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Small Business: Pay it Forward

As a writer and nutrition communications consultant who works remotely, it’s sometimes difficult to explain what I do. I work virtually via email, telephone, and web platforms. There’s lots of email. I often have conference calls or use WebEx to attend meetings each week. The big bonus is a flexible schedule which can have highs and lows (killer deadlines and massive amounts of research and content when writing a book, teleconferences, speaking engagements or leadership during “conference months” but also down times of no books, and less client assignments). At times, I’ve juggled many simultaneous “jobs” (in long term care, taught nutrition courses, wrote my newspaper column, worked with clients online, wrote books – and my son used to also include “mom” of course). In addition, I don’t think a year has gone by since 1998 that I haven’t served in multiple ways as either a community or professional volunteer for either my state, local district, or national nutrition organizations. (I’m currently Chair-Elect of the Nutrition Entrepreneur Dietetic Practice Group of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.)


Since I don’t have one job that I “go to” every day from 9-5, it’s easy for folks to think I really don’t do anything. For sole proprietors and independent consultants, some of the work that needs to be done, is unpaid. For instance, I get paid to write and speak, but I don’t get paid to manage my own blog (occasionally I may, and if so I’ll clearly note that it’s a sponsored post). This unpaid work is rewarded with the flexibility. Many small business owners can create their own schedule, which means it’s easy to arrange time off, fit exercise in during the morning, but also means you may work late some nights, or sometimes on Saturdays or Sunday nights, or whatever hour of the day or night necessary.  I’m not paid to maintain all of my social media platforms, but effectively managing them is essential to my communications business (in the communications world, social media is not just the place where people show off vacation photos, vet about politics, or the pizza they ate last night). This time-consuming work can sometimes be fluffed off by people as unimportant or unnecessary.  For instance, one time when I was venting about my writing schedule to a friend, with good intentions, she tried to encourage me to calm down by saying, “It’s just a blog.”

Yeah, but it’s what I do.

As a writer and communicator, I need a space to write. My blog is the place where I can share my views on a variety of topics, keep consumers up to date about hot food science and nutrition topics, and exercise my writing skills. Sole proprietors and small business owners also are responsible for a lot of things that are taken for granted in a larger office setting. These tasks may include returning their own phone calls, maintaining accounting, sending invoices, and basically performing all aspects of office management.

Recently my friend and colleague Amber Pankonin of Stirlist (aka @RDAmber) posted some thoughts on her Facebook page about small business owners that I thought were important to share. I caught up with her and asked her a few more questions about supporting entrepreneurs in the digital space. She offers some great ways that you can support your friends who are digital entrepreneurs (bloggers or startup founders) that focus in the digital space, while you are using Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn yourself:

Q: What questions would you recommend someone ask a small business owner or consultant if they want to understand what they do?

A: I think some starting questions might include…

What problems are you trying to solve for your clients?

What type of services do you offer?

How do people find you? Or…How do you advertise your services?

What does a typical day look like for you?

What is unique about your business?

What has been your proudest moment this year as a business owner?

Q: As a communicator, we often have to report analytics back to clients, so our social media engagement does matter. What can my friends using Facebook, Instagram or Twitter help with?

A: Share our content!

Liking, commenting, and sharing social media posts are always appreciated! Whether it’s a blog link, video, recipe, or branded content that we’ve written, every share helps. Not only does it help the content creator, but it also helps populate your feed with content for your audience.

Q: What’s the greatest gift someone can give to a fellow entrepreneur?

A: Connections.

A few years ago I attended a networking event where the speaker said, “Each one of you in this room knows somebody that could help somebody else.” I might not be able invest in your business or write code, but I might be able introduce you to somebody that might be able to help you. I know I wouldn’t be able to do what I do today without the help and encouragement from others who have made introductions for me. Pay it forward!

Q: What can social media friends/connections do today to share your work? (articles, books, services, etc)

A: Did I mention the Share button?

When you share a link or social media post, a short comment might make it more personal and encourage your audience to check it out. For example, if I was sharing a blog Rosanne wrote, I might say, “Here’s a blog from my fellow dietitian and DASH diet expert, Rosanne Rust. I love her book!” Give your audience a reason to open the link and engage with the content your sharing.

