Category Archives: Healthy Eating

The New Nutrition Facts Label

Hi Friends!  Happy Monday.  I recently wrote an article that is soon to be featured in a professional newsletter, but I thought I should share some key highlights from the article with all of you.  The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released it’s final rules for it’s overhaul of the nutrition facts label and food manufacturers with more than $10 million in annual food sales are expected to transition to the new labeling format by July 26, 2018.  So, what does this mean for you, the consumer?  Detailed below are what I consider to be some of the most relevant and significant changes to the new food labels.  Let’s take a look:

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  1. Updated Design
    While the classic look of the label will remain, many updates have been made to ensure consumers have access to the information they need for making informed dietary decisions:

    • Increasing font size for “calories,” “servings per container,” and “serving size.”
    • Bolding the “number of calories,” “servings per container,” and “serving size.”
    • The footnote section on the label will better explain what the percent daily value actually means to you, the consumer
  2. Up-To-Date Nutrition Science
    The new label will feature the addition of “added sugars,” in grams and percent daily.  It’s no secret that added sugars are detrimental to our health.  Scientific data has demonstrated a positive association with weight gain and obesity in children and adults.  In addition, added sugars have been linked to a variety of other health conditions including heart disease.  Research has also demonstrated that it is difficult to meet nutrient needs while staying within calorie limits if more than 10% of total daily calories consumed come from added sugars.

    Another scientifically relevant update comes with the removal of “calories from fat.”  Current research demonstrates that the type of fat consumed is more significant than the amount consumed.

  3. Serving Size Makeover
    Serving sizes must now reflect amounts of food and beverage that people actually consume, not what they should be consuming.  Over the years, how much individuals eat and drink has drastically changed since the previous portion size requirements were published back in 1993.  Here’s an example of what I mean:  The reference amount for a scoop of ice cream was previously 1/2 cup of ice cream per serving.  The new nutrition label will reference a 2/3 cup serving of ice cream.  While I find it a major bummer that the new label will not reflect the modest portion sizes we should be eating, I think it’s important for consumers to have easy access to accurate information about their food, and this change in serving sizes will allow consumers to make realistic and informed decisions.
  4. New Labeling Requirements For Certain Package Sizes
    Package sizes that are between one and two servings (like a 20 ounce soda bottle) will now be labeled as one serving.  This is to reflect the idea that most consumers are not just drinking half of a 20 ounce soda bottle, they are most likely drinking the entire thing.  For products that are larger than a single serving but could be consumed in one sitting, manufacturers will be required to provide “dual column” labels to identify the amount of calories and nutrients on a “per serving” and “per package” basis.  An example of this new requirement would apply to a pint of ice cream.











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OAND Pre-Conference: Your State, Your Plate!

Hi Friends!  Happy Monday.  Posts were few and far between last week, but for good reason!  On Thursday I was up in Columbus for the day to participate in the Ohio Academy Of Nutrition and Dietetics (OAND) annual pre-conference event.  I have always wanted to attend the actual conference however, I had plans to travel to Missouri with family Friday and Saturday.  So, when I saw this pre-conference meeting was an option, I jumped right on it.

The day was planned and organized by the American Dairy Association Mideast, with help from the Ohio Pork Council, Ohio Poultry Association, and Ohio Cattleman’s Association in partnership with the Ohio State University Extension Center.  The goal for the meeting was for participants to get a firsthand look at how our foods are produced.  We got to chat with farmers and speak with food production experts to learn exactly how different foods end up on our plate.  Awesome!

First tour?  OSU’s dairy farm.  Before heading over to the actual farm, we had to put on some super attractive foot covers (pictured above) to prevent bringing contaminants on site.  Clearly they take great care of their cows.  I think for starters, it was incredibly surprising to find that right in the dead center of an urban campus, there is a fully functioning 167 acre dairy farm featuring over 100 Jersey cows.  While the main focus of this dairy farm is obviously to benefit the university (research, education, student employment), they do sell their milk to Smith’s Dairy and these profits help support the mission of the farm.

Now, let’s talk milk!  What I found most interesting about the dairy industry was that there is typically a turnaround of no more than 48 hours from milking the cow, to the milk appearing on supermarket shelves.  Crazy to think that milk from the grocery store is literally as fresh as it could be.  What I found to be slightly more shocking though, was how little farmers earn off each gallon of milk sold at the grocery:  only 65 cents to a dollar.  This amounts to around a $40,000 / year salary for a farmer with 100 cows.  I would have guessed they earn more considering how hard the farmers work.  It’s a 24/7 job!

