Archive for the ‘News’ Category

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By David Grotto, RDN, LDN

After 20 long years, the FDA is now proposing revisions to the Nutrition Facts label, commonly found on the pack of food and beverage containers.

Why? Many experts agree that the information contained within the label is outdated or not clearly understood by the consumer. This may explain why less than half of adults currently read the nutrition label, with any regularity. Though encouraging news from a recent USDA study, which found that label reading has increased by 34% over the past two years, improvements are still needed to get the rest of us on board.

What information from the nutrition fact panel isn’t resonating with consumers?
Calories. Experts and consumers agree. This info is probably the most important thing on the label and should be easily seen. Bolded and larger font size for “calories” is being proposed.
Calories from fat. Science supports that total calorie intake is far more important than where calories come from. Though it is important to know if a product contains healthy fats or bad trans fats, we no longer have to be “total fat-phobic”. News Flash! Olive oil derives 100% of its calories from fat. See how “Calories from fat” doesn’t help much?
Grams. As much as our elementary teachers have tried, we (as Americans) have not warmed to the metric system. Most consumers have no idea what 30 grams of something looks like. Instead, use teaspoons, tablespoons, cups, handfuls or a shot glass (okay – I understand how much that is – maybe the kids won’t).
Sugars. Is it total sugars in a product or added sugars that is a real or perceived concern? Many are pushing for either including a line that says “added sugars” or replace sugars with the term “added sugars”. Again, maybe an icon that shows teaspoons of sugar versus grams might be more useful?
Grams of whole grains. Again with the grams thingy! Us old-school RDs have always taught our patients to look to the first ingredient in determining what is most in a product. We also said to look for statements like 100% whole grain on the label. People understand percent’s.
Be Up Front. In this day of transparency, the consumer assumes that someone is trying to pull the wool over their eyes (aka “hiding something”) when nutrition information is relegated to the back of the package. I agree. Expect to be seeing more “Nutrition Keys”, which are highlights of the nutrition facts panel, appearing on the front of the label.
Serving size. Time to get real here too, people. Expect to see not only more realistic serving sizes but perhaps visuals/language that does a better job explaining what a serving size is. “A serving is a Fred Flintstone-sized bowl of cereal” (cue Fred). Well – maybe that’s my serving size – but you get the idea, right?
More importantly, what do you think needs to change? What say you? Take the short survey below!

Thank you to my intern Liana Akkawi for her assistance with this post!

Photo courtesy of US News & World Report

Photo courtesy of US News & World Report


Of course, any style of eating is actually considered a diet. But what I’m talking about here is a ‘diet’ in the traditional sense – a style of eating that includes an element of deprivation attached to it. Well, my friends…I’ve got good news for you! Not surprisingly, the best overall diets for health seem to focus on achieving a reasonable lifestyle that doesn’t require becoming a gym rat or only eating raw plants; gnawing mainly on roast beast that you had to wrestle into your grocery cart (in the most paleo-thetic way possible) or foregoing anything that tastes amazing AND hailed from a package or burger joint.

The U.S. News & World Report just announced the reigning champ of all diets. Drum roll please. After analyzing 32 popular diets, their panel of experts, including notables such as Robert Kushner, MD, David Katz, MD, Joanne Slavin, RD, PhD and Penny Kris-Etherton, RD, PhD, proclaimed the DASH Diet as No.1 in Best Overall Diets followed by the TLC diet and the Mediterranean diet in 3rd place.

The DASH, TLC (National Institutes of Health’s Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes diet endorsed by the American Heart Association) and Mediterranean diets are well-researched diets and all share the common benefit of reducing the risk of heart disease. This is good news as heart disease still plagues Americans as the No. 1 killer of both men and women. All three diets are similar as they all espouse monitoring calories, limiting (but not eliminating) sodium, sugar and animal protein and filling up the plate abundantly with vegetables, fruits and whole grains.

Also not surprisingly, Weight Watchers, which has always focused on monitoring calories and including all types of food, holds on to the top spot for Best Weight-Loss Diets. Notably absent from top rankings of “Best” categories for overall health, weight-loss, diabetes, heart health and any other category was:

• Paleo diet (last place)
• Dukan diet (tied for last place)
• Wheat Belly
• Low carb
• Any celebrity-written diet
• Juicing, acid-alkaline or detox program

Another thing the “Best” diets seem to have in common is that they were very much in side step with the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (MyPlate) albeit some slight tweaking. Though the “Best” overall diets didn’t make the top three ranking of “Best Weight-Loss Diets”, in my opinion, they certainly could easily be converted into a “Hannah Montana – best of both worlds” type diet by just adjusting the calorie level downward to suit your needs. The USDA has a Super Tracker that can help you figure out what that calorie level is and assign it to whatever type of diet you decide to follow. Might as well give heart disease a kick where it counts while dropping some poundage (if you need to) following the latest and bestest US News & World Report not-a-diet, diet! Good luck. Also, let me know if you’ve stumbled onto a dietary plan that you can stick to lifelong that was not mentioned here. Meanwhile, I wish you a healthy and delicious (non-diet) New Year!