Pay it forward…I love that sentiment. It always pays. Happy holidays and please share!

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Eating Well Through the Holiday Season

I’m sure you’ve read those “how to survive the holidays without weight gain” tips. Hey, I’ve written some of them. If you have a busy work and social calendar, it can be a real challenge to stay on track November through January. Weight maintenance sounds boring, but it’s a good lifestyle strategy, and focusing on good eating habits on your “off” days really helps (“off”, meaning regular work days, and days/nights that you don’t have a holiday gathering to attend).  xmascandle

There is so much emotion that revolves around what to eat or not to eat, that many have lost sight of how to eat, and how much to eat. Your body is actually very good at telling you what it needs and when. During any time of the year, eating should be enjoyable, and should nurture and support a healthy mind and body.

Rather than fuss about every little morsel, think about why you’re eating (the answer should mostly be “because I’m hungry and need nourished”). Consider these ten simple Do’s and Don’ts:

  1. Do eat when you’re hungry. Plan healthy meals and snack options. Add more fruits or vegetables daily. I push this because they are loaded with vitamins and fiber, and almost everyone needs more than they consume. And of course, part of a DASH Diet plan.
  2. Do eat what you are craving. If you ignore all of your cravings, you are either going to be very cranky, or you will end up binging on what you ignore, or some other unwanted, high calorie food.
  3. Do consider normal, modest portions. We do eat too much – we are served too much in restaurants, our bowls and plates are too large at home, and portions from everything from buns, to muffins, to bagels, to coffee cups, are larger than they used to be, 25 years ago. Toast half a bagel, eat half a sub, order only a “tall” latte, and take half of your lunch home in a to-go box.
  4. Do plan to exercise more often. That’s right, more. Even if in short bouts of 15-20 minutes, try to have some sort of exercise scheduled into your daily routine. Mark it on your calendar. Schedule it. Don’t skip. Do less rather than nothing.
  5. Do have a shopping list, and go grocery shopping so you have healthy foods at home to snack on and prepare. Bake something special from scratch, instead of picking up bakery items. The extra effort involved may help you avoid overdoing it with sweet treats.
  6. Don’t eat just because it’s noon, or 6pm or whatever. It’s normal to be more, or less, hungry on some days. Use your body’s cues; you don’t always have to be on the same schedule, just try not to go too long between meals or get over-hungry.
  7. Don’t weigh yourself more than twice a week. That is one of the most self-sabotaging things you can do. You aren’t going to gain or lose fat overnight.
  8. Don’t feel guilty about eating anything. Even if you just downed a Ho-Ho®, don’t worry about it. It happened, move on. If you had a crazy craving, and you indulged, it’s okay. Just plan to eat healthier foods at the next meal. 
  9. Do hydrate – things get busy this time of year, so don’t forget to hit the water fountain or pour a glass of water through the day.
  10. If you need some support, try working a dietitian, and if think you have compulsive or disordered eating issues, seek the help of your health care team.

Roll into the holiday season happy, healthy, and guilt-free.

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Finding a New Holiday Groove: Serve It Up on a Pretty Plate

Guest Blog by Kimberly Bennett, EMU Dietetic Student

Want to find a new holiday groove this year? And stick with it? Let’s talk about where to turn when you need some comfort and you think only that big magic plate of cookies will help!

Comfort food. We hear about it all the time. It’s defined usually as high carbohydrate, high fat, high sugar, or all of the above type of food.  All of which are present and accounted for in our favorite holiday treats. 

A Harris poll conducted this past year of 2,522 adults found that a lot of us turn to food when having a bad day or feeling depressed1 

And let’s count stressed too! The favorites are pizza, chocolate, ice cream, mac and cheese and chips. Looks like part of the menu for most holiday parties.

This time of year, tempting treats are everywhere, and when a person is stressed and crazy busy, those tempting treats end up turning into quick, tasty meals! Let’s stop and plan good nutrition, and plan to put it on a beautiful plate! 

