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Follow The Nurse Nutritionist

Q: Any suggestions for someone who doesn't like to eat breakfast?

Yes, Metagenics Ultra Meal for Daily Support.  It's a quick nutritious shake that can be used as a meal replacement or snack.  It contains a blend of carbohydrates, protein, and fats, phytonutrients, and essential vitamins and minerals. It is also gluten free!  Not everyone has time to prepare breakfast in the morning and some fast, microwave options are just not healthy. With 8 grams of protein the Ultra Meal for Daily Support is a perfect way to kick start your morning.


Q: Is my orange juice healthier than a Coke?

Yes, but only barely! Are you surprised? You shouldn’t be, and this is why. Twelve ounces of orange     juice has a whopping 37 grams of sugar or almost 10 teaspoons! The same amount of Coca-Cola has almost the same amount of sugar at 39 grams. Although orange juice has nutrients that coke doesn’t such as vitamin c and potassium, in my opinion it is not a healthy food. One reason is because it has no fiber. Fiber is extremely important in that it slows down the absorption of sugar. A quick release of sugar in the blood stream is implicated in a myriad of health concerns including weight gain, insulin resistance, and diabetes. In Robert Lustig’s new book, Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity, and Disease, he documents the connection between sugar and high fructose corn syrup and  obesity and lifestyle diseases that have become epidemic in the last 30 years.   Instead of drinking orange juice, eat an orange. Drink water; it is what man is designed to drink, it is free, and it is readily available


Q: Can you give suggestions for a good nights sleep?

  •     Do not consume caffeinated beverages after 4pm
  •     Consume little or no alcohol before bedtime (you may fall asleep easier but you won’t stay asleep)
  •     Don’t use your bed to do work or for watching television
  •     Go to bed and wake up the same time daily
  •     Take a hot bath before bed
  •     Keep your room cool
  •     Don’t sleep with your pets (sorry)
  •     If you wake up frequently to urinate, do not drink fluids near bedtime
  •     If your partner snores, invest in earplugs or invest in a sound generator (white noise)
  •     Keep the bedroom clock out of arm’s reach or turn it away from you (frequently watching the clock aggravates sleep problems)
  •     Have a small snack before bed if necessary so you don’t go to bed hungry (it is harder to stay in the restorative REM sleep if you are hungry)
  •     Exercising before bed seems to negatively influence the ability to fall asleep for some

There are a number of natural sleep remedies that have been shown to be effective for some people:

  •     Theanine (an amino acid)
  •     Melatonin (a naturally occurring hormone, the precursor to serotonin)
  •     Valerian root
  •     Passionflower
  •     Magnesium
  •     5-HTP

If you are interested in more information on these natural sleep remedies, I will be happy to answer any further questions.


Q: Why is breakfast the most important meal of the day?

Why is it important to eat breakfast? Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day for a number of reasons. You have gone without food all night and breakfast is exactly what the name implies, breaking your fast. After 8 or more hours, your body and mind need to recharge and the only way to do this is with food. Without nourishment your ability to concentrate diminishes. You also don’t have the ability to sustain a very high energy level. In addition, research and my own experience has shown that skipping breakfast leads to weight gain.

Breakfast Dos and Don’ts: Here’s the rub. It’s not just about eating something, anything, shortly after you wake up. It’s about eating the right things. Love your bagels and muffins? Your body and brain don’t. It’s better than nothing, but it’ll hold you over for minutes instead of hours and will have you reaching for a mid-morning doughnut faster than you can come up with an excuse for being late. Stock up on the following for breaking your fast instead: real fruit (not fruit juice), oatmeal, nuts, cheese, low fat yogurt, low fat cottage cheese, eggs. You can pair any of these things together for a breakfast that works and prevents all of the previously outlined issues. Make a breakfast burrito with eggs and a wheat tortilla. Hard boiled eggs and an apple are also a good combo. Low fat cottage cheese with fruit on top is delicious. But resist the urge to buy cottage cheese packaged with syrupy fruit toppings; they’re loaded with extra sugar.


Q: Why do you always advise your patients to avoid the fat-free, lite, and no-fat products?

This is a great question because dietary fat has a big image problem. Fat in foods has long been equated with increased calories which then translates to added weight. Unfortunately this is wrong. We NEED fats, but the right kinds of fats. So it’s important to remember, not all fats are the same. One reason for fat getting such a bad rap is because almost all the fat we eat is in less-than-healthy pre-packaged and processed foods, donuts, and French fries. The fats used in these products are a type of fat called the Omega-6 fats. These fats are used because they don’t go rancid (which is good) but on the downside they cause inflammation in our bodies. These are the fats we think of when we think of increased cholesterol and triglycerides as well as cardiovascular disease.

There is another group of fats that are healthy. Not only do they decrease inflammation in the body but they are healthy in many other ways as well called the Omega-3 fats. These fats are important in order to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins: A, D, E, and K. The body needs to bind these vitamins to a fat to be absorbed. If fats aren’t available, these vitamins can’t be absorbed properly.

Fats also take longer to be digested. In another words, you feel full longer. One reason people complain to me about losing weight is being hungry. With fats in the diet, you stay satisfied longer and hopefully snack less.

The biggest issue I have with “lite” products is when fat is removed something has to be added to the food or it will taste like cardboard! The CDC shows that Americans consumed a lower percentage of calories from fat in 2000 than they did in 1971, but the total number of calories has increased by an average of between 300 -500 per day! The reason for this is manufacturers replaced the fat in foods with sugar. Look at the label of any lite, no-fat, or fat-free food. The ingredient list will have added sugars and often chemicals. Remember sugar and its disastrous effects on our insulin levels is what is making us fat not eating too much fat.

Remember the key to fats is to watch your portion size and not the fat-free, lite, or low-fat version. In moderation, fat is one of your best food friends. Good fats include: Olive oil, coconut oil, sunflower, sesame, and pumpkin seeds, walnuts, almonds, flaxseed, salmon, nut butters, and avocado.


Q: Help, I'm feeling bloated!

When you’re feeling puffy and bloated, an excellent way to flush out your system is by consuming foods high in water concentration such as watermelon, cucumber, and celery. Although we need sodium to survive, we often eat too much of it, and our bodies retain water to dilute our blood down to a sodium concentration it can handle. Eating produce with a high water concentration helps the dilution process, so your body can excrete excess sodium and water. Flushing your system by drinking lots of water is also important.

Bloating may also be a sign that your intestines are out of whack. If you’re irregular or experience gas right after eating, a digestive enzyme or papaya may help. Papaya contains the enzyme papain, which helps to break down protein. The fiber in papaya may also help push food through the intestines. Another great source of fiber is psyllium. Try 1-2 tablespoons mixed quickly in 8 ounces of water. This will add about 9 grams of fiber to your diet. Aim for about 25-30 grams of fiber a day to help keep your intestines happy and regular.