Although nutrition attention recently has been focused on eating more of the healthy fats, with a push toward olive oil and other oil, as well as nuts, cancer researchers still feel there is a benefit to keeping fat intake very modest and somewhat on the low side. UCLA Medical Center researchers concluded this after a long term study of women with breast cancer. The greatest dietary benefit was for early stage breast cancer patients- they had the lowest death rates.
- included 2,400 women
- half ate a low-fat diet
- they were followed for 15 years
The Low-Fat Group:
- reduced dietary fat intake by 10%
- they lost 6 pounds, and
- had a lower death rate from all-causes
Why might eating low-fat be helpful?
Researchers suspect that LESS dietary fat AND weight loss = reduction in inflammation.
And inflammation is connected to both increased heart disease and cancer risks.
Several of the researchers and breast cancer specialists noted that making these lower fat dietary
changes is an easy and inexpensive way to possibly reduce the risk of premature death in breast cancer survivors.
So how might fat intake be lowered?
1) Have a poached egg rather than a fried egg.
2) Select a nonfat yogurt or cottage cheese rather than a higher fat version.
3) Include some meatless meals like a marinara sauce over pasta or bean soup to avoid the animal fat.
4) Fill up on more fruits and vegetables, which are completely fat free.
5) Most bakery recipes can be adjusted to use natural applesauce or baby fruit in place of vegetable oil, saving 100s of fat calories.
With over 65% of our adult population either overweight or obese, it is easy to see why new diet plans
pop up almost every single week. It is a confusing dieting world. There are ideas to cut out all meat or
to eat only meat with a protein approach, or to cut out all grains or to eat mostly grains. A popular diet
is the Paleo diet. Anthropology researchers looked into this dieting approach.
Foods OKAY on the Paleo Diet:
grass-fed meat, free-range poultry, fish, game
fresh fruits & veggies
nuts & seeds
fats including olive and avocado oils
Foods NOT okay on the Paleo Diet:
flour and flour-containing foods (breads, crackers, cereals, etc.), oats, cereal grains
rice, legumes, quinoa
vegetable oils (corn, sunflower, etc.)
dairy foods (milk, cheese and yogurt)
Anthropology researchers note that Paleolithic man:
had short lifespans
ate to survive and reproduce
ate a wider range of foods, depending upon the environment and climate where they lived
During Paleo times the northern hunter-gatherers may have lived on more meat while those
hunter-gatherers nearer the equator probably ate more plant foods. The researchers also noted
that the foods today are different from Paleo times because of growing practices over the years.
So the apples of today are different from a few hundred years ago, and definitely different from
the Stone Age varieties.
Since the Paleo life expectancy was so short, we really have no idea that the type of foods eaten
during that time of man will promote a long healthy life. It seems to be another way to sell books,
cookbooks & Paleo foods.
In the New Year you might have some stated health goals that you plan to work on. Perhaps you want to reduce your
blood pressure medication by losing weight or get in a daily 20 minute walk. Research shows that having more meals
prepped from home can be a health advantage with a lower intake of calories, sodium, sugar and preservatives, and a
higher intake of fruits and vegetables. This might be a great goal for 2015.
Reasons that young folks, busy parents and over-worked adults do not cook more meals at home:
- Lack of time is at the top of the list.
- Some admit that they do not have basic cooking skills.
- Others just do not understand recipes.
Advantages of the preparation of food at home:
- Save money from the family budget.
- More nutritious meals, if healthy foods/ingredients are chosen.
Tips to make food prep at home happen:
- Take basic cooking classes at your local community college.
- Take advantage of cooking classes on line (Martha Stewart has some good ones).
- Select recipes with only a few ingredients.
- Make a simple weekly menu.
- Grocery shop from the menu.
- Try one new recipe a week to start.
And then my motto is cook once for 2 meals - think of 2 or more meals that you can get from that one cooked dish:
- Roast a lean pork tenderloin for one meal, and then shred and season the leftovers for pulled pork BBQ another night.
- Cook extra baked potatoes to make potato soup with the leftover spuds.
- Cook a big batch of chili in the crockpot during the day; then add a tossed salad for a quick-to-the-table meal at night. The leftover chili can be served over baked potatoes or wild rice at another meal.
- Bake a salmon filet and then enjoy salmon cakes the next night from the leftovers.
Two meals from one recipe!
Okay, the holidays are over, and what have you been left with – maybe a few unwanted pounds? Hopefully your blood
pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels did not suffer from overindulging and lack of exercise. Well, not to despair!
It’s back on track with healthy foods choices for the beginning of this New Year and beyond.
A few reminders to help you make healthier, low-calorie food selections for weight management.
How many calories to take in if you want to lose weight?
Think of the Rule of Ten: multiply your weight goal times 10 = daily calories for weight loss.
For ex: weight goal of 150 pounds x 10 = 1,500 calories/day for weight loss.
