10/15/07 - 10/19/07

Chancellor's Challenge. Chancellor Bill Richardson has made the decision to change to a healthierlifestyle. Follow his daily accounts and remarks from nutritionists to help him stay on course.

October 19, 2007

I Can't Believe I Ate The Whole Grain

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When reviewing the food log, the nutrition specialists suggested that I include some whole grains. Wanting to appear somewhat knowledgeable, I agreed. But secretly I thought – what are whole grains and why are they so important? A whole grain is just that – the whole grain seed. I went on the AgCenter Web site and found out more than I ever really wanted to know about whole grains and why they are important. Given some of the choices, I’ve added steamed brown rice to the nutrition plan, usually about 1 to 1 ½ cups cooked. I didn’t think I would like it, but I found it to be very tasty. Also, I am making sure that my morning cereal is from a whole grain.

There is a lot of evidence that consuming whole grains such as wheat, rice, barley and rye have been shown to reduce most of the chronic diseases we have talked about in this blog, i.e., heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes and obesity. What I did learn is that the whole grain does not have to be eaten whole. Sound confusing? In many cases when you process a whole grain, you eliminate the bran and germ parts of the whole grain seed kernel. So when you have a whole grain, you can eat it whole, cracked, split or ground. Be sure to keep the three parts of the grain – the bran, germ and endosperm – present. That seemed to make some sense. It is recommended that we eat about three servings or more of whole grain per day.

I guess this means that if I can find a whole wheat donut, it would count toward to my serving. The nutrition specialist might give me a demerit for that thinking. Therefore, I’ll just be cognizant of including three to five servings of whole grains in each daily nutrition plan.

How’s your exercise plan going? I’m getting in the 4-4-4 workouts and really enjoying the exercise. I took a long “power” walk (relatively speaking) on the levee path in downtown Baton Rouge. We need more of those types of projects. The sunset was magnificent.

Bill Richardson

Nutritionist’s Response

Whole grains are foods made from the entire grain seed (kernel), including the outer shell or bran, the germ and the endosperm. In order to achieve a finer texture, refined grains have been milled to remove the bran and germ. If the kernel has been cracked, crushed or flaked, it must retain nearly the same relative proportions of bran, germ, and endosperm as the original grain to be called whole grain.

Milling removes much of the B vitamins, iron, and dietary fiber. Refined grains are usually enriched after processing to add back certain B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folic acid) and iron. However, fiber is not added back to most enriched grains.

Both whole grain and enriched grain products provide carbohydrates that our bodies use as fuel for physical activity and other functions. Whole grains contain fiber, which has been shown to improve digestive health and reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Whole grains also contain vitamins, minerals and plant-based nutrients (phytonutrients) such as antioxidants. Even though iron and certain B-vitamins are added back to enriched grain products, they still lack many of the other important nutrients found in whole grain products.

Some examples of whole grains are:

  • Whole wheat.
  • Whole oats/oatmeal.
  • Whole grain corn.
  • Popcorn.
  • Brown & wild rice.
  • Whole rye.
  • Whole grain barley.
  • Buckwheat.
  • Tritacale.
  • Bulgur (cracked wheat).
  • Millet.
  • Quinoa.
  • Sorghum.

Studies show that whole grains may help lower triglycerides, improve insulin control body weight. A study funded in part by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) found that older adults who consumed nearly three servings of whole-grain foods daily were significantly less likely to have metabolic syndrome, a condition comprised of three of the following health risks: Abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, poor blood sugar control, low HDL cholesterol and high blood fats. Metabolic syndrome increases the chances of developing diabetes and heart disease.

When shopping, identify whole-grain food products by reading ingredient labels. Bread can be brown because of molasses or other added ingredients. In addition, foods labeled with the words multi-grain", stone-ground, 100% wheat, cracked wheat, seven grain or bran are usually not whole-grain products.

Choose products with labels that list whole wheat, whole oats, whole rye or some other whole grain cereal as one of the first few ingredients. Ingredients are listed in descending order of weight (from most to least).

Some products also include a whole grain stamp from the Whole Grains Council or other symbol to indicate they are good or excellent sources of whole grain.

The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommendation is to eat at least 3 ounces of whole-grain cereals, breads, crackers, rice, or pasta every day. One ounce is about one slice of bread, 1 cup of breakfast cereal, or ½ cup of cooked rice or pasta. According to the Whole Grains Council, our average intake is just one serving of whole grains each day. Half of Americans eat no whole grains at all.

USDA Links:

Beth Reames


October 18, 2007

Drink Up

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I had a bout with kidney stones a few years and never want to have that experience again. The doctor’s advice was to drink as much water each day as I could. Water is needed by the body for many reasons. The advice is simple. Drink plenty of water – at least eight glasses a day or more.

