Family, Fitness, RD Advice

The Kick-in-the-pants that you just might need

I have a bit to say this morning about inspiration, dedication and pushing through in order to better your health. WARNING: you may commit to lifestyle changes after this post!

When I was in the US for a month, I spent family time with my in-laws who are living in India for 5 years, also working with Mennonite Central Committee.

Gordon and Carol are the most giving people I have ever met. What I mean by this is that they give 100% of themselves to other people. They are wonderful hosts who enjoy the presence of their guests. They are caring servants that devote themselves to their field of work and being the hands and feet of God. They are tireless and always have time to talk when you need to. They are great people and wonderful in-laws.



However, both of them decided that they needed to take time for themselves and their health. I don’t know if they both started on the same day or who encouraged who, but around this past April, they both started walking on their treadmill. In addition, they started eating smaller portions, and more fruits and vegetables.

When I heard about the habits that they were incorporating into their lives I was so happy for them. Gordon was getting up at least an hour early in the morning and walking while he watched TV. Carol was leaving work on time (instead of later) and walking in the evenings before dinner. They told me that after they built up endurance they would go farther and turn up the speed. Carol was keeping track of her weight and kilometers that she walked every day. And when I saw them at the airport I could see that their hard work had paid off. Again, so happy for these guys! They are still walking and sticking to sustainable eating habits that help them manage their health –  yeah!

I get over-the-top excited whenever I hear stories like these and see people change their lives for the better. My in-laws are an inspiration. They may not know this before reading this post, but these days, whenever my alarm goes off in the morning and I contemplate turning it off in order to sleep more instead of working out, I think of them. I think about their dedication to their health and I remember that I made that promise to myself as well. So I roll out of bed, find my clothes, put on my shoes and get to it. I am absolutely nowhere near perfect, I go in and out of periods of my life when I maybe get in 3 workouts a week, maybe. And I also do not have time to spend an hour working out every day. Some days, like this morning, I have 20 minutes, other days I have an hour and a half. I work with what I have and feel good about whatever I accomplish.

While I realize that setting your mind to it and changing your routine and eating style is daunting and difficult, it is possible. No matter your age, fitness level, time constraints, etc. your current and future health deserve it. Emphasis on future health. Health issues don’t occur overnight, they take years to develop. Obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, etc. These are serious things folks and there is no better time than your right now to make sure you are doing all you can to prevent them. Okay, not meaning to scare anyone – but please, don’t set yourself up for this in the future!


And, if you are wondering, “what will these changes do for me at this point in my life?” well let me give you some helpful reading material:

1. Whatever Your Age, Exercise is Essential

2. Healthy Living/Exercise and Fitness as you Age

If you are also thinking, “well I really don’t have that much time so I should just wait until I can be 100% devoted,” here’s a little more to give you that kick in the pants:

Lastly, if you are saying, “Meghan, I don’t have a gym nearby or I hate working out in front of others or I have no exercise equipment,” check out these great sites for at-home workout inspiration.

There is no great way to say this but….we all have 15-20 minutes a day to spare, no excuses, you can do it!

So, are you ready? Keep me in the loop if you are starting an exercise plan or need some extra motivation or ideas! You got this!

~The Optimist

RD Advice

To Diet or Not to Diet?

It was during my junior high years that I first put myself on a diet. I found the instructions for the diet on the back of my Special K cereal box. The diet included a bowl of cereal for breakfast, a Special K drink for lunch, and another type of meal replacement for dinner. The diet failed later that day when I realized that my mom would not buy me the meal replacement foods that I needed for this diet. “Sigh,” this wasn’t my last failed attempt, but after trying several different diet methods during the rest of my junior high and high school years, I finally began to “get-it.” Over the next few years, as I learned more about nutrition from my college studies, my body found a healthy weight and it has stayed there since then. Today, I thought that I would share with you my thoughts about diets and dieting.

