Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Doctor’s Diet

Book Review

The Doctor's Diet
By Travis Stork, MD
Bird Street Books, Inc. (2013)
Reviewed by Angela Lemond, RDN, CSP, LD


The Doctor's Diet claims to be a flexible and workable diet plan that will help readers lose weight, restore health, prevent disease and ultimately add years to their lives. Travis Stork explains the potentially fatal health risks associated with an unhealthy diet and the specific food groups that can act as medicines to attain immediate results.

Synopsis of the Diet Plan

The Doctor's Diet is divided into three component plans: STAT, RESTORE and MAINTAIN. Readers are advised to go back and forth between STAT and RESTORE for 14 days each until the reader achieves the desired weight loss, and then transition to the MAINTAIN plan.
The STAT plan allows only "fat-burning fruits" (apples, berries and grapefruit) twice per day — one with breakfast and one with your snack. Meals comprise one protein and one fruit or "anytime vegetable." There are "flextime foods" that are allowed, which consist of one healthy fat, one whole grain and one "high-density vegetable." With guidelines around each of these descriptions, readers can build their own menu or use one that is provided. Portion sizes are also provided.
The RESTORE plan is similar to STAT, but allows more fruit, an additional fat and whole grain, and one added snack with a protein and "anytime vegetable." The RESTORE plan also allows two alcoholic beverages per week.
Comparable to RESTORE, the MAINTAIN plan includes additional foods based on metabolism and activity levels such as healthy fats, "carb-flex foods" including whole grains, "high density vegetables," "anytime vegetables" and fruits.

Nutritional Pros and Cons

  • The Doctor's Diet emphasizes eating whole foods with a variety of food choices. Stork is an advocate of all food groups, and emphasizes this throughout the book.
  • The MAINTAIN plan appears to be the most appropriate plan for most people.
  • The STAT and RESTORE plans are low-calorie with a low-carbohydrate regimen (as low as 90 grams per day). This will promote fast weight loss, but it will be difficult to maintain.
  • The MAINTAIN plan is a good general guideline but does not go into specific recommendations for individuals. There are many unanswered questions for maintaining this weight loss.
  • There is little mention or guidance for exercise as a way to maintain proper energy balance, which is the other half of the energy equation.
  • Stork uses his own customized food lingo, such as "fat burning fruits," "high-density vegetables" and "carb-flex foods." These are not standardized terms and can be confusing to readers.
  • The plan makes unsubstantiated claims that the STAT plan will do things such as breaking "your addiction to sugar, simple carbohydrates and junk food."

Bottom Line

The Doctor's Diet does a great job promoting a variety of whole foods, which is the core to an overall healthful eating plan. However, the first two phases are too low in calories to minimize excessive muscle loss. This can lead to long-term issues with weight regain and overall weight management. The MAINTAIN plan seems the most reasonable for both weight loss and weight maintenance, although more guidance should be provided based on activity level. Any diet regimen that does not emphasize regular physical activity excludes the other half of the energy equation when it comes to weight management.

~Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 2014

Quinoa May Prove to be Gluten Free

Quinoa is a nutritious seed from South America. A recent study has confirmed that people with celiac disease who include quinoa in their gluten free diets can do so safely. Nineteen participants were asked to consume 50 grams (1.8 oz.) daily for 6 weeks as a part of their gluten free diet. They received a series of  tests and kept a symptom diary, all of which confirmed that eating the quinoa did not worsen the disease.
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that effects food absorption and is triggered by consuming wheat, rye, and barley.
The authors of the study agree that though the research is promising, further studies are needed to learn the long-term effects of quinoa on the gluten free diet.
~Am. Journal of Gastroenterology,  2014

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Cranberry Juice and Blood Pressure

Low calorie cranberry juice now appears to have a modest effect on blood pressure, according to reports from the American Heart Association. Cranberries contain a broad array of natural plant flavinoids that have been associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and various cancers, as well as helping to keep UTI's at bay. Researchers also made it known that the low calorie version had the most significant results in the studies because the sugars in the sweetened juices are counter-productive to hypertension and heart health.
 ~ Tufts University, 2014

Saturday, August 2, 2014

To "Nuke," or Not to "Nuke"?

