beans or grains to the soup that have protein and a lower glycemic index, such as farro or quinoa. In the winter, take the time to make roasted vegetables, especially ones with a thicker texture like the squashes or sweet potato. Experiment with different herbs and spices. Consider a cooking class.

Recognize any mood changes during this time of year. Some individuals are very sensitive to the lack of sunlight and can feel down or depressed during this time period. If you have a history of seasonal affective disorder, consider light therapy. Some individuals with depression may need their medication altered during the winter. Check your vitamin D levels and make sure that they are normal.

Since many of us are less active during the winter, this can be a trigger for worsening mood. Research supports the effectiveness of being active in promoting better stress management and mood. Be aware of feeling lonely. Get together with friends and maintain a social group. Consider volunteering or following up on an interest of hobby through classes where you can meet others with similar interests.

The change in season often disrupts our activity routine. Consider having a winter plan—come up with something different just for the winter (check out our tips below). Try out different activities, consider taking a class where it is warm and there are people around.   Walking is still the easiest for most to do just about anywhere. Try bundling up and taking a 10-15 minute walk every day.  If it is icy out, be safe and walk at the mall or escape to the museum (free in DC!); try a video at home or take a class at the rec center.

So remember, winter does present unique challenges, but by being more in tune with these factors it can help support weight loss or weight maintenance goals.


Perspectives on Holiday Eating

By: Lauren Trocchio, RD, CSSD, LD

So many folks see the holiday season as a double-edged sword: a time of year for scrumptious specialty foods, yet an attack on their willpower and waistline.

As we are presently in the middle of a long stretch of holidays, consider these ideas to bring some perspective to the season:

1. It’s okay for food to bring pleasure. Food is a tremendous part of our culture. It’s associated with celebrations, family and friends, events…and pleasure. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

In fact, experiment with what it is about certain foods that is pleasurable – take time to enjoy each bite, examine the aroma and texture and flavor. Just this sample act can make you more mindful at meals. You may even find that favorite foods which you are concerned can lead to overeating and subsequent shame aren’t all that pleasurable.

2. Practice letting go. One meal or one snack or one day does not our wellness make. Quite often it’s not what we eat at a particular meal but our thoughts and reaction after it that impacts our eating habits and weight the most.

Feel like having a piece of pie? Practice compassionate self-talk afterwards – “I’m allowed to enjoy foods”, “I listened to my body and ate when I was hungry, stopped when I was full”, or “I feel like I overate, but that’s normal occasionally – tomorrow I will check-in with my hunger and fullness to get back on track.”

3. What do you want to enjoy? Ask yourself this question before meals. Parties and holiday gatherings can mean an abundance of food choices, so really ask yourself what it is you want to enjoy at that meal.

Instinct may be to avoid it, but instead try including it. Avoid grabbing some of everything, perhaps never feeling satisfied. Instead, build it into your meal while listening to your body’s hunger and fullness cues. And sometimes you may find what you want to enjoy isn’t just food, but something else like the company of family and friends.

Pumpkin Oatmeal


This recipe kicked off our breakfast cooking demo. As it gets cooler outside, you may find yourself gravitating towards warmer breakfast foods. Oatmeal is a great option for fiber, and making it with milk or soy milk boosts the protein. Try adding pumpkin for a seasonal spin on a class breakfast food.

(serves 4)

1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
2 cups milk or soy milk
¼ cup pumpkin puree
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
¼ cup maple syrup
½ cup chopped pecans

1. Bring the oats and milk to a boil in a pan. Once boiling, reduce to simmer and cover to cook for 5-6 minutes.
2. Add the pumpkin, vanilla, pumpkin pie spice, and maple syrup to the pan.
3. Serve topped with chopped pecans.

Note: To make this a well-balanced breakfast, pair it with a Greek yogurt or 2 scrambled or hard-boiled eggs to increase the protein.

Nutrition facts (1 serving): 210 calories, 10 g protein, 4 g fiber, 8 g fat

Adapted from http://www.damndelicious.com