Sunday, April 25, 2010

I Have Trouble Digesting High Glycemic Index Foods

Dear Laurie,
I think I have carbohydrate intolerance. I have always eaten lots of breads and cereals, but always had bad gas and bloating, along with other symptoms.

Last week I cut out all carbs and I feel SO much better and even lost a pound!

Now I have discovered low glycemic carbs like yams and converted rice.
Can I eat these types of carbs, or in my case are ALL carbs bad-even the low glycemic ones?

Dear Bea,

Glycemic Index is a measure of how much blood sugar levels raise after eating a specific amount of carbohydrate food. There is no relationship between glycemic index and digestion.

What you may have is an intolerance to gluten, the protein found in wheat and some other grains. People who are allergic to gluten have symptoms as you have described: gas, bloating, abdominal discomfort, and diarrhea. The reason rice and potatoes do not cause distress is because they do not contain gluten.

I would suggest you see a gastroenterologist, or at least your family physician, for a thorough check-up. They can rule out any other conditions and provide you with a gluten free diet to try and see how you feel on it.
Find more information from this gastroenterology website on gluten free diets.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

How Much Sugar Should You Have in a Day?

Are the sugars in ice cream, candy and soda the same as the white sugar that you put in your coffee or tea? (for consideration of overall daily sugar intake?) Also refined sugar, brown sugar? Should we count sugar in rice, bread, potatoes? I just don't want to go above the daily sugar intake recommendations.  Rochelle J.

Dear Rochelle,

Recent studies point to added sugars contributing to chronic diseases, now including heart disease. Eating too much sugar can cause weight gain, a rise in bad cholesterol level, a decrease in good cholesterol levels, and elevation of triglyceride level.

Sugars found in fruit or milk are not counted as "added" sugars. Nor are the carbohydrates from rice or wheat (although eating these without a limit can raise calorie intake and contribute to weight gain!). The added sugars provide calories with no nutrition. When you get sugar calories from fruit or milk you are getting nutrients along with them.

Sugar like white sugar in coffee, processed sugar in your cereal, brown sugar in baked goods, high fructose corn syrup in soda, candy, etc should be limited to 25 gm (100 calories) per day for women and twice that for men. (Men at a healthy weight generally can afford a higher calorie intake due to their larger size).

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

How Can I Get Motivated to Lose Weight?

Hi Laurie,
I am 45 years old and I have over 100 pounds to lose.  I want to know where to begin. I would like to know what is good carbs and what is bad I'm desperate to lose weight. About 4 years ago I dropped 63 pounds on my own but I cant seem to get that motivation again. I can't seem to even get off the couch and I had cut out most carbs.and was eating much lighter but now I have no self control. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated I know it's not going to come off over night but a little bit of progress quick would sure help to motivate. Thanks, Rochelle M.

Dear Rochelle,
It's important that you realize the first step is to somehow spark motivation before you can be successful. You know if you just start a "diet" this week you'll be back to square one by next week. Here's what I suggest: Over the next few days, take the time to make a serious list of 5 reasons you would like to lose weight.
Each time you come up with a reason, list underneath it "why is this important to me"? After you are able to identify why it is important, ask the question once again of the answer you came up with.
So it might look like this:
"I want to lose weight to look better in my clothes."
Why? "I will feel more confident and be able to go out more".
Why is this important? "Because I miss going out and feeling good and I would look forward to getting back to that lifestyle again".

Now, you have something to motivate you to get off the couch... you want a life you enjoy!
Four more times, and you'll have a list of reasons that will stimulate you to go for a walk or join an exercise class, pass on the chips or avoid the buffet line. You will realize that taking care of yourself for your future is so much more of a payoff than the 5 minutes you spend to enjoy a chocolate bar.

I would suggest not focusing on a "diet" or cutting out carbs or eating lighter.
Look at the DASH eating plan or the food guide pyramid or other very healthy eating plans (recommended by public health agencies and dietitians) and focus on feeding your body nutritious foods that will make you feel good and strong and vibrant--not what you must avoid (because that often leads to feelings of deprivation).

If you are enjoying whole grains, lean meats, low-fat dairy products, fruits, vegetables, and nuts while drinking plenty of water, you will be too full to worry about not having cupcakes and ice cream or counting carb grams or measuring portion sizes.

It's great that you are not looking for  a quick fix, but just some progress in the right direction. Take the time now to come up with the best plan that will work for you, and you'll continue to see progress in the weeks to come. Please write back and let me know how you're doing with the plan you choose!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Does Too Much Sodium Promote Weight Gain?

I ate a high salt diet for about 3 days will that cause me to get fat? Also how do I get rid of the water weight and water retention to bring my body back to normal water levels? Thank You, Randy A.

Dear Randy,

No, sodium does not contain any calories, so high sodium foods (including those that are salty) will not cause any weight gain in the form of fat. Temporary weight gain can be caused by fluid retention and the best way to drop that is by drinking lots of water. Healthy kidneys use the water to flush the extra sodium out of the body.

If you notice a weight gain of more than a pound or so and it stays with you for several days, you might want to check in with your physician. Symptoms such as swollen ankles or difficulty breathing (because fluid can be collecting around your heart or lungs) may indicate a problem with your heart or kidneys that is preventing the release of salt and water that is necessary to return your body to normal. Serious health consequences may occur if this is the case, but diet and medications can help .... so see your physician as soon as possible if this is the case.

By the way, there are many foods that are extremely high in sodium that people are often not aware of: many fast foods, canned foods, snack foods, and lunch meats can cause our recommended sodium intake to double in no time. Check food labels when you can and try to keep sodium intake below 700 milligrams at each meal in order to keep the total daily intake at the recommended 2300 milligram level.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

How Many Fruits and Vegetables a Day are Recommended?

My question is, when people say to get 5 servings of fruits and vegetables, does this mean 5 of each, or 5 total?  Thanks! Donna S.

Dear Donna,

Depending on the trusted source, the number of servings can be phrased differently.  The minimum should be a total of 5 servings, but some health agencies are pushing for 9-12 servings total.
The food guide pyramid recommends 2 cups of fruit and 2-3 cups of veggies for adults. "More Matters", a website promoting the health benefits of fruits and vegetables, agrees.
From Healthy People 2010, a summary of government sponsored health goals, "The CDC hopes that at least 75% of people aged 2 years or older will consume at least two daily servings of fruit and at least three daily servings of vegetables, and at least one-third of these servings will be dark green or orange vegetables".

That said, a recommendation of 9 to 12 servings could be referring to 1/2-cup servings, which would be the same as 2 cups of fruit and 3 cups of vegetables!

The benefits? Fruits and vegetables are usually a low-calorie concentrated source of vitamins (especially A and C), minerals (especially potassium) and fiber. Filling up on these nutritious foods means less chance other low-nutrient dense--and often high-calorie--foods will be consumed in significant amounts.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

How Can I Add Fiber to my Salads?

I wanted to know how to make my salad higher in fiber since lettuce doesn't have more than one or two grams.  --Debbie N.

Hi Debbie,
Great question! Yes, most lettuce is not high in fiber, but actually it's difficult to find one food that alone is very high in fiber. Adding a variety of other vegetables and beans to your salad is a great way to increase the total fiber content.
For example, tomatoes, green pepper, celery, cucumber, fresh spinach, raw broccoli or cauliflower, etc mixed in will all add another gram or two of fiber per 1/2 cup. Any type of bean you add (chick peas, white beans... whatever canned beans your have work just fine) will add more soluble fiber which is also important in addition to the insoluble fiber found in most vegetables.
Meanwhile you will also have a more colorful and tasty salad with texture and a greater variety of nutrients!

Happy eating :)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Do I Need to Maintain the Same Calorie Intake Every Day?

I am a 6'1" 225 pound male, trying to lose some weight. I am keeping a food record and I notice that on certain days I take in more calories than others. My schedule is affected by work hours, which are sometimes 10 hours a day, and school because I am in classes 3 days a week. Does it matter if I eat more some days than others, as long as I always have a low number of calories?  Dave S.

Dear Dave,

It is not essential to eat the same number of calories each day. However, it is wise to eat a reasonable number of calories each day! For instance, if you notice that you've only eaten 1100 one day and that another day you took in 3000, I would suggest you try to plan your meals and snacks in advance to make sure you are getting in the optimal nutrition each day.

Research shows that skipping meals does not help with weight loss. On the days you are busy try to find time to fit in a healthy snack, even if it's something like a granola bar or a slimfast-type meal replacement drink or bar. This will keep a steady flow of nutrients for your body to use consistently, and increase your chances for continued steady weight loss.

Likewise, take a look at days when your caloric intake is high to figure out where a large number of calories are coming from. Often people tend to make up for missed meals with higher calorie foods later in the day.

If you are talking about a fluctuation of 200 or 300 calories, it's not important. I would estimate a range between 1800 and 2200 calories will be a good daily goal for your weight loss plan.

Monday, April 5, 2010

How Can My Husband Safely Gain Weight?

Hi Ms. Beebe,
My husband has always had high cholesterol and recently high blood pressure. So to combat this, he's been watching what he eats, but now he is losing weight. It's a double-edged sword. He does need to gain weight. I've tried to help by giving him extra pasta, potatoes and rice.
He weighs 153 (his lowest point recently being 148#, and he should be 170.
We would like to know with the two situations in mind, are there any foods that you might recommend that could help him gain the weight he needs and not wreak havoc on his cholesterol?
Thank You!  Kimberly H.

Dear Kimberly,

You have the right idea going! Pastas, potatoes and rice are both low in fat and sodium, so they won't be interfering with his cholesterol or blood pressure!
Other foods to add that are low in both sodium and cholesterol:
1.  Fruits (dried fruits and juices can add quite a few calories)
2. Cereals (both hot or cold) with skim milk
3. "Good" fats like nuts and sunflower seeds
4. Dry peas and beans
5. Lean meats like chicken breasts and fish

Sometimes people do tend to go a bit overboard when they have decided to eat better for their health, and they avoid foods they don't need to be avoiding or take amounts that aren't enough to support their energy needs. Perhaps your husband can eat larger portions of some foods, or start incorporating snacks.

If he is not able to gain weight because his appetite isn't big enough to eat more of these healthy foods, he can try a supplement (like Carnation Instant Breakfast or Ensure). These do not have cholesterol and are quite low in sodium. If he drinks 2 a day (about 250 calories in each serving) he can expect to put on about one pound each week.

If weight loss continues, be sure to visit the doctor with this information and check out any other possibilities that could be causing weight loss.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Is Food Combining Real Science?


Have you heard of "food combining"? The basic concept is not to mix carbohydrates with proteins or fats as they interfere with each other during digestion.
I have always had digestive issues in spite of the fact I am a light eater and stay clear of big fatty meals.  Even as a kid, a burger or plate of meat and potatoes left my belly bloated for hours.
I have tried all kinds of digestive supplements to see if I was intolerant, but nothing helped.
Then it dawned on me that maybe it wasnt the food it was the mixture of foods I was eating. I for example I can eat a bagel no problem but ad bacon and egg and I bloat. Chicken ceasar salads are no problem but add croutons-you get it.  I google this and its called food combining.  I mentioned this to my doctor and he thinks its quackery. It also doesnt seem to be as mainstream as the other food fads. Your thoughts appreciated! -- Tony G.

Dear Tony,
Yes, I agree with your doctor. This bogus myth has been around for a hundred years, yet people have been eating sandwiches for decades! There is nothing in our physiology that prevents combining any foods together. The hormones and enzymes in our stomach and small intestine respond to each type of food (carbohydrates, fats, or protein) regardless of other types entering the digestive system at the same time.
There is a chance you have some type of digestive intolerance and it may be to gluten or it may be to fats... or it may just be that adding another food results in too much volume for you to comfortably digest at one time.
Try eating whatever you like in smaller portions (like 1/2 bagel with bacon and egg) and see if this helps!