RD Advice

To Diet or Not to Diet?

It was during my junior high years that I first put myself on a diet. I found the instructions for the diet on the back of my Special K cereal box. The diet included a bowl of cereal for breakfast, a Special K drink for lunch, and another type of meal replacement for dinner. The diet failed later that day when I realized that my mom would not buy me the meal replacement foods that I needed for this diet. “Sigh,” this wasn’t my last failed attempt, but after trying several different diet methods during the rest of my junior high and high school years, I finally began to “get-it.” Over the next few years, as I learned more about nutrition from my college studies, my body found a healthy weight and it has stayed there since then. Today, I thought that I would share with you my thoughts about diets and dieting.

1. When a new diet is introduced it almost never has any research that supports it. It is only after the diet has been around for a while that interested parties perform research studies and make conclusions about whether or not the diet actually works. Why do I say this? Example A: The Cayenne Pepper, Apple Cider Vinegar, Lemon Juice, Molasses Beverage thingy that is supposed to “burn” belly fat. We all know how ridiculous this sounds and no, it was never researched and I doubt that anyone will ever fund a research study to see if this actually works.

Image result for apple cider vinegar

2. Dieting can start a yo-yo effect on your weight. You want to lose some weight so you go on a diet and you lose weight. You go off of the diet the when you have lost the weight or when you get fed up with denying yourself food and over time, the weight comes back. Yo-yo.

3. This is sort of connected with #2 but many diets are full of dos and don’ts. Because of this, certain foods are thought of as only “diet” foods and some foods are thought of as “dessert” or “treat” foods. To eat chocolate while on a diet is a sin and sometimes people who are not on a diet feel guilty eating this food as well. While there are foods that are more nutritionally dense than others, it does not mean that guilt and shame should be associated with (moderate) portions of foods that we love like chocolate, ice cream, cake, bread (CARBS AREN’T BAD!), good cheese, pasta, and meat, etc.

4. Some diets use a lot of processed and packaged foods. For example, Nutrisystem uses a lot of packaging to send prepared meals to clients. Walk down the health section of the grocery store and what will you see? A million little healthy snacks wrapped in individual portions and powders and seeds in plastic bags or containers. Don’t get me started about the price of membership for diets (not affordable for many) and for these “health food” items. Healthy should not produce that much plastic waste and should be affordable for all.

5. A good thing about diets? I have had clients in the past tell me that they learned about portion sizes and how to not overeat because of their time doing Weight Watchers or Nutrisystem. Proper portion sizes is not a topic taught in school so I would agree that if you have the money to spend to learn this lesson, it is a valuable one that you would hopefully not forget. You could also spend your money to meet with a Registered Dietitian for a session or two – I guarantee that portion sizes would be taught within the first session.

Whenever I would have a client come to me asking for me to “put them on a diet” these are some of the things that we discuss and then they usually agree that a diet is not something that they are interested in. My motto and the motto of most other dietitians is that no food is off limits and you can maintain a healthy weight and live a life free from chronic diseases by practicing healthy lifelong habits such as these:

-Eat three meals a day, don’t wait too long in between meals (4-5 hours max) or you might over-eat during your next meal or over-snack.

-Try to make half of your plate either fruits, vegetables, or a mix of the two and put your whole grains and low-fat proteins on the other side of your plate.

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-Drink water 80% of the time, eat/drink low-fat dairy (3 cups of dairy per day!), and only on special occasions allow yourself things like soda, juice, or alcohol.

-Watch your add-ons. These are items that we add to foods that increase the calorie content and do not add nutritional quality to our meal. Coffee creamer, butter, condiments (mustard is just fine), salt, gravy, jam, too much peanut butter, too much cheese, etc.

-Indulge in the sweet, savory, and salty but don’t go overboard. These are special foods and they don’t need to be eaten in large quantities and not every day, save them for special occasions and fun treats. If you think you might be over-indulging in these items, track how much of them you are eating and try to cut down to 3/4 the amount per week, and then 1/2 per week, and so on. My husband and I love to go out sometimes and treat ourselves to a nice burger – its a treat, not a habit.