1. When a new diet is introduced it almost never has any research that supports it. It is only after the diet has been around for a while that interested parties perform research studies and make conclusions about whether or not the diet actually works. Why do I say this? Example A: The Cayenne Pepper, Apple Cider Vinegar, Lemon Juice, Molasses Beverage thingy that is supposed to “burn” belly fat. We all know how ridiculous this sounds and no, it was never researched and I doubt that anyone will ever fund a research study to see if this actually works.

Image result for apple cider vinegar

2. Dieting can start a yo-yo effect on your weight. You want to lose some weight so you go on a diet and you lose weight. You go off of the diet the when you have lost the weight or when you get fed up with denying yourself food and over time, the weight comes back. Yo-yo.

3. This is sort of connected with #2 but many diets are full of dos and don’ts. Because of this, certain foods are thought of as only “diet” foods and some foods are thought of as “dessert” or “treat” foods. To eat chocolate while on a diet is a sin and sometimes people who are not on a diet feel guilty eating this food as well. While there are foods that are more nutritionally dense than others, it does not mean that guilt and shame should be associated with (moderate) portions of foods that we love like chocolate, ice cream, cake, bread (CARBS AREN’T BAD!), good cheese, pasta, and meat, etc.

4. Some diets use a lot of processed and packaged foods. For example, Nutrisystem uses a lot of packaging to send prepared meals to clients. Walk down the health section of the grocery store and what will you see? A million little healthy snacks wrapped in individual portions and powders and seeds in plastic bags or containers. Don’t get me started about the price of membership for diets (not affordable for many) and for these “health food” items. Healthy should not produce that much plastic waste and should be affordable for all.

5. A good thing about diets? I have had clients in the past tell me that they learned about portion sizes and how to not overeat because of their time doing Weight Watchers or Nutrisystem. Proper portion sizes is not a topic taught in school so I would agree that if you have the money to spend to learn this lesson, it is a valuable one that you would hopefully not forget. You could also spend your money to meet with a Registered Dietitian for a session or two – I guarantee that portion sizes would be taught within the first session.

Whenever I would have a client come to me asking for me to “put them on a diet” these are some of the things that we discuss and then they usually agree that a diet is not something that they are interested in. My motto and the motto of most other dietitians is that no food is off limits and you can maintain a healthy weight and live a life free from chronic diseases by practicing healthy lifelong habits such as these:

-Eat three meals a day, don’t wait too long in between meals (4-5 hours max) or you might over-eat during your next meal or over-snack.

-Try to make half of your plate either fruits, vegetables, or a mix of the two and put your whole grains and low-fat proteins on the other side of your plate.

Image result for myplate

-Drink water 80% of the time, eat/drink low-fat dairy (3 cups of dairy per day!), and only on special occasions allow yourself things like soda, juice, or alcohol.

-Watch your add-ons. These are items that we add to foods that increase the calorie content and do not add nutritional quality to our meal. Coffee creamer, butter, condiments (mustard is just fine), salt, gravy, jam, too much peanut butter, too much cheese, etc.

-Indulge in the sweet, savory, and salty but don’t go overboard. These are special foods and they don’t need to be eaten in large quantities and not every day, save them for special occasions and fun treats. If you think you might be over-indulging in these items, track how much of them you are eating and try to cut down to 3/4 the amount per week, and then 1/2 per week, and so on. My husband and I love to go out sometimes and treat ourselves to a nice burger – its a treat, not a habit.


-If you have a desk job, be intentional about walking breaks. Try to get 20-30 minutes of walking during your work day. The office that I used to work in did two stair sessions (7 floors) per day. It was fun to get people involved in being healthy together.

Image result for picture of an office staircase

-In addition to this, try to get 3-5 days of exercise in per week. The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week (jogging, walking at a nice clip, swimming, biking, etc). If you prefer higher intensity workouts (interval training with short bursts of speed, followed by a moderate pace) the recommendation decreases to 75 minutes of exercise per week. The AHA also recommends at least 2 sessions of strength training (weight bearing exercises, these can be done with our without weights). They don’t give a time for this but anywhere from 15-45 minutes. Beyond 45 minutes and you might be over-doing it for your muscles. Whew!

