Spring cleaning

Foods to avoid

Mindful eating class

Low FODMAP products

It’s almost Spring, which is a great time to clean out the old…and bring in the new.

A few things to purge:

Anything (everything) with trans fats. This includes Girl Scout cookies, like Thin mints and Tagalongs. Due to evidence of effect on mood, heart health and even memory, trans fats will be restricted as of 2018, but they’re still on the shelves now. Yes, the label says 0 grams of trans fats, but that’s because it contains less than .5 grams, and they’re rounding down to zero. So if anything you see says “partially hydrogenated xyz”, just put it down.  Normally, I advocate for moderation, but not here. Even small amounts can have a physical impact. So if you want to support Girl scouts, just donate.

Other products with trans fats: a range of crackers, cookies, and snack foods.

Artificial sweeteners: Diet coke drinkers, I’m looking at you. For years, diet drinks were pushed as a way to have your cake and eat it, too. But there are a range of concerns. Studies indicate that artificial sweeteners may affect gut health because they may alter the kind of bacteria in the gut. They’re linked to thyroid dysfunction—including Splenda, BTW. Additionally some studies have linked diet sodas with increased cardiovascular health risk.

Need an extra reason? The strangest study I think I’ve ever read was one where rats were given the option of saccharine or cocaine. They chose the saccharine. Ever heard someone say diet drinks feel like an addiction? It raises some questions, for sure.

BPA, and the replacements: BPA (short for Bisphenol A) is everywhere, and if you’re not going out of your way to avoid it, it’s most likely in your diet.  It’s found in can liners, which includes canned vegetable, soup, or soda and more. It is in many plastic or polyurethane containers, water bottles and even on cash register tape. (Whole foods and Mom’s use BPA free receipts). The hypothesis is that the chemical mimics estrogen, and can affect hormonal systems in the body.

There’s growing evidence that BPA is problematic.  A study came out from JAMA showing that BPA seems to be linked to obesity in children. Moms with more BPA in their urine during pregnancy seem to have children with more emotional issues at the age of 3. Certainly there is considerable speculation that it may be linked to cancer, too. Also, for reasons that are not clear, women with PCOS (a common endocrine disorder) seem to be more sensitive to BPA and have higher levels, and there is some speculation that BPA may even cause PCOS.

But are the replacements actually better? There’s growing concern that the BPA free bottles may be just as bad, or even worse.

My vote? Get a stainless steel or glass water bottle instead. We know those are  non-reactive, and the stainless steel ones are light weight and sturdy. Ball jars like the ones pictured are a great replacement for Tupperware. You can buy them easily locally, especially during the summer, and crafts stores and Wegmans’ generally carry them. If that’s not logistically possible, you can store your food in plastic, and reheat on paper or glass.

Mindful eating workshop: Looking for new good habits? Join me for a workshop on Mindful eating this Saturday, March 25th at Empower Fitness in Fairfax, which is just across the parking lot from my Fairfax office. As some of you know, I’ve been practicing and teaching on mindfulness for over a dozen years. We’ll be talking about practical tips to incorporate mindful eating into your life. Sign up here: http://www.harriswholehealth.com/classes

Also, for those of you on a low FODMAP diet. As some of you know entirely too well, FODMAPs may cause digestive upset in people with IBS and IBD. Good news! FODY foods just launched a line at some DMV Wegman’s stores. This is garlic and onion-free salsas, BBQ sauces, bars, and more. However, my store list includes Alexandria, Woodbridge, Leesburg, and others in MD, PA and NY, but no Fairfax.

Cheryl Harris, MPH, RD is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Wellcoach in Fairfax & Alexandria, VA. She helps people with a range of dietary issues, including Celiac Disease, GI issues, food allergies, pregnancy, breastfeeding, vegetarian and vegan diets, preventing diseases and “whole foods” eating. Let’s get you on your way to achieving your goals and feeling great! Email or call 571-271-8742.

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