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Do YOU know what's in your Mocha Frap?

>> Sunday, September 27, 2009

One strategy that has been employed in helping people tighten their belts, is to tighten up the policies on nutritional labelling. This is a surprisingly recent change in regulations - it is only since the end of 2007 that labelling has been required for most Canadian products.

Alongside this trend, we have also seen an increase in availability of nutritional information in some food chains and restaurants. New York City has been a real leader in this arena - they require that nutritional information is posted on menu boards at chain restaurants.

Having said that... how often do people actually look at this nutritional information, when it is made available?

A recent study in the American Journal of Public Health says - almost NEVER! Christina Roberto and associates observed 4,311 people walking into Starbucks, McDonalds, Burger King, and Au Bon Pain, all of which provide nutritional information in either poster, pamphlet, or on-site computer format.

Out of these 4,311 people, only SIX people (0.1%) consulted the nutritional information before making their purchase. (This includes five people who were counted as consulting the info simply by walking towards a wall poster and turning their heads towards it.)

In order to make healthy decisions when we are eating out, it is important to know how much energy our food choices contain. There are many hidden calories out there - for example, that Mocha Frappucino I asked you about ladles up 380 calories in a Grande - almost a third of the total day's caloric needs for a typical woman who is trying to lose weight. (The nutritional information for any Starbucks product is readily available online by navigating from the attached link.)

In Canada, while it is not required to post nutritional information in restaurants, many chains do have this information available behind the counter. This can be in the form of a pamphlet, or sometimes a binder.

So - here's a great opportunity to EMPOWER YOURSELF!!

The first step is to calculate what your day's caloric needs are - you can do this with the BMR calculator in the right hand column at

The second step: Be active in your search for healthier choices. Ask for the information behind the counter. Look online before you go out! You will be surprised at how much information that is out there - and you will probably be surprised at how many calories are out there, too.

Dr. Sue © 2009


Are we slave to our obesity genes?

>> Monday, September 21, 2009

Since the Human Genome Project was completed in 2003, bringing our entire chromosomal composition to our fingertips, there has been a surging of interest in exploring genetic associations with illness and disease - and obesity is no exception. Whole-genome mapping has identified several genes that may be associated with increased risk of obesity. One of the strongest candidates of these is the FTO, or 'fat mass associated' gene. About 16% of the population carries two copies of this gene, and thereby carry a 1.5 times higher risk of obesity.
So... are we slave to our genes? Does genetic predispostion prevail over dietary modifications, exercise and a healthy lifestyle?

A recent study says no. E. Sonestedt et al just published data in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, examining whether dietary factors and exercise modifies the association between the FTO gene and obesity. They found that amongst 4,839 subjects from Malmø, Sweden, that the observed increase in body mass index (BMI) across FTO genotypes was restricted to those who ate a high fat diet. Amongst people who ate a low fat diet, the FTO association with overweight was nonexistent. Further to that, the association between FTO and body weight was mainly restricted to sedentary people.

How do we interpret this? First of all, these results tell us that having a high fat diet or a low exercise level accentuates susceptibility to obesity in people who carry the offending gene. However, it also tells us some good news, and that is that a low fat diet and an active lifestyle appears to override the FTO genetics - meaning that lifestyle is the dominant power determining BMI.

So, in the case of the FTO gene at least, the power to control and affect our health and BMI seems to be firmly in our grip!

Dr. Sue © 2009


Sugar Free Spray Candy?

>> Monday, September 14, 2009

Here is an interesting new idea in the battle against obesity, which I came across in a magazine while on a cycling holiday in Scotland last month.

You read correctly - there is now a whole line of sugar free candy sprays available, that are designed to help quench those cravings for sweets. There are all sorts of flavors out there to appeal to your inner child, from Mike and Ike to Hot Tamales. You can even 'taste' your favorite cartoon character, from Hello Kitty (does she really taste like marshmallows?) to Sponge Bob Square Pants. Simulated dessert sprays appeal to a more adult palate, such as key lime pie flavor.

My take on these products: Not an unreasonable way to satisfy a candy craving if taken in moderation (ie a few sprays per day) - if the alternative is downing a bag of sweets, well, this is better. The Sour Apple variety has 24 calories per 1 oz bottle, so a couple of sprays a day can be considered to be Free.

Having said that, Free Veg will always be my #1 recommendation to have a party in your mouth without the expense of calories - veggies can be really satisfying and tasty, AND they give you the benefit of vitamins and nutrients! Sorry to be a stick in the mud but it's true...) :)

Dr. Sue © 2009


Bulgur Lovin'

>> Sunday, September 6, 2009

There are lots of interesting options for carbohydrate accompaniments to your meal besides rice, pasta, and potatoes out there, and one of my new found favorites is bulgur!

Bulgur is a cereal food made from several different wheat species, but most often from durum wheat. It is usually sold parboiled, dried and de-branned, but whole-grain, high-fiber bulgur can be found in natural food stores. Bulgur has a light, nutty flavor, and finds its home in many Turkish, Middle Eastern, Indian and Mediterranean dishes.

Here is my latest invention!

1 cup bulgur (dry)
2 peppers, each of a different color (green, yellow, red, or orange), chopped
1/2 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
one big handful of parsley, chopped
1-2 tbsp lemon juice (to taste)
1 tsp each cinammon and cumin
ground pepper and a touch of salt, to taste
3 packs of Splenda (1g each)

Cook the bulgur as per package directions, but using water only (don't use any oil, even if cooking instructions recommend it - you don't need it!). Put veggies in a bowl and add the bulgur. Add remaining ingredients, stir, and enjoy!

Makes 6 servings.
Calories per serving: 150!

Dr. Sue © 2009



I am excited that you have arrived at my site, and I hope you are too - consider this the first step towards a Healthier New You!! As a medical doctor, Endocrinologist, and obesity specialist, I am absolutely passionate about helping people with weight management. Though there is certainly no magic cure for obesity, there IS a successful treatment plan out there for you - it is all about understanding the elements that contribute to your personal weight struggle, and then finding the treatment plan that suits your needs and your lifestyle. The way to finding your personal solution is to learn as much as you can about obesity: how our toxic environment has shaped us into an overweight society; the diversity of contributors to obesity; and what the treatment options out there are really all about. Knowledge Is Power!!

Are you ready to change your life? Let's begin our journey together, towards a healthier, happier you!!

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