Smart Bytes®

Feeling nutrition info overload? I will help you sort through to find what’s important to you. Read more. . .

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Nuts: Over-Hyped or Under-Eaten for a Healthy Diet?

Could eating nuts be a strategy to fight off the Big Three health problems: heart disease, cancer and diabetes?nuts are good sources of vitamin E

Headline-making studies in recent months suggest that including nuts in an overall healthy diet could protect against not only heart disease, but perhaps cancer and diabetes, too. Yet some top-selling diet books that claim to hold the key to disease-prevention call for limiting or avoiding nuts.

So what does the big picture of current research say about nuts and health? It may be that nuts’ influence on health varies with how you use them.

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Breast Cancer Survivors: Weight or Energy as Focus?

Researchers increasingly agree that a smart goal for breast cancer survivors is to avoid weight gain. Those already overweight or obese may do well to consider steps that could bring modest weight loss, as long as those steps particularly focus on loss of excess body fat and maintaining or rebuilding lean muscle tissue. Yet these goals can be challenging even for people not facing a major health challenge. How can cancer survivors – often dealing with fatigue and a variety of other recovery issues – approach such goals?

In this, the second section of my video interview with Maura Harrigan, MS, RD, CSO, you’ll hear the voice of experience describing what she’s learned over the years from research and practice working one-on-one with cancer survivors. Her recommendations, like those of many registered dietitians, will surprise you if you are expecting her to advocate for “diets”.

Maura Harrigan is a registered dietitian who is a board-certified Specialist in Oncology Nutrition. Ms. Harrigan is a research associate at the Yale School of Public Health, and Nutrition Director of the Cancer Survivorship Clinic at Yale Cancer Center.  Results from the Lifestyle, Exercise and Nutrition (LEAN) Study underway there are eagerly awaited for the anticipated guidance for breast cancer survivors’ care.

Following the video, read on for resources that may help support eating and lifestyle choices that promote cancer survivors’ health.

(Email subscribers, click here to go to my Smart Bytes® blog so you can view the video.)

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Weight and the Breast Cancer Survivor: 3 Key Questions

Could weight management be an overlooked element in survivors’ arsenal following breast cancer? Although large losses of body fat and muscle remain a critical problem typical of some cancers, many cancer survivors today are overweight at the time of diagnosis, and remain so following treatment.  Mounting evidence links pre-diagnosis obesity and undesired post-diagnosis weight gain with worse outcomes among cancer survivors.

Here, in the first section of a video interview with Maura Harrigan, MS, RD, CSO, you’ll get the glass half-full view: steps to reach and maintain a weight that is healthful for each individual cancer survivor may promote recovery and long-term health, and provide a positive way that cancer survivors can do something good for themselves.

Maura Harrigan is a registered dietitian who is a board-certified Specialist in Oncology Nutrition. Ms. Harrigan is a research associate at the Yale School of Public Health, and Nutrition Director of the Cancer Survivorship Clinic at Yale Cancer Center. She is involved in a key research study there known as the Lifestyle, Exercise and Nutrition (LEAN) Study, which may have major implications for optimizing care of breast cancer survivors.

Following the video, read on for my take on how to put this message in context for eating and lifestyle choices that promote cancer survivors’ health.

(Email subscribers, you’ll need to go to my Smart Bytes® blog to view the video.)

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7 Ways Variety Can Help Make Healthy Eating Easier

Can you take the problems posed by too much variety in our food — the last Smart Bytes® topic — and turn them around to make healthy eating and a healthy weight easier?

Look for variety beyond what's on your burger

We’re looking for variety in the wrong places!
Use variety to make eating more healthful & more fun!

Yes! Whether for improving what kids or adults eat, research shows that smart use of the right kind of variety can lead to healthier eating. Let’s explore some options you might try out to see how healthy eating may be more doable than you realize.

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Variety? Why it could be making healthy eating harder

A buffet laden with dish after dish – whether it’s at an all-you-can-eat restaurant or a party – is something most of us recognize as an occasion that easily pushes us to eat more than usual. Yet is it possible that variety in your day-to-day life also pushes you in directions that work against your goals of healthy eating?

Large variety can make healthy eating harder

Is too much variety making healthy eating as challenging for you as an all-you-can-eat buffet?

In a now-classic experiment, Brian Wansink, PhD (of Mindless Eating fame) found that people given a bowl of M & M candies in 10 different colors ate 43% more candy than people given the same number in only seven colors. It’s a good guess that everyone knew that all these M & Ms tasted exactly the same. Yet somehow, the perception of variety led to more eating.

If you’ve been looking for ways to cut back on less healthful foods or to reduce your overall calorie consumption, you can put the research on variety’s impact to work for your good health.

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