Mathea Ford: [00:00:27] Hi there! It’s Mathea. Welcome back to the Nutrition Experts Podcast. The podcast featuring nutrition experts who are leading the way using food start today right now with our next guest. It’s great to have Janet Brancato on the show today. Janet welcome to Nutrition Experts.
Janet Brancato: [00:00:44] Thank you so much. I’m so glad to be here. Again, my name is Janet Brancato. I’m a registered dietitian. I’ve been at a dietitian over 20 years and I started out with community health talks and I also do outreach and nutrition counseling. In the past five to eight years, I’ve started my own virtual practice called Nutopia which reaches more people online with a virtual practice. I love to help out adults and children with healthy eating especially weight management but all kinds of medical nutrition therapy. So I’m so happy to be here to talk about all of these fascinating topics with you.
Mathea Ford: [00:01:24] Yes so this week we’re doing a little bit different. We’re going to kind of call it the news edition. And Janet is going to join on a regular basis and we have some topics that we’ve done a little research on that we’ve seen in the news and we want to kind of go over it and talk through it as from a dietitians perspective and a couple different perspectives. So, this is just kind of going to be a mishmash of a few different topics so we really get started. We thought well, it’s back to school time. It’s September and what’s one thing you think about going to school college freshman, sophomores is you know that college freshman 15 whatever they call it. So what do you think Janet causes a lot of those gains?
Janet Brancato: [00:02:11] I believe that it’s there’s change of environment. You know so when you go off to school you know you have that newfound freedom and you know now you’re making decisions about food and you know your stress levels are changing. You know you’re in a new environment with a lot of variety of food whether it’s in a cafeteria or the surrounding town that you’re in you know and you’re out with new friends so there’s a lot of like social eating, I believe stress eating you know late night eating I feel like all these factors can definitely contribute. Maybe there is less activity going on in their lifestyle you know as previously they might have been involved in sports. And so now starting the school year in the library more you might be sitting in classes more. So I think that all of these factors sort of are part of being to that.
Mathea Ford: [00:03:07] Yeah I agree. I think you also have sleep changes like you talked about a little bit. You’re getting up either earlier or you’re staying up later and getting up later and that kind of throws off your schedule. So, in addition to that you’re all of a sudden responsible for your own food choices like maybe up until that point your parents or parent made a lot of those decisions. They went to the store they had the food in the house and they hopefully make good decisions so you always just have good choices. Whereas now you have maybe a roommate and you guys have to you know pick your food and you may have a lot of unhealthy food around or just quick prepared food. So, ramen noodles, mac and cheese. That type of stuff. And you may not even being paying attention to how much you know you’re eating or what’s changing. So, I was trying to think of some ways that you can kind of prepare for that. What are your thoughts on some ways you maybe could be prepared for that change or help your kids prepare for that?
Janet Brancato: [00:04:13] I have two college age kids that have kind of gone through this process. And I believe it’s just always good to start ahead of time even just obviously as a parent, we’re going to provide the right you know the right foods, you’re going to be looking for healthy foods at home but also have a conversation with them you know about you know making choices and like we said these environmental factors that are changing. Maybe having that conversation ahead of time before they are going away to school you know help them to come up with a list for healthy snacks or some kind of plan for activity. A lot of these campuses now have really elaborate gyms you know and in classes some of them even have dietitians. So, you might you could even tap into that a little bit. But I think you know it always starts with a conversation and you know maybe finding out about the cafeteria what kind of foods are served just getting them a little bit prepared ahead of time. You know obviously things you know change once they get to school, roommates and things like that. But I think if they have a little knowledge ahead of time when you have that conversation that will definitely help.
Mathea Ford: [00:05:23] Yeah I think you can help them make good grocery list, talk about good food to eat. Even when you’re there obviously a lot of times parents go and buy food put in the room at first and just kind of encouraging that. Of course you don’t have control always over on the roommate. What the roommate might bring in but yeah I think a lot of campuses there’s a lot of walking and it’s just a matter of making a point to do that.