Next stop was OSU’s Garden of Hope.  This garden is a unique set up designed specifically for local cancer patients.  The farm is used as a means for educating patients, survivors and family members on healthy dietary patters, specifically with cancer in mind.  These individuals also have the unique opportunity to come harvest their own produce from this ENORMOUS garden.  A lot of thought and consideration went into developing this project, including pesticide use.  They do not use pesticides or herbicides because most of the people picking the produce are immunosuppressed cancer patients.  In addition, this farm cannot be considered organic due to use of synthetic fertilizer.  Again, due minimizing risk for the cancer patients, the decision was made to prevent exposing them to the organic fertilizer, which typically is made with manure.

During lunch, we skyped a pork farmer, and he introduced us to his pigs, and explained the process of raising pigs.  Unfortunately, the skype connection was not the best and it was very difficult to hear what the farmer had to say.  However, I was very impressed with how clean the facility was and how well managed it appeared.

After lunch, we were off to the OSU Beef Facility.  Here we got to speak with the farmers and student interns who manage and maintain the cattle.  Fun fact:  did you know there is a beef farm in every Ohio county?  What was also interesting to learn was that all the cattle are artificially inseminated in order to synchronize the breeding.  This allows for all cows to be on a similar schedule, making animal management much less cumbersome.  While this farm functions just like any other beef facility might, the primary purpose here is for research and education.  Any beef left over is sold at a university meat market at a discount price (aka perfect for struggling college students!).

After the long day of farm tours, it was time to head home to Cincinnati.  Such an interesting way to spend a day–while I don’t do any farming for my work, I deal with individuals who are constantly asking questions about food and where it comes from.  This meeting provided me with new facts and perspective on what it takes to get food from farm to plate.


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My Peach Dish Experience

Hi friends.  Happy Tuesday.  Hope you all survived Monday.  I did.  Barely.  Thankfully, some Monday hot yoga and a long, unintentional nap after dinner seemed to be a good cure.  My stomach has been a little twisty with my marathon being Saturday so I’m trying to keep my head clear.  I’ve never been super in to yoga or meditation so I’m all ears for advice on how to fight this anxiety!

This month, I decided to give Peach Dish a try!  Before I go any further with this post, I want to make clear that this is not sponsored and Peach Dish does not know I’m writing this.  These opinions here are 100% my own with regards to this service.  Phew.  Glad we got that out of the way.  For those who are unfamiliar, Peach Dish is a meal service much like Blue Apron or Hello Fresh where you receive a weekly box of ingredients with recipe cards and detailed instructions on how to prepare each dish.  What stood out to me about Peach Dish was that they have an a la carte option, meaning I didn’t have to subscribe and be forced to deal with that auto renew nonsense the other services seem to have. I was able to try out one box, with two meals, no committing required.  Perfect.

I started out by going online and picking two of the available recipes from their weekly menu to be included in my box.  I went for the snow pea, walnut and chicken salad, and for my second dish, I picked the kale, chicken and grits dish.  With Peach Dish being known for their healthier, fresher take on southern cuisine, I knew trying the grits was essentially mandatory.

So last Thursday was my birthday, and I came home to a pretty stellar gift on my doorstep.

Upon opening it, I discovered everything I needed was nicely packaged in the box.  And it was still cold.  Something I was worried about knowing I get home on the later side most nights.

 Fun surprise in the box, in addition to the ingredients and recipes, Peach Dish provides you with two clementines and 2 squares of dark chocolate.  Yes please!!

Preparing the recipes could not have been easier.  They didn’t take longer than 40 minutes to make, which is key when it comes to week night meals.

 I found the portions to be appropriately sized, which was refreshing, but at the same time I was hoping for leftovers.  I had some leftovers of the snow pea salad, but none of the chicken and grits.  However, both recipes were delicious.  The instructions were clear and easy to follow and for the most part, the ingredients stayed incredibly fresh.  Especially the ingredients for the chicken and grits dish which I didn’t get around to cooking until Tuesday.

