Fatherhood, Fat & the Dreaded “DadBod”

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A recent study published in the American Journal of Men’s Health found that males who become fathers experience a bump in their BMI (body mass index).

This study looked at over 10,000 men followed for 20+ years. Compared to the dad group, men who didn’t become dads were actually shown to lose weight over that time. First time dads saw a 2.6% increase in BMI (about 4.4 pounds for a 6 foot tall dad).

Not surprisingly, living with your kids had a greater impact on rising BMI than not living with kids.

So what’s the take away message? Everyone’s metabolism slows as you age, but having kids can exacerbate weight gain due to changes in lifestyle.

Here are a few tips for curbing the pound creep with kids:

  • Kids have smaller stomachs than adults and need to eat more frequently to meet their nutritional needs; don’t stoop to snacking just because the kids are.
  • The kids menu is crap! Kids AND adults should avoid “typical” kids menu foods like chicken nuggets, corn dogs and pizza.
  • Do a color check: if your plate is white and yellow from refined carbs and cheese, work on adding color from fruits and vegetables – a swap that benefits kids and adults alike.
  • Kids can eat a lot because they move a lot: and you should too. Get out with your kids and move and exercise to burn off some of those calories!
  • Stay away from sugary drinks – most kids do not need juice; juice is great if you want to gain weight – try to eat your fruit, not drink it. You’ll save calories and gain fiber in the meantime.

For more information on improving kids (and parents’) food choices, check out the KidsEatRight resources from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the MyPlate Kids’ Place from choosemyplate.gov.

When Gluten is a Good Thing

July 5, 2015 by  
Filed under Dietary Patterns, Digestion

gluten

Gluten-free foods continue to be seen by many as superior to gluten-containing foods. According to Food Navigator, in the 5 years leading up to 2014, gluten-free food sales grew 34% each year. While gluten sensitivities and Celiac disease do affect a growing number of individuals, for the majority of people gluten does not need to be avoided.

Celiac disease is a diagnosable condition, an autoimmune reaction to gluten, which is a protein in wheat, barley, and rye. It is estimated that 1 in 133 Americans have Celiac disease, many of whom do not know it. Others may be gluten sensitive without being celiac and this makes up about 6% of the U.S. population. A third group have self-diagnosed themselves as either celiac or sensitive to gluten or avoid gluten simply because they feel gluten is unhealthy for reasons such as it causes undesirable weight gain or decreased energy levels.

For those of you who don’t fall into the Celiac or gluten sensitive categories, here are some reasons why not to fear gluten:

  • Gluten-free products are more refined in order to remove the protein, gluten. This means they lack the whole grain, which provides tons fiber and other beneficial nutrients.
  • Many gluten-free seeking individuals will avoid grains all together. This can lead to deficiencies in many essential nutrients like calcium, iron, thiamin, folate, niacin, and riboflavin.
  • Attempting to follow a gluten-free diet may cause a decrease in the beneficial bacteria in the gut. These bacteria thrive on the beneficial fiber found in whole grains. Maintaining healthy gut bacteria leads to a stronger immune system.
  • Packaged and processed gluten-free foods are typically more expensive than whole fods. Unless you really depend on a gluten-free diet, you can easily save money by purchasing conventional whole grain products.
  • Currently, no studies show evidence that eliminating gluten leads to an increase in energy. Gluten aside, consuming more fruits and vegetables and less processed foods may cause feelings of increased energy due to healthy food choices.
  • Gluten free does not necessarily lead to weight loss. However, making healthy food choices can lead to weight loss. For example, choosing quinoa over white bread. On the contrary, many gluten-free products use potato starch instead of wheat flour, which lacks the beneficial fiber and nutrients found in wheat flour.

While it’s always a good idea to cut back on packaged and processed refined grain foods, if you don’t have a medical necessity, don’t fear gluten if it comes from whole grains!

Special thanks to dietetic intern Brittany South for her contributions to this post.