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Why the Paleo Diet amuses me


This is what really cracks me up about the Paleo diet. Jan D came for a visit – wanted to know my thoughts about it. I can’t argue with many of the components – more protein, fewer carbs, and of course, no processed foods. But then Jan pulled out a “Paleo” turkey jerky bar, “what do you think about this?” I chuckled and we laughed together when I asked how in the world can a Paleo product exist in a package. Seriously? I googled Paleo diet, clicked on a page (developed by one popular fitness chain) and it had an impressive list of what you can and can’t eat. No potatoes. Okay then why was there a recipe right next to the article that included sweet potatoes? And maple syrup. That’s a sugar. Why is that allowed and not “sugar” sugar. I find it amazing to see how many recipes there are for Paleo bread, Paleo pancakes,

Alcohol? Depends on which Paleo version you look at. Diet soda is even allowed on one. Hmmm, wonder where our ancestors made that stuff.

Are you “hypoglycemic” or do you just need to have a snack?!

Fruit and Nut Granola Bars - nutrition babes

Mid-afternoon snacks—Interview with The Nutrition Babes

The Nutrition Babes ( and I had the opportunity to meet in Philadelphia at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics annual conference in October, 2012.

Kathy Siegel, RD, CDN and Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RD are registered dietitians passionate about better health through balanced nutrition, exercise, and cleaner living.

They had a lot to say when I asked them about what to do when people get that mid-afternoon slump. (To see the video interview, scroll to bottom or click here.)

Neily: Over the years I’ve had patients and clients tell me how fatigued they are, light-headed­—they claim they’re “hypoglycemic”.  It often happens mid-afternoon. I tell them I think you just need to eat.
Kathy: Absolutely…
Neily: Tell me about some ideas of what to eat.
Kathy:   This is a big problem. This is when everyone is headed towards the candy bowl—I am just going to grab something little now…But we have to plan and prepare a little bit before we get to that point.You are having more of an early lunch and yes around 3 o’ clock that’s when you really start hitting it. You have to incorporate a snack because there is no way you are going to be able to go from lunch to dinner. And if you don’t incorporate that snack you are going to end up driving home, getting home and that’s it. You’re heading towards the cabinet or refrigerator and grabbing the first thing there.You want to have a healthy dinner and want to be able to prepare it when you get home.  You need to incorporate that snack when you are not so hungry in the evening. We have some great ideas for high fiber, high protein snacks. Lauren, maybe you want to discuss that.
Lauren: Definitely. We have so many snacks.  Again protein and fiber so easy… a little preparedness and just bring it with you.In a little cooler you can have some whole wheat crackers with a little bit of low-fat cheese or some edamame (boiled soybeans) —its a high protein and high fiber snack all by itself.Something like cottage cheese with some berries or Greek yogurt with berries. Or even Greek yogurt by itself is going to have enough protein. The berries are going to have the fiber. Or a little high fiber cereal you can sprinkle in.We have a lot of recipes on our website that are great little snacks. We have make-your-own granola bars—you can play with the ingredients however you want. But we have got fruits, nuts and oats and it makes a great little package when you play with the amount of sugar you want in it. You can really control it (what you eat) instead of purchasing something in the store.

There are great little mini-muffin recipes. We sub out Greek yogurt for a lot of oil or applesauce for oil. We always use whole wheat flour and fruits and sometimes nuts. Again, you get the protein, the fiber and they are really yummy. With a little preparation, you can come up with some great snacks. You just have to think ahead.

Kathy: That is the key: the planning. So either, if you have some time on the weekend, you want to do the shopping then and you want to think about the week. Keep things at your desk: packets of oatmeal, great fiber. A lot of offices will provide basics­ like milk or you can run down to the cafeteria and get some skim (nonfat) milk, sliced cheese, hard-boiled egg, something else to have that protein and then you have the fiber from the oatmeal.Some whole-wheat crackers, pretzels, things like that—that are shelf-stable and you can keep on hand, at your desk. There are a lot of great options.You have to remember to just go for the right things: the protein and the fiber in the afternoon.Eat your snack on the drive home, if it is convenient—a cheese stick or some milk in a cooler or thermos. Just don’t go home too hungry. You will sabotage it.
Neily:    You walk in that door and…
Kathy:   That’s it. We have all done it. But just with a little planning…
Neily:    Planning, fiber and protein. Great ideas. Their website is You can get all those ideas, recipes and much more!


