Washington Post Health and Nutrition Writer
Tuesday, February 19, 2008 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 email@example.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.
A transcript follows.
Sally Squires: Welcome to the Lean Plate Club!
We've got a lot up for discussion today. The e-mail newsletter should be hitting your electronic in-box right now. Here's a sampling of links to this week's recipes:Red Lentil Soup with Spice Oil, Antonio Banderas' Paella, Curried Chickpeas and Sweet Potatoes, Quick Thai Chicken and Vegetables, plus Sautee of Cauliflower and Mustard Greens with Peanuts.
So what are you cooking this week? Found any healthy--and great tasting--food finds? I spend the weekend in Boston where I moderated a Town Hall session on Childhood Obesity at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting. Mayor Tom Menino--who helped clean up the food and drink served to Boston Public School students gave the keynote address. It was a pleasure to meet him and many of you. (The Boston Herald is one of the Lean Plate Club subscribing papers.) If you'd ever like me to speak at your group, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Also, calling all Lean Plate Club members in Oklahoma City. Your hometown newspaper is interested in becoming a subscribing paper to the growing LPC franchise. If you'd like to see this happen, please e-mail me at the address above.
And I'm happy to report that we are about to add a "Las Vegas Loser" to our growing group of LPC Successful Losers. Christie Zerkich has lost 59 pounds as part of a program started by the Las Vegas Review Journal--yes another Lean Plate Club paper. Look for Christie's story on our growing list of Successful Losers. You'll find lots of inspiration there. And don't forget that you can also get free Lean Plate Club widgets for your homepage.
Prizes today are:
WomenHeart's All Heart Family Cookbook by Kathy Kastan and Suzanne Banfield
That F.A.S.T. Diet: Families Always Succeed Together by Tony Dean
Eating for Lower Cholesterol: A Balanced Approach to Heart Health with Recipes Everyone Will Love by Catherine Jones with Elaine B. Trujillo
Dance Workout for Dummies by Michelle LeMay (DVD)
Eat This, Not That by David Zincenko with Matt Goulding
Assist someone in this chat. Share a great tasting recipe or food find. Tell us how you're boosting activity. Or share a cool tip that will help all of us eat smart and move more. Winners are announced at the end of the chat.
And the burning question today is this: Were you as horrified as I was by the video of the slaughterhouse in California that led to the largest beef recall in our nation's history?
Pittsburgh: The cattle slaughterhouse video sickens and saddens me beyond words. The total lack of respect for living creatures, not to mention the complete disregard for the safety of our food supply, is reprehensible. No more beef for me.
Sally Squires: It saddened me too. A number of years ago, my colleague, Joby Warrick wrote about some terrible conditions in slaughterhouses. I don't think it was quite as bad as what has been uncovered in southern California, but it definitely also impacted my meat consumption. Besides, the U.S. Dietary Guidelines urge all of us to eat a mostly plant based diet. As Jane Brody used to say: consider meat a condiment. That also means less slaughter. In today's e-mail newsletter, find a link to an interesting study by Cornell researchers on our food foot print. The findings surprised me. Wonder if they will surprise you too?
Maryland: What can I do to jump start my weight loss? I do about 120 minutes a week in aerobics, 95 minutes of vinyasa yoga a week, 120 minutes of weight lifting weekly. I have been tracking my food but I get rid of two pounds and it keeps finding me! I eat plenty of veggies and weigh my meat portions. I admit I do fall off the wagon sometimes but I don't eat until I am stuffed.
I am a female in my mid 40s and weigh 165 at 5-feet-4. I want to lose 20-25 pounds. With my activity level how many calories per day should I eat? Any advice is greatly appreciated!!!
P.S. -- Have you had a chance to read up on Prevention magazine's Flat Belly diet? My stomach is in good shape in comparison to my weight due to Pilates, yoga and sit-ups.
Sally Squires: You're doing some great things, Maryland. And you've already seen some good results from your efforts--those flat abs--even if those 2 pounds are finding you again.
