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Sally Squires
Washington Post Health and Nutrition Writer
Tuesday, December 4, 2007; 1:00 PM

Confused about nutrition? Wondering how to fit in more physical activity? Welcome to the Lean Plate Club. Ask Sally Squires, nationally syndicated Lean Plate Club columnist for the Washington Post, about eating smart and moving more every Tuesday at 1 p.m. ET. Sally draws upon her master's degree in nutrition from Columbia University to preside over the lively Lean Plate Club web chat. Whether you're trying to reach a healthier weight or simply maintain it, you'll find plenty of tips and strategies.

Share your own food finds, creative workouts and secrets for healthy, great tasting meals. We'll cheer your successes and help with your setbacks. (None of this, of course, is a substitute for medical advice.) E-mail Sally, author of the newly published Secrets of the Lean Plate Club (St. Martin's Press) at leanplateclub@washpost.com.

Or just sign up for the free Lean Plate Club e-mail newsletter. The Lean Plate Club column appears Tuesdays in the Washington Post Health section and is nationally syndicated by the Washington Post Writers Group. Find other Lean Plate Club members at www.frappr.com/leanplateclub.

The Archives:

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Discussion Transcripts

A transcript follows.

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Sally Squires: Welcome to the Lean Plate Club!

I'm sorry to report that there's been a glitch in the server that sends out the Lean Plate Club e-mail newsletter. So it's not clear when the newsletter will be published this week. We're very sorry for the inconvenience. Hopefully they will have this fixed soon.

How are you doing on the Holiday Challenge? We'd love to hears about your progress.

This week's prizes are:

Digital Day Counter (A quick way to keep track of when you put food in the 'fridge)

Dance with Lisa: Dance to Enhance (A DVD with World Dance Champion Lisa Nunziella)

Ballet Conditioning DVD by Element

Foogoo Thermos (Keeps food cold for 12 hours without refrigeration)

Eva Barash's Livingroom Yoga (a DVD)

Here's the deal: Tell us how you're doing on the Holiday Challenge. Share a healthful food find, a great way to work out, a healthful holiday recipe or assist another LPCer in this chat. You get the idea. Winners are announced at the end of the chat.

Now on to the chat!

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Gaithersburg, Md.: Sally, I have read many of the results of Wansink's studies and find them fascinating. I agree that it is all too easy to grab the first thing you see when you're starving, stressed, and in a rush. My answer is to plan ahead and pack portable healthy foods to bring with me. I try to think about what I have planned for the day and since I try to eat every 3-4 hours, I know when I'll need to eat. It may be time-consuming but overall I know it's worth it when I'm choosing healthy food over unhealthy food. Also, I make sure to keep some plain, raw almonds and a box of Kashi Go Lean Crunch in my car, for the instances where I'm caught on the go and find that I need to eat. And, I am an advocate of cooking your own food because you can control everything that goes into it. I don't believe there is such a thing as "healthy" eating out -- but you can make healthier choices, as you have pointed out.

Sally Squires: Hey Gaithersburg: Thanks for your message. Yes, I, too am a fan of that Mindless Eating book by Brian Wansink, who has just been named to head the USDA's Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion.

For those who have not yet read Mindless Eating, it's now in paperback and could be a great stocking stuffer request.

Thanks!

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Adams Morgan, Washington, D.C.: Sally,

In the bag of free stuff I got when running the Marine Corp Marathon there was a postcard about preventing prostate cancer from some organization called the Foundation for Cancer Research and Education. It says, "Avoid canola oil and flaxseed oils at all costs!" (their exclamation point, not mine) I don't think I've ever read anything bad about flaxseed oil. How can I be familiar with the debate about soy products and breast cancer and yet have never heard of a prostate cancer and flaxseed oil connection? Do you know if this supposed link is backed up with strong science?

Sally Squires: There's been growing discussion about the role that flaxseed might play in protecting against prostate cancer, as you'll see from the 2004 abstract I'm posting below. This paper was published in the journal, Urology.

My translation: In this small pilot study, flaxseed and a low fat diet seemed to help reduce PSA levels in men.

Remember: this is only one small study. I'll see what else I can find...

Pilot study to explore effects of low-fat, flaxseed-supplemented diet on proliferation of benign prostatic epithelium and prostate-specific antigen.Demark-Wahnefried W, Robertson CN, Walther PJ, Polascik TJ, Paulson DF, Vollmer RT.

