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.