Your exercise routine sounds find. What are you doing the rest of the day? You might try getting up from desk every hour and just walking around the office for five minutes. In an eight hour day, that gets you an extra 40 minutes of activity. Not bad.
Look for other opportunities to burn more calories, from the usual taking the stairs to parking at the far end of the lot.
How much sleep do you get? I was interviewed yesterday by Radio New Zealand --we'll post a link in a minute to the audio--and sleep was one of the things we discussed. We'll also try to get a link up to recent LPC column on this topic too.
Finally, do watch how much you veer off track. Just 100 calories extra a day can undo your efforts. (Over a year, those extra calories add up to 10 pounds of weight.)
Hope you'll let us know how it goes.
Sally Squires: As promised...
Gaithersburg, Md.: My latest food find: I have been falling back on frozen entrees for lunch (hectic time at work), but even the vegetarian ones don't seem to have many vegetables. I've started buying the frozen boxed vegetables instead (like the Green Giant mixtures), which are two servings of vegetables, and just adding some whole grain crackers and a piece of cheese or some nuts for protein. It's as fast and convenient as the entrees, but cheaper (the boxed veggies are on sale almost every week) and I feel like I'm eating a bit better.
Sally Squires: Great idea Gaithersburg. And since some of those regular frozen meals--Kashi for instance--can run $4-$5 each, I'll bet you're saving money as well as calories. Thanks for weighing in.
Akron, Ohio: I need to lose 20 pounds in 8 weeks.
What is the best food guide for a person whose work is sedentary ? I am struggling with an increase in my hunger now that I want to attack a weight loss plan.
Sally Squires: Wait! Step back a second. Deep breath, Akron. Twenty pounds in eight weeks is a lot. Possible, sure. Healthy? Depends on how you try to do it. Realistic? Maybe on The Biggest Loser--but remember, those participants are exercising 5-6 hours daily with a trainer's help and they're not working or participating in family life.
So let's figure that a healthy rate of weight loss is 0.5 to 2 pounds per week. In eight weeks, 16 pounds is the high end of realistic. And eight pounds may be more likely.
How do you reach your goal? One step at a time. Depending on what you weigh, you may want to try eating about 1,200 to 1,600 calories daily. Work up to at least 60 minutes per day of moderate activity, such as brisk walking. And try to get eight hours of sleep nightly.
Hope you'll let us know how it goes. You can find plenty of resources, including a body mass index calculator and links to a growing list of fast food/restaurant nutrition facts information on the Lean Plate Club homepage at www.leanplateclub.com.
Reston, Va.: I too am disgusted by the cow video. It has increased my desire to move closer to a vegetarian diet. My question is about tofu - how do you decide which type to buy and how do you cook it? Can you put it in things like chili as a meat substitute? Sorry if these are basic questions but I haven't found any basic information online. Thanks!!
Sally Squires: Good questions and not basic at all. Tofu, a soy based protein product, is a great addition to any diet. I happen to be partial to the extra firm tofu. But you may like the softer versions. Now tofu also comes in many flavors. And you may also want to try tempeh and seitan--two other plant-based "meat substitute" sources.
I sautee tofu in a little oil and sometimes add a peanut/soy sauce. Yum. Or you can stir fry tofu with veggies. It's great in hot and sour soup--or other soups too. So bottom line is that it's quite versatile.
We'll post links in a couple of minutes to vegetarian information for kids, seniors, teens, athletes and more. Stay tuned...
Sally Squires: As promised, here's the Web site for the Vegetarian Resource Group, based in Baltimore.
Omaha, Neb.: I have a twist on Gaithersburg's veggie solution. I'll cook a small amount of whole wheat pasta and then a few minutes before its done, dump about half of a one pound bag of frozen veggies into the pot. Its so easy and saves so much time. I'm partial to the Kroger brand of mixed veggies, "Fiesta Blend" as it has three types of beans with the broccoli florets and carrot slices - protein, grain, and veggies, one stop shopping. This combination also lends itself well to different seasoning, so it doesn't taste like the same meal all the time. Currently, I'm mixing mine with a little spicy peanut sauce, yum.
Sally Squires: Yum is right! Sounds great--and easy. Thanks Omaha.
