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Healthy You

A New Year of Success: Achieving Your Nutrition and Diet Goals in 2017

January 18, 2017 3:00 PM with Lynn Tucker

Some of the most common New Year’s resolutions relate to our diet; cut down on sugar, lose 5 pounds, drink more water. With a plan and patience, these goals are achievable, but many find that after a few weeks of full-on commitment, they're back at square one. When it comes to your goals, it’s important to make realistic and safe choices. Not sure how? Ask Lynn Tucker, registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator, who will be taking questions on how to create and achieve realistic diet goals, as well as providing expertise on nutrition. 

Kathryn (Moderator) - 3:00 PM:
Our chat on diet and nutrition in 2017 is now open. You can submit questions at any time during our chat.

Lynn Tucker, RD, CDE (NorthShore) - 3:00 PM:
Good afternoon. I'm a registered dietitian, nutritionist and diabetes educator at NorthShore's endocrinology clinic. I'm looking forward to answering your questions about diet and weight loss goals today.

  Mia (Evanston, IL) - 3:01 PM:
I'm jumpstarting the new year by doing the Whole30 diet. It's going great, but I'm worried about resorting back to bad habits after 30 days. What's your advice for staying on track, but not keeping strict adherence over the next several months?
Lynn Tucker, RD, CDE (NorthShore)

Hi Mia,

That's a great question. Going on a short-term, a very restrictive diet seems like a good way to get "back on track" so to say, but as you mentioned, at the end of the 30 days, will you be able to maintain avoiding so many foods? The benefit of an eating plan like Whole30 is that it emphasizes a lot of unprocessed foods. However; it eliminates whole food groups, which probably isn't a good thing long-term.

I would suggest learning from some of the good things about Whole30; maybe you have found some healthy recipes that you really like or found that you are happy snacking on raw veggies instead of crackers. Keep those habits going.

Then set measurable limits for some of the less-healthy things you want to enjoy in moderation. For example, if you like dessert, decide that you will enjoy a dessert once per week. Once you've had it for that week, you decline any other opportunities that present themselves.

  Chanel (Chicago, IL) - 3:06 PM:
What are some of the recommended methods and/or foods and/or diet plans to restart/reset and speed up metabolism?
Lynn Tucker, RD, CDE (NorthShore)

Weight loss does tend to reduce your metabolism (how much energy you use during the day), which seems to be because you lose muscle and fat when you lose weight. Severely over-restricting calories can also decrease your metabolism.

To keep your metabolism as high as possible, be sure to do resistance exercise to help increase or maintain lean body mass (muscles) and eat regular meals. Sometimes people need to actually eat a bit more than they think if they have been really restricting calories for a long time, especially if they exercise a lot.

  Jarees (Gurnne, IL) - 3:11 PM:
I would like to become a partial vegetarian, where I only eat fish as protein, but I would like to maintain and build muscle. What are some in high protein foods that are not meat-based, and some fish options other than salmon and tilapia?
Lynn Tucker, RD, CDE (NorthShore)

Great question. A plant-based diet has been shown to have a lot of health benefits.

Some good non-meat proteins include: Lentils, chickpeas, beans (like kidney beans, black beans, etc), low fat dairy (Greek yogurt, cheese, milk), eggs, tofu, edamame, peanuts, nuts, seeds and whole grains (to an extent).

Other fish: Tuna, sardines, whitefish, orange roughy, trout and catfish. You could also try other seafood like shrimp.

  Nicole (Libertyville, IL) - 3:15 PM:
Do you recommend any diets (i.e. Paleo, Weight Watchers, etc.)? If so, what's the best one in your opinion?
Lynn Tucker, RD, CDE (NorthShore)

Hi Nicole,

Any plan that reduces your overall calories, includes a variety of healthy foods and that you are able to stick with over time is a good plan for you. Don't forget to include regular exercise as part of any weight loss plan.

Some that have proven benefits include the DASH diet, Mediterranean diet and I do think some people have good success with Weight Watchers.

  Nidhi (Chicago, IL) - 3:19 PM:
I had a baby 4 months ago, and am trying to lose weight. What can I do to change my habits to eventually lose weight and keep it off? I'm not into junk food, but am not an organized eater. I also have hypothyroidism, which is controlled.
Lynn Tucker, RD, CDE (NorthShore)

Congratulations on your new baby! It can definitely be frustrating when you feel like the weight is not coming off after you have a baby.

Sometimes its helpful to take 5 minutes in the morning and think about what you have going on that day. Decide then what you will eat, even if it doesn't work out exactly as planned; you will probably be more organized overall.

Keep things simple, keep healthy, easy-to-prepare meals and snacks on hand such as raw veggies and humus, fruit and nuts or low fat cottage cheese, whole grain toast with peanut butter, canned beans or chickpeas on a salad, pre-cooked chicken breast, a microwaved sweet potato or frozen veggies.

One thing to consider if you are breastfeeding; be careful not to over-restrict your calories.

It takes 9 months to gain the weight during pregnancy, so give yourself at least 9 months to lose the weight you've gained.

