Is a Detox Diet Right for You?

With the New Year upon us, people are scrambling for diet resolutions and looking to detox.

With all of the buzz about detox diets, you may have started to wonder if you should start one too?

detox-dietsWhat are Toxins?

Toxins are defined as substances that have entered the body through smoking, pollution, pesticides, or additives found in the food we eat.

Detox diets claim to help rid the body of toxins, provide more energy and help kick start weight loss; however, there is little scientific evidence to support that detox diets actually rid the body of toxins. There is also no way to measure if you are “toxic”, or to justify if you even need to detox!

If You’re Gonna Detox…Do it Right!

Here are few detox tips that are good to know:

  • Your body has a built in system to remove harmful substances: your liver, lungs, kidneys, and GI tract are always in a natural state of cleansing
  • People with medical conditions such as diabetes or certain types of cancer as well as children, older adults and pregnant women should avoid detox diets as they may be nutritionally inadequate or inappropriate
  • Detox diets do have side effects: moodiness, irritability, depression, fatigue, and constipation (from a lack of fiber and other nutrients) may occur
  • Quick fix diets only provide short-term results; most people gain lost weight back…and then some.

The healthiest way to utilize a detox diet – if at all – is for a very short period of time. Most nutrition experts agree that if a “detox diet” is kept to 1-2 days, it can serve as an important psychological break between a period of unhealthy eating (the holidays?) and a new healthier period in the New Year.

Special thanks to Dietetic Intern Jenny Legrand for her contributions to this post.

Keep Your Kitchen Safe this Holiday Season

The holidays mean lots of home cooking. But improper food safety techniques can lead to foodborne illness that will ruin anyone’s holiday!

Here are some simple guidelines for maintaining food safety in your home kitchen this holiday season:

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  • Use separate cutting boards for raw meat and produce to prevent bacteria from spreading
  • Use a food thermometer to make sure dishes are cooked to their proper internal temperatures
  • Do not let food sit out at room temperature for more than 2 hours
  • Keep leftovers in the refrigerator for no more than 3-4 days or the freezer for 3-4 months
  • Reheat leftovers to at least 165 degrees F

For more information on keeping your food supply safe, check out AskKaren.gov – the USDA’s online expert for all things food safety.

Special thanks to Dietetic Intern Jenny Legrand for her contributions to this post.

Healthy Holiday Food Tips

December 22, 2014 by  
Filed under Consumer awareness, Holidays

The average American gains 1-2 pounds over the holiday season.

It might not sound like a lot, but if you do that every year, the unwanted pounds will be piling on!

This holiday season, follow a few simple rules to help keep your holiday weight gain at bay:

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  1. Plan Ahead – if you fail to plan, you plan to fail! Have a game plan for how much you will eat and drink at a holiday party. Pick which dessert or drink you’ll want, and stick to the plan to avoid overindulging.
  2. Bring Your Own Dish – the best way to assure there is something healthy at the party, is to bring your own. Use lower fat condiments and sugar substitutes to cut calories in healthy holiday dishes.
  3. Make Time to Move – exercise is the other side of the coin when it comes to avoiding holiday weight gain. Plan in 30 minutes per day to keep yourself active.
  4. Go to Gatherings to Gather: focus on chatting and catching up with friends and family over the holidays. Attend gatherings to do just that: gather – and try not to make food the focus.
  5. Eat Ahead of Time – just like grocery shopping on an empty stomach is a bad idea, so is attending a holiday party. Have a healthy, light snack before you hit the party to help avoid overeating once you’re there.

For more healthy holiday tips, check out this article: “The One Thing Top Nutrition Experts Do to Stay Healthy During the Holidays.”

Special thanks to Dietetic Intern Jenny Legrand for her contributions to this post.

Vital Stats on Vitamin Needs

December 11, 2014 by  
Filed under Consumer awareness, Supplements

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Have you ever wondered if you should take a multivitamin? A vitamin D supplement? Fish oil? The list of vitamins marketed to consumers goes on and on.

There’s no shortage of information about vitamins on the internet, but here’s a basic rundown of what you may and may not need.

Foods First

  • Foods should be your first source of nutrients – not pills!
  • Eating a wide variety of nutrient-rich foods from all five food groups is the best way to make sure you are getting all of your necessary vitamins and minerals.
  • For tips on achieving balance in your diet across the food groups, check out the USDA’s Myplate guidelines at: http://www.choosemyplate.gov.

Realize When You’re at Risk

Most adults are not at risk for developing nutrient deficiencies. In fact, you are more likely to be eating more nutrients than you need (due in part that many N. Americans consume too much food!) There are, however, certain populations who may be at risk for micronutrient deficiencies, including:

  • Pregnant women who have elevated folic acid needs
  • Elderly people and vegans who may be at risk for vitamin B12 deficiency
  • Females and vegetarians who may be at risk for iron deficiency
  • Those with lactose intolerance or dairy allergy who may be at risk for calcium and vitamin D deficiency

Choosing a Multivitamin Wisely

Your best bet if you want to fill in gaps in your diet is to consider a multivitamin:

  • Look for multivitamin preparations with as close to 100% of the daily value for vitamins and minerals as possible
  • Choose generic brands or popular brand you have heard of; beware of “prescription strength” and “high potency” which don’t mean anything

Wherever you fall with regards to wants or needs with vitamins, keep in mind that taking a supplement is not a free pass to eat poorly. Supplements are just that – they “supplement” the diet, they don’t reverse poor diet choices!

Special thanks to Dietetic Intern Jenny Legrand for her contributions to this post.

Calorie Count Coming to a Menu Board Near You

December 4, 2014 by  
Filed under Consumer awareness, General

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Imagine this: you are standing in line at your favorite national chain coffee shop, pondering your piping hot drink order. A glance up at the menu board now informs you that the large caramel coffee drink you are about to order contains a whopping 430 calories.

Does knowing how many calories you are about to ingest cause you to rethink your drink?

Well it just might, now that the Food and Drug Administration has issued their final labeling rule as of December 1, 2014. The new rule says that all restaurants (and movie theaters and amusement parks and vending machines) with more than 20 outlets need to post calorie information “clearly and conspicuously”.

Additional information about total calories, total fat, calories from fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, sugars and proteins have to be available (provided upon consumer request, usually done online or pamphlet).

On top of that, if you are curious about the caloric impact of your alcohol intake, that information must also be posted as well. If the alcoholic beverage is a standard menu item, the restaurant has to pony up the details on the drinks now too.

For some restaurants this will not be a major issue, since similar rules have been in effect in areas such as New York City, California, Philadelphia and Seattle/King County for a few years now.

Other restaurants will find themselves scrambling to produce calorie information before the rule goes into effect. Restaurants have one year to comply and vending machine companies have two.

Special thanks to Dietetic Intern Jenny Legrand for her contributions to this post.