Why diets don’t work (or do they?)

Why diets don’t work (or do they?)

Diets actually DO work. They (usually) help people lose weight. How many people do you know that went on the Atkins diet? Lots? They lost weight right? Did they keep it off? Likely not. Why? It’s not sustainable. But it is so easy! ALL you have to do is stop eating carbs. That’s it! But is it the baked potato that’s the bad evil creature? OR is it the company it keeps? Can’t have a baked potato without the butter, sour cream, cheese, and bacon!

Okay so the Atkins diet is passé’. Been there done that. Let’s look at a more popular diet – the Paleo diet! Why has it gotten the attention of so many people? I’ll tell you why. Before embracing the miracle, Tony J was eating crap. Fast food almost every day, beer frequently. He suddenly discovered Paleo and turned his eating habits around. Was it the Paleo diet or because he stopped eating crap?

Diet myth #3 with Shelley Rael – Fact or fiction? Carbs are bad for you

This is third in the series of six myths that Shelley Rael and I talked about in Philadelphia at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Food and Nutrition Conference & Expo in October. To watch the video click here or scroll to the bottom of the post.

Diet myth #3 with Shelley – Fact or fiction? Carbs are bad for you

The term "natural" is applied to man...

Neily: This is Neily on Nutrition!  I’m with Shelley Rael, a private practice dietitian from Albuquerque, New Mexico. We’re talking about diet myth number 3. And that is…?
Shelley: That carbs are fattening.
Neily: Alright.
Shelley: People say they cut out carbs because carbs make them fat. I tell people all the time nutrition is not black and white. There are many things that are involved. By themselves, carbohydrates are not fattening; they are not higher in calories than other foods. Per gram they’re actually lower in calories compared to fat.What happens is that people say I cut out carbs, I lost a lot of weight and well, you know they cut out the sugar, the candy, the sodas, the refined carbohydrates. The plant-based carbohydrates—the fruits and vegetables—are not the carbs that are making people fat. If you have five oranges you wouldn’t be fat.The other thing I tell people is that when you cut out the carbs, you’re losing a lot of water. Carbs and water are best friends, “BFFs”. So when the carbs are gone, you lose a lot of water. But as soon as you have a piece of toast, all that water comes back and the weight fluctuates.So, on one hand yes, cutting out carbs can help you lose weight but that will happen with any food that you cut off altogether.
Neily: Yes, it comes down to the calories.
Shelley: Right, and it’s also the quality of the carbohydrates. Again calories are calories, but when you are having good calories, the healthier calories so to speak whether they are carbs or fat or protein, it’s going to be healthier and better than having the refined, processed junk which tend to be carbs.Sugar sugar
Neily: All carbohydrates are plant-based foods—the fruits, the vegetables, the whole grains—and then you’ve got your refined carbohydrates. American Heart Association has the recommendation for six teaspoons of added sugar per day for women and nine teaspoons for men. That’s what 24 and 36 grams (respectively).Also one of the things people are quick to look at is the sugar on the label. Just because it has sugar (doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat it). Something might be a yogurt and it has sugar in it but that’s from the lactose from the milk… I get that a lot.
Shelley: I get that a lot too. I help people learn that the label where it says sugars does not distinguish between added and naturally occurring sugars. So I tell them, look at the ingredient list and if it’s sugar or corn syrup or pure cane syrup or honey or molasses or any of those many aliases of added sugar. There is still no way to know how many grams of sugar are added or naturally   occurring but the lower that sugar is on the list of ingredient list—or not there at all—the better that’s going to be.That’s the frustrating part with the labels.
Neily: That’s why people come to see registered dietitians to learn these things!
Shelley: Exactly. We can teach them.
Neily: Right. Thank you Shelley. Thanks for watching Neily on Nutrition and we’ll see you in the next video!


Diet Myth #2 with Shelley Rael, MS, RD – White foods: to eat or not to eat?

various potato dishes: potato chips, hashbrown...

various potato dishes: potato chips, hashbrowns, tater tots, baked potato, and mashed potatoes (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Diet myth #2 with Shelley Rael, MS, RD:  “You shouldn’t eat white foods” (or should you?)