Are foods cooked in the microwave safe and nutritious? According to Irwin H. Rosenberg, MD, Professor of Nutrition, Friedman School of Nutrition Science at Tufts University, foods cooked in a microwave oven actually keep more of their vitamins and minerals because microwaves can cook food more quickly and without adding water or fat. At worst, microwave cooking reduces nutrient levels in food no more than conventional cooking.
As far as dangerous byproducts occurring during the cooking process, this is also an urban legend. Microwaves cause water molecules in food to vibrate, producing heat that cooks the food. Foods high in water content, such as fresh vegetables, can be cooked more quickly than other foods. The microwave energy is changed to heat as it is absorbed by the food and does not make the food "radioactive" or contaminated.
Microwave ovens should not be used in home canning, because they do not produce or maintain temps. high enough to kill harmful bacteria. Which is also why frozen foods and leftovers need to be thoroughly heated to make sure raw foods are cooked and pathogens are destroyed.
The main concern these days involve the containers used for microwave cooking. Some plastics can be toxic, while others can melt from the high temps. given off by the food. Metals will reflect the electromagnectic waves and damage the appliance, and possibly cause a fire. Use glass containers such as Pyrex, wax paper, paper plates, or items labeled "Microwave safe." Always use products according to the manufacturers' directions.
~ Tufts University, 2014

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Pop Smart

Snacks tend to constitute a "fourth meal" these days. Additional calories mean additional pounds, so the term "healthy snacking" tends to be an oxymoron. Always remember to budget your munchies into your daily caloric intake and make smart snack choices. Do-it-yourself snacks are usually the better choice, especially when it comes to popcorn. Even with close reading of the Nutrition Facts labels on the microwave popcorn packages, the plain DIY popcorn is still only 124 calories and 0.2g. fat per serving (about 2 T. of un-popped kernels). The average "butter" style microwave popcorn yields 180 calories and 2.5 g. saturated fat. To add buttery flavor to the DIY popcorn, add a little butter-flavored olive oil cooking spray and and a pinch of salt.

Monday, June 30, 2014

The Daniel Plan: 40 Days to a Healthier Life

Book Review

The Daniel Plan: 40 Days to a Healthier Life
By Rick Warren, DMin, Daniel Amen, MD, and Mark Hymen, MD
Zondervan (2013)
Reviewed by Jessica Crandall, RDN, CDE


The Daniel Plan details a lifestyle program based on five principles including faith, food, fitness, focus and friends. The program originated in 2011 and within the first year more than 15,000 church members lost, collectively, more than 250,000 pounds while reporting decreases in health issues and stress and increases in spiritual growth and energy.

Synopsis of the Diet Plan

The diet plan focuses on a plate containing 50 percent non-starchy vegetables, 25 percent healthy animal or vegetable proteins and 25 percent healthy starches or whole grains, along with a low-glycemic fruit and water or herbal tea. Readers are provided with a list of "good foods" on which to base meals. Produce is divided into two separate categories, one of which can be eaten freely. The book suggests that users purchase wild or grass-fed and hormone- and antibiotic-free meat and seafood, if possible. A sample three-day menu is provided, and a cookbook is available for more extensive meal planning.
Supplements are recommended during the program. For both men and women, these include: a high-potency, high-quality, highly bioavailable multivitamin and mineral; vitamin D3; omega-3 fatty acids; and probiotics. It is recommended that women also take calcium and magnesium.

Nutritional Pros and Cons

The program uses diet and exercise, along with emotional support, in a positive way, which is beneficial. Preparing meals at home from raw ingredients is encouraged, which is also positive. While the program has a good overall goal, the dietary portion is restrictive and not individualized. It also appears a registered dietitian nutritionist was not consulted.
The list of "good foods" provided for the program tends to portray some foods — such as pastas, nuts and oils — in a negative light, which is discouraging, as RDNs prefer that food is seen in correct proportions and in moderation rather than cutting out particular items completely. Some oils, such as canola and olive, have been seen to have positive effects on cholesterol. The program promotes forgiveness and moving forward if one falls back, but does not seem to allow for generalized moderation. The caffeine restriction could be tough for many and seems extreme. There is also the issue of preparation time, as the suggested recipes for meals seem lengthy.

Bottom Line 

 The program has strong components to help clients be successful including behavior modification, nutrition, exercise and support. The nutrition section could be improved by an RDN offering more meal planning ideas, facts about foods and science-based nutrition facts. The encouragement aspect could be helpful for some, but the dietary restrictions could make the program difficult for the average reader to stick to for 40 days.
~ The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 2014

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Salad in a Bag

 If there is one thing nutrition experts agree on, it's that we need to eat more vegetables. The Sweet Kale Vegetable Salad makes the task easier than ever. It contains "7 Superfoods," not just any veggies. We're talkin' nutrient-rich leafy greens and their cruciferous cousins, as in (shredded) broccoli, brussels sprouts, green cabbage, kale, chicory, dried cranberries, and roasted pumpkin seeds. It comes with it's own package of poppy seed dressing. For variety, there is also a Ginger Bok Choy Vegetable Salad Kit available. Look for various brands at your grocers produce aisle. Each serving (1 cup) provides 150 calories, 2 g. fiber, 70% the daily amount of vit. C, 20% of vit. A, and just 150mg. sodium.
To find these products in your area, visit

