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Dietetics Blog

Dietetics students have the chance to publish their blog posts on this site. From challenging the latest fad diets, to cool shadowing experiences, to engaging in thier community, you'll read posts from students who are broadening their writing and media skills using this platform.

The Keto Diet

April 26, 2021

The Keto Diet

By: Dominique Miller

            The keto diet is a diet high in fat and creates ketones in the body by breaking down fat. Ketones are the primary source of energy for many cells in the body that circulate in the blood.

The Diet 

            The diet typically reduces total carbohydrate intake to less than 50 grams per day, which is less than a medium bagel. Popular keto diets suggest 70-80% fat from total daily calories, 5-10% carbohydrate, and 10-20% protein.

So what’s the hype?

            The keto diet is attractive to dieters because of weight loss evidence without experiencing the same degree of hunger. There are health benefits, such as lower blood sugar and reversal of insulin resistance. The diet is centered on not eating low-fat foods, such as fatty cuts of meat, processed meats, and butter. These are very appealing to current dieters because they can eat foods that other diets eliminate. 

Potential Pitfalls

            The keto diet is difficult to maintain, especially since there are symptoms of extreme carbohydrate restriction: hunger, fatigue, low mood, irritability, constipation, headaches, and brain fog. The typical American diet is non-restrictive unlike the keto diet which is complicated. The keto diet has shown flu-like symptoms among users at the start of the diet and results in people eating this diet episodically. Unfortunately, resuming a non-ketogenic diet results in weight regain and loss of the metabolic improvements experienced while on a diet. Individuals with a pancreatic disease, liver conditions, thyroid problems, having a history of eating disorders, or gallbladder disease should not go on this diet.

The Bottom Line

            The keto diet eliminates and reduces several food groups that are necessary to live a healthy lifestyle. Keto is a fad diet and for the majority of consumers is not sustainable. On the other hand, MyPlate incorporates all food groups. For a personalized dietary plan that meets your individual needs, consult a registered dietitian nutritionist. An RDN can create a customized dietary program based on your unique health and nutrition needs and goals.

References

“Diet Review: Ketogenic Diet for Weight Loss.”The Nutrition Source, 22 May 2019, www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-weight/diet-reviews/ketogenic-diet/.

Gordon, Barbara. “What Is the Ketogenic Diet.” EatRight, www.eatright.org/health/weight-loss/fad-diets/what-is-the-ketogenic-diet.

Stafford, Author Randall, et al. “A Skeptical Look at Popular Diets: How Ketogenic Should You Go?” Scope, Logo Left ContentLogo Right Content 10,000+ Posts Scope Stanford University School of Medicine Blog, 14 Feb. 2019. scopeblog.stanford.edu/2019/02/14/a-skeptical-look-at-popular-diets-how-ketogenic-should-you-go/.

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Juice Cleanses: Yes, or No?

March 31, 2021

Juice Cleanses: Yes, or No?

By: Livvy Plageman

In the last couple of decades, juicing and juice cleanses have become increasingly popular due to the rebranding of a 1940s diet called the Master Cleanse. The Master Cleanse is essentially a mixture of lemon juice, cayenne pepper, and maple syrup that is consumed for 10 days. Celebrities such as Beyoncé, Jared Leto, and Demi Moore swear by its weight loss effects when they have participated in the cleanse for concert tours, movies, etc. However, the juice cleanses of today are a little less intense and generally provide the user between 1,000 to 1,200 calories per day for the length of the juice cleanse program (Newman, 2010). Also, the selling point for these programs is the fact that they will “uplift your energy levels naturally,” “retrain yourself to eat a healthier diet,” and “support healthy gut function” (SKINNY CLEANSE® Get Results Fast 2021).

            While there are some benefits to a juice cleanse, they do not exactly mimic the benefits advertised on these juice cleanse websites. One of the obvious benefits to a juice cleanse is that you are consuming great amounts of fruits and vegetables. As these cleanses are mainly fruit and vegetable juices, some cleanses even advertise that their products contain several pounds of produce in a single bottle; the number of vitamins and minerals in each juice are fairly high. So, for a person who may find it difficult to consume enough fresh fruits and vegetables, adding these juices into their diet could be beneficial (McCallum, 2020). Also, some studies in the last 10 years have found a link between different juices and the prevention of certain health risks. For example, kale juice may improve cholesterol levels by reducing risk of heart disease, and carrot juice may reduce the stress of cells in women being treated for breast cancer (Publishing, 2015). Although this research is promising, many more studies to be conducted to prove whether or not juices are beneficial and safe in comparison to their whole fruit/vegetable counterparts.

            The Dietary Guidelines for Americans and Myplate.gov both support that one-half of the plate should be whole fruits and vegetables. Not only does this provide adequate vitamins and minerals but also supplies the body with necessary dietary fiber needed for appropriate digestive function and the prevention of chronic diseases (Slavin & Lloyd, 2012). Insoluble fiber is found in whole fruits and vegetables and helps to promote bowel regularity, stabilize the blood sugar, lower cholesterol, and promote the feeling of fullness. When fruits and vegetables are juiced, this type of fiber is lost and the advertised effect of supporting digestive function is proved false. Another myth of juice cleansing is that cleanses will detoxify the body and 'cleanse' the intestines of potentially harmful waste products. Combined with a healthy diet, the body’s liver and kidneys are able to filter blood, expel toxins, and cleanse the body continuously without the boost of specific juices (Publishing, 2015). So, if the goal is to help regulate digestion and detox the body, a juice cleanse is not necessary.

In summary, if you are able to get enough fruits and vegetable in your diet, there is no need for a juice cleanse, as the advertised effects do not hold up to a diet full of whole fruits and vegetables.

References

McCallum K. Are Juice Cleanses Actually Good for You? Houston Methodist On Health. https://www.houstonmethodist.org/blog/articles/2020/jan/are-juices-cleanses-actually-good-for-you/. Published January 6, 2020. Accessed March 31, 2021. 

Newman J. The Juice Cleanse: A Strange and Green Journey. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/28/fashion/28Cleanse.html. Published October 27, 2010. Accessed March 31, 2021. 

Publishing HH. Juicing -- Fad or Fab? Harvard Health. https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthy-eating/juicing-fad-or-fab. Published July 2015. Accessed March 31, 2021. 

SKINNY CLEANSE® Get Results Fast. Raw Generation, Inc. https://www.rawgeneration.com/products/best-juice-cleanse-for-weight-loss?variant=1118721576. Published 2021. Accessed March 31, 2021. 

Slavin JL, Lloyd B. Health benefits of fruits and vegetables. Advances in nutrition (Bethesda, Md.). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3649719/. Published July 1, 2012. Accessed March 31, 2021. 

