Nutritionist Rovenia Brock, who goes by the name Dr. Ro, is a former host on Black Entertainment Television and the author of the no-nonsense eating guide Dr. Ro's Ten Secrets to Livin' Healthy (Bantam). Dr. Ro, however, is no carb counter. Instead she advocates balanced meals of mostly unrefined foods.

Before the meeting, Dr. Ro had each woman send her a week's food diary. As she reviewed their entries with them over breakfast, their "I'm doing everything right" defense quickly collapsed. Dr. Ro pointed out the self-sabotage in Michelle's choices.

Good food would provide nutrition and a feeling of fullness that lasts all afternoon. Michelle, however, often went for quick "cheap thrills"—a rush of sugar-fueled energy that leaves her hungry again in about an hour. Dr. Ro advises Michelle to take baggies of food to work that she can turn to when the cravings hit: slices of chicken, strips of bell peppers, strawberries. "And try a protein bar as opposed to 32 ounces of fruit punch," she advises.

Dr. Ro's diet advice for all is refreshingly gimmick-free: Step up the fruits and vegetables; eat some lean protein (egg whites, low-fat dairy, skinless poultry, beans) at each meal; and replace doughnuts, bagels and candy with complex carbohydrates like whole grains and cereals. She believes in snacks, but emphasizes healthy ones like a handful of nuts or a small bag of carrots.

Additionally, she wants the women to cut back on their calories but not go so low that their bodies think there's a famine. Starving will only encourage the retention of fat around the waist and hips, she explains.


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