This may look like a long list and I have to say that sometimes I fail at several of these (we all do at times). But that doesn’t mean you are a failure or that you should stop trying. Keep up the hard work and the habits only get easier.

What are your thoughts about diets? Have you ever tried any that worked for you or helped

~The Optimist

RD Advice

What’s Trending – Dietary Supplements

Hi guys, I am coming to you this post with a new what’s trending topic about dietary supplements. I know that in the dietitian world, this topic is a classic – I felt that it was my time to put a word in for why I do not recommend money spent on dietary supplements for most individuals.

Image result for supplements

What are dietary supplements? Dietary supplements are vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes, and herbs. They come in the form of tablets, powders, liquids, soft-gels, and capsules (1). Most of the components of dietary supplements can be found in the foods that we eat.

This is a statement taken directly from the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) website: “Unlike drugs, supplements are not intended to treat, diagnose, prevent, or cure diseases. That means that supplements should not make claims such as “reduces pain” or “treats heart disease. Claims like these can only legitimately be made for drugs not dietary supplements.”

Are dietary supplements regulated? Yes they are! The FDA regulates supplements under a set of regulations established under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act. Basically the FDA is trying to make sure that the above statements are not being applied to supplements and steering people the wrong way. The FDA also wants to make sure that supplements are safe for consumption. However, keep reading…

Along with the statements about regulation, this is also noted on the FDA website :

The FDA is not authorized to review dietary supplement products for safety and effectiveness (do they actually do what they claim to do) before they are marketed.

Basically meaning that something that has very little research about its safety and claims can be marketed for consumer consumption before being reviewed by the FDA. They step in when a report has been filed about a product and take steps to research that report and determine if the supplement is okay for consumers to buy.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) also steps in to help with advertising claims. Again, they only enforce rules if a supplement is found to be guilty of false advertising after it is already on the market.

What is the research that supports or opposes supplements? Its hard to research individual supplements on your own. For a really good resource about a specific supplement that you are currently taking or interested in taking, try one of these resources, compliments of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Medline Plus:

Dietary Supplement Fact Sheets

Botanical Dietary Supplements

Vitamin and Mineral Supplement Fact Sheets

Dietary and Herbal Supplements

Herbs at a Glance

Dietary Supplements

Why the big fuss over supplements? I like to write about how marketing and media influences what we eat. I think it is fascinating. I believe the push for supplements comes directly from marketing schemes and great advertising campaigns, not specifically from research.

Who would benefit from a dietary supplement? While not a research article, this article is from the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, which is a trusted resource that summarizes the latest research. It explains who may need dietary supplements and who does not.

  • Children
  • Pregnant women need to take a prenatal
  • Individuals who have been tested for nutrient deficiencies
  • Individuals who are at risk for bone density loss (calcium and vitamin D combined supplement)
  • Recovering alcoholics
  • Individuals with liver disease
  • And select other cases – please speak to a Registered Dietitian to determine whether or not you need to be taking a supplement.

Am I harming myself by taking supplements? Probably not, but you may not be getting any gain from it. If you already have a diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, dairy or fortified dairy substitutes, lean meats, and whole grains then you are already getting 100% of what your body needs for vitamins and minerals. Anything more than what you need gets excreted in your urine. Kinda like peeing out $$$… know how thrifty I am!

For some vitamins and minerals there is a toxic upper limit, meaning if you over do some of the foods, there may be side effects. Please look into your supplement and do some research online to determine if there is a risk for over-supplementation. This is a good resource to identify what vitamins and minerals can have side effects if over-supplemented:

If there would be a supplement to look into it would be…?

  • Fiber supplement (many Americans don’t get enough fiber through their diet – try to do that before looking into this supplement)
  • Calcium and Vitamin D supplement (if you are at risk for bone loss, which is many post-menopausal women)
  • Prenatal Vitamin (a must when you are pregnant)
  • Iron (only if you are deficient)
  • Vitamin B12 (if you are vegan you may need this)
  • Multivitamin (not everyone needs one of these though!)

