Posts Tagged ‘nutrition’

If you haven’t received the memo yet, we are a far cry from meeting the nutrition and healthy eating objectives of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs), according to studies. The DGA committee identified that many fall short of reaching minimal healthy levels of key nutrients including vitamins A, C, and E, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and fiber. One study showed that less than 5% of adult workers meet dietary fiber recommendations. This may explain why irritable bowel syndrome and sales of laxatives are on the rise.

In my new book, The Best Things You Can Eat, I talk about what foods can help bridge these short-gaps in nutrients. I’m sure this information will be helpful for many of my readers but I’m also a realist. Even those who follow a healthy diet (including myself) or have all the best intentions to do so, don’t always eat perfectly…everyday. That is one of the reasons I included information on dietary supplements in the new book and have always recommended dietary supplements for my patients, family and even myself.

Even if you are on a great supplement program, if you don’t take them, they aren’t going to do you much good. So what are some of the roadblocks to taking supplements? I asked Judy Blatman, senior vice president or communications from the Council of Responsible Nutrition (CRN), for her thoughts on why people either don’t take dietary supplements or why those who do may have a hard time sticking to their regimen. She mentioned that CRN conducted a consumer survey this year that investigated supplement habits of consumers and health professionals alike. “We did ask those who indicated that they didn’t always comply with their daily supplement routine, to select the main reasons why they didn’t,” says Blatman.  The top three answers were: 

1. I get busy and forget to take them
2. If they’re not in plain sight, I forget to take them
3. Some days, I just don’t feel like taking them.

These all make perfect sense to me. Even I forget to take my supplements for all the very same reasons! And to spin off the last reason of “Some days I just don’t feel like taking them”, swallowing huge capsules or tablets are a physical impossibility for me. Have you ever had a tablet or capsule get stuck in your throat? Owww! It’s painful and the most uncomfortable feeling I can possibly imagine. My solution? I chew EVERYTHING! Yup…that includes my fish oil capsules, too! Not pleasant, eh? So, it’s not surprising that even the espousers of dietary supplements don’t always take them if their own advice is literally “hard to swallow”!

Good news. I was approached earlier this year by the folks at Nature Made who clairvoyantly knew of my supplement plight. They were excited to announce that they created new lines of dietary supplements with the sole purpose of making the task of taking supplements doable if not downright pleasurable! I was all ears. Long story short, they sent a variety of products for the whole family to try out that included adult gummies, full strength minis and a new type of small tablets called vita melts that literally melt in your mouth! They were amazing and really solved my swallowing challenge. I liked them so much that I started working with Nature Made to spread the good news! So I thought I’d share what the Grottos are taking as a core program as a result of trying the new products. Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t thow in a bit of advice to seek out a qualified health professional for dietary supplement guidance. Okay? Do it! I also provided links in the photos in case you want to know more about the supplements.

My three daughters, who are all in their teens, take the full strength minis. So does my wife Sharon.

This is my base program. I take the men’s full strength mini’s multiple plus two of the the smaller omega 3 supplement. I also take an additional 1000i.u. of vitamin D in the vita melt series. They taste GREAT!

Lastly, I wanted to share some cool gizmos and apps that address the first two reasons that folks don’t take supplements from the CRN survey.

I forgot:
CRN’s Life Supplemented campaign also designed a cool iphone app that can be used on your ipad as well. Besides reminding you to take your supplements, it eve has a restock reminder to tell you if you are getting low.

They don’t have an android version out yet but rumor has it that there may be one available in 2013. Meanwhile, I ran across another app that works great for android devices.

Having them visible.

“Having your supplements out on your kitchen counter, on your desk, in your pocketbook so they’re visible can really help,” says Blatman.  
Even for those times when your supplements aren’t in a direct line of sight, here’s a great carrier for them that will sounds an alarm when its time to take them. Cool eh?

I hope that helps break down some barriers to taking your supplements regularly. Have you found any supplements, apps or supplement carriers that you would recommend that make taking supplements easier? I’d love to hear from you!

Thank you to my intern, Jamie Digiovanni, who helped me with this story.

1. Kachan D, Lewis JE, Davila EP, Arheart KL, LeBlanc WG, Fleming LE,
Cabán-Martinez AJ, Lee DJ. Nutrient intake and adherence to dietary
recommendations among US workers. J Occup Environ Med. 2012 Jan;54(1):101-5.