Division of Urologic Surgery, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina 27710, USA.

OBJECTIVES: Dietary factors may influence the prostate and have an impact on prostatic growth and disease. A small number of studies have suggested that flaxseed-supplemented, fat-restricted diets may thwart prostate cancer growth in both animals and humans. Unknown, however, is the potential effect of such a diet on benign prostatic epithelium. METHODS: We undertook a pilot study to explore whether a flaxseed-supplemented, fat-restricted diet affects the proliferation rates in benign epithelium. We also explored the effects on circulating levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA), total testosterone, and cholesterol. Fifteen men who were scheduled to undergo repeat prostate biopsy were instructed to follow a low-fat (less than 20% kcal), flaxseed-supplemented (30 g/day) diet and were provided with a supply of flaxseed to last throughout the 6-month intervention period. The PSA, total testosterone, and cholesterol levels were determined at baseline and at 6 months of follow-up. Reports from the original and repeat biopsies were compared, and proliferation (MIB-1) rates were quantified in the benign prostatic epithelium. RESULTS: Statistically significant decreases in PSA (8.47 +/- 3.82 to 5.72 +/- 3.16 ng/mL; P = 0.0002) and cholesterol (241.1 +/- 30.8 to 213.3 +/- 51.2 mg/dL; P = 0.012) were observed. No statistically significant change was seen in total testosterone (434.5 +/- 143.6 to 428.3 +/- 92.5 ng/dL). Although 6-month repeat biopsies were not performed in 2 cases because of PSA normalization, of the 13 men who underwent repeat biopsy, the proliferation rates in the benign epithelium decreased significantly from 0.022 +/- 0.027 at baseline to 0.007 +/- 0.014 at 6 months of follow-up (P = 0.0168). CONCLUSIONS: These pilot data suggest that a flaxseed-supplemented, fat-restricted diet may affect the biology of the prostate and associated biomarkers. A randomized controlled trial is needed to determine whether flaxseed supplementation, a low-fat diet, or a combination of the two regimens may be of use in controlling overall prostatic growth.

PMID: 15134976 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

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Arizona: Hi Sally,

I'm a 46-year-old female who has lost 52 lbs in the past year, the old fashioned way, meaning eating less and exercising more (imagine that). I still have 42 more lbs to go, according to the BMI charts, before I am no longer overweight. I learned recently that a younger female family member, who is obese, will be undergoing a new procedure called Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy (VSG), whereby a large portion of the stimoach is removed, and quickens weight loss, much like gastric bypass. I need some encouragement, please tell me why "slow and steady" weight loss is better than an operation!!

Sally Squires: First, a huge congratulations on what you've achieved Arizona. Fifty-two pounds is a BIG deal. And even if you still have a ways to go before you reach your goal, you likely already see the benefits from more energy, less weight on your joints, better sleep and aren't you just proud of what you've been able to do?

Plus, there's plenty of evidence to show that your kind of weight loss can have beneneficial effects on blood sugar levels, insulin resistance, cholesterol levels and more.

As for surgery: there are always risks associated with any surgical procedure. Plus, even when one does have a surgical procedure, you not only have to recover, but then you need to do all the things that you have learned to do to lose those 52 pounds. There are plenty of people who undergo weight loss surgery, lose pounds and then slip back into their old habits and "eat around" the procedure. Then they re-gain the weight.

So by going slow, but steady, you are developing the habits that can last a lifetime. And isn't that what this is all about?

Hope that helps. Good luck with your efforts. Hope you will keep us apprised of how it goes.

And as Brian Wansink told me

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Job's Tears: I always try new things, so when I saw Job's Tears, I bought a bag. I'm having trouble finding information about them, though. How many calories do they contain? What's their nutritional information?

I'd love some help.

Sally Squires: Job's tears are seeds from a tropical grass. These seeds have a whole in them. I can't find any specific nutritional info on them, but if they are like most seeds, they will likely have some healthy fat and protein. I'll see what else I can find. Did the bag of Job's tears contain any nutrition facts info. (I'm guessing not...)

