DEAR DR. BLONZ: My husband and I have just made the move to quit smoking. We are now trying to flush our systems of any toxic materials, so we are drinking a lot of water and have been eating very lightly. Is a weeklong liquid diet a good idea to help take the load off the body so that it can concentrate on healing? We are also trying to rest a great deal. Any other suggestions on how to get through this in the best way? -- T.S., Charlotte, N.C.
DEAR T.S.: Your body will soon gain the upper hand. Water is a great conduit for elimination, so you are on target there, but so is healthful food. Many people have an urge to eat more after they quit, so you should have some foods around of low caloric density. Eat normally at mealtime, but be alert to the quality of your snacking. Good between-meal foods would include fresh fruits, cut vegetables, pretzels (whole wheat if palatable), and even sugar-free gums and candy. Other suggestions might include rice cakes, air-popped popcorn, whole-grain dry cereals, raisins and other dried fruits, and even some nuts and seeds. Small meals, eaten slowly, can help fill you up without contributing an excess of calories.
You note that you are resting, but if you have the OK from your doctor, it may help to begin going on walks, riding bikes, dancing or any other activity the two of you might enjoy. Not only will this help control any potential weight gain, it will be an important first step in telling your lungs and muscles to get in step with your new plane of existence. It also can provide some of the same pleasant substances, known as endorphins, that the body produced in response to smoking. They often play a role in the cravings that make it difficult to stop smoking, but studies have shown that you can get a similar kick from exercise. How's that for a great turn toward health! Please do check with your physician first, in case there are other issues that need to be considered.
Don't give up if you gain a few pounds. Those can be lost later. The key is to get over the proverbial "hump" of four weeks or so, after which the worst of the withdrawal symptoms will be history. There are many programs and support groups around that can be of help. Finally, you definitely need to spend some time giving yourselves a pat on the back. I congratulate you both.
DEAR DR. BLONZ, I learned in school that riboflavin in milk is destroyed by light. If that is true, why is milk often sold in clear containers? Am I wasting my money by paying more for it in opaque containers? -- N.F., Puma, Ariz.
DEAR N.F.: Milk is a perishable food, and exposure to natural light or bright flourescent light can destroy a percentage of the riboflavin (vitamin B2), vitamin C and vitamin B6, and also encourage the development of "off" flavors. Light intensity and the duration of exposure determines how much of these nutrients will be destroyed.
Appropriate temperature control is an important factor in nutrient preservation, but proper containers can also offer protection. Storage in an opaque container, such as a paper carton, seems to be best in this regard, with clear glass at the other end of the spectrum.
Send questions to: "On Nutrition," Ed Blonz, c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO, 64106. Send email inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org. Due to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided.