Most people think of a diet as a food regimen followed for weight loss. But there are millions of people who must follow special dietary restrictions for their health. Sometimes this is referred to as “Medical Nutrition Therapy”. It’s used to control blood sugars in people who have diabetes, blood pressure in people with hypertension, and allergic reactions to people with gluten intolerance and other food-triggered reactions, among other conditions. People with kidney problems, heart problems and clogged arteries must follow certain dietary guidelines to extend their life. Intestinal illnesses may require either high- or low-fiber diets and still others may require a high- or low-fat dietary intake.
With all the discussion about forcing food manufacturers to lower their sodium content, many people are left wondering what the right amount of dietary sodium is. If you’ve read the food labels on packages lately, you may have noticed that many foods contain hundreds of mg of sodium and others may even contain over 1000 mg. How much is too much?
The answer, according to the 2005 dietary guidelines, was 2300 mg per day (the equivalent to a little over a teaspoon of salt). But the 2010 guidelines are going to suggest 1500 mg as a daily intake, largely to target the significant number of people who have tendencies towards high blood pressure Americans average closer to 4000 mg per day!
You probably know that you should be eating more wholegrains: it’s been official nutrition advice for a while. But what exactly are wholegrains? And why are they particularly important for dieters?
The clue to wholegrains is in the name! They contain the “whole grain” – whereas refined grains (like white flour) only use the endosperm, the energy-dense inside part of the grain. Wholegrain foods keep the germ (which provides important nutrients) and the bran layer of the grain (which provides dietary fiber).
Common wholegrains include:
- Barley (not pearl barley
Colorado physician Steven Bratman coined the term Orthorexia in 1997 to describe people who are virtually obsessed with eating perfectly healthy diets. He used the Greek root “orthos” meaning “correct”, with “orexis” for “appetite”. Unlike anorexia (which technically means “no appetite”) and bulimia (the translation of which is “ox hunger”), orthorexia has yet to be defined as an eating disorder in the psychological diagnostic manuals. The focus is not as much on body appearance as what goes into the body: Those with orthorexia are not as much concerned with what they look like as with how they may be damaging their body by ingesting some chemicals or components that are impure or unhealthy.
It’s in the news often, touted as a “highly processed” sweetener and criticized for being added to so many of our food products. But let’s take a look at what high fructose corn syrup actually is. First, a brief description of the different types of sugar so we can fairly compare:
If you’ve ever heard of the “Raw Foods Diet” you may have wondered what types of foods are included in this regimen, and what are the benefits of eating this way. Technically, raw foods include any food that has not been heated to more than 118 degrees F. What is not included: products that are cooked, roasted, fried, baked, or even pasteurized. Think of all the foods you eat that are not then “raw” when you eat them: pasta, bread, cereal, cookies, eggs, meat (although raw meat technically is allowed by certain raw food advocates), roasted nuts, and pasteurized milk, just to name a few.
As a registered dietitian, I sometimes get the heads up on new products from the manufacturers before they even hit the market! Here is one I just received in the mail that looks like a great new sweetener. You should be seeing Sun Crystals, an all natural sweetener, on the shelves in your local supermarket soon.
This product is made using a combination of cane sugar and the naturally sweet stevia plant. The result is crystals that appear like pure sugar, but contain fewer calories, provide fewer grams of carbohydrates, and have a lower impact on raising blood sugar level in people with diabetes.
This week I thought I’d share a few of my favorite foods. What do they all have in common? They taste good, they’re low calorie, and in many cases they are nutrient-dense. It’s nice to have a long list of foods that you enjoy eating while you know they are contributing to your intake of vitamins and minerals, and also not contributing excess calories.
So here is my top 5 list!
Many people are jumping on the “Gluten Free” bandwagon, anticipating it will have beneficial effects like promoting weight loss or even ‘cleansing’ effects. In reality, the gluten free diet is necessary–and helpful–only for people who have a true allergy to gluten, which is a diagnosable and treatable condition called Celiac Sprue.
A lot of us remember the old Campbell’s soup ad, telling us “soup is good food”. Depending on your soup of choice, it can be nourishing, low-cal, and even the basis for an excellent meal to fit in your diet plan. To find a good soup, keep these tips in mind:
If you’re on a diet, you’ll obviously be adjusting your eating habits to make sure your food intake is healthier than it used to be. You might have ditched the cookies that you normally eat with your mid-morning coffee ; you may have found an alternative to your previous Friday night pizza; and you’ll probably be making various tweaks and changes in order to cut calories without feeling like you’re missing out too much.
You’re also hopefully eating your five a day, keeping an eye on your fat intake (saturated fat in particular), and having plenty of fiber and wholegrains.
photo credit: evelynishereA lot of people want to know, “what foods are really bad for me?” or they try to make a list of “forbidden foods” when they start their next diet. What qualifies a food as being “bad” anyway? For most people’s definition, they are referring to foods that are high in fat, calories, and/or sodium but provide little nutrition. The list goes from sodas to candy bars to bacon and sausage, to pies and cakes and cookies and ice cream. But if you try to cut all these foods out of your diet forever–and most of them happen to taste very good–you aren’t likely to succeed in sticking with it.