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Instagram Misinformation and Mormonism, An Interesting Correlation

March 30, 2021

Instagram Misinformation and Mormonism, An Interesting Correlation

By: Emmaline Peterson

Hopefully, by the time I finish this article, the title makes sense. Recently a documentary has come out on Netflix called “Murder Among Mormons” by Jared Hess. SPOILERS: The show’s premise is there was a man, Mark Hoffman, obsessed with and incredibly skilled at scamming and deceiving people to see at what point people would stop believing in him. When he was almost caught, he… well, I probably cannot write about that, so just watch the documentary if you want to know. I am sure the title will give you a hint.  It started with something as simple as Mark hiding treasure the day before he and his friends went treasure hunting to convince his friends he was great at finding treasure the next day. Years later, Mark somehow got many Mormons to re-think the Mormon faith because of a fake document he created that completely changed the history of the Mormon religion. Mark made thousands of Mormons question their belief in not only the faith but in God themself. Mark did all of this because he just wanted to prank some people. For his own amusement. Now you may be thinking, how could these Mormons be so willing to believe in something so fake? How gullible could they be? That’s the thing. Mark did not just write on a piece of paper some fake story and said, “Hey guys look at this, isn’t it crazy.” No, he planned this out for years. Mark had all of the credibility he needed to pull this off. He was a loyal member of the church and had proclaimed himself to be a professional historical lost artifact finder due to years of him “finding” many artifacts (aka creating things in his office like a crazy scientist to seem as authentic as possible). You see, we look at someone who appears professional and associate their credibility with their knowledge, skills, experiences, etc. It is natural! It makes sense! Do not beat yourself up for it. Do you see where I am going with this? No? Okay, let me change perspectives.

You are scrolling through Instagram one day, and you see your favorite fitness model. You like the way she looks. She is fit, seems super healthy, runs 20 miles a day, and she is everything you want to be! Every week she posts something about her diet. This week she posts that she gave up eating anything with sugar, even natural sugar because it made her break out. Your first thought when you see this information is what? I love sugar? I love strawberries. I love late-night ice cream runs with friends. But then you look at the Instagram model and think, but she has such good skin, and I would love to be like her. So, you give up sugar so you can be just like her. You tell your friends you can’t come to this month’s weekly ice cream trips, and you notice you have a debilitating headache almost always. Even worse, your skin looks no different. At the end of the month, this same Instagram model posts a story of them drinking a milkshake. Later that week, she posts a sponsored ad from a skin company and tells her followers that this is actually how she has such clear skin. You feel betrayed. The Instagrammer was Mark Hoffman, and you were a loyal Mormon follower. What did you do to deserve this?

I wanted to perform some research independently and tell you statistically how much misinformation is out there, but that would be almost impossible. Within a month, Instagram users post more than 500 million posts. Researchers are not even close to capturing the amount of misinformation that is out there because Instagram is an endless spout of fake news(Walsh-Buhi, 2020). A scientific article I found made a great point on the consequences of misinformation:

“Moreover, misinformation may have additional consequences that—although difficult to observe—are equally insidious. For example, misinformation could create the impression that no consensus exists on a topic or that official sources of information are not credible, generating feelings of apathy, confusion, and mistrust. This could then lead individuals to disengage from health information seeking, avoid health care, or make decisions that are detrimental to their health. Although there are challenges to linking online activity with offline behavior, theoretically informed empirical research is needed to elucidate the full extent of the real-world consequences of misinformation exposure.” (Chou, et al, 2020)

This quote is what reminded me of the documentary about Mark Hoffman. His misinformation did exactly what this quote talks about. People feel betrayed, feel confused, and lose trust in research when they hear so many different solutions to an ongoing problem.

            Be skeptical. Always ask questions. Believe in yourself, your religion, your abilities and do not compare or depend on others to validate where you stand. Of course, take advice, trust the scientific research when offered. But just because someone seems credible doesn’t mean every word they speak is the hard truth. Mark Hoffman was one impressively believable guy, and yet everything he did was a lie.

References:

Murder Among Mormans, Directed by Jared Hess, BBC Studios, Netflix, https://www.netflix.com/watch/81226889?trackId=13752289&tctx=0%2C0%2C13691d8ee4007e568fc06eade60b6ba7c2ef5745%3A57d499fb89d81f75dbcef60ec6191b71cae5eacc%2C13691d8ee4007e568fc06eade60b6ba7c2ef5745%3A57d499fb89d81f75dbcef60ec6191b71cae5eacc%2Cunknown%2C

Sylvia Chou WY, Gaysynsky A, Cappella JN. Where We Go From Here: Health Misinformation on Social Media. Am J Public Health. 2020;110(S3):S273-S275. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2020.305905

Walsh-Buhi ER. Social Media and Cancer Misinformation: Additional Platforms to Explore. Am J Public Health. 2020;110(S3):S292-S293. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2020.305949

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Fiction: You can get all your nutrients from your diet alone

March 29, 2021

Fiction: You can get all your nutrients from your diet alone

By: Isabella Morin

Many people are hesitant about the use of supplements due to the limited regulation provided by the FDA. However, it has come to light that the soil in which our produce is grown is depleted. We know that healthy soil yields healthy crops, and people who eat from healthy soil are healthier overall1. The soil has been degrading gradually over the years due to modern farming practices1. It is no longer possible to receive all of our nutrients from the food we eat, as produce is grown on depleted soil2.

What are whole-food-based supplements?

Whole food supplements are a complex formula, including whole-food-based plant ingredients and animal extracts to create a dietary supplement easily absorbed by the body3. The vitamins found in whole food-based supplements are highly complex and contain various enzymes, co-enzymes, minerals, and elements the human diet lacks4. Whole-food-based supplements are made from whole-food nutrition and concentrated food and herbs.

The need for whole-food-based supplements

The goal of whole-food-based supplements is to provide nutrients as they are found in nature3. The potency and efficacy of these nutrients are preserved, and their nutritional value is safeguarded. Most people believe they can receive their nutrients from food alone when that is not the case. In 1948, a single serving of spinach contained 158 milligrams of iron. Today, the same spinach serving is only 27 milligrams of iron due to being grown on nutrient-depleted soil. We would have to consume six bowls of spinach to receive the same amount of iron one bowl provided in 19482.

Why synthetic supplements are harmful

There are issues with generic brand-name supplements as they often contain chemicals that are not easily absorbed by the body. The majority of vitamins today are made with synthetic ingredients4. Synthetic vitamins come from cold tar or a petroleum-derived product made in a lab to change the chemistry to match the nutrient. The issue with this process is that a lab could never put all the nutrition and beneficial co-factors in the vitamin present in food. The body utilizes the co-factors to put the nutrients into action in the body. A lot of processes to make food healthier end up destroying their nutrients. For instance, sterilizing milk with heat destroys the Vitamin C found in milk. Also, fortifying foods with vitamins and minerals is not necessarily helpful as our body cannot effectively absorb those added vitamins and minerals4.

References

1.         Purdy, M. (fall 2020). Integrative Dietitians as Environmental Stewards and Climate Champions. TheIntegrativeRDN,23(2).

2.         Medford, L. (2002). Why Do I Need Whole Food Supplements. LDN Publishing.

3.         Standard Process. (2020). Standard Process Whole Food Philosophy. Retrieved November 16, 2020, from https://www.standardprocess.com/about-us/quality/whole-food-philosophy

4.         Reliance Private Label Supplements. (2020, October 19). An introduction to whole food supplements. Retrieved February 25, 2021, from https://reliancevitamin.com/blog/an-introduction-to-whole-food-supplements/

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What is gluten?

March 21, 2021

What is gluten?

By: Destiney McDaniel

Now and days, the words "Gluten" and "Gluten-free" seem to be everywhere you turn. Numerous individuals have adopted a gluten-free diet and have decided that not consuming gluten will improve their health. All of us are different, so there is no "ideal diet" that will be the same for each person. Not too long ago, many people had not even heard of gluten, and some do not even know what it is, yet they are avoiding it.

What is gluten?

Gluten is the primary storage protein of wheat grains. Gluten is primarily made up of two proteins; gliadin and glutenin.1 It is the general name for the proteins found in wheat, rye, barley, and triticale- a cross between wheat and rye.2 Gluten’s functions are essential to determining the dough quality of bread and other baked products. It is commonly used as an additive in processed food for improved texture, moisture retention, and flavor.1

Who benefits from a gluten-free diet?

