Nutrition Q & A

Patrika Tsai Health Guide
  • 1. What type of foods can people eat if they crave sweets but do not want to gain weight?

    If you are craving something sweet, then you should have something sweet. If you deprive yourself, the craving often escalates so that you breakdown and end up eating more than you might have otherwise.

    However, you should pay attention to how calorie dense the food item is. There are many sweet foods that are not calorie dense such as fresh or dried fruits which are handy as snacks. Fruit is also a good way to increase your fiber intake which will help fill you up so that you eat less of other things. Frozen fruits can be mixed in a blender with plain low-fat yogurt to make delicious yet healthy smoothies.
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    Sometimes you may feel like you need a piece of chocolate or a cookie. This situation is when you need to look at the portion size. It is acceptable to indulge in a piece of good chocolate to satisfy that sweet tooth, but limit yourself to that piece. Desserts at many restaurants come in large servings. Feel free to order that luscious piece of cheesecake, but share it with your dinner companions.

    Frequency is also key. While it is fine to have sweets now and then, it is best to indulge only a few times per week. If you had the cheesecake last night, you should reach for some fruit today.

    2. Is a no-carb diet healthy?

    Balance is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Low carbohydrate diets are extremely difficult to maintain long-term. They limit many foods that are important for a healthy diet such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. These foods provide vitamins, minerals, and fiber which are essential for reducing the risk of heart disease and several types of cancers. Low carbohydrate diets over time also increase the risk for ketosis or an increase in ketones which are byproducts from the body’s burning of fat. High levels of ketones increase the risk for nausea and vomiting, stomach pain, and kidney stones.

    However, in the short term, many people may benefit from weight loss through a low carbohydrate diet. Keep in mind that whether a diet is low carbohydrate, low fat, or low protein, people usually lose weight. The question is whether the diet is sustainable. People who are able to stay on a particular diet are able to maintain weight loss. Once the diet is stopped, the weight usually returns. While a low carbohydrate diet may help initiate weight loss, it is not a long-term solution.
Published On: August 25, 2006