Whey Cool

Yogurt is one of humanity's oldest processed foods, with evidence of its creation potentially going back 7,000 years. It’s made and used in a variety of ways in societies from India to Europe to the Middle East to Africa. All these varieties of yogurt share a few things in common. Each is made with live cultures, which are a kind of good bacteria that transform liquid milk into the sour taste and thick consistency of yogurt. And all yogurts contain important nutrients like calcium, vitamin D, protein, potassium and B vitamins.
 The whey is the liquid that can pool at the top of a yogurt container, and it is the source of much of yogurt's calcium.Whey (actually the absence of it) is key to Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt has most of the whey removed through a process of straining, leaving a product that is thicker, with more protein, but less calcium — unless calcium is added back. Read the ingredients to see if calcium has been added. Whey is also the "protein of choice" for muscle tissue, as it is the most readily absorbed by the cells. To get more whey protien, stick with the traditional yogurts.
For people with lactose intolerance who don't want to give up on dairy's nutritional benefits, yogurt can be a good option. Yogurt contains less lactose than ice cream and milk because the introduced bacteria – also called "live cultures" with names such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, L. casei, L. reuteri and Bicfidobacterium bifidum (or Bifidus) — help digest the lactose. Even for people with no problems digesting lactose in other forms of dairy, live cultures in yogurt are still beneficial. They promote overall gut health and immunity. To make sure the yogurt product you're considering has these cultures, either look on the ingredient label for the bacteria listed above, or the National Yogurt Association's "Live and Active Cultures" seal.

Spa Water

Looking for a truly refreshing summer beverage with nothing artificial added? Make it yourself! Fill a pitcher with ice water. Add some thinly sliced citrus fruit (lemons, limes, oranges), thinly sliced cucumber, and a few sprigs of mint. Store in the refrigerator over night. Top with ice as needed, and you'll have a healthy cool drink on hand all day.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Not All Studies Are Created Equal

Headlines in the March New York Times announce "Butter is back" because a new study doubts saturated fats are linked to heart disease. While in Nov. of last year, the American Heart Assoc. and the American College of Cardiology issued their statement: "cut saturated fat to half the earlier target level." So, what gives? Look at who did the study and wrote the publication. A study undertaken or reviewed by a commercial entity, as in, someone with something to sell, could just be shaky science. A less biased publication would come from a university study, non-profit organization, or a government agency not affiliated with a for profit organization. Though fraud may not be involved, the methodology or variables involved would produce different results.
 The meta-analysis in question included a trial that fed people a margarine high in trans fat to compare to a group of people who were given butter. Trans fats, being the root of all evil, raised the LDL of the margarine group, so it was deemed that the folks in the "polyunsaturated" group had a 19% higher risk over those who ate butter  (the "saturated " group). The error was omitted from the final report, so it did not make the headlines.
With so much controversy over what is good to eat and what is not, it is no wonder Americans are confused to the point of apathy. Look beyond the headlines. It is safe to assume that our billion dollar food industry has much riding on their advertising campaigns, and is not above assembling scientists sympathetic to their cause and encouraging them to make statements on their behalf.
~ Prof. Martijn Katan, University of Amsterdam, 2014

