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Ask An Expert

Ask an expert: Are salty foods hurting your kids?

Q: “Since my doctor told me to limit my sodium, I’ve started reading food labels. Now I’m shocked to see how much salt is in the foods that my kids eat. Should I be watching their sodium, too?”

Ask an Expert: Butter vs. margarine – which is better for you?

Q: Years ago, I switched from butter to margarine to reduce my cholesterol intake. Now I hear that margarine contains something even worse than cholesterol – trans fat – so I’m thinking about switching back to butter. Weighing the pros and cons, which one really is the healthier choice: butter or margarine?

Ask an Expert: Can a person eat too much fruit?

Q: Health experts tell us to eat lots of fruits and veggies, but can a person eat too much fruit? On an average day, I eat about 2-1/2 cups of grapes, two apples, two pears and, at dinner, two servings of vegetables. I’m trying to lose a little weight and am worried that fruit may be deceptively high in calories and sugar.

Ask an Expert: Changes to the food pyramid’s carb recommendations

Q: Is the amount of carbohydrates recommended by the current USDA Food Guide Pyramid too high? It seems like more and more evidence is showing that many carbs contribute to obesity and other health problems.

Answer from Terese Scollard, R.D., L.D., M.B.A., Regional Clinical Nutrition Manager:

Ask an Expert: Counting calories

Q: How important is it to watch calories if I want to lose weight? It seems most diet plans today focus on total fat intake, or the total amount of protein vs. carbohydrates. Do I still need to pay attention to calories?

Ask an Expert: Energy drinks: Is there a downside?

Q: “My teenage kids and their friends are all into ‘energy drinks’ like Red Bull and Rockstar. They like how these drinks make them feel ‘up’ – but is there a downside?”

Ask an expert: Fat facts

Q: First, fat was bad. Then some fat was good and some was bad. Now we’ve got trans fats to worry about. It’s getting so complicated! Please explain the differences between fats and what I need to know about them.

Ask an Expert: Fruits and Veggies – How Many Should You Eat?

Q: First, it was “five a day.” Then the Dietary Guidelines changed to “4 to 13 servings per day.” I’m confused — how many fruits and vegetables should I be eating?

Answer provided by Terese Scollard, MBA, R.D., L.D., regional clinical nutrition manager for Providence Nutrition Services: 

Ask an expert: How can I stop the middle-age spread?

Q: “Controlling my weight was a piece of cake in my 20s and 30s, but not anymore. Why does it seem so much harder now that I’m 50-something? Is there anything I can do to fight the middle-age spread, or is this a battle that all women my age are destined to lose?”

Ask an expert: Is bread bad?

Q: Several of my friends, including one who works in the health field, have sworn off bread as if it were the root of all evil. Even whole-grain bread, which I thought was a great choice, is off limits, according to them. I love bread. Is it really that bad for me?

Answer provided by Terese Scollard, M.B.A., R.D., L.D., regional clinical nutrition manager for Providence Nutrition Services

Ask an expert: Is coconut oil really a miracle food?

Q: "What's all the buzz about coconut oil? Can it really help you lose weight, fight heart disease and do all the other things people are claiming? And what about coconut water – is there any benefit to drinking it?"

Ask an Expert: Losing the Last 10 Pounds

Q: “I have always carried extra weight, and have always dieted. Even though I lost around 40 pounds in my early 20s, I’m still carrying around 10 or 12 extra pounds. I rarely eat fatty foods or junk, but I have a low metabolism and I hate exercising. Do you have any advice to help me lose those last few pounds for good?”
Answer provided by Valerie Edwards, M.S., R.D., L.D., clinical dietitian, Providence Portland Medical Center, and Michelle Guitteau, M.D., director of ambulatory education, Providence Portland Medical Center: 

Ask an expert: Making weight loss last

Q: “Every January, I get super motivated to go on a diet and lose weight. I make radical changes in my diet, lose a few pounds and feel great about it – but a few months later, I’m right back to my old ways – and my old weight. What dietary changes can I make this year to get results that last?”

Ask an Expert: Metabolism and Weight Loss

Q: “I am cursed with a slow metabolism, so I burn calories slowly and gain weight easily. What can I do to rev up my metabolism?”

Answer provided by Valerie Edwards, M.S., R.D., L.D., clinical dietitian, Providence Portland Medical Center, and Michelle Guitteau, M.D., director of ambulatory education, Providence Portland Medical Center: 

Ask an expert: Paleo pros and cons

Q: "Proponents of the Paleo diet claim that we'd all be healthier if we went back to eating like cavemen. Is there any truth to that?"