A pretty plate makes even dark toast taste wonderful.

A pretty plate makes even dark toast taste wonderful.

Try this experiment, I guarantee you it will bring down your stress level and help you start a new mindful eating habit.

  • While you are out shopping at one of those big home stores or even a second-hand store, pick up a china plate and maybe a new china tea cup, too. It doesn’t matter it if matches; it doesn’t matter if your son puts it in the dish washer or it accidentally gets broken. It isn’t your grandma’s china. This is your new dainty, elegant platform to hold the most amazing and nourishing snack or meal.     
  • When the next stressful moment hits and you want to grab a handful of sparkling sugar cookies, stop – plan the plate and put some water on to boil!
  • For a quick snack, try a protein (cheese, nuts, slice of leftover turkey) and a piece of fruit, cut and arranged on the plate with a warm cup of rooibos red tea.
  • If it’s something more you want, plan the plate in a “little meal” style.  Add some roasted veggies (Roast some veggies on Sunday and keep them in the frig, most  taste great, even cold) and a few whole wheat crackers to the snack idea above for a quick, well balanced meal. Or simply scramble two eggs, add some feta a spinach with a side of whole grain toast.
  • Everything that you place on the fine porcelain plate will taste better than ever, and your soul will slow down to enjoy all the goodness. [Oh, and don’t forget to add a holiday soundtrack to your peaceful moment!  Peaceful Holidays on Pandora is my favorite!]
  1. Feeling Bad or Good? Comfort Food Calls. Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter. 2016;34:2.
TIP – Buy a few more plates or cups to give as treat-filled presents with a little note on how to add the new mindful comfort food eating habit!

TIP – Buy a few more plates or cups to give as treat-filled presents with a little note on how to add the new mindful comfort food eating habit!

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Broccoli and Democracy

Photo courtesy of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

    Photo courtesy of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

I dreaded waking up today to see the backlash of the Election results. I knew that either way, the outcome would either encourage gloating or astonishment. In light of the outcome – President-Elect Donald Trump – the fear and concerns that I read on social media has me thinking. I know that readers of Chew the Facts are usually looking for food or nutrition information, but I often also write about food politics, so since politics and the health of our nation are the topics of the day, I’m filing this under Miscellaneous and Wellness.

As I read concerned citizens’ posts, I sense fear. Fear of having their rights taken away, or the astonishment about the perception that so many people in the country “hate [insert a number terms, genders, races, etc]”. It made me think about how the idea of moderation works in both politics and healthy eating – how what and how we eat, how we feed our children (with the hope of them accepting new foods through their lifetime) and how we accept change.


In my line of work, dietitians have used the term moderation in eating for years and years. Lately, some have suggested that “moderation just doesn’t work” when it comes to diet. Well, I’m still going to fight for moderation, because I do think it can work for a lot of people. I’ve had clients eyes light up when I’ve given them permission to eat fried chicken (something they assumed was extreme or bad) as long as they worked to add more vegetables and fruit to their diet.

Extremes usually don’t work. They aren’t sustainable. We may very well have been at a point of extremism in our country, that just isn’t tolerable any longer. Nothing can happen when there is no moderation. When it comes to a healthy diet, you can have a scoop of ice cream, and eat your broccoli. Which brings me to my next point.


Imagine if you never offered a child broccoli. They never saw it. No exposure at all. Then all of the sudden, let’s say at age 20, some broccoli ends up on their plate. How do they accept it? It would look weird. And let’s face it, it smells bad. Would a 20 year old accept this green vegetable, having never been exposed to it before? No, they would be afraid. This fear would not stem from the reality of broccoli (it’s good for them), it would stem from the fact that they had never been exposed to it before.

Tolerance, whether of people who are different than you, or of a new food, takes exposure. It is perfectly normal to fear the unknown. We live in a big country. People living on a farm in Indiana are not necessarily in touch with the people who live in Boston, but we all live in the same country. People in New England eat oysters, people in the Midwest eat cactus.

