Posts Tagged ‘Nutrition’

Who can you rely on for sound nutritional advice? Check with a registered dietitian.

March 13, 2013 is Registered Dietitian Day. Registered dietitians are health professionals uniquely trained in skills related to food production, clinical implications of nutrients and disease, and counseling. They provide food and nutrition information and services to the public and individuals.

Misinformation abounds. Don’t risk your nutritional health to those who advertise special potions or supplements to cure specific illnesses, make you stronger, or help you lose weight. Most have more interest in parting you with your money than in keeping you healthy.

Thank those dietitians you meet for their commitment to serving you and your community to achieve and maintain optimum well-being through dietary choices. Eat well—stay healthier.

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March is National Nutrition Month. The theme on this 40th anniversary is “Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day.” What do these terms mean when it comes to your lifestyle, food habits, cultural and ethnic choices, and health concerns?

  • Eat Right. Foods aren’t good or bad, but some are healthier than others. Even calorie–laden decadent desserts may have their place in a diet if reserved for special occasions and eaten in moderation. Eating right may encompass varied practices such as regular mealtimes, appropriate size servings, or choosing more healthful selections as recommended by the 2010 Dietary Guidelines (http://www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines/dga2010/DietaryGuidelines2010.pdf) and the MyPlate messages (http://www.choosemyplate.gov/). To check your current eating, try a fun way at this link (http://www.eatright.org/nnm/games/#) and click on “Rate Your Plate.”
  • Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day

    Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day

    Your Way. Is it necessary for you to eat exactly as others eat? When I taught nutrition, students would walk past my table at lunch time to see what I was eating. They wanted assurance that I practiced what I preached—that I ate right. But it isn’t about what I choose to eat. It’s about your choices.

We are unique individuals with different tastes and varied likes and dislikes. We enjoy some foods more than others. But we can give healthful choices a fair chance.

Brussels sprouts were never my favorite vegetable. Recently, I purchased a container of the fresh vegetable and decided to give them another try. After washing and trimming, I dropped them into a small pot with a minimal amount of boiling water and cooked, uncovered, about five to six minutes. I chose not to add salt, but most will find a light seasoning more acceptable. I gently lifted the bright green heads from the water, placed them into a serving dish, and topped with butter. The small amount of seasoning gave me enough saltiness and a delightful flavor. If you limit your choices of vegetables, find ways to make them more appealing. It may surprise you how tasty you find those disliked vegetables.

  • Every Day.  Should you fail one day to get all your fruits, veggies, whole grains, protein foods, or low-fat milk products, you will not come down with some terrible disease. Continual disregard for these foods, however, may affect your health. Seek to include these healthful choices daily. At the end of the day, mentally ask yourself if you had the recommended amounts. Adding a missed fruit, low-fat milk product, or other low-calorie food after your evening meal could be a good idea if it helps to meet your nutritional needs.

It’s your life and your choice. Eating right, your way, every day makes sense and will help to keep you healthier. For more information to accomplish your healthy eating goals, go to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website at http://www.eatright.org/. See more information about National Nutrition Month at http://www.eatright.org/nnm/#.UTfIljDRFy3 .


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Whereas the DASH diet ranked number one in 2012 as the healthiest diet, not far behind were other excellent diets. The TLC (Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes) diet ranked number two (See http://health.usnews.com/best-diet/tlc-diet). Developed by the National Institute of Health (NIH) and the American Heart Association, it claims to lower “bad” (LDL) cholesterol by eight to ten percent in six weeks. This diet sharply reduces dietary fat, especially saturated fat found primarily in meats, dairy (butter/cream), and fried foods. The diet encourages restricting foods high in cholesterol and increasing those high in fiber.

Three diets tied for third place, Mediterranean, Mayo Clinic, and Weight Watchers. While the DASH diet is well-known for lowering sodium in the diet and the TLC diet is low-fat, the Mediterranean diet is a balance of healthy foods without reducing any specific food or substance. This diet has no specific “plan” but emphasizes eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and legumes; olive oil; herbs and spices; fish and seafood at least twice a week; poultry, eggs, cheese, and yogurt in moderation; and sweets and red meats only for special occasions. Those living around the Mediterranean Sea, for which the diet is named, tend to have more active lifestyles, control their weight, consume diets high in healthful foods as listed above, and eat less red meat, sugar, or saturated fat than Americans. See http://health.usnews.com/best-diet/mediterranean-diet.