  Kenya (Chicago, IL) - 3:27 PM:
I've tried using apps such as MyFitnessPal to keep track of calories consumed in a day. The problem that I am facing is creating/translating a home cooked meal. Do you have any suggestions for how I can apply my recipes in an app (including spices/seasoning), and accurately track my caloric intake daily?
Lynn Tucker, RD, CDE (NorthShore)
Myfitnesspal does have a recipe calculator), but if you don't like that one, you could try (Spark People's version). Luckily, seasonings and spices don't tend to have many calories so if you don't add them it won't change the nutrition numbers. If you want to add them to keep the recipes saved, you should be able to using these websites.

  Laura (Skokie, IL) - 3:31 PM:
Is grazing throughout the day unhealthy? Example: Granola bars, almonds, oranges... as opposed to having 3 larger meals? Or would having several, perhaps 6, smaller meals per day be better?
Lynn Tucker, RD, CDE (NorthShore)

It depends.

Generally you feel fuller when you eat a larger amount of food at once. Whereas with grazing you may end up eating more overall because you never quite feel full (not hungry).

If you are trying to lose weight, grazing can also make it more likely that you will eat more than you think you are or lose track of how much you're eating.

For most people, I recommend you eat 3 meals per day, and have snacks if and when you are hungry in between. That doesn't mean that people can't do well eating 6 meals per day, but depending on how many calories you need, each meal may end up seeming tiny and not satisfying.

For example, if you are trying to eat 1800 calories per day, divided this into 6 meals would equal 300 calories per meal. That can be hard to stick to.

  Anastasia (Chicago IL) - 3:38 PM:
Is it unhealthy to not eat any fats at all while dieting, or would it speed up a person's weight loss?
Lynn Tucker, RD, CDE (NorthShore)

Fat is an essential part of a healthy diet.

I always recommend that you include healthy fats like avocado, nuts, peanut butter or other nut butters, olive oil/canola oil/peanut oil and/or seeds in your diet, even if you are trying to lose weight.

The tricky part is not eating too large of portions of these foods. They have a lot of calories in a small amount. For example, 1 tablespoon of olive oil has about 150 calories. You may not notice or taste any difference between 1 tablespoon and 2 tablespoons in a meal. This could lead to unintentionally eating more calories than you need.

Basically, eat healthy fats every day but do be careful about limiting how much you have.

  Joan (Evanston, IL) - 3:44 PM:
What is the difference between Whole30, Keto, Mediterranean and Paleo diet plans? Which do you recommend?
Lynn Tucker, RD, CDE (NorthShore)

The Mediterranean diet: Plant-based diet that includes small amounts of meat and fish, emphasizes fruits, vegetables, legumes (beans, peas and lentils), whole grains and health fats (particularly olive oil and nuts). This diet has a lot of research showing it is beneficial for heart health. I would recommend this over the others.

Whole30 - Low carb except for fruits and some vegetables, very restrictive, does emphasize fresh foods, although is probably difficult to maintain long-term and prohibits some objectively healthy foods like legumes.

Keto - A ketogenic diet, this is extremely low carb. It was traditionally used to treat epilepsy in children. It is so low carb that your body has to break down fat and muscle to make blood glucose, a by-product of this is ketones which can also be burned for energy in the body.

Paleo - Similar to Whole30.

  Beatriz (Skokie, IL) - 3:50 PM:
Is it bad to eat red or white meat? I'm thinking of becoming a vegetarian - what kind of foods can I eat as substitutes for meat in my diet?
Lynn Tucker, RD, CDE (NorthShore)

Vegetarian or plant-based diets are generally shown to be good for your health. Even if you aren't a strict vegetarian, there are benefits to eating less meat and more plant-based meals.

There is definitely evidence that processed meats are harmful - this would include hot dogs, sausages, bacon, deli meats, bologna, etc.

There is also some evidence that people who eat the most red meat (beef, lamb, goat) have higher rates of some health problems.

I don't know of any specific studies that look at white meat.

I think you can give it a try, and if it's not for you or you don't stick to it 100%, that's still okay, and you're probably doing something good for your health.

You can refer to my response to Jarees' question for more information.

  Paula (Evanston, IL) - 3:55 PM:
After trying several dieting methods and not seeing results, is weight loss surgery a good option?
Lynn Tucker, RD, CDE (NorthShore)

That will depend on the individual and your personal health history. Weight loss surgery is recommended for anyone with a BMI over 40, or anyone with a BMI over 35 and a comorbidity (for example diabetes, high blood pressure or severe sleep apnea).

You can find out your BMI here.

I do think it is a good option for some people, and if you are interested, you can ask your doctor about it. There is also a support group that NorthShore has that you can attend to ask more questions.

Kathryn (Moderator) - 4:00 PM:
This will be the end of our chat. Thank you for your questions!

If you'd like to know more about the value of some of today's popular diets, take a look at Lynn's blog post breakdown.

Lynn Tucker, RD, CDE (NorthShore) - 4:01 PM:
Thanks everyone for your questions!

This chat has ended.

Thank you very much for your participation.