It's easy to get answers about health and nutrition! Just send your question by email to [email protected] and Dr. Harlan will respond to selected questions of general interest. Answers will be posted in the Ask Dr. Gourmet newsletter (sign up now!) and archived in the Ask Dr. Gourmet section of the website.
I work a lot, and am not thrilled with cooking. I've been thinking of trying the Nutrisystem plan. Would that be safe if I'm on Coumadin?
I get questions fairly regularly about the safety of prepared meals for those taking Coumadin (warfarin). This is a challenging issue and one that I don't have a definitive answer for (but read on anyway).
As you may know from reading information on DrGourmet.com, there are two approaches to consumption of Vitamin K containing foods when taking Coumadin. One is to eat about the same amount of Vitamin K containing foods each day (our approach). This can be challenging for many, as there's a wide variation between kale or other such greens (very high in Vitamin K), and carrots or iceberg lettuce (lower in Vitamin K). The other option is to eliminate all foods that are very high in Vitamin K.
Either way, prepared foods can present a problem because there's no way to know exactly how much Vitamin K might be in the meals - not to mention the question of the day-to-day consistency of the amount of Vitamin K for a given dish.
We have taken the posture on the convenience meals reviewed at DrGourmet.com that none are safe for use with Coumadin. While this is likely not the case and you may be able to look at the ingredient list to determine what might be safe, that's not something that we are willing to take responsibility for. Asking the companies directly, as we have with Lean Cuisine (for example), results in the response that because they are not required to provide that information (presumably they are referring to the USDA Nutrition Information requirements), they do not test for it and thus can not provide that information.
I will say that I do believe that these products can be part of a strategy for weight loss, but my concern is always that if you use them, you don't learn how to plan, shop, and cook for a healthier lifestyle in the long run. This the key to long term weight loss, weight maintenance, and overall health.
Thanks for writing,
Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP, CCMS