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Kathleen Zelman


Contributing Experts

Kathleen Zelman

Nutrition, Diet, Healthy Eating

Make Your New Year's Resolutions Stick

Posted by Kathleen Zelman – Dec. 28, 2012

Year after year we all do it - make resolutions to eat healthier, lose weight, exercise more, quit smoking, watch less television and so on. But sometime in late January most of the well-intentioned resolutions become a distant memory.

So how can you make this year different?

John Norcross, professor of psychology at the University of Scranton and a leading expert in behavior change suggests the first step is believing that you can do it. You need to have confidence that you will succeed and secondly, your resolution must be realistic and sustainable.

Make your resolutions realistic and you will have a better chance of achieving your goals. Realistic means they are based on what you know you can accomplish and are very detailed. For example, instead of vowing to eat a healthier diet, a more realistic goal might be to eat 3 servings of vegetables each day. The more specific the goal, the more likely you are to be successful.

You have a few days to think through your wish list of healthier behaviors, define them in detail and be ready to live them daily come New Year's day.

Best wishes to you and your family for a healthy, happy New Year. For more helpful diet tips, watch my Best Weight Loss Tips Ever webinar.

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Holiday Social Weight Maintenance

Posted by Kathleen Zelman – Dec. 14, 2012

We were delighted that so many of you took time out of your busy holiday schedules to join us and engage in "Holiday Social Weight Maintenance" webinar and hopefully you were inspired with tips and ideas to help get you through the holiday season without packing on a pound.

You won't want to miss my next webinar on Best Weight Loss Tips Ever. Start your year off right with these tips that will help you chisel your waistline and achieve your weight loss goals in 2013.

Luckily, many of your questions were answered during the webinar so I only have a few left to answer.

Now for your questions:

When adding vigorous exercise, what do you think about muscle weight vs fat weight? Is there another way to measure success if I'm building muscle while trying to lose fat?

When you exercise vigorously, including strength training, and eat a healthy diet, you will burn fat and lose weight. In the process, you can add weight because your body is developing more muscle. Using the scale is not always the best way to measure progress. Use a soft tape measure around your waist, hips and thighs to see how your body is changing in shape. You can also have your percent of body fat analyzed to demonstrate the effectiveness of your workouts.

You will also be able to tell that your clothes fit differently; you have more energy and stamina. The benefits of working out go way beyond the numbers on the scale. Keep in mind muscle is the engine in your body and as you increase it, your metabolic rate increases and burns more calories.

I'm in menopause and finding it very difficult to lose weight. How long should I work out to have an effect on my weight?

Menopause is a combination of age and hormonal shifts that cause many women to gain weight. In order to lose weight, you need to change your routine. Try interval training – while out walking do a minute or two of speed walking then return to your walking pace. You need to push your body and get into the aerobic zone to burn fat. Most women need about an hour to work out hard enough to result in weight loss.

You can also trim calories from your diet. Pass on the glass of wine or dessert and eat more filling foods like fruits, veggies and whole grains. The combination of cutting calories and aerobic exercise along with strength training is the winning ticket for weight loss.

Can you recommend ways to exercise for someone who works 10 hour days with a 2 hour commute and only 30 minutes for lunch? Are there things to do in the automobile or at your desk?

There are lots of things you can do to at your desk and in the car. Isometric exercises where you hold in your stomach works well in the car. At your desk, use a resistance band or light weights to use while on hands-free phone calls. Sitting on a stability ball instead of a chair engages your core and uses muscles. Whenever you can, stand up during conference calls, plan walking meetings and try to be active at least once per hour even if taking the long way to the restroom. Park your car in the outer parking lot, take the stairs and do your best to work physical activity into your day at every opportunity.

Good resource for more information: is a great resource to learn more about reading labels, making healthier food choices and more. Also see my article 2010 Dietary Guidelines. is another way to get your questions answered. Go to Expert Alley to send me your questions and review my answers to a wide variety of food and nutrition-related issues.

Looking for healthy recipes? Check out our collection of healthy recipes on Source4Women.

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Are These Foods Healthy?

Posted by Kathleen Zelman – Dec. 4, 2012

Some foods sound healthy but when you take a closer look, the nutrition facts may come as a surprise.

Foods like salads, olive oil, yogurt, cheese and anything labeled trans fat free have the 'halo effect' suggesting they are good-for-you. And most of the time, they are but not always. Sometimes we eat more of these foods because we assume they are healthy.

Salads drenched in salad dressing, topped with high fat meats, cheese and crouton are anything but healthy. Make your salads skinny with lots of veggies, lean or low fat protein and a dressing that has more vinegar than oil.

Olive oil along with canola, corn, soybean and most oils other than coconut or palm oil, are unsaturated and the best types of fats to use. But they still have the same calories as other fats (9 calories per gram) which can add up quickly.