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Ashburn, Va.: I have a new lunch that I love and for anyone on WW it's 3 points. I have an apple, a sandwich (consisting of 2 pieces of toasted low cal bread and sandwich meat), and a cup of the new 0 pt Progressive Soup. While eating I use the crust of the toast to dip into my soup like crackers. I eat so much that I am full and since I've had all the different components of the meal, my brain agrees that I should be full.

For working out I've been taking pole dancing classes (divafitonline.com - no affiliation with the company, I just love it). These classes are amazing workouts, especially for the upper body, and definitely have a positive effect on confidence levels.

Sally Squires: Hey Ashburn: I've sampled some of that zero point soup and it's delicious. But when I went to buy some at the grocery yesterday, I also noted that it had 980 milligrams of sodium per cup...since a can contains two cups, that's a lot of salt and is my only caveat. In fact, I was going to see if I could make a pot of similar, but less salty soup, myself this weekend.

Also, here's my food find this week: Brown Rice Medley, with wild rice and radish seeds. I made a big pot last night, placed the rice in one cup bags this morning and put them in the freezer for future use. It's quite a hearty mix with 140 calories per cup.

How about the rest of you? What foods finds have you discovered this week?

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Boston, Mass.: I am 5'9'' and now weigh about 156 lbs after having weighed between 190-195 lbs about 6 years ago. My weight loss occurred over a 10-12 month period. I accomplished this by eating more fiber, vegetables, mostly eliminating sweetened drinks, and calorie dense junk food, though I indulge myself on occasion, often IMPULSIVELY. Initially, when I started to change my eating habits, I did so radically, denying myself foods that I liked, but eventually I learned that denial only engendered food cravings. I have learned that moderation is the key and denial will undermine the best dietary intentions. Now, I think I eat a relatively healthy and balanced diet (though I could consume more fruits), eating about 5 smaller meals a day, however, I still have cravings despite eating until I am comfortably satisfied. I never skip breakfast, which almost always a mix of high fiber cereals. My diet consists of a lot of fiber, lean protein (soy based because I am a vegetarian), complex carbs (mix of different vegetables), and very little fat. Can you propose a explanation for the cravings for carb-rich foods that I periodically experience?

Sally Squires: Food cravings--particularly for carbohydrates--are quite often linked to mood. To see if this is the case for you, you might keep a diary for a week or so and see when these cravings arise and what else is going on in your life. You know, stress, lack of sleep, less exercise, even being pre-menstrual. You get the idea. Hope you'll let us know how it goes...Thanks.

Here's one paper that was published on the topic in 2001 in the journal Appetite.

Mood and carbohydrate cravings.Christensen L, Pettijohn L.

Department of Psychology, University of South Alabama, Mobile, AL 36688, USA.

The relationship between mood and carbohydrate cravings, and the possible role of gender in these associations, was investigated in a sample of 113 males and 138 female college students. Participants completed a Cravings Questionnaire and several mood inventories (profile of mood states, Beck Depression Inventory, and the Vitality Inventory) in groups of 25. Individuals classifying themselves as "carbohydrate cravers" reported foods rich in carbohydrates, and "protein cravers" reported protein-rich foods as being the ones they most strongly craved. Carbohydrate cravers reported feeling distressed prior to their cravings and satisfied, happy/good and relaxed following carbohydrate consumption. Protein cravers reported feeling anxious or hungry prior to their cravings and happy, normal, bored, and energetic following protein-rich food consumption. A non-significant correlation existed between "protein" cravers' ratings of craving intensity and mood, but a significant positive correlation existed between "carbohydrate" cravers' ratings of craving intensity and almost all mood scales assessed for both male and female "carbohydrate" cravers. The correlation between craving intensity and mood existed predominately with individuals who craved sweet carbohydrate-rich foods. Copyright 2001 Academic Press.

PMID: 11237349 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

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Job's Tears: Nope, the Job's Tears package contains no nutritional information/I've found vague information about their "high calcium" and "high protein" properties and that they are gluten-free. I can't seem to find the specifics.

Sally Squires: Hmm. Where did you buy Job's Tears? Any manufacturer listed on the label? Thanks.

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Newark, Del.: I really want to lose weight. The problem is that I work 12 p.m - 9 p.m. so it makes it really hard to diet because I always want to eat when I get off at work. I get a break at 4 p.m., which is when I eat dinner, but then I am hungry again at 9 p.m. When do you recommend so that I'm not hungry but I'm burning as much as possible. Thank you so much!

