To Weigh or Not to Weigh

People who are trying to lose weight, as well as those trying to maintain weight loss they have already achieved, typically use a scale to keep track of how they are doing. The question of how often to weigh yourself is common and, since daily weight fluctuations can be discouraging, people sometimes ask if weighing yourself regularly is considered a good idea.

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Tuesdays With Jeff: Insights Into Your Health: The Myth of Moderation Pt 1: Do All Foods Really Fit?

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The Myth of Moderation Pt 1: Do All Foods Really Fit?

Jeff Novick, MS, RD

You know what they say when it comes to what to eat,”everything in moderation.”     Whether it is chocolate, wine, red meat, dessert, etc.  Nothing is bad, in and of itself, as long as we just don’t consume too much of it.

But, how do we would define “too much” and how do we know if we have surpassed this?

Let’s start at the beginning.

Our current concept of “everything in moderation” comes from ancient Greece, where at the temple of Apollo at Delphi there was the inscription, “Meden Agan” or  “Nothing in Excess.”    From this, we got the concept of doing something “in moderation” which means, not doing it excessively.    Therefore, someone who moderates their food consumption may choose to eat food from all food groups, but will limit their intake of those foods that may cause deleterious effects to harmless levels.

So, how are we doing in this area?

The items we know that are causing harm to Americans right now are the excess consumption of added sugars, refined grains, sodium, fat, and saturated fat.

So, how much does the average American consume of these?

Added Sugars – 242% over the recommended upper limit.

Refined Grains – 200% over the recommended upper limit.

Sodium – 229% over the recommended upper limit.

Saturated fats – 158% over the recommended upper limit.

Solid fats – 281% over the recommended upper limit.

Read the rest here. 

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Tuesdays With Jeff: Insights Into Your Health: The Calorie Paradox

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Over the years, I have worked with many people who have told me their diet was vegetable based. However, on closer examination, it was anything but. Most often, they were getting most of their calories from either nuts, fruits, or starches (starchy vegetables, whole grains, beans).

Here is why.

The basis of a diet is what compromises most of it. In the world of nutrition, the deciding factor in dietary intake is calories and not the weight, or volume or servings of food consumed. Hence, the food or food group or type of food that contributes the largest percentage of calories to the total calorie intake will form the basis of that diet. This is the accepted standard in the world of nutrition.

These days we hear a lot about plant based diets. What this refers to is that most of the calories in the diet, comes from plants.

In the plant based diet world, we also hear terms like “starch” based, “nut” based, “fruit” based and “vegetable” based. A starch based diet is one where the majority of the calories will come from starches (whole grains, starchy vegetables and legumes).  As such, if someone is on a nut based diet, then the majority of their calories will come from nuts.

In addition, if someone was on a “vegetable” based diet, the majority of the calories will come from vegetables. However, because the calorie density of vegetables is so low, many who think they are following a vegetable based diet aren’t and are actually following something completely different. Most often, they are actually following a fruit based, nut based or even a starch based diet, without even realizing it.

Read more here. 

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Tuesdays with Jeff: Insights Into Your Health: The Healthy Eating Placemat: A Visual Guide To Healthy Eating

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QUESTION: Right now we are all bombarded with every kind of vegan or plant-based diet in the world. How would you capsulize Jeff Novick’s recommendations?

I have really been thinking about that lately and how best to describe the principles of a healthy diet, and I think, plant-centered, minimally processed, calorie dilute, low SOS & variety, really sums it all up. It’s not just vegan, vegetarian or plant-based because one could have a pretty bad vegan, vegetarian or plant-based diet. So I like to say “plant- centered” but I also add that it should be minimally processed. I don’t say “whole” or “unprocessed” as not all processing is bad. Processing per se isn’t what’s hurtful, it’s processing that either detracts from the value of the food (i.e., refining) or adds something that is potentially harmful, (i.e., salt, sugar, etc.). So plant-centered, minimally processed, and then calorie dilute, because so much food has become so calorie dense which is a major contributing factor for obesity and many other diseases. The fourth principle is a diet low in SOS, which is salt, oil/fat and sugar. Even if you have a plant-centered, minimally processed, calorie-dilute diet and you cover it with salt, sugar, and oil, it is not healthy. I’m not going to say none, but low, as it isn’t all or nothing.  Last but not least, variety.  We want a variety of foods, over time, from each food group. It does not have to be at every meal.  People get caught up in the Super-Food concept and the only vegetable they will eat is kale, or the only fruit they will eat is blueberries, etc., etc. However, the best way to insure nutritional adequacy is to consume a variety of foods in each of the food groups.

Read the rest of the article and get Jeff’s Health Eating Placemat! 

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Tuesdays With Jeff: Insights Into Your Health: Reflecting on the Paleo Diet

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Q: I have read Loren Cordain’s book about the Paleo diet.  What is your opinion of the Paleo regimen and what it is promoting – no grains, no/limited dairy, etc etc. It seems that the rationale is fairly reasonable in that most foods we eat today weren’t even available a few hundred years ago especially the grains and the sugars.

