Hey, There! I’m Mary, The Campus Dining Dietitian. I love FOOD. Real, whole foods. I have a passion for helping people fuel their bodies with it. You’ll probably see me running around campus asking people to try free samples of new & exciting foods (You should try them- they’re always delicious). I know that as most of you are busy College students, so taking time to evaluate food choices to make sure you’re making the BEST one, is tough. I’m here to help. Every week, you’re going to see some mini-posts from me on how to eat healthy on campus. Topics will range from Fueling your Workout to the Freshman 15. So read up, it’s good stuff!
As far as my education goes, I finished my undergraduate education at Eastern Michigan University. Knowing I wanted to be a dietitian, I pursued my Master’s degree in Dietetics & Exercise Physiology at Washington State University.
What’s the difference between a Registered Dietitian & a Nutritionist?
Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (‘RD’ or ‘RDN’) are awarded the credentials after each individual has earned at least a bachelor’s degree in Dietetics from an accredited University, has completed 1,200 hours of supervised practice under experienced Dietitians in multiple areas of the dietetics field, & passed a National Examination. Whereas, anyone with any sort of nutrition experience can call themselves a ‘Nutritionist.’ After all, everyone eats- so everyone must be a nutrition expert!
Bloating: a feeling of fullness or swelling in the abdominal area. The foods you eat can be the culprit of bloat & the overall sluggishness that accompanies it. Foods like: cakes, cookies, ice cream, processed lunch meats & cheeses, and salty snack can be high in added sugars, sodium, saturated fat, or other highly processed/refined ingredients that can contribute to bloat. Ways to help avoid bloat & help you feel more energized:
- Eat few foods High in Saturated Fats: Too much saturated fat in our diets is contributing to increasing rates of heart disease. Some examples of foods that can be high in saturated fats include: high fat cuts of meat, processed or cured meats like sausages & cold cuts, full fat dairy products like cheese or ice cream, and baked desserts like cookies, pastries, &cakes.
- Look out for Sodium: Sodium is a fancy word for salt. Try limiting sodium to 1,500 - 2,300mg a day for good health. Check the nutrition facts label for sodium content in each serving. Eating less sodium will help to decrease fluid build-up that accompanies bloat.
- Choose foods with little Added Sugar: Added sugars are any sugars that are not naturally occurring in the food. Added sugars contribute no nutrients, but many calories to a diet that can lead to weight gain.
- Drink plenty of Water: Intake of fluids will help to keep your body running smoothly all day. Try drinking fizzy waters that are naturally sweetened, or adding fresh fruits & herbs to water.
- Eat an overall healthy diet: Include high-fiber foods such as whole grains, fruits & vegetables, and calcium-rich foods like low-fat milks, yogurts & cheeses.
- Physical activity: Exercise may offer benefits to help reduce bloat & feel more energized. It is recommended that Americans participate in physical activity for 30 minutes, 5 days a week. Try taking a walk, biking, or jogging.
People who skip meals get hungry. Hungry people usually aren’t happy or patient- you might even call them ‘hangry.’ When we get hungry, we snack. Blinded by hunger, we sometimes choose less than healthy snacks. Studies show that those high fat, high calorie, & salty snacks can be too good to resist, even for the best of us. For those times when you’re short on time, hungry, & need to grab a quick snack, here are some tips to help you Snack Smart:
- Go for the Good Stuff: Try to choose snacks that contain lean protein (like low fat yogurt or string cheese), healthy fats (like peanut butter, sunflower seeds, or almonds), and fiber (like whole grain pretzels or popcorn.)
- Moderation is the Key: Make sure to check the serving size of your favorite snack & eat it outside of the big bag, box, or bowl it comes in. Like off a plate, small bag, or napkin. Many studies show that we eat more when there’s more food in front of us. Snack Smarter by downsizing your package or serving container.
- Plan Ahead: Unplanned snacks are often the enemy of the Smart Snacker. People who plan their snacks are more likely to have a healthier choice on-hand. A good routine can also help establish the habit of snacking on the same amount of food, at the same time- a good way to avoid over-snacking.
- Emergency Stashed Snack: Planning your snacks is a great idea, but the reality of life interferes with the best laid plans. Having a healthy back-up snack like a granola bar, a bag of nuts, or a piece of fruit ready to go at a moments’ notice can help you avoid feeling hangry.
- Beware the Nighttime Munchies: Those who snack after dinner or in the middle of the night often over-snack. Try to avoid this by making your evening meal more satisfying- include lean proteins, whole grains, & veggies. These foods are ‘nutrient rich’ & they help you to feel fuller longer, reducing that late-night craving.
- Indulge in moderation: Enjoy & savor the occasional treat. By slowing down & enjoying them a little more, you learn how to eat less, without feeling deprived.