Other fluids that we drink are also important. When I turned in my first food log, the specialists gave me three suggested changes – more dairy, more whole grains and more fruit. They recommended I drink a little more milk than I had reported for that day. Next to water, milk is one of our most important fluids. Milk not only helps hydrate the body but also provides nutrients. I drink either low fat (2%) or skim. In addition to using it with the cold cereal in the morning, I try to drink at least one additional glass sometime during the day. I suggest that you too help our dairy farmers by drinking a glass or two of milk every day.

Now the fluid intake gets a little dicier. Soft drinks, sport drinks and all the new stuff on the market have a place. I have my favorites, and I’m sure you do too. I have chosen diet drinks and limit myself to one per day. Regular drinks are also okay but should be consumed in moderation. I know of people who drink six to eight regular soft drinks a day and struggle with weight issues. With my new healthier-eating plan, I don’t want to waste calories on something other than nutritious agricultural products. I read somewhere that we should avoid “empty” calories. Read the label of all the new drinks and then consume in moderation those that fit your caloric plan.

What about beer and other adult beverages? For my nutrition plan I have decided to limit any alcohol to a bare minimum, which is not a big deal for me. In two and a half weeks, I believe my total beer consumption has been three. Just remember – if you are only going to consume a limited number of calories each day, make them count and eliminate as many empty calories as possible.

Drink more water and milk! They are smart choices!.

Bill Richardson

Nutritionist’s Response

Water is essential for survival. The human body can only live three or four days without water but may be able to survive many weeks without food.

Water has many essential functions in the body. It is the solvent for biochemical reactions, helps maintain body temperature and vascular volume, transports nutrients and removes waste, and serves as a signal to regulate cell metabolism and gene expression. The body's water content averages approximately 60 percent of body weight, with a range from approximately 45 to 75 percent. For example, the body of a 70-kg (154 pound) adult contains approximately 47 liters (about 12.5 gallons) of water. The total amount of body water includes both intracellular (within cells and organs) and extracellular (outside of cells) fluid compartments.

According to the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institutes of Medicine Dietary References Intake (DRI) report, most healthy people adequately meet their daily hydration needs by letting thirst be their guide.

In addition, according to the Food and Nutrition Board, although most people can meet fluid needs by drinking when thirsty and regularly consuming beverages at meals, prolonged physical activity and heat exposure will increase water losses and may raise daily fluid needs. In very hot weather, very active individuals often have daily total water needs of six quarts or more.

In addition to physical activity and environmental conditions, diet composition, disease and health conditions, and use of diuretics and other medications can affect water needs. It’s also important to remember that water needs vary from day to day.

Both beverages and food supply our need for water. About 80 percent of people's total water intake comes from drinking water and beverages – including caffeinated beverages – and the other 20 percent is derived from food. Solid foods may contribute about four to five cups of water each day. Many fruits and vegetables are 90 percent fluid.

According to the Food and Nutrition Board, drinking caffeinated beverages doesn’t lead to total body water deficits. These beverages can be consumed to help meet hydration needs, along with other beverages and food.

Thirst and normal drinking at meals are usually sufficient to maintain hydration, according to the Dietary Guidelines and DRI recommendations for fluids for proper hydration. Healthy individuals who have routine access to fluids and are not exposed to heat stress consume adequate water to meet their needs.

To avoid dehydration during prolonged physical activity or when it is hot:

  • Drink fluid regularly during the activity.

  • Drink several glasses of water or other fluid after the physical activity.

Tips to help you stay hydrated include:

  • Drink cool (59 - 72 degrees F) water because it’s absorbed faster, and you’ll usually drink more of it because it tastes better.

  • Water can come from all kinds of beverages and food, including juice, milk, soup, tea, coffee and soft drinks. Plain water is great, too. Remember that juice, milk and soup offer other nutrients as well.

  • Try drinking fruit juice diluted with plain water or sparkling water for a refreshing lift.

  • Some beverages, especially those containing alcohol, may lead to loss of body water.

  • Bottled water may be in style, but in most cases, it's no better than the water in your tap.

Bottled water makes it convenient for people who have trouble remembering to consume the recommended amount of water.

Beth Reames


October 17, 2007

Snack Strategy

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I just got back from the opening seminar in commemoration of World Food Day. The LSU AgCenter-sponsored seminar presents an interesting paradox. The traditional purpose for World Food Day is to call attention to poverty, hunger and malnutrition. This year’s seminar presented another closely related social issue – obesity in a development country. Confusing isn’t it! Even in the presence of malnutrition, obesity has become another social issue. Read the press release.

