Q: My husband recently had a heart attack, followed by bypass surgery. Before he was released from the hospital, I asked the cardiologist about my husband's diet. The doctor said he could have anything he wants -- in moderation. I don't want him eating steak and ice-cream sundaes! But now how will I convince him he shouldn't? - Ellen B., Reno, Nev.
A: Dr. Oz is a cardiac surgeon and would never release a patient without making sure he or she knew the benefits of a healthy diet and exercise (bedroom included). But since you didn't get any nutrition counseling, we suggest you ask for a referral to a cardiac rehabilitation center where you both can go to learn about healthy eating and safe exercise. Dr. Oz has one on premises at New York Presbyterian, and Dr. Mike has one at the Cleveland Clinic.
Unfortunately, it's not uncommon for us to hear about cardiologists who rely on medications to do the job of protecting their patients from another heart attack. But we hope nutrition education soon becomes a requirement for board certification in cardiology -- none is required now. Here's why that's important (get your husband to read this!):
A recent study of more than 30,000 people (average age 66) who had suffered a heart attack or stroke or had Type 2 diabetes and were thought to be getting the best medicine possible found that those who ate a heart-healthy diet cut their risk of cardiovascular death by 35 percent, the risk of another heart attack by 14 percent and the risk of congestive heart failure by 28 percent. They ate lots of fish, vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes, and not much saturated fat, dietary cholesterol or sodium. Lifestyle changes including diet and exercise, when added to surgery and meds, really do have good results. Join him in the adventure, and you both should be able to enjoy the coming years with vim and vigor.
Q: I found my 16-year-old daughter wolfing down a bag of chocolate chip cookies. When I asked her what was up, she tried to make light of it. I think she does this more than I know, and I'm getting really concerned. What should I do? - Carrie M., Sioux Falls, S.D.
A: You're right to be concerned. Binge eating is a compulsive eating disorder. People overeat when they're not hungry, and it goes hand in hand with depression and other risky behaviors like drug and alcohol abuse. Compulsive eating probably is a way to self-soothe when your daughter feels stressed or blue.
So have a sit-down: Tell her you're interested in listening if she wants to talk. She may not, at least the first time you try -- but don't give up. Remember, binge eaters often feel overwhelmed and out of control.
If she does open up to you, let her know that binge eating can be treated successfully. Binging involves emotional issues, and talk therapy often is helpful in sorting them out. But the disorder also has a physical component. Sometimes antidepressants help. And researchers have found a direct correlation between high levels of sugar in the diet and binge eating. With the amount of added sugar and high fructose corn syrup in today's food supply, it's no wonder more than 15 million North Americans have the condition. So, here's what you can do:
» Help your daughter build a healthy relationship with food. Do you need to upgrade what you're serving for dinner? Do you eat together as a family? That encourages better nutrition and is proven to reduce problem behaviors in teens. Your daughter also may begin to eat more slowly, giving her body a chance to appreciate the food it's getting.
» Change your food environment -- don't buy anything with more than 4 grams of sugar per serving.
» Help your daughter find healthier ways of relieving stress, like walking, meditation or yoga. And join her. Setting a good example may be the most important step of all.
Dr. Mehmet Oz is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Dr. Mike Roizen is chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. For more information, go to realage.com.