Monday, September 19, 2011

Whole Grains Month

Are you getting enough whole grains?

September is Whole Grains Month. You may be asking yourself, what is a whole grain and why should I be choosing them?

Whole grains are actually the seeds of various types of cereal grasses. A whole grain contains three parts: bran, endosperm, and germ. Each part of the seed provides different health benefits:
Bran- contains fiber, B vitamins, protein and trace minerals
Endosperm- contains mostly carbohydrate, some protein and small amounts of B vitamins
Germ- contains B vitamins, vitamin E, trace minerals and something called phytonutrients (substance in plants that have health-protective benefits).

When harvested, most seeds are broken down and the endosperm is the only part that is milled, making white flour. Therefore, many nutrients are lost and the milled flour is mainly carbohydrate. Many white flours or “refined” grains, as they are called, are often enriched to restore key nutrients that are lost during the milling process but still lack fiber and some nutrients.

Now that we know what a whole grain is, how can we be sure we are consuming them? There are a few ways to identify whole grain products:
  • Look for the yellow and black Whole Grain Stamp, provided by Whole Grains Council. There are two different stamps; one is the basic stamp, the other 100% stamp. The basic stamp indicates that ½ of the grains in the product are whole and the number on the stamp signifies how many grams of whole grain per serving. The 100% whole grain stamp shows that 100% of the grains used in that product are whole grains and also indicates the number of grams of whole grain per serving.
  • If there is no stamp on the food product, be sure to check the label for words such as, 100% whole (insert name of grain here). Be skeptical of the sayings “whole grain”, “wheat flour” or “multigrain” on a product, as it may only contain very small amounts of the whole grain itself. If the product has words such as “whole wheat flour” or “whole oats” as the first ingredient, it is highly likely but not guaranteed that product is predominantly whole grain.
  • Just a reminder that fiber is not an indicator of whole grain. Although fiber is a benefit of whole grain, fiber can be added to product, without all of the nutrients of whole grain.

Lastly, and most importantly, what are the health benefits of whole grains? Medical research has shown that whole grain intake reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and obesity. Other benefits include reduced risk of asthma, healthier carotid arteries, reduction of inflammatory disease risk, lower risk of colorectal cancer, healthier blood pressure levels and less gum disease and tooth loss.

To gain these health benefits, try to consume 3-5 servings of whole grains per day or a total of 48g or more of whole grains daily. If you have yet to try a whole grain, be sure to take a step towards a healthier you this month and include whole grains in your daily meal plan!

(Information provided by the Whole Grains Council)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A little "fair" food

After making my way through a few local county fairs, I thought it was time to comment on some of the typical fair foods and calories.

I found that I didn't choose the "typical" foods when I dined, and instead, supported the local pork or cattle producer stands. The ribeye steak sandwich averages between 400-600 calories and about 40g of fat per sandwich, depending on lean vs fat ratio. A pork tenderloin (fried) sandwich is between 500-700 calories and 30 grams of fat. Of course, you could just have a pork or beef burger, which would be more in the 300 calorie range, but that can be a tough sell against the previous two competitors!

Here is a list of some common fair foods and the calories:

Regular Corn Dog- 250 calories, 14g of fat
Greek Gyro- 680 calories, 40g of fat
Hot Dog with Chili and Cheese- 500 calories, 36g of fat
6" Funnel Cake with Powdered Sugar- 285 calories, 14g of fat (this is a small version!)
Cotton Candy per bag- 220 calories, no fat (I guess you could call this the low-fat snack the fair... but it has 56g of sugar to lure you in!)
Nachos- 860 calories, 59g of fat

If you are planning on attending the Iowa State Fair this summer, be sure to take note of a few of their new items, including:
-Fried Butter on a stick
-Chocolate Covered Fried Ice Cream on a stick
-Red Velvet Funnel Cake with Cream Cheese Icing
-PB/J on a stick

I would hate to see the calorie and fat levels for most of these and hopefully you walk enough at the State Fair to offset some of those calories!! But, if you are looking for some healthier options, the State Fair does offer items listed below:
-Various salads
-Salad on a stick
-Pork Chop on a stick
-Fruit kabobs

Hope you enjoyed the summer and made it through your local fair or festival, without adding an extra 2-4 pounds!