Sally Squires: Shift work can be tough on regular meals. But it sounds like you are taking some smart steps. What you might try is this: plan on having a snack either just before you leave work or on the way home. Make it healthy, about 100 to 200 calories. It could be a cup of soup that you heat in the microwave and sip on the way home in place of coffee. It could be a half a peanut butter or hummus sandwich on whole wheat. Also, plan at home to have healthy snack ready and waiting.

Again, soup would be smart. But you could also choose a cup of oatmeal. Or even a small frozen dinner of about 200 calories. If sweets are your weakness, you might think of a cup of hot cocoa. Account for these "snack" calories in your daily total, but grant yourself permission to soothe your appetite smartly when you are most vulnerable.

If you could also go for a short walk when you get home--I realize that may not be possible given the hour--or consider a short DVD from someone like Leslie Sansone. You can walk in place for a mile in front of the television. Then take a shower or soak in a hot bath and get ready for bed--without succumbing to those extra calories.

Hope that helps and that you'll let us know how it goes. Thanks!

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Houston, Tex.: I wear a Weight Watchers pedometer on my belt every day. My daily goal is to walk a minimum of 10,000 steps as I go about my daily routine. When I engage in "official" exercise (i.e., aerobics, fast walking, etc.) I set the ped for "exercise," which tracks distance AND allows me to earn activity points. Activity points offset the points (calories)in that holiday treat -- or I can save for to use later in the week. Yesterday, in advance of the first holiday part of the season tonight, I walked a fast 2.4 miles on the beach -- gaining 2 activity points -- then added another 1.0 miles of "daily activity." My ped keeps a silent, vigilant, and objective eye on my daily movement, keeping me honest and aware.

Sally Squires: I love pedometers too Houston. They don't do the exercise for you, of course, but they sure serve as a great reminder of how inactive we can be during the day--and as a quiet cheerleader for counting all those wonderful steps. Great job. Thanks for chiming in today.

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Washington, D.C.: I still haven't managed to lose the weight after having my now 2-year-old. And now I'm thinking about having a second child. What is the healthiest way to lose weight before getting pregnant again, knowing that I may gain weight postpartum again? I've gained 70 lbs since I had my first baby two years ago, so I'm afraid to lose even half that and then put it back on again.

Sally Squires: Hey DC: You're very smart to get in shape now for that second child. And the Department of Agriculture has a new Web site that can help with your efforts both before you get pregnant and after you conceive. We'll post a link to a recent LPC column about the site in a minute. It will also help guide you to how much weight you should gain when you get pregnant again and even tells you what foods to eat.

As for the healthiest way to lose weight: if you can cut out 250 calories daily and add 250 calories of activity (walking about an hour a day), you can probably lose about 1/2 to 1 pound per week. No, that's not fast. But by going slowly, you'll learn to change your habits and unless you want to yo-yo diet, it's that habit change that really makes the difference long term.

Thanks!

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20009: My partner is overweight and often makes self-deprecating comments about his body. When this happens I always hug him reassure him of my love for him. He has not made any serious attempts to cut back on calories or increase exercise, but I would be very supportive of this if he ever did, and would of course participate so he didn't feel like he was doing it alone. I am hesitant to bring this up, because it seems like "his body, his choice," although on the other hand I want him around for many many more years! Thanks for any advice you might have.

Sally Squires: Helping the one you love to lose weight can be tricky. You want to be supportive. But you don't want to be viewed as nagging. Or as the food police.

So the more you can do this together as a joint project, the better. You might start with a daily walk. Or a trip to the gym. Then you might tackle one healthy meal together. So maybe that's breakfast--a meal that many who are overweight skip. Or maybe you just agree that the food for snacking will be healthy, you know, fruit and vegetables. In other words, help your partner make small changes that can add up to big rewards.

It never hurts along the way to underscore that weight has nothing to do with your love, and to emphasize that it's being together for a long time that matters most.

Hope you'll let us know how it goes. Good luck with your efforts.