When individuals with Celiac Disease consume gluten, they have an immune reaction. They develop inflammation and damage in their intestinal tracts and other parts of the body when they eat foods containing gluten.3 A gluten-free diet is necessary for them to eliminate inflammation. Current estimates suggest up to 1% of the population has this disease.3 Some individuals are “gluten-sensitive.” Their test for Celiac disease is normal, but they experience symptoms when they eat gluten-containing foods. It makes sense for individuals with celiac disease, wheat allergies, gluten sensitivity, and gluten intolerance to avoid gluten.

Is it okay to consume gluten?

There is no compelling evidence that a gluten-free diet will improve health or prevent disease if you do not have celiac disease and eat gluten without trouble.3 In the future, more research may be conducted that shows some people without celiac disease are better off avoiding gluten. Before considering switching to a gluten-free diet, there are some things you may want to keep in mind. Gluten-free foods are commonly less fortified with folic acid, iron, and other nutrients than gluten foods.3 Gluten-free foods tend to have less fiber and more sugar and fat.3 From a financial standpoint, gluten-free foods tend to be more expensive than conventional foods. The main point is it is okay to eat gluten-containing foods if you do not experience any symptoms. Please do not waste your time stressing about gluten unless it is necessary!

What should I do if I am concern about eating gluten?

If you experience any of the following digestive symptoms, I advise you to talk to your doctor. Symptoms of celiac disease or gluten sensitivity include:4

  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Bloating and gas
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea vomiting 
  • Constipation 

More than half of adults with celiac disease have signs symptoms unrelated to the digestive system, including:4

  • Anemia, usually from iron deficiency
  • Loss of bone density or softening of bone
  • Itchy, blistery skin rash
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Headaches and fatigue
  • Nervous system injury, including numbness and tingling in the feet and hands, possible problems with balance, and cognitive impairment
  • Joint pain
  • Reduced function of the spleen

Children with celiac disease are more likely than adults to have digestive problems including:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Swollen belly
  • Constipation
  • Gas
  • Pale, foul-smelling stools

References

  1. Biesiekierski J. R. (2017). What is gluten?. Journal of gastroenterology and hepatology32 Suppl 1, 78–81. https://doi.org/10.1111/jgh.13703
  2. Celiac Disease Foundation. What is Gluten?. Version Current 2021. Internet: https://celiac.org/gluten-free-living/what-is-gluten/
  3. Harvard Health Publishing. Ditch the Gluten, Improve Your Health?. Version Current 8 November 2019. Internet: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/ditch-the-gluten-improve-your-health
  4. Mayo Clinic. Celiac disease. Version Current 2021. Internet: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/celiac-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20352220ptoms and causes - Mayo Clinic

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Why Weight? The Weight-Neutral Benefits that Physical Activity Can Bring to Your Life

March 08, 2021

Why Weight? The Weight-Neutral Benefits that Physical Activity Can Bring to Your Life

By: Julia Lance

In our society, physical activity, health, and wellbeing influence our lives daily. Whether this influence appears as social media dieting adds, schedules revolving around fitness routines, and/or self-judgment or guilt, this presence is felt by many of us. For some, like myself, we try to dismiss this burdening feeling as motivation or failure to meet our goals, when in reality, it’s the pressure that diet culture puts on us to lose or maintain a specific weight, appearance, or image.  This pressure, however, leads to destructive feelings and habits that become linked to activities such as exercise, and this is why so many people dislike physical activity altogether. So, as individuals who have grown up in a society that is obsessed with weight status and diet culture, how can we empower ourselves by using movement to reclaim or discover our enjoyment of physical activity when we know nothing different? The answer may be simple: Set the outcome of weight aside.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that individuals should practice at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, or a mixture of the two each week and two or more days of muscle-strengthening activities to maintain weight and reduce the risk of chronic diseases (2020). These recommendations may be lofty for some individuals due to time, energy, and/or resource limitations. While it is important to recognize and value physical activity recommendations, it is even more critical to realize that any physical activity -regardless of intensity or duration, is more beneficial than none. Do not feel discouraged if you are not able to complete the CDC’s weekly recommendations, because according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) any amount of physical activity compared to none at all will:

  • Aid in the management or prevention of arthritis, heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, & some types of cancer (e.g. breast & colon cancer)
  • Improve sleep quality
  • Reduce anxiety, stress levels, and feelings of depression
  • Aid in regulating blood pressure
  • Improve and/or maintain muscle strength

All of the benefits listed above are weight-neutral, meaning that they occur regardless of weight change when practicing physical activity. Shifting the emphasis away from weight status and viewing these weight-neutral benefits as motivators for increasing physical activity could lead to empowering and sustainable practices of exercise. So the next time you plan on being active, remember the many other benefits that are associated with physical activity aside from weight loss or maintenance -because weight does not define an individual’s health or abilities.

Resources:

1. https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/adults/index.htm

2. https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/real-life-benefits-exercise-and-physical-activity#activity

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Supporters Not Fixers

March 08, 2021

Supporters Not Fixers

By: Rebecca Reese

             I remember every detail about the day my mother came home from the doctor's office crying as if I would imagine her on my wedding day. Yet, this story I am about to tell you impacted me more than my mother. I remember there was a huge rainstorm, which was odd during that sunny July day. It was as if the world cried for the sorrows that I was experiencing that day. My mother, who is my biggest role model, immigrated from Korea when she was twelve. In many Asian cultures and my own, an idea of "thin" makes you worthy. My mother has the most beautiful curves you can imagine, and I lucked out and got those exact curves. Her curves were like looking at a backroad full of butterflies with the most beautiful sunset you can imagine. Yet, she hated every inch of them all because of where she fell on the BMI scale. She hated them because my grandma pointed them out. She hated them because she didn't look like the women in the magazines at her OBGYN office. Most of all, she hated them because of what her doctor said to her, "you need to lose weight, you need to exercise more for someone with your built, you are just not educated on the right American foods."

        In the story I just told, I hear the same plot when talking to my friends, standing in line at the dining halls, and on my social media. According to victims of weight stigma, physicians and family members are the most common sources of weight bias. Weight-based teasing and diet talk among family members have been linked to binge eating, weight gain, and extreme weight control behaviors. Another significant issue is weight bias in healthcare (NEDA, 2018). Weight is just one part of health, so why is weight the main focus in healthcare? Focusing on eating less, exercising more and negative encounters can lead to experiences or expectations of poor treatment that may lead to stress and the prevention of care, mistrust of physicians, and poor adherence among obese patients. Stigma can reduce the quality of care for obese patients despite healthcare providers' best intentions to provide high-quality care (Phelan et al., 2015). 

"Weight loss will take care of all your health issues when you are obese" is a reoccurring message I see in health care. Weight loss can reduce many health risks associated with obesity, which are insulin resistance, diabetes, hypoxemia, hypercarbia, and osteoarthritis. We have to remember; causation does not equal correlation. Potential side effects of weight loss include increased risk of gallstone development and cholecystitis, severe body dysmorphia, water and electrolyte complications, moderate liver disease, and increased uric acid levels. Less severe problems, such as diarrhea, constipation, hair loss, and cold intolerance, may also occur (Pi-Sunyer, 1993). 

