Written By: Alison Barkman MS, RD, CDN
As a nutrition student I learned about eating issues in children such as picky eating, food jags, and mealtime battles. I wasn’t a mom at the time, but I remember thinking, that won’t happen with my kids! I assumed because I’m a healthy eater, and not remotely picky, that my kids would be the same.
Here I am now, a mom of two boys (three and five years old), and I’m dealing with picky eating, food jags, and mealtime wars. When my boys first started eating solid foods I could give them ANYTHING. Pureed broccoli, mashed sweet potatoes, egg salad sandwiches made with hummus, turkey loaf stuffed with veggies, or cooked spinach sprinkled with grated parmesan. Then some time around the two-year-old mark, they became more independent, and thus more vocal about their food likes and dislikes.
If it were up to my boys, chicken nuggets or mac n’ cheese would be on the dinner menu nightly. My older son sometimes likes salmon, the younger one screams at it. They barely touch vegetables. One day my older guy asked if he could put a few lettuce leaves on top of his pizza and I was ecstatic.
To my dismay, I began saying things like: “You better eat that broccoli!,” and “Fine, if you don’t eat that dinner you’re not getting dessert.” I would cringe because I knew these were the absolute WRONG things to say. Suddenly, I feared my yelling at dinner would create children who ended up HATING veggies, eating when they’re not truly hungry, and obsessing about desserts.
I began practicing the strategies I learned as a student, and things I continue to learn through reading the latest research, pediatric nutrition articles, and attending webinars. As a nutrition expert and mom in the trenches of healthy eating battles with kids, here are some tips I can share:
#1: I no longer yell: “If you don’t eat dinner, NO dessert!” Shame on me, I know better. Asking your child to eat their dinner with the promise of dessert afterward is sending the wrong message. This can be the start of teaching a child to eat when they're not hungry and "clear their plate.” Now, if my kids don't eat their dinner but ask for dessert, I still give it to them, with a caveat. I give them a choice between two “dessert” items and only allow a small amount. For example, two chocolate chip cookies (not the whole sleeve), a small bowl of grapes, maybe a frozen banana (they think this tastes like ice cream), or two graham crackers. The end result is that they are happy to have "dessert" and for me I know it wasn't too high in calories, fat or sugar. It also creates less of an aura of dessert being some tempting, hard-to-get treat that they will only get if they first eat foods they don’t like or want.
#2: If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. I DO NOT make various dinners for each child to suit their likes and dislikes. This feeds into picky eating, not to mention would make me exhausted. I get a plate ready with only a few bites of salmon, a small amount of vegetable, and a drop of rice. I put the plates in front of them and hear the whines and protests. The older guy may eat his salmon and ask for more. The little guy pushes everything around, yells and screams, and eventually he may eat some rice. I let them sit there a while until it's obvious there is no interest in eating anymore. Dinner is done. I do this night after night. Offering a small amounts does two things: 1) it gives them a chance to try the food and ask for more if they like it; and, 2) if they hate it, I don't get mad about wasting food because I'm only throwing away a small amount. It can take a child up to a dozen times offering a new food until he/she actually wants to eat it.
#3: Offer vs. serve. Instead of saying "You are going to eat chicken, veggies and potato for dinner", I try to give them some choices to make them somewhat empowered. I make it attractive for my kids, but also easy for me. In the case of a chicken dinner I may say: "Would you like the mixed veggies or would you prefer sliced apples?" They will probably choose the apples, especially if I offer to bake them and sprinkle cinnamon on top. When they eat the apple slices they are getting something healthy, and we’ll try next time for veggies again.
As with anything, these strategies will not always work. Feeding kids a healthy diet is a work-in-progress and each child is unique. Kids will love sweet potatoes one day, then hate it the next. This is normal. It doesn't mean as a parent you must tap-dance around their daily likes and dislikes, and accommodate their new picky eating habits. It is best to:
1. Have set meal and snack times to give some structure to eating vs. grazing all day, watching TV while they eat or having other distractions around food
2. Make the meals healthy and with a variety of foods. Try serving one item on their plate you know they will enjoy, along with your healthy picks.