Do I take a supplement? I almost wrote no, but then realized that I sometimes will take melatonin, 5 mg, to “help” me fall asleep. I was actually surprised when I researched melatonin and found the body of research to be rather inconclusive. I have had nights where I believe that I fell asleep because after I took the melatonin I got sleepy. After performing some research on that I think that my melatonin just might give me the placebo effect. Is it worth it for me to still buy and take occasionally? That is a yes in my opinion, but my mind may be changed in the future when I run out of it. I also looked to see if melatonin was safe and it is, even if used in large doses.

Question of the day: Do you take a supplement and what for?


RD Advice

Meals for One: Week 1

Happy Friday!

I am a bit bummed that March hasn’t unrealistically warmed up to 70 degrees yet, but this morning’s walk to the bus stop was exceptionally beautiful.


Every Friday is Bagel Friday at work, it’s absolutely amazing! My manager goes to either Brueggers (Pittsburgh Bagel Shop) or Panera and buys 30 some bagels and flavored cream cheeses. We all get to work a little bit earlier (or at the same time I guess) and toast our bagels and eat and chat in the break room. If and when I become a manager, I will employ this strategy as it is very good for employee morale and gives us something to look forward to for the week.

I didn’t post yesterdaySad smile My apologies about that, I am finding that there is quite a bit of stuff for me to do after I get home from the gym. It won’t be long before I have to have the house completely packed up and cleaned out so I took off some blog writing time to really get packing. I made great progress but ran out of boxes….guess its back to the wine store for me!!

empty closet
My closet is looking cleaned out!


nice kitty
Kitty on my bed this morning. I wanted to stay home with her on this snowy day!

I have a new favorite Netflix show, The Great British Baking Show. It is very interesting, they make baked goods that I have never heard of before, have baking skills that I will never obtain, and I love all of the British and Scottish accents. That show and the kitty keeps me company, I can’t believe a week has almost gone by since Zach left. Here’s to the next 4sih!!


The topic for this post is Meals for One. Last Sunday I went to Aldi and for the first time I had to try to limit my purchases to enough for just one person. Did I come with a shopping and meal list?… of course! This week I had planned on the following meals:

chicken soup
Chicken vegetable soup!

-Morning Glory Muffins (double batch so I could freeze one for myself and keep them frozen for quick snacks). You seriously need to make these!

-Chicken Vegetable Soup

-Chicken with roasted vegetables

-Kale Salad

-Other: meaning I wanted to pick up some foods to try to make my own recipes with this week.

How did I do with my spending? Pretty swell, but probably could have done a bit better. I spent $35 this week on groceries. Zach typically eats 1.5x as much as I do so I should be able to spend around 25-30 dollars per week just for me. I also have to take into consideration the supplies that I had to buy for the muffins. Overall though, I think I did well.

On Sunday I roasted vegetables and chicken that I quickly marinated in Greek Salad dressing. These roasted vegetables and chicken have been lifesavers for quick meals! At the store I picked up some whole wheat 100 calorie wraps, Greek yogurt, avocados, and on-sale fruits and vegetables. A couple nights ago I had a panic moment when I thought that I had bought too much produce and that it would suddenly all be bad at the same time. I recovered from this when I remembered that I have a freezer and that I could easily freeze my left-over chicken soup so that I could focus on using up my fresh items (bagged greens, asparagus, bananas, berries, etc) before they get smelly and mushy.

Monday breakfast: Morning Glory Muffin with Plain Greek yogurt, berries, flax seed, and a few chocolate chips

Monday lunch: La Palapa left-overs. I only ate half of my meal on Sunday night (although I could have eaten the entire thing and been stuffed for the next two days!)

Monday dinner: Roasted vegetable whole wheat wrap with avocado and balsamic dressing. Salad on the side with mixed greens, mushrooms, and more avocado.

Tuesday breakfast: Muffin with yogurt and similar toppings

Tuesday lunch: Dinner left-overs. A Roasted veggie wrap plus fruit and yogurt.

