Sunday, January 21, 2018

Worst Diets for Health 2018

Are you looking for a diet for good health?  Last week we talked about “eating healthy” and reviewed 3 diets that promote good health, the Mediterranean Diet, the  DASH Diet, and the Flexitarian Diet.  

Mediterranean Diet- A healthy diet
Unfortunately, some people choose diets that are actually bad for their health.  Why?  Maybe they are looking for a quick weight loss fix.  Maybe they are duped into thinking a diet is healthy when it is actually bad for their health.  When the US News & World Report ranks the Best Diets for health, they have diets that fall at the bottom of their rankings.  What diets are ranked the lowest and why?  Let’s review some of these not so good for you diets and provide you with some pros and cons of these diets.  

Whole30 Diet 
This diet is popular once again.  Even though it was created in 2009, many people are currently trying the Whole30 approach.  Whole30 claims it will “change your life”.  How?  Their website claims that by eliminating certain foods from your diet, the “gut-damaging, inflammatory food groups for a full 30 days, you can take away your aches and pains, lose weight, fix digestive ailments, seasonal allergies, and chronic pain. 

What foods do you eliminate on this diet?
This diet claims that certain food including sugar, grains, dairy and legumes are the foods that negatively impact your health.

What foods does the Whole30 diet eliminate for 30 days?
No added sugar whether real or artificial.  Forget the maple syrup on your pancakes, the sweetener for your ice tea, the Diet Coke. Not even sugar less gum is allowed.
No alcohol – no wine, beer or mixed drinks for you.
No grains – so no bread, no cereal, no toast, no bagels, no quinoa, no crackers
No legumes/beans – this means no peanut butter, no kidney beans, baked beans, peas.  Forget the soy sauce – banned. 
No Dairy – no milk, yogurt, sour cream, no ice cream no cheese.  No cheese pizza for you.

What foods are permitted on this diet?
Protein foods = meat, seafood
Vegetables and some fruit
Herbs, spices and seasonings
The diet focuses on whole and unprocessed foods so you will be eating your meals at home. 
You don’t have to count calories.  Exercise is not a part of this diet plan so diet is not really a lifestyle change approach to good health.

What ranking does US News & World Report give the Whole30 diet?  The experts looked at 40 diets and ranked the Whole30 diet as 37th.    Registered Dietitian, Jessica Penner, has also evaluated the Whole30 diet on her “Smart Nutrition” website. 
  • The Whole30 diet is very restrictive.  Eating out at restaurants, eating out at other people’s homes would be quite difficult on this diet.
  •  Many healthy foods are eliminated:  Any diet that eliminates food groups like dairy and grains, also eliminates the nutrients that those food groups provide.  Whole grains are foods we want to add to our diet for fiber and many trace minerals.  Dairy provides much needed calcium and vitamin D to our day.  So many Americans are deficient in vitamin D that the last thing they should do is cut more vitamin D out of their diets. Beans, peanut butter, nuts are very healthy and we should be adding more of these to our diets, not cutting back on them or eliminating them for 30 days.
  • Time-consuming – you will need to shop and prepare a lot of meals at home as the diet plan is quite restrictive.
  •  It is not a lifestyle change – it is not a plan that helps you learn how to eat healthier and exercise such as walks are mentioned by the change in diet is their key to good helath.
  •  US News & World Report noted the diet is not supported by research. 

What are the pros of this diet plan?
  • The diet does emphasize minimally processed food.
  • The diet promotes eating more fish and more vegetables.