3. If your child doesn't eat, try not to get angry and show disappointment. This will create stress and anxiety at mealtimes and may make things worse for future meals.
4. If your child hates a food, like spinach, it is better to continuously offer it rather than never offer it again. Remember, if it’s out of sight, it’s out of mind.
Parents, you are the gatekeepers to healthy eating for your child. The best you can do is keep offering healthy choices, create a stress-free eating environment, and trust that one day down the road, all of your hard work will pay off!
About Alison Barkman, MS, RD, CDN
Alison is an adjunct professor of nutrition at LIU Post and has a new private practice, Alison Barkman Nutrition, in Garden City, NY. In her practice she focuses on sports and pediatric nutrition. She can be emailed at AlisonBarkmanNutrition@gmail.com. Facebook: @Alisonbarkmannutrition. Twitter: @alisonbarkmanRD. LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/alisonbarkman
 Help Them Try New Foods. (n.d.). Retrieved June 6, 2015, from http://www.choosemyplate.gov/preschoolers/picky-eaters/new-foods.html
Mastering the interview by Madeleine Berg, MS,RDN,CDN
As I write this, I just received an invitation for a breakfast meeting with 2 very influential women in the Long Island human resources community. This meeting could be the breakthrough moment I have been working towards to promote worksite wellness on Long Island. I am excited. I am also terrified. After allowing myself a moment to celebrate this good fortune, it’s time to get to work.
When interviewing, preparation is everything. The more you know about the company and the people interviewing you, the better. Do your research. Find a connection or common ground. The person who gets the job is not necessarily the one with the best qualifications, but the one who is the best fit. I interviewed with Hanes Brand recently. The night before the interview I came across a shoelace, if you can believe it, from the first race I ever ran in 1986. The race was the Leggs Mini Marathon. As luck would have it, Hanes Brand owns Leggs. During my interview, I mentioned how inspiring Hanes Brand is to have sponsored a woman’s only race decades before they became commonplace. The woman interviewing me, literally said, “You had the job when you mentioned the Leggs Mini Marathon”. Find a connection!
Not every interview goes so smoothly. For one thing, you are interviewing the employer as much as the are interviewing you. I have blown more than 1 job opportunity because of my position on dietary supplements - I refuse to sell them. If a job requires me to endorse a product that I don’t actually endorse, well that job is not for me. On another ill fated interview for a wellness job, I didn’t see how I could commute 4 hours a day and still maintain my personal level of fitness. I knew this was not the job for me. Not every job you interview for will be the right fit.
Anticipate questions you are likely to be asked and have answers prepared. Many interviewers use the STAR technique. This stands for situation/task, action and results. What is a specific example of a conflict you had with a coworker ? How did you respond? What was the outcome? Practice your answers out loud. The questions I always struggle with are “What are your strengths?” and “What are your weaknesses?” When I answer these questions, I don’t even sound believable to myself! I know the key to a successful interview is to sound authentic, but when I’m asked “Why should I hire you?” my mind goes blank. The more you practice the easier it becomes.
Basic Interview tips: Dress professionally. Arrive on time.
Do your research. Come prepared with answers to questions that will likely be asked.
Have a question ready to ask the interviewer and it should NOT be about your benefits or your commute.
Present yourself as a person with confidence.
Always send a thank you note or email.
And finally the encouraging words of my friend Allison when I told her about my upcoming interview, “Don’t blow it!!”
There's No Place Like The Grocery Store
April 7, 2015
Hi, all! I'm so glad to have the chance to get back to my blog this week. I have honestly been so busy since my last blog post, and unfortunately, my page has been sitting idle. I am just excited to get back to it and keep it going regularly from now on.
This week's post is going to be slightly different in that there is no recipe attached and no science lesson to look forward to (haha). No, this week, I wanted I wanted to focus on grocery shopping.
