The Free Press, Mankato, MN


March 25, 2014

Dietitian: Three answers to three common questions

Q: I’m sure as a dietitian you hear the same questions over and over again. What are the most common nutrition questions you get asked?

A: It’s great to see that public interest in nutrition is growing. But so is confusion, misinformation and a lack of common sense when it comes to food and supplements.

Here are answers to three nutrition questions that I hear too often:

1. Is this fattening?

Whether a food has 100 or 1,000 calories, it alone does not cause weight gain. It is everything you eat over time, not a single food that sabotages nutritional health and weight. Sugared soda has 120 empty calories, but even that will not cause weight gain if you are eating fewer calories than your body burns.

Nuts and avocado are often the focus of "is this fattening" queries. These super nutritious foods have healthy monounsaturated fat, but do not lead to weight gain when part of a vegetable-intense daily intake. They are a great heart-healthy addition to meals and snacks.

2. Will the pill or supplement I heard about on TV help me lose weight?


Why is there always a new miracle pill? Because the last one was a bust. These pills rarely have good human research and usually rely on testimonials. Top researchers are exploring multiple approaches to weight loss. When there’s a true breakthrough, it will be on the news, not in the tabloids. The bigger question is why television doctors promote false promises that waste money. Skip the pills and buy more veggies.

3. Are all processed foods bad?

Absolutely not. Processing changes foods from their natural state. Frozen fruits and vegetables, which are a great choice for convenience, are processed. Almond milk, a tasty, calcium-rich, nondairy drink, is processed. Pasteurization is a process that increases the safety of milk. Whole wheat pasta, a great whole grain choice, is processed.

Savvy consumers need to read past the product name. The amount of sodium, sweeteners, colorings and preservatives added to processed foods affects the nutrition of that item, not the word “processed.”

April Graff, MS, RD, LD, is a reg­istered dietitian at both Mankato Hy-Vee stores and can be reached at or call 625-1107 or 625-9070. Send her ques­tions about food and nutrition, recipes, meal planning and healthy shopping.

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