Ask an Expert: Protein vs. carbohydrates

Q: What role do proteins and carbohydrates play in the diet?  Should I be avoiding carbohydrates altogether if I’m trying to lose weight?

Ask an Expert: Ten ways to watch your weight over the holidays

Q: "This year, for once, I do not want to gain weight over the holidays. Can you offer some realistic advice that will still allow me to enjoy the season?"

Answer provided by Valerie Edwards, M.S., R.D., L.D., clinical dietitian, Providence Portland Medical Center, and Michelle Guitteau, M.D., director of ambulatory education, Providence Portland Medical Center: 

The best sites for the heart-healthy diet

The digital marketplace now offers an abundance of health and diet management tools, from websites to monitor your weight to smart phone apps that allow you to take a picture of your food and get an instant calorie count.

Want your kids to shine? Shoot for 5-2-1-0-9.

We all want our children to be happy and healthy. We understand, in general, that encouraging kids to eat well, play actively and get plenty of sleep will help them do and feel their best. But when it comes to the specifics – Eat what? Play how much? Sleep how long? – things tend to get complicated.

Forms Instructions

Ask an expert: Can a cheeseburger raise my cholesterol test results?

Q: “I ate a cheeseburger the day before I gave blood for a physical. Even though I fasted for 12 hours before I gave blood, could the cheeseburger have elevated my cholesterol? I am 22 and am only a few pounds overweight. My total cholesterol is 180; HDL is 37; LDL is 119; triglycerides are 121. What do you suggest I do to lower my numbers?”

Got milk choices?

By Niki Strealy, RD, LD, registered dietitian, Providence Nutrition Services Have you been thinking about giving up your milk mustache? A lot of...

Mindful Eating

It's a common scene that almost everyone can identify with: You flip on the TV, open a bag of chips and settle in for a show. Half an hour later, you reach deep into the bag and … hey, where'd all the chips go? Somehow, they disappeared, and you barely remember eating them.

PPMC patient dining goes from room service to scheduled meals

The change streamlines the meal-ordering process and improves communications with patients.

Request Nutrition Services

Please complete the following form if you are interested in scheduling any of the following nutrition services:

  • Special diet counseling
  • Weight management
  • Nutrition counseling for children with special health care needs
  • Medical nutrition therapy

Proprietary Health Article

12 ways to turn your kids into vegetable lovers

Ideally, half of every plate you put in front of your children should be filled with vegetables and fruits.

Are your elders eating enough?

Under-nutrition among older adults is a big problem – much bigger than most people realize.

Ask an Expert: Shape up this summer with expert exercise advice

Everyone gets motivated to get more active when the summer sun comes out. Before you get started, make sure you’re setting yourself up for success and preventing injury by considering these tips from our experts.

Bringing balance to the glycemic index

Newcomers to the glycemic index often ask: Do I have to stop eating potatoes, since they have a high glycemic index? The short answer is: not necessarily. Rather than eliminating certain foods altogether, it’s more important to focus on balancing your diet overall.

Feed the skin you're in

Slathering on sunscreen every two hours will keep your skin protected from the sun’s harmful rays, but taking care of your skin is, well, more than skin deep.

Losing the first 20 pounds

By Valerie Edwards, MS, RD, LD, clinical dietitian, Providence Outpatient Nutrition Services, Providence Portland Medical Center How many pounds...

Providence Stop-Smoking Resources

If you smoke, one of the most important steps you can take to improve your health is to quit smoking. Providence Health & Services supports you in this effort. The resources below can help you stop smoking for good.

Recipe - Asparagus with almonds

Sauté asparagus over high heat with some cooking spray, then add a splash of lemon juice. Add some sliced almonds and serve with brown rice. (Note: to reduce calories, use fewer almonds.)

Seven secrets to slimming down

Let’s get to work on that New Year’s resolution, shall we? According to Time magazine, losing weight tops the list of resolutions made – and broken – each year. We’re not going to talk about the broken part, though. I’m here to help you succeed.

Three reasons to go gluten free and three reasons not to

Sitting on top of the “hot” list of today’s diet fads is the gluten-free diet. People with certain medical conditions have very good reasons to avoid gluten, the gluey, chewy protein found in wheat, kamut, spelt, rye, barley, triticale and malt. But there are equally good reasons not to go gluten free if you don’t have to.

Were we wrong about fat?

“Eat Butter,” shouted the June 23, 2014 cover of TIME Magazine. “Scientists labeled fat the enemy. Why they were wrong.” But were they wrong? Are butter, cheese and bacon now the new health foods? 

Recommended Resource

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition Article on Dietary Energy Density

Article: Dietary energy density in the treatment of obesity: a year-long trial comparing 2 weight-loss diets.

