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What Does 200 Calories Look Like?

>> Monday, August 25, 2014

While we often talk about how many calories a person needs in a day to maintain or lose weight, it's often difficult to grasp what these numbers mean in real life.

Here's a really interesting graphic from the Huffington Post, with some great examples of what 200 calories looks like.  (You can access a higher resolution version in the original article).  Notice how much 'good stuff' (eg veggies and fruit) you can get for 200 calories, compared to how little of some other foods adds up to 200 cal.  You can think of calories like a daily budget (similar to the Weight Watchers' program) - when you are preparing to pop something in your mouth, think about that budget and ask yourself... is it worth it?

Also interesting is the section on 'Ways to Burn 200 Calories'.  The point is that it takes a loooong time to burn off those 200 calories that may have taken only seconds to eat - 37 minutes of dancing, 25 minutes of running stairs, or 40 minutes of badminton.  (Note that this calorie burn does vary greatly depending on intensity, body weight, gender, etc.).   Again, think about that daily calorie budget - most people don't realize how the calorie burn from a long bout of exercise actually takes very little food to make up again.

Please note that the 'recommended calorie intake' part of the infographic below is not correct - this number varies widely depending on age, weight, gender, and activity level.  You can calculate an estimate of your approximate calorie requirement in the right hand panel of my main page here.

Thanks to Bob for the heads' up on this graphic!

Follow me on twitter! @drsuepedersen © 2014


Raw Food Diet - Dr Sue's Review

>> Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The premise of the raw food diet is just that – eating only foods that are uncooked and unprocessed.  This includes raw meat, fish, veggies, fruit, nuts, seeds, eggs, and non pasteurized dairy products.

The philosophy behind this way of eating is that cooking can deplete foods of useful nutrients (which is true eg for veggies, though depending on how they are cooked – boiling veggies brings some of the nutrients into the water, whereas steaming retains the nutrients inside the vegetable).  Raw foodists also wish to avoid potential carcinogens that can be present in cooked/processed food (eg heterocyclic amines that are found especially in burned meat (eg BBQ’d), and a long list of environmental pollutants that could make their way into our processed foods (BPA being just one example)). Chemicals and stimulants (such as coffee and tobacco) are also avoided.

Good things about this diet are that one does truly decrease exposure many chemicals that are ubiquitous in our food supply.  Foods that are raw are in their purest form, and highest in nutritive value (especially if wild/organic foods are sourced, as rawists tend to do). 

However, a major risk of eating in this way is food poisoning.  There is a reason why we pasteurize our dairy products and cook our eggs and meat.  Processes such as pasteurization have allowed us to function in urban society, enabling us to keep food longer, to feed the masses living in a relatively small space, as we were perhaps not meant to do, but which is a part of modern life for most people.

While some raw foods are very easy to prepare (eg salads), others are very time consuming.  For example, to eat rice or other grains, they have to be sprouted and/or soaked overnight to be digestible. 

And finally, the question that is central to the discussion of any diet:

Is It A Permanent Change?  I would submit that this is very difficult to adhere to over the long term – but this concern is overridden by my greatest fear which is that of the unsafe consumption of uncooked foods and risk of food poisoning that may ensue.

Follow me on twitter! @drsuepedersen © 2014


South Beach - Dr Sue's Review

>> Monday, August 11, 2014

As regular readers will know, I'm reviewing some of the most common diet plans over the course of this summer and fall.  This week, I'm sharing my thoughts on the South Beach diet.

South Beach is a lower carb approach, but not as rigorous as the Atkins diet in terms of carb restriction after the first two weeks (read my review of Atkins here).

The South Beach Diet is divided into three phases:

  • Phase 1 (2 weeks): avoidance of most carbohydrates
  • Phase 2: gradual reintroduction of lower glycemic index carbs
  • Phase 3: lifelong maintenance phase - up to 28% of energy can come from carbs in this phase
Healthy food choices are emphasized, including lower glycemic index carbs, monounsaturated fats, and lots of fibre.

Overall, the South Beach approach is pretty good in the long term, though I don't agree with the carbohydrate avoidance in phases 1 and 2.  My preference would be to skip straight to Phase 3, which provides a reasonable balance of macronutrients (protein vs carb vs fat) while advocating for healthy food choices.  This is a permanent lifestyle change that has a better chance of longevity than many other food plans that are not realistic; but remember, no one food plan is the right one for everyone.  It's all about following it over the long term, and a permanent change has to be the one that is right for you.

Follow me on twitter! @drsuepedersen © 2014


Eat Right For Your Blood Type - Dr Sue Review

>> Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The 'Eat Right For Your Type' diet is based on the idea that a person's blood type (A, B, AB, or O) is an important factor in determining what kind of nutrients an individual needs, and recommends different dietary intake for each of these blood types.

Naturopath Peter J D'Adamo, who came up with this idea, asserts that carbohydrate binding proteins in food, called lectins, react differently with each ABO blood type.

In this diet program, Type A blood stands for 'Agrarian', believing that this blood type dates from the dawn of agriculture.  Type As are therefore advised to eat something resembling a vegetarian diet, avoiding red meat.

D'Adamo labels Type B individuals as the 'Nomads', and states that these are the only people who do well with dairy products.

Type O is the 'Hunter' group, so D'Adamo recommends a higher protein diet for these people.

AB blood types are called the 'Enigma' group, falling somewhere between the As and the Bs for dietary recommendations.

So, is there scientific evidence to support these claims?  In short, the answer is no.  No to the point where the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has spoken out specifically against this diet.  In fact, biochemical research has established that lectins specific to ABO blood types are not even found in most foods.   There are also no published clinical trials to substantiate D'Adamo's claims.

Another one bites the dust.

@drsuepedersen © 2014



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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