Week of March 7, 2011
Contact: Alice Bender, (202) 328-7744

AICR HealthTalk
Karen Collins, MS, RD, CDN
American Institute for Cancer Research

Q: I’m frustrated. I started to lose weight with new eating and exercise habits, but after just a few days off, I’m having a terrible time getting back to my new lifestyle. What can I do?

A: A short break from new healthy lifestyle habits does not have to affect overall weight loss. Studies show that people lose about the same amount of weight over the long term (at five months and at one year) whether they continue straight through with new habits or have an occasional short break of a week or two. So, to get back on track, get rid of any guilt messages you may be repeating to yourself. Negative messages don’t help you climb back up, they just drag you down. Second, don’t bundle all the changes together in an all-or-nothing mentality. Even if you get back to some changes, like taking 10 or 15 minutes for a walk, even every other day, it provides some physical benefits and avoids the picture of yourself as being back at the beginning. Later, begin working your way to accumulating 30 to 60 minutes a day. Third, realize that this is not the last time something will get you “off track.” Many studies show that learning how to overcome these relapses, or setbacks, is an important part of long-term weight loss success. Think ahead about situations, such as celebrations, stressful situations or obligations that might make it difficult to stick with your weight loss strategies. People who develop multiple ways to cope with tough situations usually go on to lose more weight. Learning to handle emotions and negative thought patterns is also vital. Overly strict eating rules may lead to short-term but not long-term weight loss and they can promote binge eating once you break a rule. Instead, work to create a lifestyle with some form of daily physical activity, a stable healthy eating pattern and portion control based on true physical hunger. Occasionally include high-calorie foods to avoid a sense of deprivation. The good news: as difficult as it may seem to continue healthier behaviors, over time it does get easier.

Q: Is black rice now considered another one of the super foods?

A: Black rice, a variety of rice used in Asia for centuries, is a whole grain and a healthy food choice. It can add a nice change to meals; however, as with any one food, it won’t replace eating a wide variety of vegetables, fruits and other whole grains. Its dark color – which turns to purple when cooked – comes from natural plant compounds called anthocyanins. These anthocyanins are also found in purple and blue colored vegetables and fruits such as eggplant and blueberries. They are one of several types of antioxidant compounds called phenolics that are found in black rice. These compounds together give black rice several times higher antioxidant activity than white rice. Brown rice, also a whole grain and healthy choice, does not contain anthocyanins, but it contains other health-promoting phenolics. Research on black rice seems to focus on comparisons with white rice, so it’s hard to tell how much more benefit you’d get from black rice over brown rice. You might see black rice recommended for its high fiber content, but while it contains much more than white rice, its advantage over brown rice is slight. It may cost an extra 25 cents a serving compared to regular brown rice, though not much more than quick-cooking varieties of brown rice. The biggest disadvantage is that though quick-cooking forms of brown rice have been developed, black rice still demands 45 -50 minutes of cooking like regular brown rice.

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