The grocery store can be a crazy, scary place if you're trying to stay healthy. On every aisle, there are at least 5,000 products (at least it feels that way) that boast words like "ORGANIC," "ALL NATURAL," "WHOLE GRAIN," "NO SUGAR ADDED," "LOW SODIUM," "HEART HEALTHY," and the likes. How are we to discern which products really ARE organic/natural/etc. and which ones are just trying to hoodwink us? I've put together this guide that can hopefully be of some assistance.
*P.S.: I know this post is bulky! And there's still so much more that I didn't even cover. Feel free to skip around to the parts that pertain to you.
When it comes to produce, the "Dirty Dozen" and the "Clean Fifteen" are the standard guidelines to shop with. The Dirty Dozen are fruits and vegetables that SHOULD be purchased organic, if at all possible, because they are sprayed with pesticides, that if eaten in large quantities, may cause adverse health effects. The Clean Fifteen are fruits and vegetables that do not necessarily need to be purchased organic because they have the lowest pesticide load. They are either sprayed less, or they have thicker skins that make it more difficult for the pesticides to contaminate the flesh of the fruit/vegetable. The Dirty Dozen & The Clean Fifteen are listed below.
The Dirty Dozen:
2. Strawberries & Blueberries
7. Sweet Bell Peppers & Hot Peppers
10. Cherry Tomatoes
11. Snap Peas
The Clean Fifteen:
2. Sweet Corn
5. Frozen Sweet Peas
14. Sweet Potatoes
Also, just as a side note, if you are buying salad in a bag that is pre-washed or triple washed, I still recommend washing when you get home. One may never know if it truly was triple washed or pre-washed because we are not there in the production factory during the bagging of these food items. It's always better safe than sorry.
Cereals & Grains
I believe it's pretty common knowledge now that many cereals are packed with tons of added sugar because they appeal to kids. I cannot stress enough that these cereals really have no nutritional value, and it's best to avoid them if you can. Reading the nutrition labels in this aisle can be very helpful if you're confused. Ingredients lists are the best place to start because it will tell you if there really are whole grains and natural fiber. The ingredients are listed in descending order, meaning the ingredient present in the highest quantity will be listed first. The last ingredient on the list is present in the lowest amount. If the first ingredients are either whole grains or oats, this cereal is probably a better choice for you than one that has rice, rice flour, wheat, or wheat flour as the first two ingredients. Cereals containing bran, nuts and fruits in large quanitites are also a healthier alternative. The rice/rice flour and wheat/wheat flour are most likely refined and offer little to no nutritional value. The whole grains and bran provide a good amount of natural fiber and a whole host of vitamins and minerals that are stripped away during the refining process. A sugary "kid's" cereal such as Frosted Flakes may try to boast that they have now added fiber. What this means is that they have added isolated fiber, which is taken from a whole grain, made into a powder, and added to the cereal. While this is all well and good, it offers no comparison to fiber in its whole, natural form. In fact, it may offer no health benefits at all!
More often than not, canned goods are loaded with sodium or packed in sugary, sweet juices. However, canned goods (especially canned fruits & veggies) can still offer the same amount of health benefits as their fresh counterparts if you know what to look for. Canned fruits, vegetables, beans, and soups are a cheaper alternative and often require less cooking time, so they can fit into any busy lifestyle. When shopping for canned soup, it is best to look for low-sodium brands. Some soups have over 800 mg. of sodium in one can! That equals about 40% of your sodium requirements for the day! Also, try to buy soups that contain lots of vegetables and/or beans, again, for the added fiber content. Canned fruits and vegetables can be tricky, as well. Canned vegetables also typically contain a large amount of sodium. However, if you look for veggies that are packed in water, the sodium content is far less. Also, if you cannot find veggies packed in water, draining & rinsing regular canned veggies can reduce the sodium content by up to 41%. Finally, canned fruits can also be part of a healthy diet. Look for fruits that are canned in water or their natural juices. Fruits canned in heavy syrup contain a whopping amount of added sugar.