Tuesday dinner: Dinner with friends.

Wednesday breakfast: Avocado, banana, greek yogurt, almond milk, and kale smoothie

Wednesday lunch: Roasted veggie wrap…see a pattern here?

Wednesday dinner: Chicken vegetable soup. Delicious! I sautéed 3 carrots, 3 stalks of celery, and one onion in olive oil with salt, pepper, and dried basil. I then added 3.5 cups of low-sodium broth and 1 lb. shredded roasted chicken. I cooked this for about 15 minutes, then added more seasonings and 1 cup of white wine. The wine made it have a really rich taste. (See above) It was delicious!

Thursday breakfast: Cereal day! Raisin bran, banana, peanut butter.

Thursday lunch: Chicken vegetable soup.

Thursday dinner: Roasted vegetable and chicken wrap with massaged kale salad (recipe for this to come later!)

Friday breakfast: Bagel Friday!!!

Friday lunch: You guessed it! Roasted vegetable wrap with chicken and left-over massaged kale salad. Although I am pretty over this wrap by now, good thing its Friday!

kale and wrap
Roasted vegetable wrap with massaged kale salad


As you can see my meals have been pretty repetitive. This is for a couple of reasons.

  1. I am not used to making smaller dishes. Therefore I end up with a plethora of left-overs and I refuse to throw out perfectly good food!
  2. I seriously doubt I would have the motivation to cook a new meal more than 3x a week. Without an audience to ooohh and ahhh over my meals, besides eating healthy, I have very little reason to vary what I am eating.

My Advice for Cooking Meals for One

  1. Pick a day on the weekend to meal prep some large batches of items. Its fun to cook in large quantities (makes me feel like I am preparing a feast) and the hard work will pay off during the week when you have zero motivation.
  2. Get used to left-overs or figure out how to re-invent last night’s dinner. If you made chicken, use it in soup, wraps, chicken salad, a stir fry, etc. If you have lots of roasted vegetables you can do the same.
  3. There is a cute trend that involves small portions of things made in a cup. Lasagna in a cup, cookie in a cup, etc. You could try this however you would have to still buy large amounts of the ingredients and then have to use them up before they go bad.
  4. Plan 2-3 meals that you will make full size for the week. From these meals you will have plenty of left-overs for lunch and dinner and if you are creative enough you can even reinvent your left-overs.
  5. There is no science to cooking for one, but these are what I have been thinking of this week.

I will have a new batch of items to cook next week. What I will be trying to do over these next few weeks is clean out my stores. I will be using up all of my pasta, rice, quinoa, freezer items, salad dressings, canned goods, etc. The rest of my spices and flavored oils are going to some of my girlfriends. I told them they could raid my pantry:)

I’m excited for this evening. Some friends and I are going to a popular cocktail bar in Pittsburgh. Pictures to come on Monday. Happy Friday to you all!

What are your weekend plans?


RD Advice

What’s Trending: The Protein Craze

Hey there folks, coming to you today with a new “What’s Trending” post. I am also trying out some new blog writing software for the first time, if things look different, that is why!

Today we are talking about the protein craze that the world is experiencing. I’m pretty excited about this post because writing it and posting it means that I had to do some research and I always love looking into research study findings and reading reputable articles.  Even so, I cannot devote days to this because I work full time and this topic is quite meaty so I apologize if I leave out some information. Please let me know if you need any further explanation in the comments section. So here goes!

The world is always gung-ho about some nutrition craze. While I am too young to have personally experienced many of them, here are a few that my clients have told me about:

  1. Butter versus margarine
  2. Low cholesterol fad (eggs are bad for you!)
  3. The “no fat” craze
  4. The Atkin’s diet craze
  5. The Paleo craze – still experiencing that one actually
  6. The Gluten-free craze, again, also still a thing
  7. and more

I figured out quickly when I began my degree to become a Registered Dietitian that I was entering a field that was constantly changing and growing. Because of this growth and the public’s continual interest in their personal health, it is important for me to be on top of trends and provide evidence-based information on any nutrition topic.

kitty 3.6

My cute kitty staring at me while I write this postSmile

So lets do a brief recap of the protein craze, shall we?

