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Diane Zych, RD, CDE, our resident dietitian, invites your questions about food and nutrition.

Check out the questions and answers from our online chat about nutrition with registered dietitians from March 13, 2013.

About the Dietitian

Diane is a registered dietitian and a certified diabetes educator in BJC Community Health Services, which provides a variety of preventive and early detection services for employers and community members. Diane also has worked in the Diabetes Center at Missouri Baptist Medical Center and as an outpatient dietitian in Nutrition Counseling at Christian Hospital. Diane has been with BJC HealthCare since 1991. Get the Ask the Dietitian flyer to display in your workplace.

The BJC Help for Your Health website is intended as a reference and information source only. If you suspect you have a health problem, you should seek immediate care with the appropriate health care professionals. The information in this website is not a substitute for professional care, and must not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment. Do not start, stop or change any health, nutritional or exercise program; or any medications without first consulting your personal physician. BJC HealthCare assumes no liability for the information contained in this website or for its use.

I need to gain six pounds. I really feel like I've over-eaten today and I kind of want to gain it all by next week? I normally exercise but plan not to this week so I can gain weight quicker. Is this a possible goal?

How do I set up nutritional counseling at a BJC facility?


I was just diagnosed with Barrett’s esophagus. I am allergic to the medications for it. I am wondering about a diet that I could follow that would be helpful.


I was recently diagnosed as fructose intolerant. The resources out there are very inconsistent. I have resorted to eating meat and potatoes with no fruits or veggies because it's so hard to determine what is OK and what is not. Recommendations?


I am eating 6 slices of white bread a day with steam chicken, boiled dal or lentils. Is this too much fat?


I’m a very skinny 20-year-old girl. I want to gain weight in my legs and hands as they are too thin. Tips?

Learn more about Weight Watchers 360 >> 

Learn more about Weight Watchers PointsPlus Type 2 Diabetes Action Worksheet >>

I am 55 and weigh 163 pounds. I exercise, but I am having a hard time loosing 15 pounds. Any suggestions?

If dieting is all a matter of calories in/calories out, where does the slowed metabolism come into effect?

I'm a vegan but I would like to become a raw food vegan. Any suggestions?

I have been diagnosed with severe diverticulitis. Research seems to indicate that food is not correlated with problems, but they obviously have not talked to my colon. Need more information.

I am on Weight Watchers. Can I get the nutrition facts for one slice of pepperoni pizza?

What kinds of foods can a person eat who is on coumadin for the rest of their life?

I'm looking for the nutrition information for half of a turkey club wrap from the BJC Cafe.

I work for BJC. At an employee health fair I was told I could see a dietitian as one of my benefits. Can you point me in the right direction?

I have achalasia and am limited in the foods I can eat. How can I get the vegetables I need without having to blend them into a smoothie?

My husband was a recent inpatient at Missouri Baptist Medical Center. He was advised to follow a low-phosphorus, low-potassium diet. However, I have no idea where to find meal plans or recipes to accommodate this diet. I have searched the internet until my vision is blurred. When I find a recipe, it has many of the ingredients that should be avoided. I search the renal diet, but I get recipes with canned soup, gravies, tomatoes or tomato sauce; all of which he should not have.

Does taking metformin have any contradiction with eating sugar?

I just lost 20 pounds on a very low-calorie diet and am now am eating more "normally" -- 1,200 calories a day. But I'm finding that I'm gaining from .2 to .4 pounds a day. I'm afraid that the weight I've lost will creep back on. I exercise at least 4 times a week, including a mix of weight training and cardio. I am a 49-year-old female. Help!

For breakfast some mornings, I add two tablespoons of ground flaxseed to a serving of oat bran. Does it make a difference nutritionally if I add the flaxseed before or after I cook the oatmeal -- i.e., does cooking the ground flaxseed change its nutritional value?

I am trying to lose weight. I love to mix 2% milk low-fat cottage cheese and fruit cups. Is this good or bad?

