Thursday, June 30, 2011

Food Trends: diet sodas not so much of a diet

I am so torn about diet sodas.  On the one hand I love that they are calorie free, on the other hand even though aspartame, splenda, and saccharin have been deemed generally recommended as safe, I still recommend keeping consumption down.  What do I mean when I say “keep consumption down?”  That is a good question. I probably only consume products that have all or any of the above a couple of times a week and do the same with my children.  I have no rhyme or reason for this, except that I prefer whole, natural foods. I do dislike the calories in any drink other than milk and will opt for a lower calorie option when available. 

I’m always on the lookout for research and when one of my peers posted results from the studies below I thought it would be great to share.  Recently, scientific presentations at the American Diabetic Association showed that aspartame and diet sodas may attribute to pre Diabetes or Diabetes and weight gain. 

The first study completed at the University of Texas San Antonio monitored 474 people 65-74 years of age for ten years.  After assessing and following patients for about 9.5 years researchers found that those who drank two or more diet sodas a day increased their waist circumference by seventy percent.

In another study, mice were fed two diets. One diet contained chow which included corn oil to promote high fat and the other diet contained chow which included corn oil and aspartame.  After three months, the mice were assessed and the mice who consumed the corn oil and aspartame chow had high blood sugars.  These results suggest that aspartame could possibly contribute to high blood sugars, although results from mice cannot be directly correlated with humans.

The hypothesis from the first study is that the sweetness from diet sodas may trigger appetite but not quench hunger secondary to inappropriate metabolic responses. The thought is that this in turn inhibits brain cells from feeling full and can possibly contribute to overeating until your body tells you it is finally full.  The study mentions that they evaluated physical exercise and chronic co morbitities, but it does not provide information on monitoring of calories or food intake.

As for the second study, I am at a loss of words.  Aspartame is broken down into amino acids which normally do not cause any reaction in terms of blood sugars.  I am looking very forward to more information on this.

In any case, perhaps these studies will make you think twice about consuming more than two diet sodas a day.  It’s always important to take a look at your total calorie consumption in a day to assess true nutritional status.  If you need help, contact a dietitian.  Until next time, be well.
To drink or not to drink diet sodas... that is the question

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Family Nutrition: What’s the deal with Multivitamins?

This is definitely one of my top ten questions from clients and frankly it’s a hard question because there isn’t a generic answer.  The internet and such stores as the Vitamin Shoppe and GNC continue to place a lot of focus on vitamins and minerals and some of my clients swear by their regimen.  I’ve even had some clients tell me they can tell a difference within hours of taking certain supplementations.   Since this is a subject I try to tame my responses too, I was very glad to see the article “Multivitamins, So Many Types, So Many Labels” by Melinda Beck in the Wall Street Journal published June 21, 2001. 

Did you know that the multivitamin is the number one dietary supplement producing $4.8 billion back in 2008 and that one third of American’s take multivitamins religiously?  As Melinda points out there are many different varieties of multivitamins yet there is no specific formulation that specifies what a multivitamin should look like.  This becomes confusing especially when looking at wide ranges of ages and co-morbidities.  A multivitamin can be a mixture of any vitamins and minerals and the only specification is that it has to list ingredients on the label.  What’s more, 10 of 38 multivitamins tested by ConsumerLab showed that ingredient listings didn’t jive with actual amounts in the bottle.   Price was also not a factor as some of the multivitamins that sell for ten cents a day performed better than vitamins that sell for fifty cents a day.

There have been many studies on the use of multivitamins.  Some cited in this column show associated benefits, some show insufficient evidence that multivitamins decrease death from cancer or cardiovascular disease. 

At the end of the day, there are definite populations that require an increased vitamin or mineral consumption.  Pregnant woman, infants, elderly, or specific chronic conditions require an increase in specific vitamins and minerals and if you are not able to get the recommended amount from food, this is when supplementation should occur.  As far as a generic multivitamin I’m not completely sold it is a necessity.  I  agree it should be recommended when an individual has poor eating habits or does not eat enough whole fresh foods, but for the most part if you are eating well rounded meals, my request will be to review labs and make individual recommendations from there. 

