Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Does it Matter What Time You Eat?

I am writing to find out if eating late may be affecting my weight. I have heard it's just "calories in calories out" and not specifically what you eat or when. What's your take on this? --Gina F.

Hi Gina,
Yes, I believe it does not matter what time you eat. Case in point: people in Europe eat dinner very very late (10 pm, at which time I am ready for bed!) yet Americans have a higher rate of obesity. I think we eat the wrong foods in the wrong amounts, such as a bag of chips in front of the TV and then some milk and cookies before bed.... time is not necessarily the factor.  It is a matter of consuming too many calories after probably having eaten enough in our breakfast, lunch, dinner, and other snacks! I can tell you plenty of people have a healthy evening snack like a piece of fruit, a bowl of cereal, or even a small serving of milk and cookies, and are of perfectly normal weight.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Is Skim Milk Good for You?

Ms. Beebe,
I have heard that fat free foods may just not be good for you because they replace the fat with something else. My question is about skim milk, which is also called fat free milk. Is there something they add to this to replace the fat being skimmed out, should I stay away from this skim/fat free milk? Is it missing any nutrients that you should be getting from milk? I am interested in all you have to say about skim/fat free milk. Thanks, Bob.

Dear Bob,

That's a great question because lots of products do replace the fat with some other substance. Usually it's either artificial or it's something with sugars in it. I know I used to buy low fat peanut butter until I looked at the label and saw I wasn't saving too many calories (170 versus 180 in the regular) and it just had added sugars!
Milk is a different story. As a matter of fact, many dairy products (including yogurt, ice cream, sour cream) can be purchased "low fat" and you'll be getting the same product minus the fat. Period.

It's always a good idea to read the ingredient label to see what you're getting. It's especially helpful to compare the low-fat product to the standard product (like I eventually did with the peanut butter).

Furthermore, with the fat removed, a glass of skim milk actually has a slightly higher content of vitamins and minerals because there is about an extra ounce of milk replacing the fat that's in a glass of whole milk.
Drink up and enjoy!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

How Do I Use My Pedometer?

As part of a spring exercise incentive program at my job they just gave us all a pedometer and encouraged us to start walking 5000 steps. I'm not clear on this: How far is it, how long it will take, and are we supposed to do 5000 steps every single day?  Do I wear the pedometer all the time or just while taking this one walk?  Millie W.

Dear Millie,

Most public health and wellness agencies agree that 10,000 steps per day is the number to aim for. This is about 5 miles per day. It does not necessarily mean a five mile walk (although that is perfectly acceptable) but means you should be moving around all day long as much as possible.

Put the pedometer on as soon as you dress in the morning, and wear it until you go to bed at night. Keep a record of your daily steps for a few weeks, and remember to reset the instrument each morning before you put it back on.

You may find initially that you walk 1000 steps a day if you do not exercise and/or if your workday is sedentary. Others may find they easily get in thousands of steps per day with a daily 2 mile walk, moving around on the job, running after their small children, and walking up and down the aisles of the grocery store. There are dozens of ways to get in steps and the good news is, they all count!

Get an idea what your average number is after a few days of recording, and then decide how much you can ramp it up. Try getting in 50 percent more steps than you have been (such as increasing from 4000 per day to 6000 per day) and see how that goes for a few weeks. If you can do it, shoot for another 2000 per day and keep it up for a few more weeks.

It's fun to see how many more steps you can get in each day just by parking a bit farther away or taking a flight of stairs instead of the elevator. For more fun, consider having contests with others, either at work or online.  And the biggest benefit for most people? Track the weight you lose as you increase your activity just by getting in more steps! As a guideline, you can lose a pound each month from every 2000 steps you add per day. A 2000 step walk is about a mile and should take most people just about 20 minutes or less. This simple strategy can leave you 10 pounds lighter by this time next year, so give it a try!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Is a Juicer or a Blender Better for Increasing my Fruit and Vegetable Intake?

I am trying to consume more fruits and vegetables in order to lose weight and get more soluble fiber to lower my LDL cholesterol. I'm trying to figure out if it's better to use a juicer (because I've heard this leaves out some of the fiber) or a blender (which I understand makes the food more difficult to digest).  Thanks, Joe. S.

Dear Joe,
It seems to me, chewing your fruits and vegetables naturally blenderizes them. When the chewed food gets to your stomach and the acid starts to break it down you are naturally juicing them! You can get enough soluble fiber from eating most fruits and vegetables with the skin on, such as apples, plums, cucumbers, etc.

Aim for 9-12 fruits and vegetables (combined) per day to get all the vitamins and fiber you need from this food group. You might want to start out slowly (increase by 2-3 servings a day) if you aren't used to all that fiber to give your gastrointestinal tract time to adjust. Bloating and stomach aches can be signs of taking in too much fiber too fast.