A: Thanks for the question.

Cordain’s work is interesting and deserves some consideration but it is mostly all anecdotal and theoretical, which, while of some value, is not the same level of credibility of the many l/t studies we have that are based on outcome data. There was one controlled study on the Paleo that came out comparing a PALEO to a MED style diet but they only looked at satiety. A more recent study concluded, “the diet does fall short of meeting the daily recommended intakes for certain micronutrients. A 9.3% increase in income is needed to consume a Paleolithic diet that meets all daily recommended intakes except for calcium.”

While it is true that there was less chronic disease back then, their lifespans were also much shorter and many lifestyle related chronic diseases to not show up till later in life. Several small isolated groups alive today who still follow a Paleo style diet also have much shorter lifespans.

Read more… 

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Tuesdays With Jeff: Insights Into Your Health: Meal Frequency and Eating Between Meals

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QUESTION;  I was wondering if there is any evidence as to whether the traditional three meals per day is better than, for example, one or two meals per day.  Or is it better to eat several meals per day? If you are not hungry and wanting to lose weight, is there any drawback to skipping a meal (assuming that you don’t overdo on the next meal)?  

There is really little to any well-done credible science to support the theory that there is a difference between eating 3-5 meals per day, 1-2 meals per day or just consuming regular small snacks all day.  Likewise, the time of day that you consume your food, does not matter either.

While you often here of the advantages of several small meals over less larger meals, as long as total calories are restricted, there is not really a big difference and some recent studies in animals have shown that less frequent meals may have some advantages. There are studies being done where the animal are fed every other day (EOD) or once a day.

Continue reading here. 

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Tuesdays With Jeff: Insights Into Your Health: Does Dieting Lead to an Eating Disorder?

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QUESTION: I have been trying to follow this program and discussed it with my local RD.  She said that any program like this (i.e., a plant based, vegetarian, vegan diet, etc.) that restricts certain foods or food groups can trigger binge eating and overeating and even lead to an eating disorder.  Is this true?

Thanks for the question.   I have heard the same thing many times over the years, dieting, and especially any form of restrictive dieting, can lead to an eating disorder.  I was even told by a colleague during a similar discussion several years ago, that she has several clients who developed eating disorders from their stays at a renowned health center

In fact, this topic just came up (again) in a recent discussion amongst my professional colleagues.  Upon requesting support information for the above statement, I was sent a brief description of the famous Ancel Keys starvation study which was done at the University of Minnesota in the 1940′s and was told by one of my colleagues that in the Keys study, ”Some (of the men) engaged in bizarre food rituals and eventually cycles of binge eating and some purging.”

Keyes A, Brozek , Henschel A, et al.  The biology of human starvation. Vols 1 and 2. Minneapolis: University Press, 1950

In addition, I was sent this quote and reference,

“Starvation and self-imposed dieting appear to result in eating binges once food is available and in psychological manifestations such as preoccupation with food and eating, increased emotional responsiveness and dysphoria, and distractibility.  Caution is thus advised in counseling clients to restrict their eating and diet to lose weight, as the negative sequelae may outweigh the benefits of restraining one’s eating.

Psychological Consequences of Food Restriction. J AM Dietetic Assoc. 1996: 96:589-592

So, is this true?  Can “dieting” and focusing on improving ones eating result in an eating disorder?

No!

But let me clarify this important issue.

Continue reading “Does Dieting Lead to an Eating Disorder” 

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Tuesdays With Jeff: Insights Into Your Health: Which has more protein: 100 calories of broccoli, steak, romaine or kale?

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QUESTION:  “Thanks for the chart on the percentage of calories from protein. I was glad to see some accurate numbers.  However, right afterwards, I saw another chart on Facebook listing the nutritional breakdown of broccoli, steak, romaine and kale showing the vegetables had more protein per 100 calories than the steak. Is this really true?

I have seen the same charts and no, they are not accurate. To clarify the issue, I created the following chart, which is based on the latest values from USDA Standard Reference Release 26, which is the most up-to-date values.  I have listed the specific NDB# I used for the calculation as different forms (raw, cooked, frozen) of the food and different varieties (choice, select, trimmed, etc) will come up with slightly different numbers.

As you can see, the steak clearly wins on protein.  However, remember, a plant based diet based predominately on a variety of minimally-processed lower-fat plant foods low in SOS, is more then adequate in protein and all the essential amino acids and that is the main point in regard to protein.  Such a diet is also void of cholesterol, lower in fat, saturated fat, and rich in fiber and nutrients, including phytochemicals, and has been proven to prevent and even reverse disease, even in those seriously ill.

For more information on the protein issue, read the 5 articles linked below the chart.

You can download a PDF of the chart here which will be easier to see.

 

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Tuesdays With Jeff: Insights Into Your Health: The Percentage of Calories From Protein in Plant Foods

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QUESTION:  “I see many graphics and lists on the internet such as this one here,  that list the amount of protein in plants and some of them seem really high.  Are they accurate?

