America's Healthiest Families Makeover


Teresa HoganFrom Health magazine

On a sunny weekday afternoon, Mehmet C. Oz, MD, the renowned 49-year-old heart surgeon (vice-chairman and professor of surgery at Columbia University and director of the Cardiovascular Institute and Complementary Medicine Program at New York–Presbyterian Hospital), co-author of five best-selling books in the You series, YOU: The Owners Manual, YOU: The Smart Patient, YOU: On a Diet, You: Staying Young, and You: Being Beautiful—and newly minted host of his own nationally syndicated daytime talk-show, The Dr. Oz Show—drove out to the Carrolls home in Ridgewood, New Jersey, to help the family turn things around.

“I want to inspire people to lead long, happy, healthy lives,” says Dr. Oz—who lives in Cliffside Park, New Jersey, with his wife, Lisa, and four kids—“and there are so many little ways you can do that.” Here, how life for the Carroll family got healthier, calmer, and more fun.

Before: Too much junk in the pantry. When you keep bad-news stuff on hand but then try to resist it, you create an all-out craving for the food, Dr. Oz says. Keep unhealthy snacks away by using his rule of fives when you shop—avoid foods if any of the first five ingredients is one of these: trans fat, saturated fat, high-fructose corn syrup, sugar, or refined flour. “Your body craves nutrients to feel satiated, not the empty calories from these ingredients,”

Dr. Oz says, adding that eating empty calories actually makes you overeat as you go in search of more-nutritious fare. If one of the five is listed further down the ingredient list, its OK to eat it, he says, because that means the ingredient is only minimally in the product.

After: The Carrolls make a clean sweep. “It was liberating at first to purge our pantry of so many foods that werent helping us,” Randy says. But then “going cold turkey” turned tough. “We said, ‘OK, now what?” It took time to stop craving the old favorites, he acknowledges, but now the family loves having feel-good picks like pretzels and strawberries always on hand.

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Before: The boys were finicky about veggies. Broccoli and green beans made the cut with Dillon and Peyton, but eating those every night was getting old for Randy and Kathleen. Dr. Ozs advice? Keep offering fresh options.

After: the boys are still finicky about vegetables! Theyre getting more adventurous with produce, though. “I love watermelon,” Peyton says. Dillon gave kiwifruit a chance—something he wouldnt try before. “It takes kids about 12 times of trying a food and not liking it before theyll finally accept it,” Dr. Oz says. “Just ask them to take one bite. One day, your kids will surprise you and ask for seconds.”