Author Archives: Rebecca

About Rebecca

Registered Dietitian

Is High Fructose Corn Syrup Bad for You?

We’ve seen the commercials that attempt to disperse negative reputation of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) conveniently produced by the Corn Refiners Association and we’ve read the studies that vehemently protest consumption of it. So what’s the truth? What does the research say? What do you believe? The following is a brief summary as well as my opinion on the HFCS issue.

Let’s start with a definition. High fructose corn syrup is a sweetening agent added to processed foods where some glucose is changed to fructose (two types of sugar). At the end of the processing, both fructose and glucose are present. HFCS is chemically similar to table sugar, which we’ve been using as an “added sugar” sweetener for years. Is HFCS worse for you than table sugar? Is it correlated with obesity? Does it cause it?

Research Summary

Much of the research done on the topic shows indecisiveness of the effects of HFCS on weight. Older studies found that when subjects consumed higher amounts of sweetened drinks, like sodas, they gained more weight. More recent studies however, say that HFCS isn’t particularly to blame for the high rates of obesity. Princeton University found that rats that were given HFCS gained much higher amounts of weight than those rats that were given table sugar, even though they consumed identical calorie amounts. The HFCS rats also had higher rates of triglycerides, or ‘blood fats’. Long-term studies bring up the prevalence of another dangerous condition, metabolic syndrome. Gaining, almost 50 percent more weight than rats eating a normal diet, metabolic syndrome and obesity were at an all time high. (more…)

Tips to Gain Weight the Healthy Way

Okay, okay… please don’t throw rotten tomatoes and raw eggs at me, but it’s true… there are some people out there who would like to gain weight, but want to do it in a healthy way. If that’s you, read on for some useful tips to help you reach your goals.

There are several factors for why people may want to gain weight:

  • People who are underweight based on genetics and eating behaviors
  • Athletes who are trying to bulk up for sports performance
  • People with a recent medical procedure, like having your jaw wired shut, or having your tonsils removed (ouch!)

Whatever the reason, gaining weight should be done in a healthy way with nutrient-dense foods instead of junk foods that are consumed just for the sake of adding calories. (See dieters, it’s not all about stuffing your face in order to gain weight).


4 Ways to Beat Stress Eating

Stress has become a part of our culture, and undoubtedly you may have experienced a sense of being overwhelmed quite often. For some, stress eating or stress drinking alcohol are enormous saboteurs on the path to health and wellness. It’s not just the excess calories that nudge you away from your goal. Here are four factors that people struggle with during stressful times:

1. Alcohol Backfires on Your Well-Being

Stress drinking cocktails or a few beers after a hectic day at work is what some see as a ritual to unwind, but this can backfire later. Alcohol prevents the brain from entering deep sleep leaving you unrested and stressed the next morning. Alcohol also dehydrates you. If you do drink, keep it to one drink a night. That means five ounces of wine or one shot of liquor… not an over-sized glass with a mixed drink.


Tips for Healthy Digestion

Do you remember that episode of Magic School Bus where the kids on the bus fly into their classmate’s mouth and learn about the inner workings of digestion? Information simple enough for elementary school children, right? So, why are so many Americans struggling with knowledge about food choices and their reactions as your body breaks it down?

Without digestion, you won’t be able to get the essential nutrients you need. As your body breaks down food and it travels through the intestines, all those components of food are caught and stored. Everything you decided to put in your mouth, be it an apple or a Snickers bar, will play a role in your digestion.


Flax and Chia Seeds Pack Nutritional Punch

Flax seed oil and chia seeds are filled with nutritional benefits that are essential to your overall health. They are filled with both omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids that our bodies cannot make, so we have to get them from food sources.

There are some cautions to consider with flax seed oil, however. Because it is a fat, it can go rancid, and you must take the necessary precautions to avoid that. You need to make sure that exposure to heat, air and light are all minimal or avoided.


Healthiest Fast Food Choices from McDonald’s, Chipotle and Panera

It’s not a shocker to say, but most fast food is not good for you. Rarely do you see fruits, veggies, beans, and whole grains. But life throws us curve balls, and sometimes we either pick up some fast food or battle a blood sugar nose dive. In this blog post, I’ll help you make the best of the fast food choices.