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-If you have a desk job, be intentional about walking breaks. Try to get 20-30 minutes of walking during your work day. The office that I used to work in did two stair sessions (7 floors) per day. It was fun to get people involved in being healthy together.

Image result for picture of an office staircase

-In addition to this, try to get 3-5 days of exercise in per week. The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week (jogging, walking at a nice clip, swimming, biking, etc). If you prefer higher intensity workouts (interval training with short bursts of speed, followed by a moderate pace) the recommendation decreases to 75 minutes of exercise per week. The AHA also recommends at least 2 sessions of strength training (weight bearing exercises, these can be done with our without weights). They don’t give a time for this but anywhere from 15-45 minutes. Beyond 45 minutes and you might be over-doing it for your muscles. Whew!

This may look like a long list and I have to say that sometimes I fail at several of these (we all do at times). But that doesn’t mean you are a failure or that you should stop trying. Keep up the hard work and the habits only get easier.

What are your thoughts about diets? Have you ever tried any that worked for you or helped

~The Optimist

Fitness

Becoming an at-home workout pro!

Hey guys,

When I realized that we would be moving overseas, my mind went into full preparation mode. Where should we put our stuff, our car, our kitty, how will it all get done in time? For the first week I was fairly high stress as I typed up an email to send to all of our family with the good news and asked various friends and family to help us out by watching our bed and other furniture while we were gone for two years. But as I have said before in other posts, Zach and I were very blessed throughout this entire process. In less than a month we had most of our details taken care of and my mind moved on to other moving details…

1. What type of food is in Lebanon, is it healthy, are there fruits and vegetables or do they mostly eat bread and cheese?

2. Where will I work out?

Food and exercise are ways that I feed my physical, mental, and emotional self. I know me, and I know that in order for me to love who and what I am I need time for both of these things in my life. And after reading the book, “Food and Faith: Justice, Joy, and Daily Bread” for an undergraduate class during my senior year of college, I also realized that the entire food process, shopping, prepping, cooking, eating, and yes, even cleaning up can be a time for me to connect with God and thank him for the daily bread that he provides to me and my family.

So, the next most important thing to me to do was research Lebanese cuisine, grocery stores and gyms in the area. I quickly found that Lebanese cuisine is very fresh, although can sometimes be heavy on bread and cheese (but all cuisines can do this as well). And because Beirut is such a large city, I can find any ingredient that I want (for the most part) plus a plethora of very fresh fruits and vegetables. Good food? Check!

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Lebanese Fattoush salad with a scoop of tuna salad on top for protein. Homemade after I had it in a restaurant and loved the dish! The first of my tries at traditional Lebanese dishes!

Gym memberships in Beirut are crazy expensive. Because of this, I decided not to dip into my personal savings for this indulgence, and instead figured that I would find ways to exercise without a gym. I knew that this would be hard for me though, I have belonged to a gym since I graduated high school. I love being surrounded by others with similar goals, I love going to group fitness classes (Spin class I miss you already), I like having all the free weights and cardio machines at my disposal, and I would say that going to the gym is my hobby.

So what have I found instead of a gym?

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I know I am behind the times with this great resource, mostly because I have always had a gym membership, but this girl is great! I look for her 45 minute+ workouts because while I like the practice of yoga, I feel that if my yoga workout is 30 minutes or less it isn’t really challenging to me. But maybe I haven’t gotten to the hard stuff yetSmile

  • Track workouts

Courtesy of Zach who was a GREAT track and cross country runner in high school. I have only done one of these with him but will post more track workout ideas at a later date, I promise!

  • Distance running workouts

Steady state runs along the Corniche=awesome! I am sure that Zach and I will sign up for a half marathon or something here in Beirut. Not sure what/when at this time but it is nice to have something to train for!