Monday, July 18, 2011

5K the FCMC Way Finale!

On May 9th, Floyd County Medical Center and 256 community members embarked on an 8-week activity challenge – to get active and train to walk, jog, or run a 5K!  Our mission was three-fold:  To encourage and involve the community around an event that promotes health and well being, to improve the health of our community by increasing awareness and encouraging activity, and to have some fun!

Each week participants were asked to track their activity distance, activity time, water consumption and fruit/veggie servings.  Participants turned their activity sheet in at a different local business each Monday and received an incentive to encourage them along their journey. Along with a weekly incentive participants received a health tip from FCMC.  Our health tips have been on topics such as staying hydrated, injury prevention, and motivation. 
In 8 weeks, the participants logged 8815 miles, over 2500 hours of activity, drank over 30,000 cups of water, and ate over 18,000 servings of fruits and veggies!
Congratulations to our big winners:  Sue Baker for logging 421 miles; Lisa Schwickerath for logging over 73 hours of activity; James Tupy for drinking the most water – 814 cups; and Dan Hugh for consuming 550 servings of fruits and veggies!

We would like to say thank you to all of our wonderful local businesses who participated as work groups, hosted our participants on Mondays, or donated an incentive along the way.  Your generous participation and support is very much appreciated!  Here is a list of our generous sponsors:
Artwear                                                                                    Healthquest
Blush Salon                                                                              HyVee
Boundless Network                                                                 KCHA
Cambrex                                                                                  Kwik Star
Charley Western Firecracker 5K Committee                           Pfizer
Charles City Chamber of Commerce                                       Radio Shack    
Comprehensive Systems                                                         Rivers Edge Salon
Curves                                                                                     Runners Flat/Rocket Science Coaching
First Security Bank & Trust                                                     Slinger Chiropractic
Floyd County Extension Office                                                Subway

And to all who participated in the program – we thank you for your enthusiasm and dedication.  We hope you enjoyed the program, were able to increase your activity level and are on your way to a healthier, happier you!  

Article compliments of Dori Myers

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Strawberry Pie Season

It's berry season!! I LOVE this time of year for many reasons and with one of them being, strawberry pie! Growing up, my family of seven children would go with my Mom to pick berries at a local patch. I think Mom decided against us having our own patch because we couldn't start berry fights in public and we would actually behave ourselves :)

We would spend the morning, picking, cleaning and tipping all of the berries and then spend the afternoon making jams, canning/freezing, and making 4-5 fresh strawberry pies. Life was amazing back then, right?!

Although the pies were delicious, they were far from healthy with the sugar-cookie type crust. Remember, we also lived on a dairy farm and butter was readily available at all times! Below are a few tips on why strawberries are healthy and also an updated version of strawberry pie that is much lower in calories than my Mom's version (sorry Mom!).  ENJOY!

Tip: Just one cup of strawberries has about 3grams of fiber and more than one day's worth of the recommended intake of vitamin C.

Strawberry Pie recipe from Cooking Light

50 reduced-calorie vanilla wafers
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp grated orange rind (optional)

2 cups of ripe strawberries
1/2 cup water
2/3 cup sugar
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
6 cups of small ripe strawberries

Reduced fat whipped topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place wafers in food processor and process until finely ground. Add butter, sugar and orange rind and pulse 10 more times or until wafers are moist. Press into bottom of 9-inch pie plate coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes and cool. (You could also use a pre-made low fat graham cracker crust here).

Mash 2 cups of berries. Combine mashed berries and water in saucepan and bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Strain and discard pulp- keep liquid. Combine 2/3cup sugar and cornstarch in pan; add strawberry liquid from above; stirring well with whisk. Bring to boil and cook 1 minute; stirring constantly. Reduce heat, cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add lemon juice.

Place whole or sliced berries in crust (6 cups) and add sauce made above, over the top. Chill for at least three hours.

Nutrition info: 8 servings: Each serving contains 285 calories, 8.5g fat, 52.2g carbohydrate.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Dessert Talk

In the summer, we often indulge on an increased amount of desserts due to fresh-fruit availability for pies/crumbles, weddings and anniversaries, graduations and many other social events.

Here are a few ways to decrease calories when preparing (or consuming) dessert:

· Make your dessert "a la mode" with a cookie scoop (1/4 cup) of light or low-fat ice cream instead of a 1/2-cup scoop of full-fat ice cream. You'll save 130 calories, 10.5 grams fat, 6.6 grams saturated fat, 59 milligrams cholesterol and 8 grams carbohydrate.

· Add a small dollop (1/8 cup) of light whipped cream instead of a big plop of heavy whipping cream (1/2 cup). You'll save 162 calories, 17.5 grams fat, 11 grams saturated fat, and 65 milligrams cholesterol.

· Serve your fresh fruit atop a slice of angel food cake (weighing 50 grams per slice) instead of buttery pound cake (85 grams per slice). You'll save 95 calories, 14 grams fat, 3.5 grams saturated fat, 80 milligrams cholesterol, and 16 grams carbohydrate.

· When your pie recipe calls for dotting butter or margarine on top of the filling or on top of the crust, just skip this step. You'll save 100 calories, 11.5 grams fat, 7 grams saturated fat, and 30 milligrams cholesterol for every tablespoon of butter you leave out.

· Reduce the sugar called for in any fruit dessert recipe by 25%. Sometimes you can cut the sugar even further, by 1/3 or half, depending on the recipe. You'll save 49 calories and 12.5 grams carbohydrate for every tablespoon of sugar you cut.

· Don't add oil or melted butter to cake mixes. There's already about 4 grams of fat per serving of dry mix. Add something liquid but low in calories instead, like fat-free sour cream, applesauce, strong coffee, or light yogurt. You'll save 54 calories, 6 grams fat, 0.5 grams saturated fat per serving (if the cake mix calls for 1/3 cup of oil and makes 12 servings).

· Instead of a two-crust pie, opt for a fruit crisp topped with an oatmeal crumb mixture.  (For even more calorie savings, use a healthier crumb topping recipe with more fiber and less sugar.) You'll save 100 calories, 10 grams fat, 2.5 grams saturated fat
Information Provided by WebMD

Friday, June 10, 2011

The “new pyramid” is no longer a pyramid?

On June 2, 2011, USDA recently released their new take on the infamous Food Guide Pyramid. Since 1916, USDA has released multiple charts, graphs, wheels, pyramids, and other images to encourage and educate on healthy food choices. The new icon is to be used to prompt consumers to think about building a healthy plate which includes fruits, vegetables, grains, protein and dairy, the same food groups used on the previous pyramid. The icon comes out in conjunction with the recently revised and released 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and incorporates some of the new points of interest from that document.

The new image is called, MyPlate, and illustrates a colorful plate that is sectioned into four colors to indicate the food groups for fruits, vegetables, grains and protein. Along side the plate is a round circle representing the dairy group. The sections of the plate vary in size depending on the recommended portion of each food a person should eat.

The new icon is also paired with its own website , which gives consumers another resource to use to learn about nutrition and how to use this new method to make healthy choices on a daily basis.  Over the next year, USDA will unveil another tool online that helps consumers to track and mange their personal dietary and activity goals.

Overall, the hope for the MyPlate image, is to give Americans tools that empower them to make healthy food choices for themselves and their families.

(Image above courtesey of )

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Summer Snacks!

School is finally out for summer! With that, comes very active and very hungry children! Here is a healthy snack that will be great (and fun) for your kids to make and enjoy.

To-Go Yogurt Parfaits

You will need:
Small ice cream cones
Fruit– berries, bananas, etc
Granola or nuts

1. Take ice cream cone and fill one third with yogurt.
2. Place one Tbsp of fruit on top of the yogurt.
3. Fill the rest of the cone with yogurt.
4. Top with more fruit and granola.

Take with you and enjoy!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Farmer's Markets have Started!!