Janet Brancato: [00:05:53] You could send them some healthy care packages with some little healthy snacks.
Mathea Ford: [00:05:57] Yeah! I figured out care packages. Yeah because a lot of times they have junk food in them so.
Janet Brancato: [00:06:01] Yeah! Why not send it for the roommate to you know because they maybe they never tried some of these healthy items and you might force something in to want to eat healthier.
Mathea Ford: [00:06:12] Yeah and a lot of times they’re in the cafeteria and hopefully they’ve got a good foundation of good foods to eat. I remember when I went to college that was when I first realized there was other side dishes besides corn and potatoes. Because when I grew up all we had was corn and potatoes though I was like “what is that?” I’m trying all these new foods. So, yeah have that generally encouraging environment and also just even talking to them like your kids like “what are you eating? What have you been eating? What do you have in the house to eat?” Because if they’re like “Oh! I just got ramen and whatever.” You can help with that at that point. Of course it’s not the worst thing in the world ever to gain three pounds or five pounds or whatever. A lot of times they’ll come home and get back into their regular environment and probably lose it.
Janet Brancato: [00:07:02] Right. Exactly! They want to have positive messages.
Mathea Ford: [00:07:06] Yeah. Healthy snack ideas. So, we wanted to move on from that and talk a little bit about kids and snacking and a lot of times you have certain restrictions for allergies or whatever. What ideas do you have for like snacks that might be maybe not free if kids need to have like a lot of classrooms, they’re not allowed to have nuts?
Janet Brancato: [00:07:28] Yeah I know that can be deadly challenging and stressful for parents. But you know there’s definitely more variety out there now and I try to help parents sort of go back to basics you know. Think of the healthy food groups when you’re thinking about snacks for your kids. You know obviously fruits and veggies are always good and you get that color in each meal. You can maybe side that with a little kind of healthy fun dip maybe like a little yogurt dip or now they have the little free portion hummus or the guacamole on that kids really love or find a favorite salad dressing that they might like to do some dipping with. So those are always good to do. And then you can do things like you know like a pop corn is always good and kids tend to like something crunchy like that or a wholegrain tortilla with some salsa. Maybe some kind of homemade smoothie if you’re at home and you want to do something like that. Could do like wholegrain crackers if you even try like a sun butter which is made more from sunflower seeds that shouldn’t be a problem. And you could put it on a celery stick or on a whole grain cracker or something like that. So you could definitely be more creative with some of the snacks. You know try to keep them wholesome and healthy. You know cheese sticks, cottage cheese. There’s all kinds of ways to get a healthy snack in and you want you know when you think about snacks you know snacking is meant to kind of bring you from one meal to the next. You know, it’s meant to curb your appetite, keep your energy up, keep your blood sugars level. So, we want to try to get some kind of a protein and maybe a fiber source in there so that would be sort of a good combination.
Mathea Ford: [00:09:09] Yeah I love your ideas because we have so many prepackaged snacks that a lot of times you forget “Oh yeah! I can cut an apple or I can put an orange in there or… And we have the little snack size bags and a lot of times what I’ll do is if my daughter wants to put some chips in her lunch for example I’ll grab the smaller size bag so the portion she puts in there is not the full court size but it’s more just the half you know snack size or put some you know nuts in there or whatever. Obviously we’re talking about nut free but those types of things just even thinking about. It’s the whole idea of a smaller play and a snack. You’re right it should be just to get you from one meal to the next. If you’re feeling a little bit hungry, you don’t want to get to where you’re super hungry and are you going to go eat everything in the kitchen but healthy from that snack point. So again, I mean they could even have a little piece of chocolate but it’s a portion control more thing.
Janet Brancato: [00:10:11] Yeah! I try to have kids look at the food label and see what the serving size is. It might say two cookies or five crackers you know. Get them in the habit of reading the label and checking the serving size because that’s good guide to know how much to have. Its when something comes in a bag or a box sometimes you know we just keep putting our hand in and we don’t realize how much you know we’re having. But if you follow that serving size and it says you know ten chips, alright takeout ten chips. Put it on a little napkin or like you said a little snack bag and now you have your snack size portion. It teaches them as well as they get older, they get an idea of “okay, if I follow those serving size you know that’s the right portion.” So that can be helpful too.