Whenever possible, it’s a great idea to drive, get on a bus, or a plane, and check out a completely different state or city to see how different the culture and landscape is. Farms, cities, mountains. It’s beautiful. And it requires all kinds of different people to keep it together. If you can’t make a trip, use your public library to learn more about different states in our union. Just like it takes all kinds of foods to balance out your diet. I believe in moderation, and respect for others’ political and food preferences. People like meeting in the middle where they can have their cake, after they eat a balanced meal.

Back to the broccoli. It’s important to offer your toddler broccoli. Don’t force it on him, just offer it. After you offer several times, he’ll get comfortable with it, will probably try it, and may like it, and it’s good for him.

Emotion and Compromise

So. Much. Emotion. The extreme divide between our nation’s two parties breeds fear. We see this type of fear also working in the media’s discussion of our food supply. Sugar, GMOs, processed foods – all get bashed without regard to the actual facts. Fear is a strong emotion. When a new President takes office, people fear their human rights will be immediately taken away.  It doesn’t work that way. Luckily we still do have laws and a constitution. Things don’t change without a process.

Just as you can’t overhaul your diet overnight, you can’t overhaul Washington DC. in a day. Change takes effort, and time. It takes goal setting, and diligence. It takes compromise.

If you are going to change your eating or exercise routine, you can’t just say it, you have to do it. You have to get buy-in from yourself, and perhaps your family or friends. You have to try new foods and new routines.

Our country can handle four years of any president just as your body can handle a little junk food. Half the country is very disappointed, but we can meet in the middle and have cupcakes. After we eat our broccoli.


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A Pre-Holiday Food and Exercise Groove

My goal as I coach you toward better eating and exercise habits is to help you make changes that aren’t just healthy, but are doable. My goal isn’t to “fix” your body, but to help you feel and be your best. Thin is not always healthy, and my philosophy has always been to coach people toward better health – healthy blood pressure, blood sugars and lipids – not perfectly chiseled bodies. 


A walk in nature is good for the body and mind. Find activities that you enjoy.

A healthy weight (which is defined as a BMI of 24 or lower) does have an impact on these factors, but in some cases, your doctor or dietitian may evaluate weight differently and come up with what I call a “reasonable weight”. For the person who hasn’t weighed less than 230 pounds for the past fifteen or twenty years, that BMI may not be reasonable and another goal can be set.

3 Simple Pre-Holiday Tips to Get Your Groove On

We all know how to lose weight – create a calorie deficit and exercise more. This means eating less, moving more, and choosing smaller portions and foods that are lower in calories. It’s always easier said than done, but it’s much easier if you set small goals. Follow these three simple tips:

  1. EAT SMALLER PORTIONS. It’s possible to include a variety of foods (even occasional junk or sweets) and still maintain health, but portions and calories must match your body’s metabolism (based on your age and activity level). Have the pasta, just cut the portion in half; enjoy the dessert, but split it; bake the cookies using a teaspoon instead of a tablespoon; modify recipes using low fat dairy products; add less fat to reduce calories in cooking; have a 140-calorie English muffin instead of a 240 calorie bagel.
  2. ENJOY WHAT YOU EAT. You should be enjoying your food. It’s not healthy to overeat excessively, but it’s also not healthy to deprive yourself of favorite foods. Instead of focusing on what to “cut out”, focus on what to “put in” to your diet – fruits, vegetables and grains that are loaded with fiber and important nutrients.
  3. MOVE MORE OFTEN Moving your body more is key for weight control and wellness, but you don’t want to fall into an excessive or compulsive exercise trap. As this study showed, it doesn’t have to be intense to benefit health. It does have to happen though.

Try it. As the holiday season approaches, think simple. The beautiful thing about setting a few simple goals, is that you can actually achieve something. Write up a “Simple Goal List” this week. You can also consider keeping notes about your progress. Here are some examples:

  • Take three 10-minute walks (for instance – one at 7am, one at noon, one at 6pm). Not only will this put your body in motion three times a day, it will help clear your mind as well.
  • Add a protein source to breakfast: 1 egg, 1/2 cup cottage cheese or ricotta, 8 ounces milk
  • Make yourself move more in daily activities: Take the stairs at work. Vacuum the house 3 times a week instead of just one. Sweep or shovel the sidewalk by hand instead of using power tools.
  • Make a soothing cup of tea with honey in the evening in lieu of a sweet snack.