What other diets are ranked low on the Best Diets list?
  • Atkins Diet is ranked number 36 out of 40 diets.  US News & World Report  states: “is not a good all-purpose diet, experts said.”
  • Body Reset Diet ranked #37, tying with the Whole30 Diet.  US News & World Report calls is a “gimmick” and an “unhealthy” diet for weight loss.
  • Keto Diet – ranked 39, almost dead last.  This diet is high-fat and low in carbs.  
So if you are looking to eat better for good health in 2018, there are many good diet plans to choose from.  There are also a number of fad diets one should avoid.  As I noted last week, healthy eating doesn’t mean giving up all the foods you like to eat, but adding some foods that promote good health like more fruits and vegetables, more whole grains, and more low-fat dairy to your day.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Best Diets for Health 2018

What does “eating healthy” mean?  What are healthy diets to follow?  Not for weight loss or weight gain, but just a healthy eating pattern?  I recently heard a person say they were on a vegetarian fast diet.  For 4 weeks they were giving up meat and all animal products including dairy.  Not really a healthy diet choice.    Another person said they were eating healthy and following the Whole30 diet.  According to the Whole30 website, food groups like grains and dairy have a negative impact on health.  US News & World Report gives the Whole30 diet a poor rating and a low ranking.  Why?  The diet is quite restrictive and excludes grain (an important food group), legumes, even peanut butter, and dairy – another important food group.  Whole grains are hugely important in our diets for fiber, trace minerals and other nutrients.  Rather than excluding whole grains, Americans should be eating more whole grains.  Dairy foods shouldn’t be restricted as dairy foods contribute calcium and vitamin D which so many Americans are lacking in their diets.  Any diet that excludes a food group, excludes nutrients that the food group provides, is not a healthy diet. 

Each year, the US News & World Report evaluates the “Best Diets”.   For 2018, they evaluated 40 popular diets and determined which ones are best for your health and fitness.  What do they look for?  They use health experts to rank diets on a number of parameters including how nutritious the diet is, how safe it is and whether the diet protects against diseases like diabetes and heart disease.  Top spots for 2018 went to the DASH diet and the Mediterranean diet.
Three diets are ranked as the “Best Diets” for 2018

    1. DASH Diet – this diet stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, thus the acronym, DASH. Although it was designed to help lower blood pressure, the diet is good for your health.  U.S. News & World Report notes the diet is praised for its nutritional completeness, safety, ability to control diabetes, and prevent and lower blood pressure.
a.       Nutrients – the diet emphasizes nutrients that help lower one’s blood pressure like potassium and calcium.  It encourages more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein and dairy – but low fat dairy products. 
b.      Foods to limit are red meats, and foods high in salt. 
c.       To get more guidance on the DASH diet from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, get a 20 page guide, DASH Eating Plan or a 6 page guide at Lowering Blood Pressure with DASH.  
Although the DASH diet was designed for lowering high blood pressure, it is a good overall pattern of eating healthy.
          2.        Mediterranean Diet – this diet has been written about extensively.  Many nutritionists and health experts recommend this pattern of healthy eating.
a.       Why is this diet good for your health?  The Mediterranean diet is a good diet for disease prevention – prevention of cancer and diabetes.  It is diet for healthy hearts and a healthy brain.  Basically, a healthier you.
b.      Foods to enjoy:  fruits, vegetables, olive oil, nuts, and fish.  
                                                               i.      Choose low-fat dairy – 2%, 1% or non-fat milk.  Choose low-fat yogurt.  Buy cheese that is made with low fat or skim milk like mozzarella cheese.
                                                             ii.      Whole grains – as noted in a previous blog,  so many Americans have few or no whole grains in their day.  Find a way to add whole grains to your daily food intake and to your kid’s diet.  Starting the day with oatmeal or Cheerios is a good way to add whole grains to your day.
                                                            iii.      Fruit and Vegetables – 5 A Day is a start.  More than 5 A Day is even healthier.
                                                           iv.      Nuts – add a handful of nuts a day
                                                             v.      Olive oil – buy some extra virgin olive oil and use it in cooking.
c.       Foods to cut back on: red meat, foods with added sugar and foods high in saturated fat.  