  • Resistance band workouts

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My resistance bands, jump rope, and tank top that I had to shed after a crazy resistance band and HIIT workout.

I’m never really looking to bulk up but I like to keep good tone and definition, especially in my arms. Resistance bands are great to help with this and they weigh so little that I was able to bring three different types over from the states. You can also do tons of things with resistance bands, its great!

  • Multiple blogger-inspired at-home workouts

I definitely have a couple of favorite places to go for these at-home workouts. PB Fingers and The Fitnessista. The bloggers are certified in personal training and they are full time bloggers and moms. Naturally they have a lot of good and free at-home workouts to do. I typically will choose a workout and adjust it to my personal needs. Here are two that I did this week and plan to do next week to see if I can do more rounds with less rests:

10-1 Bodyweight Workout. I spiced this up a bit with intervals of jump rope and a resistance band arm workout half way through.

Cardio-Killer HIIT Workout: My plan was to do this 3x through but I only made it through 2x and had to pause for many breaks! Crazy hard and crazy good!

This was the first week that I wrote out a meal plan AND a workout plan (note that the meal plan for this week is vegetarian!). Its going okay, but I have had to switch up the schedule of things a bit because right now I am sitting at home with body aches and a feverSad smile I don’t think I will get to today’s workout which was supposed to be a track workout because I skipped my Thursday workout:/ Oh well, right? If I was perfect at working out there would be no motivation to be better. I’ll try harder next weekSmile

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My scrappy meal and workout plans. Whatever works, right?

It was nice to chat with you all! From the swing of things here it seems as though I will probably post once a week now instead of every day. See you all next week!

~The Optimist

Question of the week: What activities in life are a must-have for you to feel fulfilled, happy, and healthy?

Uncategorized

Beaut Beirut

I have to start this post by sincerely apologizing for my leave of absence. I know that I broke one of the biggest rules of blogging, “Be consistent” when I disappeared for over 4 weeks, or has it been 5? But let me just say that I had quite a bit on my mind and I gave myself a BIG, healthy break starting when my mom came to visit me in Pittsburgh and help me pack up the house and continuing through my transition to moving overseas. I have missed blogging, however I did not at one point during the last 5 weeks feel the urge to blog. Quality over quantity, right? I can say that I feel more like myself these days, albeit lacking a bit of my usual routine (working/cooking/working-out balance all a little bit in flux at this point).  Kinda feels like vacation to be here right now and I am going to let myself enjoy that feeling.

This vacation feeling is due to a couple of reasons, one is that my work week is currently a bit more flexible with some extra pockets of free time. The biggest reason that I feel like I am “on holiday” is because every time I step out of my door to go for a run, walk 10 minutes for dinner groceries, or walk a couple blocks to the friendly produce man to get the BEST PRODUCE I have ever had, I get all excited and giddy. I hope to never get over this feeling.

I think that an important piece of information to share with you all is that security is a bit higher here than in the States. For many reasons, but mostly to protect myself and the people that I will be working with, I will not be able to share much, if anything about the work that I am doing here via blog posts. In fact all of my blog posts will be read by my bosses, just to ensure that I am not accidentally including sensitive information that could harm myself or others.  I will however be writing a newsletter of sorts for interested friends and family. I hope to include more about the work that Zach and I are doing in that, but again, I may need to be rather vague at times.

What I will continue to write about is my faith, good food, sound nutrition advice, my fitness and exercise endeavors, and of course, the beautiful country that I live in and the others that I have the chance to visit while I am here. I look forward to sharing these future posts with you all.

So what have I been up to during my first three-ish weeks here? Mostly getting accustomed to my new environment, making our apartment feel like our home, and spending lots of quality time with Zach while we discover all of the beautiful places and great food that Beirut has to offer. Since we got married we have never spent more than 1 night apart from each other (crazy, I know). We were ready to see each other after 5 weeks apartSmile Yes, we were both pathetically crying when we finally got to see each other at the airport. Yes, Zach was waiting all dressed nice and holding flowers..it was perfect!

reunion

One of my favorite places so far to visit is the Corniche. Its this stone boardwalk that runs along the Mediterranean sea. Its gets really full on the weekends with people fishing, swimming, running, roller-blading, flying kites, etc. Apparently I am not the only one who loves the Corniche.

