Quinn on Nutrition: New Views on Nutrition

January 7, 2019

Let the celebrations continue … at least until the clock strikes midnight on December 31. That’s when grocery shopping quickly turns from eggnog and butter to salads and water.

Not surprising, the number one resolutions on January 1 are aimed at getting back into shape. There is a difference, however, between a resolve and a goal, say experts. A resolution is a wish, such as “I am going to lose 20 pounds” or “I want to get more exercise.” A goal outlines the concrete day-to-day steps we plan to take to make those wishes come true.

Behavior experts tell us to make SMART goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable (Attainable), Relevant and Time-bound. If my resolution is to lose weight, for example, a smart goal might be “I will write down everything I eat and drink for one week.” By the way, this is one of the most effective weight loss strategies ever invented.

New research also urges us to make sleep a priority in this new year. The brain’s ability to make good decisions about food is interrupted after just one night of disturbed sleep, say experts. One goal might be to be in bed with at least 8 hours before you have to wake up.

We may also need to rethink or change our goals as the new year emerges. For example, after years of cutting out full fat versions of cheese, milk and yogurt due to their saturated fat content, some studies suggest we might not need to be so vigilant. Well-respected publications such as the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and the American Heart Association’s Circulation have found that particular types of fats in dairy foods were not associated with heart disease or other causes of death. One type of saturated fat in dairy called (don’t try to pronounce this on your own, boys and girls) “heptadecanoic acid” is associated with a lower the risk of stroke, for instance. Other investigations report a lower incidence of diabetes and heart disease in people who consume full-fat dairy foods.

How can this be? Perhaps the unique combination of fats in dairy foods afford some possible health benefit, say some experts. Conjugated linoleic acid or CLA, for example, is a naturally occurring fat in dairy foods that has been found to slow the progression of heart disease.

Other research suggests that the combination of nutrients in dairy, including calcium, vitamin D and potassium may also contribute to these new-found health benefits.

Careful with portions, however, say nutrition experts. One cup of full fat yogurt can contain more than double the number of calories compared to lower fat versions. One reasonable goal then, would be to aim for no more than 3 servings of dairy foods a day. One serving equals 1 cup or 8 ounces of milk or yogurt, or 1 1/2 ounces of cheese.

May your goals lead you to a healthful and happy New Year.



McClatchy-Tribune Information Services