Registered Dietitian Day – Bringing Food and Nutrition Expertise to the Table

‘My’ day is finally here! – Registered Dietitian Day (and yes, I am a Registered Dietitian). March 9, 2011 is the fourth annual Registered Dietitian Day. As the nation’s food and nutrition experts, registered dietitians are committed to improving the health of their patients and community. Registered Dietitian Day commemorates the dedication of Registered Dietitians (RDs) as advocates for advancing the nutritional status of Americans and people around the world.

Why would you need a dietitian? Let me give you reasons you might need a dietitian – David Letterman style:

1.          You have diabetes, cardiovascular problems or high blood pressure. An RD serves as an integral part of your healthcare team by helping you safely change your eating plan without compromising taste or nutrition.

2.          You are thinking of having or have had gastric bypass surgery. An RD will work with you and your physician to develop an eating plan for your new needs.

3.          You have digestive problems. An RD can help fine tune your diet so you are not aggravating your condition with fried foods, too much caffeine or carbonation.

4.          You’re pregnant or trying to get pregnant. A Registered Dietitian can help make sure you get nutrients like folate, especially during the first three months of pregnancy.

5.          You need guidance and confidence for breastfeeding your baby. An RD can help make sure you’re getting enough iron, vitamin D, fluoride and B vitamins for you and your little one.

6.          Your teenager has issues with food and eating healthfully. An RD can help assist with eating disorders and overweight issues.

7.          You need to gain or lose weight.  An RD can suggest additional calorie source for healthy weight gain or a restricted-calorie eating plan plus regular physical activity for weight loss.

8.          You’re caring for an aging parent.  An RD can help with food or drug interaction, proper hydration and special diets.

9.          You want to eat smarter. An RD can help you sort through misinformation, teach you how to read labels at the supermarket, show you how healthy cooking doesn’t have to be expensive, teach you how to eat out without ruining your eating plan and how to resist workplace temptations.

10.       You want to improve your performance in sports. An RD can help you set goals to achieve results – whether you’re running a marathon, skiing, or jogging with your dog.

 For more info on this list and to locate an RD in your area, visit the American Dietetic Association at

New Year’s Resolutions: Get Back on Track

Have you forgotten your New Year’s resolutions? Or, have you given up all together? It’s never too late to give

Its never too late to get back on track with your New Year's Resolutions.

 your New Year’s resolutions a little wake-up call. It’s tough to take time and think about the things you want to accomplish when you’re so busy.  What were your resolutions? Did you decide to eat healthier or smaller portions, exercise or stick to your financial budget? Don’t throw in the towel yet, it’s time to get back on track and refresh those resolutions!

This is easier said than done. The first step is to remember WHY you made these New Year’s resolutions. What benefit are you going to gain by achieving this goal? Next, list the reasons that you want to make these changes in your life for a little motivation. Writing them down on paper or in a journal is helpful.

Remember you are moving forward from this point, so don’t beat yourself up for not getting started. Stay positive and congratulate yourself on the progress you make when moving towards your goal. Finally, ask yourself: “Are my goals clear for 2011?” You may have said to yourself as the ball dropped toward a new year, “I want to lose weight” – but you didn’t clarify how much you wanted to lose or even HOW you were going to achieve this goal. Your resolutions (goals) need to be measurable and attainable. An example of a defined goal is: “I will lose ten pounds by June 1st by walking three miles four days per week and eating more fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy and sticking to around 1500 calories a day.” Remember that setting small, measurable goals in order to achieve your overall goal will help you focus and succeed.

 Don’t be one of the many statistics and fizzle out through the year. Do something, anything, today and jump start your resolutions. You will feel so much better and your health with thank you.

A Heavy Weight No More!

Bill Reimka is our guest blogger for Health Weight Week!

Bill Remeika is a on air personality for WXIN Fox 59 Morning News. He took on a six month challenge to lose weight after a trip to the doctor last year revealed some medical issues. While not wanting to diminish those issues Bill has elected to approach his situation in a humerous, off-the-wall manner by writing about his weight reducing exploits for his works website. This month Bill makes a guest appearance to let you know how tough or easy it is to “reverse the curse” of losing weight from years of bad decision making.

It’s funny as one gets a bit more “mature” in life and reflects on what they thought was great as a kid or adult is actually haunting them as they get older.
Take my first 40 years on this earth. I have been a typical person eating and doing about whatever I liked with no fear of anything coming back to haunt me. As I fast forward to today I look back and marvel and regret a lot of those eating and exercising decisions I made about 20 to 30 years ago.

Poor eating habits have affected others aspects of my life too. I was starting to wear clothes big enough to cover the roof opening at Lucas Oil Stadium as well as those extra 10 -15 pounds. After all, I thought that “Extra Large” meant that I was “Extra Special” Well I was “Extra Special” in that I was starting to gasp for air in doing simple things like bending over and tying my shoes or walking up two flights of stairs.

