23, June 2016 3:41 PM

First Bite bookLast month, the San Jose Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Book Club gathered to discuss First Bite by Bee Wilson, an award winning food writer. The book outlines the many factors that lead to our food choices including family and culture (including the food environment), memory, hunger, love and more. The book explores a broad cross-disciplinary view of eating: nutrition, neuroscience, anthropology and history providing a thesis that both adults and children have potential to learn to eat better.

For nutrition junkies like us, this book is a great read since it looks at the whole business of eating from the very broadest perspective. The history of children’s food is fascinating. Throughout most of history, children’s food was not a separate category, they ate what adults ate but less of it. In the hierarchy of a working family, parents (especially fathers) got most of the protein, since the man did manual labor to provide food for the family. 

In the 1870s, the middle and upper classes developed the concept of children’s food which was bland and flavorless since flavorful food was deemed too dangerous for children. The modern notion of “kid food” emerged after WWII. Parents raised on rice pudding and porridge wanted their children to enjoy eating. Post-war kid food became “fun” and flavored with fat, sugar and salt.  

Take-away recommendations:

  • Eating is a learned behavior and we have the ability to learn new eating habits at any age.
  • Follow structured mealtimes.
  • Respond to internal cues for hunger and fullness.
  • Change habits and preferences until delicious food and healthy food are one and the same.

Insights for pregnant women and new mothers:

  • Eat as wide a variety of foods (from all five food groups) as possible. What you eat impacts the future food preferences of your child.
  • Between the ages of 4 to 7 months of age, there seems to be a window of receptivity to new flavors. Introduce a wide variety of new tastes to infants (in very small, pea-sized bites) while the lion’s share of calories are provided from breast milk or infant formula. 

San Jose Registered Dietitians Book Club meeting Most dietitians in our group (pictured at left) are also mothers and reared children when it was recommended that highly allergenic foods (like eggs and peanuts) be introduced later to avoid the development of allergies. Newer recommendations now encourage feeding foods in small portions that are potentially allergenic since early introduction of these foods reduces the likelihood of future allergies.

Recommendations from the book are similar to Ellyn Satter’s Division of Responsibility and Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch’s Intuitive Eating approach. It adds a new dimension to attempt to broaden the palate of children by introducing foods in small pea-size bites in ways that are fun and do not force or pressure children to eat foods (that is known to backfire). The book is filled with tips on how to do this effectively. 

Additional topics in the book include hunger, disordered eating (from conditions such as anorexia and autism) and dietary counseling. These chapters are well written and carefully referenced. Our only complaint about the book is that it is “pretty dense” and a slow read, but worth the time to plow through it.

We wholeheartedly recommend First Bite to highly interested parents (this is not written for the consumer) and health professionals who work with children. 

Maureen Bligh, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
Kristal Shelden, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

American Academy of Pediatrics, Infant Food and Feeding recommendations. 
Fleischer, David M. et al. (2015) Consensus communication on early peanut introduction and the prevention of peanut allergy in high-risk infants. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 136 (2), 258 - 261.
Carol, A. (2016, April 25). Avoiding Peanuts to Avoid an Allergy Is a Bad Strategy for Most. The New York Times. Retrieved from

Tags: Dietitians Book Review division of responsibility healthy dietary patterns Healthy eating Maureen Blig nutrition research
Categories: categoryNutrition Education

10, June 2016 3:53 PM

After a years-long process, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently released their planned changes to the Nutrition Facts labelthat black and white rectangle of nutrition information on the back or side of food packages. 

Last revamped over 20 years ago, this label revision is designed to align with current nutrition science, better reflect what Americans are actually eating and draw attention to calories and nutrients of public health concern. 

The new label should make it easier for consumers to make better informed food choices and adopt healthy eating patterns, in line with the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

FDA Explanation New Nutrition Facts Label

What's New on the Label?

From top to bottom, here are the big changes we can expect:

