Healthy Eating

What's this Keto diet all about?!

If you aren't curious about the Ketogenic diet yourself, I'm sure you've heard a relative, co-worker, or someone at the gym spreading the news about how well it works. BUT HEY, not so fast! Do you know what this diet was created for or question how it could give results so fast? If there's one thing we've learned from fad-diets is that long-term isn't part of the plan. The word 'DIET' makes everyone cringe. It has such a negative connotation that even I hesitate to use it and choose 'healthy lifestyle' over 'healthy diet', as often as possible. We've got to start thinking about food choices as long-term sustainable commitments that we can be happy with. It's also very important to ask, "what will become of my body when I stop dieting?" 

I’ve done extensive literature review on the Ketogenic diet versus a balanced diet high in fiber in regards to chronic disease prevention and long-term brain health. Eating fiber-rich consistently wins by a long-shot based on evidence-based research, and common sense. 

The explanation:

The Ketogenic diet is actually a therapeutic diet for people who have epilepsy. I’ve seen this diet used to treat children who suffer from seizures and it’s been found to provide relief by decreasing seizure activity. It is an extreme diet high in fat, moderate protein, and very low in carbohydrates. There is a ratio determined for each patient that may be adjusted as seizure activity decreases. Patients on this diet are usually managed by a MD and dietitian because it’s miserable, very hard to stick to, and short-term so growth is not compromised. 

Unfortunately, this diet has gone mainstream without knowledge of how damaging it can be because, 1. carbs are necessary for growth (in kids), 2. Athletes risk inconsistent performance, poor recovery, and lean tissue loss from glucose depletion, and 3. it changes brain chemistry, which research to-date does not totally understand the mechanism.
My first reply to keto is usually: don’t mess with your brain function! 

This diet is appealing to people who want to lose weight because when the body is starved of glucose, which happens when we don’t eat enough carbohydrates, it is forced to find another energy source. So, we burn down our body fat. Fat produces a by-product called ketones which are toxic and eliminated through urine. So, the purpose of the keto diet is to produce ketones. Not something I would advise when trying to develop healthy habits and a balanced diet. It is particularly not appropriate for people at risk for heart disease and diabetes.

The reason ketosis does not work long term (and also why it’s dangerous) is that the body is literally eating itself alive. Weight gain is almost certain when transitioning back to a normal, healthy, balanced diet.

Please understand this: Carbs are not bad. Complexity is important. Carbs breakdown to glucose which is our #1 preferred energy source to store and burn. We just have to choose fiber-rich.

Side note: The DRI of carbohydrates begins when we are 12 months old at 130 grams per day minimum and that goes for our entire lifetime! Research has found that 130g per day is primarily to support the brain because it uses up the most energy especially when we are sleeping and repairing.

 

If you are more interested in brain health unrelated to the Ketogenic Diet, I would highly recommend reading: “The Alzheimer’s Solution” Sherzai MDs.

TATERS! Don’t be afraid. They actually ARE good for you!

As a Dietitian, I am constantly confronted with what I call “Carbophobia” towards all things starch. Last weekend a friend said to me with excitement, “I’m off the wheat and grains!” Instead of congratulating her I replied with a simple question, “why would you do a thing like that?”

The human gut is a wondrous contraption, and there is not a food-frontier that hasn’t been explored by an adventurous foodie looking for the thrill of tasting, swallowing, and digesting. In my opinion, just because we can eat anything we want on this planet doesn’t mean that we should. Hence, the reason I am perplexed as to the purposeful elimination of foods that are safely grown and extremely healthy, such as grains and potatoes. Certainly, there are bona fide reasons why a person should not consume specific food allergens. However, before assuming that your gut is better off without something that you may have once regularly consumed, we must first question overall diet quality. Also, keep in mind that most humans can digest wheat gluten, yeast, and grains. It would be a shame to eliminate foods based on assumption instead of consulting your doc and testing for absolute proof of allergy or intolerance.

Humans have depended on the nutritional value of the potato going way back in history. Numerous books are dedicated to the feast-or-famine of civilizations in regards to potato crops. In the 1500’s, taters got a bad rap. They were thought to be poisonous, a dangerous aphrodisiac, and the cause of leprosy. It took serious persuasion from chemists and the threat of starvation to convince Europeans to consider the potato a staple in their meager diet of the time. Even Marie Antoinette wore potato blossoms in her hair as an act to persuade the people to trust in the nutritional value of tubers (although this didn’t last for very long knowing how it ended for poor Marie). Maybe her famous quote was misinterpreted and “Let them eat potatoes” was more like it.

DON’T BE A TATER-HATER

Potatoes are incredibly versatile to cook with and highly nutritious. Get ready to be surprised by the nutritional information of the glorious potato! In general, potatoes are kings of potassium, vitamin C, and fiber, just leave the skin on for maximum nutritional value. Sweet potatoes are similar with an additional boost of vitamin A. Potatoes are a little tricky to quantify because of size variation, but this is rather accurate:  

1 cup of Yukon Gold (8 oz by weight) is approximately 166 calories, 40 grams of carbohydrate, 0 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of fiber, and 4.5 grams of protein. YES, protein! Plants contribute to your daily intake of protein, as well. 1 cup of sweet potato is approximately 114 calories, 27 grams of carbohydrate, 0 grams of fat, 4 grams of fiber and 2 grams of protein. Go easy on the added fats, toss your taters with just about any spice known to man, and you have a healthy carbohydrate on your plate. Add roasted beets and carrots plus a serving of protein and Voilà! A low-fat, beautifully balanced meal. 

Take a look at this website for further information: https://www.potatogoodness.com

  Zoodles + sweet potatoes! 

Zoodles + sweet potatoes! 

Healthy. Affordable. Food.

Let’s be real- all the fancy pictures of food in blogs and feeds are awesome BUT probably took a lot more time to put together than most of us have. Convenience, budget, and practicality are priority for most households. Both parents work, students have jobs, and singles bust their buns trying to make ends meet. We aren’t often born knowing how to feed ourselves as we age and a lot of folks never learn! No wonder it’s so damn hard eating healthy.

Pictured is $25 well spent from Walmart. Recently I spent an hour helping my best gal pal put healthier meals together. She has 2 teenage daughters who eat very differently from each other, while she works 6 days per week. It's hard to know what's healthy let alone how to put it all together! The first task is simply to stock your kitchen. If the cupboards are full of items from the chip isle we have set ourselves up to make poor choices. Moderation works for some, while other folks need to keep it out of the house to begin with! Set your household up for success by excelling to expert status at the grocery store. 

  Fiber is the priority! 

Fiber is the priority!