I never thought I was overweight as my age and size structure always gave me that allowance I thought was acceptable. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that when I couldn’t put the belt on the first notch that wasn’t a good thing. {Just so you know putting the belt on the last notch is preferred!}

Of course a recent trip to the doctor to assess my overall health brought me back to earth with one simple statement by him about my weight. He commented that overall I was in shape but could afford to lose about 20 pounds. Of course my reply was if I was in good health, why the worry about losing 20 pounds. His comeback was that being 20 pounds overweight now could lead to 25, then maybe 30, and before you know it, reversing the weight curse might be unattainable.

If you have ever seen a 40 year old something man look horrified, then I was that guy. All I could think about was my having to forgo eating chicken wings and drinking milkshakes in an effort to drop pounds. I would then learn that altering a diet is needed but more importantly learning what to eat to help fill me up and to keep me healthy is the most important thing.

I then figured I had better learn about food a bit more than what I thought so I caught up with a Registered Dietitian, Jenni Purcell who also works at the American Dairy Association of Indiana. It has been an ongoing dialogue which has lead to plenty of questions for her about my lack of brains about food. She has helped dispel some of my beliefs that I was going to die from not being able to eat as I thought I would only be eating lettuce and drinking prune juice to attain any desired weight.

It’s funny when you think you know something but then find out you really don’t. I think that was my case when I thought if I just cut out fried chicken wings and ding dongs I would be ok. Jenni assured me that I still could eat those things but in moderation. Of course once she found out that I normally ate two dozen wings and washed it down with a half gallon of milk she proceeded to tug on my ears and ask if I had seen my brains of late! I had to ask her what moderation was. She assured me that it wasn’t two dozen wings, but more like 5 or 6 wings ONLY!

That word moderation has become the foundation for my weight control. It is not that I will never eat wings or donuts or pizza again, it is that my mass consumption is now down to the normal serving of one or two pieces. Tough for a guy like me to realize, but easier to digest that information than being told excessive weight could kill me if not treated and corrected.

As I begin the New Year, I am on my life mission to correct or un-do things that got me looking like the “Pillsbury Doughboy”. Losing some of the weight has been easy. Maintaining has been tough, but the hardest part is trying to lose that next pound and the pound after. No one ever said getting and staying healthy and maintaining a proper weight would be easy, but I think is sure beats the alternative. After all, if I am going to die I would like to have my pallbearers be able to lift my casket and not drop it from being too heavy!

Countdown to The Little Black Dress

It’s that time of the year for parties, when everyone wants to look and feel their very best. Let me give you some tips on how to slip into style and avoid holiday weight gain.

 According to research, the average person attends 4 holiday parties between Thanksgiving and New Years. The bad news is that this weight tends to stick with us as we pack on more in the next year. Now is an ideal time to balance holiday indulgences with sensible eating. Instead of focusing on what foods and beverages to avoid, we should enjoy eating delicious nutrient-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese which provides us with us with key vitamins and minerals that Americans are lacking. I have four easy steps that can help viewers/audience zip through the holidays and zip their little black dress by New Year’s Eve.

1. First, we need to graze; not gorge. Many of us refuse meals and snacks prior to a party, so we can load up in buffet line. This can lead to a diet disaster! To prevent overeating, try a protein packed snack before you go. Some of my favorite pre party snacks include yogurt topped with granola, sliced apple with cheese or ½ peanut butter sandwich with a glass of milk.

2. Nosh on nutrient-rich foods. When you are navigating a holiday buffet, fill half your plate with brightly colored fruits & vegetables from the crudités tray. Choose a few cubes of cheese from the cheese platter with whole grain crackers. Then, round out your plate with lean protein like shrimp cocktail, sliced turkey or roast beef. Remember many favorite holiday foods are considered nutrient rich: Cranberries are high in vitamin C and antioxidants, nuts are a great source of protein, fiber and heart healthy monounsaturated fat, sweet potatoes boast vitamin A and beta carotene, and cheese provides a unique combination of nutrients including calcium and protein.

3. Control calories once we are at the party. It can be difficult, but is an important step in preventing weight gain. In fact, researchers from Texas A&M International University report Americans scarf down an extra 619 calories per day between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. Reducing calorie intake takes learning how to “perfect your portions.” Selecting small portions allows you to control your calorie intake yet sample the different tastes of the items offered. If you are hosting a party, consider a tasting party for your guests. A tasting party offers appetizers, desserts and beverages in smaller easier to handle party pieces. Recipes made with nutrient rich foods, such as low-fat or fat-free milk, cheese, & yogurt is the first step to build a healthy diet.

4. You CAN fit exercise into your busy holiday schedules. Whether it’s a holiday or a work day, we should never take a vacation from exercise. Physical activity, especially aerobic activities (like brisk walking, jogging, cycling or swimming) can help relieve stress, regulate appetite, and burn up extra calories from holiday eating. If you find it hard to stick to an exercise routine, work exercise into your holiday preparations: instead of online shopping walk around the mall, park further away from the mall entrance and avoid crowd traffic by taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Make time with your family to enjoy a walk around the neighborhood to view the decorations. For good health, we need 30 to 60 minutes every day, including holidays.

Jump start the New Year with a new way of eating by shifting the focus from foods and beverages to avoid to foods you can enjoy.