I have seen the same lists and some of the numbers are accurate and some aren’t.  To clarify the issues, I created the following charts, which are based on the latest values from USDA Standard Reference Release 26, which is the most up-to-date values.  I have listed the specific NDB# I used for the calculation as different forms (raw, cooked, frozen) of the food and different varieties (russet, yukon gold, red, white) will come up with slightly different numbers.  In addition, check out my articles on protein below.

 

You can download a PDF of the charts here.

 

Other articles regarding protein by Jeff:

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Tuesdays With Jeff: Insights Into Your Health: Variety vs. Simplicity: The Key To Success

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Variety vs Simplicity: The Key to Success

©Jeff Novick, MS, RD

“Variety” may be the “spice of life” but “simplicity” is truly the “key to health”

Many cultures around the world have survived, (and even thrived) on very limited food supplies with very limited varieties of the foods. Not only the Okinawans and Chinese centenarians on mostly sweet potatoes but also the Tarahumara’s & the Pima’s in the Sierra Madre’s Mountains of Mexico on corn and beans, the Papau of New Guinea, the Irish on potatoes, etc, And of course, the simple variety available to them changed somewhat over the course of the year.

The negative aspect of this is that “if” the soil happens to be deficient in a mineral, then there is a greater chance for deficiency of that mineral. There are two well known examples of this happening including the problem with iodine in the Great Lakes “Goiter Belt” of America, and selenium in an area of China.

However, even if you or I were to select a diet with very little variety, the likelihood of this happening to anyone today is much less because even if we choose few foods, these few foods would be coming from all over the country and/or world. We do not get our produce just from the local area.

The “proven” advantages of this is that reducing food variety, reduces food intake. So, it is a great strategy for someone wanting to reduce their caloric intake.

In fact, the food industry takes advantage of this in reverse. Its a phenomenon known as the “salad bar” effect. They know that the more varieties of their product they make available to you, the more you will buy and the more you will consume (~25%).

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5052771/ns/health-fitness/t/overcoming-salad-bar-effect/#.UDj8YkT0CBY

Over the last 25 years of following the principles of “healthful living”, I often hear the following comment…

“Jeff, this is SIMPLE for you to do and follow because you have been doing it for so LONG”.

To which I respond…

“You have it backwards, the reason I have been able to do this for so LONG is because I have always kept it so SIMPLE.”

Well, turns out that maybe I am correct as my personal philosophy and thoughts were just recently supported by an interesting study that was done. These results may also be able to help many of you by pointing out the “key” component to following a program of healthful living successfully.

This study was designed to test the theory that very simple, uncomplicated diets would result in higher levels of compliance/adherence and weight loss in an outpatient setting then diets with more variety and complexity. The study was a realistic test of what can be achieved by dietary treatment alone for obese patients because the patients were typical of the general population who are trying to lose weight. They traveled to the clinic at their own expense, neither paid nor received money, and bought the food they ate at normal retail outlets. No drug or surgical treatment was offered and no exercise or behavioral therapy programs were provided.

The patients were randomized to one of three diets, each of which was designed to produce an initial energy deficit sufficient to produce weight loss. The three diets were of increasing variety and consisted of……

1) a very simple diet (VSD) which included just one food;

2) the same very simple diet (VSD+V) with added variety of fruits and vegetables; and

3) a typical conventional diet (TCD).

The patients completing the trial in the simple diet group achieved the highest overall mean weight loss (~25 lbs in 16 weeks). Compliance/adherence was similar for the two simple diets but much lower for the typical conventional diet. It was easier for the subjects to stick to the simple diets.

The authors expected that patients on the simple diet with added variety would have a greater weight loss than those on the the simplest diet as it was still simple but much less boring and patients were more likely to comply with it. However, the greatest weight loss was in the patients on the simplest diet alone.

While neither the authors of the study nor I am recommending anyone to live on a diet of just one food, the study does make a very interesting and key point. And that is, that the simpler the diet, the greater the compliance and the greater the results. The two simplest diets produced the greatest compliance and the greatest results. The typical complex diet had the lowest compliance and produced the least amount of weight loss.

The more we try to complicate our diets and/or lifestyle, the harder they become to follow. The key to any diet or lifestyle program is simplicity. Very few of us have the time and/or energy to spend extra hours in the kitchen or in the food stores. Nor do we have the time to learn 100′s of new recipes and food products.

So, don’t try to complicate your program of healthful living.

Find out what works for you and stick to it. Create simple meals based around vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes.

Keep your overall program and menu simple. Look for variety within each of the food groups by using different varieties of vegetables, fruits, legumes and whole grains over the course of a day or a week.

As a mentor of mine once said, “this program is not supposed to become your life, it is supposed to give you your life back”.

So, Keep It Simple!!

Because simplicity REALLY is….

“The Key To Health”

In Health,

Jeff

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