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Kathleen Zelman - Diet, Nutrition, Healthy Eating


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Kathleen Zelman

Nutrition, Diet, Healthy Eating

Losing Weight Just Got a Little Easier

Posted by Kathleen Zelman – Sept. 28, 2012

This week, the USDA announced a new feature that will help dieters lose weight. Now you can set personal calorie goals tailored to meet your specific needs for weight loss and good health.

How do you figure out the best calorie goals for you? Meet with a registered dietitian or health care provider for an individualized assessment of your needs. Another option, go to and after inputting your height, weight, age and physical activity level, the system will generate a recommended calorie level.

The new Super Tracker will allow you to tailor your diet and exercise routine to match the calorie target. To access this new feature, go to SuperTracker and click on My Features and select My Top 5 Goals.

Spend some time on the My Plate website for a wealth of useful information that can help you plan meals, cut calories, and find lots of great nutrition guidance.

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Calcium Supplements Still a Good Idea

Posted by Kathleen Zelman – Sept. 21, 2012

A recent study challenged the long held theory that supplements of calcium can fill in the nutritional gaps in our diets.

Most nutrition experts advocate 'food first' because of the wealth of nutrients, phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals that are found in foods. But when your diet is shy of certain nutrients, like calcium, because you don't tolerate dairy or personal preferences, vitamin and mineral supplements can fill in the void.

A panel of calcium experts at the American Society of Nutrition meeting in June explored the benefits and risks of calcium supplementation. The panelists reiterated the strong scientific evidence supporting the benefits of calcium in promoting bone health and the safety assurance of taking calcium supplements.

If you don't get enough calcium in your diet, consider taking a daily supplement to keep your bones strong.

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Unscrambling Fat Facts Webinar Questions

Posted by Kathleen Zelman – Sept. 15, 2012

We were delighted that so many of you took time out of your busy schedules to join us and engage in the Unscrambling Fat Facts webinar. Hopefully you were inspired with tips and ideas to help improve the fat content of your diet.

Mark your calendars and register today for my next webinar Anti Cancer Diet: Eating Smart to Prevent Cancer on Oct. 16. Research shows that there are foods that can help reduce the risk of cancer. And beyond health-promoting foods, not smoking, being at a healthy weight and getting regular physical activity are also important strategies to prevent cancer. About one-third of all cancer deaths in the U.S. are linked to diet and physical activity. This webinar will review the American Cancer Society guidelines and teach you how simple lifestyle changes can reduce the risk of cancer.

Now for your fat related questions:

  • Fish oil pills: The recent study suggests that omega 3 fatty acid fish oil supplements may not be as cardio-protective as eating fish. As a dietitian, I always say food first and I would encourage everyone to follow the advice of the American Heart Association and eat fatty fish twice weekly. Fish oil tablets do not count as a fat serving but do provide omega 3 fatty acids.
  • Coconut oil: Lots of questions about the healthfulness of this oil. Even though it is oil, it is still the most saturated of all fats. It is not better than liquid vegetable oils but can be a substitute for saturated fats like butter.
  • Eggs and cholesterol: The AHA says an egg a day is OK if you are a healthy adult but if you have elevated cholesterol, check with your physician on how many eggs a week are reasonable with your condition.
  • Fats and weight loss: Everyone needs fat for good health so you cannot eliminate fats to shave calories for weight loss. Limit fats in your diet and always try to choose the healthiest fats such as vegetable oils, nuts and avocados. The amount of fat to include each day depends on your total calories. Check for a specific amount.
  • Best nuts: All nuts provide a good source of protein, fiber and other nutrients. Almonds are a great source of vitamin E whereas walnuts provide the plant version of omega 3 fatty acids. Eat a variety of nuts or choose your favorites and remember to keep a lid on the portion size.
  • Fatty fish: All fish are good for you so eat whichever types you prefer but the ones that contain the most omega 3 fatty acids are: salmon, herring, anchovies, whitefish, sablefish, tuna, halibut and trout.
  • Lowering triglycerides: The fats that can help lower triglycerides are the good ones – monounsaturated and polyunsaturated – that are in vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, avocados and fish.
  • Walnut, grape seed and peanut oils: These oils were not on the slide of healthy oils but they absolutely are good-for-you. Rapeseed is a type of canola oil.
  • Fat free milk: All the fat is removed so this milk does not contain fats.
  • Sizzling Salmon recipe: Give it a try; it is one of my all time favorites:
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Easy Tips To Eat More Veggies

Posted by Kathleen Zelman – Sept. 7, 2012

Make no mistake, fruits and vegetables are among the healthiest foods on the planet.

They are Mother Nature's way of helping you eat right. Loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants and very low in calories – they are a dieter's delight.

But most of us don't eat enough of them.