Shelley Rael, registered dietitian in private practice from Albuquerque, New Mexico and I had the chance to catch up in Philadelphia during the annual Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. We discussed six diet myths—here was the second one. (To see the video, scroll to the bottom or click here.)

Shelley: This one is kind of twofold. People say they cut out white foods. I hear people say I stopped these white foods and I lost all this weight. And what I think most people are referring to is the refined grains, the refined white bread—which by the way, I would never give up ever. Like ever. I look forward to that.
Neily: Yes
Shelley: White rice, white potatoes—that’s what a lot of people are referring to. I hate that all these white foods are clumped together. As I say, it’s discriminating. Of course, we want brown foods—brown rice, and the whole grain bread but there are a lot of white foods that are really good for you. Potatoes are not evil but people think they are. Onions, leeks, garlic, cauliflower—those are white foods that are good for you. People are like, you know what I mean. But I just want to clarify that we cannot just put this one color on the hit list so to speak. When I talk about potatoes there are a few parts about potatoes that I mention. You know they’re great sources of vitamins and fiber. It’s what we DO to the potatoes.
Neily: Exactly. How is it dressed? The company it keeps.
Shelley: What we eat with the potatoes. Mashed potatoes—I’ve made healthier versions of mashed potatoes. But people talk about the stick of butter and the cream they use in mashed potatoes—that’s what makes potatoes go to the far side, the dark side.
Neily: A loaded baked potato—you’ve got bacon, cheese, sour cream, butter and it all adds up….
Shelley: Add a little bit of chives for the veggies. And have it with a 20 ounce steak. Or French fries—the No 1 vegetable in this country. French fries and ketchup is No 2 as a vegetable. You know French fries and ketchup are the No.1 and No. 2 sources of fruits and vegetables in the country. That’s not what we want to do. It’s not the fact that it’s white as much as it’s fried, with a lot of salt.
Neily: Right. So it’s okay to eat white food. Thanks Shelley! Thanks for watching Neily on Nutrition and we’ll see you in the next video.

Don’t eat after 7pm—Diet myth #1 with Shelley Rael, MS, RD, LD

Photo courtesy of Antonio B. Rael Photography

Photo courtesy of Antonio B. Rael Photography

Don’t eat after 7pm—diet myth #1

Shelley Rael, private practice dietitian in Albuquerque, New Mexico and I were in Philadelphia at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Annual Food and Nutrition Conference talking about diet myths—myths about eating. (To watch the video, scroll to the bottom or click here.)


Neily: Shelley, tell me—what is our myth #1 going to be?
Shelley: The first one I hear most often is not eating after 7 o’clock at night. Or 8 o’clock or 5 o’clock. Or whatever the latest celebrity said they stopped eating…But this belief that you have to stop eating after a certain time of day may be based on whatever (popular) book or website (you’ve read).
Neily: Exactly
Shelley: What I tell people about that is….and the common example I use is 2000 calories (for the average individual to maintain). So let’s say we need 2000 calories a day and we have eaten 1800 by 7 o’clock at night. Even if you have another 100 or 200 calories after that we are not going to gain weight because that is the amount of calories we need (if that is your need).However, if we eat 3000 calories by 4 o’clock in the afternoon, you’re going to gain weight no matter what happens after that.It’s not to do with what time of day it is. Your body generally has a sense of night and day but it doesn’t know you might have traveled three time zones. It’s not freaking out because our bodies cannot tell time when it comes to that.
Neily: Right.
Shelley: I often say what happens too is if we’re not eating regularly throughout the day. Or a lot of people skip breakfast or whatever—they eat most of their calories in the evening and they are so hungry they tend to overeat.Where if we spread it out throughout the day…and I give a general guideline of 4 hours but that’s not a hard and fast rule…just something I like to pick, so I’m not overeating later. We walk through the door and I often talk about the two dinners – the one you have when you still have your coat on and the mail in your hand and the other one we make for the rest of our family or ourselves….
Neily: And then you sit down in front of the TV and eat…
Shelley: Yeah yeah. So the calories add up in the evening but it has nothing to do with what the clock says.
Neily: Alrighty. So, it’s okay to eat in the evening so long as it is within your calorie budget.Thanks Shelley! This is Neily on Nutrition and we’ll see you in the next video.