American Journal of Preventative Medicine: Weight Loss During the Intensive Intervention Phase of the Weight-Loss Maintenance Trial

To improve methods for long-term weight management, the Weight Loss Maintenance (WLM) trial, a four-center randomized trial, was conducted to compare alternative strategies for maintaining weight loss over a 30-month period. This paper describes methods and results for the initial 6-month weight-loss program (Phase I).

Annual Review of Nutrition-Successful Weight Loss Maintenance

Abstract  Obesity is now recognized as a serious chronic disease, but there is pessimism about how successful treatment can be. A general perception is that almost no one succeeds in long-term maintenance of weight loss.

Beverage Guidance Panel site

The Beverage Guidance Panel was assembled to provide guidance on the relative health and nutritional benefits and risks of various beverage categories. 

Journal of the American College of Nutrition: The Effect of Breakfast Type on Total Daily Energy Intake and Body Mass Index: Results from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III)

Objective: The objective of this study was to investigate the relationship between breakfast type, energy intake and body mass index (BMI). We hypothesized not only that breakfast consumption itself is associated with BMI, but that the type of food eaten at breakfast also affects BMI.

Learn to make healthier food choices with MyPlate

MyPlate provides practical information to help build healthier diets with tools for dietary assessment, recipes, menus, and other nutrition education materials. Including materials in multiple languages.

MNA Mini Nutritional Assessment

The MNA® is a validated nutrition screening and assessment tool that can identify geriatric patients age 65 and above who are malnourished or at risk of malnutrition.

Complete the MNA® nutrition screening assessment and if your results show that you may have some nutrition concerns, take it to your health care provider to discuss your nutritional health and needs. These are nutrition risk screening tools ONLY and do not diagnose, prevent or treat disease. The purpose is to prompt conversations with your health care providers about your nutritional needs.

Science Magazine Article- Physiology: A NEAT Way to Control Weight?

Why do some people remain slimmer than others? The answer may be in the amount of time lean individuals spend fidgeting, standing and walking around compared with sitting still. As Ravussin explains in a Perspective, a followup study by Levine et al. now pinpoints sitting as an important culprit of weight gain. Just sitting for 2.5 hours less each day would result in an extra energy expenditure of 350 kcal/day, which the authors calculate could translate into preventing the gain of extra pounds.

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition Article

Research article showing the effects of omitting breakfast on insulin sensitivity and fasting lipid profiles in healthy lean women.

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition Article on Association of breakfast energy density with diet quality and body mass index in American adults

Background:Recent reports suggest that dietary energy density (ED) is associated with diet quality, energy intake, and body weight. Breakfast consumption was also associated with diet quality and body weight; however, little is known about the association of breakfast consumption with dietary ED.

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition Article on Children’s Portion Size

Article: Children’s bite size and intake of an entrée are greater with large portions than with age-appropriate or self-selected portions.

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition Article on effects of regular meal frequency on dietary thermogenesis

Beneficial metabolic effects of regular meal frequency on dietary thermogenesis, insulin sensitivity, and fasting lipid profiles in healthy obese women. Background: Although a regular meal pattern is recommended for obese people, its effects on energy metabolism have not been examined.

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition Article on Portion Size

Article: Portion size effects on daily energy intake in low-income Hispanic and African American children and their mothers.

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition Article on When to eat and how often

Article: The effect of the timing of food intake on metabolism has been the subject of active investigation for >40 y. Indeed, whether it is "better" to eat many small meals a day is one of the questions most frequently posed by the lay public. 

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition on Omitting Breakfast


Background: Breakfast consumption is recommended, despite inconclusive evidence of health benefits.

The Journal of Nutrition Article on Time of Day and Food Intake Influences Overall Intake in Humans

Article: Circadian and diurnal rhythms affect food intake, and earlier research has suggested that meal sizes increase, whereas the after-meal intervals and satiety ratios decrease over the day. 

The National Weight Control Registry

The National Weight Control Registry (NWCR), established in 1994 by Rena Wing, Ph.D. from Brown Medical School, and James O. Hill, Ph.D. from the University of Colorado, is the largest prospective investigation of long-term successful weight loss maintenance.

US Department of Health & Human Services Dietary Guidelines for Americans

US Department of Health & Human Services website on the latest dietary guidelines, includes FAQs, weight management and activity tools.

USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion

The USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP) works to improve the health and well-being of Americans by developing and promoting dietary guidance that links scientific research to the nutrition needs of consumers. CNPP is an agency of USDA's Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services.

USDA Food Pyramid Website

MyPyramid offers personalized eating plans and interactive tools to help you plan/ assess your food choices based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.