It's that time of the year to venture out to your local Farmer's Market to let the seasonal produce drive your nutrition choices and exploration! If you can't tell... I love a good Farmer's Market and I'll give you a few reasons why:

1. Variety of Produce- The local Farmer's Markets here are great for supplying so much produce and so many different types of produce for our small area. We, of course, have a lot of seasonal produce in Iowa, but many of the farmers start their plants through the winter and can supply some of the produce before we even think to see it in our gardens.

2. Support Local Farmers- I grew up on a small dairy farm and I will always, always, be partial to those who put in the hard work to farm. I also do not have too much of a green thumb and I love that others will take the time to grow produce that I typically "kill off" in my small garden at home.

3. Education- Not only do the Farmer's provide an abundance and variety of products for us at the Farmer's Market, but most are very knowledgeable about how to use their products, how and where their products were grown, and what makes their product special. This is a great atmosphere for families and children soak up all the extra "summer" education.

4. Communication- The Farmer's Market forces you to get out into the (hopefully) nice weather and socialize with your community. Many of us have been stuck inside all winter and with all the technology these days, it's easy to forget how to communicate and be cordial!

5. Nutrition, nutrition, nutrition- Did you think I would skip this part?! What better way to drive menu and meal planning than picking up a few new fruits or veggies for your family to try each week? Not only will you be providing your family with a new taste appreciation for fruits and veggies, but you will also be introducing them to more vitamins and minerals than they have ever experienced before.

Support your local Farmer's Markets!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Flaxseed Fun

Recently, I’ve had many questions regarding the benefits and use of flax seed. Although flax seed is new to most health markets, the crop itself has been used as a healing treatment since 3,000 BC.

The recent flax movement comes after research shows that adding omega-3 fatty acids to the diet can decrease the risk of heart disease, prevent some forms of cancer, decrease inflammation and flax provide extra fiber for a healthy colon.

Flax provides:
omega-3 fatty acids
alpha-linoleic acid (ALA)
soluble and insoluble fiber- soluble fiber assist in GI health and bowel movements; insoluble fiber assist in decreasing cholesterol levels in the body
lignans- a phytoestrogen compound that has been shown to decrease the risk of cancer in laboratory studies

Flax comes from a blue-flowered plant that is grown in the northern Midwest region and also Canada. Flax is also grown in other countries around the world. There are two types of flaxseed, brown and golden and both are similar in nutritional benefits. The most important thing to remember about buying and using flaxseed is that the “good stuff” is in the inside of the seed, and humans are unable to digest the outside seed coating.

You can buy whole flax seed and grind it fresh everyday, or you can buy it already ground. My favorite source of flaxseed is Bob’s Redmill Ground Flaxseed which can be found at both Hy-Vee and Fareway stores. It’s crucial to store flax seed in your refrigerator or freezer, since it is a fat and it can go rancid quickly. Using one tablespoon or 8g of milled flaxseed a day is an appropriate intake to meet ALA dietary needs. Milled or ground flaxseed can easily be added to recipes or can be used to replace other fats such as egg or butter in recipes. Ground flaxseed can also be added easily to yogurt or oatmeal in the morning.

*Did you know that omega-3 eggs come from hens which are fed flax seed meal?

Give flaxseed a try!

(Data provided by Flax Council of Canada)

Friday, April 15, 2011

5K the FCMC Way!

County Medical Center is committed to helping improve the health and well being of the residents of Floyd County and surrounding areas. As a healthcare center, we want to encourage and challenge you to start making changes today that will help you lead a more healthy and active lifestyle.
Increasing activity is one of the best ways to enhance our health and is also the area that most of us need the most improvement.   Many of us fall short of the recommended 30 minutes of activity per day that is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
With this in mind, FCMC has developed a free training program for the residents of the Charles City community, to train 8 weeks with a goal of completing the Charley Western Firecracker 5K on July 4th. Whether you want to walk or run, or a combination of both, the training program will push you to increase your daily activity, provide tips for improving your overall health and also toss in a few fun incentives along the way.
Although you may not feel ready to complete the 5K on the 4th, we hope that this program will increase your daily activity level and also give you a positive outlook on making healthy changes in your life.
We are honored to have the support of local businesses, the Charles City Chamber of Commerce, and the Charley Western Firecracker 5K in providing this awesome program to you.
We at FCMC are taking this challenge and we hope that you’ll join us!