Mathea Ford: [00:10:58] Yeah! Getting kids involved in the kitchen type thing where they’re making their lunch for school or whatever. Making those choices. You can let them read the labels because that is a skill that will help them as an adult. And you mentioned you have something called a Rule of Fives. How do you do that with the label?
Janet Brancato: [00:11:17] Yes! So, I find that everyone can remember the number five. Right? So, if you’re looking at a label or you have your child with you in your grocery shopping and you’re looking at snacks. If you remember the number five. So, that means looking for at least five grams of fiber or more, 5 grams of protein or more and then five or less grams of sugar. So that is a good sort of balance of nutrients that kind of keeps the nice and full with the protein and the fiber. And we’re not overdoing the sugar. And like I said it’s an easy number to remember. You can just kind of look down that Facts panel and look to see that there’s at least five or more or five or less and it can help out healthy snacks. So, it’s kind of a low numbers game too when you have kids they like to look at numbers and things like that. So it’s kind of helpful.
Mathea Ford: [00:12:06] I think it’s also very educational to have them compare two things that they like. You know maybe it’s a jar of peanut butter and they’re looking at two different brands and to see the difference in the food label and just understand you know which of those has a better profile to be a healthier food. Because sometimes you have peanut butters maybe with extra added sugar or other things. What kind of things do you have them do or would you think parents could have them do to help prep and do the set up in the kitchen for meals?
Janet Brancato: [00:12:40] Yes! So, you know depending upon the age what really you can start young. I mean you can even start them out by looking through some cookbooks or even online. You know there’s so many recipes sites or Pinterest. So, you could kind of get them even just getting creative with looking for the recipe or something that you know a visual that kind of they you know they want to make something new. So, you can get them involved in just picking out a recipe and then maybe going shopping, maybe making a shopping list or into the grocery store. You know you really the whole process is important because then they’ll be more involved in the kitchen depending upon the age. If the real young maybe have them wash something in the sink or whipping up the lettuce you know if they’re real young. As they get older you would have been season things a little bit more. They could add some spice and flavor things you know and then obviously as they get even a little bit older more high school age they could do a little bit more, maybe cutting or you know prepping and little like cooking you know that type of thing. So and I really feel because I’ve seen it with my own kids. More involved that they are the more apt they are to taste it and the more apt they are to accept it something new and the more that they are to like it. You know they’re looking to be a little more independent. It’s sort of a way of giving them a little bit of that freedom to be independent and then like I said they’ll be more apt to want to try something new you know. So, you get them involved in the whole process from picking it out to prepping to making it and then like I said you know and again every kid matures differently. But for the most part it’s definitely will be a more successful way of getting them involved.
Mathea Ford: [00:14:28] Something that we do that’s kind of fun is if we go out to dinner and the kids have a meal that they really like or something that they really want or enjoyed then we’ll come home and try to make that meal the next week or so so we cannot keep track of what was in it and kind of try to reproduce it but it gives them the opportunity to think about what spices were in there. How did they do the food in that way? My kids are older they’re 12 and 14 so choosing the recipes I’ve found to be a huge factor in helping them to want to eat that meal so they know “Okay I made this meal. I picked this meal so to speak you know. Then I chose and this is food I like.” So they’re more willing to help, they’re more willing to eat. And that’s always helpful as a parent.