Woodstock, Ga.: It's excellent that athletes are following nutritional guidelines and using dieticians, etc. I recall Shaquille O'Neal having a reality show for a few Florida teens to educate them about food and how to lose weight. There were several very obese kids that learned about exercise and eating from Shaq's personal trainer and personal nutritionist. He eventually got Florida schools in at least one county to initiate a pilot program to make sure all students received this training. The more we hear about it, the more teens will listen.
Sally Squires: Absolutely. And what star players like Shaq, Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood do speaks louder than many other words. They've clearly gotten the message that better eating can help them play better and perhaps have a longer career.
Thanks for chiming in.
Boosting Activity in the Morning.: I take exercise classes but wanted to fit in more exercise in case I missed a class. So I fit in a 35 minute workout in the morning. I put my dumbbells by bed with my exercise mat. I roll out of the bed and start with jump jacks then do an upper body work, mix in some Pilates and sit-ups and then finish off with some yoga. I arrive at work much more alert. When life happens and I miss a class, I don't stress cause I have "fitted" some exercise.
Sally Squires: Great idea. I know where a pair of my hand weights are now going! Thanks.
washingtonpost.com: Flat Belly Diet! Basics
Sally Squires: As promised. here's the link for the Flat Belly Diet mentioned by a previous Lean Plate Club member.
Fillmore, Calif.: Regarding the slaughterhouse footage. This is nothing new. Animals are abused and tortured everyday in these facilities. There are many reasons not to eat meat, environmental impact, mad cow disease, antibiotics, etc but remember these animals are thinking and feeling beings. They are not mindless pieces of flesh. They suffer in the feedlots and in the slaughterhouse. I encourage everyone to show some compassion for other beings. Start by being a vegetarian.
Sally Squires: I suspect that prompted by this video, a lot of people are going to give the vegetarian lifestyle a second look...Do also look at the Cornell calculation in today's LPC e-mail newsletter. It found that eating a little meat actually produced a small carbon foot print than a completely vegetarian diet--at least in New York State. It was interesting, and not what I expected they would find.
Baltimore: This is horrific. I am from North Carolina, and I take great pride in my home state, but when I saw that we were listed on the map for slaughterhouse abuse, I was just ashamed. What can be done to help?
Sally Squires: Make your voice and feelings known to the meat industry, your representatives in Congress and to the USDA. I believe that the Human Society has some information on their Web site about how to some of that.
Fairfax, Va.: I don't understand why they recalled all that beef when most of it has already been consumed. The meat-packing industry is an extremely dangerous occupation and for all of us who enjoy meat products, does anyone ever wonder what it takes to put food on our table? I love animals but I feel that animal rights activist only show isolated acts of cruelty. There are methods in place that try to eliminate or reduce trauma to animals used for food. I just wish people would not be so quick to judge. Maybe we all should work there for one day!
Sally Squires: That's an excellent idea, Fairfax. In graduate school, one of my roommates came from a farm in Connecticut. People who grow and raise their own food know what many of us forget: that there's a long process to get that food to the table. Maybe this footage will help serve as a reminder that we don't have to eat a pound of steak, that smaller portions can do fine for those who want to keep eating meat and that there are plenty of other protein options for those who don't want to eat it. Finding what works best for everyone is the key.
Portland, Maine: I am very concerned about the downed animals that are being included in our beef supply. Are we at risk of developing mad cow disease at some point?
Sally Squires: The experts that have been quoted on this underscored that the risk is quite small. (I realize any risk is a scary thought.) Better to focus on how we can take back control of our dinner plates by eating smarter in all the food groups, don't you think?
Sally Squires: Here's a vegetarian starter kit from Vegetarian Times for those interested in learning more. Also the Vegetarian Resource Group listed above has more information for families, teens, kids, athletes and seniors.
Pennsylvania: Hi Sally,
I'm submitting early in case I miss the chat.
Here's two changes I've made recently regarding exercise and portion control.
Exercise: My husband and I recently moved and bought a new home. After 12 years of living in a ranch, we purposefully bought a two-story house with a basement so that we'd have to go up and down stairs -- seemed like an easy way to incorporate more exercise.
