Home ยป RD Q&A


My house is starting to feel like a home. Mr. Prevention worked all day yesterday and I managed to unpack 60-70% of the boxes on my own. Here’s some shots of the…mayhem.






 Let’s get on with the Q&A…just looking at those pictures is making me exhausted and stressed!

Cheryl: While at the health food store picking up some Satiereal Saffron Extract (Dr. Oz’s suggestion for natural appetite suppressant), I asked the owner if there was anything to supplement thyroid medication.  She suggested cold pressed, extra-virgin, coconut oil, 1 tsp 3x per day.  Told me that it helps with memory, cholesterol, weight loss, and some other things.  My concern is the calories.  She said when it is taken as a supplement, calories aren’t counted because it contains MLTs(?).  Is this true?  The label said 1 tsp is 125 calories.  She has customer’s that take it for energy and other benefits that have also lost weight.

Prevention RD: Hi Ceryl! 🙂 I think she’s referring to medium-chain trigycerides (MCT’s) which is the main type of fat in coconut oil and why it is being touted as a “healthier” oil. While MCT’s are metabolized differently (check out this post for more info on that), the calories very much so still “count”. In fact, in a clinical setting, some patients are given MCT’s for quick energy (calories) and to assist in weight GAIN. Three teaspoons (1 tablespoon) is typically 120 calories. Certainly people can lose weight any number of ways – it all boils down to calories. As for the calories not “counting” – false! 🙂


Nicole O.: Please explain the difference between and allergy and an intolerance. I have been having issues with this because I believe an allergy can be detected with a blood test, correct? But, what about an intolerance? Would an allergy have more severe reactions and an intolerance may not? Is an allergy inherited and an intolerance may just upset the system? Help! with the “gluten intolerance” craze sweeping the nation, I need to know. Also, some people with a lactose intolerance can tolerate soft serve or yogurt, but not ice cream…and so on…

Prevention RD: Good question! An allergy has a true allergen (usually detected by blood or skin testing), but adverse symptoms may or may not exist with an allergy. An intolerance is identifiable by adverse symptoms consistently after ingestion or contact. I am definitely not an expert on gluten intolerance vs. Celiac disease (gluten allergy), but I believe there is a spectrum just like many other food allergies — some people may experience an unsightly, itchy rash while others may go into anaphyalatic shock. Lactose is a bit different because that is a issue with enzymes. People lose lactase (the enzyme used to breakdown lactose in the body) over time (lactose allergies can thus develop later in life), and some people simply don’t make lactase, or enough of it. The more “liquid” a dairy product, the more lactose it contains. Generally, cheese and yogurt may be tolerated, but milk and ice cream (liquid at room temperature) cause problems. Hope this helps 🙂


Gina, RD: I’d love to hear your opinion about; What is “too little” calories? And when do you go in “starvation” mode? I have an answer I like to give, but I’d love to hear your thoughts and what you’ve read. So many people seem to think that even if they are overweight they can eat too few calories and then they will burn muscle…I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Prevention RD: Generally, anything under 1200 calories or less than 130 grams of carbs and I raise a brow, but this is highly dependent upon a person’s body weight and activity level. I use an adjusted body weight measurement (in essence, you are feeding excess body weight at 1/4th the rate of lean muscle mass – you can read more about that equation in this post) and then a  simple 20-25 calories/kg calculation (this is a wide range, so I use my clinical judgement as to which end a person would best fit at based on gender, age, activity level, etc.). I think it’s important to feed the body properly with weight loss to ensure nutrient needs are being met without excess, while avoiding “starvation mode”. You want to “feed fat”, literally, but not too much or too little. As for eating too few calories and burning muscle, it’s absolutely true. Things like red blood cells and the brain need glucose (sugar) which should not comes from fat or protein come from fat. When the body is not getting enough calories, the body will eventually start to use lean tissue (muscle, organ, etc.) for usable energy – not good! At this point, I would certainly consider the body in “starvation mode”, but that terms is often used synonymously with a weight loss plateau. I’d love to hear your thoughts!


Heather of Southern Pink Lemonade: Could you describe the benefits/differences of palm/coconut sugar vs. white granulated sugar?

Prevention RD: Coconut sugar is getting famous for its low(er) glycemic index, meaning the energy (calories) are absorbed more slowly and the body does not see the quick spike in blood sugar that it may from other sugars (this spike can cause anything from fatigue to hunger). While this sounds positive, the glycemic index (GI) is not a very well-respected measurement for nutrition. What I love about coocnut sugar is that it has 1/3 less calories (30 calories/tablespoon vs. cane sugar’s 45 calories) and 7 grams of sugar per tablespoon vs. cane sugar’s 12 grams. In short, it’s lower carbohydrate. That said, recipes may call for more to offer up adequate “sweetness” and the reduced sugar content is then irrelevant. Coconut sugar is VERY expensive and in my very limited experience, does not “act” like sugar in baking. In short, it may offer a nutritional edge, but the cost, availability, and benefit may not make it worth the c0mmotion.


Chrissy of Stick a Fork in It: What are your thoughts on flax seed, and what is the best form to consume it (whole, ground or oil)?

Prevention RD: I’m glad you asked! Whole flaxseed are NOT digested and therefore, no nutritional benefit is gained. Flaxseeds must be ground or their oil extracted to yield the nutrition. Flaxseed oil is expensive, so I usually opt for the ground seeds, but both are nutrition powerhouses and packed with omega 3 fatty acids. I love to use flaxseed oil in salad dressings and is there anything better than a warm flaxseed muffin with some dried fruit? Yum!