My tips will help you work more veggies into your diet so you will fill up on healthy foods without expanding your waistline:

  • Roast vegetables for rich flavor that caramelizes the natural sugars.
  • Make a pot of soup and load it with veggies.
  • Pureed vegetables take on a different flavor that can be jazzed up with seasonings.
  • Roast a sweet potato and top it with a sprinkle of cinnamon for a delicious side dish.
  • Make a green salad every night –- vary the greens and top with shredded carrots, broccoli slaw, jicama or any crunchy vegetable and top it with a light vinaigrette.
  • Toss veggies into your omelet to squeeze in vegetables at breakfast.
  • Drink low sodium tomato juice to tide you over between meals, it is satisfying and will fill you up.
  • Change the way you chop veggies – try a slice, dice or julienne to add variety to your soups, salads and side dishes.
  • Snack on cold crunchy veggies and hummus.
  • Layer spinach, sprouts or thinly sliced cucumber on your sandwiches or wraps.
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Go Nuts!

Posted by Kathleen Zelman – Aug. 30, 2012

Most people think nuts are unhealthy because they contain fat. Nothing could be further from the truth. Nuts are super nutritious. Nuts are a great source of protein, fiber and healthy fat – not saturated fat that can increase heart disease risk. And each type of nut offers additional nutrients – for example walnuts are a rich source of plant based omega 3 fatty acids and almonds are rich in vitamin E.

Recent research shows that eating two one-ounce servings of almonds as a daily snack along with a reduced calorie diet led to weight loss and improved cardiovascular risk factors.

Another recent study on almonds suggests that the 100 calorie pack of almonds has about 20 percent fewer calories because the fat in almonds is not absorbed as easily as the fat in other foods.

The key to enjoying nuts is to keep the portions small so the fiber and protein can help fill you up without filling you out.

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ABCs of Childhood Nutrition Webinar Questions Answered

Posted by Kathleen Zelman – Aug. 22, 2012

We were delighted that so many of you took time out of your busy schedules to join us and engage in ABCs of Childhood Nutrition and Physical Activity: Raising Happy, Healthy Eaters webinar and hopefully you were inspired with tips and ideas to help improve your child's diet.

Mark your calendars for my next webinar Unscrambling Fat Facts on Sept. 11. Most people are confused when it comes to the role of fats and cholesterol and their role in heart disease, obesity, diabetes and good health. Reading labels, deciphering fat terminology and making healthy fat choices can be challenging. Join us for this enlightening webinar that promises to put an end to the confusion about saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, omega 3 fatty acids, good and bad fats. You will learn about the healthiest fats, where to find them and how to use them in your family meals.

Now for your questions:

  • Teens obsessed with food and 'eat like a horse': My first question is whether the teens are at a healthy weight. If so, they may need to eat a large quantity of food to satisfy their energy and growth requirements. Some overweight teens have a one track mind and the best defense is to stock the kitchen with mostly healthy food and help them develop activities that take time away from food.
  • Terrible Two's: Lots of questions about getting 2 year olds to sit, eat and not spit out food. For the veggie haters, substitute fruit and sweet veggies and sneak purees and grated veggies into their meals. Create rituals of sitting in their chair, eating meals and if they refuse to eat after a reasonable time, let them go from the table but try not to let it interfere with your meal. Try moving them from the table into a playpen or controlled area until you are finished with dinner. They may soon learn it is more enjoyable to sit at the table.
  • Advancing texture: Most babies start solids with iron fortified cereals about six months or when they can sit up and accept the spoon. From that point, you slowly introduce pureed foods. At about a year when teeth start erupting, they can handle more texture. Let your child be the judge but you need to encourage more texture as they get older.
  • Vitamins: Most physicians recommend vitamins early in life so it is not too soon to fill in the nutritional gaps of your young child with a once daily multivitamin with minerals.
  • Dairy versus alternative milks: Cow's milk has one of the best nutrient profiles of any milk but if you prefer, choose a milk that is fortified with calcium and vitamin D.
  • Sensitive stomach: Bland foods are best for sensitive stomachs. Breakfast ideas: try a smoothie made with banana and yogurt, French toast, pancakes, plain cereal or yogurt with berries.
  • Fruit for dinner: Unfortunately, fruit is not enough and while it may substitute for veggies on occasion, your child needs protein. Try pairing the fruit with yogurt, tofu, peanut butter or an egg.
  • BMI: Depending on the size of the child, BMIs are used but most pediatricians track growth on a growth curve which is a good barometer of how the child is growing and if they are gaining too much weight.
  • Calories needs: check here to find your child's calorie and nutrient needs:
  • High fructose corn syrup and corn syrup: These sugars are virtually the same.
  • Transition off the bottle: Using sippy cups with lids is usually the best way to help babies go from bottle to cup, just make sure you offer the sippy cup while sitting upright.
  • Fat in children's diets: At about 1-2 years of age, you should start reducing the fat in milk from whole milk to 2% then 1%. Kids and adults need fat but most of us get too much. If low fat cheese is not well received, use smaller amounts of regular cheese.
  • Sugar in milk: The sugar in milk is a naturally occurring sugar called lactose which is not sweet. Milk is super healthy and there is no need for concern about the sugar content because it is not table sugar or the kind of sugar that can lead to overweight.
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Don't Be Afraid of Eggs

Posted by Kathleen Zelman – Aug. 17, 2012

A recent study vilified egg yolks as a contributor to heart disease for those at risk. But don't give up those super nutritious eggs quite so fast.

