Friday, June 6, 2008

Resist Temptation, Think Long-term

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The staff in the AgCenter really tortured me today. We had a reception honoring some wonderful employees for their service to our organization. The reception was an ice cream social, and after all I had written about ice cream, I had to pass. Such pain! And it was that extraordinary LSU AgCenter Dairy Store ice cream. Real ice cream! But I set a good example and passed on the ice cream and got back to work, ate a few almonds and drank a diet drink. Feel sorry for me yet?

During the past few blogs as I have discussed the blood profile and the DXA results, it is amazing just what happens when you get a little askew of your nutrition plans. This just drives home the point that short-term fixes don’t fix anything. You have to think long-term, hang in there as you make lifestyle changes, make smart choices and exercise. We are making progress and continue to pound home the message. The obesity problem is too critical for us to ignore.

I find weekends most challenging with regard to nutrition. It’s easy to relax and let little things slide. However, you do have some time for exercise.

I have to go to the grocery store on the way home. Remember my fast from yesterday? I will get my first test of bypassing the candy and ice cream as I check out.

Bill Richardson


Thursday, June 5, 2008

Temptation at the Check-out Counter

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How do we avoid impulse eating? Ever just gotten something to eat on an impulse even when you didn’t feel hungry? My experiences – and it is extensive with impulse eating – is that the impulse always involves something not on my smart choice list. Sweet or salty snacks. Ever wonder why the check-out counters have candy and snacks next to where you can easily reach them? I must have bought 3,000 packs of M&M’s (peanut M&M’s) over the past few years as I was checking out at the local supermarket. The longer the wait, the more likely I reward myself for waiting by reaching over (notice how close they are to your cart) and clutching onto that yellow sack of calories. Ever see a tray full of asparagus next to the checkout counter? Now, they put a cooler box full of ice cream as you enter the checkout line. Why do they torture me so? It is hard to pass on both ice cream and M&M’s in one check-out experience. To overcome this I am going on an impulse-buying fast while checking out.

I often block my calendar into university-oriented segments – the fall semester, the spring semester and the summer term. My summer term will focus on maintaining my exercise program with any modifications recommended by the specialists and keeping a good food log. There are about 15 more pounds I want to shed during June, July and August.

I start tomorrow to share with you some of my summer term plans. One of those is to check out fast at the supermarket!

Bill Richardson

Nutritionist’s Response

Taste responses are influenced by a range of genetic, physiological and metabolic variables. We eat in response to energy balance. We feel hungry several hours after a meal, particularly if we have been physically active. Eating also occurs in response to environmental signals, including learned cues. These cues can modify our eating depending on what kind of associations we have with food. For example, when we smell popcorn in a movie theater – even if we are not hungry – we may choose to have it because we associate eating popcorn with watching a movie. These cues are learned and can override satiety.

Food preferences and desire to eat are based on genetic predispositions, which include the unlearned preference for sweet and salty tastes. We also develop associations between food flavors and the postingestive consequences of eating. If we get ill after eating a particular food, we may not want that food for a long time because we associate that food with the illness.

Our dietary choices are strongly influenced by the smell, taste and texture of foods. Fats are responsible for the sensory properties of many foods and contribute to eating pleasure. Many flavor compounds are fat-soluble and contribute to the full flavor we associate with a particular food. When the fat is removed, so are these flavor compounds, and we don’t find the food as pleasurable. We reward others with food such as candy and chocolate. So reaching for those M&M’s happens because of learned cues (giving fatty foods to those we like and love) and rewards we associate with the food (we received M&M’s for good behavior when we were young).

A study was done with children to see if their preferences for fatty foods were related to the total energy intake and family preferences. They found that those that preferred high fat foods had a higher total fat intake, they had higher skin fold measurements and heavier parents than those that preferred lower fat foods.

Our eating behavior is complex and is based on both genetic predispositions and learned cues combined with environment. We can learn new behaviors and train ourselves to make smart choices. It will take time, but there are big rewards associated with that: less chance for chronic diseases and feeling better and stronger. Use this guide, Finding Your Way to a Healthier You, to get you started on healthy eating.

Heli Roy


Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Can’t Be My Fault

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I guess we are going to have to buy new scales for the Human Ecology instrument room. My weight rose 4 pounds in the past 60 days, and I know that it was the scales. Maybe it was the increased humidity…or maybe it was…Maybe??

Actually, eating too much appears to be the culprit. My exercise log will be examined. And, I will do a five-day food log to include the weekend to gauge the calorie consumption. Yesterday, there was fine analysis of a three-day log I turned in last week. We will review this information and see where I might need to alter either nutrition and or exercise.

However, I do want to keep this all in context. The goal of starting this program was to make lifestyle changes, specifically with exercise and nutrition. In my personal case, the metrics strongly indicated that I need to reduce my weight. My first indicators said I was obese. My blood profiles revealed that I need to change my nutrition to lower total cholesterol and improve the good cholesterol and lower the bad cholesterol.

Over the past eight months we have accomplished a lot. But with a lifestyle change you have to think long-term, not in terms of days or weeks but months and years. I am interested in permanent change and not just short-term weight loss that reappears over time. I didn’t really like yo-yo’s when I was young, and playing yo-yo with my weight doesn’t interest me now.

My experience thus far finds that the exercise part of the program has been easy to instill in my lifestyle. As I reported yesterday, May was my best month yet. My exercise records will be reviewed, and we will report on that later this week.

Yet, I have much work to do with the nutrition part of the program. Although I am making smarter choices, my weight has remained in a 5-pound range over the past five months. In my thinking I am maintaining but not accomplishing the weight loss that the metrics indicate that I should for a healthier lifestyle.

The plans for the next week will be to review the exercise records, and complete a five-day food log.

I am committed to long-term lifestyle changes and will continue to move in that direction.

Bill Richardson

Nutritionist’s Response

I can certainly appreciate your disappointment – it’s been two months since your last DXA scan, and I’m sure you were expecting better results. I also applaud your continued enthusiasm and commitment to making this a permanent change rather than expecting immediate short-term results that would invariably not last.

I think the time has come for your advisers, the “nutrition experts” who provided the guidelines you have so rigorously followed, to re-evaluate your diet and exercise plan.

I’ve taken a look at your exercise log since the beginning of the year, and I’d like to make a suggestion: Continue with your usual walking but add more minutes of physical activity each day. As you mentioned yesterday, you are walking an average of 3.6 days per week for 50 minutes each session. To lose weight (and to ultimately keep it off), you should accumulate 60-90 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity every day (5 days per week minimum).

Do something you enjoy, like gardening or walking the dog. Remember, any 10-minute bout of activity counts toward your 60-90 minutes each day, as long as it is consecutive.

Click on the following link for more information. http://www.health.gov/DietaryGuidelines/dga2005/document/html/chapter4.htm.

As for your diet, I noticed that your average percentage of calories was 42% from carbohydrates, 17% from protein and 38% from fat. If you can decrease your total fat to around 25% by increasing your carbohydrates and protein, you should have more energy so you can exercise more frequently and for longer durations.

Michael Zanovec


Tuesday, June 3, 2008

May Best for Exercise, OK for Diet

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Can you believe that it’s June already? Looked over my May exercise log and found out it was my best month since starting the program last October. I exercised 18 of the 31 days, averaging more than 50 minutes per walk for 3.3 miles each time. That means I walked about 60 miles in May. I think I kept pretty close to the 15-minute-per-mile pace, which is my target. I would like to include some light weight training and stretching like yoga but can’t seem to get those activities fixed in my schedule. The walking is a part of my life, and the life change in that regard is firmly fixed. I hope to get in another 60 miles in June. My DXA is schedule for tomorrow.

I did turn in food log for three days last week, and the analysis appears below. Generally, the total calories were on target. My total fat content was a little high and sodium was a little high. As usual, the dietician recommended I eat more fruit and vegetables. If my weight has stabilized and my exercise program continues to stay at a high level, but I’m not losing weight, I may need to adjust the nutrition plan. We will ask the nutritionists to make recommendations for June, then make the necessary adjustments.

Of course, most of us cheat (I would say lie but that is such a strong word) when keeping food logs, and perhaps interjecting good old-fashioned brutal honesty into the quantity and quality of when we eat would make it easier to develop realistic nutrition plans.

Read carefully the following analysis. You might find some suggestions that could help you.

Bill Richardson

Nutritionist’s Response

Chancellor’s Nutrient Tally May 28-30, 2008

Based on the food diary for three days, it looks like caloric intake is right on target. It is always advisable to look at averages over 3 to 5 days to get a better picture instead of trying to have a perfect intake every day.