Now you’re probably wondering, will you subscribe?  The answer there is no.  While I enjoyed my meals, I found that the menu selection with Peach Dish lacked variety.  I also was not a fan at the price tag on Peach Dish.  Their meals average $12.50 per plate when Blue Apron averages $10 per plate.  While I liked the no risk, a la carte option, this service would not be affordable long term for me.  Regardless, I loved the food and the recipes I prepared, and am so happy that Peach Dish has inspired a new sense of creativity for me in the kitchen.  I would definitely recommend a recipe service to anyone on a tight schedule looking for inspiration in their weeknight dinners.

Have you tried any of these meal services?  Which is your favorite?  Have you found new inspiration in the kitchen as a result?

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Why It’s Okay To Enjoy Our Favorite Foods

A similar type of conversation I’ve had multiple times with a girl in my running group sparked a thought in my head.  The first time we had this type of interaction it went something like this:

All chatting at a post-run brunch…
Girl- “You guys, you would not believe who I saw at Graeter’s Monday night… Our group nutritionist!  She was there eating a giant scoop of ice cream!”
Me- “You know that was me… right?  I’m the group dietitian.”
Girl- “WOAH What?! ” *looks at me and realizes it* “What are you doing eating at Graeter’s?!”

This past Saturday, a bunch of us walked over to the nearby donut shop for some post-run donuts and she had the exact same type of reaction.  She then said something that really got my gears turning.  It was something like this:  “I always feel better about myself and my diet when I see you at places enjoying these unhealthy indulgent foods.”  Now of course none of these conversations I’m rehashing here are quoted verbatim, but I think you get the idea.  The concept of the nutrition expert enjoying what many would consider unhealthy food was remarkable to this individual, and to numerous other individuals I encounter on a daily basis.  Believe it or not, this is not a unique interaction in my life, and I’m certain other RD’s out there will agree.  Blogs, social media, and mainstream news sources often leave the impression that the only way to be “healthy” is to enjoy green juices, eat organic and only enjoy food that came from the ground.  This is so not the case.  Healthy eating extends far beyond the individual dietary choices we make day to day, and in my opinion relates more to the mindset we take when approaching food.

Believe it or not, it is OKAY to enjoy our favorite foods.  If you haven’t figured it out by now, I really like donuts.  And if you haven’t already realized it, I treat myself to a donut every now and again (and I make a point to share these moments on social media).  Notice how I said treat myself.  Donuts are not a regular dietary staple for me.  Quite frankly, the magic of them would be ruined if they were.  But, when I start to develop cravings for specific foods, I allow myself to take care of those cravings.  I don’t “shove them in a box” and forget about them.  I indulge in a reasonable sized portion and boom, craving satisfied.

There is plenty of research out there that says we are more likely to over indulge the longer we deprive ourselves.  I used to be a living, breathing example of this.  I used to have a goldfish problem.  I’d purchase a bag and devour multiple portions in a single sitting.  So, I reached a point where I was like, enough is enough.  I banned goldfish from my pantry and figured I’d soon forget about them.  Eventually, I became fixated on the crackers and decided to purchase a bag after months of depriving myself of the snack, trying to ignore my craving.  This resulted poorly as I ended up binge eating multiple servings of goldfish in a short period of time.  While it took practice to change this routine behavior I had previously established–one that resulted in a vicious cycle of depriving and binge eating–it was well worth the effort it took to learn the true meaning of balance and moderation.  I now buy my goldfish in the big bulk carton but rarely touch the things.  When I’m craving something salty, crunchy and cheesy, I reach for a handful.  That does the trick; I move on with my life.  I’m not saying this behavior change happened overnight, because it didn’t.  I’m not saying it was easy either.  But allowing a shift in my frame of mind was the first step.  It’s okay to enjoy our favorite foods.  Actually, I encourage it.

I want to leave you with a nugget of wisdom to ponder this weekend when you will likely be enjoying time with friends, family and good eats.  When you eat something you crave, which bite is the best?  Is it the first or the 15th?  I bet all of you said first.  Be mindful as you indulge and start to shift the way you think.  Food should be enjoyed and not feared.

Going back to the initial conversation that got me thinking about this idea in the first place, I want to send a message to all the individuals out there who are seemingly shocked by my eating patterns.  “She’s a dietitian, she should know better than to eat donuts.”  “Can you believe it, the dietitian is enjoying a burger, beer and fries?”  Remember one thing, dietitians are humans too.  Just because we have all the knowledge and tools with regards to nutrition does not mean we are perfect.  I have cravings just like the rest of you and my cardinal rule of eating applies to everyone.  If I leave you with any thoughts for the weekend, I hope it’s this:  It’s OKAY to enjoy our favorite foods.


