Friday, July 23, 2010

Busting the Top Three Diet Myths with Cheryl Dolven


Last week on my radio show (Power Women) I had a guest that made the chemist in me smile that really geeky smile. Her name is Cheryl Dolven and she works as the Director of Nutrition Marketing for the Kellogg Company. Our lives happened to intersect due to a marketing campaign that was being done for Kellogg's FiberPlus Bars (this was my post as a participant of the study). I was chatting with the Marketing Group in charge of the product launch and I asked if they could arrange for a Dietitian to discuss some of the nutrients in the product.

Well, one conversation lead to another and I just HAD to ask Cheryl onto the radio show to discuss Dieting (Diet: The major four-letter-word for most people when it comes to health), Myths and Basic Nutrition. Cheryl has worked for major supermarket chains and has spent her career educating people on the nutritional guidelines seen every day as one wanders the grocery aisles. She also helps people navigate the horrendous torrent of nutritional data that is erupting everywhere on the Internet via her lectures and several presentations now being used on KelloggNutrition.com.

Here are some of the basic tips and myths that Cheryl shared on the show. (oh, and just so you know...I don't make a DIME for talking about Kellogg's or any of their products-I'm being a typical science type and am just relaying information here!)

Diet Myth Number 1 - BUSTED

Skipping Breakfast Can Help You Lose Weight.
Cheryl discussed how the exact opposite is true. Studies have shown over and over that people who eat breakfast actually have healthier body weights than those who don't. Breakfast is just what it sounds like, Break-Fast: you are breaking the fast of the night before. When you eat breakfast in the morning, it helps your metabolism get that much needed kick-start for the day. I have seen in my own life as well as others that do power-lifting that by skipping breakfast they would have greater calorie intake later in the day. So, you're mom was right! Take that time to eat in the morning.

Diet Myth Number 2 - BUSTED

Processed Food Are Bad
Cheryl agrees with the current mood of health conscious individuals that the move to a more whole foods diet is a GOOD thing. We most certainly need to include more whole foods in our diet - including fruits and vegetables, low fat milk and lean meats. However, there is also a place in our lives for pre-made packaged foods, especially for folks that have some serious travel schedules (like me). Cheryl mentions, "When I worked as a dietitian in grocery stores, the single most often question I got was 'is this good for me?' Here is the thing, it didn't matter what they brought to me...my answer was always the same: 'It depends: How much of it are you going to eat?'" Cheryl went on to discuss how important it is that you decide up front what sorts of other food are you going to eat with the one you are choosing. As well as, what sorts of foods are you planning on eating tomorrow. "For ANY food, the key is how you surround it with other foods."

Diet Myth Number 3 - BUSTED

Sugar is BAD!
Cheryl and I had a great time with this one. As some of you know I teach math and science at multiple institutions and when we get to the part of biology when we talk about metabolism and biochemistry, this is when I hit my "lecture" on "Sugars are Carbohydrates" you can't live without them!!! Cheryl was much better at discussing the various forms of sugars and how you need some more than others, etc. I really wanted to get into more detail in this area of the show, but alas...we were running out of time and we had to discuss other nutritional details.

The main point with all things "diet" related and otherwise is this: extremes are not healthy. However, gradually eliminate behaviors and foods that are not good for you. Now, I realize, there are folks out there that have to use the "cut-and-run" method where they stop eating "X" item today and will never have it again. But I have found that most of my clients and students have to gradually wean themselves off foods, money spending, etc. so that they can learn the good behaviors and/or foods to replace the old ones.

Cheryl then discussed the Fiber needs of most individuals (no bathroom humor, please! LOL) She was quick to mention that fiber is more than just regularity. I was laughing up a storm here. The main issue in the American diet is this we need anywhere from 25-35 grams of fiber a day. Most folks only get around 13 grams of fiber a day. Yikes! What we are eating is obviously NOT fiber rich so it is great to be able to fill the gaps with things that can ramp up your fiber intake such as:

  • items high in cellulose (fruits, vegetables, beans) stuff that you have to chew!
  • whole grain products
  • snack bars that are high in fiber (Kellogg's FiberPlus bars were mentioned - wink, wink!)

We then wrapped up the show with a final question: "Is there a golden recipe for women balancing the needs of protein, carbohydrates and fiber?" Cheryl had three points:

  1. "For me the golden recipe comes down to two key ingredients: one is knowing your needs and the second is planning ahead."
  2. "I'd challenge everyone to visit MyPyramid.gov and use the tool they've created to help you find the right dietary pattern for you. There is no way you can meet your dietary goals if you don't know what they are! When I worked in the grocery store environment, I was always surprised how many people were reading labels...which is good!...but so few people actually knew what they were looking at! Seeing 5 grams of fat on the label doesn't mean anything to you unless you know how much fat you should have. I think of my nutrition needs as a budget. You need to know how much you have to spend in order to be within budget.
  3. "Next you need to plan ahead. The best thing you can do for yourself is to sit down at the beginning of the week and plan your meals and snacks. If you have something in your mind and in the fridge for dinner, you are much more likely to stick to your nutrition goals. When I don't take the time to do this, my family and I end up eating out and ordering in far more than we should - and that usually means more calories, more fat and less good for you foods."
I want to thank Cheryl for taking the time to educate us all on food and nutrition. I have since been on both of the websites mentioned in the this post and had a blast using their calculators and finding out my nutritional needs. I ended up grabbing each of my four kids and entering their data into the calculator at MyPyrimid.gov and we had a fun afternoon figuring out the menu for the next week taking into account each one of their nutritional needs. The younger ones (7 and 8 years old) had a blast making charts and filling in the "foods" they needed in each of their pyramids. It made the menu planning a lot easier and I heard less, "What is THAT!" at dinner time.

If you wish to hear the complete 30 minute interview with Cheryl visit us at:

1 comment:

Chaka said...

The mypryamid.gov has some very useful information despite its many critics. It has some helpful software for tracking your nutrient intake and analyzing your diet.

Thanks for the post.