Please find more information on the program and registration forms at . You are also able to pick up forms from FCMC or the Charles City Chamber of Commerce.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

I scream... you scream...

We all scream... for ice cream!! Since I live closest to Waverly, we tend to run most of our errands there. Recently, the "seasonal" Dairy Queen re-opened and after it was closed for a few months, we definitely needed to stop in!

Before we went to DQ, I didn't stop to review the nutritional information, but chose my favorite of all time, a small chocolate chip cookie dough blizzard. Love this! After my indulgence, I just had to take the time at home to "assess the damage" and found that my favorite treat holds 710 calories and 28 grams of fat. I could just feel my thighs getting bigger as I typed that :)

Since we tend to treat ourselves and stop at DQ more often than we should, I took the time to compile a little mental list of the healthier (and not so healthy) options for ice cream at DQ and here they are:

  • Any of the DQ plain cones (chocolate, vanilla or chocolate dipped cone) fall below 300 calories, even for a large
  • Small or medium sundaes are great choices, in a dish, not a waffle bowl
  • Chocolate dilly bar- 240 calories, with most dilly bars about the same calorie leve
  • Fudge bar- 50 calories
  • DQ ice cream sandwich- 190 calories

  • Blizzards, shakes, or malts= poor choice with lots of calories, up to 1450 calories for a Georgia Mud large blizzard and even 400 calories for most mini blizzards
  • DQ cakes- 440 calories for 1/8th of an 8 inch cake
Try to make a choice that falls around 200 calories at most. Also, walk to DQ to burn off some calories prior to indulging!

Happy Spring and welcome the ice cream season!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Review of Your Diet...

I find that any time I get a question on diet or ways to lose weight, my immediate response is: "How about you start keeping a food log and bring that to me in one week for review?" I automatically see the clients eyes roll and frown appear.

What is it about keeping a food log that clients so dislike? Is it the time that it takes to write down every bite of food you take during the day? Is it facing the reality that you really did eat 1/2 bag of chips for your afternoon snack? Is it knowing that when the dietitian sees what you are eating on a regular basis, she is going to encourage you to make some life changes that you aren't really willing to make?

Whatever the answer is, I still believe that keeping a food log is a great way to start analyzing your diet. A lot of us don't realize how much we are eating, what we are eating, and when we are eating it. We have a perceived notion that we eat three meals per day, we get all of our fruits and vegetables, and we only eat a dessert once a week.... and for many of us, that is far from the truth. In my four years of practice, I have found that if clients are unwilling to keep a food log, they are also unwilling to make changes that I would recommend for their meal plans. By keeping a food log, we are able to assess what we are eating on a regular basis and start to make small changes, that overtime, equal big results.

Consider keeping a food log. It's a great way to see which areas need change and also assist in evaluating your food goals. There are many ways to keep a food log, but the most important items to note is what you eat, when and how much. Be sure to measure portion sizes and record just how much of the item you are consuming.

Many people have become tech savvy with their food log and use different apps for phones or record their food logs online. Two sites that I really like to use is or

Good luck!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Saving a little "green"!

Not many of us have access to the tree pictured above! As it gets closer to St. Paddy's Day, I thought it would be beneficial to drop a few comments on saving some "green" while eating healthy. I often hear, "I can't afford to eat healthy" and as a mother with a budget, I too agree, that sometimes the grocery bill can be astonishing! On the other hand, there are many ways to eat healthy and still keep that budget in order.

The first step in money savings for groceries is PLANNING. I know people hate to plan a weeks worth of meals, but it is helpful for having the food on hand you need and not giving you one excuse to dine out (which costs more money and is most likely, a less healthy option). I often plan four to five evening meals per week, therefore leaving a few nights (or days) to clean up the leftovers. Since I work M-F, I choose to make a healthy choice at FCMC for lunch and most meals cost around $3 or less.