Dairy & Dairy Products
Ahh, the dairy aisle- America's favorite aisle, but also one of the most confusing. Even I find myself standing here for a while trying to decide whether I should buy organic eggs or free range? Whole milk or skim? Well, when it comes to eggs, free-range, cage-free and the likes are terms that are probably just used as marketing ploys in most major grocery stores. Free-range simply means that at least for part of the day, the animals have a chance to roam around outside in their natural environment. It sounds more humane, but as long as they are outside for even 5 minutes, they can be considered free-range. The term cage-free is self-explanatory. It simply means that the chickens are not kept in cages and have the freedom and the ability to spread their wings, lay eggs in nests, and act as chickens will. However, these chickens do not really have the chance to go outdoors; so, at the end of the day, I don't really think it matters much what type of eggs you buy if you are getting them from a grocery store. Of course, I like to stay as natural as possible and love to get farm-fresh eggs when they are available. This is definitely the best quality egg, and the difference is apparent. When you buy directly from a farm, the chickens are also most likely treated with some decency.
In terms of milk, lower fat milk is also probably the best choice. It doesn't have to be skim, but 1% or 2% milks are also good because they still have that creamy mouthfeel and provide a healthy dose of fat. Whether you choose to buy organic is up to you.
I don't want to mess with people and their cheese, either. I love cheese, so I usually just buy whatever kind I feel like. However, certain cheeses can be high in fat and sodium, so it's best to watch portions if you're a cheese-lover like me.
Yogurt is also tricky. Greek yogurt is probably the best bet because it is low in sugar and high in protein. Even the 0% fat Greek yogurts are full-bodied and creamy. I would suggest staying away from certain brands with fruit on the bottom because it adds a lot more sugar than is necessary. If you like, you can always add some honey (or sweetener of your choice) and some fresh fruit at home on your own.
Finally, we come to the butter. I love butter, and I think that if you're going to use it, you should use REAL butter, not the spreads. Most of the time, the spreads are mixed with unhealthy oils to make them smooth and easy to schmear. They also have a lot of chemicals in them that would be better left out of a healthier diet. I honestly don't see anything wrong with real butter, as long as, once again, you watch how much you are consuming throughout the day.
the entire store. Meals that are ready prepared are laden with sodium and tons of preservatives to extend their shelf lives. I do understand their convenience, though, and sometimes it's necessary when you're in a rush. Just try to limit your consumption of these meals. Frozen fruits and vegetables, like canned vegetables, are harvested at their peak and flash frozen so much of the nutrient content is preserved. Sometimes, frozen fruits and veggies even have a higher nutritional value than fresh ones that travel for days from far and wide before they even get to our stores. Frozen fruits and veggies are great for smoothies and are definitely a staple in my kitchen. The rest of the frozen foods are usually unhealthier items such as french fries, mozzarella sticks, potato skins, etc. They are best used sparingly. Buuutttt, if you have a craving for ice cream, go for it. I love ice cream (om nom nom).
Normally, I would advise people to shop around the perimeter of the store, as it seems this is where the most wholesome ingredients are kept. However, I know that everyone's budget and everyone's schedules are completely different, and so I hope that my guide to the grocery store provided some insight on how to shop for your health no matter what aisle you may find yourself on!
Peace, Love, Health,
Writing a Winning Resume
Madeleine Berg, MS, RD, CDN
Your resume is a marketing tool with the main objective of landing a job interview. If you ‘re returning to the workforce like me, or just starting out, a problem you are likely facing is filling in resume gaps. I know you’re thinking that not even a marketing genius could parlay my decade away from the field into a suitable resume. But by following these simple tips, my resume has landed me coveted job interviews. Some of the interviews I have bombed spectacularly, but I digress. How do you fill in resume gaps? Even if you don’t have paid experience in the field, internships, volunteer work and jobs you’ve held in other fields can be used to highlight relevant skills. Desirable skills include budgeting, organizing, communicating, computer skills, management, leadership. Did you raise money for a charity? Did you organize an event for your local school or religious organization? Do you have a blog? Have you done any kind of consulting? I volunteered to run a nutrition booth for my school district and that was my first introduction into worksite wellness. I also started taking dietetic interns. Taking interns when you are job hunting may seem counterintuitive, but I have learned much from my interns and I was able to add teaching and supervising to my resume. Make a list of your professional skills and you may find your resume gaps are not as wide as you first thought.
