June 26, 2015

Washington Post Nutrition Q&A Column – Twenty Questions Answered

Washington Post Q&ABoy time flies when you’re having fun! And yes, I’ve been having fun writing the Nutrition Q&A column in The Washington Post. Publication of the June 1st column marks column #20. This column came to be because I and several colleagues saw a big need at The Post for a column written by a dietitian to offer readers reliable, evidence-based answers to popular nutrition questions. We approached the now editor of the Local Living section and the column was hatched. 

Learn more about how the column came to be here.

To celebrate what I hope will be the first 20 columns of many more, I’ve listed all of the questions I’ve answered thus far along with a link to the full article. Enjoy the reads! If scrolling through these columns triggers a question you’d like answered in my Nutrition Q&A column, send it in. As we say at the end of each column: Got a nutrition question? Send an e-mail to localliving@washpost.com. Put “Nutriton Q&A” in the subject line and tell us where you live. 

  1. What’s the difference between sugar (white granulated sugar) and high-fructose corn syrup? Should I limit one more than the other for health reasons?
  2. My boyfriend and I recently decided to start eating healthy together. After about six months of eating healthy meals (prepared by me!), he’s lost 15 pounds, and I’m up 5 pounds. What am I doing wrong?
  3. I think I eat pretty healthful, balanced meals. Do I still need a multivitamin and mineral supplement?
  4. Do all whole grains contain dietary fiber? What are other sources of fiber?
  5. It seems like all my friends are trying one of the trendy diets — one’s on a juice cleanse, another’s going gluten-free (but doesn’t need to be); is all of this safe and healthy?
  6. What should I eat if I’ve been told by my health-care provider that I have prediabetes? I’m confused by the conflicting messages I hear and read.
  7. I hear that incorporating flax into my eating plan is healthful. I see flaxseed oil, ground flaxseeds and whole flaxseeds available. Do they provide the same nutrients? What are ways to use them? 
  8. I’ve made up my mind: I’m going to lose 20 pounds this year by eating fewer calories and exercising more. Cutting down my breakfast calories is one challenge. My typical breakfast is 400 calories: three tablespoons of almond butter, two slices of low-calorie bread and one cup of fresh fruit. I could cut my calories to 200 by opting for a frozen low-calorie breakfast sandwich. Is this nutritional compromise worth the 200-calorie savings?
  9. When you read a nutrition facts label for raw meat, is the fat content listed for raw or cooked weight? If it’s the cooked weight, is the manufacturer assuming the meat is rare or well done?
  10. For National Nutrition Month I asked eight area registered dietitian nutritionists what are your “secret weapons”.
  11. Is a Paleo Vegetarian Diet Possible? 
  12. I try to eat breakfast, usually yogurt and granola, right before I leave for work, but it seems like I’m hungrier by midmorning if I eat breakfast than if I skip it. Then if I eat my lunch by midmorning, I’m hungry again by midafternoon. What’s your advice to control between-meal hunger?
  13. My husband, an octogenarian, is overweight and a sugar lover. He’s having significant back pain. His physician recently encouraged him to lose weight by following the South Beach Diet and to quit drinking sugar-sweetened sodas. It’s hard for my husband to change his food choices and eating behaviors. What are some guidelines for him?
  14. I have Type 2 diabetes. I like to have low-sugar nutrition bars handy for snacks or missed meals, so I’ve begun buying bars that contain sugar alcohols. What do you think about these bars and sugar alcohol in general?
  15. I’ve been hearing about Soylent, a complete nutrition product that promises to take all the bother out of food preparation. It’s strangely appealing. I like the idea of food efficiency and having an easy-to-carry food for traveling. Do you recommend it?
  16. Can you help resolve an ongoing discussion among my friends and family about non-organic apples? Is it healthier to eat the peel for its health benefits or discard the peel to get rid of any toxins? At home I buy organic apples, but when I travel I can’t always find them.
  17. I’ve avoided taking fish-oil pills because they made me feel weird and I didn’t like the taste in my mouth hours later. Now I’ve been reading that research is showing that fish-oil pills don’t actually live up to their promise of preventing heart disease. Can I skip them?
  18. If you have to eat fast food, what are the healthiest options?
  19. Can you help me sort through the range of butters and spreads in the supermarket today? It’s so confusing, especially related to the latest guidance around saturated fat and cholesterol.
  20. I’m trying to cut down on sugar (including low-calorie sweeteners), but I’m getting bored with plain water, which leads to me to not drinking enough. Any suggestions?

My hope is that readers are appreciating access to reliable answers to common nutrition questions with a splash of practical tips and tactics to eat healthier in our convenience-driven world today. 

Now, it’s your turn. If you’ve got a burning nutrition question you’d like to have me answer? Send an e-mail to: localliving@washpost.com. Put “Nutriton Q&A” in the subject line and tell us where you live.