What can you do to maximize the health of your baby…BEFORE you conceive?

A pregnant woman

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pregnancy with author Bridget Swinney, RDTips to maximize health of baby – Part 1

Bridget Swinney is a registered dietitian and author of Eating Expectantly: Practical Advice for Healthy Eating Before, During and After Pregnancy, 4th edition due to arrive in 2013. We had the opportunity to talk about her expertise in Philadelphia at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics annual Food and Nutrition Conference. (To watch the video, scroll to bottom or click here.)

Neily: So, let’s talk about the book. It focuses on…
Bridget: Everything you need to know about eating before and during pregnancy and also after pregnancy to feed the baby right.
Neily: What are some of the key messages?
Bridget: What’s really interesting that I found on researching the book is that you can actually program your baby for good health depending on a lot of different factors. One of them is starting your pregnancy at a healthy weight. That’s really vital. But, unfortunately, about 50% of the pregnancies are unplanned. So, that always doesn’t happen. The next thing you can do is make sure you gain the right amount of weight for your height.
Neily: How does someone know what the right amount of weight is?
Bridget: Well, there is a chart based on BMI, based on underweight, normal weight and overweight and the Institute of Medicine actually has a guide for how much you should gain. So for a normal weight woman, it should be 25 to 35 lbs over the 9 months of pregnancy.
Neily: Being at the right weight. Since pregnancies are often unplanned what if somebody is significantly overweight. What would be some risks?
Bridget: You know, one of the biggest risks is that their babies are more likely to be born with more fat cells so that can put them at a higher risk of childhood obesity. But, just because you are overweight does not mean this is going to happen. You can change the programming by gaining the right amount of weight and watching what you eat because specifically what’s in  your diet—especially antioxidant-rich foods can actually decrease your risk of some high risk conditions like preeclampsia as well as diabetes, which can also lead independently to problems related to childhood obesity.
Neily: Somebody is overweight. Unplanned. They get pregnant. What is the best thing they can do?
Bridget: The best thing they can do, really, is to follow the ‘My Plate’  ( guidelines, which recommends that half of your diet be based on fruits and vegetables—the other on whole grains and lean protein. Because whole grains and fruits and vegetables will help you to have a diet that is high on fiber and low glycemic load, which is really what I call smart carbs. Eating mostly whole grains, cutting the sugars—most of the sugars in your diet can make a difference to your blood sugar and that can also impact childhood obesity risk.
Neily: So, there are some things a mom can do proactively—lose weight if she is overweight before she gets pregnant. And in an unplanned pregnancy eat right, eat healthy, a plant-based diet and we can reduce those risks.
Bridget: That’s right. And exercise. Exercise is also part of that equation. Eating right, gaining the right amount of weight and also having regular physical activity which is recommended at least 30 minutes a day unless there are contra-indications.
Neily: Excellent. Again, Bridget Swinney, author of ‘Eating Expectantly’. Thanks for watching Neily on Nutrition!

Are you keeping a food log?

Food journaling

I acquired a client when a dietitian left Cooper Clinic where I worked. Joyce was awesome. Ate healthy, lots of fruits and veggies, kept a food log. But weight loss had stalled. She had already lost a significant amount of weight and we figured she just hit a plateau. Plateaus can last weeks or months. In reviewing her food journal Joyce had written one cup of Kashi GoLean cereal for breakfast and a snack was one tablespoon of peanut butter with an apple. I asked Joyce if she measured the cereal and peanut butter. No, she used to but got away from the habit. I asked her to measure everything for the next two weeks. Be honest. Two weeks later she was down three pounds. Her eyes had deceived her. It happens. A lot.

 food journal


Jill Weisenberger, MS, RD, CDE answers the question: Should you weigh?

Weight and height are used in computing body m...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To weigh or not to weigh – when to use the scale and when not

Jill Weisenberger, author of Diabetes Weight Loss: Week by Week: A Safe, Effective Method for Losing Weight and Improving Your Health and I had a chance to talk about diabetes and weight management. Jill is a registered dietitian and diabetes educator. (To watch the interview, scroll to the bottom or click here.)

