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Transcript: 'AARP New American Diet' Author Answers Your Questions About Healthy Eating

Dr. John Whyte offers advice about nutrition and dieting during an online chat at AARP.org

John Whyte: You need to find a diet for you to live on, rather than for you to go on. That's what the AARP New American Diet is about. Too many of us have this idea that we "just need to lose 10 pounds" before an upcoming wedding or child's graduation or the start of summer. We deny ourselves all sorts of food, and when we finally lose the weight, we celebrate it by eating gluttonously and resuming our bad habits. We "diet" for a few weeks or a few months to reach a short-term goal, rather than creating a new relationship with food that we can enjoy for life, without even having to think about it. You need a different and fresh perspective as well as a new attitude about food. You need to think about food — a diet — in a completely new way.

Comment from Lauren: How can I boost my energy through food? I take care of my mom in the evenings and go to work during the day. In the late afternoon, I start to feel really tired and just want to lie down and take a nap.

John Whyte: Feeling tired in late afternoon is classic presentation of too much sugar in the diet. I would work on reducing the amount of sugar you consume — especially from sugary beverages. I would focus on healthy snacking such as nuts and fresh fruit. I would eat small meals four or five times a day instead of three big meals. And we've learned recently that coffee has numerous health benefits. Keep it to less than three cups a day, and you'll get more energy and the health benefit.

Comment from Lulu: Should we be worried about mercury in our fish, and what about taking fish oil supplements instead?

John Whyte: Thanks for the follow-up question. Mercury can be a concern. But I would not stop eating fish completely, since the health benefits are enormous. I would check with the supermarket or fish store. Supplements are helpful — particularly if you don't like fish.

Comment from Shelley: Are there health benefits to juicing?

John Whyte: Juicing probably is not any healthier than eating whole fruits or vegetables. I'm a big supporter of whole foods, and fiber is lost during most juicing. Some people suggest that juicing is better for you than eating whole fruits and vegetables because your body can absorb the nutrients better through the juice — but there's not scientific data to support this. If you really don't like fruits and vegetables or aren't getting enough in your diet, then trying juicing could be worth it.

Comment from Philip: Is Splenda okay for teas?

John Whyte: I recommend to patients that they try to eliminate most artificial sweeteners. I think it's OK if you use one packet in tea once a day but I wouldn't consume more than that.

Comment from Brian: How can you beat the weight loss plateau? I do so well at first, but after a month, the weight does not come off. What do you suggest?

John Whyte: Our bodies conspire against us! They get used to the changes and stop us from losing weight. So there are going to be ups and downs. Remember, being healthy isn't a sprint — it's a marathon. So the key is you have to keep at it. And don't become discouraged.

Comment from Jennifer: I haven't read your book yet, so what's "new" about your diet?

John Whyte: It's new because it's based on the latest science that connects what we eat not only to weight loss but also living longer. Other diets are mainly concerned about weight loss, and don't have the level of scientific evidence that AARP New American Diet does.

AARP: You can find the book in the AARP Bookstore.

Thank you, Dr. Whyte, for all the great information here today. As a caregiver, I know I learned a lot! Have a caregiving question for one of our great caregiving experts like John Whyte? You can ask it here.

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