Author Archives: jslyter

The Gym is Crowded

The gyms must love this time of year, because of increased memberships.  Those who frequent the gym may find the equipment they like to work out on in constant use.   New Years resolutions have good intentions but my bet is the equipment will become more available sooner than later.  I have no stats to back up my claim – just observation and hear-say.  Exercise  is  encouraged since it is vital to help obtain and maintain overall health.  It’s therefore  important when starting out to know how much is enough versus overdoing it so you don’t cause injury and quickly grow discouraged .

The first step is to  pick an exercise that you  enjoy and willing to do on a regular basis versus dread.  Not everyone loves the gym so consider walking, swimming, or bike riding.   The point is that all adults should avoid inactivity. Some physical activity is better than none, and adults who participate in any amount of physical activity gain some health benefits.  The 2008 Physical Activity Guideline ( guidelines) for adults 18-64 is:

  • For substantial health benefits, adults should do at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity. Aerobic activity should be performed in episodes of at least 10 minutes, and preferably, it should be spread throughout the week.
  • For additional and more extensive health benefits, adults should increase their aerobic physical activity to 300 minutes (5 hours) a week of moderate-intensity, or 150 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity. Additional health benefits are gained by engaging in physical activity beyond this amount.
  • Adults should also include muscle-strengthening activities that involve all major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week.

When I see someone having an extended conversation with the person next to them I know they are not getting the benefit they  seek with the workout. The same goes with watching someone who is pushing themselves to the point of exhaustion and can barely take a deep breathe.  The goal is to burn fat, but if you are under or over-exercising you are burning carbohydrates.  The only thing this will do is create  hunger at the end since your body wants to replace the immediate source of energy it just lost.  My guideline is to evaluate your breathing.  If you are able to carry on a full conversation without the need for a breathe after a few words you are under-exercising.  On the other hand, if you cannot say any words in-between breathes  you are over-exercising.  A moderate-intensity aerobic activity means you’re working hard enough to raise your heart rate and break a sweat. One way to tell if you’re working at a moderate intensity is if you can still talk but you can’t sing the words to a song.  A vigorous-intensity aerobic activity means you’re breathing hard and fast, and your heart rate has gone up quite a bit. If you’re working at this level, you won’t be able to say more than a few words without pausing for a breathe.

Think of the FITT principle as a set of rules that must be adhered to in order to benefit from any form of fitness training program. These rules relate to the Frequency, Intensity, Type and Time (FITT) of exercise…  These four principles of fitness training are applicable to individuals exercising at low to moderate training levels and may be used to establish guidelines for both cardiorespiratory and resistance training.   The FITT principle is used to guide the development of fitness plans that cater to an individual’s specific needs.   The aerobic fitness goal using FITT for weight loss is Frequency of 4-5 x per week.   Intensity of moderate to vigorous, and Time of 30-45 minutes per workout.

Exercise should be a way to train and improve athletic performance, and physical health, but not a means of purging calories.  Make exercise a lifestyle change and not a temporary fix.  If you decide to add exercise to you New Years resolution think first about your goal.

Signature  Joanne Slyter, dietitian, Westminster, CO  Interest in sports nutrition



Was It the Mashed Potatoes or Egg Nog?

With the holidays comes parties.  Of course the main attraction is the food spread.  Recently my daughter attended an all night party but the next day called me asking for advise on how to manage nausea.  I gave her the list of things to help settle her stomach but unfortunately when she made it home nothing worked.  As I’m comforting her  on the bathroom floor she received several text messages from other party friends who were also sick.  First thing comes to mind is food poisoning.  We went down the list of food served that could have been possible culprits.  The two that stood out were the mashed potatoes and the eggnog.  The mashed potatoes was a leftover from a previous party six days earlier!! (Red flag)  The ingredient added to the potatoes was ranch dressing.  Two things came to mind were potentially hazardous food and the amount of time this food sat out in an unsafe temperature zone.  The eggnog was commercially produced but I questioned the expiration date and time and temp it sat out as well.  No one went to the ER  so  food poisoning versus a 24 hour virus was ever diagnosed.
When it comes to food one can never be too cautious .   The three main causes of food borne illness are time-temperature abuse, cross-contamination, and poor personal hygiene.   There are basic practices that need to be followed with each of these areas.The first thing is to be aware of what foods are common causes of foodborne illness (potentially hazardous foods):