        As a future registered dietitian, I will make it my passion to eliminate myths around obesity. Nutrition is much more than weight or recipes, vitamins or minerals. Nutrition is somewhere we can come together to share diversity, empathy, pleasure, stories, and the legacies of cultural identity. As future healthcare providers, we are here to support, not fix. We should support our patients because these "obese" people are people—these people who could potentially represent our mothers, fathers, significant others, or our professors. People are more than a “body” or a number on the scale. By being supporters, we introduce a new inclusive perspective to individualized healthcare.

Works Cited

Phelan, S M, et al. “Impact of Weight Bias and Stigma on Quality of Care and Outcomes for Patients with Obesity.” Obesity Reviews : An Official Journal of the International Association for the Study of Obesity, vol. 16, no. 4, 2015, pp. 319–26, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25752756, 10.1111/obr.12266. Accessed 28 Apr. 2019.

Pi-Sunyer, F. Xavier. “Short-Term Medical Benefits and Adverse Effects of Weight Loss.” Annals of Internal Medicine, vol. 119, no. 7_Part_2, 1 Oct. 1993, p. 722, 10.7326/0003-4819-119-7_part_2-199310011-00019. Accessed 15 Sept. 2019.

“Weight Stigma.” National Eating Disorders Association, 18 Feb. 2018, www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/weight-stigma.

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Myth: Eating after 8:00 makes you gain weight

March 07, 2021

Myth: Eating after 8:00 makes you gain weight

By: Molly Edwards

How many of you out there grew up listening to your mother or grandmother saying the famous saying of "not to eat after 8:00 pm because it will make you gain weight?" Most of us grew up with the fallacious belief, whether we followed it or not, that if we ate a late-night snack, then it was going to be a contribution to weight gain. Many believe that there is a correlation between bedtime snacking and a higher BMI, but correlation doesn't mean causation!

There are a few old-fashioned theories that contributed to the idea of eating past 8:00 pm is undoubtedly going to make you gain weight. The first theory discusses how metabolism significantly slows down when you're asleep, and as a result, you burn fewer calories1. In actuality, your metabolism only reduces by 15%  when you're sleeping.2 The difference in your metabolism between when you're sleeping and awake is minimal, which seems counterintuitive. The answer to this miraculous fact is because your body is still very much active when you're sleeping by running your heart, lungs, and brain. Your basal metabolic rate comprises 80% of the metabolism needed to run all of the body's involuntary processes.2

The second theory revolves around believing insulin levels are more significant at night, resulting in glucose more likely being stored as fat due to the higher insulin concentration in the bloodstream1.  As more research is completed on this topic, it is known that insulin levels are relatively the same at night as in the middle of the day.1 For people with diabetes who wake up with elevated fasting blood glucose levels or struggle with nocturnal hypoglycemia, bedtime snacks are highly encouraged.3 The reasoning behind this is associated with the large gap of time between meals.3 For some, after too much time, has gone by, the body ultimately signals the liver to take the stored form of glucose, glycogen, and convert it back into glucose to feed the body as a survival mechanism. Those with type 1 diabetes are reliant on exogenous insulin, so to maintain suitable blood glucose levels, eating a snack will help maintain those levels while asleep.3 Therefore, snacking at night would be a great way to reduce the amount of time between meals and have a greater chance of regulating fasting blood glucose levels in the morning.

The third theory delves into how carbohydrate consumption at night is not being utilized as energy, and because of this, all of the glucose transfers as fat1. As research goes on, there has been no reliable evidence to prove that the time of day has an effect on how many carbohydrates are immediately stored as fat. Regardless of the time of day, an excessive amount of calories consumed over the number of calories burned will result in an influx of weight. The type of foods being consumed late at night by your typical American is highly processed, high in sugar, and calorically dense. The time of day these foods are consumed has no effect on the outcome. Consequently, you will not get "fat" if you eat before bed.

It is essential to listen to our body's hunger cues and to nourish our bodies but limiting calorically dense foods in the evening. Eating a snack before you go to bed is a means of survival; it will not cause you to gain weight.

Myth busted!

  1. Bruno, Audrey. “does late-night snacking make you gain weight?” 28 july 2015. (Accessed 30 march 2021.) https://www.delish.com/food-news/a43280/late-night-snacks-weight-gain-myth/
  2. Sharma S, Kavuru M. Sleep and metabolism: an overview. Int J Endocrinol. 2010;2010:270832. doi:10.1155/2010/270832https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2929498/
  3. Kinsey AW, Ormsbee MJ. The health impact of nighttime eating: old and new perspectives. Nutrients. 2015;7(4):2648-2662. Published 2015 Apr 9. doi:10.3390/nu7042648

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Myth Busting: Is organic food healthier and more nutritious?

March 07, 2021

Myth Busting: Is organic food healthier and more nutritious?

By: Devin Walters

There has been much debate on whether organic food is healthier than conventionally grown crops. Many organic enthusiasts will decry the consumption of conventional crops, leading many to believe that it is harmful to the body. They claim that eating fruits and vegetables in their purest form are more nutritious, healthy and free of pesticides. Is all of this really true? It is time to dispel the myths surrounding organic food. If you are on the fence about choosing between organic food and conventional food, I thought it would be best to answer a few common questions.

Does organic food contain more nutrients?

Contrary to what some might believe, there is not enough evidence to support that organic food is nutritionally superior to their non-organic counterparts. There is no discernable difference between their nutrient content.

Does Organic Always mean Pesticide Free?

While conventionally grown foods are typically known for being treated with pesticides, organic foods are not completely absent of pesticides either. There are over 20 chemicals that organic farmers use to keep their crops free of unwanted pests. They may not be any more or any less safe than synthetic products. The pesticides that organic farmers use is natural, but natural does not always mean safe. Rotenone is an organic pesticide that can be produced naturally. However, it has been found that Rotenone may cause Parkinson’s disease like symptoms in rats.

If a food is labeled organic, does it mean 100% organic?

Just because food carries the organic label, it does not necessarily mean that it is 100% organic. A food must meet a minimum requirement of being 70% organic to qualify for an organic label.

Are GMOs dangerous?

The fear of genetically modified organisms is perhaps one of the biggest reasons why people choose to eat organically. GMOs have had the misfortune of being vilified because of the alleged effects that they have. According to WHO, genetically modified crops in the present have not been shown to pose any significant threat to human health. In fact, there are many positives for GMOs. By modifying crops, they build an increased resistance to insect damage and viral infections. This increase in resistance actually lessens the need for using pesticides.

The Takeaway

In short the choice of selecting either organic or non-organic food is up to the consumer. I wanted to dispel any fears people may have towards non organic products. They are not as scary as you thought they were.

References

Collins C. Monday’s medical myth: organic food is more nutritious. The Conversation. March 12 2012. Accessed: March 31 2021. https://theconversation.com/mondays-medical-myth-organic-food-is-more-nutritious-5574

Johnston R. The great organic myths: Why organic foods are an indulgence the world can't afford. Independent. 23 October 2011. Accessed: March 31 2021. https://www.independent.co.uk/climate-change/news/the-great-organic-myths-why-organic-foods-are-an-indulgence-the-world-can-t-afford-818585.html

Kanuckel A. 5 Myths About Organic Food You Might Not Know. Farmers Almanac. March 25, 2021. Accessed: March 31 2021. https://www.farmersalmanac.com/organic-food-myths-35253

Tangermann V. Is Organic Really Better? 4 Food Myths Debunked By Science. Futurism. February 6 2018. Accessed: March 31 2021. https://futurism.com/organic-gmo-food-myths.