2. J Am Coll Nutr February 2009 vol. 28 no. Supplement 1 69S-72S

So here’s the deal at my house. Two out of three daughters are lacto-ovo vegetarians while the rest of use are card-carrying omnivores. Read how we deal with this scenario in my weekly WebMD post.

By David Grotto, RD, LDN aka “The Guyatitian”

When she was eight years old, my oldest daughter Chloe went on a trip to Lisbon, Portugal with my wife Sharon and myself. She traveled well and was our adventurous eater until we stopped at the first restaurant outside of Lisbon. On the menu and in plain English, read “We serve filet of Kid”. Her jaw dropped, and she looked at us in a state of fright. “Do they really serve children here?” After we assured her that it was illegal to offer any part of a child or adult’s body as a menu item, she proceeded to ask, “Then what is kid?” Explaining that kid was just another name for a young goat, she then paused for just a moment and officially informed us that she was now a vegetarian. She decided from then on, eating animals wasn’t the way she was going to roll.

Now enter Madison (my youngest). Her favorite stuffed animal growing up was “Mr. Pig”. She took him everywhere…even to the dinner table. One day, while she was eating one of her favorite breakfast foods, bacon, she asked where bacon came from. My wife and I looked at each other. Fearing she’d be in therapy for the rest of her life if we lied to her, we decided to tell her the truth. She was not happy…not happy at all. She put 2 and 2 together and also swore off of any pork products from that day forward. But she also decided that eating any animal was ‘disgusting’ so joined the ranks of her sister. See where this is going?

First do no harm! Some of you may be asking, “Why didn’t you put your foot down and insist that your daughters continue to eat meat? Besides, isn’t that healthier for them?” Don’t forget…I wear two hats here: not only am I a concerned father, but I’m also a nutritionist. Like other dads, I only want the best for my ‘kids’. As a dietitian, I already knew what the science had to say about kids and a vegetarian diet:

“Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes.” American Dietetic Association Position Paper on Vegetarian Diets.

My vegetarian daughters were on solid ground, as far as the science went. But I also knew that my daughters had no clue what a “healthy” vegetarian consisted of. Though I have supported their decision to avoid meat, I have also watched over their
menu-planning, educating them about different vegetarian offerings to assure adequate nutrition. Admittedly, I have also prayed that they make better choices when on their own.

View rest of article…


Just in time for Father’s Day, here’s some great advice from the AMERICAN DIETETIC ASSOCIATION on how to encourage the men in your life to take ownership of their health and nutrition.

When was the last time your father, brother, husband or partner cooked a meal, asked for a second helping of vegetables or did the grocery shopping? If recent trends are a guide, it happened recently, according to the American Dietetic Association.

“More than ever, men are playing a role in buying and preparing the food that is eaten in their household,” says registered dietitian Martin M. Yadrick, past president of the American Dietetic Association. “Not only is budgeting finances important, but men are also realizing the need for healthy calorie budgeting, too.

“Think of eating in terms of contributing to your 401k. Doing the right thing over time will make a huge difference down the road,” Yadrick says. “My advice is: Guys, take ownership of all your personal health needs.”

Registered dietitians say men’s questions, interests and needs regarding food and nutrition tend to focus on such areas as being healthier; looking good; performing at their best; having more energy; recovering from injuries and
learning how they can excel through healthy eating and activity habits.

For men of all ages and all stages of life, eating right and being physically active are as important to health as annual physical exams and visits to the dentist, Yadrick says.

“For men as well as women, good nutrition is vital, but a man’s nutrient needs are unique due to higher muscle mass, larger body size and hormonal differences.”

Men can serve as an example of healthful eating – at work or at home – by making smart foods choices when they’re around colleagues, children and spouses.

“Cut down on meat portions and fill up the extra space with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds,” Yadrick says. By including these foods on your plate every day, men can benefit their health and potentially stave off obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers and dementia.

“You can stay healthy and active longer – and that includes your sex life and fertility – if you make good choices when you eat,” says Yadrick.

With research showing that making small dietary and lifestyle changes every day goes a long way toward improving your overall health picture for life, Yadrick encourages all men to jump aboard the eating right bandwagon.