The “five a day” guideline on fruits and veggies is so often quoted that you might never have stopped to think about it.
But perhaps, like me, you’re of a naturally curious (or ornery!) bent, and you wonder just who says it should be five a day, why fruit and vegetables are so important, and what exactly “a portion” means.
Why Five A Day?
The “five a day” target was set by the World Health Organisation (WHO), who found that eating 400g of fruit and vegetables each day was associated with a strong reduction in the risk of various diet-related diseases. (You can read the WHO’s 2003 report Diet, Nutrition and the Prevention of Chronic Diseases online.)
Perhaps your only “problem” or “issue” with food has been that, like many of us in the Western world, you tend to eat a bit too much of it; so you’ve gone on a healthy diet.
But perhaps you’ve struggled with deep-rooted emotional issues about food for years, causing unhealthy eating behaviors – like restricting your food intake excessively (you shouldn’t go below 1,000 calories/day, and most dieters will need 1,500 calories). Eating very little is an eating disorder called “anorexia”, and it’s perhaps the disorder that people most commonly think of. There are others, though, including bulimia (vomiting up the food you’ve eaten), abusing laxatives, and regular binge-eating.
I have had so many inquiries about the various forms of The Cookie Diet, I did a little research last week to find out what I need to know to pass along the reliable information you need about this weight loss plan. So here goes:
Over the past year obesity rates among adults rose in 23 states. The rates did not decline in any state. This report does not even count how many adults are merely overweight, with a body mass index (BMI) between 25 and 30, but focuses on those who are obese which means having a BMI greater than 30. An example of a person with a BMI over 30 would be someone who is 5 feet 7 inches tall weighing over 190 pounds.
A very common question I am asked is “How much weight can I lose in two weeks?” or “How long would it take me to lose 25 pounds?” The idea of losing a specific number of pounds in a set amount of time is how most people set out to lose weight. My question for them is, “and then what?” What will you do after you lose 25 pounds and attend your high school reunion? What will you do after you go on a crazy diet for three weeks to fit into that little black dress?
For several decades there has been a movement, and even an association–The National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance–to influence our society to stop being prejudiced against fat people. Yes, they do call themselves fat, and there’s a carefully thought out reason for this: labeling a person as “overweight” or “obese” lends more credence to the condition because of the clinical and scientific sound of the title.
You probably know that popular Low Carbohydrate Diets (namely The Atkins Diet) work well to shed pounds quickly, but have you ever wondered how they work? There actually is a science behind this diet, as well as a few other features that lead to quick–but not lasting–weight loss.
Are you someone who just doesn’t like vegetables? Perhaps you were put off as a child (badly cooked veggies aren’t much fun) – or maybe you were brought up in a family where fresh veg rarely featured on the dinner table.
Whatever the reason, if you’re on a diet, it’s going to be hard to succeed without a good proportion of vegetables. They’re great for being filling on very few calories (you can have a giant bowl of salad for under 50 calories), and they also contain vital vitamins.
Are you thinking about dieting, but worrying whether your budget will accommodate it?
Have you slipped back to unhealthy junk foods because they’re cheaper than the healthier alternatives that you were buying?
A lot of dieters and would-be-dieters worry about the costs of eating healthily – but the reality is that you could actually save money by dieting.
Staying In is the New Going Out
Many of us are cutting down on former treats like restaurant meals – and even on little indulgences like takeout coffees. Eating at home is good for your wallet and for your diet (so long as you don’t order a pizza…)
If you’ve seen the latest diet tools on this site, you’ve no doubt noticed the button where you can click to calculate your calorie needs. (“Calorie Calculator” box under the “Diet Tools” tab). Really all you have to do is insert your height, weight, gender, age, and activity level, and the tool actually does all the calculating for you! But how do they arrive at this number, is it reliable, and what are the advanced tools?
When you’re desperate to lose weight, you might be tempted to crash-diet – to cut down as much as possible. Perhaps you’ve been dieting for a while, but you want to see faster process.
It’s a bad idea to cut your calorie intake too low, for a number of reasons. Most nutritionists will advise that you should not cut more than 1,000 calories from your daily maintenance rate, and you should not go below 1,000-1,100 calories (even if, like me, you’re a small female and only need 1,500 cals to maintain…)
One day I was ordering lunch at a fast-food restaurant and noticed a man depressingly shoveling a very large salad into his mouth, forkful after forkful. It was smothered with creamy dressing, laden with shredded cheese, covered with bacon bits and full of croutons. But he did not look happy at all. I passed by his table and commented, “You don’t look like you’re enjoying that salad very much” and he answered, “No, I hate salad; I’m just eating this because it’s good for me. What I really wish is that I could eat a burger”. So I informed him, “The next time you come here, order a burger and fries and you’ll still be eating 300 fewer calories than you have in that mound of bacon, dressing and cheese!” Boy was he happy to hear that.