           3.  Flexitarian Diet– last year third place went to the Mind Diet and this year it is the Flexitarian Diet.  This sounds like it would be a “quack” diet, but it is actually a diet that emphasizes many healthy foods, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and plant-based protein.  It is a diet that combines vegetarian and flexibility.  This diet has been around since 2009 and was popularized by Dawn Jackson Blatner, R.D. in her book, “The Flextarian Diet: The Mostly Vegetarian Way to Lose Weight, Be Healthier, Prevent Disease and Add Years to Your Life”.  Well mostly a vegetarian diet, the flexibility comes in because you can still enjoy a burger, a steak and other meat – but on occasion. 
a.       You ADD 5 food groups to your diet:
                                                               i.      Plant-based protein = tofu, beans, lentils, peas, nuts, eggs and seeds.
                                                             ii.      Fruit – all kinds
                                                            iii.      Vegetables
                                                           iv.      Whole grains
                                                             v.      Sugar and spice – spices are super healthy so a good addition to any diet,
                                                           vi.      pastries.  Oil – olive oil
                                                          vii.      Protein – emphasis on fish and poultry
               b.      Foods to cut back on:  red meat, fried and fast food, butter, stick margarine (choose tub margarine) and foods with added sugar like sweets and soft drinks.

So rather than going on some crazy diet plan in an effort to eat healthier in 2018, choose one of the above diets to begin modeling your own eating after.  Healthy eating doesn’t mean giving up all the foods you like to eat, but adding some foods that promote good health like more fruits and vegetables, more whole grains, and more low-fat dairy to your day.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

To lose weight, should you count time or calories?

Can you lose weight without dieting?  Can you eat what you want and lose weight?  New year, new goals.  If one of your goals is to take off a few pounds, do you need to count calories, go on a diet, or just watch the clock?  There is a new weight-loss strategy called, “time-restricted feeding” or TRF.  Apparently, this TRF strategy is not only for weight loss but also to help prevent diabetes, lower your blood pressure and increase your longevity. Recent articles in the Wall Street Journal, “A Diet Strategy That Counts Time, Not Calories” and other publications outlines what this strategy is and how it works.  

What is TRF?  (Time Restricted Feeding)?
With TRF, you eat what you want but not when you want.  Your eating is limited to a 12-hour period of time each day.  So, if you eat your breakfast at 7 AM, you need to finish your dinner and evening snacks by 7 PM and then not eat again until your breakfast at 7 AM.  Thus, you have a 12-hour period of “fasting”.  You choose the 12-hour time period.  

Can I eat what I want?
Yes, during the 12 hours you are eating, you can eat what you want.  You don’t have to count calories, restrict any foods.  This is not a low-carb, gluten-free diet and there are no foods to restrict, eliminate or add to your diet.  On the other hand, it doesn’t mean you can now load up on all the cake and cookies you want.  Just eat what you usually eat but during a 12-hour period each day.  

What can I drink during the 12-hour fasting period?
Water, black coffee, plain tea – no added milk, sugar, cream, etc.  

Will I lose weight on the TRF?
Probably.  Researchers have found that people who do limit their food intake to a 12-hour window and then “fast” for 12 hours each day, do consume less calories and lose weight.  Researchers, Panda and Gill, tracked the eating patterns of 8 overweight people for 21 days.  Most of these individuals consumed food over a 15-hour period or more each day.  These individuals then went on TRF and restricted their eating to a 10-hour window each day.  They lost about 4% of the body weight.  Of interest is that a year later, they were still sticking to TRF and had succeeded in keeping off the weight they lost. The WSJ quotes Dr. Panda as saying, “All of them said they slept better, and they felt more energetic throughout the day. They were actually feeling less hungry.”
Krista Varady, an Associate Professor of Nutrition at the University of Illinois, Chicago has studied an 8-hour TRF diet among 50 obese individuals over a 12-week period.  These individuals were allowed to eat between 10 AM and 6 PM each day.  They did consume less calories, about 300 less calories a day, lost an average of 7-8 pounds.  And this weight loss was not muscle loss but loss of fat.  