To snack or not to snack! That is the question of the day. I’m snacking on some unsalted roasted almonds as I write this. These nuts are a smart choice for a snack, the experts tell me. I find that a handful of almonds at mid morning helps with the pre-lunch hunger. Some of the literature indicates that eating five or six small meals a day is a better approach than three big ones. My choice has been to stick with three main meals and have a light snack mid morning and mid afternoon. I have chosen to eliminate any snacks after dinner in the evening.

I group snackers into two categories – sweet and salty. Of course, some of us obese people have our feet (mouth) in both categories. Sweet snackers just have to have that sweet item, while the salty snackers want their salt product. And, we all have our favorite forbidden treasure. I am a salt snacker. My favorite forbidden snack is popcorn. I mean real popcorn, popped in grease (hog lard), salted abundantly and topped with real butter. A real popcorn eater would never settle for that artificial cardboard-tasting stuff. A sweet snacker might want cheese cake, oatmeal cookies or ice cream – also one of my favorites.

If you incorporate a snack into your nutrition plan, make smart choices. Watch the portion size. I hope to have some of that real popcorn once I get my BMI below 25. I’m thinking of it as a reward!

Bill Richardson

Nutritionist’s Response

Snack attack! That’s the phrase some people use to describe between-meal grazing. Snacks, chosen sensibly, can actually be beneficial in that they supply vital nutrients and help stabilize blood sugar levels between traditional meals. Additionally, studies have found that snacking helps to prevent you from overeating during mealtime because it takes the edge off hunger.

Follow these tips to take the attack out of your snack:

  • Include snacks as part of your daily routine. Snacks should be counted as part of your recommended caloric intake.

  • Read food labels when choosing a snack. Snacks should be nutrient-dense foods and fit into your eating plan as recommended by MyPyramid.

  • Use portion control when snacking – just like you would at regular meals.

  • Avoid grazing or snacking when you’re stressed, working or watching TV. If you’re not hungry, don’t snack.

  • Want information about specific foods that you should snack on? Read Smart Choices: Eating on the Go.

Denise Holston


October 16, 2007

Art Of Eating Out 

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There are several special challenges in the conversion to a healthy lifestyle. Three that pose a major threat to me are: eating out, eating while I’m traveling and social eating.

We have become a society of that eats out. It is not uncommon for many people with busy lifestyles to eat out three times a day. It is part of our business culture and part of our family life. Eating out requires discipline. Most restaurants have heart-healthy menus. I’m not bashful about asking how a dish is prepared and, if necessary, ask that it be prepared a certain way to fit my nutrition plans. Also, as we discussed early in this blog, portion control is important. We are in control of that fork. You know all the tips and suggestions. Enjoy your food in moderation and be cognizant of how it’s prepared. You have the right to eat it the way you want and as much or as little as you want. We can eat out and enjoy the experience and remain committed to our healthy lifestyle. Make smart choices!

Traveling also presents some challenges. I find driving, especially over boring distances, makes it easy to stop and get an unhealthy snack. I have found that by drinking water I can control caloric intake considerably. Most any travel convenience store has bottled water, which seems to cost more than gasoline. If I just have to have something to nibble on, I use almonds, fruit and sometime pretzels. Of course, all done in moderation. Make smart choices with snacks!

If there is ever a culture that has mastered social eating it’s South Louisiana. Before we finish one meal, we are planning the next. All our occasions require meals. You just can’t get away from social eating. But, we can be smart about it. For family-type meals, portion control seems to help me most. That way you can eat a little of most things without doing major damage to your caloric intake. Cocktail parties I find easier. Most party trays include boiled shrimp and lean meats that are quite tasty and plentiful and allow you to eat while being social. I just don’t eat 14 eclairs any more. I’m trying to make smart choices!

Bill Richardson

Nutritionist’s Response

According to the National Restaurant Association, Americans spend 47.9% of their food budget at restaurants. Eating out doesn’t mean that you can’t eat healthy. Consumer demand has compelled most restaurants to offer meals that fit into a healthy diet. Many restaurants provide nutritional information for menu items, which assists patrons in making wise choices. Additionally, in collaboration with the National Restaurant Association, California-based Healthy Dining has launched a Web site – Healthy Dining.com – where consumers can identify healthy food choices before they dine.

Following are some basic tips when eating out.

Fast Food Restaurants:

    • Look for grilled chicken sandwiches or “small” hamburgers.

    • Skip the mayo and cheese.

    • Try a salad with low-fat, light or fat-free dressing.

    • Skip the value meals which can contain almost 2,000 calories. Is that a value for your health? Try a small hamburger and fry instead.

Other Dining Establishments:

    • Look for clues in the menu. The terms baked, broiled, grilled, roasted, stir-fried, braised, steamed and poached describe food preparation methods that are low in fat and calories.