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By David Grotto, RDN, LDN, author of The Best Things You Can Eat
This post is sponsored by SILK brand soy milk.

Though I’m a father of three daughters and know how soy consumption at an early age may have breast cancer protective benefits, I’m here to say that soy is not for women only! In fact, soy offers complete protein and a variety of essential nutrients that contribute to men’s health.

Good for the heart and every other part! Soy is good for the heart because it is high in soy protein and fiber, contains heart-healthy fats, micronutrients and antioxidants called isoflavones, and is low in saturated fat and cholesterol free. Whole soybeans are packed with fiber and healthy fats, and are rich in zinc, magnesium, iron and bone-building calcium. According to the FDA, consuming 25 grams of soy protein per day, as part of a healthy diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may help reduce the risk of heart disease. Soy helps fight heart disease by research shows lowering LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. You’ll also find that soy is one of the few plant sources of omega 3 fats, which have anti-inflammatory benefits throughout the body. Regular soybeans have soluble fiber that helps suck up cholesterol before it gets a chance to clog guys’ arteries. Fermented soy foods, like miso and tempeh, contain probiotics that have been found to be effective for lowering cholesterol, too!

Soy and testosterone. Andropause is a condition where men experience low levels of the male sex hormone, testosterone. Contrary to popular belief, not only does soy not lower soy protein, testosterone gets a boost from added protein in the diet. Ingesting high quality protein around the time of exercising has been shown to increase androgen binding sites (which attaches to testosterone) in muscle tissue. The volume of scientific studies also support that whole soyfood intake has no negative effect on erectile function, testosterone levels, reproductive hormones, sperm motility, or sperm quality. Scientific consensus supports soy as a part of a healthful lifestyle for both genders.

Diabetes: Adult diabetes is on the rise in both women and men. But the good news is that following a healthy lifestyle and calorie-controlled diet that includes whole soyfoods may help keep diabetes at bay. A research study found men who were given a dry roasted soybeans had significantly reduced fasting glucose and triglycerides in comparison with the control group. Also, the soybean supplement group showed enhanced antioxidant activity which may help protect against free radical damage in type 2 diabetes.

Other health benefits. A Chinese study found that soybeans added to the diets of healthy volunteers improved immune and brain function. Soy is an excellent source of the b-vitamin thiamine and is also a source of vitamin B-2 (riboflavin) folate. A large study found that those with higher levels of vitamin B-2 and folate in their blood had lower risk of colorectal cancer.
Some enjoyable and popular whole soyfoods include edamame; whole cooked soybeans; tofu, tempeh and soymilk. Here’s a popular smoothie that my guy patients really enjoy.

Soy Cherry Good!

Servings: 1
Ingredients:
1/2 cup lite vanilla SILK soymilk
2 tablespoons almond or peanut butter
1 cup frozen unsweetened cherries or strawberries
1 tablespoon agave syrup
1 teaspoon freshly ground espresso beans
¼ tsp vanilla extract
1 dash of nutmeg
1 dash of cinnamon
Directions:
Combine all ingredients in blender. Blend until smooth and sprinkle nutmeg and cinnamon on the top and serve.

References:

The Best Things You Can Eat‬: ‪For Everything from Aches to Zzzz, the Definitive Guide to the Nutrition-Packed Foods That Energize, Heal, and Help You Look Great‬. Da Capo/Life Long Books, January 2013. New York.

Yimit D, Hoxur P, Amat N, Uchikawa K, Yamaguchi N. Effects of soybean peptide on immune function, brain function, and neurochemistry in healthy volunteers.
Nutrition. 2012 Feb;28(2):154-9.

Eussen SJ et al. Plasma vitamins B2, B6, and B12, and related genetic variants as predictors of colorectal cancer risk. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2010
Oct;19(10):2549-61.

I’m thrilled to be working with the California Strawberry Commission again this year! Looks like this year’s crop is going to be dandy!

WATSONVILLE, Calif., May 2, 2013 — May is National Strawberry Month, a time when farmers and consumers alike celebrate the peak abundance of America’s favorite fruit. Strawberries are a fond and familiar fare at any time of day. According to the U.S. Department of Food and Agriculture, Americans now consume twice as many strawberries than two decades ago.