I interviewed many chief clinical dietitians and they overwhelmingly agreed that the number one quality they look for on a resume is that the applicant has kept current. If you feel you need to brush up on your skills or if you want to make your resume more competitive, get an additional certification. You can become certified as a health coach,
personal trainer or diabetes educator.Managers spend less than 2 minutes reading each resume. Get to the point! Keep your most impressive qualifications on top. Don’t wait until the bottom of page 3 to note you are a CDE. Keep your resume professional. Your resume is not the place to highlight your battle with disordered eating or your personal weight loss journey.
- Include license/certifications in the header
- Lead with your most impressive work accomplishment
- Resume should be clean and neat
- Focus your resume so it is job specific
- Do not provide false information
- Do not use cliches or generic phrases
- Do not include superfluous or personal information like hobbies/interests
- Do not use bold color or unusual fonts
- No typos or incorrect spelling or grammar
In my next blog post I will share my most humiliating job interview experiences and how you can avoid them.
I have been thinking a lot lately about how to bring more balance and awareness into my
life. For the majority of my 28 years on earth, I have been very unhappy with my weight.
Every fiber of my being, every waking moment went in to weight loss. I would spend
hours at the gym when I could; I turned down social invitations because I was fearful that
these occasions would lead to me being “bad;” I have been on every fad diet under the
sun: if you name it, I’ve probably tried it. Though <<insert fad diet name here>> served
its purpose at the time, I found that this all or nothing mentality was hindering me a lot
more than it was helping. I would feel deprived all week, binge on fast food all weekend,
and come Monday, it was right back to that diet; with a new week came a new slate, and
this time, I swore I would be “good.” I started to become obsessive for fear that the
“bad” side of my personal justice scale (and let’s face it, my personal bathroom scale)
would be weighed down.
I am not really sure how this internal pressure that we put on ourselves begins, or from
where it originates. Studies suggest that a societal pressure to conform to a thin ideal is
to blame. According to a study done by Bacon, Stern, Van Loan & Keim, 57% of
women in the U.S. are on some sort of diet (2005), most likely because they make
society’s priorities their own. However, I believe that you and your health should be
your first priority. It wasn’t until I started doing yoga regularly that I was able to take a
step back and fully realize this. Everyone has the capacity to conquer this negative
internal voice and emerge victorious in the trial of life. And while I’m not trying to push
yoga or any certain agenda, I am trying to say that the journey starts from within;
however you choose to start is up to you.
One thing that really helped me balance was developing a realistic eating plan that was
easy to stick to by following the principles of Intuitive Eating. Intuitive eating is “an
approach that teaches you how to create a healthy relationship with your food, mind, and
body—where you ultimately become the expert of your own body…it is also a process of
making peace with food—so that you no longer have constant ‘food worry’ thoughts. It’s
knowing that your health and your worth as a person do not change because you ate a
food that you had labeled as ‘bad’ or ‘fattening’” (Tribole, 2009). It takes a lot of work
to get to this point, but it is so worth it. Intuitive eating offers a sense of freedom, and
has been proven to improve health outcomes in women. In the same study by Bacon,
Stern, Van Loan & Keim, 78 obese female chronic dieters were observed. They either
followed a “health at every size” approach or were placed on a structured diet. The
results revealed that those women who were counseled with the “health at every size”
approach had more positive outcomes, including weight loss and maintenance, total
cholesterol reduction, increased physical activity, and improved psychological measures
As I have said before, every food fits, and I truly believe that. Remember that it is
important to eat for yourself and your health. You should always be your first priority.
I hope everyone enjoys, and keep working hard on the path to balance!
Bacon, L., Stern, J., Vanloan, M., & Keim, N. (2005). Size Acceptance And Intuitive
Eating Improve Health For Obese, Female Chronic Dieters. Journal of the
American Dietetic Association, 105(6), 929-936.