Yogurt is an amazingly healthy dairy product rich in calcium, protein (especially Greek yogurt), potassium and sometimes vitamin D – all nutrients we don't get enough of. Yogurt is healthiest when it is low fat or fat free. Full fat yogurt is loaded with animal fat, the kind you need to limit.

Cheese is another wonderful dairy product but only when consumed in small portions because it is high in animal fat. Choosing lower fat cheeses will allow you to enjoy larger portions.

When a label says trans fat free, flip it over and check the ingredient list to see if there are any 'hydrogenated' or partially hydrogenated fats listed. Products with less than .5 grams of trans fats can be labeled trans fat free. The Dietary Guidelines recommends zero trans fats so be careful with these foods or make a better choice.

Instead of relying on what you think is healthy, it is always a good idea to check the nutrition facts panel along with the list of ingredients to be sure you are choosing the best foods and eating them in proper serving portions.

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Gluten Free Diet for Weight Loss

Posted by Kathleen Zelman – Nov. 30, 2012

There has been an explosion of new products labeled 'gluten free' on grocers shelves because it is touted as the next weight loss craze. Should you eliminate gluten to lose weight? Not so fast.

Gluten is a component of many grains such as wheat, rye and barley. Individuals with celiac disease and those with gluten sensitivity need to eliminate foods containing gluten otherwise they suffer from uncomfortable side effects.

Unless you suffer from celiac disease or have a diagnosed gluten sensitivity, removing gluten from your diet won't necessarily help you lose weight. In fact, some gluten free products contain are higher in calories.

If you reduce gluten containing foods and don't replace them, those calories can indeed add up and lead to successful weight loss. But don't eliminate all grains from your diet. Keep in mind that the 2010 Dietary Guidelines recommends three servings a day of whole grains because they provide healthful nutrients.

Watching portion sizes and cutting back on added sugars and alcohol are better strategies for losing weight.

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Diabetes Webinar Questions Answered

Posted by Kathleen Zelman – Nov. 16, 2012

We were delighted that so many of you took time out of your busy schedules to join us and engage in "Eating to Prevent and Control Diabetes" webinar and hopefully you were inspired with tips and ideas to help improve your health and reduce your risk for diabetes.

You won't want to miss my next webinar on "Holiday Social Weight Maintenance" on Tuesday, December 11th at 11:30 CST/12:30 I'll help you avoid the dreaded holiday weight gain with great tips and ideas to keep your weight in check until the New Year.

Some of your questions were directly related to the management of your condition that require knowledge of your case which can only be done by your healthcare provider.

Now for your diabetes related questions:

  • Good resource for more information: is a great resource to learn more about reading labels, making healthier food choices and more. Also, my article 2010 Dietary Guidelines.
  • Recommended amount of carbs daily: The total amount of carbohydrate recommended for everyone is based on their total calorie intake. Carbs should make up from 45-65% of total daily calories. In general, we need at least 60 grams of carbs daily to fuel the body and brain.
  • Can you control diabetes without diet and walking? No. Part of the management of the condition requires a healthy diet and physical activity. If you prefer to do some other kind of exercise instead of walking, that is fine but you need to be active to help control diabetes.
  • Sugars and the best sweeteners: It makes little difference if you choose table sugar, honey, molasses, raw sugar or any other kind of sugar because all sugars are similar once they are digested and absorbed. All sugars should be limited and consumed with other foods. The sugar in whole fruit is the exception because it contains fiber, nutrients, and water so it is not absorbed as quickly.
  • Artificial sweeteners: There zero calorie sweeteners are regarded as free because they do not contain calories or carbs and allow foods and beverages to be sweet. Consume them in moderation. See my article Are Artificial Sweeteners Healthy?
  • Lowering risk of diabetes: Losing as little as 5 percent body weight can help reduce blood sugar, blood cholesterol and high blood pressure which will reduce risk. Achieving a healthy weight is another goal to help lower risk.
  • Meal timing and eating on a schedule: Eating regularly is important to all types of diabetics but more important for those on insulin. A good schedule is breakfast, lunch, dinner and 1-2 snacks spaced evenly throughout the day. There are not specific times to eat carbs, they should be spaced throughout the day along with other foods.
  • Normal blood glucose levels: Fasting glucose range 70-110 mg/dl
  • Cinnamon: Some research has shown that cinnamon may lower blood sugar by decreasing insulin resistance.
  • Coconut oil: The evidence that coconut oil is super healthful is not convincing and the claims appear to be more testimonials than clinical evidence. There is very limited evidence on disease outcomes says Dariush Mozaffarian, MD, DrPH, Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health. Neither the American Heart Association nor the 2010 Dietary Guidelines suggests coconut oil is any better or preferable over other saturated fats. Coconut oil, like all saturated fats, needs to be limited to 7-10% of calories because it can increase risk for heart disease.
  • Increasing low blood sugar: When a friend or family member needs to boost their blood sugar levels, generally orange juice is a go-to beverage in an emergency setting. All diabetics need to consult their physician to learn how to manage swings in blood sugar levels.
  • Support: Seeking out a registered dietitian to help customize your diet and support you while you are making lifestyle changes is a great idea. Joining a weight loss program or an online support group can also be beneficial to help you achieve your goals.
  • Can diabetes be reversed? Pre diabetes and Type 2 diabetes have the potential to be reversed with careful management, a healthy diet and regular physical activity but Type 1 cannot.
  • Walking, lifting weights and watching carbs: The combination is an excellent way to help prevent or manage diabetes – nice work!
  • Normal weight pre-diabetic: Weight is not the only parameter that increases risk of developing diabetes. Check with your doctor to learn your risk factors and how you can improve them.
  • Whole Grains: Oatmeal is better than a white bagel because it is a whole grain. Learn more about sources and benefits.
  • Choosing healthy foods: Use this checklist next time you go to the grocery store.
  • Belly fat: Answers to your questions are in my article The Real Truth About Belly Fat. For more information about diabetes, visit is another way to get your questions answered. Go to Expert Alley to send me your questions and review my answers to a wide variety of food and nutrition-related issues.