Shift your focus from the scale or “immediate results”, and instead focus on what you checked off your “simple goal list”. A healthy lifestyle is a long journey, not an overnight success. Let me know how it goes!

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Easy Overnight French Toast

There is so much news out there about how you’re supposed to eat right? It’s mind boggling at times. You don’t have to be a perfect eater to be a healthy eater. Simply strive to choose a variety of foods, eat your fruits and veggies, and take time to make eating a social, nurturing activity. If you have children, eating together as a family is always a good idea – not just for the nutrition, but also for the important bonding that can occur at the table.

For instance, putting together a quick Sunday brunch can help create some special family time on the weekend. It doesn’t have to be complicated – it can be easy! Like this French Toast recipe. All you have to do is assemble it the night before, then bake it on Saturday or Sunday morning for your weekend brunch. Add some sliced fresh fruit – whatever is handy and in season (I enjoy apple and pear slices now, along with peeled clementines or oranges), a pitcher of milk, a carafe of coffee or pot of tea – and BOOM! You have a balanced family brunch.

Overnight French Toast


Makes 9 servings in an 8×8 inch pan (or 15 servings in a 9×13 inch pan). The beauty of this type of recipe, is that it’s not precision cooking. You can add more eggs, more cinnamon, use different sized pans – it’s all good! If your bread is larger (such as a bolle), cut slices in half. The heartier the bread the better. Use a good quality bread (not packaged sliced bread) for this recipe.


5 eggs (use 8 for 11×13 pan)

4 ounces low fat milk (6 ounces)

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (3/4 teaspoon cinnamon)

1/2 teaspoon sugar (3/4 teaspoon)

1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (1/2 teaspoon)

9 slices whole grain bread, sliced about 1/2 inch thick (11-14 slices)

Use a good hearty bread. You can also use a pumpkin seed bread, or a whole grain bread with raisins.


  1. Grease a glass baking dish with butter, or vegetable oil spray
  2. Mix eggs, milk, spice, sugar, and vanilla extract. Beat well.
  3. Place bread slices into baking dish, covering bottom.
  4. Pour egg mixture over bread, coating it all (add more milk if needed. You can also sprinkle with nutmeg).
  5. Refrigerate overnight.
  6. The following morning – Bake in a 350 degree oven, for 30 minutes or until golden brown.
  7. Cut into squares. Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired, or serve with maple syrup.

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We Went, Saw, Tasted, Heard: Now We Decide


This year, 10,400 registered dietitians, registered diet technicians and students (along with certified personal trainers, food scientists, and others), went to Boston to participate in the annual conference called FNCE® (food, nutrition conference and expo). I didn’t get much sleep there, but had a blast. Opening session was delivered by the current president, Lucille Beseler (aka the self-proclaimed “Prez Lucille”). Following her was entrepreneur Barbara Corcoran, from the popular TV show Shark Tank, who brought laughs and told us her rags to riches story, including moments that led to her success. Attending this opening afternoon session is always an inspirational way to get ready to begin learning the next day.

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m sharing some highlights and food trends. What always fascinates me is how food culture affects the food market. Many new products are targeting Millennials, and older brands maintain the Gen X or Baby Boomer generations. One market or brand is not better than the other, but instead may serve different purposes.

  • GUT HEALTH. This convo was everywhere, from educational sessions to products on the expo floor. All sorts of products filled the floor – probiotic supplements, food with added probiotics, fermented foods, or “gut shots” (fermented foods in a drinkable liquid). While we really don’t have all of the science about how the gut microbiome impacts our health and body systems, this discussion will continue for sure.
  • PROTEIN. Everyone is looking for new ways to add protein to each meal, as research continues regarding the ideal amount and timing of protein in your diet. Products range from high protein snacks (chips, bars), to naturally occurring protein (nuts, fish, meats), to ultra filtered milk with higher protein content (Fairlife® is a product that I personally really enjoy – great flavor, and 13 grams of protein per 8-ounces compared to 8 in traditionally processed cow’s milk)fairlifemilk
  • ORGANIC. The “natural and organic” area of the Expo was mobbed, and there were many products featured. I stand by the idea that “Organic” in itself does not mean better nutrition. What I want consumers to understand is that an Organic snack food is still a snack food. For instance, an “organic, non-GMO, gluten free chip” is still a chip, still about 140 calories per ounce, and should not displace eating whole foods and cooking meals with real food. And I have a pet peeve about labeling foods “non GMO” when they never had any GMO ingredients in them in the first place, but marketing generally overrides clear facts, and there’s a market segment for it.