The Mayo Clinic diet, also a balanced diet, advocates a two-phase program. Part one, referred to as “Lose It” phase, doesn’t count calories. Part two, “Live It,” involves learning the number of calories needed and where those calories come from. The aim of the diet is weight-loss, and participants should lose from six to ten pounds in two weeks. See http://health.usnews.com/best-diet/mayo-clinic-diet/recipes.

U. S News & World Report ranked Weight Watchers as number five among healthiest diets. Experts considered this diet easy to follow, safe, and nutritionally sound. Weight Watchers emphasizes group support. Foods include lots of fruits and vegetables, and it allows for occasional indulgences. Check http://health.usnews.com/best-diet/weight-watchers-diet for more information.

Although these best diets may contribute toward loss of weight, the news magazine also evaluated diets touted for weight-loss. Weight Watchers ranked number one in that category with Biggest Looser, Jenny Craig, and raw food diet tied at number two (See http://health.usnews.com/best-diet/best-weight-loss-diets ). Volumetrics came in fifth.

Now you have it. Many diets out there are healthy choices. Forget all the fad diets that may actually do harm and concentrate on wholesome foods to provide adequate nutrients and calories to become a healthier you.

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What will 2013 hold for the latest gimmicks or diets to lose weight? In case you missed it, observers considered 2012 a new low in efforts to lose weight. The British Dietetic Association (BDA) identified what they considered as the top five worst diets.

  • OMG (six-week diet). Ranked at number five, this diet starts with a cup of black coffee early each morning followed by exercise. Afterward, go straight for a bath in cold water and sit until 10:00 a.m. Then you can have breakfast, but no fruits or snacks. If you try it, let me know how it works for you. Me? I prefer hot showers and breakfast as soon as my toes reach the floor each morning.
  • Alcorexia/Drunkorexia Diet. Eat very few calories throughout the week so you can save up to spend them drinking alcoholic beverages on weekends. Sound like a winner? I won’t bore you with details. According to the BDA, “(The diet) is absolutely stupid and could easily result in alcohol poisoning and even death.”
  • “Party Girl” IV Drip Diet. This procedure, costing upwards of $200 – $300, has caught on with some celebrities. A clinician inserts an IV drip of fluids mixed with customized vitamins and minerals into the bloodstream. Gives you extra pep—they say.
  • KEN (ketogenic enteral diet). The KEN diet, also a clinical procedure, involves threading a NG (nasogastric) tube through the nose into the stomach. Special liquid-patented formulas provide specific amounts of protein and nutrients. Referred to as forced starvation, the diet can cause organ damage. It’s administered in 10-day cycles with normal eating in-between.
  • Dukan Diet. Written by the French physician Pierre Dukan, this diet ranked number one for the second year. Similar to the Atkins diet, it begins with high-protein foods and no carbohydrates to accomplish quick weight loss. The BDA considers it “confusing, time-consuming, very rigid, and . . . hard to sustain.” The diet warns of constipation, low energy, and bad breath.

These aren’t the only absurd diets out there. Who knows what will surface or repeat in 2013? Wouldn’t you rather cut back a little on high-fat, high-sugar foods and eat a little less to lose a few pounds? The thought of that cold bath motivates me to make wiser choices and skip all the nonsense.

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Refreshing Summer Breakfast

Looking for a refreshing nutritious summer breakfast? Take advantage of fresh summer fruits. Build a tasty meal you can grab to make you feel confident of acquiring needed nutrients and energy for the morning. An easy make-ahead treat is Fruity Oatmeal Delight. Try it to start your day with wow.

Fruity Oatmeal Delight

1          cup instant oatmeal

2          cups low-calorie strawberry yogurt

1          cup crushed pineapple with juice

2          tablespoons slivered almonds

1-2       cups fresh strawberries

Combine oatmeal, yogurt, pineapple, and almonds. Spoon into parfait or sherbet dishes, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate. When ready to serve, top with sliced fresh strawberries.