Portion control: I read somewhere that dinner plates have increased in size over the years, so I started using a set of antique dishes I'd bought at a garage sale. The dinner plates are much smaller so smaller portions don't look lost on a vast expanse of china. It makes me think I'm getting more food, even though I'm not.
Thanks for the chats -- I always learn something.
Sally Squires: Dinner plates have indeed gotten larger. (So have dress sizes, so that a size 6 today is more like an old size 8.)
Adding stairs to your life is another great idea! Have you noticed a difference yet?
Re Tofu: I eat a lot of tofu and tempeh, as a vegetarian who tries to get enough protein. Some suggestions for the person who asked about different types:
1. Extra firm tofu is what I usually buy. I slice it into 1/4-inch thick slices and saute in a little olive oil about 5 min per side, then add any type of bottled sauce (obviously, homemade sauce is good too!) like Asian dipping sauce, or lemon ginger sauce. I then either add some vegetables for a stir fry, or use the sauteed slices for a sandwich (in place of meat) with lettuce, mushrooms, etc. Sometimes I slice the slices in half lengthwise, so I have two long thin "sticks," and make a wrap using the tofu, with baby spinach and portobella, and goat cheese spread on a whole wheat tortilla.
I find that I just need to wrap the sliced tofu for a couple of minutes before sauteeing, by the way -- no need for lengthy "pressing" out of the water.
2. Extra firm tofu is also a good ricotta substitute (protein w/o the fat). Put a slab in the food processor and mix it up. Then add olive oil slowly through the "feeder" of the processor, until it becomes ricotta-consistency. You can use this in lasagna or baked ziti, etc.
3. I've recently started buying more soft, or silken, tofu to use to make spreads. You can find recipes online (try epicurious), but I made a nice "tofu mayonnaise" based on a couple of different recipes. It contained white beans (canned, drained), some silken tofu, garlic, salt, and I think some olive oil.
4. Tempeh is tougher and probably more meat like than tofu. I slice that like extra firm tofu and saute in the same way, and use it pretty much the same. I also like to cut it into cubes after sauteeing, and put that in salad (a great lunch).
Sorry for the long post, but I've been vegetarian for some years now, and have therefore been finding new and different uses for these incredibly versatile protein sources! Hope this helps.
Sally Squires: Wonderful suggestions! Thanks very much.
Laurel, Md.: I think the cruelty portrayed on the video makes one wonder what are we eating and what price are the animals paying. Great incentive to eat more vegetables -- although we do not know how the vegetables are handled, but at least no living creature is suffering. Also questions how a person can treat any animal like that in the first place?
Sally Squires: It does, doesn't it? And if I recall correctly, two workers have been fired and may be facing criminal charges...
Annapolis, Md.: Hi Sally,
I've learned a lot from your chats and have made small changes in my diet that have made me feel better, like experimenting with more and different fresh fruits. I need to know if it is possible to lower one's cholesterol with a proper diet even if genetics are working against you? More importantly, is all cheese bad for you? I love cheese and Cinnabon's, which I attribute to this prolonged spike in my cholesterol. Any advice you or other LPCers can offer to help me avoid taking my first maintenance drug is much appreciated! Thank you.
Sally Squires: It is indeed possible to lower blood cholesterol with diet. (Same is true of blood pressure, by the way, and blood sugar levels.) But consult with your doctor in using diet. If your blood cholesterol levels--particularly low density lipoprotein--are within a certain range, you may want to try drugs right away in addition to diet. It's that important to get cholesterol levels to a healthier level.
The Portfolio Plan, which was developed by the University of Toronto's David Jenkins takes a variety of foods that each lower blood cholesterol a little, and combines them to help lower it more significantly. Soy, almonds (and the Almond Board has not signed onto this) as well as cholesterol lower margarines and other foods are part of the plan. I'll post a link to it in a minute.
Losing weight can also help with cholesterol levels. Exercise can help a little too. But sometimes genes are so strong that you do need to get reinforcement from those prescription drugs.