Header image from: https://impactprogram.ca/myths-vs-facts/

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Factors that lead to hypertension

March 06, 2021

Factors that lead to hypertension

By: Lanbin Cui

It is well known that hypertension is an acquired disease even though people with a family history of hypertension are more likely to get it. The common factor that leads to hypertension is age. The older the patient, the higher the risk of high blood pressure. According to the result of testing hypertension patient characteristics from different geographic locations, the study in India illustrated that testing subjects are all performing characteristics as over ages of 40, males, BMI over 25 and have the family history of hypertension. Besides that, type II diabetes, cigarettes, breastfeeding duration could also be the factors that lead to hypertension. Another study also obtains evidence that factors cause high blood pressure is surrounding sex, high BMI, using tobacco and alcohol.

Otherwise, economic and social status, educational level of parents is also underlying risk factors for hypertension. A study shows that factors caused hypertension in Ethiopia are mainly based on age, tobacco use, physical activity, diabetes, eating habits includes salt intake and BMI. Living environment is another factor lead to hypertension to some extent. Based on the results of investigated the prevalence of demographic characteristics and behavioral risk factors for hypertension by residential area. Residents in the rural areas have a much higher rate of hypertension than residents in semi-urban areas. Test subjects have significant characteristics include parents with a history of heart attack, low fruit and vegetables consumption, high red meat and salty or fried food consumption.

As for other factors such as age, smoking history and physical activity, no significant differences are existing between semi-urban residents and rural residents. Another study is to investigate the prevalence of hypertension of semi-urban residents aged older than 18 years old. The results show that most patients are at the age of 36 and over and the number of female patients is higher than male patients. Other common characteristics of hypertension patients are high waist hip rate, diabetes status, physical activity, a history of a parent having a heart attack, high consumption of meat and salty or fried food, low consumption of fruit and vegetables. Without considering age factors, a history of a parent having heart attack does not significantly affect hypertension. As for the study f the prevalence of hypertension of rural residents aged over 18 years old, whether the ages of patients are considered, the result shows that patients commonly perform characteristics include higher waist hip rate, diabetes status and salt intake.

Hypertension is also related to stress. Stress can lead to blood pressure elevate by stimulating nervous system to produce vasoconstricting hormones. Besides, the factors lead to hypertension are able to cooperate with each other which affect blood pressure multiply. Therefore, unhealthy lifestyle and eating habits bring the possibility of hypertension apparently. Living environment affects eating habits to some extent because of food cultural differences.

References

Bijani, M., Parvizi, S., Dehghan, A., Sedigh-Rahimabadi, M., Rostami-Chijan, M., Kazemi, M., Naghizadeh, M. M., Ghaemi, A., Homayounfar, R., & Farjam, M. (2020). Investigating the prevalence of hypertension and its associated risk factors in a population-based study: Fasa PERSIAN COHORT data. BMC Cardiovascular Disorders, 20(1), 503. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12872-020-01797-3

Mphekgwana, P. M., Malema, N., Monyeki, K. D., Mothiba, T. M., Makgahlela, M., Kgatla, N., Makgato, I., & Sodi, T. (2020). Hypertension Prevalence and Determinants among Black South African Adults in Semi-Urban and Rural Areas. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(20). https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17207463

Kulkarni, S., O'Farrell, I., Erasi, M., & Kochar, M. S. (1998). Stress and hypertension. WMJ : official publication of the State Medical Society of Wisconsin, 97(11), 34–38.

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Why we should seek Registered Dietitians and not food/health bloggers for nutrition advice?

March 06, 2021

Why we should seek Registered Dietitians and not food/health bloggers for nutrition advice?

By: Alejandra Delgado

With the growing number of influencers on social media, it is almost impossible to regulate what is being put out there. This is harming the overall health of the public due to the inaccuracy linked with the dietary advice that is being given. Research has been conducted on the content of such blogs. The study focused on the credibility of these blogs and whether bias was associated with the provided information. Results showed that most bloggers did not pass a scoring test that required a minimum of 70 percent. Thus, most of the information that was being sent out onto social media platforms was incorrect. The majority of these bloggers gave advice based on what they thought was correct or how they would approach a situation without concrete evidence supporting their claims.

Watching food and health bloggers post beautiful pictures of food or exercise routines may seem like a very innocent and unharmful action. However, in reality, research shows that social media is very detrimental to one’s self-esteem and body image. A CNN article highlights that social media does harm body image because individuals are no longer just looking at celebrities who were an example of unattainable beauty, but now, individuals are comparing themselves to others who are just like them. Individuals are living in the highlight stories of these bloggers and comparing every little thing.

The reason behind why these health bloggers are hurting the overall health of the community is because they are disregarding the dietary recommendations that are provided by the USDA and the HHS and advertising fad diets instead. An example of a typical fad diet that is often encouraged by these health bloggers is cold-pressed juices. These juices are overly priced, which is usually a big issue with fad diets; they’re unsustainable, whether that be because it’s too difficult to keep up with the diet or too expensive. Such diets put food insecure individuals at a disadvantage, making them feel unsure about their potential to lose weight, be healthy, or look like the blogger they follow and are constantly comparing themselves to. Besides, there is no concrete evidence claiming that these juices are as healthy as these bloggers claim them to be. It is also important to remember that a nutritious diet is a diet that is focused on variety and not on drinking a cold-press juice all day, every day. Whole fruits help us get fiber, and this juicing process reduces the fiber content dramatically. Further, these juices do not provide satiety as what a whole fruit would, which would ultimately lead to feelings of hunger and overconsumption of calories from such juices. These juices are an excellent way to get some fruit and vegetable intake when consumed in moderation while still focusing on other nutrients.

It is essential to understand that Registered Dietitians go through a lot of schooling to obtain advanced degrees and credentials that certify them to provide accurate nutritional information. Also, registered dietitians continue their education year after year to ensure that their knowledge is updated, as nutritional information and guidelines are continually changing.

References:

Cold-Pressed Juice: Hipster Hype or Health Hero? (2018, October 10). Retrieved from https://foodinsight.org/cold-pressed-juice-hipster-hype-or-health-hero/

How Does Social Media Affect Your Body Image? (2018, August 28). Retrieved from https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/blog/how-does-social-media-affect-your-body-image

Sharkey, L. (2019, May 01). Influencers Are Giving Inaccurate Dietary Advice At Alarming Levels, According To This Study. Retrieved from https://www.bustle.com/p/influencers-are-giving-inaccurate-dietary-advice-at-alarming-levels-according-to-this-study-17283387

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Got Milk?

March 01, 2021

Got Milk?

By: Mallory McDaniel

Which milk is best for you?

It seems like every week, there is a new variation of milk arriving on the shelves at the grocery store. As I glance through the case, I think to myself- which type of milk is the best for me? How am I supposed to know which one to buy? With all of the new products on the market, it is easy to be overwhelmed and unsure of what to buy. Also, there is much misinformation that floats around about dairy products that may place a preconceived idea in our heads that may not be accurate.

What is most important to remember that not all milk products are the same. They have differing amounts of calories, protein, carbohydrates, fat, sugar, vitamins, and minerals. Which type of milk you choose to purchase is based on what your individual health goals are. There is not a one size fits all! Learn more about some of the different milk products below:

Cow Milk

Cow milk comes in many different forms, such as whole milk, 2%, 1%, and fat free. These types of milk are traditionally known to contain high levels of calcium, phosphorus, vitamin A, vitamin D, and vitamin B. There are varying amounts of fat depending on which % fat you choose, as well as no added sugar in traditional milk. Additionally, cow’s milk provides 8g of protein per serving.

