Ask a Dietitian

What does "gluten-free" mean?

Gluten is a type of protein found in wheat, rye and barley. "Gluten-free" means the food product has no gluten in it. Many foods are naturally gluten free; such as beans, fruit, vegetable, rice, quinoa, meat, eggs and most dairy. A gluten free diet is primarily used to treat Celiac Disease, a very serious condition where the ingestion of gluten severely damages the small intestines. Without a diagnosis of Celiac Disease or gluten sensitivity, there is no clinical reason to follow a gluten free diet.

Infused delicious flavored water: Add cucumbers, lemon slices, strawberries, basil, mint, etc., then steep in refrigerator. Delicious! Do these additions bring any nutritional value?

You're right, infused waters do taste delicious! Infused water is a great alternative to sugary beverages, such as juice and soda. Water is a crucial component of our diet and helps to maintain cell function and metabolism. Although the infused waters taste great and bring variety, they have little added nutrition. You may get a few extra water soluble vitamins from the fruit and herbs added (such as Vitamin C and B vitamins), but it will be minimal.

How do I increase my potassium?

Potassium is a very important mineral in the body that helps to maintain normal body functions.  Potassium helps to regulate blood pressure, maintain bone density and transmit electrical activity between cells allowing muscles to contract.  Eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables can help you maintain your potassium levels.  Potassium supplementation should not be used without the oversight by your doctor.  Excess potassium intake can result kidney injury, muscle weakness and cardiac arrest.  

Good sources of potassium include: 

Hello, I wanted to know how can I eat healthier food. I am a diabetic.

Hi there! The good news is that eating healthy can help you control your blood sugar and improve the effects of your diabetes.

I am not able to provide specific advice for medical nutrition therapy related questions. Ask your doctor for a referral to a Registered Dietitian in your area who can help you create a personalized plan based on your own health history. In the meantime, you may find some of these healthy eating tips helpful! 

Hi, good afternoon. I have a question on gestational diabetes and the need for insulin. Can she change with diet? She is very concerned and is a SNAP participant.

Thank you for your concern. Unfortunately I am not able to answer medical nutrition therapy questions over the internet. I would recommend you go to your primary care doctor and OG-GYN to help you with the gestational diabetes. They can also refer you to a Registered Dietitian in your are to provide individualized support. 

I am looking for a healthy diet that would help with my RA, also Liver and Kidneys.

Unfortunately, I am not able to give medical nutrition therapy advice over the internet.  I would recommend talking to your doctor about your existing illness and getting a referral to a registered dietitian in your area.  They will be able to look at the big picture and help you with an individualized approach. 

You can browse our Lifestyle page for nutrition tips and visit our general nutrition pages for healthy eating tips.  

Does drinking 2 to 3 cups of black coffee while nursing a new born child have any effect on the child?

Hi there!  Drinking 2-3 cups of coffee while breastfeeding is generally considered to be safe with minimal effects on the child.  It is recommended to drink no more than 400mg of caffeine per day.  One cup of brewed coffee has approximately 100mg of caffeine.  There have been no scientific links between caffeine consumption and keeping your baby awake as minimal amounts of caffeine are tactually ransferred to breastmilk.  If you feel your caffeine consumption has an effect on your baby, it is best to listen to your instincts and limit your intake.  

I constantly find myself bloated and unable to use the bathroom. I've cut dairy products and soy based products hoping it will help but nothing is helping. I eat veggies such as broccoli, cauliflower, and asparagus daily. I drink vegan protein drinks.

Sorry you're not feeling well!  It sounds like with the bloating and inability to use the bathroom, you are constipated.  Here are a few tips that may help get things moving in your gut: 

Drink plenty of water: constipation is caused by dehydration in your colon.  Drinking plenty of water will help to ensure water is not removed from your colon and make stools easier to pass.

What's a good fish to bake and a good way to bake it? I don't like the lemon taste. Also, I don't like baked fish. I need to eat fish twice a week.

Hi there!  Baked fish is an excellent way to prepare fish and not too hard.  Many kinds of fish are good to bake in the oven, salmon, cod, tilapia, etc.  Be sure the fish is completely defrosted and pat dry with a paper towel before preparing to bake.  Preheat the oven to 375 F (for a thin fish - like tilapia) or 425 F for a dense fish (salmon or cod).  Brush the top of the fish with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder.

I'm drawn towards a vegan diet, but keep hearing that it's not really good for people. With no outstanding health or nutrition issues, how much meat/dairy can we safely eliminate?

Hello!  A vegan diet can be healthy if it is well planned.  The most important thing is to be well informed and very aware of which vitamins, minerals and other nutrients you are eliminating.  You may need to take supplements if you are unable to get them in your diet.  A vegan diet eliminates meat and all meat products, putting you at risk for deficiency of vitamin B12, calcium, iron and vitamin D.  Without careful consideration to be sure you are getting adequate intake of these nutrients you can become deficient.  

Hello, why does canned tuna in oil have more niacin than tuna in water?

The amount of niacin found in tuna in oil vs. tuna in water are actually not much different.  Tuna in oil only has about 1.5mg more niacin than tuna in water.  This is probably because niacin is a B vitamin, meaning it is water soluble - some of the niacin may drain off in the liquid.  Tuna packed in water is preferrable because it is lower in salt, lower in fat and higher in omeg-3 fatty acids.

My grandson is 8 years old and weighs 170 lbs. Can you tell what would be a good diet to lose some of that weight?

I applaud you for wanting what is best for your grandson and wanting to help him be healthy.  It is extremely important to remember that what often works for adults does not work, and can actually be harmful, for children.  Children are growing and have different nutrition needs to help them grow, learn and for their bodies to develop correctly.  It is important not to put children on a "diet" (restrict lots of foods or calories) or put them on supplements.

Hello! I am a 35 year old woman who is 167 lbs and 5'8" tall. I am medium build. I exercise by running 2x per week. I have been eating around 1000 calories daily. I need to raise my caloric intake. What is the best distribution of foods for me?

Hi there, you are correct in that you need to increase your daily calorie intake!  Eating adequate nutrients allows our body to use what it needs and discard the rest without storing calories.  Getting a variety of different food groups is always best.  This variety helps to ensure appropriate nutrition with different vitamin and mineral intake.