A decade of research has shown that it is the saturated fat, not the dietary cholesterol, which has the most impact on blood cholesterol. The study was published in Atherosclerosis and based on epidemiologic data which is very different from the gold standard clinical trial. Even the researchers agree that their hypothesis needs to be tested with more details about total diet, exercise and more.

Eggs are a powerhouse of good nutrition including protein, vitamins and minerals. Not only are they nutritious but affordable and adaptable for any meal and any age group. Follow the guidance of the American Heart Association that says an egg a day is OK for healthy people.

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Understanding Healthy Fats

Posted by Kathleen Zelman – Aug. 7, 2012

Fats have gotten a bad reputation. Most people think fat makes you fat. Granted, we eat too much fat and that indeed has increased our girth and risk for heart disease. But fats are not the only reason we are in the midst of an obesity crisis. Eating too much in general and not getting enough physical activity is the real obesity culprit.

There is a unique difference between healthy fats and the not-so-healthy fats.

Healthy fats are good for you and the type you should eat most of the time. Healthy fats are found in fatty fish like salmon along with the cardio-protective omega 3 fatty acids. You can also find healthy fats in vegetable sources like olive oil, canola oil, vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, and avocados. These types of fats are unsaturated and good for you.

The less healthy fats are trans and saturated fats. Try to totally remove trans fats (from fried and processed foods) from your diet – look for the terms hydrogenated or partially hyrdrogenated. Saturated fats should be kept to 7-10% of calories and are found in full fat dairy, butter, lard, coconut oil and animal fats. Limit the not-so-healthy fats to reduce your risk of heart disease.

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Should You Go Gluten Free?

Posted by Kathleen Zelman – Aug. 3, 2012

A few Olympic athletes have removed gluten from their diets in hopes of accomplishing greater physical ability. But does a gluten-free diet really make the winning difference?

Unless you are sensitive to gluten or have celiac sprue, a condition that requires a gluten free diet, there is no known benefit to eliminating gluten from your diet.

For many people, gluten free diets are a trend rather than a treatment according to a recent study in the American Journal of Gastroenterology. The study estimates that 1.8 million Americans have celiac disease and another 1.6 million follow gluten free diets. Study researchers estimate that 96% of people on gluten free diets may not need them.

If you pull out gluten in your diet, one benefit may be eating more fruits, vegetables and less processed food but you may also consume less iron and B vitamins.

Before you swear off gluten, check with your doctor and don't expect a diet without gluten to bring home the gold.

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Write it down to lose more pounds!

Posted by Kathleen Zelman – July 27, 2012

You have heard it before; write it down if you want to lose pounds.

Studies have shown that dieters who keep food diaries or use any kind of tracking system for their food intake are more successful at weight loss compared to those who don't.

The simple act of writing down everything you eat is a means of increasing accountability and awareness of what you are eating. So often, we eat in front of the pantry, while watching television or any number of activities when we are not mindful of what or how much we are eating. And somehow those calories don't get factored into satisfying hunger or our daily calorie limit.

When you write it down, it makes you think twice before you dive into that chocolate cake.

Start today, use a notebook or online tracker to record everything you eat and drink and let the art of mindful eating begin. Good luck.

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New FDA Approved Diet Drugs

Posted by Kathleen Zelman – July 19, 2012

Two new prescription weight loss drugs have recently been approved by the FDA. Qsymia and Belviq are the new drugs that should be available within the next 6-9 months.

Qsymia is a combination of two approved drugs. One suppresses the appetite by releasing the brain chemical norepinephrine which in turn increases the appetite-controlling hormone leptin. The other drug increases feelings of fullness.

Belviq enhances weight loss by increasing serotonin, a brain messenger that helps dieters eat less food and feel fuller after a smaller meal.

Guidelines for these new drugs are similar: having a body mass index of 30 or greater or 27 with related health conditions such as diabetes, hypertension or high cholesterol.

While both of these drugs will aid in combatting the obesity epidemic, they are not a panacea for weight loss and still require eating a healthy diet and physical activity. The weight loss for both drugs was modest and there are potential side effects for each drug.