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Quality Fats

Healthy, high quality fats from foods are necessary nutrients. They help build cells and maintain brain function. With infants and toddlers, whole milk fats are necessary for kidney and central nervous system development. Our bodies don't make healthy fats, so we need them in our diets. Since fats yield high amounts of calories, a little goes a long way. The average daily diet should include a ratio of 25 - 30 % fats; 10% being saturated fat, and 20 % unsaturated fat. If you have a medical condition such as diabetes or heart disease, these ratios will differ some. Follow the diet plan prescribed by your healthcare team.
Good fat, bad fat. How to tell the difference? Fats that are good for you contain monounsaturated or polyunsaturated oils and are plant based. Tropical oils, such as coconut oil however, contain high amounts of saturated fat and are NOT healthy, regardless of the trendy marketing claims. Sources of good polyunsaturated fats are avocados, seeds, and nuts. Healthy monounsaturated fats include olive and canola oils. These fats are associated with better blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol control and reduce the risks of cardiovascular disease. One animal based polyunsaturated fat is the Omega-3 which comes from dark fish meat, such as salmon or tuna. Omega-3's have shown to reduce inflammation in arthritis, heart disease, COPD, and various allergies. Note: the fish itself should be fatty, not the way it is prepared. Deep-frying destroys the Omega-3 properties.
Fats to limit are in animal-based foods. These contain mostly saturated fats and include fatty meats, full fat cheeses and other dairy products such as whole milk and butter. Ways to reduce the fat without losing nutrition include: Trimming visible fat from meats before cooking. Select lean meats, avoid processed meats (lunch meats, sausage, bacon), Use fat-reducing methods of cooking, such as grilling or broiling. Use cooking spray or small amounts of cooking oil. Use low-fat dairy products, skim milk (for children over the age of 5 years) and use full fat cheeses sparingly.
Trans fats are man-made fats that are the most evil of all fats. They add shelf life to processed foods including baked goods, snack crackers, processed cheeses, margarine, shortening... Also listed on ingredient labels as partially hydrogenated oils, they are constructed by adding hydrogen to unsaturated fats to make oils more stable or "solid" as in margarine and shortening. Trans fat raises total and LDL cholesterol, increasing the risk of heart disease.
Bottom line: Butter is "better" than margarine containing trans fat, but even butter has it's limits. Moderation is key when it comes to "bad fats". Read labels. Many margarine products now-days do not contain trans fats.The general rule is: the softer the margarine, the less trans fat it contains. Avoid processed foods; they are high in "empty calories" and yield little nutritional value. Healthy fats are good, but in small amounts.
For a more complete list of foods in the "healty/unhealthy" categories see the ADA/Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics booklet Choose Your Foods: Exchange Lists for Diabetes ($3.25 including shipping;

~American Diabetes Assoc., 2014

Thursday, March 27, 2014


If you want to keep your mind sharp, put down the crossword puzzle and take a brisk walk. In a recent study, 37 sedentary adults ages 57 to 75 took part in a 12 week program of supervised aerobic exercise. Overall brain function and memory improved. Blood flow was increased to parts of the brain linked to better mental function. No improvement was reported by the group that remained sedentary. Not only that, those in the exercising group reported improvement in as little as 6 weeks.  A second study of 3500 healthy adults who began an activity program at age 64, 20% remained without chronic disease, mental depression, and physical limitations 8 years later. No matter your age, it's never too late to start an exercise program.
~British Journal of Sports Medicine, 2013

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Diabetes Alert Day

Seven out of ten people with diabetes did not know they were at risk of developing the disease, according to the American Diabetes Association. And, one in four, don't know that they already have it. Because of this, the ADA has launched "Alert Day" for March 25th. It is a one day "wake-up call" asking people to take the type II Diabetes Risk Test. Almost one in three American adults have prediabetes, and the chance to prevent or delay the onset. Please share with family and friends!
Learn more by going to or visit the ADA's Facebook page at
 "Take it. Share it. Step out, to stop diabetes"
 ~American Diabetes Association, 2014

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Roasted Butternut & Broccoli Salad

It doesn't get any easier than this to enjoy nutritious food!

4 cups small broccoli florets
2 cups cubed butternut squash
1 T + 1t. canola oil
1 T. reduced sodium soy sauce
1 T balsamic vinegar
2 t. dark (toasted) sesame oil
1 t. peanut butter
1 t. grated ginger
6 cups salad greens

(cut the butternut in small cubes - 1/2" or smaller - to cook faster)
Preheat oven to 450 F. Toss the broccoli and butternut with 1Tbs. of the canola oil on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast until lightly browned in spots (12-15 min.) Set aside to cool.
Dressing: In a large bowl, whisk the soy, vinegar, sesame oil, peanut butter, and ginger with the remaining 1Tbs. of canola oil. Toss the salad greens with the dressing. Top with the broccoli and squash.
2 cup serving yields: Calories: 160, Sodium: 180mg., total fat: 10g., Sat. fat: 1g., Carbs: 16g., Protein: 5g., Fiber: 6g., 2014

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Nutrition For Autism Spectrum Disorder

Good nutrition is crucial for a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder. A healthy, balanced diet can make a world of difference in their ability to learn, how they manage their emotions and how they process information. Though some studies indicate that a gluten- or casein-free diet may be effective for certain children, more research is needed. Calcium and protein are extremely important for development. Be sure to include a variety of fruits and vegetables at every meal. Many parents find their child's sensitivity to tastes, colors, smells and textures to be the biggest barriers to a balanced diet. Keep trying new foods.Take your children to the supermarket and let them choose a new food to experiment with. When you get home, research it together  to learn how and where it grows. Then, decide together how to prepare it. When you're done, don't worry if your child doesn't want to eat it. Simply becoming familiar with new foods in a low-pressure way can eventually help your child become a more flexible eater.
Make meals as predictable and routine as possible. Serving meals at the same time every day is one of the simplest ways to reduce stress. Let them sit in their favorite chair, dim bright lights and turn down the noise;  television should be turned off. 
Seek guidance when you're raising a child with special needs. Consult with a Registered Dietitian before making any drastic changes in your child's diet. Work with your health care team and other parents who have had success with food interventions.
~ Karen Ansel, MS, RD, 2014 