  • Foods that are slightly acidic or with a neutral pH (most of the food we eat)
  • Foods that contain protein (meat, poultry, dairy products, and eggs)
  • Foods that contain a good amount of water, including fruits and vegetables
  • Any food that is served raw or uncooked

To prevent foodborne illness:

  • Keep hot food hot and cold foods cold
  • Store cold foods at <41’F
  • Cook hot foods to a proper temperature (temperature varies depending on food)
  • Hold hot foods at the proper temperature before and after meal service (135’F or higher)
  • Cool hot foods quickly and correctly.
  • Reheat cooked foods to at least 165’F
  • Keep food out of the temperature “danger zone” whenever possible (41’F to 135’F)

Preventing cross-contamination (spreading of bacteria from one food to another).

  • Store meats on bottom shelf of refrigerators and freezers to prevent f juice from dripping on other foods
  • Sanitize utensils and cutting surfaces when switching from meats to other foods
  • Keep raw foods completely separate from cooked or ready-to-eat foods

Practice good personal hygiene

  • Wash hands for 20 seconds with soap and warm water after using restroom, smoking,eating, drinking, switching from raw to cooked food, blowing your nose, or touching your skin
  • Do not cough, sneeze, or spit on food, or eat in the food preparation area.

Keeping foods safe is critical to preventing illness carried to people by food.  Morale to the story for my daughter is –  be cautious when served the same food item served from a previous party that’s over 24 hours old and considered potentially hazardous!!


Signature  Joanne Slyter, dietitian, Westminster, CO   Interest in food safety and sanitation


hCG Diet has been Pulled

Update on hCG diet.  Read FDA Yanks hCG weight-loss  Agent from Market.  Also, read my previous blog about this diet.


Holiday Snacking with Diabetes

Being told you have diabetes is  rough, but figuring out how to manage it through diet can seem overwhelming.  The holidays is a major hurtle to get through when you are starting out and every food may seem taboo, especially sweets.   A holiday sweet may now seem to be a thing of the past. I’m here to tell you though that eating that pumpkin cookie, or pecan pie is no longer considered cheating but a choice!

Snacks are an important part of the meal plan for all people with diabetes.   Snacks help to stabilize blood glucose levels that can be erratic
due to insulin already working in the body, exercise and stress. They are also key to preventing hypoglycemia, which can be a scary event.   People with diabetes can eat some sugar as long as it is worked into their meal plan just you would with eating any carbohydrate food item.  Because sweets don’t contain the essential vitamins and minerals found in healthier carbohydrate food items and may be higher in fat, it would make sense to save a holiday treat as a special treat.

To have the sweet at your meal simply cut back on the other carbohydrate (CHO) foods at that meal.  The key is keeping the amount of carbohydrates the same. An example is swapping the cookie for the slice of bread.  Read the label on the cookie package.  First determine serving size, and then total CHO. The total CHO tells you how much is in one serving.  If you eat more than one serving you have to increase the amount of CHO that you count.  One serving of CHO is 15 gm, therefore if the cookie has 17 gm you eat one cookie.  Keep in mind, sweets contain fat so they will be higher in calories than that piece of fruit you substituted with.  Bottom line – enjoy the holidays with that piece of pumpkin pie.