Are there other health benefits of TRF?
Yes.   Research indicates you can not only lose a few pounds but lower your blood pressure, have better glucose levels, and it may even slow the aging process.  Why?  They don’t know exactly but believe your body becomes more efficient at digesting foods and breaking down fat.   Dr. Shatzel, a doctor in Folsom, California recommends the TRF method not only to her overweight patients, but also to patients that need to lower blood pressure or their blood glucose levels.   Why would TRF help longevity?  Apparently, by not eating for 12 or so hours a day, you give your body, your organs time to repair and rest.  Why does TRF lower blood glucose levels?  Dr. Mirkin, a sports medicine physician, “points out that eating late at night and then going to bed causes the highest rise in blood sugar.  It’s important to move and contract your muscles after eating so that you draw excess sugar from the bloodstream.”  

How does it work each day?
The WSJ interviewed Vivian Rootness who is 66 and lives in California.  She has told her friends that she has to be done eating by 7 PM each day.  She has been restricting her food intake to 10-12 hours each day and has been doing this for five months.  She reports that she has lost 6 pounds.  Not a lot to some people, but 6 pounds she probably will be able to keep off.  She does not count calories, eats a healthy diet, enjoy some desserts and notes it really doesn’t feel like a diet to her.
Newsmax provides a suggested schedule for those interested in trying TRF:
8 AM – Breakfast
10 AM – snack if you want
1 PM – Lunch
3 PM – snack if you want
6 PM – Dinner

During fasting hours, allow yourself only water, black coffee or plain tea. 

You may want to try TRF – whether to lose weight or for other health benefits noted above.  If you want a beginner’s guide to TMF, read Time-Restricted Eating:  A Beginner’s Guide by Grant Tinsley, PhD.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Focus on Whole Wheat Bread

Are you choosing whole wheat bread or bread that has some or no whole wheat?  When I ask my students, “How can you tell if bread is whole grain?” I get quite interesting answers.  Some say, color – brown bread is whole wheat bread.  Some say – look at the label but then don’t explain what to look for.  So how do you know if bread is whole wheat and what are some of the best whole grain breads to choose?  Environmental Nutrition recently wrote, “Best in Whole Wheat Bread” and provided a lot of recommended whole wheat breads to choose from.  

Why whole wheat bread?  Choosing whole grain bread is good for your health.  Forget the gluten free craze (unless you have celiac disease) and focus on buying and enjoying some whole grain bread.
  • Whole grain bread adds fiber to your day.  Most Americans have diets quite low in fiber and eating whole grain bread is a great way to add some fiber to your diet.
  • Whole grain bread has many trace minerals missing or low in white bread.
  • Whole grain bread has many health benefits such as lowering your risk of heart disease, lower risk of some cancers, lowering your risk of Type 2 diabetes.
  • Whole grain breads include all parts of the wheat grain – including the bran (fiber) and germ (vitamins and minerals).  The bran and germ are removed when they make white bread.

Does all your bread need to be whole grain?
      MyPlate recommends that at least half the grains you eat each day should be whole grain.  Thus, enjoy that Italian bread with dinner.  I like to focus on whole grain breads at breakfast and lunch and then at dinner enjoy the Italian bread with spaghetti, or the wonderful Ciabatta bread.  

How do you know if bread is whole wheat?
  • Look at the ingredients for the word WHOLE.  If the first ingredient is “whole wheat flour”, then the bread is mostly whole wheat. Avoid “enriched wheat flour”, especially as the first ingredient, as this means it is refined flour and the bran and germ have been removed so the fiber and many vitamins and minerals have been removed.
  • Look at the label – if you see “100% whole wheat” then the bread is indeed 100% whole grain.  Or look for the whole wheat stamp on the package. 
Look for the whole grain stamp on the package
  • Avoid “multigrain” as these breads are usually just a mixture of refined grains and now whole grain.  Or, at least, look at the ingredients and see if any of the grains in the bread have “WHOLE” in front of them such as whole grain oats, whole grain wheat.