Mathea Ford: [00:15:18] Well, yes! I see kids that gets so stressed and they feel like it’s all on them. They have to. They’re the chef. They have to pick everything out, they have to decide. And you know you really can get kids involved and they want to be involved. They do! And it really is a great life skill. It’s a great life skill to learn how to take care of yourself like cooking for yourself. That’s such a great long term skill. So, you know and all three of my kids they cook. I mean they’re older and they enjoy being in the kitchen, they’re comfortable in the kitchen. And that’s because at a young age I tried to really get them in helping in some way. So it really does help. And what you just mentioned is a great idea especially when you’re out to eat. That’s the best time to try something new. I always encourage my kid “why you try something new something that you’ve never had before?” You know it’s always a good way to maybe experiment a little bit with something even if it’s just one little side dish that’s new. But age just gets mature their tastebuds and exposed to some new flavors. So it’s always going to be positive.
Mathea Ford: [00:16:26] We were looking a little bit about back to school and thinking about how do you make your school lunch healthier? And some of the suggestions were to kind of look at my plate type look you know how do you balance those items within the meal. So, when you talk to parents or talk to anybody about how to make a healthier lunch with your kid or for your kid which personally for me my daughter she’ll say she loves it because her dad will make her lunch and he’ll drop over her little bag and make her cute little signs. And I’m like if you want your lunch you can make it. So, she always appreciates it when her dad makes her lunch but she makes her own lunch but we always have a discussion about what’s going in it. But any ideas how to help kids to pack healthier lunches?
Janet Brancato: [00:17:18] Yeah! Like It and getting them involved is always good. And the My Plate is a great visual to start with because it does give you the right balance that you need. So, it just kind of depends if you’re going to have a hot lunch or cold lunch. You know you might want to start having a conversation with them about that. And then depending upon what they choose you know you want to try to get some kind of a protein in there you know doesn’t necessarily have to always be a sandwich. You know there’s all different kinds of breads you could do like a wrap. You know there’s all different kinds of now whole grain wraps you do or some wholegrain crackers. You could do the bento box idea which is sort of like a box that has a different sections. Some kids like that where you put protein in one section maybe some broiled chicken or it could be like a tuna salad type thing maybe another section of the box can have some vegetables and fruit or some cheese. You know so that’s another kind of concept would be one move away from the sandwich idea is maybe do something like a bento box or kids could bring leftovers from them the night before. You know so it’s really kind of brainstorming with your kids to kind of like maybe follow the My Plate and say “okay, what are some of the proteins that you might want to vary? You know because variety is going to be key here. They make get bored having a turkey sandwich every day but you get a variety you know? You know so kind of like brainstorm with them some ideas. Like we said, you could get a little pushing cups of dips. Kids like that. And like you said be creative. You know maybe have them pick out like a special lunch box or put a little note in their lunchbox like “have a great day!” It may be small sweet treat but they will look forward to having. So, get them involved just like you would with shopping list. You know maybe just write down some ideas with them and then you can have them put it together you could do it together at the beginning of this school year just to kind of get the momentum going you know and then maybe eventually they’ll be doing on their own. You know like I said it’s getting them involved in the process. You know that’s going to be key.
Mathea Ford: [00:19:25] I always try to make sure they have a drink in there because like a water or they can buy milk at the cafeteria because you want them to be hydrated. But one of the things I do with my daughter she does not like school lunch. So, she likes to make her lunch. My son will eat anything they have at school lunch. So I’ll say to her when I’m getting ready to make the grocery list I’m like “What do you want for your meals this week? And that makes her sit there and think “Okay. So, I need bread, I need this, I need that.” And then she has other components that she can assemble her lunch very easily. So, as long as you know you have the stuff in the house then usually it’s not a hard thing. We tend to not put sweets in there because a lot of her teachers use sweets as treats like Starbursts or mini candy bars or whatever. And so I try to encourage them to just put a fruit in there or make it colorful you know. Do you want a little you know with your meal? Are you having a little bit a vegetable, a little bit of broccoli, carrots whatever and fruit and meat whatever? I love the bento box idea. The other reason I love bento box not just because it separates all the food but because like sandwiches can get soggy. So, if they take the peanut butter and jelly separate or even the meat in the lettuce and the cheese whatever and then they assemble it there at school. It’s not a soggy sandwich. So it’s really good in that way if you can separate or if you have a tortilla or whatever in there but it keeps it so it still taste pretty good when you’re eating it.