“Adding nutrient-rich foods like fresh fruits and vegetables at every meal is a great step in the right direction. Cutting down on portion sizes can make a huge difference in your overall calorie intake,” Yadrick says.

“It’s the results that matter to men, and our taste buds and health can provide the proof that eating right pays off.”

To find a registered dietitian in your area and to learn more about men’s health and nutrition, visit

Photo of kitchen garden courtesy of Burpee Seeds.

Spring is in the air and the smell of Spring makes me think of vegetables…I know, it’s a curse…

You’ve most likely have heard me drone on in the past about the disconnect between recommendations of vegetables for optimal health and the actual consumption of them. I often think, “What do we need to do [as health professionals] to get people to eat more produce? Maybe if vegetables got together and organized, like the toys did in Toy Story, people might be scared enough to start eating them…or at least treating them with some sort of respect?” 

Looks like George Bail Jr. from Burpee Seeds had similar thoughts when he drafted up this brilliant Bill of Vegetable Rights or “We, the Vegetables…” Enjoy!

Bill of Vegetable Rights or “We, the Vegetables”

It is our duty and our privilege to once and for all declare our Bill Of Rights as vegetables. For too long we have maintained a dignified silence in the face of human neglect, abuse and outright insult bordering on the libelous.

For 10,000 years we have nourished ungrateful people with uncountable harvests of delectable, nutritious food. Humankind must now grant vegetables the respect, consideration and care we merit.

For far too long, humans have relegated us to the side dishes of life. In the theatre of cuisine, vegetables serve as supporting players with mere walk-on roles, rather than the culinary stars we surely are.

The Congress of Vegetables hereby claims our God-given rights, and demands that people at last respect us for not only our nutritional value, flavor and texture, but also our distinctive personalities and panoply of colors and shapes.

Our human friends must acknowledge the indispensable role vegetables have played in their history and survival. Consider this: were it not for annual vegetables, people would not exist. Chew on that!


Humans have an unhappy propensity for viewing vegetables as mere things, commonplace objects on offer in the produce department.

In the pantheon of human culture, we make a poor showing indeed. Where are the monuments, museums, poems, novels, films and symphonies inspired by vegetables?

Your Proust wrote several long, elaborate novels inspired by the bite of a madeleine—a cookie. Imagine how much greater his opus would be if he had dined on an artfully prepared eggplant.

What if, in Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” the Prince’s soliloquy was addressed to an artichoke? Why not? Is the fear the artichoke would eat up the scenery? Or that Hamlet would eat up the artichoke?

In your entertainments, humans anthropomorphize—imbue with human traits—every kind of thing or creature. In ancient fables and today’s cartoons, humans take on the guise of all manner of creature—woodpeckers, rabbits, rodents, cats, spiders, elephants, dogs, chipmunks and sponges—all, evidently, plausible vehicles for human expression.

The names of your venerated sports teams are inspired by giants, birds, brigands, snakes, metals, jungle creatures, warriors and meat-packers.  In vain we look for the California Cauliflowers, Tucson Turnips or New York Yams. Cruelly, inexplicably, you refuse vegetables entrée to the garden of the human imagination.

Your diminution of vegetables diminishes all of us. So build temples to vegetables. Enshrine the role of vegetables in heroic legend. May a conqueror have the dignity to confess, “Were it not for vegetables, defeat would have been inevitable.”


In so-called industrial western societies, vegetables play an ever-smaller role in people’s diet. Adults and children consume a fraction of the vegetables their bodies demand—a development with significant health and economic consequences.

Food manufacturers and restaurant chains apply considerable expense and ingenuity convincing the public to eat un-nutritious fat-laden products unworthy of the designation “food.”

Can it be difficult to convince the public of the appeal of us vegetables—which benefit your waistline, improve your appearance, enhance your well-being and prolong your life?

In the widespread agonizing over America’s obesity crisis, rarely mentioned is the problem’s antidote: Eat More Vegetables.

In the endless bickering over health insurance, did a legislator stand up in Congress to wax eloquent on wax beans and their vegetable cousins? Not that we remember. Looking for highly affordable health insurance? Remember this: “V for Vegetables!”


Helping bring about vegetables’ wretched showing in the human imagination and daily diet is the way we are prepared.

