Author Archives: Mary

About Mary

Mary has been a registered dietitian and leader in the nutrition field for decades. She has a B.S. in Food and Nutritional Science from the University of Rhode Island, a Masters of Public Health from the University of Minnesota, and completed a clinical dietetics internship at the New England Deaconess Hospital in Boston. Mary has logged more than 20,000 patient visits. When it comes to weight control, Mary is committed to a flexible, realistic and personal approach.

Dietetics Association Shames Their Own Members Over Deal with Kraft Singles

kraft-cheese-eat-right-label

This year’s National Nutrition Month, held every March, has been a disaster for registered dietitians. I speak for myself as one of the rank and file when I say our professional association, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, threw us under the bus. Again.

The fiasco started on March 12th when The New York Times ran an article titled, A Cheese ‘Product’ Gains Kids’ Nutrition Seal. It described how the Academy gave Kraft permission to add our ‘Kids Eat Right’ logo to Kraft Singles, those individually wrapped slices of pasteurized prepared cheese product. ‘Kids Eat Right’ is a nutrition education program run by the Academy’s foundation. Kraft Singles is the first product to carry the logo, in the form of a seal. It looks like a product endorsement, but the Academy maintains it’s not. Unfortunately for them, it quacks like a duck.

Due to the absurdity of an organization of nutrition professionals promoting Kraft Singles, major news outlets, including ABC News, Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, US News and others, picked up the story. They called into question the credentials of registered dietitians. It was guilt by association for us. But none was worse than Jon Stewart on The Daily Show, who quipped while pointing to a package of Kraft Singles, “the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is an academy in the same way this is cheese.” Oh, the shame! (more…)

The Bug Banquet: Serving Sustainability in a Cricket Pesto Flatbread

eat-crickets

“You’re invited to the Bug Banquet,” the email read. Ewwww! Must I go? I am psychologically averse to insects, but as a good sport, I’ll try.

The Bug Banquet is a culinary exploration of entomophagy, the practice of eating insects. It was created as an “experience” to help guests enjoy insects as food. Founders Chloé Bulpin, a senior at at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), and Alex Gandarillas and Matt Kominsky, two Johnson & Wales University culinary students, believe in the power of visual imagery to educate.

The intriguing menu was served cocktail style and the presentation was gorgeous.

  • Pesto Flatbread: cricket pesto, mozzarella and artichokes
  • Tempura Skewers: crickets, silkworms and scallions with a spicy sriracha sauce
  • Watermelon and Waterbugs: compressed watermelon, apple and waterbug
  • Spicy Silkworm: Korean-style marinated silkworms with hummus and roasted cauliflower
  • Dark Chocolate-Coated Crickets
  • Sundae Shooters: waterbug ice cream, caramel, and banana
  • Several different cookies and tarts made with cricket flour

How did the creations taste? The comment most often overheard was, “I would never have known.” Ground crickets in pesto tasted “like escargot.” Waterbugs had a “floral extract that is not off-putting.” Roasted crickets tasted “like roasted fava beans with a crunchy outside and a mushy middle.” Dark Chocolate-Coated Crickets were “reminiscent of a Ferrero Rocher candy.” (more…)

Kiss Those Egg White Omelets Goodbye! Dietary Guidelines Will No Longer Prohibit Dietary Cholesterol

yolks

The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, the panel of experts who review the Dietary Guidelines for revision every five years (published most recently in 2010), will change their recommendation about dietary cholesterol in the report they will send to the federal government in the next few weeks.

The current guidelines, and those of the past 40 years, restricted dietary cholesterol to 300 milligrams a day. For reference, an egg yolk has around 200 milligrams and a 6-ounce T-bone steak has 90 milligrams. In 2013, the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology dropped their advice about cholesterol as well.