Sally Squires: As promised, find more here about the Portfolio Plan.
Sally Squires: Here's more on the Portfolio Plan.
Minneapolis: Hi Sally:
Thanks for another outstanding column. All the articles and Web sites are interesting. Professional athletes on the whole do not inspire me. They either make it look too easy or I think, "they get paid for their bodies so of course they can afford trainers, personal chefs, massage therapists", etc. However, I wanted to encourage you and other LPCers to check out a book I borrowed from the library: "Shape Your Self" by Martina Navratilova. One thing that really stuck with me, is to treat each work out like you were a professional athlete no matter what your weight. It really helped me when I walked into a locker room full of thinner, younger types. My work out is as important to me as theirs. She also has great recipes. Her longevity in a grueling sport does inspire me.
Thanks for listening.
Sally Squires: Thanks for the tip on the book. Sounds interesting.
Philadelphia-ish: In addition to writing to/calling legislators about slaughterhouse conditions, if you decide to continue to eat meat, buy locally and from people you know. Get to know your local farmers and hunters (bearing in mind that they might not be "local" in the sense of next-door neighbor, especially in the city, but ask around at the closest farmers' market, etc). Maybe they'll be able to let you observe. If not, they should at least be able to explain the process and what steps are taken to make the slaughter as fast and painless, and terror-free, as possible. If you can visit farms, keep eyes and ears open. If the workers are friendly with the animals and name them (even if the names are "pork chop" and "bacon" and "hamburger"), they're probably going to want to make sure that the animals have the best ends possible, too. Most small farmers are very respectful of the animals, and you should be able to figure out the ones to buy from. In the meantime, avoid factory-processed meat.
Sally Squires: Excellent advice Philly. I decided after the series by Joby Warrick that I would only eat anything that I thought I could prepare for my family from the farmyard to the dinner table. I also learned from some of my clergy vegetarian friends, however, never to refuse something that is served to me. That can be an even bigger waste. And Mother Miriam of the Community of St. Mary in Greenwich, NY also reminded me once that some creatures are bred specifically to be fed to others. But that doesn't mean that they need to be treated cruelly.
Washington, D.C.: Thanks for all your work with the Lean Plate Club. I am interested in studying nutrition, and was wondering what graduate degree programs you would recommend that have solid courses and professors, and produce some graduates that go on to work in the nutrition journalism field. Thanks so much.
Sally Squires: I'm partial to the Institute of Human Nutrition at Columbia University, where I earned a Master's degree as well as Graduate School of Journalism, where I got another master's.
Tufts University has a great program: The Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. Cornell also has a stellar program in nutrition. So does the University of California-Davis. The University of Maryland also has a Nutrition and Food Science program.
That's just for starters...I'll try to post some links in a minute.
Pennsylvania stairs:"Adding stairs to your life is another great idea! Have you noticed a difference yet?"
I have--my thighs and knees feel much stronger and my hips don't hurt anymore. I have a lot of weight to lose, and was very apprehensive of the stairs, but it's been fine. Also, our new neighborhood is very hilly and I've been walking for about an hour most days. All good changes.
Sally Squires: Sounds great!
Tenleytown, D.C.: Weird question, but I read your
First - How do you figure out the number of grams of alcohol you are consuming in a drink?
How do the experts define occasional and moderate drinking? I heard a doctor refer to grams of alcohol to track but I can't find a specific formula and it differs for wine, beer or liquor. Thanks in advance.
Sally Squires: It can get complicated. Let's start with the second part first. Current recommendations are to limit alcohol to one drink per day for women (who are not pregnant, nursing or trying to conceive) and two drinks for men per day.
But one person's "drink" may not be another. And many glasses of wine at restaurants are easily two glasses of wine instead of one, because the goblets have gotten so large.
A drink is 12 ounces of beer, 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits (whiskey, vodka, tequila, etc.) and 5 ounces of wine. (It's about half that for port, sherry or wines with higher alcohol content.)
And you're not supposed to be a teetotaler all week and then make up for your abstinence on the weekend.