Looking for healthy recipes? Check out our collection of healthy recipes on Source4Women.

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Trim Calories and Save Money by Eating at Home

Posted by Kathleen Zelman – Nov. 6, 2012

It doesn't really matter which type of restaurant you choose, eating out generally leads to eating more calories.

A recent University of Illinois study showed kids who eat out are more likely to consume extra calories, sugar, fat and salt compared to when eating at home.

Researchers estimated about 40 percent of kids eat at fast food restaurants daily which increases calories by 126 in young children and 309 in teenagers. In full service restaurants, the young children increased their calorie intake by 160 calories and teens by 267 calories. Beyond calories, eating out meant 13 percent more sugar, 22 percent more total fat, 25 percent more saturated fat and 17 percent more sodium than what is recommended.

Do your part to help your family eat healthier meals by eating at home more often where you can control ingredients, portion sizes and expenses.

And when you eat out, encourage everyone to choose healthier options that are widely available at every type of restaurant.

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Keeping Food Safe During an Emergency

Posted by Kathleen Zelman – Nov. 2, 2012

My heart and prayers go out to those who are coping due to loss of home or power from Hurricane Sandy. When disaster strikes, it is important to determine if food is safe to eat.

The following tips will help keep food safe during an emergency:

  1. A packed freezer will maintain temperature for approximately 48 hours if the door remains closed. If your freezer is only half full, expect it to remain safe for 24 hours.
  2. Refrigerator will keep food safely cold for about 4 hours if it is kept closed.
  3. If you don't already have one, place thermometers in both freezer and refrigerator compartments. Refrigerator should be at or below 40 degree and freezer below zero.
  4. Dry ice can keep food cold for up to 2 days.
  5. Always keep several jugs of water on hand along with a hand-held can opener, flashlights, batteries, portable radio and candles.
  6. Stock your pantry with shelf stable foods including: boxed or canned milk, cereal, crackers, beans, seafood, fruits, vegetables, drinks, peanut butter, nuts, dried fruit, infant formula and pet food.
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Trick or Treat

Posted by Kathleen Zelman – Oct. 26, 2012

On Halloween night it is estimated that 41 million trick-or-treaters will be out on the streets in pursuit of sweet treats1. It is a tradition that kids love but most parents struggle with how to manage the pillowcase full of candy at the end of the night.

A nation of overweight children with an insatiable sweet tooth, the sugar and calories from too much candy is a real cause for concern. The controversy over sugar is that the calories are 'empty' meaning they offer little nutritional goodness and mostly extra calories. And most kids don't need extra calories.

The CDC analyzed data from 2005-2008 and found that American children consumed too much sugar. Added sugar accounted for approximately 16% of total calories for boys and 15% for girls.

Moderation is the key. Allow your children to select a few pieces of snack size candy and portion out the rest over the coming weeks.

Do your part by passing out treats that are not sweet this year like nuts, pretzels, pencils and stickers.

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Anti Cancer Diet: Eating Smart to Prevent Cancer Webinar Questions

Posted by Kathleen Zelman – Oct. 18, 2012

We were delighted that so many of you took time out of your busy schedules to join us and engage in the Anti Cancer Diet: Eating Smart to Prevent Cancer webinar and hopefully you were inspired with tips and ideas to help improve your lifestyle to reduce your risk of cancer.