Evelyn, T. (2009, January 1). Evelyn Tribole, MS, RD - Nutrition Therapist, Author,
Speaker. Retrieved January 23, 2015, from
This Year, Make the Resolution for Health…
Every year, thousands and thousands of men and women alike resolve to lose weight
come January 1st. The reasons for weight loss may vary: one person may have high
blood pressure, another, type two diabetes. However, the end goal is almost always the
same: improved health! Though many aspects of overall health are improved with weight
reduction, focusing solely on one facet of the problem is not always beneficial. Crash
diets and extreme exercise regimes make reaching our health goals harder, as these plans
encourage deprivation and equate being healthy to being miserable. This year, try taking
a 360 approach to health by giving your body just what it needs- a little TLC!
TLC can stand for tender loving care or total lifestyle change, and both a required on the
path to good health. It is important that you are kind to both your bodies and your minds
as you embark on this journey into the New Year. Making a total lifestyle change is
difficult, and may take some planning and preparation. Starting out slowly by making
small changes every day or week is a more realistic approach, as it will give you time to
adjust and a chance to really incorporate these new practices into your daily life.
If you do not know where to start, you are not alone. Changing your outlook on health is,
in my opinion, the most important first step. Ditch the diet mentality in 2015! Try
thinking about the foods that you can have, and take the focus off of foods that are “bad.”
A healthy lifestyle is not about deprivation, and really, every food fits in moderation.
Though every food does have a place in your diet, it is still important to increase your
consumption of healthier fare. Adding new foods each week, such as a serving of fruits
and vegetables or whole grains will increase your food repertoire and keep being healthy
fun and interesting. You might even find a new food item to enjoy! You may also find
that as time goes on, your taste for unhealthier foods diminishes. One way to facilitate
this process is to dine at home one or more times per week. Though going out to eat is an
enjoyable experience, a lot of the food is laden with sodium and saturated fat. Eating at
home allows you to control what is going into your food. If this is difficult, you may find
inspiration from websites like Pinterest.com, which offers thousands of healthy recipes.
Many Registered Dietitians are also on Pinterest and offer great health tips!
Adding exercise is also important, not only for weight loss, but for improved outcomes in
many chronic diseases such as hypertension. Exercise does not always have to take place
at the gym. Find activities that are enjoyable for you, like walking or gardening. You
can even try something new here too, like yoga or zumba. If you are physically inactive,
don’t dive into exercise either: 20 minutes 2-3 days per week is a great place to start, and
you can always add more or do less depending on your comfort level.
Finally, do not forget to relax and enjoy the holidays and New Years celebrations with
your families and loved ones. Happy New Year to all, and let’s make 2015 a year
dedicated to healthy habits and TLC!
It’s been almost 4 years since I retook the RD exam. As much as my story is a
cautionary tale, it is also one of redemption. When I let my RD lapse more than a
decade ago, I was so swamped with being a mom, I couldn’t imagine ever working as
an RD again. Still in the back of my mind I always knew that I could retake the RD
exam. As it turns out, for me, retaking the exam was the easiest obstacle to overcome.
It never occurred to me that I wouldn’t be welcomed back into the field with open arms.
Maybe my story is similar to yours. I graduated with a BS in nutrition from Cornell then I
went on to the coordinated internship and masters degree program with the Bronx VA
and NYU. I worked as an editorial assistant for a food magazine, as a research
assistant on a breast cancer study, as a clinical dietitian in a hospital, and finally as an
Assistant Director of Foodservice for Beth Israel North. My career screeched to a halt
the day I gave birth to the first of my 4 sons. I cleared out my desk and left work for
As I was shutting the door on my career, I did make one decision that proved to be
hugely beneficial, I became licensed by NY state. Unlike with the RD, you can reinstate
your license just by paying a fee. If you are a CDN, even if you are not an RD, you can
become an insurance provider.