    Organic brands got plenty of space and attention.

  • BEVERAGES. Since soda is the bad guy, we saw less soda and more sparkling waters, protein water, smoothies, dairy supplements, nondairy beverages, or other beverages in new flavors and innovative packaging. Shasta has created new sparkling water flavors for both the food service industry and grocers (to be on shelves soon).shasta
  • GRAINS, BEANS, AND PASTA. Grains are a healthy part of the DASH Diet, and pasta is also a quick and delicious way to get dinner on the table. Whole grains are important to incorporate, but other refined grains are okay too. I love that companies are creating whole grain products that make it quick and easy to get them on the dinner table on busy days. Minute Rice® offers a multi-grain medley product that can come in handy on a busy weeknight. The Barley Council of Canada offered great recipes (and people need recipes!). Sorghum products were also highlighted as a versatile US crop. Perhaps this grain is the “next Quinoa”.fnce2016foodcolageimg_4994
  • YOGURT. Okay, I admit it – by day two of the conference I was sick of yogurt. It was everywhere. And I love yogurt. Joking aside, what consumers are looking for in a good yogurt is unique flavors, high protein content, and less sugar. More companies are adding less sugar to their yogurt, and this will likely be encouraged with the new “added sugars” line to the upcoming Nutrition Facts Label. Some purveyors also shared creative ways to add additional nutrition to yogurt via parfaits (toasted coconut, chopped nuts, berries) or smoothies. Dietitians love yogurt as evidenced by the line at every brand’s booth.
  • SUSTAINABLE SEAFOOD. The DASH and Mediterranean diets recommend including fish or seafood weekly. As the demand for fish increases, U.S. and international fisheries are looking for sustainable ways to maintain supply. There were several educational sessions on this topic, as well as representatives of the industry on the Expo floor.

Personal VS Practical

When I sample new foods at the product expo at FNCE® I do so with a curious mind and my own tastebuds. I like learning about what is on the market so I can be in-the-know when consumers talk about these new foods. But just because I taste it or see it, does not mean I recommend it. Nor does it mean I tell people to avoid it. For instance, there were lots of Organic Non GMO snack foods at the Expo, since this is a current trend on the market. One of the chips, Protes, boasted a “low calorie, high protein chip”. I joked with the vender rep and told him I’d rather just eat potato chips, and get my protein from a glass of milk, an egg, or eat an extra ounce of fish or a handful of nuts. On the other hand, replacing a one-ounce bag of potato chips with these chips would supplement the total protein of your lunch meal. In any case, I am not going to insist that anyone buys these or eat them daily, but if a patient asked about them, I could give him the pros and cons, and explain that fruits and vegetables are still an important way to get fiber and antioxidants; and there are better ways to add protein into your diet. Don’t let any sort of snack chip displace those foods.proteinchips

The Takeaway

When it comes to what foods to eat, or what diet to follow, I have these words:

“It depends”

Each one of us is different, and a dietitian’s goal is to help you eat as well as possible. As Dr. David Katz said during a session, it’s our common ground that can support healthy eating habits across the country. Not whether or not you like this yogurt, and I like that one.

As a dietitian, I have no interest in crusading to stop the food industry from coming up with new products (although I would like to see less front of package labeling claims) and I also do not feel it’s my role to tell people exactly which foods or brands to eat, or to “eat what I eat”. There are many paths to a healthy diet, and my goal is to allow you to think for yourself, and find creative ways to add more fruits and vegetables and other healthy foods to your diet (that you tolerate and enjoy eating). The goal is to stay as healthy as you can be. I know you can do it.