The versatile strawberry stretches beyond shortcake, inspiring unexpected savory and sweet dishes. A key ingredient in endlessly creative recipes, strawberries can be blended with garbanzo beans and lemon juice to make a tart hummus, or strung on rosemary-stem skewers, grilled and served with black pepper ice cream and ruby port syrup. The strawberry’s photogenic color and shape, easy preparation and adaptability make strawberries among one of the most talked about fruits on culinary websites, blogs and social media. They are featured on hundreds of creative Pinterest boards, while conversations on Twitter mention strawberries with its most popular companions, chocolate (1.5 million+ mentions) and cream (585,000+ mentions).

Just a generation ago, fresh strawberries were a fleeting reward of spring. Thanks to the decades-long effort of California strawberry farmers, however, the once-precious crop is now one of the country’s most popular fruits, available year round. California strawberry farmers have done their job so well that in just 20 years, Americans have doubled their consumption of fresh strawberries, with per capita consumption rising to almost eight pounds in 2012. At the same time, refined growing methods on more than 40,000 acres have improved yields by 44 percent since 1990.

Today, nearly 90 percent of U.S.-grown fresh strawberries come from California.
Universally loved, locally grown, California strawberries are picked, shipped and delivered to stores within 24 hours. These fresh strawberries inspire out-of-the-ordinary recipes, including strawberry goat cheese pizza and strawberry tostadas that brighten up daily meals. These and other delicious recipes can be found at http://www.CaliforniaStrawberries.com.

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I’m excited to announce that two nutrition experts, whom I hold in high esteem, have jointly written a book entitled The Real Skinny: Appetite for Health’s 101 Fat Habits & Slim Solutions (Penguin). Julie Upton, MS, RDN, CSSD and Katherine Brooking, MS, RDN run the a great website and blog called Appetite For Health which is loaded with great information on health, nutrition and features new products and great deals that are health related.

Now on to their book. Truth be told, I’m not much of a fan of diet books in general. I guess that’s why I haven’t written one yet …don’t hold me to that, though! Ha! But The Real Skinny isn’t really a diet book, per say. It’s more of a book of solutions to common “fat traps” that we all fall into. Sure, there’s some neat recipes and a 14-day menu plan tucked inside, but what I liked most were the 101 Fat Habits and the Slim Solutions that Julie and Katherine offer. Take Fat Habit #61 for example. I’m a nighttime nosher, for sure. I have a degree in nutrition and should know better but as I always say, when it comes to lifestyle, knowledge is great but it’s what you do that counts! Nighttime nibbling, especially the just-open-a-bag-of-anything-and-start-eating habit is the worse. Eating late at night can really ratchet up the number of calories that your mind doesn’t even register because it’s not a “sit-down” meal. But it’s not just eating late at night that’s the problem. According to Upton and Brooking, “Studies show that distracted eaters gobble up more calories compared to non-distracted eaters, and those who watch TV and eat consume 20-100% more calories compared to individuals who eat without distractions. Even worse, distracted eaters reported being less satisfied.”

People who tend to eat late at night are at more risk of being overweight, having sleep disorders and the list goes on. So what’s the Real Skinny solution? Well Julie and Katherine give you eight to choose from including eating a fiber-rich dinner and eating dinner a little later so you are full and satisfied until bedtime. My favorite tip is keeping yourself busy. Think about it. Most of us just want to unwind – which translates to zoning out in front of the tube and keeping our hands and mouths busy by filling them with food. And of course, your ability to monitor what you eat and cut off eating when you are actually full goes out the window when watching TV. Find things to do or hit the hay early and get up earlier!

Julie and Katherine also offered some insight to their book that I thought I’d share with you.

Do you need diet foods to lose weight?

There are no “special” or “manufactured” foods required to lose and maintain a healthy weight. In fact, good-for-you unprocessed foods like fruits, veggies, whole grains and lean proteins are probably the best foods to help you lose weight.

Many dieters get stuck on using pricey unhealthy “health” foods: diet foods, sugar substitutes, diet sodas and other calorie-reduced items that aren’t necessary and they aren’t always associated with diet success. Some studies even suggest sugar substitutes interfere with the body’s natural mechanisms to regulate caloric intake. Use diet foods and beverages sparingly and be mindful that they alone, will not equal diet success. A recent statement from health organizations say that if you use sugar substitutes as a replacement for foods and beverages with added sugars, they can help you cut calories. We suggest using sugar substitutes sparingly and limiting diet beverages.

How do you recover when you totally blow your diet?