Calorie Saving Tips:
1) DOWNSIZE portions
2) Cut back on fats
3) Bump up fiber via fruits, vegetables and whole-grains
4) Drink primarily calorie-free beverages
5) Keep between-meal snacks to 100-150 calories
6) Sit down to eat and enjoy your meals with few distractions
Easy ways to save calories for gradual weight loss.
Any reasonable changes that you make to lose weight will work; for example…
- Bypass the chips at lunch when you have a sandwich. That is reasonable versus skipping lunch completely.
- Enjoy a homemade beef stew with potatoes and vegetables, but skip the roll or bread.
- Add a large vegetable salad to a pizza meal to help you eat one or two slices less of pizza rather than trying to skip having pizza completely.
What changes can you make that are reasonable and sustainable for both weight loss and then maintenance?
Do you find yourself at holiday parties, struggling to make reasonable food choices at the buffet table?
It can be very difficult to resist the many holiday food temptations that are all around us.
Well, if you would like to NOT gain the 5-10 pounds that most folks gain between Thanksgiving and the New Year,
here are a few calorie-saving tips.
1) Eat 3 meals as usual to prevent overeating later in the day
2) Savor small bites of the richest foods
3) Lighten up beverages by alternating calorie-containing drinks with calorie-free
Great Holiday Buffet Choices:
1) fruit and vegetable dishes (of course)
2) smoked salmon and spiced or grilled shrimp
3) any dishes that seem to be baked, broiled or grilled vs. fried
small flavorful cookies
one-crust fruit pies or fruit crisps with oatmeal topping
The holidays are filled with food temptations loaded with fat and calories. Be sure to enjoy some of the
seasonal treats but not at the expense of your blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar levels or weight.
When you are going to a holiday event I bet there will be many folks in attendance who’ll appreciate your
effort to bring a healthy appetizer or dish – there is only so much rich food that we can handle!
And who wants to spoil the holidays with an unexpected trip to the Emergency Room.
And then, of course, keep up with your daily walks and bring everyone else along to continue family time in a very healthy way.
Welcome to the holidays. And the holiday season usually means extra food, special meals, and loads of additional calories.
There goes the waistline or a spike in your blood pressure or blood sugar readings! This year think about making a few easy
changes to some of those family favorites to trim the calories, sodium and sugar to help you make it to the New Year in tip-top shape.
Here are a few healthy food prep tips.
Appetizer Ideas (make at home from scratch to reduce sodium and fat)
Black bean or hummus dip
Creamy dips made with Greek yogurt, nonfat buttermilk, light mayonnaise and/or reduced fat sour cream
Black bean-corn-salsa dip
Side Dishes for holiday meals
Homemade stuffing or dressing made with whole-grain bread cubes, salt-free broth or apple cider and chopped walnuts and pecans
Baked fruits such as apples and pears
Oven-roasted vegetables – Brussels sprouts, acorn squash, sweet potatoes
Coat pans with vegetable oil cooking spray
Reduce sugar in bakery recipes by 1/4- 1/3
Make single-crust pies
Even during the holidays it is possible to eat healthy by simple recipe modifications. Before you dive in and make a recipe in the
traditional way, just take a look at those ingredients to see if you can make an adjustment:
Can you cut the salt in half or even cut it out completely?
Could you use whole-grains to make a recipe, thus increasing the fiber – for example, wild or brown rice in a stuffing rather than white bread cubes?
Feature seasonal fruits and vegetables at all meals.
And then attention to the volume of food eaten- perhaps smaller portions will be satisfying enough.
And be sure to include an extra long walk each day to balance out the extra calories.
As we all know, a high intake of sodium and salt may have an impact on the development of high blood pressure later in life. And this seems to hold true for children as well.
For example, in a U.S. study of over 6,000 kids, each additional 1,000 mg of sodium per day resulted in an increase in blood pressure readings.
A recent Melbourne, Australia study of youngsters aged 3 months to 18 months adds some ammunition to previous high blood pressure studies. Researchers found that when
Family Foods were added to the diet of little ones, the sodium intake doubled from 486 mg in the 9-month old children to 1,069 mg in the 18-month old kids.By 18-months of
age, children were eating a variety of Family Foods that contained a fair amount of sodium/salt from –
Researchers found that the children with the highest intake of sodium by 9 months of age had stopped breastfeeding at a younger age, and had solid foods introduced
earlier in life. And this makes sense, doesn't it, because breast milk and infant formula are not high in sodium, and neither are the early baby foods such as infant cereals,
baby fruits and vegetables – they are all prepared without the addition of salt or preservatives that contain sodium.
And the reason for this fuss about the sodium content of children’s diets – it may result in high blood pressure later in life. SO current guidelines are to hold off on the introduction of solid foods until 6 months of age but have a discussion with your own pediatrician first.
Nutrition Tip: when your children begin eating family meals with the rest of the family, make as many dishes as possible from scratch to keep the sodium/salt intake to a minimum.
