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Ask a dietitian

Globe and Mail Update

Trying to eat a healthier diet? Get to a target weight? Or just make sense of all the nutrition news out there?

Globe columnist and dietitian Leslie Beck was online earlier to take your questions on healthy eating, boosting nutrition and everything in between.

Your questions and Ms. Beck's answers appear at the bottom of this page.

A leading Canadian nutritionist, Ms. Beck operates a private practice in Toronto. When she's not helping people achieve their nutrition and fitness goals, she's writing her weekly column for The Globe and making appearances on CTV as Canada AM's nutrition expert.

Ms. Beck is the author of seven books, including her most recent release, Foods that Fight Disease (Penguin, January, 2008).

Born and raised in Vancouver, Ms. Beck obtained her Bachelor of Science (Dietetics) from the University of British Columbia and proceeded to complete the dietetic internship program at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto. She studied a Masters in Epidemiology at the University of Toronto. She is a member of Dietitians of Canada and the College of Dietitians of Ontario.

Editor's Note: editors will read and allow or reject each question/comment. Comments/questions may be edited for length or clarity. HTML is not allowed. We will not publish questions/comments that include personal attacks on participants in these discussions, that make false or unsubstantiated allegations, that purport to quote people or reports where the purported quote or fact cannot be easily verified, or questions/comments that include vulgar language or libellous statements. Preference will be given to readers who submit questions/comments using their full name and home town, rather than a pseudonym.

Navin Vaswani from Toronto writes: Hello Leslie,

I'm 26. I weigh 150 pounds. At my heaviest, I tipped the scales at 200 pounds.

I'm happy with my progress, but I'd love to get to 135/140 lbs (I'm 5'8).

Most of all, I'd love to lose the gut. I try to eat as best as possible. Breakfast everyday, sandwich for lunch, some rice/pasta and protein for dinner. I could eat more vegetables, but couldn't we all?

I do weights and cardio during a session at the gym, three or four times a week. What do I need to do in order to reach my weight goal? When I initially lost a lot of weight, I did it on a low-carb diet. Should I do that again? Should I increase my cardio? Should I stop drinking completely?

Any help would be great. Thanks!

Leslie Beck: Hi Navin, First of all, congratulations on losing 50 pounds! That is fantastic. Your current weight of 150 lbs is very healthy indeed: your body mass index (BMI) falls in the healthy range of 20 to 25 at 22.8

I am afraid it's pretty difficult for me to advise you without properly assessing your current food intake and your weight history. My question to you: is it realistic for you to weigh 135 to 140 lbs? Have you ever weighed 135-140 lbs for a period of time as an adult? That weight puts your body mass index (BMI) at the low end of the range - still healthy of course. Just take a moment to ask yourself if the weight goal is reasonable. If it seems unreasonable, then work hard to maintain your current weight! If it is realistic to lose 10 to 15 lbs, then here are a few tips for you (remember, you have to be able to maintain 140 once you get there, so the strategies you employ to lose the least 10 lbs. must be sustainable):

Increase cardio workouts to 4 to 5 times per week - at least 30 minutes in duration

 Do weight workouts 2 to 3 times per week

Measure your rice and pasta portions at dinner. Keep rice to 2/3 cup and pasta to 1 cup - cooked measures.

Limit alcoholic beverages to a weekly maximum of 7 drinks, preferably less.

 Keep dessert - or your choice of splurge - to once per week.

Good luck!

Nat * from Toronto Canada writes:Hi Leslie,

Thanks for taking my question. I have been battling sensitive skin on my face for quite some time now (mainly redness). I've seen doctors, dermatologists, and even allergy specialists with no improvement, or any particular diagnosis. Do you think a dietician, or nutritionist could be of help? Can you make any recommendations that have worked for people in the past?

Thanks very much!

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