 

Corniche 1Corniche 2Corniche 3

suks 2

Close by the Corniche are a group of very high-end designer stores. It’s a little odd, because these stores are so expensive that literally no middle-class person can afford anything from them and therefore the beautiful area that they are located in, called the Suks, is mostly empty. However, it is still a lot of fun to walk around, look at the French-inspired architecture and go to the close by farmers market and flower stand.

One of my first priorities here was to buy flowers for my balcony. After seeing the flower stand I literally could not rest until we returned for a little selection of petunias and daisies. They are doing quite well in the boxes and pots on my balconySmile Thompson Falls, Montana friends – check out the bag, I use it all the time!

flowers

Currently I am studying Arabic and I hope to be able to make some use of this language while I am here, but we will see, it is certainly harder than my college Spanish classes. It is beautiful to write and if that is all I had to do it would be easier, but there are two parts to a language and you must know how to actually pronounce the words (and know what they mean!). Zach is studying it with me and I truly enjoy making fun of his attempts to pronounce some of the harder Arabic letters and words. Recently the class has been getting very hard and I wonder if we will ever figure out how to put a sentence together with all the correct conjugations and such.

Arabic

I don’t want to get too wordy on you and there is no possible way I can fill you in from my last post, so how about a few pictures to end things for the day?

crazy cat

One of my favorite cat pictures ever! Look at the eyes! I have seen this guy a few times during my journeys around Beirut. There are quite a few stray cats which we love!

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Instant coffee (Beirut doesn’t have much else to offer unless you want to pay BIG BUCKS$$) – I thought you would be absolutely disgusting but somehow I don’t mind you at all. But for real, does instant coffee have any caffeine?

good coffee shop_LI

But I do still get excited when we get American coffee, Zach does too!

homemade crepesmanoushe

Homemade crepes with strawberries and nutella (left) and Manoushe (cheesy bread with veggies). Home and out, we are certainly eating amazing foodSmile

Please bear with me while I figure out how often I want to blog. I know it will not be a daily occurrence like I was doing in Pittsburgh but I want to find a good balance that allows me time for all my new life has to offer. It was nice to chat with you all again. I will be back soon with more good food and fitness finds. Have a great weekend all!

~The Optimist

Recipes

No-Bake Chocolate Eclair (Cheat) Cake

It rhymesSmile

I made this beauty of a cake last night to take to a friend’s for dinner tonight. This is my all-time favorite dessert to make and take to other’s houses. It is VERY hard to mess up, even if you are like me and add all the wet ingredients at once instead of in order (you’ll see). It also takes about 10-15 minutes total to make, and that includes clean up! There is no baking with this cake, but you do have to let it sit overnight, so a little bit of planning required. AND, it is a crowd pleaser! You know the feeling when people around the table just can’t stop complimenting you on your dessert? THIS is THAT item.

cake piece

This was something that my meemaw made when I was younger. My sister could finish an entire cake herself, it was our favorite and is still a family favorite. I believe the only thing that I do differently from her is that I cheat on the chocolate icing – just makes it that much simpler. Enjoy and don’t wait too long to try!!

cheat cake.jpgcake 1

1. Take your two boxes of pudding mix and combine them with the 3 cups of milk. I used 1% milk. Mix and beat this well. If you accidentally add the cool whip right away the cake is forgiving and everything will be okay:)

Cake 2

2. Open your graham crackers and make a single layer on the bottom of a cake pan. You will have to break some lengthwise to place along the edges of the pan as the crackers don’t quite fit in whole pieces.