Signature  Joanne Slyter, dietitian, Westminster, CO


Up Periscope – hCG Diet is Resurfacing

Bells and whistles went off in me over this past month after attending 3 different events where  friends told me about their interest in trying the hCG diet.  They shared success stories of friends who were on it and lost a great amount of weight.  I had hoped this diet had died out in the 70’s but somehow it has managed to kick start itself back into the public eye. The icing on the cake was seeing a booth display at a bridal conference encouraging brides to shed weight to look fabulous in their gowns.  No health professional amidst the group to talk to.

The human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) diet was first developed in the 1950s based on research by A.T. Simeons.  His plan consisted of a three to six week 500 calorie fat-free diet, accompanied by a daily injection of 125 International Unit (IU) of hCG.  The new homeopathic version is made into a sublingual mixture which is administered under the tongue.  It is taken 6 times a day.

hCG is a hormone found in the urine of pregnant women.  In theory, the hCG hormone is supposed to suppress hunger and trigger your body’s use of fat for fuel.  That would lead to rapid weight loss without hunger and loss of fat from the most common problem areas (thighs, hips, and stomach).  These claim are impressive, but the science tells a little more questionable story.

In Simeon’s day, hCG was a newly discovered peptide hormone found in pregnancy and thought to cause the release of fat from the adipocytes or fat cells in the body so that other cells could burn it to produce other forms of energy.  More recently, researchers say that it does not cause the breakdown of fat, but might actually stimulate the secretion of another hormone, leptin, which causes the formation of more fat cells.

This new research shows that hCG’s role in pregnancy was likely misunderstood for many years.  These studies indicate that it actually promotes the storage of fat in the pregnant mother, not the release of fat for energy as previously thought.  Several other studies have found that the fat redistribution and weight loss observed by Simeon was likely due to another hormone altogether, human placental lactogen, making the entire premise of the diet plan flawed from the beginning.

A comprehensive review of 16 published studies concluded that individuals who were on a 500-calorie diet lost the same amount of weight as those on the diet who also took the hCG injections.  The end result of this analysis found that there is no benefit to using hCG as a dietary supplement.

The severe calorie restriction, not the hCG supplement, is responsible for the weight loss.  It is not safe to follow any very low calorie diet (a diet with fewer than 1200 calories) without medical supervision.

The hCG diet used to be available only in doctor’s offices.  Today you can buy hCG injections, drops and skin products on the Internet and find booths displayed at conferences.  Warning, these products are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.

Just like taking any product you need to understand the risks.  hCG is known to cause many severe side-effects which include blood clots, headaches, restless leg syndrome, constipation, hair thinning and feelings of pregnancy (including generalized swelling, breast tenderness and water retention, even in men!)

In women, it can also cause a rare but life threatening side-effect known as ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), which predisposes the dieter to severe weight gain, blood clots and kidney failure.

The American Society of Bariatric Physicians does not recommend hCG as a weight-loss aid.  And it’s not really safe to do the fat-free 500-kcal diet. A person cannot meet his or her daily nutritional requirements with less than 1200 calories.

Failure to meet one’s basic nutritional needs for any extended period of time can lead to many unpleasant and dangerous side-effects, including nausea, fatigue, constipation, diarrhea, hair loss and even gallstones.  Plus, once you resume a normal diet, without any improved eating or exercise habits, the weight will most likely return very quickly and gain back more than you originally started out with.

This is a fad diet that will run its course and then fade back into the sunset for another decade.  There is no convincing scientific evidence that the diet works.  Ask your doctor or a dietitian for the evidence, not just testimonials, when seeking assistance for achieving a healthy weight.

Signature  Joanne Slyter, Westminster, CO  Interest in fad diets



A Pumpkin Frenzy


Tradition is strong in our household during the holidays.  It rang true this last weekend when my daughter took our Halloween pumpkins (plural for cooking frenzy), cooked them down, and baked for three days straight making various desserts.  We still have pumpkin mix left after one pumpkin spice cake, three  pumpkin pies, two pumpkin breads, and loads of pumpkin cookies.  I heard the rest becomes pumpkin butter.  OK, so can tradition survive when healthy eating and waistlines come into play?  The answer is a resounding YES.