The next step to saving money in any arena, is making a list prior to shopping and sticking to that list! Do not "shop with your eyes, nose, or stomach". It's important to stick to your meal plan and buy only the foods on your list. Since gas prices are on the rise, save money by only going to the grocery store one time per week. Again, this takes planning, but saves money and time!

Here's my list of money saving tips for a healthy meal plan:
  1. Cut coupons, only for the items you actually use! This is not a time to try the new, $4 snack that you would not have typically put in your cart.
  2. Shop the perimeter of the store first. Most of the healthy items are placed around the perimeter, whereas the processed foods are in the middle.
  3. Only buy fresh fruit and vegetables that are on sale that week. Here in Iowa, we have the luxury of "seasonal produce", which may mean we need to step outside our comfort zone and try the new fruits or vegetables that are in season. Most grocers have suggestions on how to use fruits or vegetables if you are unfamiliar.
  4. Try to avoid buying pre-cut and washed produce, as this adds to the price.
  5. Buy produce in bulk (bags) to save money, instead of buying by the pound.
  6. When in season, buy local! A lot of times you can get local produce cheaper at farmer's markets or from the producer since you are eliminating the "middle man".
  7. Frozen fruits or vegetables are also a great option, if you have the freezer space. These products have less salt or sugar than canned and can be much cheaper than fresh.
  8. Buy generic in terms of most foods. Although some people prefer brand name products or organics, those can be hard to fit into your budget and most brand names products and generics have very similar nutritional value.
  9. Be aware of the sales at the meat counter! This can truly save you lots of money! There are also some great frozen chicken breast packages that are cheaper than the fresh version.
  10. Skip the fancy beverages! Milk and water are great options and if you need something for your children, 100% juice diluted with water makes the jug last a lot longer.
  11. Lastly, make your own snacks. Use fruits, vegetables, cereals, whole grain breads, etc. As Americans, we tend to spend the majority of our grocery budget on processed foods and/or snack items.
Good luck saving some "green" this month!

(Image of "money tree" from

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Registered Dietitian Day!

Today is officially "Registered Dietitian Day"! I'd like to take this opportunity to explain a little about Registered Dietitians (RD) and what role they play in the health care community.

RD's are considered to be the food and nutrition experts, who translate the science of nutrition into practical solutions for healthy living. My job here at FCMC focuses on inpatient nutrition assessment and diet instruction, diabetes education, cardiac rehab diet instruction and also assisting in management of our food service department. The goal with each patient is to educate on ways to improve their health and treat various conditions, through the foods they eat each day. It's great to see how quickly labs change and how health conditions can improve with some simple diet changes.

RD's need to complete four years of schooling at an accredited college and then complete an internship that is typically 6 months to 1 year in length. After completion of both, the student can than sit for the national exam to become certified by the American Dietetic Association.

Dietitians in Iowa have two credentials: RD- registered dietitian by the American Dietetic Association and also LD- licensed to work in the state of Iowa. Many dietitians also have worked towards a Master's degree in areas such as public health, nutrition, or other related fields.

  • Are dietitians and nutritionists the same thing?
    • No. Dietitians need to complete the schooling as listed above and pass a national examination. Anyone can call themselves a nutritionist, without completing any schooling at all.
  • Are there two ways to spell dietitian?
    • Yes! Outside the US, many people spell dietitian as dietician (a tic in the middle) and in the United States, dietitian is spelled dietitian. Either spelling is correct.
  • How can I meet with the dietitian and will my insurance cover the visit?
    • Talk with your health care provider/physician and they can complete a referral for the visit.
    • Each insurance covers visits with the dietitian differently, so it is best to call the insurance company ahead of time to see what your benefits might be.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Welcome to Nutrition Cents!

Welcome to FCMC Nutrition Cents! I hope that you'll find this blog to be a beneficial resource in the area of nutrition and wellness. Each week, a post will appear with tips on ways to improve your health through nutrition, new trends, products or diet fads, and other posts on current research and literature.

Please let us know if you have any general nutrition questions that you may have and I'd be happy to address them. This blog should not be used to diagnose or treat any health conditions, but should be helpful in maintaining an overall healthy lifestyle.