Survive The Holidays Without Weight Gain

Tis the season to eat and be merry! And boy do we EAT! I did a little research, and the average American eats approximately 3,000 to 3,500 calories during Thanksgiving lunch / dinner (the actual meal). This comes to about 4,000 calories for the day in total. To put that in perspective, an excess of 3,500 calories equals one pound of fat. Many people gain a significant amount of weight during the holiday season; some people can gain as much as 5-7 pounds. The weight-gain cycle can easily continue throughout the winter months, and by spring you can have up to 5-10 lbs to lose. Hold that pace for a decade and you will have gained 50-60 lbs.

But wait! There is good news: While it can take a few to several years to gain 50-60 lbs, it can only take 6-12 months to lose it. The better news: you don’t HAVE to gain weight over the holidays! Here are some tips on how to avoid adding holiday weight:

1) Walk and Exercise More. Take a walk with the family after dinner or go outside and toss the football around. Inside activities could include playing video games that are exercise related such as the Wii Fit, or just helping clean up! Just twenty minutes of brisk walking can burn between 100-150 calories. That equals a cookie or soda in calories! You can even start a new holiday tradition of going hiking, ice skating, swimming in an indoor pool, working out in a gym, or taking an exercise class at an adult education facility

2) Eat Slowly. Eat very slowly and enjoy the flavors. Try to chew your food several times per mouthful. It’s recommended to chew 30-40 times! It will allow the “hungry- full” response from your brain to recognize that you are satisfied. It takes the brain about 20 minutes to let you know you are full.

3.) Drink Water. Water is going to naturally help you avoid eating as much if you drink a large glass 20-30 minutes prior to having a large dinner. Plus, water will keep you hydrated and help you burn fat more efficiently. Some people confuse hunger with dehydration. If you just drink a glass of water, that will often take care of the food yearning. This is not skipping a meal – just a way to work through temptation. You can figure the approximate amount of water you need a day by dividing you weight in pounds by 2. This will be the number of ounces you need a day.

4). Don’t let stress get to you! Don’t let stress trigger an overeating episode. Even though it’s easy to reach for “comfort food” when you’re feeling stressed out or when you’re under pressure, skip the urge altogether and try a completely different activity to feel better. Talk to a friend, take a walk around the block, or hit the gym to give your mood a boost and keep your mind off eating.

5) Brush Your Teeth after Meals. I read this somewhere and tried it. It works! Right after eating a meal, especially dinner, go straight to the bathroom to brush, floss, and mouthwash so that your mouth is feeling nice and clean – this makes it less appealing to eat more (especially before bedtime). Ever try to eat or drink something after brushing your teeth? Not tasty!

Beat the Freshman 15

“Freshman 15” originally referred to the typical number of credit hours a full-time college student takes each semester. But pop culture also claims it’s the number of pounds college co-eds gain their first year away from home. Research shows about 70 percent of students gain weight between the start of college and their sophomore year – but the good news is the “Freshman 15” has lost weight.

Fill your dorm room refrigerator with nutrient rich foods

College freshmen flunk when it comes to good nutrition. Results from a recent Tufts study show students should get an “F” in eating enough fruits or vegetables, a “D” in eating enough fiber-rich grains and a “C” in consuming enough calcium. On average college students consume only half of the recommended servings of dairy each day.  To make the dean’s list, freshmen must make nutrient-rich foods a priority. Choosing nutrient-rich foods, which provide a more nutritious bang for your calorie buck, is the best way to build a healthy diet.   For bone health, young adults require calcium and vitamin D, and dairy foods like milk, cheese and yogurt deliver both.  

Many factors can tip the scales, like hectic schedules, social eating and all-you-can-eat meal plans, but the biggest culprit may be late night snacking. One study found that, on average, freshmen take in about 500 extra calories between the hours of 8 p.m. and 4 a.m.  For late night snacks, I recommend sliced fruit and cheese, yogurt topped with sliced almonds or whole grain cereal with fat-free milk.   

Tips for stocking a mini-fridge:

Undergrads should stock up on these fridge favorites: baby carrots and celery, hummus, string cheese, fresh fruit, yogurt, drinkable smoothies, water, pudding, low-fat and fat-free milk and lean sandwich meat.  These are healthy snacks perfect for the on-the-go student, and many come in single serve options that can be packed for class.  

Exercise is important too!

For good health, college students need to exercise at least 30 to 60 minutes most days of the week.  It’s easy to include fitness in college life with these five tips.  

  • Walk or bike to class. Be active on the way to class instead of taking a bus or car.
  • Go for a walk with friends. Stays fit and chat with friends at the same time. Instead of taking a shortcut back to the dorm, take the scenic route and get in a little extra exercise.
  • Take a fitness class as a course. This is a good way to include fitness and earn college credit.  Consider martial arts, dancing or aerobics to build muscle. 
  • Check out the college gym or wellness center. Most colleges have gyms that offer free services or reduced price memberships. Look for classes in yoga, cardio, kickboxing or dancing.  
  • Join an intramural sport. From volleyball to football, this is a fun way to meet new people and fit in exercise, too.

 Eating nutrient-rich foods, including low-fat and fat-free dairy, and exercising regularly can help students beat the dreaded “Freshman 15”.