How much potassium does a person need a day?

Can I use Glucerna for weight control if I do not have diabetes?

I'm a 26-year-old male. Im 5'9" tall and weigh 345 lbs. I walk every day. How many calories of fat should I consume daily to lose weight in a healthy way?

Is there a diet for people on coumadin and what about foods with vitamin K?

I have been having problems with my ankles and calves swelling. If I drink a large glass of orange juice every day, the swelling stops, and my ankles and calves are normal size again. If I stop drinking the orange juice, the swelling returns. I have changed nothing else in my diet or exercise routine. Why is drinking the orange juice reducing my swelling?

I have celiac disease and have been gluten-free for eight weeks. I go to the gym four times a week, an exercise class and eat 1,500 calories a day with a balanced diet. I have put on 10 pounds and gained three inches on my stomach area. How can I shift this weight? I have been very active for over 10 years and this is really getting me down. I know that it is a good sign that I have put on weight as my body is now absorbing nutrients, but how do I now get back to my norm?

My daughter gets her bachelor of science degree in dietetics next year. Why don't more hospitals like BJC offer dietetic internships? The ADA site only lists four.

Everyone in my family has diabetes. Being on a healthy plan and walking an hour a day, can I prevent this from happening to me?

I am 50 pounds overweight. I was told to eat four to six small portions a day, take whey protein and exercise three times a week. Will this make me lose weight and improve muscle mass?

Is there danger in using lots of lemon juice on food? I use lemon juice instead of salt.

I'm 23 and weigh 200 pounds. I need to lose fat, especially from my belly.

I've heard about the dangers of too much soy in one's diet, specifically for women with regard to breast health and thyroid conditions. I am a lactose-intolerant vegetarian female, so I drink soy milk and use soy products. Should I cut back? I am otherwise healthy and fit.

This is my daily pattern: 6 proteins, 4 starches, 3 fruits, 2 veggies, 2 dairy, 2 fats. Sometimes I cannot eat the fourth starch . . . can I replace it with a 4-ounce apple, since an apple is a carb? That way I still have 1,200 calories for the day.

I am a 43-year-old woman and have been trying to lose weight through the Weight Watchers program. I am following the diet closely and exercise daily. I have been on the program 10 weeks and lost 9 lbs. I feel that I should be losing more. Advice?

If I take 4 lithium pills a day to treat bipolar disorder, can I use any herbal remedies to lose weight?

I have problems with chronic gastritis, which may be an ulcer. I cannot tolerate cheese . . . in this case low-fat mozzarella. Is it part of the gastric problem? I use lactose-free soy milk and do not drink anything with caffeine. I do not smoke and avoid fats as much as possible.

I am 4-1/2 months pregnant and am finding it very difficult to keep anything down. Are there any foods I should be eating to maximize my nutrition while not gaining any weight per my OB's recommendation since I am already overweight? Meats and whole grains are really hard on me.

I'm looking for a dietitian to help me lose weight. Is there someone in the BJC HealthCare system with whom I can meet?

I am a 5'4" 109-pound 17-year-old. I exercise at least 2 hours daily. I have been taking in less than 1,000 calories, but I want to increase so that I maintain my weight. How much should I be eating and how?

I have irritable bowel syndrome and diarrhea, and need help controlling it with my diet.

What should a 51-year-old man eat? Do you have a nutritional table? How much protein, fat, carbohydrates?

I love imitation crabmeat with lemon juice and butter. Is this healthy?

How many calories are in a can of Glucerna?

My schedule is too rushed to eat the fruits and vegetables I should. Can I just take supplements?

Is cottonseed oil a good oil choice for everyday use?

I am 24. I weigh 198. I need to lose weight. What will work?

My training schedule: 5-6 days a week: 50 minutes of cardio with 2-3 days interval training; 2 days a week: 1-hour sessions with trainer, cardio and weight training; 2 days a week: Pilates class. I eat 1,500-1,700 quality calories daily (not junk) and drink 100+ ounces water a day. The scale is not moving much and, in fact, seems to be going up. What's wrong?