I’ll close with a comment from Dr. Coates, of the NIH, who says based on the best evidence, "If you are taking multivitamins, there is no reason to stop, and if you are not taking them, there is no reason to start. You are unlikely to harm yourself, whatever you're doing." Pretty compelling isn’t it? 

Always choose whole foods first as a source of vitamins and minerals

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Common Challenges: In the eyes of emotional eating

“No one can make you feel inferior without your permission.”  Eleanor Roosevelt

This is a powerful quote and one I use often when meeting with some of my wonderful clients.  It’s such a simple, short sentence but so thought provoking.  Often upon an initial meeting with clients we discuss past medical history, medications, food allergies, exercise, meal timing and patterns and just skim the surface.  I listen while a story is told and understand that it will take time for trust to be built as my client and I put our plan together to move forward.

As we move through this journey together, we find that more times than most it is not just about the food.  We talk about using food as a fuel; we work on a meal plan and initiate lifestyle changes, and initiate exercise.  Most of the time success is obtained and for some, this is when the fear starts to settle in.  Will this last?  I’m doing well now, when will I start to fail again?  Can I keep this up this time?  

It is important to understand it’s never about the food and that is why, when appropriate, I introduce the concept of keeping an emotional chart along with the food journal to document feelings, emotions, or activities that parallel eating.

If you find that you eat during times of stress, anxiety, loneliness, boredom, anticipation of events, depression, or anger it’s important to address this behavior and work within yourself to define trigger points, understand actions, and work on behavior modification.  Emotional eating can become detrimental to weight loss and lifestyle change and it is important to get to address.  Dietitians have an ability to discuss nutrition and health and introduce the concept of emotional eating, but a therapist is best to work with to uncover the parallel between the action and emotion.

Most dietitians pair up with therapists they trust and respect. The combination of therapy and nutrition intervention is an equation for success.  If you have any of the signs above you can start by keeping a food and emotion journal. If you notice a pattern, make an appointment with a clinician.  You can ask your physician, research the web, or even contact me at and I’ll help you find the right fit.  Good luck and be well.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Sensible Sports Nutrition: Hydration and Exercise

I recently purchased Nancy Clark's sports nutrition guide book.  It is such a great book with a lot of information backed up by good research.  If you are an athlete, aspiring athlete, or just interested in how to fuel your body for all types of exercise I definitely recommend this book.

Growing up I played soccer pretty much all year round.  I love the sport and miss playing every day.  I also ran track for a little while focusing on sprinting and hurdles. I think back to how easy it was to run for hours on end during a soccer game or to get ready for a 100 yard dash compared to how much more difficult it is to get a workout in years later with jobs, kids, and all the other responsibilities in life.

A couple of months ago I started running 5K’s.  For an ex sprinter and right winger this was a long distance for me to train for.  Surprisingly, I was happy with how I ran and I absolutely loved the environment.  So I’m continuing to run and bike and recently became really courageous and signed up for a 5 miler July 2nd.  I still consider myself a fitness exerciser (exercising 30-60 minutes, four days a week), but the benefits are so rewarding as the running and biking is a stress reliever.  I’m also  noticing more muscle development in areas that have been challenged during my ‘child rearing years.’  My performance has always been dependent on hydration and the more I talk to others the more confused I get.   After reading Nancy Clark’s recommendations yesterday I thought I’d share some of her wisdom. 

First and foremost, ‘fitness exercises’ can mostly hydrate and rehydrate easily if eating regular balanced meals and drinking fluids throughout the day.  It is important to pay attention to hydration pre exercise, however, and Nancy recommends drinking 2-3 ml of fluid per pound at least four hours before exercise.  This comes out to about 10 ounces for a 120 pound person as one ounce equals about 30 ml.  If you drink a product that has sodium it may increase thirst, but it will help retain the fluid so that you do not feel the need to excrete right away.

As for during exercise, it’s recommended to know your sweat rate if you exercise for more than 3 hours.  For those of us who exercise for an hour or more at a time, it’s recommended to hydrate with 30-60 grams of carbohydrate per hour.  Sixteen ounces of Gatorade or Powerade  fall into this category.