    • Watch out for the terms like au gratin, fried, buttered, creamed, rich, sautéed and scalloped, which indicate preparation methods that are higher in fat and calorie.

    • Ask for a to-go box when your meal arrives. Place half of the meal in the container. Out of sight, out of mind.

    • Salad dressing on the side, please.

    • When in doubt, ask! Again, many restaurants offer nutritional information about their menu items. Do not hesitate to ask for substitutions. For example, ask if you can substitute the side item “mac and cheese” with “roasted potatoes.”

Eating healthy while traveling can also be accomplished, but sometimes it takes a little planning. In preparation for a road trip, pack a sack full of snacks. These might include pretzels, fresh fruit (washed), graham crackers, pretzels, rice cakes, seeds/nuts and raisins. Small coolers can also be used to store beverages such as water, 100% fruit juice, milk or vegetable juice and other healthy snacks such as string cheese and pre-cut veggies. Convenience stores carry healthy foods, but sometimes they can be a bit more expensive than if you bought them at a grocery store. Need more snack options when traveling? Read Smart Choices: Eating on the Go.

Denise Holston


October 15, 2007

Commitment Monday 

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The weekend weather in Baton Rouge was fantastic – perfect for exercise! As you recall, my exercise goal is four times a week for forty minutes and, when on the treadmill, at level four or four miles per hour. I’ve termed this the 4-4-4 plan. I was able to exceed this for the week, thanks to the beautiful weather. Additionally, the second weekend on the nutrition plan was also successful. I stayed within the caloric maximums and ate wholesome agricultural products.

As news of this blog filters out, I have come in contact with many people who have wonderful success stories. A friend of mine named Bruce, after some good-natured kidding from mutual friends about the two basketballs he was carrying under his shirt, decided it was time to commit to a nutrition and exercise plan. The results are worth reporting. He went from a 42 waist size to 34, dropped 50 pounds, and now has a BMI in the 22-23 range, down from plus 30. He went from obese to a healthy weight and lifestyle. His advice to me was COMMIT. He also said loose fitting clothes feel better than snug ones. We will check back with Bruce after the first of the year to see how he has been able to maintain this healthy lifestyle.

A dietitian friend of mine offered some wisdom regarding changes to a healthy nutrition lifestyle. She has many clients who ask what the best diet is. Her sage advice is that if you commit to a change in your nutrition, then most any reasonable nutrition plan with work for you. Proper nutrition and exercise in many forms will achieve your goals, if you commit. Maybe this will be your Commitment Monday.

Finally, with any major change, boredom begins to set in and you start to question your resolve. I’m two weeks into this and remain committed to stay the course. Temptations abound, however, and fighting the urges to return to the old style is just one donut away. I’m 14 days and counting without a donut. Nothing can stop me now!

Bill Richardson

Nutritionist’s Response

Usually when we start with something new, such as a new hobby, we are excited and ready at first. If there is immediate success, we get feedback and continue enthusiastically. At times, we don’t get the immediate feedback we are looking for, and we must hone our skill to get the feedback we want. Adopting a new lifestyle is a skill we must work on a while before we get the feedback we want. Adopting a new exercise regimen brings immediate physiological improvement, even if it is not visible at first. Similarly, adopting new eating habits brings about immediate physiological changes even if they are not visible at first. For example, reducing caloric intake will immediately change liver metabolism, intestinal metabolism and brain chemistry. They switch from having to synthesize fat, due to the excess caloric intake, to recruiting fat from cells for meeting energy needs. We won’t see any biochemical changes taking place, but it happens immediately when we change our energy status. It takes a couple of weeks to see external changes. This is the time to add interest in dietary intake by trying new recipes, tastes and flavors. It is time to re-educate the palate and taste food, herbs and spices that add interest to foods. For example, once the palate is trained to taste a lot of salt, reducing salt in foods will make it taste bland and tasteless, but only for a short time. After that, the person can start tasting the food with lower salt content and be able to detect all the flavors that were masked by salt. It is the same with fatty foods. What people sense and want is the feeling of fat in the mouth. To reduce fat intake requires re-educating the palate to like the sensation and flavor of reduced fat products. Most of this is complicated brain chemistry. Researchers can spend their careers testing how our brain reacts to new flavor compounds.

In a healthy lifestyle, we don’t have foods that are off limits because it creates cravings. We recommend eating small portions of most foods. If we build a diet that has mostly foods with low caloric density, i.e. least processed and cooked with the least amount of fat, we can occasionally have more energy dense foods. Building a plate of mostly fruits, vegetables and whole grains is a sensible approach to eating that would be easy to maintain in the end.

Think about incorporating healthy Louisiana products in your diet this fall such as Louisiana yams, popcorn, blueberries and seafood.

Heli Roy

2/10/2009 1:16:35 AM
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