Chronic dieters often adhere to strict all-or-nothing diets that are too restrictive and unrealistic. It’s like trying to walk on a tightrope for life, which explains their lack of success. We all will eventually fall off. Instead of thinking of a strict eating plan that doesn’t fit your lifestyle, focus on strategies that you can, with a little work, realistically live with.
You need to expect slip-ups to happen when you’re losing weight, so how you deal with a bad day, week or month helps predict success. Individuals who can lose and maintain weight loss can be flexible enough with themselves to bounce back to healthy eating. Think: Life Happens or as I like to say, #$%! Happens! And start fresh tomorrow.
of meals and snacks, you need to only eat. When the brain is distracted, it takes significantly more calories to get the same level of satiety.

Is there a difference between food calories and liquid calories?

New research shows that we’re drinking a great proportion of our calories than ever before. In fact, one-quarter of the population drinks nearly 300 calories a day from sugary drinks like soda, fruit drinks, energy drinks, flavored water and gourmet coffee drinks. The problem with drinking our calories is that they’re less satisfying than when we eat foods, so we’re unlikely to eat less when we drink more calories. In addition, most beverages with calories get their calories from nothing other than sugar. This sugar is rapidly absorbed by the body and may increase risk for metabolic syndrome, type II diabetes and may increase hunger and cravings. It’s important to think before you drink.

You can purchase a copy of The Real Skinny and find out more about Appetite for Health by visiting Julie and Katherine’s website, http://www.AppforHealth.com .

Would you like to win a copy?? Hit me up in the comment section and tell me why you need this book! Most compelling story wins!!

Salmon-Cherry-and-Arugula-Salad-thumbnailAs seen today on WebMD
Spring is in the air and hopefully for many of us, that spurs the desire to move more. Unfortunately, more movement can spell more pain, especially for joints that haven’t moved in a while or are subjected to abuse. Although millions of Americans use prescription and non-prescription drugs daily in an effort to control inflammation and pain however, studies are ongoing to see if what we eat can help with pain relief. Here are some foods that look promising:

Cherries are packed with anthocyanins which have similar pain-reducing effects as anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin. A study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that tart cherry juice before long distance running can reduce post-run muscle pain. Several studies support the pain relieving effects in joints, too!

Ginger is loaded with powerful antioxidants such as shogaols, zingerones and gingerols which are all effective anti-inflammatories. In the science Journal of Pain, a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled study found that subjects who either ate about ½ teaspoon of raw or cooked ginger for 11 days prior to muscle injury from exercise saw pain reduced within 24 hours compared to the control group. In another related study, ginger was not effective for reducing pain when it was taken 24-48 hours after an injury. The study’s authors emphasized the importance of consuming ginger daily for maximum pain relief.

Hot Peppers
cause pain to the tongue and any other mucous membrane. But surprisingly, it is effective for halting pain in other areas of the body. Hot peppers are extremely rich in vitamin C which helps repair wounded tissue that causes pain. They are also abundant in the type of phytochemicals which reduce pain-causing inflammation such as flavonoids and capsaicinoids, including capsaicin, which has become part of salves and ointments for aching joints and muscles. A randomized double blinded study of 30 patients with chronic dyspepsia (upset stomach) found that those who ingested about ½ teaspoon of red pepper (2.5 g) daily for 5 weeks had 60% reduction in reports of stomach pain, fullness and nausea compared to the placebo group who experienced a 30% reduction of complaints. Long-term ingestion of hot chilis was found to improve dyspepsia and GERD symptoms in small randomized, controlled studies.

Salmon
is one of the best fish sources of omega-3s and also a source of vitamin D. These nutrients help with aches and prevent arthritis and joint soreness. Omega-3s help to reduce the production of inflammatory cytokines and enzymes that cause painful joints, muscles and nerve endings. Clinical studies have shown that intake of omega-3 fats found in foods like salmon result in reduction in pain associated with arthritis, dysmenorrhea (painful menstrual cramps), inflammatory bowel disease, and neuropathy (nerve pain).

Turmeric is loaded with the pain and inflammation-fighting plant nutrient called curcumin. Several animal and human studies have demonstrated effectiveness of Turmeric as an effective pain reliever. A double-blind placebo controlled study found that turmeric was effective for relieving post surgical pain and fatigue.

Turmeric, fresh grated ginger, diced hot peppers and tart cherry preserves, all mixed together, makes a wonderful glaze for salmon. Add a little ground pepper and salt to taste. Dust off the grill and try it as your season opener entrée to a pain-free spring and summer. Any other ideas for combining these ingredients or any other foods that you have found helpful in controlling pain would be most welcomed!