You can make smart choices and I’ve picked some of the best options. As a general rule, to avoid excessive fat and calories, skip the fried foods and opt for grilled. Get your sauce on the side, go without extra cheese, and get the smallest size possible. The only advantage of “super sizing” is if you plan to share the meal with someone else. Don’t drink any calories. That means no sweet tea, soda, or other sweetened beverages. Go for water, low-fat milk, a 4-ounce 100% juice, or a sugar-free diet beverage.


Healthy Snacking Helps You Lose Weight

For many people, snacking has achieved ‘four letter word’ status as a diet buster. Parents tell their children: “No snacking before dinner!” Dieters tell themselves “No snacking, period!” But snacking isn’t a bad thing… it’s what (and how much) you snack on that matters.

Problems with Snacking

In recent years snacking has become super-sized. Packaged foods, like a single serving bag of pretzels, actually have 2-3 servings. Snacks like these aren’t so harmless and can harbor half of your suggested sodium intake for a day. Sweet snacks like cinnamon rolls from vending machines have 460 calories, 22 grams of fat (two tablespoons of plain butter!), and 32 grams of sugar (about 15 teaspoons almost twice the daily limit). Snacking on foods devoid of nutrients and multiple servings is not the kind of snacking you want to do on a regular basis.


Exercise Makes You Smarter

I was flipping through a magazine on a recent hot summer day and low and behold I came across an article about cardiovascular health making you smarter! What’s that? A healthy heart can make a healthy brain? Tell me more.

Typically when you think of exercise, you’re probably thinking calorie burn. But don’t be so short-sighted. Exercise has many benefits and I guess we can add “memory improvement” to the list.

“Cardiovascular health is more important than any other single factor in preserving and improving learning and memory. You’re working out your brain at the same time as your heart,” said Dr. Thomas Cross, memory researcher.


Eat Protein Foods, Not Protein Supplements

Protein drinks have become more and more popular over the years, and are most commonly recognized as used by gym-dwellers. But now, it is not uncommon for average exercisers to drink them. Even use by teens and pregnant women has been on the rise!

Our bodies need protein. It is responsible for building and repairing tissues (especially muscle), and works as many chemical messengers in the body, like enzymes. Not only that, but protein (along with fat) helps raise your satisfaction and fullness. These important functions give people the impression that the more protein they eat, the more beneficial it will be. But as with everything else, there is a limit!


Biggest Loser Recipe: Grilled Shrimp Salad with Avocado Aioli

With season nine of The Biggest Loser wrapped up, you may be wondering where you can get your latest Biggest Loser fix. Cheryl Forberg, RD, the show’s dietitian, has a book out – Six Weeks to a Healthier You – which focuses on quality foods that provide a powerhouse of nutrients for the calories.

In this video, Cheryl shares one of her recipes from the book, a Grilled Shrimp Salad with an Avocado Aioli. The avocado aioli has over 20 vitamins and minerals and heart healthy, unsaturated fats. With help from avocados and Greek yogurt, the luscious and creamy quality of the aioli gives you a nutrient dense alternative to the typical bottled creamy dressing high in saturated fat.


Chili’s Ultimate Stacked Burger Calories Make it the Ultimate Gluttonous Choice

Dining out can be a fun way to socialize, but it can also be a gastronomic disaster if you’re not careful. In this past year we’ve seen restaurants trend toward the ultimate calorie and sodium shock factors, first with the KFC Double Down (more like double over) and now with the Chili’s Ultimate Stacked Burger.

The Chili’s burger advertises “two big mouth burger patties stacked a mile-high with melted American cheese, mayo, applewood smoked bacon, pickles, lettuce, tomato, and crispy onion strings.” In this description alone we can translate that the burger contains a total overload of fat, cholesterol, and sodium. If you were making a burger at home, it would not look like this. The size of this burger is unrealistic and raises the “unhealthy” ingredients to out of control. (more…)