Q: I am on a gluten-free diet and need suggestions for breakfast. I eat brown rice and oatmeal twice a week, but have no other sources of high-fiber grains. — Anonymous
A: There are plenty of delicious options. How about buckwheat pancakes? Buckwheat is neither wheat nor a cereal grain. It's actually a fruit seed related to rhubarb that's often milled into flour or served as a porridge-like cereal (called kasha). If you're making the pancakes from a mix, read the label first. Sometimes buckwheat is mixed with wheat flour or other grains. And don't overlook grains, including quinoa. Although it's often called a whole grain, it's really a kissing cousin to leafy green vegetables such as spinach. But its toasty, couscous-like texture and taste simply cries out for sliced apples, raisins, cinnamon and a little milk for a great, high-protein, high-fiber (about 5 grams per cup) start to the day.
Q: I am going to be traveling, first on a plane then on a cruise ship. Will taking Relenza or Tamiflu help me prevent the flu? Please don't suggest the vaccine, as I will not do that. — Kathleen, San Rafael, Calif.
A: The antivirals that often are given to shorten the duration of the flu by a day or two do work as a preventative. In fact, they can be about 70 percent to 90 percent effective in keeping you from getting it. The big caveat: They don't work against EVERY flu virus. The viruses change every year, and so does the vaccine to prevent them. This year's flu and H1N1 vaccines are formulated specifically for the strains of influenza we're expecting this season. Antivirals are not as effective as the vaccines, and side effects — including diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, nasal infection, bronchitis, cough, headache and dizziness — aren't common with the meds but do occur. Plus, to avoid the flu, you'd have to take them for the entire season — that's usually December to March. You don't want to do that.
If you won't get the vaccine because you think it's not safe, let us assure you that its benefits in terms of preventing you from death or disability are about 10,000 times greater than its risk (the likelihood that you'd have problems is about the same as the chances of your choosing a winning Pick 4 Lotto ticket). So as long as you're not allergic to eggs, we'd recommend that you reconsider. Since the shot contains a killed virus, it won't give you the flu (although in very rare cases, you can get a fever and muscle aches that last for a couple of days), unless you can resurrect the dead, in which case you are needed elsewhere in our hospitals.
Q: I have type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high triglycerides and am about 30 pounds overweight. When I'm stressed out, I tend to eat. What is a good meal plan for me? — Anonymous
A: Since you have diabetes, you need to watch saturated fats, trans fats and simple carbs. Other than that, our advice to you is the same we give to everyone. Eat filling foods. No, not a whole bag of potato chips. We mean filling foods that didn't have a mother or weren't born in a manufacturing plant (and that aren't high in aging fats). If you're full, you're less likely to snack, nibble or binge, even if you're more stressed than the parents of a teen girl on her first date. Here's what will satisfy you so you don't overeat:
Protein. Try an egg-white omelet, salmon filet or a handful of almonds or walnuts.
Whole grains. Whole-grain bread is high in fiber, so two slices will fill you up far better than a fiber-poor white roll.
Good fat. Those are the healthy polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats in olive oil, nuts and avocados (especially great if you like creamy foods when you're stressed).
Naturally crunchy vegetables. These have that filling-fiber thing going for them, and the crunch helps take the edge off stress.
Learn from research on losers: people who drop pounds and keep them off eat breakfast every day, weigh themselves once a week, watch only a little TV and work out for an hour daily.
The YOU Docs, Mehmet Oz and Mike Roizen, are authors of "YOU: Having a Baby." To submit questions, go to www.RealAge.com.
Distributed by King Features Syndicate Inc.