In fact you humans don’t prepare vegetables, so much as abandon us to a merciless pot of boiling water or the brutality of the broiler. Our adieu is swift and unsentimental. Thanks to culinary creative destruction, you sacrifice our luscious color, sensuous texture, voluptuous flavor and spectrum of succulent sensations.  Still worse, your children come to regard vegetables as flavorless, lifeless things.

Today, it is true, vegetables enjoy a new vogue in culinary circles. At chic and expensive restaurants, we are transitioning from side dishes to entrées created with nuance and artistry.

Perhaps, for once, vegetables are escaping the stigma of being a duty, the anti-charisma bestowed on all things “good for you.” For once—for once!—we are being regarded as sensual, pleasurable and worthy of temptation.  “To the ramparts!”

On this first day of spring, these are the dreams—and the rights—of the undersigned:  a vegetable patch in every home, schoolyard and community garden.



Chives, Garlic, Leeks, Onions, Scallions, Shallots, Water Chestnuts


Avocados, Chayote, Cucumbers, Eggplant, Melons, Okra, Olives, Peppers, Squash, Tomatoes, Tomatillos


Artichokes, Broccoli, Cauliflower


Arugula, Brussels sprouts, Cabbage, Chicory, Chinese cabbage, Collards, Cress, Dandelion nettles, Endive, Lamb’s lettuce, Lettuce, Nasturtium, Purslane, Radicchio, Savoy, Sea kale, Sorrel, Spinach


Beans, Peas


Beets, Burdock, Carrots, Celeriac, Malanga, Parsnips, Radishes, Rutabaga, Salsify, Turnips


Asparagus, Bamboo, Cardoon, Celery, Chard, Fiddlehead, Fennel, Kohlrabi


Cassava, Crosne, Jerusalem artichoke, Jicama, Potato, Sweet potato, Taro, Yam

I was inspired after my trip to Italy to dig out a great podcast interview from last year on the topic of Kale from my 101 Foods That Could Save Your Life radio program. I posted a recipe that uses “Black Cabbage” (aka Kale) in a traditional Tuscan dish called Ribollita last week – you may be inspired to make it after hearing my interview with Diana Dyer, RD, a kale lover and nutrition expert in the field of cancer care.

Diana Dyer is a wife, mom, long-time organic gardener and farmer, Registered Dietitian and author of the book A Dietitian’s Cancer Story. She is also a three-time cancer survivor and her website focuses on nutrition information for cancer survivors. She began a blog in June 2007 to share a wider scope of her thoughts about life as a cancer survivor, food and nutrition, gardening, recipes, our environment, and the urgent need for developing food systems that promote health not disease, ecological sustainability, and social justice.

In January 2009, she began the blog “365DaysOfKale” to write about her passion for one of her favorite (and mine) vegetable. The following is a podcast interview with Diana where we discuss the amazing health benefits of Kale. Enjoy!

All About Kale!

Dear Guyatitian:

Are brown rice cakes and puffed brown rice cereal considered whole grain?  They only have 1 gram of fiber, but their puffed so you eat more.  Just curious.

Annie from Chicago


Dear Annie

Puffed brown rice is a whole grain. However, the puffing process changes the rice in a few ways.

 “Glycemic index” is a method of determining the effect of a specifc food on blood glucose (sugar). The higher the number, the greater the effect (in theory). Cooked brown rice, for example, has a glycemic index(GI) of 55. Once the rice is puffed and turned into cereal or rice cakes, the GI shoots up to 78. So for those who may be more ‘carb sensitive’, puffed rice by itself may not be the best choice.

Though only 60 calories a cup, it’s pretty much void of nutrition. There’s a smidge of potassium, a sprinkle of iron and a few traces of b vitamins such as thiamin and niacin.

Apart from that, I think there isn’t much whole grain goodness to get excited about  after the rice has been puffed. And in my experience, my patients are often STARVING an hour later if that is all that they had to eat.

If you are going to eat them, I would strongly advise pairing up your puffs with milk (cow or soy have the most protein) and perhaps top with berries and nuts and have an egg on the side. That breakfast might stick to your ribs for a while and provide much need nutrition that the rice puffs alone don’t deliver. Enjoy!

Ciao and Chow

The Guyatitian

Got a question for the guyatitian? Hit me up in the comments section or contact me through the contact page at the top of the blog.