- With Mayo Clinic nutritionists
Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.read biographyclose window
Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.Katherine Zeratsky and Jennifer Nelson
Jennifer K. Nelson, M.S., R.D., L.D., C.N.S.D.
Jennifer Nelson is your link to a better diet. As specialty editor of the nutrition and healthy eating guide, she plays a vital role in bringing you healthy recipes and meal planning.
"Nutrition is one way people have direct control over the quality of their lives," she says. "I hope to translate the science of nutrition into ways that people can select and prepare great-tasting foods that help maintain health and treat disease."
A St. Paul, Minn., native, she has been with Mayo Clinic since 1978, and is director of clinical dietetics and an associate professor of nutrition at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine.
She leads clinical nutrition efforts for a staff of more than 60 clinical dietitians and nine dietetic technicians and oversees nutrition services, staffing, strategic and financial planning, and quality improvement. Nelson was co-editor of the "Mayo Clinic Diet" and the James Beard Foundation Award-winning "The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook." She has been a contributing author to and reviewer of many other Mayo Clinic books, including "Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight for EveryBody," "The Mayo Clinic Family Health Book" and "The Mayo Clinic/Williams Sonoma Cookbook." She contributes to the strategic direction of the Food & Nutrition Center, which includes creating recipes and menus, reviewing nutrition content of various articles, and providing expert answers to nutrition questions.
Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.
As a specialty editor of the nutrition and healthy eating guide, Katherine Zeratsky helps you sort through the facts and figures, the fads and the hype to learn more about nutrition and diet.
A Marinette, Wis., native, she is certified in dietetics by the state of Minnesota and the American Dietetic Association. She has been with Mayo Clinic since 1999.
She's active in nutrition-related curriculum and course development in wellness nutrition at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and nutrition related to weight management and practical applications of nutrition-related lifestyle changes.
Other areas of interest include food and nutrition for all life stages, active lifestyles and the culinary arts.
She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, served a dietetic internship at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, and worked as a registered dietitian and health risk counselor at ThedaCare of Appleton, Wis., before joining the Mayo Clinic staff.
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July 11, 2012
Fasting and food choices
By Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.
I talk to people about weight loss several times a week. People often tell me they skip meals. Cutting calories isn't the only reason people skip meals. They may skip eating because of hectic schedules, religious practices or financial reasons.
Skipping meals or fasting is safe on occasion, but it could undermine weight-management efforts.
Researchers at Cornell University describe what they found when they asked students to fast for 18 hours. After fasting, the students were offered a buffet that included dinner rolls, French fries, chicken, cheese, carrots, green beans and beverages.
Which foods were most popular? The starchy foods, such as dinner rolls and French fries, were consumed most and contributed most to overall calories. And vegetables were the least popular. In addition, people tended to eat more of the food that they started eating first.
Before we jump on the "carbs are bad" bandwagon, however, let's consider the facts and a theory. Starchy foods have a high energy density, meaning the calorie content is high relative to a small portion.
If your body thinks it's starving — for example, because you haven't fed it for more than 18 hours — these food choices make sense. They have a lot of calories for their volume, And that's appealing because your brain and body are telling you, "Stock up now, we may not get to eat again for 18 hours."
Vegetables, on the other hand, have a low energy dense. You can get serving after serving of them for relatively few calories.
What about the chicken and cheese? What role does protein play? The chicken and cheese were a close second in the foods chosen. Lean proteins, such as chicken without the skin, are moderately energy dense. Higher fat protein foods have a higher energy density.
Why does this matter? You can make these concepts work for you.
When you have times of feeling "starving" (fasting or not), put vegetables and fruits front and center. Don't rely on your sluggish carbohydrate-deprived brain to make a decision, let alone a healthy one. (Yes, carbs are you brain's preferred source of fuel.)
All foods play a role in satisfying our hunger. Making smart choices is one of the keys to better health. Give vegetables and fruits preferential treatment at your next meal and see if that changes how much you eat. Post your thoughts here.
To your health,