If you find yourself like I did, with changing circumstances and the need to return to the
workforce, what should you do? For starters, know that you are not alone.
Networking is literally building relationships. There is a big difference between
networking and gossiping. When I talk about my personal life, which trust me is worthy
of a Lifetime special, I never advance my career. But, if I talk about my professional
goals and accomplishments, I am opening the door to the possibility of a professional
connection. If you find yourself in a conversation headed for soap opera city, redirect it
to something more constructive and don’t be shy about self promoting. Have your
elevator pitch ready. In other words, be able to sell yourself in 1 or 2 sentences.
Networking is especially important when you are returning to the workforce after an
extended absence. Early on I applied to many jobs online and never got a response. If
felt like my resume went into a black hole. But when I had a personal connection, my
resume went to the top of the pile.
Your network is composed of literally everyone you have ever had some contact with.
You should build your network on line with Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, and with your
blog. Face to face is also important. Every time you lave your house it is a chance to
make a connection. Get out of your sweatpants and present yourself to the world as a
Be sure to follow up on all leads. 97% of people never follow up. Distinguish yourself
and notice the difference. When you have a choice between sending an email and
making a phone call, pick up the phone. Make the personal connection.
My favorite quote is from Seth Godin: The best time to start was a while ago. The
second best time is today.
The next blog post will be on how to write a winning resume.
About the author:
Madeleine Berg, MS,RDN,CDN is the founder of Long Island Worksite Wellness which provides worksite wellness programs for Fortune 500 companies in the tri state area. She also has a private practice in Woodbury. Follow her on Facebook Madeleine Berg, The SuperNutritionist and on twitter @Supernutritioni
Hello, and welcome to the Long Island Dietetic Association’s (LIDA) very first
blog! I am so excited to be a part of this new project. My name is Lisa, and I am
currently a Dietetic Intern at LIU Post. This blog is meant to bring you the latest
news in the world of food and nutrition. I hope to inspire all of you to lead healthy
lifestyles with quick tips, recipes, and the most recent scientific research in the
field of nutrition.
With the holidays fast approaching, I thought it would be appropriate for the first
official post to focus on healthy holiday eating. The holidays are a hectic time of
year for most people, and healthful eating habits often fall by the wayside. Here
are some tips to help you make it through this season satisfied, but not stuffed.
Tip #1: Plan ahead!
If you’re having Thanksgiving dinner at your house, planning ahead should be
simple. Remember, you’re in charge of the menu! While store-bought foods are
all well and good, many of them are packed with sodium, sugar, and other
ingredients that are unhealthy in large amounts. Making most of the dishes from
scratch allows you to have control of what is going into your food. Commonly
purchased canned items such as soup and cranberry sauce are easy to make,
and can be prepared ahead of time. Check out my recipe for a cauliflower and
leek soup! It has simple ingredients and half the calories of a cream-based soup!
Cauliflower Leek Soup Recipe
Planning on making mashed potatoes, or a dessert like cheesecake? Swapping
out some of the more calorie-dense ingredients may be beneficial. Consider
using Parmesan cheese, skim milk, light cream cheese or Greek yogurt to
provide the same creamy texture as their more fattening counterparts. Offering a
healthier dessert option, such as dark chocolate covered fruit, is another way to
beat the holiday bulge.
If you’re going elsewhere for the holidays, planning ahead can be a little more
difficult. Here are some tips to help you plan accordingly:
Tip #2: Eat Beforehand
Contrary to popular belief, “preparing your stomach” for a large meal can actually
be detrimental. Many people go into starvation mode on Thanksgiving to save
room for the much anticipated holiday fare. However, this can lead to overeating
out of sheer hunger when you sit down for dinner.
To avoid this binge-like behavior, it is important to make sure that your eating
stays consistent throughout the day. Have a good, hearty breakfast in the
morning, and have a healthy snack like some nuts, or a vegetable crudité before
you sit down to eat. This way, you won’t be ravenous at dinner, you will eat less,
and your stomach will thank you for it.