3. On top of the graham cracker layer, spread with a spatula, half of your pudding mixture. You will then make another layer of graham crackers, same method, now you have two layers of graham crackers and one pudding layer in between.

Cake 4

4. Add the rest of the pudding mixture and another layer of graham crackers. You will end with 3 layers of graham crackers and two layers of pudding.

5. This next part is the cheating part. Some recipes have you make icing from scratch, however, I use store-bought chocolate icing and heat it up in the microwave to make it soft and spreadable. If you are a bit uneasy about microwaving plastic, scoop it out into a glass bowl. I put mine in the microwave for 30 seconds and then an additional 10 seconds. Stir the icing and then spread on top of the cake, covering all of the graham cracker.

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6. I always make mine the night before I need it. I would guess that it needs at least 5-6 hours in the fridge. The graham crackers need to soften so that the cake cuts easily. The cake will last for a few days in the fridge after serving. The graham crackers will just continue to break down. My husband doesn’t like the cake on the 4th or 5th day because of this. For the same reason, this cake can be frozen, but things come out a bit mushy.

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7. I hope you enjoy!

 

cake recipe

Uncategorized

Girls just wanna have fun–type ‘o’ weekend!

Hey there! I did A LOT this weekend! So instead of make you read through the details, here’s the skinny version, enjoy and happy Monday! (ugh)

1 and 2: Friday evening workout and Friday night movie night with kitkat. Leg workout and Fences.  I did my leg workout again. This is the second time. Last time that I did it I was sore for the next 3-4ish days. I decided that I clearly need to work on my leg muscles so I did the same workout again, this time around? I am not as sore and it is Sunday night, so that is great, I think I will do the same one again this week and then switch it up. Fences– not a comforting movie, but a good one none-the-less. Just made me think and hurt for the characters in the movie – I can see why it was critically acclaimed.

Friday night beauty

This was a picture from the beautiful snow that we got on Friday evening. I snapped this pic after coming home from the gym and getting off the bus. In case you were wondering, yes, I take those stairs every day…and for Pittsburgh, that’s not bad at all.

3 and 4 and 5: Saturday morning workout (arms – I am VERY sore from this and to be honest couldn’t even make it through the 2nd round!), cupcakes, and dinner with a visiting friend. Why cupcakes? NoteCuz girls just a wanna have fu-un!Note

cupcakes 3

cupcakes!

cupcakes 2

This were mine (minus one that I ate). My friend has taken cake decorating classes before and was trying to teach us the ways…a lot of what we did turned out looking like poo piles Smile

6 and 7 and 8 and 9: Sunday morning breakfast with my (unofficial) RD mentor (she has been meeting with me since the beginning of my college dietetics career=much respect for this wonderful role model), church, and then packing, plus movie night #2. On the Edge of Seventeen….I kinda want something more uplifting.

mentor pancakes

Chocolate almond pancakes…mmmmm

Favorites from this weekend:

  • New blogs I am into following and have mucho respect for: http://andytherd.com/blog/ and http://www.fannetasticfood.com/ There are so many blogs out there so please bear with me while I take small bits at a time!!
  • My goodwill finds! I like the first one because it makes me feel MediterraneanSmile And the second is just a nice warm sweater that I can wear with literally anything. I kept trying to see what was wrong with them at the store but I still can’t find a thing! Love me some GoodFinds @ GoodWill.goodwill 2goodwill1
  • My cute soup in a cup because I forgot to grab a couple of cheap plastic bowls at the store

soup in a cup

  • Kitty using me for a pillow

kitty pillow

  • My miniature pantry that I successfully scaled down

mini pantry

  • Prepping for my mom to come, so excited!

dunkin

birchbox

What were some highlights from your weekend?

Recipes

Coconut Date Balls

Its Friday!!! I have a recipe to review with you all today. I also feel that for a Thursday, I accomplished quite a bit. Or maybe I just took a lot of pictures when I got home. Which, for me – a person who usually shoves food into her mouth and mid-chew I realize that I meant to photograph all of the steps that I took to make the food that I no longer have…would be a success!!