My grown son eats uncooked oatmeal soaked overnight in orange juice. Is that OK? Is the oatmeal as nutritious uncooked as cooked?

My mother was telling me about a GI Diet that cuts out all fresh fruits and includes lots of white breads, pastas and the like. Have you heard of this crazy diet? My father's friend was recently diagnosed as diabetic and this is a diet he was recommended to follow.

Is squash a vegetable or a carbohydrate? What about sweet potatoes?

My doctor told me not to over-gain in my pregnancy -- no more than 15-20 pounds, because I am already overweight. Please help me with some eating tips.

What is the recommended amount of cheese to eat in a day?

How can I raise my "good" (HDL) cholesterol?

How many calories in a foot-long whole wheat roast chicken sub with mustard?

What is the daily recommended intake for grains?

What is the daily recommended allowance for fats?

Can you get too much protein?

I am taking synthroid and having a very hard time losing weight. Is there any medication I can take short-term to help with appetite and my slow metabolism? Before I got sick, I could easily lose weight. Now it's a struggle.

I think the glycemic index may have a lot to do with eating right and getting healthy. What recommendations can you give to help a layperson understand it?

I work the night shift and want to know a healthy eating schedule.

What is the recommended daily calorie allowance for men and women?

Are pork and shrimp bad for our health?

My husband and I really want to lose weight. I think our problem is portion control and eating out frequently. How do we get started? Our metabolism has changed extremely. I'm 30, weigh 184.4 and am 5'6”; my husband is 31, weighs 224 and is 6'2”.

I just had my cholesterol checked, and my triglycerides went up to 154. Normally they are in the 90 range. Why the change?

Is it safe for me to eat sunflowers seeds every day?

There is such a risk (especially to men) of coronary heart disease as related to diet. How do we solve this?

I have heard lately that high-fructose corn syrup is bad for you. Is that true?

What is the daily intake allowed for sodium?

I noticed a lot of recommendations on eating better, but eating better may not be possible for all. Fruit is not cheap. Leaner meats cost more. So, what can a person do if they have limited means, as most of us do. Most of the BJC exercise places want some kind of money, as well.

How many calories are in one 12-ounce can of tuna?

My total cholesterol is 240. Is it really over that much to worry about?

What do you think about a detox diet -- using juice and fresh green vegetables and brown rice?

When my glucose levels are too high or too low, what foods should I eat to regulate it?

What is the daily recommended amount of almonds I should be eating? I am a 31-year-old man.

From the foods offered at BJC, can you make some breakfast, lunch and dinner suggestions that would help me lose weight?

This is my second year of not smoking, and I have gained a lot of weight. I am a 38-year-old divorced, full-time worker and full-time student. I don't take the time to cook; I don't like to cook, so I make things simple: salads, sandwiches, popcorn and of course . . . lots of sweets. I'm not a big vegetable fan or a meat-eater. I have no self-discipline. What do you suggest?

Is there a chart to tell you how many calories to consume to maintain a certain weight? Then, you would know how many calories to reduce in order to lose weight.

Where can I find a list of food with purine values? I need to reduce the effects of gout.

My son's school district has adopted the Missouri Eat Well guidelines for all aspects of school, including class parties and celebration of children's birthdays. The criteria calls for each portion size to be less than 200 calories, less than 35 percent fat content and less than 35 percent its weight in sugars. A previous school district policy prohibits anything other than individual, sealed packaging. As the VP of the PTA, I went shopping and cannot find anything that meets this criteria and would still be something the kids would enjoy. The calorie and fat content is not the main problem -- sugars are. Even tiny fruit cups exceed this limit. The few things I have seen are cost-prohibitive for classrooms of 25. What ideas do you have?

I don't have an oven, so I have to fry a lot of foods. What healthier cooking methods can I use on the stovetop?