12 Delicious New Ways to Enjoy Your Eggs

True, cholesterol is a major part of the plaque that narrows the arteries in atherosclerosis, the underlying cause of heart disease and strokes, but only 20 percent of our blood cholesterol comes from diet. Our liver makes the rest. The issue is confounded because many high cholesterol foods are high in saturated fat and saturated fat and trans fat do add to blood lipid levels. Dietary cholesterol, which is found in animal-derived foods, is usually accompanied by saturated fats as in full-fat dairy products and the meat of domesticated animals. Egg yolks and crustaceans (crabs, lobsters, shrimp, and crayfish) are high in dietary cholesterol but low in saturated fat. (more…)

Monica Seles Speaks Out for Vyvanse, an ADD Drug Approved for Binge Eating Disorder

monica-seles-vyvanse

In a 2009 interview, Monica Seles told Tara Parker-Pope of the New York Times, “I needed to figure out my emotions….to stop my love hate relationship with food and just have a love relationship with food. After that I could have a love relationship with my body.” Monica was able to fix her BED without Vyvanse, but is now the spokesperson for the drug company’s new campaign. While the pill has been on the market for attention deficit disorder, it has now been approved to treat compulsive overeating in adults.

Monica Seles, is a former number one world professional tennis player, and recovered from a nine-year struggle with compulsive eating herself. Back in 2009 she documented her struggle and recovery in the book Getting a Grip: On My Body, My Mind, My Self. By hearing her story, Monica hopes that other adults with BED will get the support they need. A national campaign was been developed to support the drug’s release, and more information about its role with this disease is found at BingeEatingDisorder.com. There you’ll learn more about BED, the experiences of others, and how to raise the topic with health care providers and loved ones. (more…)

Beyonce’s New Vegan Diet Can be Delivered to Your Door. But is it Worth It?

beyonce-kale-sweatshirt

Beyonce, the entrepreneur, has started another business, this time with her trainer, Marco Borges. Together they have launched a vegan meal delivery service called “22 Days Nutrition.” The name comes from the common myth that it takes 21 days to form a new habit. Last winter, under Borges’ direction, Beyonce and Jay-Z became vegan for 22 days and they loved it (although they don’t seem to be vegan now). Borges is the author of a soon to be released diet book titled, “The 22 Day Revolution.”

Their website describes the meals as fresh, wholesome, gluten-free, dairy-free, and soy-free, as well as 100% organic and GMO-free. That’s a lot of buzz words and diet restrictions. The soy-free part is odd because vegans classically eat soybeans in the form of tofu, seitan, veggie burgers, meat analogues, and edamame.

A week’s worth of meals is delivered via a cooler placed at your front door. You just unpack, load the fridge, reheat, and eat. And pay the bill. At one meal-a-day, a one week supply costs $103.45, two meals-a-day goes for $153.46, and three meals for $194.04, all with a $19.95 shipping fee. Multiply that expense by three for a 21 day supply. (more…)

Cheat Days Only Cheat Yourself: Why Healthy Eaters Treat Themselves Instead

cheat-days-cheat

As a dietitian/nutritionist, I am often asked if I recommend having a cheat day. (A “cheat day,” cheat meal,” or “cheat food” — is a mini-break from a calorie-restricted diet for weight loss.) My answer is that it all depends on how you define cheat. If a cheat day is a feeding frenzy that packs in lots of extra calories, then I’m against it. But if it means making room for high-calorie favorite treats, then I’m all for it. No diet should be so restricted that it doesn’t make room for favorite foods.

Normal variations in day-to-day calorie intake may be in the best interests of health. Studies of intermittent fasting schedules in animals suggest that an intake pattern of highs and lows enhances the body’s ability to cope with biological stress and, maybe, to resist disease.* Variation is the natural course of events and evolution seems to make it work to an advantage.

Consider that healthy eaters who maintain steady weights don’t usually eat the same amount of food every day.

  • They expect day-to-day variation and they use regular exercise to balance extra calories.
  • They eat more or fewer calories largely depending on the social situation.
  • They give themselves permission to eat favorite foods (within reason) as if it’s no big deal.
  • They may choose to eat more at a special dinner or not. (more…)

Monk Fruit Will Save Your Sweet Tooth and Your Diet: Zero Calories up to 500 Times Sweeter than Sugar

monk fruit sweetener

Here in the new year, millions of Americans will try to cut back on sugar or drop it altogether. It’s a noble effort because sugar is devoid of nutrients, except for calories, which it has in spades.

Quick fact: The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports each of us consumes 31 five-pound bags of sugar a year. That’s 267,840 empty calories from sugar alone. Still, people will be jonesing for something sweet to eat. Enter: monk fruit.