Use your imagination to create other delightful nutritious concoctions. Try tasty combinations such as vanilla or blueberry yogurt topped with fresh blueberries. Or strawberry-banana yogurt piled high with sliced bananas. How about peach yogurt with fresh peaches? The possibilities are endless but the results the same. You have a quick, easy, tasty breakfast loaded with vitamins, minerals, and protein to start your day. Yum!

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Calories are to our bodies what gas is to our car. It’s the fuel that keeps us going. We need calories. The problem is, nearly seventy percent in our nation consume too many.

The average adult needs about 2,000 calories each day. That number moves up or down according to activity, age, and other factors. After eating foods to meet nutrient needs, approximately 300 discretionary calories can be selected from calorie-laden foods.  Calories with little or no nutritive value—empty calories—come mostly from foods high in solid fats and added sugars. Too many extra calories pile on excessive pounds resulting in overweight or obesity. While snacks can add to nutrient needs, often they fall into the empty calorie category.

About one-fourth of daily calories come from snacks. According to the Food Surveys Research Group of the Agricultural Research Service, snacking among adults increased during the past thirty years. On average, men consumed 586 calories and women 421 calories daily from snacks. Those who ate between meals four or more times daily took in almost one and one-half times more calories than those who had fewer snacks. However,  normal weight, overweight, and obese people did not differ in how often they had snacks.

Alcohol contributed sixteen percent of snack-calories for men. Sugar-sweetened beverages made up fourteen percent of calories for both men and women. The next highest group of snack-calories came from salty morsels such as pretzels, potato chips, and etc.  All these are empty calorie sources.

How can you make sure your between-meal nibbles add to a healthy diet? Choose foods that supply nutrients your body needs without providing excessive fuel. Good choices include low-fat yogurt, fruit, cereal, cheese, nuts, and other nutritious fares. Make sure your calories aren’t empty.



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October is National Apple Month. As fall days grow cooler, we anticipate abundant crisp, tart varieties of apples. The chart below lists some of the most common varieties, their use, and availability.





Yellow to red

Rich, full flavor

Great for salads or to eat raw

September — December

Golden Delicious

Golden yellow

Mellow, sweet all-purpose apple for
baking, salads, and to eat raw


Granny Smith

Evenly colored bright green

Tart, crisp, juicy and excellent for
cooking, salads, and to eat raw


Red Delicious

Bright to dark red

Mildly sweet, juicy

Favorite eating apple



Dark red

Spicy, slightly tart

Great for cider, cooking or eating raw

October – August

Does an apple a day keep the doctor away? Research indicates some truth to this statement. Apples and apple products promote weight loss, improve lung function, protect against certain types of cancers, protect arteries against harmful plaque build-up to prevent heart disease, and help those with type 2 diabetes and asthma. According to the US Apple Organization, apples may diminish the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and possibly decrease risks for developing it. Apples may improve immunity and gastrointestinal health due to its pectin content. Also, apples have few calories, about 80 per medium size, and are rich in fiber and other nutrients.

Apples keep well and are great to pack in lunches. Serve them plain or with peanut butter or cheese for a healthy snack.

For a simple, nutritious dessert, slice apples into thin strips, lengthwise, place in a
microwavable dish and cook only until slightly tender. Top with a small amount
of sugar or artificial sweetener and a couple teaspoons of butter or margarine.
Serve warm. Or pan-fry sliced apples in a small amount of margarine/butter until tender and lightly brown. Sprinkle with your favorite sweetener and cinnamon if desired. For special occasions, make apples a la mode by adding a small scoop of ice cream on top of the cooked apples. This treat is as tasty as apple pie with a lot fewer calories.

Apples have become the next superfruit. Learn more and find tasty recipes at one of the web sites below.



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It’s here! The pyramid is history. Look at the new icon for healthy eating, ‘My Plate,’ and make your plate look like the new symbol. Introduced today, June 2, 2011, several dietitians report the new symbol as reminiscent of the old Basic 4. For the younger generation, that model preceded the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the pyramid.