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washingtonpost.com: Eating for Two, One Trimester at a Time ( Post, Oct. 30)

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Washington, D.C.: Hi Sally --

I hope you and the chatters can offer some suggestions. My husband just started a new job as a consultant, which means he roatates between four different offices on a daily basis. This has resulted in him eating lunch out almost on a daily basis. He was doing really good losing weight before he started this job when he was able to bring a healthy lunch on a daily basis. Now he has no access to a fridge and would have to carry with him whatever he brought.

I guess I have two questions -- can you suggest some healthy lunches he can bring from home that don't require refrigeration or can you suggest some healthy eating lunch out ideas? He says they usually end up at sandwich places or little cafes (not chain's, where it would be easier to figure out nutrition info online).

Thanks so much!

Sally Squires: Eating out can really make it difficult to know how many calories are consumed. So here are two options: If your husband has a bag or briefcase, he might pack one of these Foogoo Thermos's which will keep food warm or cold for hours.

Peanut butter and jelly is another option (although this could get a little messing in the briefcase.)

Besides, given his consulting duties, it may be important for him to eat out with his colleagues at least some of the time.

So when he does, here are some options:

Choose broth based soups. They're generally low in calories and can be really quite filling. Salads with dressing on the side (and sans fried chicken or tons of cheese or processed meat) would be another smart option either as a main course or a side salad.

A grilled chicken sandwich without cheese is a pretty reasonable choice. Ditto for a turkey sandwich (with mustard rather than mayo) and skip the cheese and bacon that often comes with many of these meals. Same goes for the fries and onion rings which can easily total 500 to 600 calories.

And given the vagaries of ordering out, your husband might pack some healthful snacks--fruit, small bags of nuts, a snack bar such as Larabar or Kashi--that will keep him from heading to the vending machine if he doesn't get enough to eat a lunch.

Hope that helps. Please let us know how he does. Thanks!

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Virginia: Job's tears -- all I've read is that it is a grain that can be cooked from a powdered or whole form. There is actually a drink made from it as well. I have never tasted it, but you can do a web-recipe search. I do however, have a Rosary made of these seeds.

My tip on the holiday goodies avoidance -- we're making a point of having lots of tempting healthy food around instead. This weekend the family demolished a box of clemintines, made an elegant colorful pears in wine dessert last week. Everyone feels festive and not deprived of "only once a year" treats. Focus on seasonal foods rather than seasonal candies/cookies.

My other tip for avoiding binging is to try to take a nap whenever I can -- did manage two in the last week. I believe most of us are somewhat sleep-deprived anyway and a little extra z's (especially if you can get to bed a little earlier) gives us a lot more energy without feeling the desire to constantly munch.

Happy holidays to all!

Sally Squires: Great suggestions. I found that Jacob's tears are often also used as jewelry, but didn't realize that some Rosary's contain them. Interesting.

And yes, those clementines are a great seasonal suggestion that is quite healthy. I baked some pears last night with some raisins, a little lemon and a dab of honey. They are delicious. So yes, let's reach for those healthier options.

And by the way, today's newsletter had multiple recipes for healthy latkes in honor of Hanukkah, which begins today. Hopefully, we can include those recipes next week too.

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Small, light but excellent meal: Hi Sally: Thanks for the great chats. This week I "discovered" a little treat...6 small bulbs of garlic at Trader Joe's, in a small square basket for under two dollars...no connection to the store...I clipped off the top, wrapped them in foil, and baked them. They came out very, very pretty, and I had them with a warm viniagrette that I made of orange champagne vinegar, olive oil and dijon mustard...over tofu salad, with croutons I made from a whole wheat batard...no added salt or preservatives. Excellent, healthy, and a meal fit for a Queen. The garlic spread was very smooth and I think it would also be excellent over Wasa crispN'light crackers. Sparkling water and a small serving of berries drizzled with just a bit of honey finished it off. My guests were very impressed.

Sally Squires: Yum! And that vinegar is one of my favorites. For those who have not tried it, it's made from Champagne Muscat and is delicious! Thanks very much.

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Job's Tears: The Job's Tears (also called Hato Mugi) are imported from Japan by Natural Import Co. (Bitmore Village, NC 28803). Their website doesn't give nutritional information . . . .

I'm finding websites that say it's considered a weight-loss grain?

Oh! And food finds! I bought Silk Nog and Holly Nog (by VitaSoy) today . . . I haven't tried them for myself yet, but my friends say they're good - and the Silk Nog's 180 calories a cup, the Holly Nog's 120. It might be a good way for the calorie-conscious to have their holiday nog.

