Have you seen the headlines today for the latest “diet”? I think it’s pretty exciting that researchers were not only looking at nutrition, but environmental sustainability. I (unlike some people who shall remain nameless), believe that global warming is REAL.
I am all for less sugar and less red meat and more fruit, veggies, nuts and whole grains. Cheese and other dairy still allowed? Win win. I suppose my only concern is the 2500 calorie mark. This (to me) is likely too high for women and anyone trying to lose weight (unless you’re a big person or super active). What are your thoughts? Article below.
Did you know that 23% of people that drink alcohol never experience hangovers? That leaves over 75% of people that do experience the consequences of too much wine, beer or spirits including nausea, fatigue and headache. I feel sick thinking about it! How can you prevent feeling like death the day after a party? Here are a few simple tips:
- Be moderate. Alcohol creates acetylaldehyde when metabolized, a toxin that’s linked with several types of cancer. Moderate alcohol intake for men is 2 drinks per day and for women, 1 drink/day. You know why? Men are typically bigger than us and have more body surface area to absorb alcohol. Binge drinking increases risk of several types of cancer, especially breast cancer in women, so limit to 3 drinks PER WEEK if your risk is high. Bottom line, the smaller you, the more susceptible you are to the effects of alcohol.
- Eat before you drink. Drinking on an empty stomach is a recipe for hangover. Alcohol gets absorbed much faster when you’ve got no vittles in your belly. Include some carbs from whole grain bread, pasta or crackers as well as protein from beans, lean meat, eggs or other source. Foods containing fat (such as cheese, nuts or oil) may also help slow the absorption of alcohol.
- Have a mocktail instead. Years ago when my friends and I were having babies but it was too early to let everyone in on the secret (those 12 weeks of the first trimester when some women miscarry), we’d have mocktails to fool our friends. There are loads of delightful seltzer and flavored waters out there to choose from that you can enjoy if you’re the designated driver or just taking a night off from drinking.
- Limit dark alcohol. Whiskey, bourbon, cognac and red wine contain substances called congeners, which are created when alcohol is fermented. Congeners slow alcohol metabolism, which means it sticks around in your system longer. This is why you may not feel as bad after drinking vodka or gin VS whiskey. The amount still matters, so continue to be moderate.
- Drink water before, during and after you’ve been drinking. Alcohol dehydrates you, which can lead to headaches, fatigue and nausea. Drink at least a liter of fluid (four, 8 oz cups) before you go out for the night and have a glass of water between cocktails to slow your intake down and stay hydrated.
- Keep peppermint on hand. This time of year, you may have some candy canes left over or peppermint tea in your pantry. Peppermint oil relaxes the stomach lining, which may help reduce nausea.
- Try gingerale or non-alcoholic ginger beer. Ginger has been used for centuries in pregnant women to reduce morning sickness and for travelers to reduce motion sickness. The combo of ginger and carbonation may help lessen nausea when you’ve had a few too many.
- Take a B complex vitamin before drinking. Your body loses B vitamins when you drink because alcohol is a diuetic. While there isn’t much research to support taking vitamins to prevent hangovers, they certainly can’t hurt. Chronic drinkers are commonly deficient in thiamine, folic acid and vitamin B 12. Others I’ve spoken with use Emergent C, an effervescent vitamin C tablet used to prevent colds.
- Consider not drinking. A clear head, less holiday weight gain, less money spent, and no risk for DUI are a few perks! Perhaps you’re the life of the party without the booze? Whatever you decide, be smart this holiday season.
Have you ever heard someone say, “There’s no such thing as bad cake”? My husband would beg to differ. A perfectionist by nature, he must follow a recipe to a tee for fear of failure. Yesterday was a perfect example. He baked a two-layer cake for my birthday, but when he removed them from the oven, he quickly realized he’d forgotten baking soda. In a panic, he whipped up two more layers for my cake before our friends showed up to celebrate. How sweet is that? Doubly sweet!
We all make mistakes. We write down the wrong appointment. time. We miss answers to test questions. We forget ingredients. Perhaps we’re trying to follow a perfect eating plan and we “screw up” and have a cookie? Should that stop us from continuing to eat healthy again? I sure hope not.
When you find yourself in a self-depreciating mode of “mistakes”, try to have grace and forgive yourself. If you’ve upset someone close to you, would you stop spending time with them? If you made a mistake at your job, would you quit? Probably not.
Take the same approach to your eating habits. Rather than beating yourself up over a “forbidden” food eaten, remember that FOOD IS FOR EATING. It’s to be shared, enjoyed, savored. it’s not meant to leave you with feelings of guilt or shame. I’m not sure when we will eat the “cake failure” in the freezer, but it will serve as a reminder that no one and no diet is perfect. And that, is perfectly OK.
Got gluten? You should. A recent study suggests that going “gluten-free” may raise your risk for Type 2 diabetes. The diet, meant for a small population of individuals who have Celiac disease or gluten intolerance, became popular despite lack of evidence that it was healthy for most people. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley that gives baked goods their texture. A small percentage of people with celiac disease may also need to avoid oats due to a protein sensitivity.
According to Dr. Geng Zong from the Harvard University Dept. of Nutrition T.H. Chan School of Public Health, gluten-free foods are often less nutritious because they lack dietary fiber as well as vitamins and minerals. They tend to be more expensive. His study looked at health effects of a gluten-free diet on subjects that did not medically need to follow one. In a long term longitudinal study, scientists observed that most subjects consumed 12 grams of gluten or less per day. In those that consumed higher amounts of gluten, the risk of type 2 diabetes over a 30-year span, was lower. Cereal fiber intake was lower in subjects on a gluten-free diet, which is important to note as it is a protective component for development of type 2 diabetes. After accounting for the effect of cereal fiber, those in the highest 20% of gluten ingestion experienced a 13% lower risk of diabetes development than those with the lowest intake of gluten (< 4 grams).