I know it can be easy to overdo it with all the delicious food at family gatherings and celebrations, but maintaining a balanced lifestyle doesn’t mean you have to miss out on enjoying all of your favorite traditional treats. Food is a universal thing that brings us together; it is how we celebrate, especially around the holidays, so depriving ourselves during this special time of year is not the answer. Instead eat foods in moderation and savor all the sights and aromas of the season. Enjoying the foods you love is what makes a Good Life Holiday!

I’m planning to celebrate my own Good Life Holiday this year by eating some of my traditional faves such as pumpkin pie, sweet potato casserole and delicious turkey gravy poured over not just the turkey but just about anything else that is fortunate enough to get in its way. Ha! I’m salivating just thinking about it!

As you can tell, if I’m not careful, I could really be in for some serious calorie overload if I don’t have a plan in place to control my portions. But the good news is I do have a plan. I’m going to enjoy half of my plate filled with faves while I load up the other half with a fields of greens salad and caramelized Brussels sprouts. If I’m still hungry after my last bite, I’ll go back for more veggies! And in the Grotto tradition, everyone helps mom clear the table after we eat, load the dishes in the dishwasher and then head out for our traditional family walk while the dishwasher is running. It’s amazing how much longer everyone wants to walk when they know those dishes will be clean by the time we get home and have to be put away.

This holiday season, I am working with HERSHEY’S Moderation Nation, a go-to source for balanced lifestyle tips, as their Balanced Eating GOOD LIFE GURU to provide strategies to help make eating a balanced diet easier. For tips on how enjoy your Good Life Holiday and to learn more from me on how to maintain a balanced diet, visit www.TheModerationNation.com.

HERSHEY’S Moderation Nation is also spreading the joy this season by teaming up with How Does She to create the Good Life Holiday Pinterest Contest where participants will have chance to win a relaxing weekend getaway to the Hershey Spa in the New Year! Share all the ways you’re planning to live a Good Life Holiday by pinning your own “window display” of pictures, recipes and articles. Check out the contest rules on the HERSHEY’S Moderation Nation website.

How do you maintain a balanced diet around the holidays?

I have taken an unpopular stance amongst my peers that “health at any size” is simply a fantasy. We are in agreement on a few points, however: we need to focus more on achieving health and not about reaching a certain number on a scale. And regardless of size, everyone deserves to be treated with respect and dignity. That said, to think that you can be 350+ pounds and still be “healthy” is the exception, NOT the rule. In my nearly 30 years as a clinician, rarely do I see someone of “size” who has a healthy percent body fat, is absent of joint pain or metabolic health challenges and so on. By the way, I don’t see NBA/NFL players – that might be the exception to the rule though a great many x-athletes who maintain their size but not their activity are prone to the same aforementioned concerns.

This article featured in the Huffington Post, by David Katz, MD, does a great job in pointing out the flaws in the “Health at any size” philosophy. Of course, I would welcome your thoughts and comments!

Why I Can’t Quite Be Okay With ‘Okay at Any Size’
by David Katz, MD

There has long been a movement to defend the overweight from a prevailing lack of understanding. And, alas, that defense seems to be needed.

The evidence of obesity bias in our culture is abundant and pervasive, and can be found from playground to boardroom. We have historically done a poor job of attacking the problem of obesity without attacking those burdened by the problem of obesity.

The defense has come in the form of professionals who highlight the pernicious effects of bias. It has come in the form of organizations, such as NAAFA, the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance. In my own case, it comes in the form of the National Exchange for Weight Loss Resistance, which I launched to help spread the word that some people can eat well, be active, and still never get to thin.

There has long been some okay-at-any-size support from Hollywood and Madison Avenue, as well. The Dove ads for women with “normal” curves are already classics. Oprah has emoted on the topic. Plus-size models can do quite well. And Queen Latifah has brought her inimitable “what you see is what you get, if you’re lucky” brand of gumption to the issue.

Apparently, though, we’ve entered a new stage of evolution on the topic. The New York Times recently reported that a whole new cadre of celebrities prone to the same obesigenic influences as the rest of us are simply shrugging their shoulders, and letting it all hang out. In some cases, quite literally — by exposing the expanding epidermis in question.

So “okay at any size” seems to be gathering pop culture momentum. And I regret to say, I can’t be entirely okay with that. It’s not the size I’m not okay with — it’s the consequences.

Epidemic obesity is not just a reason we have epidemic diabetes — it is the reason. It is the reason why the CDC is projecting that as many as 1 in 3 of us may be diabetic by mid-century, at a cost the nation is unlikely to find manageable.

It is the reason why what used to be “adult onset” diabetes is now a disease of children as well, and called “Type 2.” It is the known reason for a proliferation of ever more cardiac risk factors in ever younger people. It is the reason behind a triple coronary bypass in a 17-year-old boy whose case I know. And it is the likely reason for a 35 percent increase in the rate of stroke among 5-to 14-year-olds.

And the toll of this menace continues to rise. Not so much now because of more people becoming overweight, although that continues to happen. Rather, since most of us vulnerable to becoming overweight or obese are already there, the relevant trend at present is the degree of overweight, which is worsening fast. A recent report indicates that the prevalence of severe obesity has “skyrocketed” in the past decade. We can probably no longer gauge this epidemic by noting how many are overweight; we now need to monitor how overweight the many are.

These, then, are the stakes in play. It’s true that people can be fat and fit, but few of us are. More and more of us are fat to one degree or another, and most of us are unfit as well. These can be unbundled, but in the real world they seldom are. And when they are unbundled, it’s because thin people can be unfit, too. In general, the behaviors that cultivate genuine fitness offer the best defense we have against fatness.

And this points to a message residing more than skin deep. Whether fat or thin, what we eat matters. Food is the fuel that powers the human machine. It is the one and only construction material for the growing body of a child. It is the construction material on which adults rely to replace spent cells and enzymes and hormones every day. Junk is a poor choice all around, no matter your size.

And exercise matters. It is the vital, conditioning work of the body, whatever its proportions. The “okay at any size” message does not explicitly say that junk food and lounging on the couch are fine, but it doesn’t tend to say explicitly that they aren’t, either. We could be more okay at any size if we took good care of ourselves, large or small. But if one of the reasons for larger size is lesser attention to health, that’s not really okay. And frankly, what we know about prevailing dietary and physical activity patterns suggests that’s just what’s going on.

Along with helping many patients lose weight over the past 20 years, I have talked some out of the enterprise. I have told them they were healthy — and as far as I was concerned, looked great as well. I encouraged them to love the skin they were in, and not obsess for the rest of their lives with themselves 10 pounds lighter, or a size or two smaller. Sometimes they listened to this advice, sometimes not. Those that didn’t listen might well have benefited from a bit more cultural emphasis on the “okay at any size” message.

So I am not only okay with “okay at any size” up to a point, but an active proponent. I oppose obesity bias, and reject the notion that widespread obesity among children and adults alike is somehow due to an inexplicable, global outbreak of personal responsibility deficiency syndrome. If you have evidence of such an outbreak, it would be the first I’ve heard of it.

I am more than okay with the notion that weight and waist circumference do not measure human worth. I will gladly stand shoulder-to-shoulder with others inclined to fight in defense of this proposition.

I am not just okay, but adamant, that we should be able to attack the problem of obesity without attacking those dealing with the problem of obesity.

And I can be okay with “okay at any size” if it includes a proviso: okay at any size as long as health is not adversely affected.

But when weight imperils health, as it clearly does all too often, I am not okay with it. In this context, bold displays of burgeoning flesh, and “flab is fab” bravado may do more harm than good. We do not, as a society, want to normalize ill health or the factors that impose it. Fewer years in life, and less life in years is not an acceptable endowment to the next generation.

We could choose to give our children a future in which 80 percent of all chronic disease goes away, because we commit to making tobacco avoidance, eating well, and being active our cultural standard. Or we can be okay with the trajectory we are on, and give them ever more serious illness starting at ever younger age.

When the bigger we are on average, the harder and younger we fall victim to serious chronic disease, I am not okay with it — and don’t think anybody else should be, either. It’s not the size that inspires my opposition; it’s the consequences.


As seen on WebMD
By David Grotto, RD, LDN

For those of you who know me or have recently become familiar with my work here through Real Life Nutrition, it will come as no surprise that I profess that I am a plant-forward, unapologetic omnivore. I love all food and feel that, when placed in proper perspective, you can eat just about anything and still enjoy/achieve good health. Many of you already know that we consume nowhere near the quantity of fruits, vegetables and whole grains currently recommended in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. In an effort to change this trend, my first book, 101 Foods That Could Save Your Life, focused on increasing that portion of the plate dedicated to members of the plant kingdom. At the time that I wrote it, I didn’t feel Americans needed a book that encouraged more meat consumption. I thought then, as I do now, that our work is cut out for us with just boosting our veggie intake. However, I also think that lean meat has a place at the table and on the plate in a healthy diet, if you desire to eat it.

Like most Americans, when I think “lean”, what first comes to mind is the classic boneless, skinless chicken breast. Ho hum. The description alone leaves me culinarily unexcited– so much emphasis on the “less” part. The problem with lean meats is that they can be prone to dryness and “less” flavor. Growing up, we were exposed to less marbled meats with any visible fat trimmed away. That fat had a function – flavor! I remember my mom trying to make challenging cuts more tender and favorable by whacking it with a mallet and soaking it in marinades – so much work. Sometime she was successful and other times…well…you know.