Protein has been used by bodybuilders for years. Long periods of weight lifting causes muscle breakdown and protein is used to build that muscle back up. The Atkin’s diet made high protein and low carb popular, the Paleo diet has essentially taken over the Atkins and has a similar concept of low carbohydrate and high intake of meat (protein). High protein products were in full swing once the Paleo diet hit. The market has only continued to grow.

How much protein is enough for the body?

Our bodies do need protein! I think that a big problem is that many people don’t know how much protein their body actually needs for normal functions. For an average individual aged 18-60 years old, protein needs are 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. So if you are a 130 pound female, that is 47 grams of protein per day. If you are a 180 pound man, that is 65 grams of protein per day.

If you are a baby or child, elderly, a professional athlete, on dialysis, have wounds, etc. Your protein needs will be different. Older individuals need protein to help them maintain lean body mass (1.0-1.2 grams/kg body weight). Professional athletes need extra protein for muscle repair and the additional calories that protein provides.

Protein has about 4 calories per gram. If nothing is altered in your diet (meaning you do not eliminate some food-calories) eating extra protein is putting extra calories in your body. All extra calories get stored as fat…

Are carbohydrates bad?

There have been some research studies that have found that people who go on a no to low carbohydrate diet have been successful with weight loss. The idea is that because carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy, when they are eliminated (carbohydrates include grains and starches, fruit and fruit juice, dairy products, and of course any type of sugar, refined, honey, agave nectar, brown sugar, etc.) the body then goes through a process where it breaks down the it’s glycogen stores (fat) for energy. Dietary protein and fat can also be used for energy but the process is a little more complicated and the body more easily goes to fat stores first. I really agree with an article written by The Washington Post and I am happy that they go into detail about the loss of water along with glycogen stores.

In my research I also found another Washington Post article written a couple of years ago, talking about the protein craze. I was happy that most of what they said lined up with my education and the current Academy of Nutrition & Dietetic guidelines.

How do I feel about protein powder, high protein snacks, etc.?

Personally I do not buy much of these. I prefer to get protein from my foods (nuts and seeds, edamame, meats and fish, eggs, beans, Greek yogurt, etc). My husband and I are also big on budgeting so spending $25 plus at GNC for a container of protein powder or buying $2.00/bar snacks does not appeal to us. I am not a professional athlete and I do try to watch my calories, that is also why I don’t over-do my protein.

How much longer will we be experiencing the protein craze?

This is more of a marketing question really. I like this podcast that interviews a marketing expert about how much longer he thinks protein will be the public’s obsession.

What will be the next craze in my opinion?

A high fat diet. It has already started with coconut oil, avocado oil, brain octane, the Bulletproof diet, etc. Saturated fat is being touted as really healthy for you. The American Heart Association and the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics still caution about high amounts saturated fat in the diet and the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Fat also has 9 calories per gram, more than protein and carbohydrate, just in case you were wondering….

Do I follow any type of diet you ask?

Not anything extreme. I try to eat a lot of plant-based meals, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and lean meats when I am not doing a meatless meal. The recommendation for dietary guidelines suggests that we get 45-65% of our calories from carbohydrates, 10-35% from protein, and 20-35% from fat. I try to loosely follow this as best as possible. I try to eat a variety of foods and allow myself to indulge in sweet treats 2-3 times per week. I also try to exercise between 3-6 times per week to manage my muscle mass and body fat.

meatless monday 3.6

meal and wine 3.6

First pic: The inside of my whole wheat wrap. Meatless Monday special: Roasted carrots, green peppers, sweet potatoes, and onions, melted cheddar cheese slice, 1/2 an avocado. Second pic: Rolled up wrap, mixed greens salad with the other 1/2 of the avocado, red onion, and baby bella mushrooms. Wine in a mug (all my wine glasses are packed!) and a really good smelling Method candle!

Questions, comments, any articles that you think I should have read before writing this post?