Almond Milk

Almond milk has increased in popularity over the years due to the fact that it is low in calories and is a plant-based alternative to regular cow’s milk. Demand has also increased for almond milk because of the increasing number of people becoming intolerant to milk products. Almond milk provides a lactose-free alternative that may be tolerated by the body more easily. In addition to being low in calories, almond milk is lower in fat than whole cow’s milk and similar in vitamin D and calcium due to fortification. Beware of sweetened versions of almond milk though as up to 20g of added sugars may end up in your beverage.  Almond milk provides 1g of protein per serving.

Soy Milk

Soy milk has been on the shelves for centuries, but similar to almond milk, has become increasingly popular over recent years. It is also consumed by those with intolerances to milk products, as well as vegetarians. Soy milk is derived from soybeans, which are a rich source of protein and fat. Cow milk and soy milk have similar amounts of calories, protein, calcium, and vitamin D. Soy milk is the most nutritionally similar to cow milk, but there are studies that link soy consumption to digestive distress.

Coconut Milk

Coconut milk is another milk alternative that has filled the shelves over recent years. The craze for coconut milk has heightened over recent years just as coconut oil has. A dairy-free option, coconut milk is known for its creamy texture and sweet flavor. Nutritionally, coconut milk is lower in calories and calcium than cow’s milk, but similar in vitamin D profile. Coconut milk provides 0g of protein. What sets coconut milk apart from other milk is its high saturated fat content. There is much debate on whether or not the saturated fat in coconut milk is beneficial for our health, but the bottom line is that it can healthfully fit into diets with specific needs.

With the many types of milk on the market as well as new varieties hitting the shelves every week, it is helpful to learn about each type and their varying nutrient profiles. If you are looking for a lower calorie option, you may opt for almond milk. If you are looking to add more protein into your diet, opt for cow milk or soy milk. What is the best option for one person may not be the best option for the person next to you. It is crucial to realize that all milk options have the ability to healthily fit into one’s diet depending on your specific needs and goals.

References:

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24800664/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5756203/

https://biomedres.us/pdfs/BJSTR.MS.ID.002239.pdf

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The Coffee Conundrum, or is it?

March 01, 2021

The Coffee Conundrum

By: Kendall Kaikkonen

Global Impact

Coffee spans the entirety of the world whether it be consumed as arabica coffee beans, being ground at a Starbucks off Epps Bridge, or Robusta beans being prepared in Africa. The one common denominator is that everyone enjoys a nice cup of coffee.

Origin of the question

One question often circulates scaring avid coffee consumers, does drinking coffee cause cancer? The origin of this question resulted from the publication of a 1981 study linking coffee use to pancreas cancer. The study reported a causal relation between coffee drinking and pancreatic cancer causing some coffee lovers to put their cups down for good.1

Current Evidence

An expert panel for the International Agency for Research on Cancer in 2016 convened and concluded that coffee is unlikely to cause breast cancer, prostate cancer, or pancreatic cancer. However, the panel classified very hot beverages, drinks hotter than 65 degrees Celsius or 149 degrees Fahrenheit, as potentially carcinogenic.2 To accommodate for this caveat, when drinking cups of coffee either from a coffee shop or home, allow for the cup of coffee to cool down before enjoying the delicious beverage. The American Cancer Society found a multitude of studies associating drinking coffee with a lower risk of dying from all causes of death. In addition, the American Cancer Society found that coffee may lower the risk of neck, colorectal, breast, and liver cancer.2

As of 2013, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics takes the stance that coffee appears to either decrease the risk of cancer, or to have no effect on cancer risk.3 The Academy draws attention to countries that heavily drink coffee may engage in other health behaviors, such as smoking, that can increase the risk of lung cancer. Even in countries with extremely high coffee intake, research does not support a causal link between coffee or caffeine with cancer risk.3

Regina Wierzejska conducted a review of scientific data in 2015 that confirmed a lack of correlation between coffee consumption and the development of cancer.4 The review acknowledged that authors suggested positive health properties from consuming coffee which corroborates with the statement piece of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. An important limitation is noted that most studies fail to provide the type, strength of brew, and or serving size which may influence the impact coffee has on the human body.4

Take Away

Coffee is back on the menu and staying for good. Based on current evidence, consuming coffee does not appear to have a causal relationship with any form of mortality and cancer, quite the opposite, in that consuming coffee may help reduce the risk of certain cancers. Consuming coffee in moderation is recommended at a temperature of less than 149 degrees Fahrenheit so that the beverage is both enjoyable and worry free. Coffee is a commodity to be consumed without fear of causing harm to our health and bring the world together in appreciation for the delicacy that is coffee.

References:

  1. Feinstein AR, Horwitz RI, Battista RN. Coffee and pancreatic cancer. The problems of etiologic science and epidemiologic case-control research. JAMA 1981; 246(9):957-61. doi: 10.1001/jama.246.9.957.
  2. American Cancer Society. Coffee and Cancer: What the Research Really Shows. Version current 2018. Internet: https://www.cancer.org/latest-news/coffee-and-cancer-what-the-research-really-shows.html (accessed 31 March 2021).
  3. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Caffeine and Cancer. Version current 2013. Internet: https://www.oncologynutrition.org/erfc/healthy-nutrition-now/foods/caffeine-and-cancer (accessed 31 March 2021).
  4. Wierzejska R. Coffee consumption vs. cancer risk – a review of scientific data. Rocz Panstw Zakl Hig 2015; 66(4):293-8.

Links:

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7253179/
  2. https://www.cancer.org/latest-news/coffee-and-cancer-what-the-research-really-shows.html
  3. https://www.oncologynutrition.org/erfc/healthy-nutrition-now/foods/caffeine-and-cancer
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26656410/

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HAES and IE: A Student Perspective

October 12, 2020

HAES and IE are two abbreviations that, before my senior year at UGA, I had heard in classes but did not fully understand. These two abbreviations have led me to read, research, and learn about an entire new set of ideas and teachings that I greatly relate to. Part of this is due to the opportunities afforded to me by professors who have allowed me to form my own thoughts through research, discussions, and deep thinking.

Health at Every Size and Intuitive Eating are methodologies that are rapidly gaining attention in the fields of foods and nutrition. Some people fall into a category where these approaches reign supreme for counseling and educating patients or clients. In contrast, others feel that more conventional and historical models have more success and validity. Still, some practitioners and individuals believe in a middle ground of this continuum, where both teachings and practices have a healthy place. Before determining what category you fall into, it is essential to understand what the ideals of each methodology are. 

 

So what is HAES?

HAES or more formally known as Health at Every Size, is a holistic approach to health, emphasizing that health is not the absence of disease but is individual to each person. HAES and its parent organization aim to end discrimination based on body weight and size.1 HAES is a voluntary program and each provider must choose for themselves if they wish to follow its teachings and practices. I believe it is important that Nutrition and Dietetics related fields continue to teach and promote HAES. It is crucial to provide students with all of the evidence and knowledge and allow these future practitioners to make their own informed decisions on ideas they choose implement into practice. This ideology is something I continue to research, learn, and develop opinions about every day.