Rehydrating after exercise is not an exact science but its recommended to sip fluids over time verse drinking large volumes at a once.  Rehydration also depends on when your next exercise event is, but drinking 50 percent more fluid than you lost in sweat will enhance complete recovery from dehydration.

Hydrating can come in many forms such as water, milk, orange juice, and sports drinks.  When looking at sports drinks weigh your options.  It’s suggested to choose a product that provides 13-18 grams of carbohydrate per 8 ounce that also has some sodium in it.  It’s not mandatory to have a product that has vitamins in it, because absorption does not occur as quickly as consumed. Also there is not sufficient research that proves herbs, such as ginseng, have any benefit to exercise.  Protein is also dependent on the type and time of exercise.  Protein alters taste but research does prove that protein can reduce muscle soreness post exercise.  As for caffeine, this is based on the individual. Some people benefit from caffeine and notice a jolt in energy, but some are sensitive and notice anxiety or tremors.  Be aware of the calorie intake in all drinks, especially sports drinks.  You do not want to drink all the calories you just burnt off. 

As for me, I’ll be sticking with my pre exercise regimen of water and rehydrating with my G2 Gatorade after the races (the new G2 products have less calories per serving).  Wish me luck on July 2nd!  To all the other runners out there good luck and be well.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Family Nutrition: Deciding about the “Dirty Dozen”

Earlier this week the Environmental Working Group (EWG) published their latest list of the dirty dozen and the clean fifteen.  The list specifies which fruits and vegetables have the most (dirty dozen) and least (clean fifteen) pesticides.  Data was collected from 2000-2009 from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food Drug Administration (FDA) ranking product on six factors which tell us how many pesticides are in the fruits and vegetable we consume and are recommended to consume daily.  I thought it was interesting when I read that most samples are even washed and peeled prior to testing.

There are many thoughts that pesticides are dangerous to humans and can cause neurological damage, ADHD, Cancer, and also disrupt the endocrine system.  I searched for specific research on the subject matter and had a hard time finding something concrete, however many suggest that more studies need to be completed with strong hypothesis’ explaining why.

It is suggested that people buy organic forms of the dirty dozen as they are considered to be the most toxic from a pesticide standpoint. Organic products do not utilize pesticides and if you need a refresher on organic products read my Organic blog from 2/17/2011 for a reminder.  Do you find organic are too expensive?  Look into growing some of the dirty dozen in your own garden.

Multiple physicians have stated that pregnant women and children under 6 have the biggest health risks with pesticides.  I have two toddlers myself, and although the research isn’t concrete yet, I’m not willing to take the risk.  Utilize this reference when shopping for your fruits and veggies and look out for the Droid and Iphone apps that will be coming soon.

Dirty Dozen
Clean Fifteen
1. apples
1. onions
2.  celery
2.  corn
3. strawberries
3. pineapples
4. peaches
4. avacodo
5. spinach
5. asparagus
6. nectarines (imported)
6.  sweet peas
7.  grapes (imported)
7.  mangoes
8. sweet bell peppers
8.  eggplant
9.  potatoes
9.  cantaloupe (domestic
10.  blueberries
10.  kiwi
11.  lettuce
11.  cabbage
12.  kale/collard greens
12.  watermelon

13.  sweet potatoes

14.  grapefruit

15.  mushrooms

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Food Trends: Plant vs. Animal Protein

In my practice I see a lot of vegetarians who have a lot of questions about the types of protein they eat.  In case you need a refresher, animal proteins are proteins derived from meat, dairy, and eggs.  Plant protein is derived from nuts, seeds, beans, legumes and soy.  Most animal proteins are higher in saturated fat as well as cholesterol which have been proved to increase risks of arteriosclerosis, a precursor to cardiovascular disease.  A lot of the general public, not just vegetarians, are starting to focus on decreasing intakes of animal proteins and focusing on plant sources to decrease total calorie, fat, and cholesterol intake. 

It’s important to know that most generally healthy individuals only need .8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.  Basically this means that a 150 pound man or woman requires about 54 grams of protein in an entire day.

