Nutrition Tidbits

 

1. How Is an RD Different Than a Nutritionist?

RD Pin (lg)The “RD” credential is a legally protected title that can only be used by practitioners who are authorized by the Commission on Dietetic Registration of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.Some RDs may call themselves “nutritionists,” but not all nutritionists are registered dietitians.The definition and requirements for the term “nutritionist” vary. Some states have licensure laws that define the range of practice for someone using the designation “nutritionist,” but in other states, virtually anyone can call him- or herself a “nutritionist” regardless of education or training.Individuals with the RD credential have fulfilled specific requirements, including having earned at least a bachelor’s degree (about half of RDs hold advanced degrees), completed a supervised practice program and passed a registration examination — in addition to maintaining continuing education requirements for recertification.

 

2. Healthy Holiday Eating

Food is everywhere during the holiday season, making it tough to stick to your healthful eating and exercise habits. However, with a little attention, you can make it through the holidays without losing track of your healthy lifestyle.

Is it true that the average person gains 5 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day?
People often do gain weight during the holidays, but how much weight? In 2000, a study of 195 adults showed an average holiday weight gain of between .75 pounds (lb) and 1 lb. However, 14% of those studied gained 5 lb or more. In this study, those who were overweight or obese gained more holiday pounds than those who were normal weight. According to the study, while most people gain less than 1 lb during the holidays, the holiday weight gain is one reason that your weight creeps up from year to year.

What can I do to prevent gaining weight over the holidays?
Are you dreading the holiday season because you think you will gain back all of the weight you have lost in the last 6 months? The best advice is to change your mind-set. Do not expect to lose weight between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. Instead, focus on not gaining weight. For success, keep a regular exercise pattern and healthy diet during this time. After all, the fine food of the holiday is one of the pleasures of the season.

Allow yourself to splurge on foods that make your holiday season meaningful. Enjoy your favorites in small amounts. Try to cut back in other ways, and keep your exercise schedule on track.

What can I do to stay active when I am traveling and cannot get to my gym?
Exercising during the hectic and sometimes stressful holiday season can help you maintain your weight and sanity. If you are a true “gym rat,” most gyms will allow you to visit as a guest, although sometimes at a hefty fee! Walking, running, or stair-climbing are easy when you are traveling—you can do these activities almost anywhere. For resistance training, check your sporting goods store or online for rubber resistance bands. They slip easily into a travel bag and are lightweight—use them to strengthen and tone almost any body part.

You may need to adjust your expectations for holiday exercising. Try to stay flexible. Know that you might miss out on some workouts. Sneak in exercise whenever you can by taking a walk after a large meal, for example. Make sure to get back to your regular exercise routine when you return home.

How can I stay on track and not overeat at holiday functions?
You can keep your calorie intake under control in many ways. Try these tips and see which ones work best for you:

  • Survey the entire table before you take any food. Decide what foods are worth eating and which you can ignore, and then stick to that decision. Why waste calories on foods that do not bring you pleasure?
  • Eat a snack before you leave home. If you arrive at a party starving, you are more likely to eat too much.
  • Eat your calories instead of drinking them. Stick to lower calorie or calorie-free drinks (diet sodas, water, lite beer, or a wine spritzer), instead of punches, eggnog, and mixed drinks that can have up to 500 calories/cup.
  • Sip a large glass of water between every alcoholic drink, nonalcoholic punch, or eggnog. This will help keep you hydrated, and you will drink fewer calories by the end of the night.
  • When you are hosting, make sure the menu includes lower-calorie foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and lean meats. When you are a guest, bring along a lower-calorie dish to share.
  • Try not to hang out near the food. Find a comfortable spot across the room, and focus on people instead of eating.
  • Watch your portion sizes. Do not cover your plate completely with food. When it comes to holiday sweets and alcoholic beverages, less is better.
  • Drop out of the “clean plate club.” Leave a few bites behind every time you eat, especially if you are eating something you do not really care for.
  • Enjoy your favorite holiday treats, but take a small portion, eat slowly, and savor the taste and texture of the wonderful foods of the season.
  • Visit these Web sites for free reduced-calorie and reduced-fat recipes:
 
 3. Organic vs Conventional farming

The word “organic” refers to the way farmers grow and process agricultural products, such as fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy products and meat. Organic farming practices are designed to encourage soil and water conservation and reduce pollution. Farmers who grow organic produce and meat don’t use conventional methods to fertilize, control weeds or prevent livestock disease. For example, rather than using chemical weedkillers, organic farmers may conduct more sophisticated crop rotations and spread mulch or manure to keep weeds at bay.

