Ask A Dietitian
Have a nutrition-related question? We’re happy to help. Use the form below to ask your question and get an answer from a registered dietitian nutritionist! To read answers to other questions, scroll down.
Nutrition Questions & Answers
Yes, cheese is in the dairy group and provides calcium, protein, B12, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc and vitamin A, not to mention satisfying flavor and fat that can quell hunger.
When looking for the right cheese think about balancing nutrients and calories. To achieve this you’ll want to pay close attention to the serving size and fat content. (More fat here will rack up the calories, which can make the food a bit too heavy to justify the nutrients.)
Here is a list of low fat cheeses to enjoy:
- Part-skim mozzarella (75 calories per serving)
- Low-fat Feta (75 calories per serving)
- Parmesan and Romano Cheese (20 calories/serving!)
- Part-skim Ricotta (80 calories per serving)
- Neufchatel Cheese (70 calories per serving)
- Goat cheese (75 calories per serving)
- Fat-free or low-fat cream cheese (30-70 calories per serving)
Absolutely. The concept of a cheat meal is great because it allows people to plan for an indulgence, and fit it into an otherwise healthy diet. This way, if a temptation arises, on say, Sunday, but someone has planned a cheat meal for Tuesday night, it helps them say, no, I’ll pass, because I know I am going to be eating x,y, and z on Tuesday. That can be all the difference in sticking to a nutrition plan!
Diet and exercise ABSOLUTELY impact mental health.
Decreasing junk food and increasing B vitamins, Omega 3’s, fiber, and antioxidants like vitamin E from plant based foods, nuts, and fish make a big difference in depression, anxiety, age related cognitive decline, and helps delay the onset of Alzheimers and Dementia.
Exercise is well studied to do the same things, as well as increasing the feel-good hormones.
Exercise and good nutrition promote healthy blood flow through the brain, which helps protects from stroke. Healthy diet and exercise have even been shown to enhance the shape and structure of our brain over time, promoting enhanced health and function. Both the Mediterranean and DASH diets are nutrition plans that promote whole grains, plenty of plant-based nutrients and limit alcohol, sweets, and processed foods. In addition, these diet patterns promote physical activity and plenty of sleep as part of an overall healthy lifestyle.
Hypothyroidism describes a condition in which the body is not producing enough of the thyroid hormones, T3 and T4, due to an under-active thyroid. Thyroid hormones are necessary to regulate certain bodily functions, such as body temperature, tissue growth, and metabolic rate. Inadequate levels of these hormones can cause the body to slow down, causing symptoms of fatigue, weight gain, and constipation. Hypothyroidism can have a variety of contributors to its development and treatment may vary depending on the underlying cause. The priority for individuals with hypothyroidism is monitoring labs and medication in order to establish and maintain control of the disease.
There is no specific diet that can cure hypothyroidism, but there are there are important nutrient considerations of hypothyroidism management. Individuals who are experiencing weight gain or have trouble losing weight may benefit from a calorie-controlled diet. In addition, there are important nutrient considerations in hypothyroidism management. The main nutrient that promotes thyroid hormone synthesis is iodine. Many individuals with hypothyroidism have an iodine deficiency. The body cannot produce iodine on its own, so it is necessary to obtain it from our diet. The recommended iodine consumption for a normal adult is 150 mcg/day and since iodine is degraded by the body, consistent intake is important to maintain appropriate levels. Including iodine-rich foods in the diet may be beneficial in suppressing symptoms: dairy products (cheese, cow’s milk, yogurt), iodized salt (you can find this in almost every grocery store), eggs, seafood (saltwater fish and shellfish), or even trying a multivitamin that contains iodine.
Hormone replacement therapy is a common treatment option for Hypothyroidism. Synthetic hormone pills are prescribed to be taken daily at a consistent time to fill the gap between what the body needs and what it’s able to produce. These medications are sensitive to interference from foods rich in iron, fiber, calcium and other minerals. It is best to take thyroid medication at least 4 hours after eating and 1 hour before eating again. Consider a heart-healthy diet which includes more vegetables, lean protein, and fiber consumption and limiting processed foods, eating out, and intake of added fat and sugar, along with regular exercise to support an overall healthy diet and lifestyle.
What foods should we can add or eliminate to help my newborn's eczema and support my wife's ability to nurse?
Eczema or atopic dermatitis (AD) in breastfeeding infants may be triggered by allergens in the mother’s diet. However, the evidence to support eliminating suspicious foods from the mom’s diet is contrasted by studies which show no benefit to broad use of this practice. In addition, it is extremely important to ensure adequate nutrition to support the health of both mother and child, as well as milk supply during this period. Therefore, careful consideration should be given before attempting to eliminate valuable nutrient sources from the maternal diet. If foods are eliminated or the mother is unable to meet the increased nutrient and calorie demands of breastfeeding, supplementation may be necessary. Similarly, if milk supply is inadequate to meet the nutrition needs of the infant, supplementation with formula may be necessary. Hydrolyzed formula has been showed to prevent or delay AD in infants.
Weight loss back to pre-pregnancy weight is typically a desired health benefit of breastfeeding mothers. If weight loss is occurring too rapidly there may be an underlying nutrition or medical issue that requires further investigation.
Environment, genetics, health of skin, and exposure to irritants can all contribute to AD in infants who are at heightened risk for the condition until age 5 when the immune system is better developed. Here are some resources to help you manage AD in your child: https://www.aad.org/
The formula for building muscle is has 3 components:
- Stimulating the muscle
- Feeding the muscle
- Recovery/regeneration time
Muscle growth occurs when we have the right nutrients in place, then exercise, then allow time for the body to convert the nutrients into new strong muscle fibers. A common misunderstanding about muscle building is that more protein = more muscle. The truth is that it takes a full complement of nutrients to support the body’s bulking process!
Micronutrients like vitamins and minerals support the process by facilitating the new bonds needed to create muscle strands. Carbs act as fuel to support exercise so that more of the protein we eat is used for muscle building rather than burned for energy. Fat is also an important energy source for certain types of exercise and it also contains important nutrients that we can’t get from other food sources.
Sometimes it may take introducing a food to a child 6 or 7 times before they ever consider trying it. Be patient. If your child does not want to try a food the first time you introduce it to them or even the fourth, it’s okay. Children’s taste buds turn over much quicker than adults, so don’t get discouraged if they don’t like something the first time they try it.
Here are some tips to help encourage them to try different foods:
- Eliminate distractions
- Make sure their attention is on meal-time and not the television, dog, or something else.
- Introduce new foods with foods your child already eats
- If your kid loves broccoli but will not touch bell peppers, try sauteeing them together so that at least one food is familiar. Careful though, mixing lots of foods together can make a dish intimidating and confusing, especially for young eaters.
- Eat new foods in front of your child
- Kids love to watch the adults. If you eat green beans in front of your child they will be more likely to at least try a green bean or have a green bean on their plate.
- Give them options on which foods they want to try
- If they have not tried sweet potatoes or cauliflower let your child pick which one they eat. Giving them ownership of their food will make it more likely for them to try something new.
- Repeat exposure
- Kids can try new food without even tasting it! Let kids see, touch smell, and even talk about foods. The more it appears in their world the more likely they are to give it a try.
- A wide variety of nutrients to help the body build healthy tissue
- Exercise to stimulate tissue building
- Rest/sleep for recovery where tissue building occurs