Recently, I received an invitation to attend a pork “immersion” provided by the National Pork Board. Did you know that compared to any other animal protein , pork is the most consumed meat in the world? Could have sworn it would be chicken! Though meat consumption trends are on the downturn, it is estimated that pork is consumed by about 81% of Americans. Anyway, I decided to take them up on their offer because I had lots of questions about pork – more pressing, how could I make lean cuts of pork taste better? Mom was always in the back of my head saying “If you want to avoid trichinosis, you’d better cook the pink out of it.” I had always followed her advice though I had no idea what “trichinosis” was – sounded to me that I be better off without it. The end result was often a product akin to shoe leather. In dietetics school, I learned I had to cook pork to an internal temperature of at least 160 degrees for food safety measures. Translated? More shoe leather. More ho hum…

During the immersion event, many of my questions and concerns about pork were addressed. I’m happy to share the answers I received with you.

Food Safety: Good news #1. Last year, due to advances in food safety, the USDA lowered the internal cooking temp of pork to 145℉ with a three-minute rest period. This allows the meat to continue to cook, retain its temperature and also its moisture. No more shoe leather or my mom talking inside my head! Yay!

Nutrition: Good News #2. During the immersion, I attended a lecture given by Mary Murphy, MS, RD, senior managing scientist at Exponent, a scientific consulting firm, and learned how today’s pork nutrition has evolved over the past 20 years or so. A 3-ounce portion of roasted and trimmed pork contains only 120 calories and is 16% lower in total fat and 27% lower in saturated fat then pork of two decades ago. Seven cuts of pork now qualify for “lean” status which includes:
Tenderloin
Top loin chop
96% lean ground pork
Top loin roast
Center loin chop
Rib chop
Sirloin roast

And compared to skinless chicken breast, today’s pork tenderloin is just as lean! And by the way, according to the Food and Drug Administration, a product can be considered lean if it had less than 10g of total fat, 4.5g or less of saturated fat, and less that 95mg of cholesterol per serving. But did you know that “lean” is not the leanest cut that you can buy? The FDA considers “Extra Lean” to be any meat that contains less than 5g of total fat, less than 2g of saturated fat, and less than 95mg of cholesterol. This would apply to boneless, skinless chicken breast and the tenderloin cut of pork.

Health: Good News #3:
Fresh lean pork which is low in sodium, saturated fat and cholesterol can be part of diets geared towards managing elevated cholesterol and blood pressure, like the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stopping Hypertension) diet. Out of all of the macronutrients – fat, carbohydrates and fat – protein provides greater feelings of fullness, keeps hunger at bay and may help manage our waistlines. The Journal Obesity found that when a study group included lean pork and other lean proteins in their diets on a regular basis, there were less desires to eat late at night, less distracting thoughts of food, less overall calories consumed and greater feelings of fullness and satisfaction.

Animal Welfare: Good News #4: Lastly as part of the immersion, I had an opportunity to visit Wakefield farm in Gaylord Minnesota, hosted by pork farmers Mary Langhorst and her son Lincoln. I must tell you – I had mixed feelings about seeing where my food comes from but am really grateful for having the opportunity to see a factory pork farm in operation. It was not the cold and sterile environment I once envisioned. I was impressed by the many caring employees who took great strides to treat their pigs with dignity and care. I was pleasantly surprised to see how clean of an operation they had. According to representatives from the National Pork Board, the cleanliness and care of animals seen at the Langhorst’s farm was representative of US pork farming in general. I had always heard that factory pig farms were absolutely horrible smelling. I wouldn’t say that it smelt like daisies around there but it was really no more odorous than many dairy farms I had visited before. I also learned that when pigs are stressed, this can actually change the ph of the meat to produce a less enjoyable dining experience. Apparently everyone benefits from less stressed and content pigs. Their pigs indeed appeared content, clean and well cared for.

Have any of you been to a pig farm? I would love to hear of your experiences. Happy to answer any other nutrition questions or concerns you may have.

Very special thanks go out to Kyle Dent, BS, a masters program intern from Loyola University and Medical Center, for helping me with this post.


Photo Credit: thecitydesk.net (by the way folks, the poster is a parody!)

I get many daily solicitations to promote contests, interview book authors, support causes – you name it. I received this latest request from the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) to promote their “Pour One Out” campaign which encourages consumers to dump their soda. If you are not familiar with CSPI, they are a consumer advocacy group that’s been around since the early 70′s that provides information on food, health, and the environment. I applaud CSPI- they have been instrumental in raising public awareness of sodium, hidden sugars and the health impact of trans fats, to name a few accomplishments. But for some reason, I found this latest promotion of theirs to be unworthy of their reputation and frankly, down right silly.

