Pizza As A Vegetable? I Don’t Think So.

School lunch policies require that a certain amount of vegetables be served, and according to Congress, two tablespoons of tomato paste counts as a vegetable. With this rule, cafeterias are allowed to consider pizza as a vegetable. And because French fries come from a potato, they can be considered vegetables too.

Recent proposals by the Obama administration and the United States Department of Agriculture would have made these regulations come to an end. In addition, the bill would have limited starchy vegetables, boosted whole grain foods, increased the amount of fruits and vegetables served, and restricted high sodium levels put on the lunch plates of American children 5 days a week. As considered by this dietitian-in-training, all proposals were wonderful benefits. However, this week, Congress hindered these proposals.

Yes, serving different foods may cost more. And yes, I know our education system is already in a penny-pinching position. But more penny-pinching or continued pants-pinching, people? It is so unfortunate that Congress put the interests of lobbyists in the frozen food and potato industry in front of the interests of the health of American school children.

This is not about politics, this is about health. The starchy vegetables, like potatoes, corn, and peas offer a wide variety of amazing nutrients. But when potatoes lathered in oil or when two tablespoons of tomato paste can be defined as vegetables, we have serious problems. And Amy Dawson Taggart, the director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest agrees. “We are outraged that Congress is seriously considering language that would effectively categorize pizza as a vegetable in the school lunch program. It doesn’t take an advanced degree in nutrition to call this a national disgrace,” she said.

School lunches are a primary source of kids’ energy and nutrients throughout the day. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past thirty years and one-third of children/adolescents are considered overweight or obese. These facts combined with the workings of the government this week frustrate me more than you know. American children cannot continue to be served meals like this.

It is ironic that news about school lunches surfaced just days after I went back to my local elementary school as my brother’s “substitute parent” for Fourth Grade Parent Day while our mom and dad rendezvoused in Hawaii.

Surprisingly, the students and parents were given three options to choose from. We were given choice 1, a chicken patty sandwich on a white bun, mandarin oranges, mashed potatoes and gravy, and milk; choice 2: a white-bread peanut-butter and jelly sandwich instead of the chicken patty; or choice 3: a salad (with egg, ham, cheese, and tomato), milk, and apple juice.

Not surprising, so many easy changes could have been made to improve the nutritional quality of the meals. How much harder is it to have grilled chicken, rather than chicken with breading? Why can’t the white bread be swapped out for whole wheat bread? Apple juice and milk to go along with the salad? It could have been just as simple to allow the student
parent me to pick up an apple instead of the juice carton. It’s not like schools need to serve salmon filets with a side of couscous. They need to make simple changes.

The poor decisions by Congress both infuriate me and break my heart. Our Congress believes that we cannot afford to provide quality meals, but can we afford to let the health of the nation’s children suffer?

I certainly do not think so. What about you?

(Photo: Blake at Parent Day enjoying a salad with milk! Definitely the brother of an rd2beJ)

MyThoughts on MyPlate

A few days ago on this blog, I introduced you to MyPlate—the recent dietary icon presented in early June by the USDA.

This new icon emphasizes the importance of eating a balanced meal. Different from the old food pyramid that many of you are familiar with, the plate icon gives you a more specific idea of what to eat at each meal rather than how many servings to eat of a certain food group per day.

In this post, I’ll break down the major components of the Plate icon and things you need to keep in mind.

What MyPlate tells you: What you need to keep in mind:
Make half of your plate fruits and vegetables Consume a variety of fruits and vegetables!

Want a great challenge? Try to eat one fruit/vegetable in each color every day! Red: tomatoes, apples, strawberries. Orange: sweet potato, Clementine. Yellow: banana, yellow peppers. Green: spinach, avocado. Blue/Purple: blueberries, eggplant, grapes. White: onions, cauliflower.

Add grains to your plate Make half of your grains “whole grains.”

From the Mayo Clinic website, “A slice of commercially prepared white bread has 66 calories, 1.9 grams protein and 0.6 grams fiber. A slice of whole-wheat bread has 69 calories and provides 3.6 grams protein and 1.9 grams fiber. It isn’t hard to see which one is the better nutritional bet.” < — With more protein and fiber, you are left feeling full.

Think whole wheat bread is the only “whole grain?” Think again! Any foods made from whole wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley, bulgur, whole rye, and more are whole grain foods.

Consume protein “Protein” encompasses a variety of foods—not just meat! Protein comes from both animal and plant sources. Beans, peas, soy products, nuts, and seeds—along with meat, eggs, poultry, and seafood—are all considered protein.
Include dairy with your meal Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) dairy. These switches will decrease your calorie consumption, without affecting your calcium consumption.
Eat off a plate Though it sounds simple, eating off a plate is truly a critical part of our well-being. Rushing around and snacking, eating in the car, or munching mindlessly in front of the television can lead to unnecessary weight gain. Be mindful when you eat and listen to your body’s hunger cues!

Keep your plate size small! When the same amount of food is served off a big plate versus a small plate, those who eat off the small plate are often more satisfied than those who eat off the large plate. With a smaller plate, your mind is “tricked” into thinking you are eating more. So, small plate = more satisfaction in your meal!

Visit ChooseMyPlate.gov This site is the main hub for all their educational materials! Visit the site and click around to learn more.