Traditionally, people used zero-calorie sweeteners to satisfy their sugar cravings at no caloric cost. Synthetic sugar substitutes, including aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet), sucralose (Splenda) and others, are added at the table but are mostly taken as carbonated diet drinks and low­ calorie foods. But consumption of those foods has taken a nosedive as of late as health conscious consumers flock to natural sweeteners. Stevia, the zero-calorie herb extract, is gaining appeal, but monk fruit is the real one to watch. (more…)

Nuking the Microwave Myth: Microwaved Foods are Actually Safe and Nutritious

microwave-safety

More than 90 percent of Americans have a microwave primarily to reheat leftovers and coffee. Yet a growing legion of eco-lovers want no part of the convenient device. The microwave oven may be falling out of fashion. Perhaps the internet is to blame.

Article after article claims microwave ovens leak radiation, and since high levels of direct radiation cause DNA damage and cancer, then microwave ovens cannot possibly be safe. Except that’s not true.

Microwaves are a form of electromagnetic radiation, something like radio waves, that make water molecules in food vibrate, producing heat that cooks the food. Microwave ovens leak no more radiation than a cellphone, laptop computer, or an airplane flight. The Food and Drug Administration enforces strict standards for the amount of radiation that is allowed to leak. Consumer Reports says the vast majority of microwave ovens show very little leakage of radiation. And the level of exposure drops dramatically as you move away from the oven.

But because the risks of long-term exposure to low-level radiation emissions is unknown, to be absolutely safe, avoid all electronic contraptions. (Yeah right.) (more…)

Is Your Target Weight Loss Realistic? It Probably Doesn’t Matter.

shattered-scale

When it comes to setting weight loss goals, most dieters are unrealistic. Medical experts, concerned with adequate nutrition and physical and psychological health, recommend an average weight loss of a half to one pound per week. But dieters want nothing to do with that. They expect to lose at a rate twice as high, at a minimum.

Scientists have studied, at length, dieters’ expectations about losing weight. Dr. Thomas Wadden, Director of the Center for Weight and Eating Disorders at the University of Pennsylvania, found that even when patients were “informed repeatedly” that their weight loss goals were unrealistic, they still wanted to lose more than was recommended.

In another study, a group of women expected to lose 22 to 34 percent of their weight in six months, and when told that average weight loss is 8 to 10 percent during the first six months of dieting, they said that number was “unacceptable” and “disappointing.”

Patients undergoing gastric lap band surgery were no different. They expected to lose almost 100 percent of their excess weight when typical results are 20 to 25 percent.

But does it matter if a dieter’s weight loss goals are realistic? Apparently not. (more…)

Are Your Kids Over-Fortified? Too Much of a Good Thing Puts Their Health at Risk

kids-overfortified

Millions of well-intentioned American parents, unbeknownst to them, are over-fortifying their kids with too many nutrients. That’s according to a report published earlier this year by the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

EWG, an American-based health and research organization, analyzed the nutrition facts labels for 1,550 breakfast cereals and found that 114 cereals were fortified by the manufacturer with 30 percent or more of the adult Daily Value of vitamin A, zinc, and/or niacin. They also looked at 1,000 snack bars and found that 27 common brands were fortified with 50 percent or more of the Daily Value of at least one of those nutrients.

Among the most fortified cereals were:

  • General Mills’ Total line
  • Wheaties Fuel
  • Kellogg’s Product 19
  • Smart Start
  • All-Bran Complete
  • Cocoa Krispies
  • Krave

The most fortified snack bars included

  • Balance
  • Kind
  • Marathon

Food Awards: Best & Worst Breakfast Cereals

When foods are fortified, vitamins and minerals that aren’t originally in a food are added by the manufacturer. Classic examples include adding vitamin D to milk, iron to flour, fiber to cereal, and iodine to salt. Since 1998, folic acid has been added to breads, cereals, and other products that use enriched flour in an effort to reduce Spina Bifida and other serious birth defects. The idea of fortification was developed almost 100 years ago to treat common nutrition-deficiency diseases.
But it is possible to consume too many fortified foods, especially by children, because the Daily Values are set for the needs of adults not kids. Furthermore, the Daily Value standards were set in 1968 and so some are higher than levels currently deemed to be safe. (more…)