What to look for in whole grain breads?
  • Fiber – check to see if each slice provides at least 3 grams of fiber.  There are “fiber bombs” in bread with some slices providing 6 grams or more of fiber per slice.  Great if you have been adding a lot of fiber to your day.  But if you are just beginning to focus on adding fiber to your diet, choosing the 3 grams of fiber per slice may be a better bet.  At least until your intestines get used to more fiber.
  • Sodium – one would think that bread would be low in sodium and for most breads the amount of sodium per slice isn’t high.  But some brands have over 200 milligrams of sodium per slice.  Have sandwich and the at 400 milligrams of sodium just from the bread.
  • No high fructose corn syrup – check the ingredients to see if it has high fructose corn syrup.  Many bread labels now clearly read: “No High Fructose Corn Syrup”.

What are some recommended Whole Wheat Breads?
  • Pepperidge Farm Honey Wheat – had 3 grams of fiber per serving
  • Pepperidge Farm Farmhouse Whole Grain White – yes, it is “white bread” but this is made from a special grain so it is whole grain but a whole grain white bread.
  • Dave’s Killer Bread 21 Whole Grains & Seeds – my favorite.  A student introduced me to this bread.  He said his mom always bought “healthy bread” and this is one of the bread’s his mom recommended.  You not only get all the nutrients in whole grains but also the benefit of many seeds which are also super healthy.  Has 5 grams of fiber per slice.  (I have found this bread at Costco for a very good price.) 
Dave's Killer Bread
  •  Nature’s Harvest Light 100% Whole Wheat – 3 grams of fiber.  Light as it provides 40 calories a slice – but I find “light” usually means thin, small slices.
  • Arnold Whole Grains 100% Whole Wheat with 3 grams of fiber and Arnold’s Whole Grains with Double Fiber with 6 grams of fiber per slice.
  • 365 Multigrain Fiber Bread – this multigrain is actually whole grain with 3 grams of fiber per slice.
  • Trader Joe’s 100% Whole Grain Fiber Bread – with 5 grams of fiber per serving.

What if you are new to whole grains and really don’t like the taste of 100% whole wheat bread?  Then choose a bread that has at least some whole grain in it. One of my daughters chooses Nature’s Own Honey Wheat.  Not 100% whole grain but some whole grain and a healthier choice than white bread. 

This week, read some bread labels.  Try some new whole wheat breads like Dave’s Killer Bread.   But whatever whole grain or partially whole grain bread you choose, buy one that you will eat.  If not slices of bread, try some whole grain English Muffins or Bagel Thins.  I like the Arnold Sandwich Thins at 100 calories per “bagel”.   The Honey Wheat is about half whole grain and it is mostly whole wheat as the first ingredient is whole wheat flour. Both of the sandwich thins provide 5 grams of fiber but fiber is added to get this amount of fiber in each “bagel”.  I often eat bagel thins at breakfast with some margarine and jam or use them for a sandwich at lunch.  Both have no high fructose corn syrup.  


