How to Have a Good Diet on a Low Budget | Q+A

How to Have a Good Diet on a Low Budget | Q+A

Question:

How can I have a good diet on very low budget? I work two jobs and I am a reservist in the Marine Corps.

– Joseph E.

Answer:

It just takes a little planning and perhaps your local grocer’s weekly savings guide for a low-cost healthy diet. Not wasting food is key. If you can buy more, cook it once, then make leftovers, you’ll not only spend less but save on preparation time later. Casseroles, stir fries and crock pot meals are simple one dish meals that you can make in a large quantity and have less to clean after.

Sample savings: A $8 whole chicken can make 3-4 servings for an active man: roast chicken on day 1; chicken tacos on day 2; and cold chicken salad on day 3. Compare with $3-6/lb for precooked, skinless chicken breast.

Dry starches are cheap! Get larger bags of beans, rice and pasta to cook 1-2 cups at a time. By purchasing shelf-stable or frozen goods on sale and stocking up, you’ll spend less. Getting produce in season (e.g. stone fruit like peaches, plums and apricots in summer) saves dough. When it makes sense, it’s fine to use canned (rinsed) or frozen produce without sauce.

Your real challenge will be to cut back on prepared foods since I assume you’re tight on time with working two jobs. But it can be done! Pencil out your weekly meal plan, grab those coupons & your grocery list and shop smart.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

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This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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I Tore My Meniscus – What Supplements Should I Be Taking? | Q+A

I Tore My Meniscus – What Supplements Should I Be Taking? | Q+A

Question:

I tore my meniscus in March and it is healing. My cartilage is thin on one side. What supplements should I be taking and for how long?

– Barbara H.

Answer:

Barbara, your question intrigued me. Glucosamine chondroitin was the first thing that came to mind for joint health. Glucosamine chondroitin or glucosamine sulfate/chondroitin sulfate is known to stimulate cartilage regeneration, improve joint function and reduce pain. It is generally used for osteoarthritis, the breakdown of the articulate cartilage. A meniscus is a C-shaped pad made of fibrous cartilage that absorbs shock in the knee. Each knee has two menisci. Articular cartilage is present at the end of the femur.

Theoretically knee injuries may benefit from higher levels of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory agents and compounds involved in cartilage formation. According to the International Cartilage Repair Society (who knew?), “glucosamine, chondroitin, S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe) and avocado soybean unsaponifiables (ASU) have been the most carefully assessed with considerable amount of scientific and clinical usage data, as well as safety profile.” Suggested beneficial food compounds and supplements also include: olive oil, fish oil (for EPA + DHA), undenatured type II collagen, MSM (methylsulfonylmethane), curcumin, flavonoids, and ginger.

For selection and dosing recommendations, be sure to discuss with your physician what treatment is appropriate for you.

References:

Nutraceutical Supplements in the Management and Prevention of Osteoarthritis. P Castrogiovanni, et al. International Journal of Molecular Sciences 2016 Dec 6; 17(12): pii E2042

– Debbie J., MS, RD

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This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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Have a nutrition question? Our registered dietitian is ready to help!

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Health Advice For Pre-Diabetics | Q+A

Health Advice For Pre-Diabetics | Q+A

Question:

Hi, I am an LA Fitness Member for more than 10 years. I have a question regarding my health. Just recently I was diagnosed with prediabetes. I do not know how to control my sugar level. What do you think should I eat, how much sugar should I eat everyday, how do I know if I’m having enough sugar in my body? Your feedback would save my life because I am really losing a lot of weight. Thank you.

– Jo

Answer:

Thanks for reaching out, Jo. It’s great that you’re addressing your prediabetes (aka. impaired glucose tolerance) right away.

Though your diagnosis reflects higher than normal blood sugar, it will take balancing ALL your food to manage it. Here’s why: foods have a combination of macronutrients (carbohydrate, fat, protein) that all impact blood sugar. Unless they have certain bonds which make them fibers, carbohydrate molecules directly break down into sugar through digestion. So even a sugar-free baked potato will raise blood sugar. The presence of protein and fat in the stomach will somewhat slow the digestion of carbohydrate at the same meal, thus reducing the rate of absorption and subsequent blood sugar rise. Adding sour cream and cheese to the potato will have a desirable blunting effect.

A meal of pasta and marinara is carbohydrate-rich and therefore a blood sugar booster. Reducing portions and adding a couple of meatballs or Parmesan cheese and fibrous broccoli makes for a more balanced meal that is likely to have a milder effect on blood sugar. That’s not to say that if you just load up on fat it will counteract sugar (sorry, ice cream). I’d stick with starches, fruit and fluid milk for the healthiest carbohydrates and avoid refined sugars. There is no minimum need for sugar, only for carbohydrates, and it’s recommended your daily intake is at least 130 grams.

Your take-home message is to avoid added sugars, balance your meals (complex carbohydrate/protein/fat) and increase activity to lower your blood sugar levels.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

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This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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Debbie James, RDN, helps answer a reader’s question on whether fructose is as bad as table sugar (sucrose).

What Can I Do to Gain Weight Fast? | Q+A

What Can I Do to Gain Weight Fast? | Q+A

Question:

What can I do to gain weight fast? I am trying to gain at least 10 pounds in a month or two and I need any advice on what to eat to gain weight.