Mark your calendars and register today for my next webinar Eating to Prevent and Control Diabetes on Nov. 14, during diabetes awareness month.

Hot off the press: Just yesterday a new study reported that taking a daily multivitamin for years may lower the risk of cancer in addition to eating a healthy diet, not smoking, regular exercise and being at a healthy weight. The study followed nearly 15,000 middle-aged and older men for almost 11 years so the results are unclear whether the same findings would apply to women or younger men.

Now for your cancer related questions:

Organic food: Whether organic foods carry a lower risk of cancer because they are less likely to be contaminated by compounds that might cause cancer is largely unknown. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), 'vegetables, fruits, and whole grains should form the central part of a person's diet, regardless of whether they are grown conventionally or organically'.

Probiotics: Probiotics may have a promising future in the prevention of cancer. There are several epidemiological studies that support a protective role of probiotics against cancer according to a 2010 study reported in the International Food Science and Nutrition Journal. It appears that probiotic organisms may have potential in minimizing cancer treatment side effects and reducing cancer risk. Probiotics are found in foods such as yogurt with live cultures, cheese, and miso or in isolated supplement form. It is always a good idea to check with your healthcare provider first.

Genetically modified foods: At this time, genetically modified foods that are on the market are NOT known to be harmful to human health nor is there evidence that they would either increase or decrease cancer risk. But the lack of proof of harm is not the same as proof of safety and genetically modified foods need to be continually assessed to be sure of their genuine safety as well as to increase confidence that their use is worthwhile. (ACS)

Whole Grains: Learn more about sources and benefits.

Types of Fruits and Vegetables: Lots of questions about healthfulness of all kinds of produce from dried to frozen – they are all healthy but the purer the better. Additives in processed produce have the potential to increase sodium, sugar, calories and fat. Cleaning fruits and vegetables is recommended with a vegetable scrub brush and water.

Plastic water bottles: Deemed safe by government standards but if you are concerned, use refillable metal bottles.

Men and breast cancer: While breast cancer is primarily a disease of women, men also have breast tissue and can get breast cancer.

Contraception: Practicing safe sex with contraception is another lifestyle issue that can reduce risk.

Diet and lifestyle for cancer patients: Check with your doctor for advice on your diet during cancer therapy.

Cancer survivor diet: Following the general advice of the diet and lifestyle is recommended as is checking with your healthcare provider.

Define moderate vs. vigorous activity: Moderate intensity – you can carry on a conversation easily, whereas vigorous intensity you may become winded or out of breath. Walking 3.5 miles per hour is moderate, jogging is vigorous.

Food Synergy: More examples include: apples with the peel on; cooked tomatoes and olive oil; tomatoes and avocado; and whole grains and oranges.

Find additional articles and past webinars on diet, nutrition and health.

Check our our collection of healthy recipes.

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Are Calories on Menu Boards Making a Difference?

Posted by Kathleen Zelman – Oct. 12, 2012

You probably have noticed that McDonald's is now listing the calories on their menu boards and many other restaurant chains are doing the same as mandated by the health care bill. Vending machines will soon be posting calorie information too.

Restaurants are doing their part to educate consumers about calories and hoping this information will help reduce the epidemic of obesity in the United States.

But does this information impact consumer decisions? A study conducted by Stanford University found that calorie intake dropped 6 percent in New York City Starbucks after calories were listed on the menu board.

Registered dietitians hope that seeing the calories will lead to better choices. Seeing the numbers is raising awareness of how many calories are in some of our favorite foods like burgers, fries and sweetened beverages.

Next time you go out to eat, try to choose healthier foods and beverages that contain the nutrients you need to power through the day without too many extra calories.

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Alcohol, Television and Sleep Deprivation

Posted by Kathleen Zelman Oct 5, 2012

What do alcohol consumption, television and sleep deprivation have in common? According to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, they are the leading lifestyle factors that cause weight gain. And it wasn't just one study; it was a meta-analysis which looks at multiple studies.

The results showed that the three most prominent lifestyle factors-television watching, alcohol intake, and sleep deprivation, encouraged excessive eating. Among these three factors, alcohol was the most significant.

If you, like two-thirds of Americans, are overweight, consider how these lifestyle factors may be causing you to overeat.

Here are a few tips to reign in your behaviors so they won't lead to overeating:

  • Keep alcohol consumption to the recommended one serving per day for ladies and two servings daily for men.
  • Limit television watching to two hours per day.
  • Snack on calorie controlled portions on a plate or single serve items while watching television. Better yet, avoid eating in front of the screen.
  • Drink herbal teas designed to help foster sleep along with bedtime rituals such as reading.
  • If you can't sleep, engage in sleep-inducing activities instead of eating or drinking.