Let me know! I really want to bring you all evidence-based nutrition information!


RD Advice, Recipes

Your Virtual Nutrition Booth

Good morning and happy National Nutrition Month!!! To celebrate, I made chocolate peanut butter overnight oatmeal last night to eat this morning for breakfast – it was delicious! It’s been quite some time since I made overnight oatmeal and I appreciated having something new to eat, I have been in quite the breakfast rut.



Chocolate Peanut Butter Overnight Oatmeal


  • 1/2 cup plain oatmeal (quick or whole oats)
  • 1 cup almond milk (I used unsweetened vanilla, 30 calories)
  • 2 Tbsp ground flax seed
  • 2 tsp cocoa powder
  • 1 Tbsp peanut butter (adds some sweetness)
  • 1 Tbsp chocolate chips
  • 1/2 sliced banana


  1. Mix all together except for the banana, cover and place in the fridge overnight.
  2. Enjoy in the morning with sliced banana and coffee!

*This makes a hefty serving, try using 1/3 cup oats and 2/3 cup milk with a little less of the other ingredients to make an amount you can finish. I could not finish the last 5 bites or so because I was stuffed!

Nutrition Facts:

Calories: 500 – Total Fat: 23.5 grams – Total Carbohydrates: 63.5 grams – Protein: 13.5 grams

Never heard of National Nutrition Month before? NNM was created and is sponsored by the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics. Click here to read more about NNM in this great article:

The theme of this year’s NNM is “Put Your Best Fork Forward.”This statement can mean several things, but the Academy really wants to emphasize small changes that help you work towards a better dietary lifestyle. Here is what small changes you can do today to start moving towards a healthier lifestyle that will protect you as you age and give you energy for today:

  1. Eat three meals a day, limit snacking
  2. Eat 5 servings of fruits + vegetables per day
  3. Include foods from at least 3 food groups when you eat your meals (fruits, vegetable, grains, protein, dairy)
  4. Select only calorie-free beverages
  5. Limit your intake of high sugar foods and drinks
  6. Read food labels to see calories per serving size
  7. Avoid yo-yo dieting and severly restricted diets
  8. Limit your alcohol intake to 1 drink a day for women and 2 a day for men (Love your liver!)
  9. Select mostly whole grains (what is a whole grain?) for a high fiber diet!
  10. Meal your meals ahead of time to avoid impulsive food choices
  11. Limit your intake of high fat and deep-fried foods (love your heart!)
  12. Discover stress-reducing activities that do not include eating. For example yoga, exercise, reading, knitting, blogging:)

What will I be doing to celebrate National Nutrition Month? I have a couple of things lined up. Today I will be manning a nutrition booth outside our hospital’s cafeteria. I will be handing out samples of a quinoa bowl (recipe to come tomorrow with pictures), brochures on various topics regarding vegetarian nutrition, and entering participants who try the recipe into a raffle to win either a vegetarian cookbook or yoga kit. I am lucky to be a part of a larger group of RDs who organized this event.

Because you can’t be with me today I wanted to put together some of my favorite nutrition resources that I use with my clients on a daily basis. I do not take credit for the creation of these materials (no good recreating the wheel) however I do stand behind the information that they provide.

Your Virtual Nutrition Booth

Let me know if you have any trouble accessing the files or need any further explanation!

Happy NNM!




RD Advice

Why I don’t shop at Whole Foods

Good afternoon folks! I have two things for you today. 1) My weekly meal planning tips. 2) A review of a body weight workout that I did last night.

Weekly Meal Planning Tips

As a person who works full time and also a Registered Dietitian, I rely on meal planning to help me out in many ways:

Reason #1: Meal planning and prepping is a HUGE time saver.

Reason #2: Meal planning is a money saver.

Reason #3: Meal planning gives me a space to make sure that I am incorporating healthy habits into my lifestyle.

Fun Fact: These are all tips that I use with my outpatient counseling patients.