“Sally McFamous Lost 50 Pounds in 2 Weeks by Eating Only These 3 Foods.” Headlines like this seem to plaster Pinterest homepages & magazines lining grocery store checkout lines. Diet, exercise, & nutrition fads gain a lot of attention & excitement. Who wouldn’t want to lose 50 pounds in 14 days? It’s easy to “jump on the bandwagon” while these headlines are promising such quick & easy results. I caution you, BEWARE! These are fad diets; and, like most fads, they disappear quickly. Most of these programs are unrealistic, short term, & do not live up to the results promised. Let’s look at how to spot these Fads:
“Too-Good-to-be-True Fads” may include supplements, diet plans, or exercise programs whose promises don’t work & can be harmful. Avoid these by steering clear of exaggerated claims such as:
• Eat as much as you want & still lose weight
• Lose a large amount of weight in a short period of time
• Lose weight without diet or exercise
“Too-Much-of-a-Good-Thing Fads” are plans that can actually work, but replace a balanced diet with a short-term program that can be bad for your health. Avoid these crazy diets by watching out for:
• Programs that limit your choices to very few foods
• Diets that ask you to follow very inflexible menus
The bottom line: If a diet seems too good to be true, it probably is. If you want to maintain a healthy weight, build muscle & lose fat, the best path is a lifelong combination of eating smarter & moving more. A healthy rate of weight loss is 1-2 pounds per week. According to a study done by the University of Alabama at Birmingham, rapid weight loss is often associated with loss of muscle & bone density; while slower weight loss, when accompanied with strength training, is much less likely to affect muscle & bone density. Though following fad diets may result in rapids weight loss- slow & steady wins the race. Losing weight, and keeping it off, require plans that include diet, exercise, & changing unhealthy habits.
Choosing the Right Fuel to Make Gains in Your Workouts
Written By Morgan Muchez, GVSU MS Clinical Dietetics Student
Food is fuel. Have you ever heard of this saying? Well, it’s true. Every piece of food you put in your body affects your brain and functioning. The worse the food is for you, the more damage it does to your body. So when you decide to start going to the rec center to help avoid the “freshman fifteen,” make sure you are fueling your body with the right stuff, before and after your workout. More studies have been showing that it is important to get micronutrients like vitamins and minerals; as well as macronutrients like protein, fat, and carbohydrates after that workout. Here are some tips on what to include or avoid to help boost energy before working out and to help muscle recovery after:
- Vitamin B:
Need help finding energy before the workout? Try eating dark leafy greens, pork, black beans, peanuts, or lentils. These items include the vitamin B group consisting of B6, B12, thiamin, riboflavin and folate. The body uses these to help convert protein and sugar into energy to energy. Try to eat some of these foods 2-3 hours before working out and notice the performance difference!
2. Vitamin D:
Vitamin D can be found in milk, salmon, trout, mushrooms, and egg yolks. Remember taking cell biology? Well here’s a throwback. With enough vitamin D, the mitochondria, muscle fibers can regenerate energy after muscle contraction. Be sure to include some of these foods after your strength building workout!
Iron is important in carrying oxygen to muscles. Providing oxygen to the muscle after a workout is vital in muscle repair. Be sure to include beef, eggs, spinach, broccoli or fortified cereals as a post-workout meal.
Magnesium helps provide energy during the workout because it plays a role in breaking down energy. It even comes out through sweat! Because of this, some people deplete their magnesium stores, leaving them to have less energy. Try having leafy greens, almonds or quinoa in your pre-workout snack.
5. Sodium and Potassium:
Lacking potassium and sodium can lead to cramping after a workout. Especially during hot weather when the body sweats out most of the sodium. This is because these play an important role in balancing water content throughout the body and helps the muscles and nerves work properly. For potassium, try incorporating sweet potatoes, avocado or banana into the post-workout meal. For sodium, include salty nuts or pretzels after the workout!
It may be hard aft first to incorporate all these foods into your snacks or meals before and after workouts, so try working one or two in. You can find most of these items as offerings on campus at the dining halls. Fuel your body before and after workouts to help reach your goals!
The “Freshman 15”- the notion of gaining weight during your first year that your parents & friends all warned you about. As a new student on campus, it can be difficult to adjust to eating in a restaurant for every meal. However, with a little help from MyPlate, you can eat healthily every day. MyPlate gives a general outline of what every plate should look like. Research shows that if Americans follow these guidelines they will improve overall health, reduce incidence of nutrition-related diseases, & have healthier weights.
Make half your plate fruits and vegetables:
Whether fruits & vegetables are fresh for the season, frozen from the freezer aisle, canned or dried, they should be the foundation of every healthy plate.
Make half your grains whole grains:
Whole grains contain significantly more fiber and other nutrients than refined grains. To see if your grains are whole grains, check ingredient labels for words like: “whole wheat”, “oatmeal”, “brown rice”, “whole grain cornmeal”, & “quinoa”.
Vary Your Protein Choices:
The protein food group includes animal sources like meat, poultry, seafood, & eggs as well as plant sources like beans, peas, soy products, nuts, & seeds. Since many of our meat choices can contain unhealthy saturated fats, keep meat portions small & lean, and mix in plant based proteins like beans, soy, & nuts more often.
Switch to Skim Milk:
Dairy is recommended because of calcium &protein it provides. Fat free or low fat versions of milk, yogurt, cheeses, & other dairy products have less unhealthy saturated fat. Fortified dairy alternatives & dark green vegetables like kale, collard greens, and broccoli are also good sources of calcium.