Sunday, December 24, 2017

Things you thought were bad for your diet, but aren’t

So many nutrition myths about what foods are good for you and what foods are bad for your health.  MSN has an interesting article 11 things people think are terrible for your diet that actually aren’t.  What are some of these foods and drinks? 
  • Red Bull – yes, it can be loaded with sugar.  But what if you get a can of sugar-free Red Bull?  The writer says when she drinks it, people say things like, “That stuff will kill you.”  The sugar-free Red Bull has about 80 calories so not really a high calorie drink and about 80 mg. of caffeine.  This amount is about one third the caffeine in a Starbucks' coffee.  They do add some B vitamins and taurine which most people don’t need but not really harmful.  Even white bread is enriched with B vitamins and any protein food provides taurine so these nutrients aren’t ones lacking in most Americans diets. 
  • Fatty Foods like Avocado and Olive Oil will make you fat.   It is true that foods high in fat are higher in calories.  But there is good fat and bad fat.  For those who like avocados, especially guacamole, enjoy every bite.  (For a good guacamole recipe, try:  How to Make Perfect Guacamole Recipe.) The fat in avocados is a heart healthy fat.  And olive oil is part of the Mediterranean Diet which is promoted for heart health.  Sautéing some vegetables?  Use olive oil.  The American Heart Association recommends replacing bad fats with good fats.  Replace butter, shortening and stick margarine with “good” fats such as olive oil, canola oil, safflower oil, and sunflower oil.
Avocados have a heart healthy fat
  • Gluten Free Foods are healthy foods – for those with celiac disease this is true.  But going “gluten-free” is not a healthy way to eat for the average American.  As noted in an earlier blog (Common Nutrition Myths), relying on rice based grains because they are “gluten-free”  may actually cut out many nutritious whole grains from your diet and cut out some fiber.  Thus, cutting out many nutrients and fiber found in whole grains.  As Consumer Reports notes, “A gluten-free diet isn’t necessarily a healthy diet.”
  •  Eggs – shunned for so many years because of the amount of cholesterol in each egg (about 185 mg cholesterol per egg).  But now the American Heart Association indicates for those without heart disease, we can enjoy our eggs again.  Enjoy an egg a day or a few eggs a week. You no longer have to order an egg-white omelet.  And eggs add a lot of nutrition to your day, vitamin A, vitamin D, a high-quality protein.  And healthy omega-3 fat.
  • Caffeine – how often have you been told to cut back on caffeine.  When I was growing up, they said caffeine would stunt your growth.  The Mayo Clinic offers advice on caffeine intake, you can enjoy up to 400 mg of caffeine a day.  So, you can enjoy a 12-ounce cup of coffee which provides about 90-120 mg of caffeine.  (Or that sugar-free Red Bull which supplies only 80 mg of caffeine).  But if you go for Starbucks, which is stronger coffee, you will get more caffeine in a 12-ounce cup, about 260 mg caffeine.  Going to McDonald’s?  Enjoy the coffee as you can drink up to four 12-ounce cups and then you would be at the maximum of 400 mg of caffeine.  McDonald’s coffee is not as potent as Starbucks as far as caffeine goes as it provides about 109 mg caffeine per 12-ounce cup.
  • Carbonated water – staying hydrated is a good thing.  Tired of plain water?  Then reach for some carbonated water.  Myths abound about carbonated water.  No, it doesn’t cause kidney stones. Nor do carbonated beverages leach calcium from your bones.  Your teeth won’t be stripped of enamel.  According to registered dietitian, Jennifer McDaniel, the bubbly, carbonated beverages are just as good for you as plain water.  Adding the bubbles doesn’t add calories, doesn’t add sugar and no added caffeine.   
Enjoy some carbonated water
 This week, enjoy those whole grain Triscuits, have some scrambled eggs, enjoy your morning coffee and enjoy some guacamole. 

Sunday, December 17, 2017

How can you avoid holiday weight gain?