Sally Squires: Thanks!

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Fairfax, Va.: Hi Sally!

I have a huge sweet tooth, so it's really a challenge for me to resist all those tempting sweets during the holidays. I love pumpkin pie, so I came up with a tasty alternative when I get a craving for a slice. I take a sugar-free (60 calorie) Jello pudding cup and stir in some cinnamon and nutmeg. Pumpkin pie spice also works! This satisfies my craving and allows me to indulge in the real thing on Christmas day.

Sally Squires: Smart move, Fairfax. Another option: take the pumpkin filling and bake it in individual oven-proof dishes (that are sprayed first with a little oil.) Voila! Your own mini-pumpkin pie. Thanks much!

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Centreville, Va.: I read that a low glycemic diet can help reduce acne. My teen daughter wants to switch to such a diet. Can you tell me what types of foods would be on this kind of diet and what she should avoid?

Sally Squires: I have not seen any evidence to suggest that a low glycemic index diet helps thwart acne, but it's a smart approach for other reasons. Low-glycemic foods are less processed foods that are also less likely to have added sugar. So think vegetables, whole grains, whole fruit, beans, and lean protein from skim milk to fish, chicken without the skin and lower-fat types of red meat.

Plain yogurt with added fruit as well as nuts would be other good options. We'll post a link in a minute for a Website that will tell you more about the glycemic index. Thanks!

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Washington, D.C.: I wanted to offer a tip for those who cook for one and might be too stressed to eat properly when they get home from work. This weekend I devoted myself to cooking healthy, freezable meals. By setting aside a few hours on Saturday and Sunday I have over 25 meals in the freezer! That way I can defrost as needed and not stress about eating right when I'm in no mood to cook.

Sally Squires: This is such a smart idea, DC! I've been doing the same thing with steel cut oatmeal. I can make a big batch and freeze individual portions for quick breakfasts. But as you point out, there's no need to stop with breakfast. Way to go! Thanks.

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Alexandria, Va.: While at the grocery store this weekend perusing the frozen veggies section, I found Giant has a 'steam in bag' package of frozen edamame. I tried it -- and it worked perfectly! Not mushy -- which is the risk with attempting to cook them on the stove, and they were ready in about 5 minutes. (I'm not affiliated with Giant, except for now being a really big fan of the product.) Anyway, I know edamame has come up in this discussion a lot, so I thought I'd share.

Sally Squires: Thanks Alexandria!

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Anonymous: I'm often in the same packed lunch predicament as Washington D.C.'s husband, who doesn't have a fridge. I love packing puy or beluga lentil salads. Just roast whatever vegetables you have on hand, cook the lentils in broth with bay leaves, and mix them together with your favorite spices.

I also pack up grain-based salads: wheat berry, rice, kasha, and quinoa salads with nuts or beans for protein are healthy, filling, nd not prone to spoil during the course of the day.

Sally Squires: That sounds like a great strategy, although I know that the USDA would hasten to add that prepared food should not sit out at room temperature for more than two hours...That's where those containers or a cold pack could come in well--if you have space and are not too overburdened with other stuff. Thanks!

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washingtonpost.com: Home of the Glycemic Index

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Alexandria, Va.: I don't have a game console but eventually I want a Wii. It will be a reward for hitting a weight loss goal. Eventually I am going for 100 at 44 right now. But I did buy a relatively inexpensive DVD game of DanceDance Revolution. It doesn't count your score for hitting the right spot. But it is fun! Doing a have an hour of the that gets you moving quite a bit. I use it when it is too raining and cold to go to the gym.

I figure any movement is on the right path. And when I do get the Wii and the dance program I will be ready!

Sally Squires: Any and all movements are exactly the right path. And congratulations on those 44 pounds! That's wonderful. Thanks for letting us know about that DVD version of Dance Dance Revolution. That's a great find!

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Tysons cubicle: Hi Sally, I just wanted to thank the chatter from last week who mentioned the SparkPeople couch to 10K running plan. I have been spinning and doing other things to avoid running since September. But last week I went to the site and grabbed that plan. I've already gotten four walk/runs in and am looking forward to completing a 10 K in February!