– Rosalinda V.

Answer:

Your best bets for maximum healthy calories are nuts, avocado, cheese, oils, and pesto, followed by ground beef, tortillas, pudding, au gratin or scalloped potatoes, bisque soups and chowders. Choose dense produce such as winter squash, peas, carrots, corn and bananas, and rich cereals like granola and muesli. To maximize calories, add 1 Tbsp. powdered milk or juice concentrate to each Cup of fluid milk or juice, respectively.  Fried foods and any bakery goods saturated with butter, cream or sauce certainly have more calories per bite than their plain counterparts. Whole-fat dairy foods contain nearly double the calories than the fat-free versions. And, of course, if you are able, simply increase the volume of what you already eat.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

LA Fitness Living Healthy subscribe button

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Ask our Dietitian

Have a nutrition question? Our registered dietitian is ready to help!

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Salad Surprises

Salad Surprises

Salads, by nature, are supposed to be healthy, right? Many times they are, like a side house salad of lettuce, tomato and cucumber with light vinaigrette meant to compliment a meal. Yet entrée salads can top 1000 calories and include a full day’s supply of fat and sodium! The mixed greens and vegetables aren’t to blame. And while the healthy plant fats (nuts, olives and avocado) can add significant calories, these are preferable to the real culprits* – bacon, cheese, dressing and fried toppings. Sugar can be hidden in there, too! In most cases, it’s the fat that pushes the calories up over a desirably-sized meal of around 600-800 calories.

Menu descriptions are a good indication of where you might find salad surprises. Words like crispy, creamy, glazed and savory are red flags to watch out for.  Portion sizes make a difference, too. While you might fill a bowl with 2 cups of salad at home, a dinner plate piled high could give you twice that much. Note that the quantity of dressing served on a salad is typically 2 fl. oz. and provides 150-200 calories of the below totals.

Let’s take a look at a few examples you might find nationally (from restaurant chains with over 1000 locations in the U.S.). In all cases only the grilled meat option is discussed, as breaded and fried proteins are just a no-no.  Notable high values are underlined. *Can you find these culprits and others below? 

Asian-Inspired Chicken Salad

Greens tossed in a sweet vinaigrette and topped with crispy noodles, toasted almonds and grilled chicken.

1290 calories, 85 gm Fat (59% cals), 2300 mg sodium, 52 gm sugar

Southwestern, BBQ, or Santa Fe Salad

w/ steak — mixed greens, sirloin w/ chimichurri, corn & black bean salsa, cheddar cheese and tortilla strips w/ creamy cilantro ranch dressing.

990 calories, 64 gm fat (58% cals), 2970 mg sodium, 8 gm sugar

w/ chicken (deluxe) – grilled BBQ chicken, romaine and kale, green onion, tomato, black beans and corn, cucumber, red onion, cilantro, cheddar cheese, avocado, bacon and tortilla strips, tossed in BBQ ranch dressing and topped with onion strings.

910 calories, 48 gm fat (47% cals), 2390 mg sodium, 24 gm sugar

w/ chicken (simple) – grilled chicken, pico de gallo, avocado, cilantro, tortilla strips w/ ranch & Santa Fe sauce.

630 calories, 44 gm fat (62% cals), 1680 mg sodium, 8 gm sugar

Specialty Salads

Crispy pecan-crusted chicken breast, romaine and kale, celery, dried sweet cranberries, orange slices, glazed pecans, blue cheese, tossed in balsamic vinaigrette.

1220 Calories, 84 gm fat (62% cals) 1770 mg sodium, 52 gm sugar

Grilled chicken, mixed greens, jalapeno cornbread croutons, tomatoes, cheddar cheese, bacon and green onions w/ ranch dressing.

1090 calories, 70 gm Fat (58% cals), 2620 mg sodium, 17 gm sugar

Grilled chicken, pineapple, mandarin oranges, dried cranberries, diced red bell peppers, chopped green onions, cilantro & sesame seeds w/ a honey-lime dressing.

710 calories, 27 gm fat (34% cals), 1140 mg sodium, 70 gm sugar

How to get a healthier salad:

  • Ask to hold, substitute or go light on the items in red above.
  • Request a lunch portion of the salad (if offered on menu).
  • Often, just adding a lean protein and beans or other complex carbohydrate to a house salad will make it suitable as a balanced meal.
  • Ask for dressings on the side so you can control how much you use.
  • Ditch the dressing and opt for oil and vinegar to pare down the sodium by half!

*Culprits listed in order of appearance are: sweet vinaigrette, crispy noodles, cheddar cheese, tortilla strips, cheddar cheese, creamy cilantro ranch dressing, BBQ, cheddar cheese, bacon, tortilla strips, BBQ ranch dressing, onion strings, tortilla strips, ranch, santa fe sauce, dried sweet cranberries, glazed pecans, blue cheese, balsamic vinaigrette, cornbread croutons, cheddar cheese, bacon, ranch dressing, dried cranberries, honey-lime dressing.

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Sources as of 7/7/2017:

www.Applebees.com/nutritional-info

www.tgifridays.com/pdf/nutrition.pdf

www.chilis.com/docs/Chilis-Nutrition-Menu-Generic.pdf

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