That’s it for today. As always, please feel free to pass along your questions on the Prevention RD Facebook page, as a comment below, or via email at preventionrd at gmail dot com! Thanks for all the great questions! 😀

I have to run up to the hospital for my TB test and then it’s on to unpacking some  more. The family comes tomorrow…gotta be ready!

Thanks for all the birthday wishes. Love you all to pieces! xo!

Be well,

Share With Your Friends!


  1. July 3, 2012 / 7:14 am

    Your house looks wonderful, Nicole! I can’t wait to see the “After photos”, although it already looks outstanding!

    Thanks for your answer to my question. I think I just get all awkward when people start telling me that they are eating too few calories and they are in starvation m ode, because I don’t know how to explain to them that they aren’t really (most of the time they are consuming 1400 or more calories). I also like to point out that you won’t lose muscle if you eat more protein (a realistic amount) and continue with your workouts.

    Great post! Happy Fourth ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. July 3, 2012 / 8:37 am

    I love these QandA posts! I always have a ton of questions regarding nutrition so I’ll start writing them down for next time!

  3. Ruchita
    July 3, 2012 / 8:52 am

    Thanks for doing these Q&A posts. They are very helpful!

    I keep a bag of ground flaxseed in the fridge and will add about a tablespoon to smoothies. I usually make a big batch of steel cut oats for the week and I’ll mix some in there as well. I use the Bob’s Red Mill brand of ground flax seed. Here in Ohio, I’ve found it at most grocery stores (Kroger, Meijer, Giant Eagle).

    I love the furniture in your sun room / porch area. Good luck with the unpacking!

  4. July 3, 2012 / 8:53 am

    Thank you for taking my question! I bought a bag of coconut sugar but have only used it a few times. You are right, it is very expensive and I was wondering whether it was worth it or not, so thank you for addressing that!

  5. July 3, 2012 / 9:18 am

    Your house is looking awesome! I’m so jealous of your sun porch! Thanks for answering my question, I think I’ll pick up some flaxseed oil to use in smoothies and salad dressings and then use the ground flax in everything else. You’re the best! ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. July 3, 2012 / 11:13 am

    Happy belated! The new house looks beautiful!! I love, love all of the window light.

    Flax seeds make me frustrated. I don’t understand why all these products pump themselves up with whole flax seeds. So many cereals I tend to test out have them in their whole version. Seems like such a waste!

  7. July 3, 2012 / 11:28 am

    I love the bay window in your dining room and kudos for putting that furniture together! ๐Ÿ˜€ Can’t wait to see everything in its place – I love the layout already – even with all the shit in boxes! ๐Ÿ˜€

  8. July 3, 2012 / 1:58 pm

    Love your dining room! What a view! Hopefully you’ll get some much needed help from your other half soon, and if not, well, I guess you’ll know where everything is (and get to pick where everything goes)!

  9. July 3, 2012 / 6:25 pm

    The house looks awesome! The dining room is so big and bright. I love it.

  10. megan
    July 3, 2012 / 6:56 pm

    hey nicole! you house looks beautiful! i’m looking forward to the recipes you’ll be making in your new kitchen!!

    i just wanted to clarify about celiac disease: it is NOT a food allergy. celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder. here is some information from the Celiac Disease Foundation (celiac.org):

    “Celiac Disease (CD) is unique in that a specific food component, gluten, has been identified as the trigger. When individuals with CD eat gluten, the villi (tiny hair-like projections in the small intestine that absorb nutrients from food) are damaged. This is due to an autoimmune reaction to gluten. Damaged villi do not effectively absorb basic nutrients โ€“ proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals and, in some cases, water and bile salts. If CD is left untreated, damage to the small bowel can be chronic and life threatening, causing an increased risk of associated disorders โ€“ both nutritional and immune related.”

    as a pediatric dietitian, i see quite a few kids diagnosed with celiac (diagnosis is confirmed by a biopsy) and do gluten-free diet educations. there is gluten intolerance (GI symptoms) and wheat allergies, but these are both different from celiac. just thought i would clarify!

    i love you rd q&a; you do a great job with it! and i love your blog! i’ve been reading daily since i found it about 6 months ago!!

    • Nicole, RD
      July 3, 2012 / 7:14 pm

      Thanks, Megan! Allergies/Celiac are far from my interest or expertise – thanks for weighing in…and reading! ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Emily
    July 3, 2012 / 9:20 pm

    Nicole – as a fellow dietitian and huge fan of the blog, i love this Q&A! Those are all very relevant questions that so many people are unaware of – especially the intolerance vs allergy. I just wanted to clarify – am it correct that flax is degraded with heat? (i.e. adding to muffins would destroy its functionality?) I remember reading that somewhere, but can’t remember if it was a reputable source. Thoughts on this? Thanks!!

  12. July 3, 2012 / 10:22 pm

    There is something cathartic about unpacking though- finding homes for everything.

  13. July 4, 2012 / 9:47 am

    Nicole, just want to tell you how much I enjoy these posts. I so often see people give make broad statements about nutrition without any scientific support, which really bothers me. I know you have the experience and knowledge to back up your statements, and I appreciate it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get my newest recipes
Follow Me