Reason #1: Meal planning and prepping saves time. We have all had times when we have come home from a long day at work, opened up the fridge and didn’t have a clue as to what we should make for dinner. For me, this ends two ways, I either spend 10-15 minutes looking up a recipe to make with what I have on hand (and we end up eating an hour later) or I grab the eggs and say that we are having breakfast for dinner….again. On the bright side, this has taught me how to throw some things into a pan and make a great stir-fry dish and I also have perfected my scrambled eggs however, this is not ideal. It is much better to come home to the smell of a crockpot, have some components of my meal already chopped and ready to throw in the pan or oven, or have an exact idea of what I am making so that I don’t have to think, I can just do.

To help me plan I take time the week before I go shopping and decide on the recipes I will be using. I use Pinterest 100% of the time. I like that I can type in specific ingredients if I have extra this or that still at home. I save all the recipes to a page I have. Here is a link to my Pinterest page if you want to check out the types of recipes I typically use. I try to do some crock pot or one-pot recipes to cut down on dishes as well. I like to use vegetarian recipes when I can and I typically choose ground turkey or chicken meat dishes.

spaghetti squash.jpg
Spaghetti Squash, chicken breast, minced garlic, pasta sauce, Italian seasoning. Waiting for me at home tonight! I’ll let you know how it tastes.

I think write the recipes I will be making on chart that lists the days of the week. At the same time I write my grocery list to take with me to the store. Then when I get there I know exactly what I am buying.

Reason #2: Meal planning is a money saver. Personally, I try to spend $60 per week on groceries if I can. This helps my husband and I stick to a budget. I do very well with this budget when I shop at places like Aldi and Trader Joes. I do not do well with the budget when I go to larger supermarkets. I have a confession for you all – I have never bought anything from Whole Foods before. I don’t even think I have stepped a foot inside their doors. I have read articles though, talked with patients, friends, and colleagues and I have a pretty solid understanding that stores like Whole Foods would blow my weekly grocery budget out of the water. Also as a RD that works for a low-income population, I hear a lot of claims and statements like, “I can’t eat healthy, its too expensive.” My heart breaks when I hear that because I know which stores they are associating “healthy foods” with. I am always trying to promote the good food that can be found at Aldi and Trader Joes and try to work against the thought that Whole Foods and others like it are the only places you can shop if you are a Registered Dietitian or a person trying to be healthier.

Side note – walking into a grocery store with a list will usually result in less impulse buys which is good for health and your wallet!



Reason #3: Meal planning makes me healthier. As a RD I have to eat what I preach, right? So that means that I have to intentionally plan vegetables, lean meats and vegetarian protein options, low fat dairy, fresh fruit, and whole grains into my week. When I look for recipes on Pinterest, I try to make them fit into that category. I also try to eliminate using canned soups for recipes (lots of added sodium and calories), spice packets (high in sodium), high fat dairy products, items with too much added sugar, etc. Basically, the more basic and fresh the ingredients going into my meal, the better nutritional quality my meal is going to be.

Here are a couple of meal planning tools, offered by that might help you get started with weekly meal planning:

Monday-Sunday Meal Plan Template: grocery_gameplan_interactive

Grocery List Template: grocery_list_interactive

Body Weight Workout Review

Yesterday I did the body weight workout that I was supposed to do on the weekend :/ It went great, but I made some adjustments to make it last longer and increase the difficulty. Here is the original:

What I did for a 25 minute-ish workout:

5 burpees

10 sumo squats

5 star jumps

10 single-leg tricep dips, each side

20 bicycle crunches

10 mountain climbers – count 1 for every other step

5 squat jumps

10 alternating lunges

5 jumping jacks

10 plank shoulder taps

*Repeat 4-5 times through, rest in after finishing the set and catch your breath for the next set

I did this 4 times through and then added a few 1-minute planks, push-ups, and some booty burner exercises such as these: I didn’t have a ball for these but I did mostly the hand and knee exercises.

It was quite a good experience! Today I feel a little sore but not too bad!


See you all tomorrow!


Question of the day: Do you have any great tips for planning and prepping that make meals during the week a quicker affair?