Neily: One question that I get a lot is about the scale. What do you answer when somebody says how often should I weigh or even should I weigh?
Jill: That’s another one of those questions that is very personal. Each person is going to answer that differently. You know, for somebody, who gets on that scale and those numbers freak that person out, don’t weigh. It’s ok, don’t weigh. But that’s really unfortunate because we’re not measured by the number on the scale.
Neily: Yeah, it’s not like you’re walking around with the number on your forehead…
Jill: That’s right and that number does not reflect our self worth. So, it is very unfortunate but it does seem to affect quite a number of people. They see a number on the scale, they don’t like it and it upsets them terribly. Those people, I don’t think, should weigh. But if you can look at that number on the scale as something that carries no judgment, it’s just information, it’s okay. The number on the scale is just information that can tell you if you need to make changes or if the plan you are using right now works. You can weigh yourself once a week, twice a week, three times a week, whatever works as long as you can use it as information. As soon as you put judgment on it, then it takes away (the value). The other thing is to pick a scale that is at least close to being accurate. So, this is how I tell people to know their scale is something they can use. Get on it three times, one right after the other and every time the scale should be within a pound of the other measurements you got. So if it is 187 and186 and 187, then it’s a great scale to use. But if it is 187 and 183 and 191, then put that in the garage sale.
Neily: You might have had it stashed away in the closet for a couple of years. So, yes. The digital scales too…I like the digital scales..
Jill: I do too.
Neily: One thing people also ask me is the best time to weigh. I say, first thing in the morning, after you urinate with ideally no clothes on because that’s the time it is most consistent.
Jill: I would agree…
Neily: Some people weigh in the morning and then in the afternoon and it can just be all over the place. So, if they are going to use that…
Jill: Right. Because a big glass of water is going to make a difference.
Neily: Exactly. Excellent. So, again Jill, great to see you. Great talking to you. Jill’s book is Diabetes Weight Loss: Week by Week: A Safe, Effective Method for Losing Weight and Improving Your Health. Thanks for watching Neily on Nutrition.

Practical advice from diabetes expert Jill Weisenberger on setting a goal weight

Diabetes Wt Loss week by week - jill pic of book

How should you set a goal weight? RD and diabetes educator Jill Weisenberger explains

Jill Weisenberger, registered dietitian and diabetes educator and author of the book Diabetes Weight Loss: Week by Week: A Safe, Effective Method for Losing Weight and Improving Your Health
and I talk about setting a goal weight. (To watch the video, scroll to the bottom or click here.)

Neily: So Jill, A lot of people who have type 2 diabetes are often overweight. I imagine you must deal with individuals for weight loss.
Jill: Right. I do. Whether they have diabetes or not, there are a lot of people interested in weight loss now.
Neily: Exactly. So talking about setting goals, for weight loss, what would you…..
Jill: Like a weight loss goal, like how much to lose….
Neily: Yes.
Jill: That’s a question I get a lot actually, how much weight should I lose? And I don’t like to answer that question because it’s a very personal thing. I can throw out a number but is that something that is meaningful to that person who wants to lose weight? So I try not to answer that question, but I can recommend. One of the things that I tell people is that any amount of weight loss matters even if just a couple of pounds.
Neily: Exactly.
Jill: So we can start with just a few pounds or we might look at about 10 percent of the body weight. So someone who weighs 200 pounds, 10 percent would be 20 pounds. That’s not such a huge goal that it seems unattainable but it’s enough that they have to really work at it—change their eating habits, develop new habits and the benefit is huge. For somebody who is in the early stages of insulin resistance or early stages of type 2 diabetes, that amount of weight loss can help. So maybe they can get by with less medication. Or maybe do not need an increase in medication for several more years. It reduces the risk of cancer and high   blood pressure, it lowers cholesterol level. So it’s just a small amount—I   suggest people just start with 10 percent.
Neily: Yes. Even 5 percent is helpful. And it’s better to lose some weight and keep it off than…
Jill: Putting it back on…
Neily: Exactly
Jill: It’s not a race. The winner is the one that keeps it off—not the one that loses it.
Neily: There you go. Fantastic. Thanks for watching Neily on Nutrition. Jill can be reached at

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