By Allyson Dickman>Senior>Journalism>University of Maryland
When it comes to your health, forget if the most recent season of Real Housewives of New York has turned you Team Bethenny or Team Jill. Star of the hit reality show on Bravo, Bethenny Frankel is spreading a much more important message than “get a hobby.” This time, she’s telling women across the country it’s time to change our attitude about food.
Forget obsessing over your body in the mirror or trying the latest fad diets. Frankel has launched a movement among women through her books, Naturally Thin and Skinnygirl Dish that goes beyond cutting calories and low-carb recipes. “It doesn’t matter, you can be in Italy, you can be at McDonalds, you can be anywhere and you can still learn how to eat,” said Frankel. “It teaches you how to think about food and how to have a good relationship with food.”
Frankel is no stranger to the struggle most women, especially college-aged women, face with food and their weight. As she writes in her book, her struggle began at home, with her mother who sent her away to an obesity clinic for being a little chubby as a pre-teen. In college at New York University she continued her battle, which ultimately inspired her to attend culinary school at the Natural Gourmet Institute. “In college I was totally obsessed, but had no idea what to do. I would binge and then I would starve or I just wanted to be thin but was afraid, then would drink and then would eat late at night and didn’t have any balance,” she explained.
Sound familiar? Dieting, binging and starving aren’t a rarity on a college campus for women or men. “The problem with college students is they don’t have a great relationship with food.” Frankel said. While the problem may start long before college, drinking, fad diets and being surrounded by coeds with “perfect” bodies can exacerbate the problem. “They want to be thin so they starve themselves, then they get drunk and then at night they’re binging at the minimart or the pizza place and they feel guilty,” added Frankel.
As the inventor of the Skinnygirl Margarita, Frankel is in no denial that drinking may be an essential part of life, but she recommends choosing the healthier beverage options and to make sure to eat while drinking so the late night or early morning binging doesn’t happen.
And when it comes to food, you don’t have to have a full kitchen or a freezer full of Lean Cuisines to stay healthy. All you need are a few basics that are both flavorful and filling. Frankel recommends canned soup, which can be heated up in a microwave late at night for a decadent meal. Among her other suggestions: buy brown rice at Chinese restaurants, whole grain tortilla chips, nut butter, hummus, soy cheese slices or turkey. And many of her recipes from Skinnygirl Dish can be created in a dorm room only stocked with a fridge and microwave – just be creative.
A key factor to a healthy lifestyle is staying balanced between work and sleep, something Frankel struggles with filming Real Housewives of New York and her newest show, Bethenny Getting Married?, as well as her newborn daughter, Bryn. “The minute I know I have to do something, I just do it,” she said. “And I really try to make sleeping a priority … and do things that balance me and that makes it easy to rest.
Frankel has received hundreds of thousands of e-mails, letters and tweets from excited followers who have lost 80 pounds and even 100 pounds from her book. “More importantly,” she said, “it’s not even about the numbers. It’s that they don’t have the noise anymore, the know how to deal with food, they’re not terrified to go on a vacation or to a barbeque or a Thanksgiving to come. It’s a very liberating thing and that’s what the point was.”
From Skinnygirl Dish, Bethenny Frankel’s Mock-A-Mole
We tested it and loved it, now you can give it a try:
(Makes 1 ½ cups)
1 avocado, peeled, pitted and mashed
1 cup cooked green peas
¼ cup chopped fresh tomato
2 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro plus more for garnish
1 tbsp. chopped red onion
1 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
2 tsp. fresh lime juice
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. garlic salt
½ tsp. black pepper
¾ tsp. Tabasco sauce
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and blend with an immersion blender until smooth. You can garnish with cilantro and serve with tortilla chips, whole grain crackers and raw veggies.
More to Know about Bethenny
Bethenny Getting Married premiers June 10 at 10 p.m. EST
Her favorite housewife outside of New York: Caroline Manzo from New Jersey
She made it to the final round of Martha Stewart Apprentice (but she calls the experience the most difficult and psychotic experience of her life).
Her advice to those interested in the culinary arts: find a restaurant that serves the food you want to cook and get an internship!