What is the diabetic diet?

Is there a special diet for someone with aorta aneurysm?

I have been trying to lose weight for three months, and have dropped only eight pounds on a program of prepackaged food. I've also been training to ride in the MS150 since the end of May. What is an appropriate calorie level that will help me lose weight while training? I cycle on flats, rolling hill, inclines and steep hills. I typically ride at least 3-4 times a week for a total of 7-11 hours. On my calories-lost calculator, I am burning more than 1,054 calories each time I ride and sometimes as much as 1,776.

Is there a list that tells how many calories are in the food selections in the cafeterias?

I am 5'4" and weigh 185. How much weight should I lose?

I get frequent UTIs (urinary tract infections). Is there anything besides cranberry juice that may be able to help prevent them? I dislike the acidity in cranberry juice. I've tried cranberry pills and drinking extra water.

What is the daily allowance of carbohydrates for women?

What are the benefits of flaxseed in my diet?

Please explain simple and complex carbohydrates, and give some examples of complex carbs.

I have been making smoothies for breakfast. They are healthy and very portable, and they hold me over until lunchtime. I use all healthy ingredients and include less than a tablespoon of peanut butter for protein. But by the time you add the fruit, the fat-free yogurt, the wheat germ and the peanut butter, they end up packing a lot of calories. What could I change to keep it delicious, but cut some calories?

I need to exercise a lot and was considering a stationary bike. What do you think?

My husband and I are vegans. What resources could help us find a physician or dietitian more familiar with this lifestyle?

How is egg substitute made? Also, I had a recipe that called for a fertile egg. What's that?

My doctor has advised me to increase my iron intake. I could take a supplement, but would prefer to increase it through dietary intake. What do you recommend? I hate liver!

What do you think about the 7-Day Diet Program?

What are the rules about drinking water daily, if you want to lose weight? I read somewhere that you should drink so many ounces of water according to your current weight.

My primary physician advised me to follow a gluten-free diet. What foods are allowed and what are to be avoided?

The majority of my weight settles in my abdominal area resulting in my being an apple shape. I'm 154 pounds at 5'2", so I'm a little overweight. I do sit-ups, crunches, roller skate and walk for exercise. I lose weight everywhere else but in my abdominal area. What foods can I decrease so the fat doesn't settle in this area, and what foods can I increase that don't settle there?

I am a Weight Watchers member having a rough time losing my last 100 pounds. I have lost 60 pounds. I work out an hour every other day (treadmill, stair master, stationary bike). The only results I am seeing is better sleep patterns, better breathing and muscle tightening. I eat 1 cup of prepared oatmeal for breakfast, a Weight Watchers or Healthy Choice meal for lunch along with fruits and vegetables, and 32 ounces of water. I snack on a yogurt on the way home, go work out and come home for dinner. What's wrong?

How many calories would I need to intake to lose quickly? I'm 45, weigh 334 pounds and am 5'8".

What is the ideal amount and type of exercise for a 15-year-old?

I need tips on eating and nutrition for my 21-month-old. She only likes applesauce and baby food fruits. She loves cheese and broccoli and pastas. Can I make these more nutritious?

I have been eating rice, eggs and bacon for breakfast to eliminate bread. Is rice an acceptable alternative?

About a year ago I modified my diet and added an intense daily exercise program to lose 100 pounds. I have dropped 50 pounds but for the last few months, have neither lost nor gained. How can I break this plateau?

I need a heart-healthy diet. Not necessarily for weight loss, but to reduce the risk of heart disease and lower cholesterol. Weight is not an issue with me, but my diet may become an issue.

I work night shift. I'm trying to lose weight, but I use food to keep me up. What can I eat for dinner at night or should I eat at night?

How can I avoid cravings this time of year? I exercise as much as my schedule allows. I avoid fried or greasy foods, but I constantly crave salty foods, and cookies and cakes. How can I indulge without wrecking my diet? I am trying to lose 60+ pounds.