This may seem like a ton of information, but it’s really only skimming the surface! For more information, visit the MyPlate website.

What do you think of the new icon? Will it be easier for you to consume a healthy diet with this resource? Leave a comment and tell the world what you think!

MyPlate: The New Nutrition Guidelines

Do you remember the old nutrition guidelines from 2005?

Or maybe you remember these guidelines from 1992?

These guidelines served a great purpose in guiding America’s eating choices. But, consumers were often left confused. Why were fats, oils, and sweets at the TOP of the 1992 food pyramid—isn’t the top where most important things go? And what about the 2005 pyramid? Did it really help consumers know what to eat? What is a serving anyway?

In order to combat puzzlement and encourage better eating habits, on June 2, 2011, the USDA released the new icon for optimal nutrition. Readers, let me introduce you to MyPlate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The simplicity of this icon should better help consumers understand how to eat healthier at the dinner table. The main focus of MyPlate is to encourage filling half the plate with fruits and vegetables, making half your grains whole grains, choosing lean protein sources, and selecting low-fat dairy products. Consumers are encouraged to balance calories by avoiding big portions, as well as enjoying food while eating less. Other big messages include choosing products that have lower sodium content and drinking water instead of sugary drinks.

Check back soon and I’ll share my thoughts about the new icon and its message.

With a plate icon, rather than a pyramid, consumers should better know how to set up their plate when they sit down for a meal. What are your thoughts about the MyPlate icon? Do you think it’s more helpful for you when making food choices?

You can find out more information about MyPlate at http://www.choosemyplate.gov. Also, take part in the MyPlate fun! USDA is encouraging YOU to take a photo of your plate and share it on twitter. Be sure to include “#MyPlate” in your tweet.

Nutrition Resources

Are you looking to learn a few things in the nutrition world? Are you concerned about where to find valid information?  With so much content out there, and so many “experts” telling you what to do, it’s no surprise that people are confused about who to turn to when looking for nutrition advice.  Maybe the cloudiness of information contributes to the reason why nearly 2/3 of the American population have a BMI-score that labels them as “overweight” or “obese.”

From the grapefruit diet to the liquid diet, from eating low-fat to eating low-carb, and from doing a detox to taking diet pills…of course you’re confused!

So that’s why I’ve compiled a list of my favorite resources you can use to learn more about nutrition and separate the facts from the fads.

First off, one of your best options is to look for a Registered Dietitian where you live.  A registered dietitian is someone who has earned a 4 year degree studying the science of nutrition and the art of how to help you receive optimal nutrition daily.  An RD must also have completed a supervised practice program and pass a national examination.

For reliable information online, the American Dietetic Association offers credible articles about nutrition through every stage of life, gives insight on nutrition for the prevention and management of disease, and answers questions about food safety.

Another online resource is through MyPyramid.gov.  On this site, you can find basic information about the food groups and physical activity.  Based on your age, sex, height, and weight, you’re able to see how much of each food group you should eat per day.  You’re also able to print a Meal Tracking Worksheet to monitor your progress.

To help kids learn more about nutrition, have them visit the BAM! website– an interactive website created by the CDC– or Nutrition Explorations. Both websites use colorful graphics and show healthy eating as fun!

For a fun, fresh approach to nutrition, my personal favorite web pages may be a good way for you to learn more.  I love the healthy recipes and health articles from Fitness Magazine.  In addition, they give great ideas for working out by providing printable treadmill workouts and videos regarding proper form for strength exercises.  Shape Magazine’s Nutrition 101 and Self‘s Nutrition Data are other good resources to learn more.

Regardless of what site you read, make sure the information you receive is accurate and credible!  Is it backed by a legitimate source?  Does it promise true health instead of a quick-fix?  If so, you’re on the right track to wellness.  Congrats! : )

Comment on this!: Have you seen these webpages before?  What are your go-to sources for nutrition and health information?

Time to switch it up!

So far, this blog has been about my own actions on my journey to become a Registered Dietitian.  Though this may have been somewhat beneficial to you, but I’ve decided I want to make it more beneficial for you.  I’m about to change things up!  I hope to inspire you to continue reading, but most importantly, to live your life happily and healthfully.

Since I’m a Nutrition student, I hope to relay to you some of the facts I learn in my classes.  Last quarter in my Nutrition Education class, I learned that it is important to “start where the people are.”  Health professionals are encouraged to understand their client’s needs before educating them.  There shouldn’t be a “you must do this” attitude, but rather a collaborative effort must be in place to facilitate behavior change.

In the future, I hope you gain ideas about what you can cook up, what new products you can try, and how you can find resources to live a healthier life.  I know that I can’t do this without your help, so let me know what questions you have and what things you’d like discussed!

Hello, and welcome to the new healthyglowandgo.wordpress.com.  What can I do for you?

Coach’s Oats!

I don’t think I could even try to tell you how excited I was to see this box waiting for me when I arrived home the other day week (sorry, this post has been sitting in my drafts bin for a while)….

I love getting mail.  LOVE it.  And even when it’s junk mail… if it’s addressed to me, I’m stoked.  (Although to my electric, gas, and cable providers, if you’d like to refrain from sending me bills,  I’d be even happier ;) )

When I saw it was from Coach’s Oats, I was even more excited to open it up.

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