Arlene's Way

A healthy lifestyle and balance are the key to a happy life.

I get cracks on the corners of my mouth all the time. Could this be related to diet?

This could be related to an inadequate intake of riboflavin (vitamin B2), other B vitamins or iron, although if that is the case, you are likely to have other symptoms surfacing as well. Red meat is a great source of iron, so try including meals containing lean beef or lamb in your diet a few times a week. Having 2-3 meals based on fresh or canned fish or shellfish may also keep your cracks at bay, so add them into your weekly diet plan. You can load up on B vitamins with a vitamin B fortified cereal, sandwiches on grainy bread or eggs on toast for lunch, and eating nuts and seeds as healthy snacks throughout the day. A good scrape of vegemite will give your B-vitamins a boost.

People tell me I look anorexic, but I am not.  My doctor says I just have a high metabolism.  How can I get everyone off my back?

Try thinking of some good comeback lines and categorising them to suit the occasion.  For example, if someone says kindly, “I am worried about you because you’re so thin”, you could say politely, “Actually, I just saw my doctor and she says I am fine, but I appreciate your concern”. If someone starts nagging, you might say, “I know you care about me but I am healthy.  My doctor and I have talked about my weight, and this is how my body works.  I’d rather you not concern yourself”.  If a stranger blurts out, “Gosh, you are skin and bones! Why don’t you eat?” just ask, “Excuse me, but what makes my weight your business?” Then walk away.

Arlene's Way I really want to lose weight, but how can I boost my will power?

Don’t feel too bad if you quit your workout early or have a second slice of cake – your resolve is bound to run out sometimes.  The good news is it is easy to replenish.  People tend to view will power as a mental muscle, and failing to use it can make you feel like a wimp.  New research shows that will power is an energy source, like fuel; when your supply hits bottom, you are more vulnerable to impulsive behaviour.  In one of several experiments, psychologists from Florida State University showed people a disturbing video and asked some of them to control their emotional response to it by stifling or amplifying their reactions.  They then gauged the participants’ physical stamina by testing how long they could squeeze a handgrip.  The subjects who reined in their emotions during the video gave up on the squeeze test faster than those who didn’t.  Study author Roy Baumeister, Ph.D., believes they were worn out from exercising self-control.  The best way to recharge? Sleep. Baumeister says, “When you are well rested, you can resist temptation more easily.”

I am considering trying the South Beach diet to lose weight, is this a safe option?

The hottest fad on the market, it is sold out in many bookstores.  As with all diets, I am against dieting.  When you go on a diet, you go off a diet – it has to be a way of life!

What’s good A la Atkins, dieters get permission to indulge their meat, cheese, and bacon-and-eggs cravings.

What’s bad In the first phase, you must eliminate bread, potatoes, pasta, baked goods, lollies biscuits, ice cream, sugar and alcohol.  Most dieters don’t succeed by going cold turkey on their favourite every day foods.

Bottom line The South Beach Diet claims you will drop 4-6 kg in the first two-week phase.  Sound great, but as with the Atkins Diet, you are losing water, not actual fat.  Think about 3500 calories equals ½ kg.  To lose 6 kg, you have to expend 45500 more calories than you consume.  That would require burning 3250 calories a day – the equivalent of running a marathon – for two weeks straight.

Arlene's Way I am 24 years old and 10 kilos overweight.  I have been following the diet plan on your web site for 5 days and have already shed 1 kilo.  Will I be able to achieve my goal of losing the further 9 kilos by following the diet plan long term and continuing to exercise?

You are doing extremely well.  You will definitely lose the surplus 9 kilos, however the weight loss will slow down to 2-2 ½ kilos per month.  Your weight loss will be incidental to you eating properly.  The major purpose of the diet plan is to teach you to eat correctly and incorporate exercise in your lifestyle.

I suffer from PMT and a friend told me to take Vitamin B6 – is this good for me?

Serotonin is a substance in the body which has a calming effect on one’s moods.  Vitamin B6 is needed for the conversion of tryptophan to niacin, and tryptophan helps produce serotonin.  Therefore vitamin B6 plays a major role in controlling stress. Sources of this vitamin are bananas, fish, poultry, pork and meat.

All I hear about is low fat, reduced fat, cut out fat.  I really am muddled.  Could you tell me what is a healthy diet?

It is extremely difficult to define a healthy diet.  In simplified terms, it is one, which includes a high intake of fruit, vegetables, low fat dairy products, legumes and whole grains.  It should also include fish, nuts, and a moderate intake of meat and chicken.  The diet must not include excess calories, which would result in weight gain. The fat used should be predominantly mono- or poly- unsaturated fat.

I think I have a balanced diet.  Should I be taking vitamins as well?  Will it help my fitness?

There is no valid evidence to show that supplementation helps fitness.  Large doses of vitamins or minerals can be toxic.  Unless you have been medically diagnosed as vitamin or mineral deficient, if you do take a supplement, make sure it is a low dose of multivitamins with minerals.