Dear Barb—New Year Questions

Dear Barb:

Hi, now that the holidays are over, I want to work on my diet.  It seems what is good for you one day, turns out to be not good for you after further studies.  For example, the last couple of years I’ve been using coconut oil in all my cooking and recently I found out it is not good for you and it has been raising my bad cholesterol.  Who does these studies and how can you find out how reliable they are? Help, I don’t know what to eat! Looking forward to your response.  Thanks Jasmine.

Hey Jasmine:

That is an excellent question.  Fad diets come and go.  It’s a good idea not to go overboard on claims that a particular food is the new “super food.” Do some research for yourself.  Often you can find studies for and against most of these claims.  Your best bet is to follow Canada’s Food Guide, which has a printable version.  Of course if you have health issues, such as heart disease, you will have to make modifications and in this case it may be beneficial for you to follow the Heart and Stroke Foundations recommendations at  Or the appropriate site for any particular ailments you might have. I hope this is helpful.

Dear Barb:

I have a friend who has recently been diagnosed with a terminal illness.  I have visited her a few times, but I get the feeling she doesn’t want visitors.  She never calls me, and, when I call her, she doesn’t want to talk.  I don’t know if I should respect the fact that she doesn’t want visitors, or continue trying to keep in touch.  We were really good friends and talked quite often.  I am not sure what I should do and would appreciate your input.  Thanks Pamela. 

Hi Pamela:

Often when people are ill they don’t want others coming to visit, and especially if they are dying.  At that point in their life they often don’t want to hear stories about people who are going on with their lives and celebrating milestones or going on trips, when their own future is filled with pain, anxiety, and fear.  I think you should respect her wishes and if you want her to know you are thinking about her send her a card or flowers.  We never really know how we will feel until we reach a similar point in our lives.  Since you were good friends, I’m sure she would contact you if or when she was ready to see you.  Thanks for writing Pamela.