Friday, August 30, 2013

Nutrition for Nausea

Stomach bugs are gross.
I have been in bed for the past 2.5 days with a stomach bug. I do not know how it happened, where it happened or why it happened. I am hand sanitizer extraordinaire and a sleep stickler. Alas, sometimes even the best health habits and oodles of antioxidants do not keep you immune from a virus.

My biggest ailment is the persistent nausea. As a dietitian and runner who thinks about food 24/7 and has a hearty appetite, this symptom is very strange. The thought of eating makes me cringe and the smell of food cooking forces me to lie down. Though it may be difficult, it is important to maintain proper nutrition during these times to prevent complications such as dehydration.

The fundamentals of what we think of as 'good' nutrition are out the window when it comes to treatment and recovery of a stomach virus with symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. This is a situation when fiber needs to be avoided and sports drinks are acceptable when lying around.

When the time comes that you feel you can stomach something to eat, choose foods that are easy to chew, swallow and digest. This would include:
Go bland and boring.
  • toast, crackers, pretzels
  • fat-free yogurt
  • sherbet
  • boiled potatoes, rice, noodles
  • baked or broiled chicken 
  • eggs cooked without fat
  • canned peaches, applesauce or other soft, bland fruits
  • clear carbonated beverages, sports drinks, apple/cranberry/grape juice, jello, ice pops, tea, water 
To not exacerbate the illness, avoid foods that are high in fat and fiber, spicy and have a strong odor. I find that I can only tolerate foods that are cold or room temperature rather than hot. Eat small frequent meals instead of shooting for 3 large meals a day. One mistake that I made early on was that I forced myself to eat foods that I normally like to eat. Now I never want wraps with almond butter ever again. And remember to drink, drink, drink!

Flowers from someone you love by your bedside helps too!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

I’m a Vegetarian. I Only Eat Chicken.

Have you ever been out to lunch with a friend you thought was a vegetarian and then are confused when he or she orders the chicken Caesar salad? What a hypocrite, you think to yourself as you smugly bite into your mushroom burger.

It used to be that “vegetarian” was an easy-to-understand dietary lifestyle. A vegetarian eats no meat. Simple as that. Today, however, the definition of “vegetarian” has grown to become a looser term that is used to describe multiple styles of eating. 

Pollo-vegetarian: excludes red meat and fish, but includes chicken.

Pesco-vegetarian: excludes meat and poultry, but includes fish.

Lacto-ovo-vegetarian: excludes meat, fish and poultry, but includes dairy products and eggs.

Lacto-vegetarian: excludes meat, fish, poultry and eggs, but includes dairy products.

Vegan: excludes all animal products and any foods containing by-products of these ingredients.

There is also the growing popularity of the semi-vegetarian, or flexitarian, who consumes meat and poultry on occasion.

The next time somebody describes their eating style as vegetarian and then requests sushi for dinner, instead of questioning their morals, keep an open mind and ask them what type of vegetarian they are. 

Nobody likes an Aunt Voula.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Finding the Best Fuel

What is better for runnersthe Paleo diet or a vegetarian diet? What is better for fueling a long run- fats or carbohydrates? Find out at on the latest 'Ask the Dietitian' column. 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Fruit makes you Fat? That’s just Bananas!

I love bananas. For me, they are a perfect food. They are versatile, convenient and travel well. They can be eaten before, during or after a run without triggering an upset stomach. Bananas have a range of flavors and textures and colors depending on their ripeness. They partner perfectly with peanut butter, yogurt and oatmeal. Yohan Blake, a Jamaican sprinter and 100-meter world champion, attributes his strength and resilience to eating 16 bananas per day.

The idea of eliminating bananas as a staple in my diet is unfathomable. Yet, many people are on the fence - not just about bananas - but fruit in general. There is a misconception that the sugar in fruit wreaks the same havoc on our bodies as simple sugar and should be avoided. However, study after study show that higher levels of fresh fruit consumption are associated with a lower body weight and a lower risk of obesity-related diseases such as hypertension, diabetes and heart disease.

Whole fruits contain a plethora of antioxidants and fiber which help to strengthen immunity and promote fullness, respectively. When you eat a piece of fruit, the fiber within the fruit’s cellular frame helps to slow the absorption of fructose, the predominate sugar in fruits. It takes time to break down the fibrous cell walls, and as a result, the sugars enter the bloodstream slowly which gives the liver more time to metabolize them. This steady release minimizes surges in blood sugar and saves the pancreas from working harder than it has to.

It is important to note that the greatest benefit of fiber is received when the fruit is eaten fresh and whole as opposed to juicing or dried.