Celebrate! Parties, dinners, cookie exchanges, buffets, what a fun time of year.  We all want to indulge and enjoy ourselves over the holidays.  How can you be merry, eat and drink this holiday season and not pack on the pounds?  I told my husband that the CommonHealth offered 10 Tips to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain.  He responded, “What are they?  Stop eating?”   Well stop eating would work but that is not one of the tips.   Many others, like Brianna Elliott, RD, also offer some tips on avoiding weight gain during the holiday season.  What are some of their tips?   
  1. Hydrate – did you know that if you are thirsty, you are becoming dehydrated?   We are so busy this time of year, with shopping, going to parties, going to chorales, plays, and other holiday events that we may forget to stay hydrated.  The goal of 8 glasses of water a day is still a good one.  Keep some water or hot tea in your car as your running errands.  Stop and buy some water or a cup of hot tea when you are out and about.
Hydrate with water
  1. Be Realistic this time of year – the few weeks between Thanksgiving and New Years are not the time to go on a diet.  Your goal may be to stay the same weight or if you do gain a pound or two, then you can focus on losing this weight in January.
  2. Limit the Amount of Alcohol You Drink – so many alcoholic beverages are loaded with calories and these calories can add up.  Enjoy a 12-ounce beer and that is 140 calories.  Enjoy 5-ounces of wine and that is 100 calories.  And if you drink too much you are more likely to eat too much.  Try to limit your alcoholic intake to 1-2 drinks.
  3. Watch the buffet – so easy to fill up your plate and then fill up your stomach as you don’t want to “waste any food”.  Check over the buffet before you fill up your plate.  Load up on salads, fruit, raw vegetables and take smaller portions of the other items.  You don’ t have to forgo any food but you don’t have to overindulge in any one item.
  4. Get the Exercise in Early – Staying active is a recommendation but no one seems to recommend getting the exercise done early.  At a resort recently, my husband and I got up and headed to the fitness center before breakfast.  One morning he swam and I did weights.  The next morning, he rode a stationary bike and I went to the resort’s spinning class.  Just walking back and forth to the fitness center added a lot of steps to our day because the resort was so huge.  We both could then enjoy our dinner out later in the day as we had packed in the exercise.   So even if you are out of town over the holidays, plan some active time in your day.  When traveling, check out the hotel’s fitness center or what a nearby fitness center has to offer.
  1. Don’t Starve Yourself – some people try to “fast” all day and then splurge on a holiday dinner.  But this can lead to overeating the minute you get to the party or event.  Enjoy a healthy snack before you leave home.  Have some fruit and yogurt, whole grain crackers and cheese.  This way you won’t be so ravenous when you get to the party.
  2. It’s OK to “Treat Yourself” to some Holiday Food – you don’t have to put any food “off limits” over the holiday.  How often do you hear, “I ate a cookie and blew my diet?”  Eat the cookie and enjoy every bite.  But it doesn’t mean, eat a dozen cookies at one time.  People who deprive themselves of a treat, often end up overindulging as they have “gone off their diet”.  If there is a super-rich dessert, an item you know is loaded with calories – take some and enjoy it.  But eat a moderate amount.  And you can cut back on some other higher calorie food on the buffet or party table.  
  3.  Don’t forget the protein – so many high calorie appetizers and desserts to choose from.  By including protein with each meal, you will fill fuller for longer.  Protein seems to reduce your hunger, reduce your appetite and stays with you longer than other foods.  Choose the turkey, chicken, fish, shrimp, deviled eggs on the buffet line.  (See recipe for deviled eggs at Country Cook.)
Don't forget the protein
  1.  Choose Desserts Wisely and Savor Them  - who would think that is advice from a registered dietitian, but it is?  How can one enjoy the holidays without enjoying some of the great Christmas cookies or other treats?  My grandmother and aunts made Potica – a delightful mix of bread with a filling of walnuts, honey, butter, cream.  Enjoy the holiday treats you have been looking forward to all year.  But you don’t need to sample every one or overindulge in any one treat.
  2.  Reduce Calories in Recipes – when baking in our house, we try to find ways to cut the calories but not the taste.  My husband makes a great tasting pumpkin pie.  He buys the crust – no calorie reduction there, but then using fat-free Carnation milk and cuts back on some of the sugar.  His pumpkin pie is delicious but some of the calories are reduced.  When he makes fresh cranberry sauce, he cuts back on the sugar the recipe calls for.  It actually tastes better as the tartness of the cranberries comes through. When I make my sweet potato dish, I use half sugar and a little Stevia.  No one notices the difference.  Experiment with some recipes.  Some of “cutting the calories” doesn’t work as we “cut the taste” too much.  So, we try again.  But you might be pleasantly surprised that you can cut back on some of the sugar or fat in a recipe and no one seems to notice. 