Here are some key differences between conventional farming and organic farming:

Conventional Organic
Apply chemical fertilizers to promote plant growth. Apply natural fertilizers, such as manure or compost, to feed soil and plants.
Spray synthetic insecticides to reduce pests and disease. Spray pesticides from natural sources; use beneficial insects and birds, mating disruption or traps to reduce pests and disease.
Use synthetic herbicides to manage weeds. Use environmentally-generated plant-killing compounds; rotate crops, till, hand weed or mulch to manage weeds.
Give animals antibiotics, growth hormones and medications to prevent disease and spur growth. Give animals organic feed and allow them access to the outdoors. Use preventive measures — such as rotational grazing, a balanced diet and clean housing — to help minimize disease.

Organic or not? Check the label

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has established an organic certification program that requires all organic foods to meet strict government standards. These standards regulate how such foods are grown, handled and processed.

Any product labeled as organic must be USDA certified. Only producers who sell less than $5,000 a year in organic foods are exempt from this certification; however, they’re still required to follow the USDA’s standards for organic foods.

If a food bears a USDA Organic label, it means it’s produced and processed according to the USDA standards. The seal is voluntary, but many organic producers use it.

 

Illustration of the USDA organic seal

Products certified 95 percent or more organic display this USDA seal.

Products that are completely organic — such as fruits, vegetables, eggs or other single-ingredient foods — are labeled 100 percent organic and can carry the USDA seal.

Foods that have more than one ingredient, such as breakfast cereal, can use the USDA organic seal plus the following wording, depending on the number of organic ingredients:

  • 100 percent organic. To use this phrase, products must be either completely organic or made of all organic ingredients.
  • Organic. Products must be at least 95 percent organic to use this term.

Products that contain at least 70 percent organic ingredients may say “made with organic ingredients” on the label, but may not use the seal. Foods containing less than 70 percent organic ingredients can’t use the seal or the word “organic” on their product labels. They can include the organic items in their ingredient list, however.

Do ‘organic’ and ‘natural’ mean the same thing?

No, “natural” and “organic” are not interchangeable terms. You may see “natural” and other terms such as “all natural,” “free-range” or “hormone-free” on food labels. These descriptions must be truthful, but don’t confuse them with the term “organic.” Only foods that are grown and processed according to USDA organic standards can be labeled organic.

Organic food: Other considerations

Many factors influence the decision to choose organic food. Some people choose organic food because they prefer the taste. Yet others opt for organic because of concerns such as:

  • Pesticides. Conventional growers use pesticides to protect their crops from molds, insects and diseases. When farmers spray pesticides, this can leave residue on produce. Some people buy organic food to limit their exposure to these residues. According to theUSDA, organic produce carries significantly fewer pesticide residues than does conventional produce. However, residues on most products — both organic and nonorganic — don’t exceed government safety thresholds.
  • Food additives. Organic regulations ban or severely restrict the use of food additives, processing aids (substances used during processing, but not added directly to food) and fortifying agents commonly used in nonorganic foods, including preservatives, artificial sweeteners, colorings and flavorings, and monosodium glutamate.
  • Environment. Some people buy organic food for environmental reasons. Organic farming practices are designed to benefit the environment by reducing pollution and conserving water and soil quality.

Are there downsides to buying organic?

One common concern with organic food is cost. Organic foods typically cost more than do their conventional counterparts. Higher prices are due, in part, to more expensive farming practices.

Because organic fruits and vegetables aren’t treated with waxes or preservatives, they may spoil faster. Also, some organic produce may look less than perfect — odd shapes, varying colors or smaller sizes. However, organic foods must meet the same quality and safety standards as those of conventional foods.