May 28

May 29

May 30


Total Calories (kcals)





Protein (gm)





Carbohydrate (gm)





Total Fiber (gm)





Total Fat (gm)





Sodium (mg)






As you can see, caloric intake varied by about almost 600 calories from day to day, and that is normal. We can balance our overall intake over several days by consuming less on days preceding or following a day when we consumed more than is recommended.

Here is a printout of one day’s recommendations based on MyPyramid recommendations:

Comparison of Your Intake with
MyPyramid Recommendations for billrichardson

Your Pyramid Stats

Milk Intake

-------2.4 cup equivalent

Milk Recommendation

----------3 cup equivalent

Meat and Beans Intake

----------------------5.2 oz equivalent

Meat and Beans Recommendation

---------------------------6.5 oz equivalent

Vegetables Intake

---1.8 cup equivalent

Vegetables Recommendation

-------------3.5 cup equivalent

Fruits Intake

--0.9 cup equivalent

Fruits Recommendation

-----2 cup equivalent

Grains Intake

------------------4.6 oz equivalent

Grains Recommendation

--------------------------------------------------9 oz equivalent

Pyramid Categories

Percent Recommendation



Meat and Beans








Fruit and vegetable intake is low overall, and I would recommend including more fruits and vegetables during the day. Fruits and vegetables have many beneficial phytochemicals that help reduce the incidence of chronic diseases. I would recommend eating more salads during the day and including cooked vegetables with protein foods when possible. Meat and milk intakes are very close to recommendations and are a good mixture of seafood and low fat protein items.

Sodium intake was a little high overall for the three days, and it was the highest on one day when the diet included several ready-made or fast-food items. Fat intake as well was high on that day. Ready-made foods are high in fat and sodium, or fat and sugar, and are usually low in fiber. Try to limit ready-made foods to as few per week as possible, particularly if you are at risk for chronic diseases. Foods made from scratch can be much lower in salt, sugar and fat and higher in fiber. A diet based on low-fat dairy, fruits, vegetables and whole grains can prevent and delay chronic disease development. See more information about the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) eating plan to reduce high blood pressure and delay the development of other chronic diseases.


Heli Roy


Monday, June 2, 2008

Pregnant? Don’t Start Weight-loss Program – Guest Blog

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(Editor’s note: This blog was prepared by Carol Lammi-Keefe, who is the Alma Beth Clark Professor in the LSU AgCenter’s School of Human Ecology. She also has a joint appointment with Pennington Biomedical Research Center. Lammi-Keefe has recently published the Handbook of Nutrition and Pregnancy (Humana Press), aimed at people in the health-care profession to help them understand the particular nutritional needs of women of child-bearing age.)

Pregnancy is not the time to embark on a weight-loss program. If you are overweight, plan a modest weight loss before a planned pregnancy. If you are already pregnant, wait until after your baby is born to start a weight-loss program. A woman should not turn to popular weight loss diets (Atkins, South Beach, Zone) during pregnancy.

During pregnancy a woman should gain weight. However, if you are overweight, the amount of weight you should gain during your pregnancy is less than what is recommended for normal-weight women. 

For overweight women, the reasons for weight reduction before pregnancy have been well described. Obesity is related to difficulty becoming pregnant, increased risk of miscarriage, abnormalities in the developing baby and even fetal death, high blood pressure for the woman – to name some of the problems. 

Before pregnancy the approach for weight loss should include a combination of a low-calorie and low-fat diet and at least 45 minutes of daily physical activity such as walking, swimming, etc. The physical activity does not need to take place all at the same time; it can be spread out over the day. Recommendations for maternal weight gain during pregnancy have been established by the Institute of Medicine and are based on how much a woman weighs before becoming pregnant. These recommendations are based on BMI and are provided here:

                        BMI                Total weight gain in pounds

(low)                <19.8                28-40
(normal)         19.8-26.0         25-35
(high)              26.0-29.0         15-25

So it is easy to see that even if a woman is carrying extra weight, she needs to gain additional weight during pregnancy – weight gain is needed for the baby to grow and develop normally. 

After your baby is born, breast-feeding your baby can help with weight loss. If you choose to breast-feed your infant, you should not aim to lose more than 1 pound per week. Your breast milk will be providing the nutrients your baby needs to grow and develop normally.

Carol Lammi-Keefe

2/10/2009 1:16:33 AM
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