Janet Brancato: [00:21:04] Yes! It’s great idea. And most kids love them.
Mathea Ford: [00:21:08] On a completely different topic since we’ve been about healthy snacks, and eating lunch and gaining weight. A ketogenic diet is huge in the news. I mean it’s everywhere. I know a lot of people are like ketogenic diet. All those diets are terrible. And I want to take a minute and just think about in the shoes of the consumer, what are some pros and some cons related to the ketogenic diet? So a ketogenic diet is typically you know Atkins Low Carb diets, can be a lot of protein and a lot of fat and little bit of carb, Keto is specifically you know 70 or 75 percent fat and 20 percent 20 to 25 percent protein and then like 5 percent carb. And I think that’s really just because there’s residual carbohydrate in almost everything. So, they have no choice. So, it’s a very high fat diet and it does affect a lot of things. So, for me I was trying to go over what are some pros and some of the pros I thought of were you would eat more veggies because they definitely eat a lot of vegetables on there and less added sugar. Those are both really good things for your diet. Possibly more fiber with more veggies and it would help. It does seem to help stop or slow down cravings just because with more fiber with more volume you’re getting you know fuller and also the protein and the fat tend to make you feel full. Did you have any thoughts on the pros for keto diet?
Janet Brancato: [00:22:51] Yeah! I agree with you. Definitely it does help to clean up your diet because you’re removing maybe some of the processed foods, the sugary foods, can stop those cravings for sweet. You’re feeling nice and full and satisfied. So, I see with that is definitely you know is a bonus to this type of style eating. With all that fat, you’re definitely have been nice in full for a long time. It takes a long time to digest the fat. Though you are going to feel nice and full. So, definitely clean up your diet from what I was reading you know people do feel like they have more energy. You know they they feel like the fog kind of clears up in their mind. They kind of feel like they’re a little more can concentrate a little bit more so you know. So, they’ve definitely been pros. People losing weight and like I said I think the main thing is is that they’re tuned into like what they’re eating, they’re a lot more conscious of what they’re eating and they’re kind of cleaned up there, their diet.
Mathea Ford: [00:23:53] Yeah! Those cravings because I know that sugar craving is can be really strong. So, thinking through what are some of the cons of the ketogenic diet? What are some things that make it not the healthiest way to eat? I really feel like eliminating entire food groups is not necessarily healthy. So, typically Keto, you know you’re going to eliminate fruit altogether because fruit is got a lot of fructose carbohydrate in it and yet it also has fiber and lots of vitamins you know. So, it’s not necessarily healthy to just eliminate entire food groups. The long term compliance. I don’t know how. I don’t know what the typical cycle people have is but it seems to me like it would be difficult to do long term. Although once you maybe get a set of meals that you’re used to eating and you’re consistent you might be okay. You know except for maybe some quote unquote cheat days. So, did you have any thoughts on cons?
Janet Brancato: [00:25:00] Yeah! I mean I agree. You know eliminating food groups definitely kind of throws off the balance of things and by eliminating food group, you’re eliminating nutrients like you might not get all those B Vitamins that you get from the grains and you know that kind of thing. So, you know that balance of eating there could be like again that boredom of eating the same type of foods you know. And you know not getting that variety that you’re used to. So, it’s always that long term whenever you’re citing a bell you know making a change with your you’re eating. What is it? How’s it going to look long term? You know this is something you can do long term and then what about the social eating? And what about when you’re out with friends or family you know how has that affect it? You know so you can definitely. That can be a little hindrance as well. You know so those are definitely some cons. You know that I see as well just that on balanced eating and just the limited. So limited and restricted.