 

Intuitive Eating

Along with HAES, intuitive eating is another practice that has emerged with more popularity in recent years. Intuitive eating is the ideology of weight-inclusive and evidence-based knowledge that uses human instinct, emotion, and thought to base eating. This teaching method focuses on the idea of self-care and using a person’s intuition and internal cues to choose what foods they want to eat and how much of that food to eat.2 Intuitive eating removes the idea of good foods and bad foods and emphasizes respecting and working for a happy and healthy body. IE, like HAES, focuses on health as not the absence of disease but a holistic view of your body. 

 

During the Spring of 2020, I was afforded the opportunity to read “Anti-Diet: Reclaim your Time, Money, Well-Being, and Happiness Through Intuitive Eating” by Christy Harrison. During my Medical Nutrition Therapy II class with Dr. Emma Laing, we read the book and wrote short responses on our emotions and thoughts based on individual chapters. Our reading was coupled with lessons in class about different dieting and weight-based techniques. Valuable lessons included methods of interpreting BMI and the pros and cons of bariatric surgery. This class allowed us to experience both ends of the anti-diet/diet continuum-learning the different practices, techniques, and ideas of both weight-inclusive medicine and weight-based medicine. This further sparked my interest and desire to educate myself in these two related ideologies. The lessons in the book, as well as other outside sources, led me to strongly support the principles of Health at Every Size and Intuitive Eating. While I feel that I am a strong proponent of Health and Every Size and Intuitive Eating, I feel as though I settle in the middle of the continuum regarding beliefs and practices. I want to encourage, educate, and support future clients and patients to follow these teachings while emphasizing there is a place reserved for those who wish to lose weight or worry about how their weight may be affecting their health or future. 

 

Links

  1. https://www.sizediversityandhealth.org/content.asp?id=76
  2. https://www.intuitiveeating.org/definition-of-intuitive-eating/

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Protein shakes: Refueling your post-workout body

September 01, 2020

Muscle fatigue, soreness, and overall exhaustion are often experienced after exercise. What if there was a solution to combat these issues and allow your body to operate at its fullest following a workout? There is, it’s simple, and it’s right at your fingertips.

Protein shakes are a popular commodity in our society that values health and wellness. A combination of protein, carbohydrates, and vitamins, they live up to their hype. In order to get the best results, it is crucial to understand how the contents of protein shakes promote muscle recovery and why timing is a key factor.

What is glycogen?

Imagine muscles are a flashlight. A flashlight relies on batteries to function correctly, and it will continue to emit light as long as the battery has enough power. As the battery starts to die and the light begins to dim, the power source must be replaced in order to restore full function. Our muscles function similarly. They rely on glycogen as their primary source of power during exercise. Once these energy stores are depleted, muscles become fatigued. Refueling the body to promote glycogen repletion and protein synthesis is key to optimum muscle recovery.1

Carbohydrates and glycogen repletion

When glycogen stores are depleted, carbohydrates must be made available for the body to synthesize glycogen and restore muscles. Exercising results in an increased sensitivity to insulin, which allows for greater glucose uptake in muscles.1 This insulin sensitivity declines following a workout, so the timing of carbohydrate consumption is essential. Delaying carbohydrate intake has been shown to reduce muscle glycogen stores compared to immediate use.2 Further, waiting several hours after exercise to consume carbohydrates shows a 50% decrease in glycogen synthesis.1 It is recommended to refuel the body with carbohydrates within two hours of exercise for the best results.2

Protein and muscle recovery

Another contributing factor to muscle recovery is protein availability. Muscle fibers, or myofibrils, become damaged as muscles are worked. The splitting of myofibrils allows for muscle growth, but the body must have an adequate supply of protein for repair.3 Consuming protein after a workout increases muscle protein synthesis, allowing for this necessary tissue repair. Since exercise increases amino acid uptake, protein ingestion is most effective immediately following a workout. While protein plays a critical role in muscle repair, it also contributes to an increase in glycogen synthesis when ingested with carbohydrates. These two macromolecules together increase the rate of glycogen storage by about 38%.1 This evidence suggests that protein shakes containing both protein and carbohydrates are an effective way to refuel the body following a workout.

Supplying the body with essential nutrients to promote muscle recovery is paramount for improving body composition and maximizing workouts.4 Quicker repair of muscle tissues via protein supplementation can help reduce delayed onset soreness and prepare the body for the next workout.2 Like replacing a battery in a flashlight, carbohydrates in protein shakes promote glycogen synthesis that refuels muscles with the energy they need to perform.

When time is of the essence, protein shakes provide an efficient means of replenishing the body following exercise. They’re convenient, cost-effective, and they don’t have to be boring! The beauty of protein powder is that you can create a mixture that fits your taste. Blend it with water and crushed ice for a cold, refreshing smoothie, or add unsweetened coconut milk or oat milk for a satisfying thirst quencher. After your next workout, reach for a protein shake and feel confident knowing you’re recharging your body with the best fuel on the market!

References:

  1. Ivy JL. Regulation of muscle glycogen repletion, muscle protein synthesis and repair following exercise. J Sports Sci Med. 2004;3(3), 131-138. https://www.jssm.org/hf.php?id=jssm-03-131.xml#
  2. Ivy JL, Katz AL, Cutler CL, Sherman WM, Coyle EF. Muscle glycogen synthesis after exercise: effect of time of carbohydrate ingestion. J Appl Physiol. 1988 Apr 1;64(4), 1480-1485. doi: 10.1152/jappl.1988.64.4.1480
  3. Pearson AM. Muscle growth and exercise. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 1990;29(3), 167-196. doi: 10.1080/10408399009527522
  4. Kerksick CM, Arent S, Schoenfeld BJ, et al. International society of sports nutrition position stand: nutrient timing. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2017 Aug 29;14(1). doi: 10.1186/s12970-017-0189-4

Links:

  1. https://www.jssm.org/hf.php?id=jssm-03-131.xml
  2. https://journals.physiology.org/doi/pdf/10.1152/jappl.1988.64.4.1480
  3. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10408399009527522
  4. https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12970-017-0189-4

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You are NOT what you eat: Exploring Intuitive Eating’s gentle nutrition principle

September 01, 2020

There is far more to health than what we weigh, yet we live in a society that ties the way we look, what we eat, and even what exercise challenges we do, to moral virtue. The popular phrase, “You are what you eat,” is often used to motivate people to healthfully fuel from the inside to produce a healthy appearance on the outside. This concept is not only short-sighted, but it can be potentially harmful. The insinuation with this phrase and others like it, is that you are not worthy if you do not eat a “clean” enough diet or fit a thin ideal standard of beauty. What if we all ate the same exact meals and snacks and exercised the same amount, would all of our bodies look the same? No, of course not.

Despite the personal responsibility that is often expected of people to be in charge of their body size, weight is actually not something many of us can control. Even if pursuing weight loss to improve health elicits long-term successes for some individuals, the truth is that many are unable to maintain this. In fact, repeated cycles of weight loss and regain, reduced self-esteem, disordered eating behaviors, and diagnosed eating disorders can also develop as a result of dieting, and people who fall into the pattern of weight cycling might end up gaining more weight than if they have never dieted at all. Feelings of inadequacy can perpetuate negative body image and the desire to diet restrictively or exercise punitively.

Dieting and exercising to the extreme and below basal energy needs, or even spending much of the day thinking about food, weight and body image, are never the answer to achieving optimal health. What if we took the focus off weight or outward appearance in determining a person’s health or moral virtue? What if we were able to eat when we were hungry and stop eating when we were full? One way to explore these concepts is through Intuitive Eating, which “cultivates a healthy relationship with food, mind, and body.” In this post, I list the 10 principles of Intuitive Eating with brief summaries adapted from the authors, Tribole and Resch (see the full list at this link), and I elaborate a bit on principle #10 – Honor your health with gentle nutrition.