Sally Squires: Hooray! We look forward to hearing more about your progress. Hope you'll keep us updated. Thanks!

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Washington, D.C.: After a lot of hard work, I was finally able to drop about 15 pounds over a 6 month period. Now, to maintain it, I am just eating smaller portions, eating about 5 times a day, and keeping track of everything i eat. The problem: my fiber intake is too low. Any suggestions on increasing fiber intake?

Sally Squires: Yes. Start with beans. A cup can pack up to 16 grams. They're a fiber wonder. (There's always Bean-o too...)

Fruit, especially berries, are also packed with fiber. And you can even choose whole wheat white flour or bread these days, which has as much fiber as regular whole wheat.

WASA and Ryvita crackers are pretty high in fiber. And check Fiber All and some of the other whole grain fiber cereals.Also look in next week's Lean Plate Club column and Web site for more high fiber options. You heard it here first!

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Job's Tears: Oh, and I bought the Jobs Tears at the Frederick MOM's.

Sally Squires: Thanks!

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Michigan City, Ind.: Hi Sally: I think I came across something too good to be true: a sandwich at Cosi with turkey, stuffing and whole cranberry sauce. The restaurant's Web site said it was 440 calories (a lot lower than their other sandwiches, but of course, there was no melted cheese or sauce). Just wondering if anyone else had investigated this? It was delicious, but I think it the calorie count was way too low. Another good thing at Cosi - being able to choose a bag of mini carrots instead of chips.

Sally Squires: It does sound a little low. But it depends on the size of that sandwich. The stuffing is likely the highest caloric ingredient. The turkey is quite lean. When in doubt, eat half to be on the safe side!

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Philadelphia, Pa.: Chocolate has caffeine, so hot cocoa might not be the best thing to have before getting ready for bed. I would suggest drinking a glass of milk or juice (all natural or mixed with water -- you don't want to be drinking added syrups and sugars then, either, because along with being unhealthy generally those can keep you up) slowly while considering your other options. If you're not full, drink some water. This assumes, of course, that you've consumed your full dietary requirements already in the day -- otherwise, go ahead and eat your last vegetable or fruit serving, etc. If you make it something basic (steamed veggies or raw fruit with plain yogurt, for example) you won't have much clean-up to do to end the day, and you won't have to take much time preparing it, either.

Sally Squires: Good point, Philly, although not everyone is affected by caffeine. And great suggestion about the veggies...

Thanks!

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Washington, D.C.: This is rather crass, but money is always a great motivator. At my local Curves, I've entered a challenge by putting $5 in a pool. From the beginning of November to before Christmas, ours goals are to work out 3 times a week AND not gain any weight. At the end of that time, everyone who has made those goals gets entered in a drawing to win all the cash. Even if I don't win, thinking about that $5 whenever I am tempted to skip a workout or eat a little goodie is keeping me focused.

Sally Squires: Sounds like a great motivator! Good luck with your efforts. Thanks!

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Food Find: Last week we were talking about nuts taking the edge of hunger off when we arrive home...

My favorite food find of the moment are the "Sahale Snacks" mixed nuts/dried fruits. (I found them at the Fairfax Wegman's.) They contain about 130 calories per (admittedly small, but satisfying) serving and come in 2-serving packs.

They're really delicious, and help me satisfying my craving for a little fat that hits hard at this dark, cold time of year!

Sally Squires: Yum. Sounds really good. Thanks.

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Virginia: Can you suggest any exercise or dance classes for those of us with a substantial amount of weight to lose? I want the motivating factor of showing up somewhere at a specific time to exercise, but I don't want to be in a class not really designed for people of my size.

Sally Squires: Belly dancing is one dance class where I have seen many, many sizes. But you might call ahead before taking any class and inquire about who attends. If you still don't find one where you feel comfortable, consider some dance DVDs. There's a huge array now available, from tap and ballet to salsa.

Thanks for chiming in.

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Sally Squires: Thanks to all for a great chat. Hope that they get the e-mail newsletter problem fixed soon.

In the meantime, winners today are:

Houston, Ashburn, the garlic poster, Jacob's Tears and Alexandria. Please e-mail me your U.S. Postal address and please put winner in the subject line for speedier handling.

Thanks to all. Until next week, eat smart and move more with the Lean Plate Club.

Cheers!

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