Health, Wellness

National Nutrition Month 2021

March is here! It has been deemed National Nutrition Month since 1980. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics uses this month to promote nutrition on a national level, as well as the value of a registered dietitian in your personal health journey. This year’s theme is “Personalize Your Plate.” This is a great and timely theme. At a time when there is a lot of “nutrition noise” out there, I am constantly trying to reinforce this idea of personalized nutrition. We are all different and have different needs. It is very difficult to generalize nutrition advice which is why it is also important to consult with a registered dietitian when making these decisions.

This year, the month has been divided into 4 weeks of mini-themes. This first week is : Eat a variety of Nutritious Foods Every Day. I cannot emphasize this enough! Healthy food is important but incorporating a larger variety of foods into your diet helps bring in a diverse group of nutrients to meet your body’s needs. Many times when we try to make lifestyle changes, and incorporate more of what we think is healthy, we end up eating the same foods over and over again. This may lead to food fatigue and ultimately, abandoning ship! By incorporating variety, we can avoid this, and in reality end up with more nutrients (vitamins and minerals in particular) in our diet.

Some great ways to increase variety into your diet: Choose a new recipe every week that has ingredients you are not accustomed to, add extra plants to meals you make regularly to give them a new spin, and choose an ingredient that you have never tried and build a recipe around it.

I have so many ways to help you build up that variety, enjoy your food, and feel awesome! I always use personalized nutrition and build on my understanding of your needs when developing goals and plans with you.

I am excited to bring everyone lots of great content this month in celebration. I hope you enjoy what you read and maybe try a few new things along the way.



Fiber for Your Health

Are you getting enough fiber?  How much is enough?  What foods contain fiber?

First of all, why do you need fiber?  Fiber can help reduce the risk of developing various diseases such as colon cancer, diabetes, constipation, obesity, and heart disease.  It can help lower cholesterol, lower blood sugar levels, and keep the GI system healthy.   It also helps you feel full longer. Ok, great- that all sounds good, but how much do I need to eat each day?  The recommendation is 21-25g per day for women and 30-38g per day for men from food, not supplements. Americans generally eat about 15g, so there is clearly room for improvement.

Let’s talk food sources.  It is best to get fiber from whole foods, not processed foods.  High fiber foods include vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.

Fiber 25-30g per day (1)



What foods give me the most bang for my buck? Beans are very high in fiber per serving.  However, if you are not used to eating beans in large amounts, take it slowly.  Gradually work yourself up to a full serving so that you do not experience bloating and gas.  Also note that when increasing dietary fiber, be sure to also increase your water intake. This will decrease gassiness and help move the fiber throughout the digestive tract.


High Fiber Foods


A good way to see if you are consuming enough fiber is by logging your foods for a few days, taking note of portion sizes and fiber intake.  You can do this by hand and calculate yourself, or use one of the many free online apps.  The USDA has one called super tracker that is user-friendly. If you are low in fiber, remember to increase slowly and also drink more fluids.   Check back later this week for a high-fiber soup recipe, just in time for fall!



Family Feeding, Health, Meal Plans

Family Style Eating with Food Allergies, part 1

I wanted to write a little about being a parent of food allergic kids.  The challenges are real and daily.  Our view of food changes from being something life-giving to something that can take a life away.  We can become overwhelmed in worry- so many what-ifs.  Once you begin feeling more in control and understand the allergy and all the precautions necessary, you start to feel more capable.  You still worry but you know that you have this figured out.  But sometimes, by trying to be so safe, we restrict our children’s meals too much and the chance for nutrient deficiency arises. As a dietitian, I am always stressing family style eating and not catering to certain family members by making them special meals.  I truly, truly believe in this approach.  I have, however, struggled with it on a personal level with my own children.  It is quite difficult to make a meal that everyone can eat here because of the variety of food allergies.  No two kids have the same allergies in our house.  Don’t get me wrong, there are meals that are totally allergy free for us but we are definitely limited.  So how do I walk that fine line between catering and providing wholesome meals for everyone?

I think two practices really help us- meal planning and family style meals.  When I spend the time to plan out our meals in advance, I can be strategic.  I can look at the week as a whole and spread out various proteins and side dishes.  This prevents us from eating the same meals over and over as well.  After doing this for years, I really know which meals will have leftovers.  I used to plan out seven new meals a week.  I quickly learned that a lot of food waste happens that way.  I plan for at least two nights of leftovers a week.

By serving our meals family-style, I am able to have various food choices on the table.  If one of the children is allergic to a dish being offered, she can choose something else.  Now I understand this practice does not work for all families.  Depending on the age of the child and the severity of the allergy, you may not even allow the food allergen in your home at all.  We are able to keep some of the foods in the home, not all though.

So what is catering and why is it a bad thing?  Catering is making a specific food or foods for a family member because you know they will eat it.  It allows them to eat something different than the rest of the family.  This happens a lot in families, not just families with food allergies.  Kids put up a fight about the dinner being served and the parent gives in and serves them their own meal.  Over time, children learn to demand foods and resist trying new ones.  Food allergy families can fall into this trap more easily because of the limited diet.  While it can prove to be even more difficult for these families to provide wholesome meals that everyone can enjoy, it is important to do so.  People with food allergies are already at risk for consuming a diet is nutritionally inadequate.  By not offering a variety of safe foods, the risk becomes greater.

As a food allergy parent myself, I challenge you to try new meals with your family.  It may take time to see acceptance, but that is ok.  Keep offering new, healthful, and safe foods.  Not that there is anything wrong with serving family favorites as well.  Adding variety, even slowly, will increase the nutrient consumption and you will see new meals become favorites.

Stay tuned for my next post which will delve more into how to serve family-style dinners for food allergy families.




Happy Independence Day, USA!

From my family to yours, Happy 4th of July!  May your celebrations be safe, and shared with the ones you love.  God Bless America.

Here are a few reminders to keep you healthy over the weekend:

  1. Drink water!  Being outside for long periods of time and drinking alcohol can dehydrate.
  2. Fill at least half of your plate with veggies.
  3. If there are lots of delicious looking options, take small portions of several so you can sample more without overdoing it.
  4. If you feel full, stop eating.  It never feels good to overeat.
  5. Don’t eat in front of the food table.  Make a plate and sit down to eat.  This will keep you from grazing all day.
  6. If you do eat or drink too much, be sure to get in lots of water and fresh fruits and veggies the next day to get you feeling better.
  7. If you are headed to a party, offer to bring a veggie or fruit tray, that way you know there will be a healthy option.

Have fun!