  1. Reject the Diet Mentality

Throw out the diet books and magazine articles that offer you the false hope of losing weight quickly, easily, and permanently. Get angry at diet culture that promotes weight loss and the lies that have led you to feel as if you were a failure every time a new diet stopped working and you gained back all of the weight.

  1. Honor Your Hunger

Keep your body biologically fed with adequate energy and carbohydrates. Otherwise you can trigger a primal drive to overeat. Learning to honor this first biological signal sets the stage for rebuilding trust in yourself and in food.

  1. Make Peace with Food

Give yourself unconditional permission to eat. If you tell yourself that you can’t or shouldn’t have a particular food, it can lead to intense feelings of deprivation that build into uncontrollable cravings and, often, bingeing.

  1. Challenge the Food Police

Scream a loud no to thoughts in your head that declare you’re “good” for eating minimal calories or “bad” because you ate a piece of chocolate cake. The food police monitor the unreasonable rules that diet culture has created.          

  1. Discover the Satisfaction Factor

When you eat what you really want, in an environment that is inviting, the pleasure you derive will be a powerful force in helping you feel satisfied and content. By providing this experience for yourself, you will find that it takes just the right amount of food for you to decide you’ve had “enough.” 

  1. Feel Your Fullness

Listen for the body signals that tell you that you are no longer hungry. Observe the signs that show that you’re comfortably full. Pause in the middle of eating and ask yourself how the food tastes, and what your current hunger level is. 

  1. Cope with Your Emotions with Kindness

Anxiety, loneliness, boredom, and anger are emotions we all experience throughout life. Food won’t fix any of these feelings. It may comfort for the short term, distract from the pain, or even numb you. But you’ll ultimately have to deal with the source of the emotion.

  1. Respect Your Body

Just as a person with a shoe size of eight would not expect to realistically squeeze into a size six, it is equally futile (and uncomfortable) to have a similar expectation about body size. But mostly, respect your body so you can feel better about who you are. All bodies deserve dignity.

  1. Movement—Feel the Difference

Shift your focus to how it feels to move your body, rather than the calorie-burning effect of exercise. If you focus on how you feel from working out, such as energized, it can make the difference between rolling out of bed for a brisk morning walk or hitting the snooze alarm.

   10. Honor Your Health—Gentle Nutrition

Make food choices that honor your health and taste buds while making you feel good. Remember that you don’t have to eat perfectly to be healthy. You will not suddenly get a nutrient deficiency or become unhealthy, from one snack, one meal, or one day of eating.

The authors of Intuitive Eating have placed “honoring your health with gentle nutrition” as the 10th and final principle in their list – and they did this for good reason. It is essential to heal your relationship with food first before you’re ready to delve into making food choices that promote health according to national recommendations. Appreciating that the concept of “health” includes mental health as well as other aspects beyond simply body size, it makes sense that a positive relationship with food can have a positive impact on life.

While nutrition is of course an aspect that is important to health, food brings us together in ways that are also important to our wellbeing, such as connection, culture, satisfaction, and joy. Viewing food as a source of both pleasure and nourishment is a key part of the realization that health does not have to be so closely connected to what you eat. When you allow a wide variety of foods during meal times without strict rules attached, you have the chance to experience your own hunger and fullness cues.

Another aspect of eating intuitively involves paying attention to how a specific meal or snack impacts you physically, beyond satisfying your cravings. Taking note of how these foods or meals make you feel, in particular, if you feel nourished and comfortable after eating them, is a cornerstone of honoring your health with gentle nutrition. Though intuitive eating offers the enthralling notion that “no foods are off-limits” during meals and snacks, the process of discovering or re-discovering your natural hunger and fullness cues takes patience and time. As with any facet of nutrition, practicing gentle nutrition is not a one-size-fits-all approach, and its meaning may shift throughout various stages of your life. Tribole states in a blog post, that “Our bodies are dynamic and ever-changing: be patient & approach this practice with curiosity & compassion.”

If you think you might be ready to try intuitive eating and/or practice gentle nutrition, there are several paths to getting started. First, recognize that an overhaul in a lifetime of thoughts and behaviors surrounding dieting and body acceptance is not going to happen overnight. Preparing to practice gentle nutrition might also mean sitting with a bit of discomfort around your own fat phobic thoughts and rhetoric. For example, how likely are you to make a casual comment about someone’s weight loss, even if you phrase this as a compliment couched as a concern for health? Doing this might seem like the kind thing to do among friends or family members, but it actually perpetuates the idea that thinner bodies are more disciplined, healthier and more worthy of attention, and we know that this is untrue.

Reflecting on my own education and social interactions growing up, these pivotal times in my life were definitely steeped in diet culture. In my dietetics education, for instance, we were instructed to help people with obesity lose weight. I have since learned that this is not so simple nor is it a realistic or helpful health goal for many. Fat phobia and weight stigma can lead to stress, higher risks for chronic disease, and avoidance of healthcare. I often ask my students who are studying to become RDNs, PAs, and MDs, how useful they will feel as a practitioner if their patients avoid coming to their office because they fear being shamed due to their weight? For the many students who enter the field of nutrition to do their part in combating the obesity epidemic, just as I did, it’s a struggle for them to have a definitive answer to this question.

I am encouraged that the field is evolving to a place where weight-inclusive approaches to optimize health, including Intuitive Eating, are being explored. It is my hope that the message being taught to both students and the public shifts away from losing weight and toward developing eating and activity habits that are enjoyable and best support overall health for those who are able. In truth, I would like to see the phrase, “You are what you eat,” disappear. Embracing different body sizes and shapes and celebrating what they can do should be the priority, instead of judging them based on the societal virtue they don’t measure up to. Likewise, appreciating that anyone can choose to pursue health if they desire, regardless of the number on the scale or their body shape or size, would go a long way … as long as you consider their socioeconomic status, food insecurity, and any limitations to resources and activities.

Lastly, it’s important to eliminate any external messages that make you feel shame or guilt about how your body looks. Since unrealistic body ideals can exaggerate a negative body image, fill your newsfeed with body-positive images that encourage self-compassion and provide a space that is inclusive of the many ways we can approach health.

If you have read the 4th edition of Intuitive Eating, perused the website, and are still interested in learning more, I recommend checking out podcasts, books, blogs, and social media support groups created by RDNs and therapists, such as those listed below:

If you would like to personally seek guidance from an RDN, suggested providers are listed on the Intuitive Eating website and also on Harrison’s website. If you are struggling with an eating disorder or are in the early stages of recovery, be sure to talk with your healthcare provider before embarking on Intuitive Eating. It’s possible that your hunger and fullness cues can be altered or absent.

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Emma Laing, PhD, RDN, LD is Clinical Associate Professor and Director of Dietetics at the University of Georgia. Her area of research encompasses imaging techniques for assessment of bone and body composition and employing dietary and physical activity interventions to reduce the risk of chronic disease, including osteoporosis. She is also interested in determining the efficacy of non-diet approaches to improve health and well-being. Her courses likewise challenge diet culture and incorporate the deleterious effects of weight stigma on health. https://www.fcs.uga.edu/people/bio/emma-laing

This post was originally published on In Defense of Processed Food (Link: https://processedfoodsite.com/2020/08/25/you-are-not-what-you-eat-exploring-intuitive-eatings-gentle-nutrition-principle-by-emma-liang/)

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