I'd like to lose a little weight, but am limited in what I can do. I am a disabled person who uses a wheelchair. Suggestions?

I love to eat frosted wheat. Why is fiber so important to a balanced meal?

I have stopped eating meat. I know there is protein in peanut butter and beans. What else? What about the fat in peanut butter?

I have been a vegetarian for 10 years yet my cholesterol is 246 (HDL= 58). My father has heart disease in his family and my mother has high triglycerides. Are these factors the culprits? What can I do?

What's a good amount of fruit and vegetable intake a day?

The only diet I've ever had success with is Atkin's. I remarked to my doctor that the Atkin's diet must be similar to the diabetes diet, since both restrict carbohydrates. He said if I think they're similar, I don't know anything about Atkin's! He's probably right, but please explain. What are the differences? Is a diabetic diet healthy for people who aren't diabetic?

What type of diet would you recommend for a woman on the go? I am always out and about and don't have much time for exercise, although I get quite a bit chasing after my 16-month-old. I don't even have time for cooking at home, because of the hours I work. I also can't eat a lot of fast food because I have IBS.

How can a person find out the right amount of calories to eat? I'm trying to eat healthy, but I'm not losing any weight. If anything, I've gained!

What can a person do if they do not eat a lot, but still continue to gain weight -- not to mention never sitting down at work all the time.

I lost 20 pounds before my daughter was born last year. I have since maintained that weight loss, but would like to shed an extra 60 pounds. I am not fond of sweets or meat, but am finding it difficult to lose the extra weight. Please suggest a diet other than Atkin's, because I can't stand that much meat, and can't live without whole wheat bagels and bread.

Is it bad to eat too much peanut butter? I love that honey peanut butter and eat about two tablespoons a day, usually with fruit, but sometimes alone. Will this restrict me from losing body fat?

What type of diet/workout plan would you recommend for women who are trying to lose weight? What actually works?

I have been advised to follow a gluten-free diet. I feel as if I am on the Atkin's regime, but still am having trouble losing weight. I already eat a lot of lean protein, fruits and vegetables.

I've been an avid mountain bike rider for 10 years and am also trying to take up running for cross-training. But I'm 40 pounds over my "ideal" weight per all the charts. I've been losing and regaining the same 5-10 pounds for months!

I typically don't eat more than 2,000 calories each day and bike or run 4-5 times a week -- at least an hour each time. I'm blaming it on what I'm eating, but don't know what I'm doing wrong. Where do I start? (By the way, I've also had thyroid disease for 12 years.)

I have Type 2 diabetes (on oral glucophage) and Celiac disease. I am having difficulty finding a diet appropriate for both diseases.

I would like to learn more about a diabetic diet, since I have a family member who has diabetes. Is there a way for me to meet with a dietitian or a good resource that you would recommend for this?

I go to Weight Watchers and have done very well. I am now on maintenance, but I want to lose another 5 pounds. My leader thinks I may be eating too much fruit. I typically eat some with each meal. She said my glycemic index might be too high. I occasionally eat cereal for breakfast, a sandwich with whole-grain bread for lunch. No carbohydrates for dinner. What do you think? Thanks. By the way, I exercise A LOT.

What's a good, healthy way to stay vegan and still get all my vitamins, etc?

Are avocados and guacamole a healthy choice? When I order a burrito, I skip the cheese and sour cream, and ask for guacamole instead. Also, I order guacamole in place of mayonnaise on sandwiches at the deli. Does it contain what would be called a "healthy oil," or would I be better off not eating it?

How can I see a dietitian for eating healthier or weight management?

I have been on a low-fat diet for eight months and have lost 45 pounds, but now have hit a plateau. What can I do? I walk for exercise.

My doctor told me to follow a low-fat diet. What can I eat?

I know some vegetables have more nutrients than others. So, if I'm trying to get the most out each spoonful for my children, which vegetables should I serve?

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