Welcome to the Ask a Dietitian column!

Over the course of the school year, our Registered Dietitians and dietetic interns get some deep questions regarding nutrition and food from students like you. We’ve noticed a trend in what people are interested in knowing more about, so we thought we’d post our answers for everyone to enjoy!

This month, we take on what everyone seems to be talking about: weight. You’ve just come back to school from a great two weeks of holiday fun. This new winter class semester, however, is definitely NOT, and you’re starting to wonder if you’ve gained some weight as well. If this is something you’re worried about, how do you go about making safe changes to your health and wellness regime?

Take a look at our response below and let us know what you think in the comments!

One student asks…

Dear Dietitian,

I am always craving food throughout the day, are there any things I should be eating frequently in order to lose weight?

Thanks for the question! This is a very difficult one to answer – weight and weight loss are very complex, making information on these topics not very generalizable. However, I am happy to talk to you about some healthy choices that can lead to better physical and mental health outcomes and improved weight management. 

Here are some tips to help manage appetite:

  • Always eat breakfast. Research has shown that skipping breakfast in the mornings leads to hormones that control/increase hunger being released at night. This can make you crave food throughout the day! Give yourself a great start and reach for something to have when you wake up.
  • Have protein (meat, tofu, eggs, legumes, or dairy) with every meal. This helps reduce peaks and troughs in our blood sugar and keeps us satisfied for longer periods of time.
  • But avoid going for longer than 5 hours without eating. This will stop you from having food cravings and eating more than necessary at meals.
  • Put vegetables or salad on your plate first, leaving the other half empty for food groups such as meat and alternatives, grain products, or even dairy.
  • Choose whole grains (such as brown rice, whole grain bread or quinoa) over white refined grains where possible. Whole grain foods are absorbed more slowly and release energy gradually, giving you a sense of satiety and keeping your blood sugar levels more stable. Additionally, whole grains provide you with fibre, plant-based protein, vitamins, and minerals, which can all improve your health.

  • Keep foods that contain trans fats to a minimum. Trans fats are found in commercial/processed foods and baked goods.
  • Choose low fat dairy products such as cheese (less than 20% milk fat), low fat milk (1% or 2%), and low fat yogurt (0% or 1%).
  • Try to avoid products high in added sugar. Added sugars (such as white sugar, brown sugar, honey, or syrup) are added to foods like baked goods, candies, and soft drinks. They are quickly by your body and give you a ‘sugar rush’, which is followed by a drop in blood sugar and a sense of hunger.

Some foods definitely do provide better nutrition than others, but there are no special foods to consume in order to lose weight. Shift your focus away from weight and instead try to implement a healthy lifestyle. Choose healthier foods and prepare balanced meals that will make you unlikely to crave less healthier ones throughout the day. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the odd treat – remember, it is what we are doing most of the time that has the greatest influence on our health.

Enjoy the new winter semester!

Remember: if you have some of your own questions to ask us, we’d love to hear from you! Email us at AskaDietitian@carleton.ca or visit https://dining.carleton.ca/nutrition/ask-a-dietitian/ and fill out the form at the bottom of the page.

Friday, January 5, 2018 in ,
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