While you wait for these drugs to come to market, keep up your active lifestyle and reduced calorie diet and whittle your waistline 1-2 pounds each week for lasting weight loss that doesn't require a prescription.

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Walk Off Those Pounds Blog Questions

Posted by Kathleen Zelman – July 13, 2012

We were delighted that so many of you took time out of your busy schedules to join us and engage in Walk Off Those Extra Pounds webinar. Hopefully you were inspired to lace up your sneakers and go out for a walk.

Mark your calendars and register today for my next webinar ABCs of Childhood Nutrition and Physical Activity: Raising Happy, Healthy Eaters on Aug. 21. Getting kids to enjoy and embrace a healthy diet and regular physical fitness can be a real challenge for parents. Join us for this informative webinar that will give you tips and tricks to help your kids make healthier food choices and develop good eating habits that can last a lifetime. We will also discuss the secret to finding enjoyable physical activities for a lasting commitment to health and wellness.

Now for your questions:

  • Best Pedometers: Lots of questions about pedometers. I use a very basic, nonbranded one that was a free give away. Look for one that is a single button that resets the step count and is easy to operate. Most are about 2 inches by 1.5 inches and weigh less than an ounce. According to Consumer Search, the most popular basic pedometer that only counts steps is the Yamaz Digi-Walker SW200 (about $20).
  • Heart Rate: To determine if your heart rate is in the correct training zone, subtract your age from 220. Heart rate training indicates if your aerobic activity is too easy, just right or too exhaustive. Most people prefer to use the talk method – if you are in the right zone, you are able to talk but only for brief sentences. The key to making progress is to elevate your heart rate into the correct training zone, so your effort matches your goals.
  • Hitting a Plateau: When you are losing weight, it is not unusual to get stuck on a plateau. This happens because your body adjusts to the lower calorie intake and the reduced body weight. To get off the plateau and continue losing weight you need to make adjustments by increasing the intensity, incorporating intervals or switching up your physical activity routine.
  • Good Walking Shoe: Absolutely necessary to invest in a pair of walking shoes that have a sturdy sole and fit properly. The latest shape up shoes are apparently more gimmick than helpful in providing anything extra beyond good walking shoes.
  • Medical Issues: If you have arthritis, planter fasciitis or back pain, please check with your healthcare provider for advice on walking and exercise.
  • Drink Water: Bringing water with you while you walk is an excellent idea to help keep you hydrated.
  • Too Tired to Exercise: If you are exhausted at the end of the day, try getting up a little earlier and meet a friend for a morning walk. Another option, be more active during the day by climbing stairs, taking the long way around the office, parking your car further, walk during your lunch hour or conduct walking meetings.
  • Timing of Meals and Walking: Ideally, you should have something light to eat before heading out for your walk, especially in the morning when your tank is on empty. A yogurt, bowl of cereal, banana and peanuts, egg and whole grain toast are a few good examples.
  • Incline on Treadmill: A great way to add intensity to your workout is to increase the incline on your treadmill.
  • Rate of Weight Loss: After the initial weight loss, aim for 1-2 pounds per week. This amount is slow and steady and usually the result of behavior and lifestyle changes which will prevent the weight from returning and avoid the yo-yo dieting cycle.
  • Muscle Soreness: When you push yourself too hard you may find that muscle soreness limits your ability to exercise daily. It is better to start slowly and gradually work your way toward more vigorous exercise.
  • Other Great Workouts: Hula hoop, jump roping and water aerobics can all be vigorous activities, depending on how long you do them and the intensity. If you are out of breath and sustain it for 20-30 minutes, chances are you are in the right zone.
  • Boosting Your Workout: Using poles or carrying weights will increase your intensity and boost your workout.
  • Race Walking: It varies but some race walkers can walk 5-6 miles per hour.
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Healthy Barbeques

Posted by Kathleen Zelman – July 3, 2012

It is the season for barbecues, picnics and al fresco dining but you don't have to let these outdoor meals sabotage your healthy diet. Summer staples usually include hot dogs, hamburgers, fried chicken, potato salad, chips and sweetened beverages. With a few simple swaps, you can have enjoy a delicious barbeque without the extra fat, sugar, sodium and calories.

Start by grilling vegetables – a little olive oil and a few minutes on the grill and veggies become caramelized and sweet – even kids love them. Grilled corn is the perfect complement to any barbeque and a great substitute for mayo-based salads.

Instead of high fat meats, think lean and mean. Boneless chicken breasts, turkey or lean beef burgers, and pork tenderloin are just a few of the many healthier options that are portable and taste great.

And when it comes to dessert, think fruit. Nothing tastes better on a sunny afternoon than a cold slice of watermelon that satisfies the sweet tooth and helps you stay hydrated.

Keep you and your guests well hydrated with jazzed up fruit waters such as: blackberries and sage, pineapple and mint, watermelon and rosemary, raspberry and lime or all citrus.

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