Protein is made from amino acids.  Although there are many amino acids, there are nine that our bodies cannot produce on their own.  These nine amino acids become essential, meaning we need to consume them from animal or plant products.  Amino Acids are very important as they are the building blocks that make protein in our body.  Our bodies need to make protein for such things as muscles (think heart), hair, skin, eyes, and other organs.

In the past you may have heard the terms complete and incomplete protein.  A complete protein is basically a product that provides all the essential amino acids we need, where an incomplete protein has a smaller proportion or less percentage of all the essential amino acids.  For the most part, animal products are more complete than plant products.  This brought on a lot of concern years ago about plant based diets providing too little of the complete proteins.  Diet books were written, research was completed, and the general public went mad trying to pair their food appropriately to eat a complete protein diet.

It’s important to note, that almost all foods have protein.  Not only do your nuts, seeds, legumes, and animal products have protein, but so do your grains, vegetables, and fruits.  My advice is ‘out with the old and in with the new theory.’  If you eat a largely plant based diet and count on these foods to provide you with the protein you need, focus on eating a variety of foods at each meal.  If you pair different plant based products together you are more apt to make an incomplete protein meal more complete.  I always suggest focusing on eating a meal that consists of veggies, beans, and grains all at one time.  This will not only insure you are receiving the right amounts of amino acids and protein, but it will also increase your vitamin and mineral intake.

Not sure how much protein is in each type of  plant or animal product?  Take a look below:

Plant food
Animal food
1 c
41 g
Hamburger Patty
4 oz
28 g
3 oz
31 g
3.5 oz
35 g
1 c
18 g
6 oz can
40 g
9 g
Cuts of beef
3 oz
21 g
4 oz
3.5 oz
6 g
Peanut butter
2 T
8 g
3 oz
22 g
Soy Milk
1 c
7 g
1 oz
6-10 g
Brown Rice
1 c
8 oz
8 g
1 c
5 g
1 c
8-12 g

After reviewing the chart above you can see it doesn’t take a lot to get to recommended requirements.  Do any of you have any good recipes that contain any of the ingredients above?  We’re always looking for some new recipes to share with the Kindred Community.  Post it here or email me at 
Quinoa- one of the most complete plant based proteins

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Family Nutrition: My Plate

If you haven’t already gotten to take a look at the new icon from the USDA, take a minute and check out  Last Thursday Michelle Obama unveiled the replacement to the food guide pyramid.  The new icon is a plate divided into four subdivisions designed to visually guide you in portioning protein, grains, fruits, vegetables, and dairy.

The website replaces the website and provides some simple guidelines along with the new plate icon.  On the home page you can see some guidelines on how to balance calories, suggestions on foods to increase, and suggestions on foods to decrease.  The website also allows you to look up a food in the ‘My food-a-pedia.’   You can learn more about food groups, look into weight loss, and even plan a healthy meal.

What are my thoughts on the new icon? Well since you ask, I’d have to say I like it better as compared to the food guide pyramid.  I think the visual of the plate makes things simple and easy to understand, allowing for anyone to make immediate changes on their breakfast, lunch, and dinner plate.  At the same time, there is little information about types of fats and how to incorporate fats.  After multiple clicks and drilling down on the website you can find more information about each food group, it just takes a little exploring.

As I’ve said before, I use the plate method in my practice.  Clients find it easy to understand and adapt to.  I think utilizing the my plate is a great first step in making a change.  If you have a chronic or new illness, are unclear about the food groups, or looking for weight loss to coincide with utilizing the new icon, I suggest working with a dietitian.  In my opinion is a great first step in making changes.  As always, a general guideline as this is not appropriate for any individual diagnosed with a chronic condition.  Schedule a visit with a dietitian who can help you make a plan that suits you best.  Have you checked out the new USDA icon?  What are your thoughts?  I’d love to hear them. 

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Spotlight: Top 50 blogs every dietitian should read....


Thanks to Matthew Reed who listed Kindred Nutrition's blog 'Ask Amy' as one of the top 50 blogs every dietitian should read.  Kindred is listed number 5 under Nutrition help.  Matthew's blog Nurse Tips has some great tips. Go ahead and check it out today!

Thanks to all for stopping by Ask Amy and you'll hear from me again real soon.


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