Mathea Ford: [00:25:58] Yeah! Also for diabetics you can’t just jump off the wagon or you know jump on the wagon or whatever you want to call it because you may be taking insulin, you may be taking metformin or other medications that are going to lower your blood sugar. And then all the sudden you’re not taken in any carb, you need to talk to your doctor for sure before you do that. And I don’t see a lot of people encouraging that for diabetics or people who even use different medications, you do need to talk to your physician because that sudden switch while it’s probably good in the long run if you’re diabetic you cut down on your carbohydrate and you have some weight loss. Those are beneficial things but definitely you don’t want it. A low blood sugar is a much more medically harmful situation and a risky situation than high blood sugar although you know there’s high blood sugar can be bad but a blood sugar of 200 is not as bad as a blood sugar 50. You know you’re. So you just have to manage that. And I think it’s important to understand that success is going to be a little different for everybody.
Janet Brancato: [00:27:14] Yes definitely! Yeah! Talk to your doctor first.
Mathea Ford: [00:27:18] And your doctor may not be on board with it but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a discussion with them and say “I’m going to do this. Can you help me understand what I need to change or what’s going to do this or?” You know maybe at that point the doctor realizes “Okay, you’re serious about you know getting your diet in a better health. Let me give you a referral to a dietitian” then that might be a good thing. But having that conversation I was doing another podcast this morning and we were talking about medical marijuana and which were not plated on talking about today. But just the idea of talking to your doctor about it. And there’s going to be some pushback. Some doctors are not going to want to. They’re going to feel like it’s inappropriate to talk about or to encourage. And some doctors may be a little more open minded and say “Okay, you want to do Keto. This is whatever you’re going to change. These are the things you need to do. So I think that open conversation and not just changing is important.
Janet Brancato: [00:28:24] Definitely! I know that’s key with anything but I totally agree.
Mathea Ford: [00:28:29] So, another diet that does another life change is intermittent fasting. I’ve seen this on the Today’s show I’ve seen it on a lot of different things. Intermittent fasting can be a couple different things but it can be like a 10 hour an 8 hour window that you eat everyday. So maybe you eat from 10:00a.m. to 8:00p.m. and you don’t eat outside of those hours. You obviously drink water or black coffee. My understanding as well is okay but there’s some results that people have seen and there’s been research that shows that doing that daily intermittent fasting and then there’s also like every other day type of fasting where one day you would fast the whole day and the next day you would eat either healthy or whatever you wanted. But it said to affect your hormones like insulin, your adrenal hormones like cortisol, thyroid because once you start eating something I imagine that your body starts to worry about digestion and not about repairing and all those other things although it does that too but it stops its focus on those things and starts to focus on the gut. If you give it more time to work on relaxing or repairing or whatever then you see those results.
Janet Brancato: [00:29:51] It’s definitely interesting type of lifestyle you know and I didn’t realize until I started reading that there were so many different types of fasting. You know like you said they’re still alternate one and then there’s ones where you’re fasting for 14 hours or 16 hours you know. So there’s all different ones there’s one way of fasting 36 hours and then you have a cheap meal. So, there’s there’s really quite a few going on you know and again I know that they stressed in the article that you have to fight if you’re going to try something like this. It really has sort of be easy to do like it had to kind of be easy for your lifestyle. They also a lot of them said to start out gradually with the fast. Maybe you don’t follow the full amount of time but maybe start out with the fast for as long as you can and then maybe just eat something light. So, there is sort of little variations of it. I know they also stress that you know on the day that you are eating or the time period that you’re eating that you really try to eat healthy because obviously that’s the part where you’re nourishing your body and like you said you’re repairing and you’re you know so you don’t want to go from not eating having that fast to eating a lot of almost like a binge eating or a junk food eating. You know you really do want to make it a quality eating. Before finding good results. I mean again it’s another lifestyle change. You know I you know I question like you said the long term health what can you do something like this. But on the short term from things that we’re reading you know people are having positive results. You have to take all these things into consideration. If somebody does have an eating disorder or have a problem with food. You know this can make it worse so you do have to be careful obviously someone’s pregnant, they’re breast feeding this will not be you know any kind of lifestyle that you want to want to try out. But definitely you know it’s something that has become popular. Now we’ll have to wait and see.