 Creativity With Leftovers + Healthy Packed Breakfast

Hi guys, another week flew by, and this one felt crazy fast!  Last night, I celebrated my birthday with some of my running buddies at our weekly social run.  Each week, we meet at a local craft brewery, run 6 miles, and then enjoy some good beer and conversation.  Couldn’t have picked a better way to spend my birthday.  It was a beautiful night and stretching my legs after a long day at the office felt incredible.  Plus, the post run beer hit the spot.  Normally, I don’t stick around for food, but since it was my birthday, I decided we should all treat ourselves to some Tom + Chee too.  We ran before indulging, so balance, right? 🙂  Pictured below is my super fancy grilled cheese that had everything on it plus the donut bites we all shared.  Perfect birthday treats!

I wanted to talk to you all about leftovers today because I spent almost the entire week enjoying some of mine.  I think when you hear the word “leftovers,” the common reaction these days is typically negative.  I’ve had patients tell me they find leftovers boring and uninteresting.  Well, I’m here to tell you that leftovers can easily be repurposed into new meals to keep up the excitement.  Last weekend, I enjoyed a really delicious and indulgent steak dinner out with my parents.  There were tons of leftovers.  Like 3 boxes worth of leftovers.

I had things like steak, mac & cheese, potatoes, roasted carrots and a fries left.  Now you are probably thinking, sure those leftovers sound great, but how do you repurpose them in a satisfying and healthy way?  Let me share some examples with you.  That steak dinner was heavy and there was no reason for me to eat all these leftovers in one sitting. So, Sunday, I made a salad with the leftover glazed carrots and half of the steak + some spinach and cabbage I had on hand.  I dressed it with some red wine vinegar and olive oil.  It hit the spot.  Such a filling and delicious dinner and it reminded me nothing of Saturday nights meal.  Monday, I grilled up some chicken breast I had on hand and enjoyed it with the leftover mac & cheese plus some steamed spinach and broccoli.  Tuesday, I used the leftover mashed potatoes and created my own personal potato bowl.  I mixed in the leftover steak, the rest of my steamed spinach and broccoli from Monday, and some diced grape tomatoes.  At that point, the only thing I had left were the fries.  I decided to crisp those up Wednesday evening and enjoy them as a fun treat with the rest of my grilled chicken.  I was running low on veggies so I had a nice big bowl of berries on the side.  All these meals hit the spot, and none of them were the same.  I saved time, not to mention money on food for the week because I made certain to roll these leftovers from day to day.  Instead of tossing them because I didn’t need another indulgent meal, I used creativity to turn these leftovers into new and exciting healthy dinners throughout the week.  See, leftovers don’t have to be boring! 🙂

Yesterday, I was running late to work and did not have time to eat before I hit the road.  That doesn’t mean I had an excuse to skip breakfast.  I grabbed a quick, packable breakfast from my fridge and made certain to enjoy while I responded to emails at work.  It’s so simple to grab a container of Greek yogurt (I like the full fat variety) and some fruit / nuts throw in a bag and hit the road.  I enjoyed my yogurt with some granola I had on had in single serving packets and some berries from my fridge.  This meal required almost no effort to pack, but nutritionally, it provided me with everything I needed to jumpstart my day.  Protein from the yogurt, fiber from the berries, and some healthy carbs and fats from the granola.  It hit the spot, and held me over until lunch.  Breakfast does not have to be the drive-thru when you are crunched for time!

In other news, guys, I decided to try out Peach Dish.  The idea of grocery shopping and planning meals has been really unappealing to me lately and I’ve been in kind of a creativity rut when it comes to eating.  I’ve been having the same meals over and over again and need some new inspiration.  Peach Dish sends you everything you need to make the recipes you pick, so there’s no food waste either.  I paid for this on my own dime and will share my unsolicited thoughts on the service after I’ve eaten my way through the meals next week.

The rest of my Friday involves seeing a few more patients before heading home to a healthy dinner and a good nights sleep before my final, double digit run before the Kentucky Derby Marathon on April 30th.

Who else is doing a long run tomorrow?

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