I’m going to be honest, I wasn’t planning on being productive today. I was going to go out with some coworkers after work. However when I got home and saw that the sun was shining I bailed on those plans. No worries, I was confident that I wouldn’t be missed. I am kind of a home-body and definitely an introvert so I blame those tendencies whenever I just chose to spend time with myself.

So the sun was out and high in the sky and yes, it was a bit chilly, but the sun hasn’t been out like this in Pittsburgh allll week, so I decided to take an outdoor run. Before that , I put together a crock-pot meal with ingredients from my pantry that I am trying to use up. I had refried beans, corn, broth, diced tomatoes, black beans, and I had precooked chicken in the fridge. Perfect ingredients for some shredded mexican chicken soup eh? I added, with a heavy hand, chili powder, some garlic and onion powder, and pepper and salt. I am writing this on Thursday night my crock pot soup is not done yet…I mistakenly thought that my crock pot would cook quicker. So now I will have soup for the weekend! I’ll let you know how it tastes but in my opinion, you can’t go wrong with the combined ingredients.

Chicken soup crock pot dinnerAfter I put the soup on I hopped in the car and drove down the hill to the riverside trail in Southside. The sun was definitely still shining but I encountered a head wind right away and I didn’t bring a headband or a hat….I was therefore very cold on the first leg of my trip and only slightly better when I turned around and didn’t have 37 degree wind blowing in my face. I still think that I enjoyed the run because the city looked beautiful and I really wanted to remember this moment when I am away in Lebanon.

cold run 1

Just a beautiful running trail, even prettier in the summer when the trees have leaves!

cold run 2

This is the only face that I could make when I got back in the car 30 minutes later. My ears were throbbing and I was making groaning noises and complaining about the cold…maybe a little dramatic, but seriously, it is mid March!

I'm cold

After the cold run I stopped by the grocery store to gather items for a recipe that I plan to make during the Pittsburgh Farm to Table conference next week. I will be talking about Nutrition and Liver Health. I wanted to pick a recipe that was a naturally high protein source for individuals who need extra calories and protein due to liver disease. I came across my recipe in a Food and Nutrition Magazine (by the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics). I know that these tasty snacks are not anything new, however they typically call for a protein powder. This one does not but still has 280 calories and 8 grams of protein per serving. Yes they are high in calories, hence why I am making them for individuals with liver disease. I would caution eating too many of them if you already get plenty of calories from your meals. For snacks I like to stick to 100-200 calories and only if I am hungry. A good serving for these then would be just one ball, which I think you can be satisfied after eating just one, they have a lot of flavor!

Rolled balls

Here are the ingredients that I used for my recipe, not pictured, Vanilla Greek Yogurt. I was supposed to use Siggi’s but I forgot to get it at the store!! I was also supposed to buy dates without added sugar and I made the mistake of assuming those didn’t have sugar. So my end product was a little sweeter than it should be!

balls recipe

             rolled unfinished ballscoated ballsball close up

The ingredients were expensive to buy in total: $40 ish dollars, however I didn’t use everything for just this one recipe, but if you don’t have these items at home, just a heads up! They blended well in the food processor and didn’t take long overall. Like I said, they were a little sweeter than should be but definitely still tasty. I think that they are also perfect size for a crowd to sample next week. I look forward to making them in a larger amount next time with the correct yogurt and unsweetened dates.

Question of the day: What is your favorite go-to snack?

~Meghan

RD Advice

What’s Trending – Dietary Supplements

Hi guys, I am coming to you this post with a new what’s trending topic about dietary supplements. I know that in the dietitian world, this topic is a classic – I felt that it was my time to put a word in for why I do not recommend money spent on dietary supplements for most individuals.

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What are dietary supplements? Dietary supplements are vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes, and herbs. They come in the form of tablets, powders, liquids, soft-gels, and capsules (1). Most of the components of dietary supplements can be found in the foods that we eat.