Now as for the first question: a standard drink contains roughly 10 grams of alcohol. And by the way, here's another reason to limit consumption: a gram of alcohol has about 7 calories per gram. That's nearly as much as the calories found in fat and almost twice that of the calories in carbohydrates or protein.
Hope this helps. And let me add that some of the non-alcoholic beer and wine we tested were quite good!
Sally Squires: As promised...
Sally Squires: As promised...
San Francisco: Hi Sally,
So I've lost about 30 pounds, and I'd really really like to keep it off, for a change. I was thinking about scheduling an appointment with a nutritionist or a dietitian or something, to help me keep it off long-term. What do you think? I'm not sure exactly what I would ask a pro -- "hey, how can I keep this damn weight off this time?" I suppose they're used to questions like that?
Congratulations San Francisco! Those 30 pounds are quite impressive. You're also ahead of the curve in understanding that losing weight may have been the easy part. Now comes the point where the rubber hits the road: how do you maintain that loss?
Your idea of seeking counsel from a registered dietitian or master's degree or higher nutritionist is a good one. (You can find an RD on line at www.eatright.org. That's the site of the American Dietetic Association.)
You might also take a look at our Successful Losers at www.leanplateclub.com for more tips on weight maintenance and at the National Weight Control Registry--a group of 6,000 successful losers who have lost at least 30 pounds and kept off the weight for at least a year. (Many have lost far more and maintained it for far longer.)
Here are some of the things that they do:
98% of Registry participants report that they modified their food intake in some way to lose weight.
94% increased their physical activity, with the most frequently reported form of activity being walking. Most are getting between 60-90 minutes daily.
While registry members lose weight in many ways, most report continuing to follow a low calorie, low fat diet.
78% eat breakfast every day.
75% weigh them self at least once a week.
62% watch less than 10 hours of TV per week.
90% exercise, on average, about 1 hour per day.
Hope that helps. Let us know how it goes!
Silver Spring, Md.: Interesting article on how top athletes eat. I'm interested in what size portions they eat as well because I work out 5 to 6 times a week and I'm struggling to eat enough food so that I can also lose some extra weight.
Sally Squires: Well, remember these guys are 7 feet tall, have a lot of muscle mass and can probably eat more than many of us mere mortals. They seem to be eating hearty breakfasts, soup and sandwich or a dinner like entree for lunch. And a regular dinner for dinner. The ones I talked to don't eat a lot of snacks.
Hope that helps.
Washington, D.C.: I love walking outside when it's nice out. I go about 4.5 mph, enough to break a light sweat, usually for about an hour at a time. I'd love to add some resistance though ... do you think that adding ankle weights (do they still make those?) would help accelerate my fitness/weight loss?
Sally Squires: You certainly can do that. You could also increase both the intensity or pace of your walks and look for opportunities to climb hills or stairs. Keep your pace up while you do that for more resistance. Good luck with your efforts.
Silver Spring, Md.: Hi Sally,
I know this sounds simple, but I think I need to add some protein to my breakfast. I work out at 6:15 and then go directly to work where I eat my high fiber cereal, milk and fruit while I read my e-mails. In about 45 minutes, I feel hungry again. I thought maybe the fact that the my breakfast doesn't have much protein is the answer. Any advice for a portable source of protein that doesn't require trips to the microwave?
Sally Squires: You might try getting a little something in your stomach before your workout Silver Spring. It could be as little as half a banana with a little peanut butter. Or a spoonful of almond or cashew butter.
Consider adding some nuts to your cereal, which will help boost protein and add a little healthy fat. You might have a single slice of toast--Ezekiel has a good bread that clocks in at about 80 calories--with a teaspoon of peanut butter. That will also give you a protein boost. Hope that helps.
Sally Squires: Thanks to all for a great chat. Winners today are: Omaha,the Lean Plate Club member who submitted smart tofu ideas to assist another chatter, Minneapolis, Philly and Akron. Please e-mail me with your U.S. Postal address and please include your name and address and of course, put winner in the subject line for faster handling. Until next week, eat smart and move more with the Lean Plate Club.
Thanks again to all!
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