Enjoy the holiday food this season and use some of the above tips to “Treat Yourself” but not add on those unwanted pounds.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

The Good/ Bad Carbohydrates Debate. By: Olivia Lange (guest author)

Introduction:  In the nutrition class I teach, students were asked to respond to and prepare a convincing argument to counter the statement, Carbohydrates are bad for you.  One of those students, Olivia Lange, has been asked to be a guest author on this blog site.  Her paper on Good Carbs-Bad Carbs is below. 
It’s a common misconception among the public that carbohydrates are bad for you, or will make you gain excess weight. According to, the enemy that many people are referring to are the refined and processed carbohydrates, which can also strip away fiber. Fiber is important to digestive health through feeding the bacteria in the gut, as well as helping one feel fuller by slowing down glucose digestion (Mayo Clinic Staff, 1). This is one element that is often paired with heart-healthy whole grains and other good-for-you carbohydrates.
Further expanding on the “bad carbs”, one should avoid or cut back on refined foods like white bread or foods high in added sugar. These foods tend to be low in fiber, which will make someone feel less full, and often these foods are stripped of nutrients (“Carbohydrates and Sugar”, 1). Taking away the whole grain and refining it to a polished grain will strip the nutrients. Foods to avoid eating too much of include cakes, cookies, white bread, or other foods that are highly processed, high fat, and loaded with added sugar. Essentially, the simpler you eat, the healthier the food will be for you.
Carbs should be 50% of our daily intake of calories! Eating healthy will provide essential vitamins and minerals, such as Folate, other B Vitamins, and Vitamin C. Simple carbs like the monosaccharides and disaccharides will provide easy, fast energy.  The simple carbs can be found in healthy foods such as milk providing lactose, or fruits and vegetables providing fructose. However, many people eat excessive table sugar, or sucrose, which will lead to an unhealthy diet. Also, it's important to note that complex carbohydrates from the starches (which have fiber too) will provide longer lasting energy. The complex carbs include most or all of the grain group as well as some vegetables, like potatoes!

Milk provides lactose for energy as well as protein, calcium and vitamin D

Good advice to give to a confused friend asking you about carbs would be to cut down on processed foods with too much fat and added sugar.
Many people are lacking important nutrients in their diets. This is true for many Americans, as so many rely on refined foods. An old-fashioned saying that I've heard in my family is to "stick to the outside aisles in a grocery store" which can make sense, because you will find areas for produce, meats, dairy, and breads/grains. However, this phrase is flawed because in the bakery, there are many processed sweets, cakes, cookies, and white breads! This shows that whole grains can be overlooked, though they are very beneficial to one's health.  Therefore, cutting out bread won't necessarily help one's health, but swapping to a new type of whole grain bread or other whole grain source like adding oatmeal to one’s day certainly can.
Oatmeal for heart health and lasting energy
For a second point to convince a friend to eat good carbs like whole grains, is that a diet high in fiber can help heart conditions in a positive way. Additionally, the other simple carbohydrate "sugars", like lactose or fructose will provide fast and easy energy for the body. The complex carbohydrates, or linked chains of sugars, like starches and fiber found in grains and some vegetables like potatoes will provide the longer-lasting energy. Both types are needed to function properly and maintain healthy energy and blood glucose levels!
Apples provide fructose for quick energy
Overall, keeping it simple by cutting back on refined foods and adding whole grains to your day, can promote a healthy lifestyle, and fitting in plenty of plant foods will help as well!

Works Cited
“Carbohydrates and Sugar.” Edited by Jane M. Benton, KidsHealth, The Nemours Foundation, Jan. 2017,
Kotula, Kathryn. “Chapter 4” Lecture. HLT 230 Principles of Nutrition & Human Development. Germanna Community College, Virginia. 13 Sept. 2017.
Magee, Elaine. “Good Carbs, Bad Carbs: Why Carbohydrates Matter to You.” WebMD, WebMD,
Mayo Clinic Staff. “How to Add More Fiber to Your Diet.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 22 Sept. 2015,
Whitney, Eleanor Noss, and Sharon Rady Rolfes. “Chapter 4: The Carbohydrates: Sugars, Starches, and Fibers.” Understanding Nutrition, 14th ed., Cengage Learning, 2015.
Image sources:  oats, potatoes, milk, apples