Saturday, March 1, 2014

FDA Updates the Nutrition Facts Label

What better way to celebrate National Nutrition Month! The new FDA proposal is a big win win for consumers and those lobbying nutrition professionals at The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The current Nutrition Facts label is 20 years old, and does not reflect the current food environment or recent scientific research. Consumers want information they can use to make healthful choices. And new research on consumers' use of the label, eating patterns, nutrition science and chronic diseases needs to be reflected on the label. Serving sizes for many products have been updated to realistically reflect the amounts people actually eat at one sitting, nutrient comparisons between ‘per serving’ and ‘per container’ are available, and a new requirement will tell consumers how much sugar is being added to a product.
Since the FDA indicated it would be making revisions, the Academy has been actively encouraging the agency to update the label to reflect the best science about the current food and disease environment. The most significant modifications to the label reflect the Academy's evidence-based recommendations for promoting healthful eating, and align with its Food Labeling Principles.
The Academy will continue to work with the FDA on future initiatives, including the possibility of Front of Package labeling and the sorts of health claims and structure or function claims that can be made about foods. We want the label to be truthful and not misleading.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is the world's largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. The Academy is committed to improving the nation's health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy.
~ Dr. Glenna McCollum, Academy President

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

DASH Diet Takes Center Stage

The diet that has been traditionally prescribed by clinical nutritionists for decades to control hypertension, has just been deemed the "best" diet for weight loss by the medical community. It's actually a diet that would benefit most Americans as part of a lifelong wellness program.
DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. It is a reduced sodium, low-fat plan high in fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, and whole grains that has proven to reduce blood pressure. In many cases, a sodium restriction alone is not the end-all solution, since not all hypertension is sodium sensitive. That's not to say that most Americans get way more salt than they need, and we could all benefit from consuming less of it.
The diet rankings were based on reviews of 32 diets by a panel of experts in diet, nutrition, diabetes, weight loss, and heart health. The experts like its overall nutrition, safety, and ability to control or prevent diabetes and help heart health.The experts rated the diets for short-term and long-term weight loss, how easy they are to follow, and safety and nutrition. The report wins approval from Connie Diekman, RD, director of university nutrition for Washington University in St. Louis.
For a more comprehensive DASH diet plan, visit the Department of Health and Human Services link; DASH
~ U.S. News & World Report.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Exercise Truth

We know exercise is good for us, but there are too many rumors and misconceptions about how much, what kind, and so on. Here are some facts based on the latest evidence.
A study from Duke University School of Medicine shows that you can lose just as much weight by walking as you would running. What matters is the amount of calories you burn, not how much you sweat. Use a fitness tracker to monitor the miles and calories, instead of guessing.
Sitting for long periods of time is bad for us. Fewer muscle contractions means less insulin is produced, so fats and sugars take longer to get cleared from the blood. Stand up and move every 30 minutes.Taking a break from sitting can be as simple as walking to the water cooler for a drink, not going out and running. Do your exercise, and also think of your activity throughout the day. If you exercise, it's not okay to sit for the rest of the day.
The Centers for Disease Control recommends that adults get at least 2.5 hours a day of moderate intensity aerobic activity or 1.25 hours of vigorous intensity aerobic activity each week.
Moderate intensity means you are working hard enough to raise your heart rate and break a sweat.
    Example:  Walking fast (3 mph)
                    Riding a bike on level ground or terrain with few hills.
                    Playing doubles tennis
                    Pushing a lawn mower
                    Ballroom dancing
Vigorous intensity means you are breathing hard and fast, and your heart is beating rapidly. You are unable to carry on a conversation.
    Example:  Jogging or running
                    Riding a bike fast or on hills
                    Swimming laps
                    Playing singles tennis
                    Playing basketball
Is more exercise better? The CDC claims that 5 hours of moderate exercise or 2.5 hours of vigorous exercise every week have an even lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, breast & colon cancers, and are less likely to gain weight. Adding strength training to your routine 2-3 days per week is also beneficial.
* For free videos on how to strengthen your muscles, go to
~Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., 2013
~CDC, 2014