Other Dietitian Takeaways about New Products and Trends spotted this year:

Why I’m okay with Soda Companies Sponsoring a Nutrition Conference – Lauren Harris-Pincus

No, It Wasn’t Raining Candy – Milton Stokes

Trendspotting at FNCE – Janet Helm at Nutrition Unplugged

My Top FNCE Take-Aways: Where Nutrition Science Meets Food Trends –  Rebecca Scritchfield

Food Favorites at FNCE – Katie Morford at Mom’s Kitchen Handbook

Top 5 Nutrition Trends You Can Use Spotted at the Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo – Elena Paravantes Hargitt

Nutritious Meets Delicious – Carolyn O’Neil


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Love-fest in Boston

fnce2015nashville Look out Boston, you are about to be bombarded with about 10,000 Foodies and Nutrition Nerds.

Every October the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics holds their annual Food and Nutrition conference and expo: FNCE® for short. For many dietitians like myself, who telecommute, it’s an opportunity to meet up with fellow colleagues that we do virtual work with all year. I’m fortunate to not only be working in a profession that I love, but also have so many opportunities over the years to meet so many wonderful women and men in the profession.

The 2016 conference is hosting a few great keynotes, and a broad choice of educational sessions.

I’m looking forward to sharing ideas and news with friends and colleagues and also hope to learn more about new food products, the latest science about diet and health, food processing, and diversity in agriculture. There’s even a session about aquaculture which I’m excited to learn more about.

And of course, there is the food Expo where a diverse selection of purveyors, corporations and associations (including colleges) have the opportunity to set up booths and allow questions about their products. They also provide informational materials, new product info, and often small giveaways or food samples (if they are a food company).

I’m hoping to come home with lots of blog topic material including the latest nutrition science and technology about hot topics including:

  • Nuts and seeds
  • Greek Yogurt
  • Avocado
  • Canola, Soybean
  • Grains
  • Genetically engineered foods, Agriculture
  • Plant-based diets
  • Pediatric Obesity
  • The new Dietary Guidelines for Americans

This annual event is also a wonderful opportunity to network with colleagues, and many sessions will focus on the business of nutrition as well as effective communications. I plan to hit several business communications sessions, and be updated on telehealth, evidence-based practice, marketing, and future practice opportunities. Off to Boston!

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Plan a Family Fun Day on Sunday

This is a guest post, written by Kimberly Bennett, a dietetic student with Eastern Michigan University.

Let’s plan a family dinner!  Remember the good old days of Sunday dinners at grandma’s house? This is a great opportunity to return to the simpler times. Call up the brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, neighbors, and even those kiddos that just moved out in August. Plan a big simple Sunday potluck dinner to kick-off fall, or to watch a kick-off! To add a healthy challenge to the meal, ask guests to be sure all items use fresh, minimally processed ingredients. 

Find Your Mojo

Need some healthy motivation to put some dinners on the table, then sit and relax? Research shows that children from a family that eat together are less likely to drink alcohol, smoke or use marijuana; they do better in school and they eat better1.

The standby pot roast and potatoes is great, but old news.  Why not try something new and use a group effort to make it relaxing for everyone? For instance, consider setting up a food bar. Pick a simple food item that tastes great and offer lots of different toppings. This is a great way to please everyone and get them involved. This is also an opportunity to enjoy foods such as sausage or cheese, because these items are portion-controlled. It’s easy:

  • Pick a theme, assign everyone on the list items to bring. You could also send a text with list of possible ingredients
  • Everyone can claim what they want to bring (and reply all if texting) 
  • Final step: Arrive on dinner day with items ready to go (cooked, baked, sautéed, chopped, diced, sliced or shredded)
  • Host or hostess will put all of the ingredients/components out on a table for everyone to be the master of their own dish.