Tip #3: Watch the Portion Sizes
It’s hard to NOT get overwhelmed with the spread of amazing food that always
seems to be around during the holidays. This makes it easy to overeat and pack
on the holiday pounds. Being aware of how much you are actually eating is
Start slow! Take one scoop of each item instead of piling food onto your plate.
Also, Try waiting 5-10 minutes after finishing your plate before going for seconds.
Your brain will have time to process the fact that you have eaten, and the urge to
go for more will disappear. If you’re still craving seconds, try filling that next plate
with mostly vegetables. They will take up more room, leaving less space for
Tip #4: Exercise
Thanksgiving morning is typically spent in front of the television, watching football
or the Thanksgiving Day Parade. However, if you can find the motivation to get a
workout in, it will make you feel great, and might take some of the guilt out of
indulging in Thanksgiving treats.
Most gyms offer classes in the morning on Thanksgiving Day. Popping in for a
Zumba, spin, or yoga class will help you torch calories and boost your mood
before your family feast. If you’re cooking, you can also take a break from the
kitchen to go for a brisk walk, alone or with company.
Tip #5: To Cocktail, or Not to Cocktail?
If you’re like me, having a drink or two during dinner is an important part of the
holiday tradition. Unfortunately, many of the holiday “buzz-worthy” beverages
are made with milk and cream; just two 8 oz. glasses of eggnog, for instance,
can add up to over 500 calories!
There is no reason to completely cut alcohol out of the equation, though. Again,
simple swaps such as using skim milk instead of whole milk or heavy cream can
reduce the caloric load of any drink.
Eggnog not your style? Try a vodka or rum mixed with diet soda or a glass of
wine mixed with seltzer. These are other great ways to save calories and put
some fizz into your holiday gathering.
Now, I would love to hear from you! How do you keep your holidays healthy? If
you’ve tried any of these tips in the past, have they worked? I hope that you find
these suggestions helpful, and that they assist you in having the happiest of
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
On September 24th and 25th, Eileen Kane-Gemmel, President, Marie Bell, Public Policy Chair and Michelle Serpas, Public Relations Chair were invited to NYSDA’s training seminar in Saratoga Springs, NY along with BOD members from New York’s nine other districts. NYSDA emphasized their strategic plan, which consists of three major goals: (1) The public trusts and chooses RD’s and DTR’s as food and nutrition experts. (2) NYSDA improves the health of New Yorkers. (3) Members and prospective members view NYSDA as key to professional success. Throughout the training seminar, NYSDA gave each district the tools and strategies necessary to follow through and meet these goals, as well as the district’s own goals. The American Dairy Council sponsored the keynote speaker of the weekend, Joan Horbiak, RD, MPH who presented a wonderful workshop on Leading Out Loud. She shared with us tips, techniques and strategies on how present ourselves as credible, trusted and professional dietitians so that our community members know that we are the Food and Nutrition Experts in our country. The weekend as a whole was very inspirational, motivating, and greatly enjoyed by everyone.
In this picture: Michelle Serpas; Eileen Kane-Gemmel, MPA, RD, CDN; Marie Bell, RD, CDN; Rita Batheja, MS, RD, CDN.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has sent out their membership renewal packets; The Long Island Dietetic Association will be doing the same shortly. Would you please consider volunteering at the local level with LIDA? We are always looking for new ideas and ways to grow our organization and cannot accomplish this without dynamic members. There are a wide array of volunteer opportunities that can cater to everyone. We understand that everyone is busy and few have extra time however being involved with LIDA is so rewarding and a way to give back to our profession. We look forward to seeing all of you at our end of the year dinner meeting (details to follow) and welcome everyone to consider volunteering your time and expertise to LIDA!!!
About the Author
Lisa Samuels is a Long Island native who is currently a Dietetic Intern at LIU Post. She has a B.A. in Art History from Ithaca College, a B.S. in Nutrition from LIU Post & was also a practicing baker for two years. Lisa has finally found her calling. Combining her love for food, writing, and nutrition, she strives to bring you the latest news in the field.
Check out even more posts from Lisa at her website: