Thursday, April 30, 2015

Is "Eating for your Blood Type" a Good Diet?

I've been looking for some good diet advice so I can eat better and lose weight. There are so many different types of diets it's overwhelming. I'm wondering if there is any science to back them up. What is your opinion about "Eating for Your Blood Type"? Is this really science-based? This one in particular sounds a little flaky to me.
Thank You, Robert B.

Hi Robert,
There are a whole lot of diets out there that make no sense at all, and this is one of them. Following is a post from my blog "Balanced Diet, Balanced Life" which is a parody this diet deserves:

Undoubtedly you’ve heard of the popular book, “The Blood Type Diet”. In fact, blood types are identified in case you need to receive blood one day to prevent you from having a serious reaction. Period.
There is absolutely no significance of your blood type as it relateds to your diet, your food tolerances, allergies, or reactions to food! The fact that someone wrote a book called “Eating for Your Blood Type” is akin to writing a book called, “Eating for your Eye Color”. So, I will tell you now how to best eat for your eye color to help you lose weight:

There are groups of people who have blue eyes, others who have brown eyes and some who have green. If both of your parents have blue eyes, so will you--just as if both of your parents have type O blood, you will. Therefore, these characteristics can be seen among others in your family—just go ahead and ask them!
Okay, so first of all, any of you who have blue eyes, listen up! You have light colored eyes and you really like snacks; especially those high in carbohydrates. Am I right? You enjoy having a donut or coffee cake late in the morning. It acts as a real pick-me-up to keep you going until lunch time, and of course, donuts taste so good to you (because your eyes are blue!) You love having some chips or cookies in the afternoon from the vending machine. You just get a craving for something sweet or salty a couple of hours after lunch, and that little munchable treat satisfies you until dinner time. Finally, you often crave something to snack on in the evening while you are watching television. How do I know this? Your eyes are blue! Mine are too. I like to snack.
How can we lose weight? Here’s how: find a lower calorie substitute for the snacks you are presently consuming. There are fantastic 100 calorie snack bags so you can have a hostess mini-cake package late morning, some wheat thins or cheese nips in the afternoon, and a skinny cow ice cream bar in the evening. Yes, even though you have blue eyes and you like to snack, you can still lose weight --just get your snacking under control.

Now for those of you with brown eyes: you like sweets, especially chocolate. And you like peanut butter. Of course you do; I know that because your eyes are brown. I have friends with brown eyes—they like chocolate and peanut butter. So, you like to eat peanut M & M’s, snickers candy bars, chocolate ice cream with nuts in it, and other treats that have a lot of calories. This makes you gain weight. You gain weight when you eat chocolate and peanut butter because your eyes are brown! And because these are very high calorie foods. What can you do about it?

First of all, realize that liking chocolate or peanut butter is not really a physiological craving. You do not need chocolate. You just like it because it tastes good. You need to know that if you can wait until the craving passes and not wolf down a king-sized Snickers bar or double Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, you will be okay. For every 300 calories you can pass up (check the labels on those candy bars), you’ll lose three more pounds by the end of the month. This could be nine pounds a month if you’re indulging three times a day!

If you still want the taste (of course you do!) then learn to control the portions. Again, many of the 100 calorie snack bags are foods you would enjoy; chocolate covered pretzels, nutter-butter cookie crisps, and chocolate chip cookies. There are lower calorie brands of ice cream and you need to measure out a ½ cup portion when you eat it, instead of scooping ice cream into the bowl until it’s full (yes, I know that’s what you do, because your eyes are brown).

And, finally, we get to the smaller percentage of the population—those with pretty, green eyes. Unfortunately, you are predisposed to a taste for foods that have fat in them! This is unfortunate because fats have twice the calories of carbohydrates. You like donuts, potato chips, cakes, and pie. Cookies, brownies, and ice cream are also sources of fat, as well as sour cream, butter, and salad dressing. You have green eyes, so I know you are not someone who likes a dry baked potato or an undressed salad. You usually order French fries or a milkshake when you go out for fast food.

What can you do to get that weight off? Start limiting your portions of these foods. Write down everything you eat for a week. See how many times each day, on average, you indulge in one of these high fat foods. Now make the decision to reduce this to only one time a day, at most. If you have a donut, you do not also get a milkshake later that day; if you get fried fish you do not also have French fries; if you have pie after lunch you do not also get ice cream after dinner. You have green eyes: you need to find other ways to treat yourself during the day besides eating these high-fat foods!

To everyone with colored eyes, best of luck with your weight loss efforts! I’m confident you will be able to lose weight after you choose lower calorie snacks, reduce your portion sizes, decrease the calories consumed from treats, and find other ways to de-stress besides eating high-calorie foods.

I must add here, that this is a spoof, just in case someone believes these tips are true. The good news is these tips actually will work for you no matter what your eye color!
Have I gone too far? Let me know!!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

I don't have time for breakfast

I have a problem eating breakfast in the morning due to lack of time. I know it's a healthy start to the day and gives you lots of nutrients and all that, but even a bowl of cereal takes a good 10 minutes to pour, eat, and clean up. What's faster than that, besides driving through the fast food window and getting something unhealthy?
Justin R.

Hi Justin,
That has to be the number one reason people say they don't eat breakfast... they just don't have time. Who wants to get out of bed 10 minutes earlier just to scarf down a bowl of cereal?!
My answer is to make something you can eat in the car--probably how those great fast-food sandwiches became so popular. But if you have 10 minutes to sit in the drive-through lane, you'd have time to eat at home.

I like to pop some toast in the toaster oven while I'm grabbing my coffee and going to dry my hair. By the time I'm ready to leave, the toast is ready and still warm. I take a piece of cheese, slap it between the toast (and it might be an English Muffin or bagel for variety), and it's melted into a nice, hot breakfast sandwich before I'm backed out of the driveway.
I've also made French Toast on the weekends and saved some slices to toast-and-take on weekdays. Just pop the French Toast in the toaster and it's warm and ready to eat on your drive to work.

Having a breakfast with egg or cheese in it will provide some protein. This not only contributes to your daily protein intake, but helps your breakfast stay with you a bit longer. Plain carbohydrates or sweets (like grabbing a banana or pop-tart) may find you hungry within 2 hours and that can get annoying when you're at work and can't find a healthy snack to grab.

There are other quick breakfasts that you can take on your drive to work. Carnation Instant Breakfast Drink was made specifically for this purpose. It has added protein, vitamins and minerals to give you that nutritious start to your day.

String cheese is another snack that's easy to eat while you're driving, and you can just pre-bag a few whole grain crackers ahead of time to grab-n-go.

Some of the 'energy' or 'protein' bars are okay for breakfast too. They are definitely great for on-the-go, but compare the food labels to plain old candy bars, like a snickers, and you might not see much difference other than added vitamins (read: Take a vitamin pill and eat an Almond Joy... not so healthy).  Try to look for one with whole grain and less sugar, with protein added for staying power.
If you aren't concerned with your calorie intake (happy with your weight) you can choose one that has 300-350 calories. Otherwise, try to keep it under 200 calories and add a piece of fruit to keep you full for longer (fruit is a natural source of water and fiber, both of which help you feel more full for the short term).

Don't limit yourself to 'breakfast' foods either. If you're game for a pbj or turkey sandwich in the early am, go ahead and have a less traditional breakfast.

For more breakfast tips, order my e-book "Choosing The Best Breakfast" which covers most scenarios, including breakfast making you more hungry mid-morning, and not being hungry enough to eat early in the day. 

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Why Do I Stay Fat?

For a change, today, I'm going to answer a question I haven't been specifically asked... but one many people ask themselves: Why Do I Stay Fat? 
I've had the pleasure of attending webinars by  Bill O'Hanlon, a professional mental health counselor, who has presented some ideas I find applicable for my weight-loss clients. He treats patients with depression and shows them how they continue to keep themselves depressed by their actions: they isolate themselves, stay in bed, avoid exercise, ruminate, and basically perpetuate their depression by keeping themselves in it. While the advice for people suffering from depression includes getting some exercise, fresh air, and human contact, he uses a "reverse psychology" technique, asking them, "Teach me how to be depressed. You are so good at being depressed and knowing how to stay there--if I wanted to learn to be depressed, what would you tell me to do?". The patients can realize their predicament as they explain how to stay depressed, telling Bill to 'stay inside, don't answer your phone so you won't even speak to people who reach out to you, remain in your bed clothes for most of the day and don't brush your hair or do anything to improve your appearance'. The light bulb goes off over their head as they see how they've been feeding their depression, and see that if they do the opposite they may help themselves out of their situation.

He asks his patients who are overweight the same thing: Teach me how to be fat
So let me ask you: You're an expert--you've been overweight for a long time now--if you wanted to explain to me how a person could stay heavy and not lose weight, what would you tell them?

Chances are, your list might look like this:
- "Take every opportunity to eat! Even if you aren't hungry, if someone has cookies or candy out, take advantage and eat it.
- When there is food left, finish it. Even if you've had enough for dinner--even when you feel stuffed!--be sure to have the rest of the food so it won't go to waste.
- Use high-calorie foods and cooking methods: Never bake or broil, but fry most of your food. And add butter or oil to everything you can.... potatoes, salad, bread, and even vegetables which are naturally low-calorie.
Before bed time when you're relaxing, don't let this time go by without something to eat! You shouldn't have any down time when it comes to ingesting calories. A nice bowl of ice cream or a piece of cake will help you settle down to sleep.
- Never plan ahead when it comes to meals or snacks. If you bring your lunch to work it might be something portion-controlled or healthy. Wait until it's time to eat and then grab whatever is fast--it will usually be something from a fast-food restaurant and these are normally high-fat and high-calorie selections. They also don't have anything to choose from for side dishes except french fries or onion rings, so you'll be sure to get an extra 400-calorie item.
- Never cook your own meals at home! You can control your cooking methods and portion sizes when you do that. Eat all your meals in restaurants where they add lots of fat (read, calories!) to make the food taste extra rich and creamy. Always include a beverage like soda or sweet tea that has extra sugar-laden calories, and be sure to order dessert and not to split anything with anyone! Eat it all yourself and clean your plate!

The other side of the equation is exercise, of course. 
- Don't burn calories if you want to stay overweight! Never set foot in a gym. As a matter of fact, it helps not to even own a pair of comfortable shoes so you won't be tempted to walk very much.
- Use elevators and escalators instead of stairs, even when going down. Park as close as you can to your destination. Some stores have those riding carts so you don't even have to walk and push a shopping cart!
- And forget about doing anything remotely active: Don't ride a bike, play frisbee with your dog or catch with your kids; never pick up a tennis racket or go to a bowling alley.
- Automate everything you can: Riding mowers, snow blowers, leaf blowers, heck--pay the neighbor kid to rake leaves so you don't have any more activity than just sitting if you can help it!

You know, the list goes on. How do you stay fat? Keep doing things that increase your calorie intake and reduce any actions that result in burning calories. Make a list and post some of your ideas here to share!

When you realize what you're doing that's keeping you overweight, you'll be able to target some changes to make to get the weight loss results you've been looking for!

Now they say Fat is Okay Again? And Carbs are Bad?

I am sick of this fat vs carb debate. For years my husband tried to lose weight on a very low carb diet. What happened? His weight crept up and so did his cholesterol and blood pressure. His doctor kept telling him that he had to eat less fat, that was the position of the medical community, and the countries that ate less meat and fat like China and India had less obesity and heart problems. I am Italian and grew up eating pasta and bread and pizza-mostly plain or with a bit of sauce. Me and my family are slim.
It was only after his friend died from a heart attack my husband decided to give low fat a try. This time he counted all grams of fat and stayed very low. Surprise surprise, he is losing weight, and his blood pressure is now normal! Waiting to see cholesterol numbers but I bet they are now good. So where the heck do the experts get off saying that carbs are now bad and meat/fats are now good? I bet its the meat/dairy industry behind it. Thanks for your thoughts!   Karen L.

Ah yes, Karen, the age old debate of "fat" versus "carb" calories. And there are still those who say, it's just the calories, regardless what food they are from!

The low-carb diet has been around at least as early as the 1960's. Fat got a bad rap shortly after that and a lower fat diet has been recommended for many populations since the 1970s, especially people with coronary artery disease.

Now some in the medical community are coming out and saying 'It's not fat after all, it's sugar'.

The fact is, it's not one type of food or one food component that is the culprit: It's a whole lot of things, including overall diet, lifestyle, and health of the individual. As registered dietitians we emphasize a diet including 'everything in moderation' and finding what works for each person. There are those who follow the Atkins diet and do well with a low-carb regimen. It sounds like your husband did not. Others follow a fat-restricted diet (made famous in the 1970's by Dr. Pritikin and, later, Dean Ornish).

Perhaps the diets work better for some individuals because they are easier to follow for some people. Eliminating carbs is a helpful technique for those who can't stop once they get started with pasta, bread and snack foods. Many find it hard to stick to for long. But others need those "rules" that just say no to a whole list of food.

A low-fat diet works for many, and still others follow the Mediterranean diet, with reasonable amounts of both carbs and fats, the majority coming from fish and plant-based oils.

We can't say what works for one person will work for another, or even that everyone who eats a healthy diet will be a healthy person. We can just encourage people to find something that works for them, and stick with it.

It sounds like your husband has figured out what works for him. In that case, he should stick with it and enjoy the benefits!