We’ve been talking quite a bit this month about pre-diabetes and diabetes. Both of these diseases are connected to excess body weight, especially in the mid-section or belly area. As we age, it is a health benefit to stay at a lean weight that is appropriate for you. And my observation, after nearly 40 years in the nutrition field, is that there is no magic to weight loss, there is no perfect way to lose or the best diet. But researchers do know some characteristics of people who grow older AND maintain a healthy weight.
Tips for getting to and maintaining a healthy weight:
- Eat 3 squares - that means 3 meals daily to get the nutrients that your body requires. Start the day with breakfast within an hour of getting up to rev your metabolism. And then strive for just 4 to 5 hours between your 3 meals. For example, breakfast at 8:00 a.m., lunch at1:00 p.m. and dinner at 6:00 p.m.
- Serve up SENSIBLE: check out your portions. You can use your hands as a guide (palm size serving of meat; fist size for starch, and 2 fists for non-starchy vegetables). And using smaller plates sure does help.
- Eat WHOLESOME foods most of the time – LESS processed foods and more dishes made from scratch can be more filling and provide fiber.
It is a confusing dieting world out there. Low fat or low carb? Paleo or gluten-free? As long as there is money to be made from selling a diet, there will be some promise at weight loss.
From studying folks who age lean, it is clear that they live well and moderately:
- They eat regular foods, but a nice variety.
- They do much more food preparation at home from scratch with real food ingredients. That trims the salt, sugar and fat, and provides dishes that are more filling.
- Meals are enjoyed in a relaxing environment, not eaten in the car or in front of the TV or out of a box or container.
- They are active each day – this helps to keep a trim body and waistline. And remember, it is your waistline that should stay lean – 35 inches and less for women and 40 inches and less for men to prevent chronic disease such as diabetes and heart disease.
If you have been told that you have pre-diabetes don’t wait to do something about it.
A delay in action means that 15-30% of folks with pre-diabetes will develop type 2 diabetes within 5 years.
The numbers about pre-diabetes are staggering!
• More than 85 million American adults – or more than 1 in 3 – have pre-diabetes
• 51% of adults over age 65 currently have pre-diabetes
Pre-diabetes is a condition when your blood sugar or glucose level is higher than normal, but not high enough yet to be diagnosed with type 2.
The risks for pre-diabetes are similar to the risks for developing diabetes:
• being 45 years and older
• having a family history of diabetes
• having gestational diabetes during pregnancy
• being overweight/obese
The lab work that would indicate that you have pre-diabetes:
1) a fasting glucose of 100-125
2) a random glucose of 140-199
3) an A1C of 5.7-6.4%
Get that glucose back to normal and yourself out of the pre-diabetes category!
Lose weight, if needed– it should be a top priority.
Watch your intake of the carbohydrate foods including starches (breads, cereals, rice, pasta and potatoes), fruits, and sweets/dessert.
MOVE every single day. Be an active person.
If you have received the diagnosis of pre-diabetes, the worst thing is to do nothing. Talk things over with your family to see
what can be done differently to help you live a more active life, to make healthier meals at home, to stay up on your medical
appointments and to reduce life stressors.
Learn everything you can about pre-diabetes:
• Look into a Pre-Diabetes class at your local hospital.
• Take a Pre-Diabetes/Diabetes Supermarket Smarts class – check with your local grocery stores.
• Online education from the American Diabetes Association at www.diabetes.org.
You can reverse pre-diabetes but whatever you do to get it under control needs to be continued for a lifetime.
It’s November and that means Diabetes Awareness Month is underway. We really do want to think about diabetes prevention all the time, but perhaps a sharper focus this month will motivate you into action if you are at diabetes risk. It is a disease that strikes 29 million Americans. Another 86 million have pre-diabetes, which means they are on their way to diabetes sooner or later.
Know if YOU are at risk for diabetes:
• Does it run in your family?
• Do you carry extra belly weight?
• Are you older?
• Did you have gestational diabetes when you were pregnant?
Get your blood sugar or glucose tested periodically. These numbers indicate that you might have diabetes:
1) A1C of 6.5 or higher
2) a random glucose of 200 and higher
3) a fasting glucose of 126 and higher
If you have diabetes, get control of your glucose readings to minimize health problems down the road:
1) enjoy a variety of foods with minimal processing in modest amounts to maintain a healthy weight
2) include daily walks or activity
3) take any prescribed diabetes medications
Receiving the diagnosis of diabetes may be the motivator you need to make healthier lifestyle choices and changes. And whatever you do to control your diabetes is really good for the entire family.
• Your spouse and kids can join you for your daily walk or weekend hikes. The goal: 30 minutes of activity each day because you do have diabetes every single day.
• Enjoy family meals with great conversation and delicious wholesome foods.
• And then keep up with current reliable information about diabetes – there is great online information at www.diabetes.org or www.nih.gov.
Rita P. Smith, MS, RD, CDE is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She has worked in the field of nutrition and disease prevention for 35 years, working with patients and their family members to help guide healthy food choices.