This is a statement taken directly from the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) website: “Unlike drugs, supplements are not intended to treat, diagnose, prevent, or cure diseases. That means that supplements should not make claims such as “reduces pain” or “treats heart disease. Claims like these can only legitimately be made for drugs not dietary supplements.”

Are dietary supplements regulated? Yes they are! The FDA regulates supplements under a set of regulations established under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act. Basically the FDA is trying to make sure that the above statements are not being applied to supplements and steering people the wrong way. The FDA also wants to make sure that supplements are safe for consumption. However, keep reading…

Along with the statements about regulation, this is also noted on the FDA website :

The FDA is not authorized to review dietary supplement products for safety and effectiveness (do they actually do what they claim to do) before they are marketed.

Basically meaning that something that has very little research about its safety and claims can be marketed for consumer consumption before being reviewed by the FDA. They step in when a report has been filed about a product and take steps to research that report and determine if the supplement is okay for consumers to buy.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) also steps in to help with advertising claims. Again, they only enforce rules if a supplement is found to be guilty of false advertising after it is already on the market.

What is the research that supports or opposes supplements? Its hard to research individual supplements on your own. For a really good resource about a specific supplement that you are currently taking or interested in taking, try one of these resources, compliments of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Medline Plus:

Dietary Supplement Fact Sheets

Botanical Dietary Supplements

Vitamin and Mineral Supplement Fact Sheets

Dietary and Herbal Supplements

Herbs at a Glance

Dietary Supplements

Why the big fuss over supplements? I like to write about how marketing and media influences what we eat. I think it is fascinating. I believe the push for supplements comes directly from marketing schemes and great advertising campaigns, not specifically from research.

Who would benefit from a dietary supplement? While not a research article, this article is from the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, which is a trusted resource that summarizes the latest research. It explains who may need dietary supplements and who does not.

  • Children
  • Pregnant women need to take a prenatal
  • Individuals who have been tested for nutrient deficiencies
  • Individuals who are at risk for bone density loss (calcium and vitamin D combined supplement)
  • Recovering alcoholics
  • Individuals with liver disease
  • And select other cases – please speak to a Registered Dietitian to determine whether or not you need to be taking a supplement.

Am I harming myself by taking supplements? Probably not, but you may not be getting any gain from it. If you already have a diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, dairy or fortified dairy substitutes, lean meats, and whole grains then you are already getting 100% of what your body needs for vitamins and minerals. Anything more than what you need gets excreted in your urine. Kinda like peeing out $$$…..you know how thrifty I am!

For some vitamins and minerals there is a toxic upper limit, meaning if you over do some of the foods, there may be side effects. Please look into your supplement and do some research online to determine if there is a risk for over-supplementation. This is a good resource to identify what vitamins and minerals can have side effects if over-supplemented: https://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm118079.htm#risks

If there would be a supplement to look into it would be…?

  • Fiber supplement (many Americans don’t get enough fiber through their diet – try to do that before looking into this supplement)
  • Calcium and Vitamin D supplement (if you are at risk for bone loss, which is many post-menopausal women)
  • Prenatal Vitamin (a must when you are pregnant)
  • Iron (only if you are deficient)
  • Vitamin B12 (if you are vegan you may need this)
  • Multivitamin (not everyone needs one of these though!)

Do I take a supplement? I almost wrote no, but then realized that I sometimes will take melatonin, 5 mg, to “help” me fall asleep. I was actually surprised when I researched melatonin and found the body of research to be rather inconclusive. I have had nights where I believe that I fell asleep because after I took the melatonin I got sleepy. After performing some research on that I think that my melatonin just might give me the placebo effect. Is it worth it for me to still buy and take occasionally? That is a yes in my opinion, but my mind may be changed in the future when I run out of it. I also looked to see if melatonin was safe and it is, even if used in large doses.

Question of the day: Do you take a supplement and what for?

~Meghan