Here are a few food bar ideas:

  • Baked Potato Bar – (Russet, Idaho, or sweet) Try cooking in a slow cooker. Pierce 8 potatoes with knife, wrap in foil. Place in slow cooker, cover, and cook on High for 2 1/2 to 4 hours. Offer toppings of chili, cheese (grated), nacho cheese, steamed broccoli and cauliflower, grilled veggies, corn, diced tomatoes, chives, olives, and jalapeños, butter and sour cream or herbed yogurt


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  • Burrito Bar –  shredded chicken or steak or ground beef, grilled peppers, onions and mushrooms, diced tomatoes, spinach, cheese, lettuce, olives, onions, rice, beans (kidney, black or garbanzo), salsa, cilantro, guacamole
  • Chili Plus Sides/Toppings –  baked potatoes, rice, cheese, diced avocado, onions, chives, chipotle peppers, sour cream, cornbread
  • Pasta Bar – Choose two types of pasta. Offer sauces (Alfredo, red, pesto), grilled chicken, shrimp, sausage, ground meat Italian style, sautéed mushrooms, artichokes, and onions, spinach, roasted red peppers, grilled asparagus, feta, tomatoes, peas, grated Parmigiano-Reggiano  

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As you can see, it’s all interchangeable and the possibilities are endless. After dinner, you can organize a family walk or a touch-football game!  This is how a simple family meal can lead to “The Best Day Ever”. Whatever you choose, make it healthy, fun and cherish the memories made!



1.FMI | Food Marketing Institute | Supporting Research Reports. 2016. Available at: Accessed September 22, 2016.

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Eating Across the Lifespan

You hear nutrition messages every day. “Eat less sugar.” “Adopt a plant-based diet.” “Avoid GMOs” “Include smoothies in your diet.” “Eat less salt.” “Avoid packaged food.” “Don’t eat carbs.” But who are these messages actually directed to? How can you, my reader, actually figure out what you are supposed to eat?

Age and Activity Matter

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The media tends to look at our food landscape as one table, if you will. One table filled with one healthy list of foods within food groups that everyone must eat.

But how a 50 year old man or woman should eat looks nothing like how an 18 year old boy or girl should eat.

“There’s this thing called the lifespan”

At every stage of human life, there is a set of nutrients that are required, and a range of energy (i.e. kilocalories) needed to sustain your activity during that stage. As nutrition professionals we have always used height and weight tables and charts, as well as USDA guidelines for what the Recommended Dietary Intake or Upper Limit of various nutrients are. Since obese children have an altered metabolism, things have changed over the years when it comes to assessing their needs. And no assessment tool is without drawbacks – this is where the physical exam and diet history come in.

While parents provide genetics, they also provide the eating environment for their children. A healthy metabolism is formed early in life – with breast or bottle. Early feeding helps a child understand and listen to his hunger and satiety cues. Early introduction of a variety of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, can help a child’s palate develop to accept those foods, textures and flavors. Your best bet in treating obesity is avoiding obesity. It’s much harder to lose weight, than to maintain it (although that’s still quite a challenge).

Nutrition and Activity Key during Middle-Age

Your body begins to require less calories each decade after age 30. Once you reach 40, more prominent metabolic changes may occur. The media and television personalities often tout carbohydrates as “bad”, and while this blanket statement is too broad, it is true that your body may be having a more difficult time processing carbohydrates, or that you simply are requiring less quick energy (The glycemic index can also be used a tool to choose healthy foods.). If you are a parent, you don’t want to get into the trap of restricting food in both your diet and that of your child or teenager.

While the examination of how carbohydrate metabolism changes with aging isn’t clear, there’s no doubt that exercise is ever more important as you age. Assuming that your activity is light to moderate, most people between the ages of 45-65 are going to require less calories from smaller amounts of food, with a focus on whole foods from the basic food groups, limiting treats such as cocktails, dessert, fried food, etc. In other words – just about everything you eat should be providing good nutrition, not empty calories.

So what about calories? Men over 45 require anywhere from 2000-2800 calories, while women require anywhere from 1400-2200. Calorie needs depend on physical activity, age and height. Try evaluating your diet with the USDA Supertracker, then set goals to eat a bit less and move a bit more. When you track what you eat, and exercise, you’ll have more energy, and may also gradually drop a few pounds.

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