  • The “Serving Size” and “Servings per Container” will be larger font and more consistent with what people actually eat. For example, instead of a serving of ice cream being 1/2 cup, it will now be 2/3 cup; yogurt will be 6 ounces (oz.) instead of 8 oz. This will make it easier to determine how many calories are in commonly-consumed servings (instead of having to do the math).
  • The “Calories” row will be much larger and in bold font. With our nation’s burgeoning incidence of overweight across all ages, ethnicities and socioeconomic levels, highlighting calories should help people assess and compare how many are in a serving of any particular food … and make appropriate decisions.
  • “Calories from Fat” will be eliminated, due to new research showing that type of fat is more important than total fat in one’s health. Grams of fat, saturated fat and trans fat will still be listed, as well as percent Daily Value (DV).
  • A row for “Added Sugars” will be added to differentiate between total and added sugars. Various public health groups recommend Americans decrease their intake of added sugars out of concern over obesity, tooth decay and displacement of healthier foods. It is hoped that this will help consumers identify foods that are significant sources of added sugars, as well as identify foods like milk and fruit that contain natural sugar, in order to make informed decisions.
  • All four of the nutrients deemed “under consumed” by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee—calcium, fiber, potassium and vitamin D—now must be listed on the label. The current version only requires calcium and vitamin D. This will make it easier for consumers to identify sources of these nutrients and increase their intake if needed for healthy eating patterns. 
  • The section on nutrient DVs will be consistent with new nutrition research, and feature a footnote to better explain what they are.

What is the timeframe for the new label to be updated on food products?

  • Because it is a very laborious process to change packaged food labels, FDA is giving food manufacturers 2 years to implement these changes—so by July 26, 2018. For smaller companies with less than $10 million in annual food sales, they will have an additional year. Until then, we may start seeing some products with the new label rolled out—but likely on a product-by-product or brand basis.

How can health professionals help clients make the most of the revised labels?

  • Point out the specific aspects of the Nutrition Facts label that will help individual clients. If someone is watching their weight, the enlarged calories and more realistic serving sizes on packaged foods will aid them. If someone doesn’t consume many milk and dairy foods, they will want to ensure they are getting enough calcium and vitamin D. A frequent soda consumer may be surprised at their “Added sugars” intake, and be motivated to make appropriate modifications.
  • Educate them that “Added sugars” is a component of “Total sugars” and that many nutrient-dense foods have added or natural sugars. Fruit and milk, for example, contain natural sugars in the form of fructose and lactose. Many breakfast cereals and some yogurts have added sugars but are loaded with other nutrients. Consumers need to look at the whole nutrient package, not singular nutrients, in making food-choice decisions.
  • Counsel clients that healthy eating patterns can include favorite foods even if each individual food isn’t necessarily nutrient-rich.  Modifications can be made throughout the day—and even week—to eat a healthy diet overall without focusing on individual foods.
  • Remind clients that Daily Values (DVs) are best used to compare different products … for example, fiber in breakfast cereals. For certain nutrients—calcium, vitamin D, fiber and potassium—absolute amounts as well as DVs will be listed on labels.

How will you use the revised label, both in your personal life and with your clients? 

Log in to share your ideas in the comments below, or continue the conversation on Facebook

For more information on the upcoming changes to the Nutrition Facts label, read FDA’s news release.

Lori Hoolihan, Ph.D., R.D.N.

Tags: Healthy eating healthy eating patterns nutrition research recommendations
Categories: categoryNutrition Education

01, June 2016 9:00 AM

It's our favorite time of the year.  June is National Dairy Month, which also coincides with World Milk Day on June 1. So we're celebrating with some dairy delicious family meal recipes, of course.

June also means that school is getting out, and having kids at home over the summer can tack an additional $300 per month on to a family's food bill. We've got some tips and tricks in store to minimize the impact on your pocket book while making sure that learning and healthy eating don't take off for a summer vacation! 

In fact, hosting your own kids' cooking camp will mean you'll have delicious meals, entertained kids and extra help in the kitchen packing lunches come fall. 

Don't forget to plan ahead for a healthy and relaxing Fourth of July Holiday weekend filled with your favorite festive foods.

Be sure to visit the Family Meal Planning page for more information, tips and resources.

June Family Meal Recipes

June is Dairy Month

Overnight Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Breakfast Custard, Yogurt Fruit Salad with Baked Parmesan Tomatoes; Plus Double-Orange Scones with Orange Butter, Baked Mac + Cheese, Chicken in Yogurt-Cilantro Sauce and Chocolate Peanut Butter Milksicles.

Smart Summer Snacks

Cottage Cheese Veggie Dip, Walking Meal with Warm Chocolate Pudding; Plus Fresh Fruit Burritos, Turkey + Cheese Melt Tortilla Wraps, Potato Skins and Ants on a Log.

Kid's Cooking Camp

Pita Pizzas, Kale + Spinach Chips with Berry Good Banana Smoothies; Plus Chicken and Cheese Enchiladas Verdes, Tabbouleh Salad, Turkey Waldorf Salad and Tuna Noodle Casserole.