There are simple tips you can follow that can make your holiday foods healthier.

  • Cranberries – Choose whole cranberries over jellied cranberry sauce and juice.  Make a fresh, orange cranberry relish and get added benefit from the vitamin C in oranges.  Dried cranberries are a great snack or can be added to salads.
  • Pecans – Either raw or roasted, pecans make a great snack in moderation.  Be aware that a small handful contains about 200 calories.
  • Pumpkins – Eat only the pumpkin portion of the pie and leave the crust to enjoy the pumpkin dessert without extra fat and calories.  Make a lower-fat pumpkin pie by using an egg substitute and evaporated skim milk.  Pureed pumpkin lends itself to healthy cooking by replacing the fat in baked goods.
  • Turkey – Choose a fresh turkey that has not been injected with a sodium-based solution that increases the salt content.  Natural turkeys contain no artificial flavors, food coloring, chemical preservatives, or other artificial ingredients.  Check the ingredient statement.
  • Whole-Grain Stuffing – Rather than cooking stuffing inside of the turkey, cook the stuffing in a casserole dish in the oven.  If you add the drippings from the turkey, be sure to skim the fat off the top of the drippings before using.  This can be done easily by letting the drippings cool in the refrigerator or freezer.  You can also add ice cubes, which the fat will stick to for easy remove.  Rather than adding meat of giblets, replace half or all the meat with dried fruit such as cranberries, raisins, or apricots.
  • Yams/Sweet Potatoes – Candied yams can be high in sugar and fat.  Bake with a bit of brown sugar and whip with orange juice rather than butter.  Try a baked sweet potato or yam and eat the skin for the most nutritional benefits.

Strategies to manage your intake and waistline during this tempting season are also vital.

  • Don’t serve family meals family-style.  Keep pots and dishes away from the table to help avoid seconds.
  • Eat more of the salads and green veggies at a dinner party and make the meat a side dish.
  • Ask for sparkling water and lime instead of beer and wine.  Remember that alcohol has empty calories and lots of them!
  • Physical activity is a good way to burn calories. Shopping at the mall is great exercise.  Park away from the entrance and walk with stomach muscles tight throughout your shopping spree.

In our household, we will continue enjoying the holiday cooking.  Nothing says we have to eat all the goodies that presently sit in the refrigerator but have many holiday activities to attend where we can share our treats with others.  It’s time to have fun. Have a wonderful Holiday Season!!

Signature  Joanne Slyter, dietitian, Westminster, CO


Shopping For Cancer Prevention





Lately I have had several friends talk to me about themselves or loved ones battling cancer.  As a friend I offer comfort, but as a dietitian I feel compelled to go a step further and offer my service. This is why I decided to start my own blog to offer advise and direction to those seeking nutrition counsel for various reasons.  October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and only seems fitting for my first blog to focus on Cancer Prevention.

According to the Center for Disease Control, cancer was the second most common cause of death in the United States . A multitude of factors drive the development of cancer, including genetics, exposure to toxins, environment and lifestyle. Many researchers believe that up to 60% of cancer development can be prevented if Americans adopt healthier lifestyles. The prescription for cancer prevention is 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night, 60 minutes of exercise per day, quit smoking, reduce alcohol consumption, maintain a healthy body weight, increase water consumption and improve overall food habits.

To prevent cancer, the World Cancer Research Fund International recommends limiting consumption of foods high in fat and/or sugar; including a variety of fruit, vegetables, whole grains and beans in the daily diet; limiting consumption of red meat; avoiding processed meats; and limiting salt intake. You can lower your risk for cancer starting now
with your next meal. Choose mostly plant foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans. Use animal products as a condiment and allow plant foods to be the focal point of your meal.  Aim to fill 2/3 of your plate with fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains.

 Signature   Joanne Slyter, dietitian, Westminster, CO