 ‘My Plate’ promises to be user-friendly. It’s simple, straight forward, and easily interpreted. Its website, www.choosemyplate.com, provides reliable links to other related sites and reiterates the message of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010. Those points incorporate the following:
  • Balancing Calories. Enjoy your food, but eat less. That means watching portion size.
  • Foods to Increase. Increase nutrient-dense foods by filling half your plate with vegetables and fruits and at least half of the grains (breads, cereal, pasta) from whole grain sources. A switch from whole milk to low-fat milk will reduce fat and calories.
  • Foods to Reduce. Reduce dietary salt by checking labels, especially of soups and frozen meals. Drink water instead of sugary drinks to avoid increased sugar and calories.

For more details, check out the website and try using the new icon to improve choices and portion sizes on your plate.

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Just when you thought you understood the food pyramid, a new symbol waits in the wings to take a bow on Thursday, June 2, 2011. The 2005 MyPyramid, revised from the original Food Guide Pyramid released in1992, spawned criticism from dietitians who found it confusing and difficult for consumers to understand. The new concept will focus on a familiar icon—a circular plate. Four brightly colored sections will symbolize food areas of fruits, vegetables, grains, and protein. A smaller circle next to the plate will represent the milk group.

The symbol culminates work of an overall plan from the 2010 White House Child Obesity Task Force designed to equip consumers with reliable information to make healthy food choices. Potentially, the new icon will give a quick and easy way to compare a real plate of food to the image without measuring for portion size or counting calories. The icon content will complement the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 released in January 2011. Many dietitians and others involved with food/nutrition issues will embrace the change.

Get ready for exciting transformations in nutrition education. It’s time to bury the ancient pyramid and welcome a useful guide to help everyone make wiser food choices. Check back here for details.    

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How do you know if you make wise food choices? The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides guidelines to assure healthy food selections. The USDA developed the first food guide of five groups in 1917 with emphasis on the newly discovered vitamins and minerals. That guide remained the standard to good health until the advent of the “Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) from the National Academy of Sciences in 1940.

The National Nutrition Guide with seven food groups evolved in1946 from a 1943 version. Confusion over multiple groups resulted in the “Basic Four” recommendations of 1956. The USDA and Health and Human Services (HHS) conjointly developed Dietary Guidelines in 1980 and continue to revise this publication every five years. They released the 2010 edition on January 31, 2011. (see Blog for 4/5/11)

 The 2010 guidelines suggest increasing the food and nutrients below to improve eating habits.

Fruits and vegetables.  Choose a variety of dark green, red, and orange fruits/vegetables because they:

  • Contribute nutrients (folate, manganese, potassium, dietary fiber, vitamins A, C, and K) often inadequate in the diet.  
  • Reduce risks of chronic diseases.  As little as 2 ½ cups of fruits/vegetables per day reduce risks of heart attack and stroke. Some fruits/vegetables may  protect against cancer.
  • Lower calories. Fruits/vegetables help maintain appropriate weight by replacing less nutrient-dense foods. Whole fruit instead of juice increases fiber and aids weight loss. If you consume juice, select undiluted, pure juice.

Grains. Choose at least half of grain products from whole-grain sources:

  • Whole grains provide iron, magnesium, selenium, B vitamins, and dietary fiber.
  • They may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, lower body weight, and lower the incidence of type 2 diabetes.
  • Check the first or second item listed on the label under ingredients to confirm that the food product is primarily whole grain.  


  • Adults need the equivalent of three cups of fat-free or low-fat milk per day.
  • Milk products contribute calcium and (fortified) vitamin D to the diet and a significant amount of protein.

Protein Foods

  • Includes meats, seafood, poultry, eggs, legumes, and nuts.
  • Protein foods provide B vitamins, vitamin E, iron, zinc, and magnesium.
  • Select seafood, legumes, and nuts to cut solid fat in the diet.

According to the 2010 guidelines, selection of these food groups promotes adequate nutrients, helps control caloric intake, and may reduce risks of chronic disease. To assure you make wise choices , include these food groups in your diet. 

Sources:  http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/DGAs2010-PolicyDocument.htm, Chapter 4.

 “Healthy Eating Politics,” http://www.healthy-eating-politics.com/usda-food-pyramid.html  (accessed 4/30/2011)

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