Pre-Fab Fourth

Red, White and Blue Cheese Sliders, Aztec Salad with American Flag Pudding; Plus Beet Salad in Yogurt Sauce, Blueberry Corn Muffins, Bella Pasta Salad and Yogurt Cheesecake.

Tags: balanced meals food group foods Healthy eating healthy eating patterns holidays
Categories: categoryHealthy Eating for Kids

09, May 2016 8:15 AM

women's health is important to everyoneMother's Day kicks off the annual celebration of National Women's Health Week. Sponsored by the Office of Women's Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, this week-long event encourages women to take steps to improve their health at every age. 

For a nutrition education organization staffed nearly entirely by women, this week provides a great opportunity to address some of the most pressing health problems for women. As nutrition professionals, moms and daughters, we know how diet and lifestyle choices directly impact women's health. 

Simple changes in eating and activity patterns can have very positive impacts when it comes to chronic diseases of concern for women, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease and osteoporosis. Arm yourself with knowledge to reduce your risk of each condition, then see how delicious prevention can be with tailored recipe ideas, too.

Type 2 Diabetes

Prevalent, Pricey and Preventable
Diabetes Prevention, What You Need to Know
Four Action Steps to Reduce Your Diabetes Risk (in English and Spanish)
Sugar in Milk: Should I Be Concerned?
Healthy Eating Meal Ideas Help Beat Diabetes (recipes)

Heart Disease

Heart Health: What Really Matters 
Potassium, A Key Nutrient in Heart Health
Heart Health Controversy: Reducing Sodium
Heart Health Controversy: Reducing Saturated Fats
Keep the Beat with a DASH of Health
DASH Eating Pattern to Lower Blood Pressure
Healthy Eating Meal Ideas With a DASH of Health (recipes)


How to Prevent Osteoporosis and Keep Your Bones Strong
How Much is Enough? Calcium and Vitamin D Requirements
Are Milk and Calcium Good For Your Bones?
What Role Does Protein Play in Building Strong Bones?
Prevent Fractures Through a Commitment to Healthy Bones
Healthy Eating Meal Ideas Bone Up on Health (recipes)

The great news is that simple changes in eating habits and physical activity routines can greatly reduce the risk of developing these chronic diseases, or minimize their severity. We encourage women to invest in themselves and their health starting this week. Start with the Healthy Eating Planner to assess and improve your eating habits. Being active is important in reducing chronic disease risk too, so check out the three reasons to add exercise to your diet

Tags: balanced meals diabetes Healthy eating heart osteoporosis physical activity
Categories: categoryNutrition Education

03, May 2016 8:31 AM

It's Teacher Appreciation Week and we're throwing a virtual party to say thank you for all that you do for students. By taking the time to teach nutrition in your classroom, you are empowering students with knowledge they need to make healthy choices for the rest of their lives. That's quite a superpower!

Since the school year is coming to a close and the celebrations are just beginning, healthy classroom party resources are our gift to you. 

Healthy Classroom Parties 

Healthy Party Printable Includes ideas for using food picture cards and vocabulary words in each Dairy Council of CA lesson.

Focus on the fun! Year-round tips and recommendations for elevating the health of classroom snacks and celebrations, as well as ideas for taking the focus off of food altogether. 

Five Food Group Fairs Four different party ideas to encourage students to try new food group foods. Each theme includes all five food groups.

Party Pins Peruse beautiful and festive ideas for fun snacks and engaging classroom activities on our Pinterest board.

Action Items Non-food rewards and ideas from Action for Healthy Kids to get students moving and keep them motivated.

#ThankATeacher Dollars, Discounts + Deals

No Teacher Appreciation Week post would be complete without mentioning some of the freebies and specials available to teachers this week and beyond. This list is by no means exhaustive. 

Be sure to let cashiers know when you're buying supplies for your school as you shop. Many retailers have the superpower of making spontaneous point of purchase discounts.

Classroom Cash PTA and Go Fund Me are teaming up this week to match classroom fundraising campaigns up to $100. 

Every Superhero Needs a Mascot! Pets In the Classroom offers multiple grants for adding a furry friend or a slithering student aid to your classroom.

Discounts + Deals From clothing to cars, Teach for America offers a list of 50 exclusive offers and discounts for teachers and National Education Association members.

This short list of resources and deals is a tiny token of our appreciation for your efforts all year long. If there's anything we can do to make your lives as teachers easier or healthier, please let us know in the comments. 

Thank you for all that you do!

Tags: classroom parties holiday nutrition lesson plans physical activity
Categories: categoryNutrition Education

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