In three other large, long term Nurse’s Health studies (NHS and NHS II) and the Health Professionals follow up study, gluten intake was gathered using food frequency questionnaires. The average gluten intake was between 5.8 to 7.1 grams per day, which came primarily from pretzels, bread, pizza, muffins, cereal and pasta. Data was observational as subjects self-reported their gluten intake. In over 4.24 million person years of follow up over 1984-1990 to 2010-2013, 15,947 cases of Type 2 diabetes were identified. Gluten-free diets were not popular at the time, so information on gluten abstainers was not available.
The bottom line is that if you don’t need a gluten-free diet, don’t follow it. Include gluten-containing, high fiber, whole grains in your diet daily. The US Dietary Guidelines advise 20-25 grams of dietary fiber per day for women and 35-38 grams per day for men. Below is a list of whole grains and their fiber content:
Barley (1/2 cup cooked): 3.1 grams
Bran cereal (3/4 cup): 5.9 grams
Brown rice (1/2 cup cooked): 2 grams
Bulgur (1/2 cup cooked): 4.1 grams
Oatmeal (1/2 cup cooked): 4.1 grams
Rye bread (1 slice): 1.5 grams
Quinoa (1/2 cup cooked): 2.75 grams
Whole wheat bread (1 slice): 3 grams
Whole grain pasta (1/2 cup cooked): 5-6 grams
Geng Zong, Ph.D., research fellow, department of nutrition, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston; Lauri Wright, Ph.D., R.D.N., spokesperson, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and director, doctorate in clinical nutrition program, University of North Florida, Jacksonville; March 9, 2017 presentation, American Heart Association Epidemiology and Prevention/Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health 2017 Scientific Sessions, Portland, Ore.
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It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since I lost my brother-in-law, Craig. Craig actually hadn’t married my sister yet, but they were engaged to be married and we’d spent enough time with him to be “family” to me. Craig was one of these guys you immediately liked. He had a hearty laugh, a whip-smart sense of humor and knew his way around the kitchen. He got his greatest joy from cooking, eating, traveling and talking about food and beer, which makes the type of cancer he had all the more cruel.
Craig was diagnosed with stage 3 or 4 intestinal cancer in the winter of 2016. He never told us what stage he had, but I knew it was bad when he told me he would do the chemo, knowing it was palliative only. For a while, you’d never know he was sick. While I didn’t see him daily (he lived in Youngstown with my sister), he’d email or FB message me about his treatments. I felt a special bond to him at this time since he trusted me with medical and nutritional questions given my previous employment in critical care. He told me when he’d felt tired or lacked energy, but he never lost his hair and didn’t start losing weight for several months.
He spent the last 6 months of his life like anyone dying should. He and my sister traveled where they could, visited his sons in Chicago and Pittsburgh and came down to see my family over the 4th of July holiday. It was then when I realized how sick he was. He’d lost a LOT of weight and was unable to eat much of anything. I wanted so badly to show him one last taste of Cincinnati- Findlay Market, Terry’s Turf Club, Madtree Brewing- and we did all of it. He was such a good sport, despite not being able to eat and drink as much as he’d used to. I’m so grateful for that last visit with him.
Craig eventually needed to go on IV nutrition because the cancer had grown too much, he’d lost a lot of weight and his digestion was severely affected. He and my sister relied on me for information as I used to advise doctors on how to order IV nutrition when I worked in a hospital. I knew he was really malnourished and that his gut function would likely not come back. I last saw him on Sunday, October 1. He was weak, nauseous and exhausted. Sadly, he committed suicide October 2. I look back and wonder what I could have done to help him. Could I have suggested Hospice sooner? Could we have talked about his pain control more? It’s heart breaking to know this is how his life ended and that my sister had to find him this way. We are still processing it. Never take family for granted.
So while this post was NOT very diet-related, here are a few tips to protect your gut:
- Get a colonoscopy if you’ve got a family history of cancer or when you turn 50. Yes, the prep is a “pain in the ass”, but having colon cancer is much worse. Pay attention to changes in stool habits- constipation, abdominal pain, diarrhea, etc.
- Eat more plants. Fiber is really on your side here. Based meals around more vegetables and fruit- especially dark green, leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, Brussels sprouts and broccoli. Eat berries, apples, pears and melon for fiber and cancer-fighting phytochemicals.
- Eat whole grains. Research is finding that younger people are developing GI cancers sooner and there is question if it’s related to the “anti-carb” phase that’s so popular. What most people don’t realize is that whole grains are protective against disease. Choose steel cut oats, 100% whole wheat bread, bran cereal and shredded wheat, bulgur, quinoa, barley, brown rice, farro in place of processed grains.
- Limit alcohol. We all love a good beer or glass of wine, but excessive alcohol consumption is linked with several types of cancer. Be moderate- one drink/day (or less) for women and two or less per day for men.
- Limit red meat and avoid processed meats. Consumption of beef, pork, lamb, sausage, bacon, hot dogs, brats and mets are linked with increased risk of colon and other gastrointestinal cancers. Enjoy fish and chicken as well as meat-less protein sources such as beans, legumes, tofu, tempeh or other vegetable-based foods.
- Stay active. Regular exercise may help you lose unwanted pounds, which in turn helps reduce your risk of cancer. Exercise also improves immunity to prevent disease.