So I thought I’d share my email exchange with one of CSPI’s policy associates. If you don’t want to read through the whole thing, I’ll cut to the chase. I argue a few things:

1. Sugary beverages are not the smoking gun in the obesity epidemic – eating too many calories from a variety of foods coupled with inactivity is.
2. Stats can be manipulated to support your cause.
3. Giving up your favorite foods has never worked to control obesity and will never work.
4. Adding in a healthy beverage is a far more positive approach than dumping out a sugary beverage. Want to avoid sugary beverages? Don’t buy them in the first place.

What do you think? I’d love to get your feedback.

Dear Mr. Grotto,

I’m writing from the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a national nutrition advocacy group. My organization is running a video contest that might be of interest to your readers and it would be great if you could help spread the word on your blog. The contest aims to raise awareness about the health effects of sugary drinks. Here is some basic text below and I have also included the contest logo. Let me know if you have any questions about the contest or our organization. Thanks!

******

POUR ONE OUT VIDEO CONTEST
Help spread the health message about sugary drinks and you could win $1,000!

Sugary Drinks make up the largest single source of calories in the American diet and each year more studies are finding a link between soda and obesity. We invite you to submit a short video pouring out sugary drinks in a fun and creative way for a chance to win up to $1,000! The Pour One Out video contest seeks to reframe perceptions about sugary drinks by raising awareness of the health effects of overconsuming beverages like soda, sports drinks, sweetened teas and energy drinks. Videos will be judged on creativity, originality and effectiveness of the health message. Prizes will go to the top 3 videos:
1st place video will receive a $1,000 cash prize
2nd place will receive $500
3rd place will receive $250

Submissions will be accepted until November 7th by email at: fewersugarydrinks@cspinet.org. For more details and the official contest rules, click here.
Sincerely,

Ashley P. Lowe

Policy Associate

Center for Science in the Public Interest

Hi Ashley:

Thanks for sending this on to me. Though I’m not interested in participating in the video contest (I think it’s better to simply not buy sugary sodas instead of wasting money on them and then pouring them out) I am very interested in the source for the “fact” that sugary beverages are the single largest source of calories in the American diet. Could you provide this for me?

Thanks in advance!

Dave

Hi Dave,

Thanks for your quick reply. We’re encouraging people to use soda they already have when they can to make their videos as an affirmation of their desire to change their lifestyle habits. If you were to encourage people to only use products they have, would that change your opinion of the contest at all?

I’m happy to provide you with the source of the fact on calories from sugary drinks. It comes from a table in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines listing the top 25 sources of calories in the American diet. Combining the category “soda/energy drinks/sports drinks” with “fruit drinks” (which does not include 100% fruit juices), puts sugary drinks in the number one spot. You can view the table (table 2.2) here: http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/Publications/DietaryGuidelines/2010/PolicyDoc/Chapter2.pdf

Best,
Ashley

Hi Ashley:

Thank you so much for getting back to me. I now see how CSPI came up with their final numbers. I thought grained based desserts was the #1 source of calories (I wrote a review article about this for the Journal of Nutrition in Clinical Practice about two years ago using the same data base as USDA – I’d be happy to send a copy to you, if you want to read it) but agree that when you add sugary sodas together with fruit flavored sugary drinks, this combined category indeed makes up the highest calorie intake in the American diet. However, I could have also combined any number of categories such as grain based desserts and yeast breads and said that was the number one source of calories. I think we are on the same team: America eats too many empty calorie foods…period! But where we part company clearly lies in the solution to our eating habits.

Though I respect CSPI and all the work they do, dumping sugary soda is not the solution to our obesity epidemic. Nor is capping off these beverages at 16 ounces ala Bloomberg (whom I also have respect for what he is “trying” to do). You might want to add dumping diet soda to your contest as a report today confirms we are consuming more diet beverages and LESS sugary beverages yet still our obesity rate is heading in the wrong trajectory. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2012/10/11/diet-drink-consumption-increases/1624981/

My nutrition philosophy, which has worked with thousands of patients I’ve seen over my career, is to focus on adding in healthy foods while limiting, NOT eliminating decadent “foods”. To think that giving up soda at a movie, cake at a birthday party, candy at Halloween, or a beer and hotdog on a hot day at the ballpark is a sustainable behavior for most Americans is to be completely detached from and out of touch with the real world. We need real world solutions, not silly promotional stunts. I’d be happy to record a video for you called “Add in a real beverage instead”.

Respectfully,

David W. Grotto, RD, LDN