Monday, January 5, 2015

How to Make Your New Year’s Resolution Stick!

The beginning of January is an exhilarating time! A new year to lose weight. A new year to eat healthier. A new year to be a new you. These New Year’s resolutions invoke feelings of excitement and motivation but as soon as people start to settle back into their normal routine, these feelings start to fade.

It’s easy to fall back into old unhealthy habits so having a defined and attainable goal, with a plan in place to achieve this goal, is the key. For many, a common New Year’s resolution is to lose weight. From there, decide how much weight you want to lose in what period of time. Losing 1-2 pounds a week is a good goal. Once your goal is set, planning how to achieve the goal is the next step.

Losing weight in a healthy manner is characterized by two aspects: consumption of more nutrient-rich foods and an increase in physical activity.

That being said, careful thought needs to be put into how an individual will carry out each of these aspects. Planning out weekly meals, shopping with a well thought-out grocery list, and setting aside time each day to workout are great starts to achieving your goal. By planning out a routine that you can hold yourself to, the temptation to revert back to your old habits is much harder to do.

Incorporate these tips into your new routine:
·       Make sure half of your plate is fruits and vegetables, color is key!
·       Make at least half your grains whole grains
·       Replace sugary beverages with water
·       Reach for a fruit or vegetable when snacking
·       Use moderation when consuming sweets
·       Eat smaller portions
·       Be mindful of what you’re eating

For more information about healthy weight loss, visit

Written by Annie Cameron, undergraduate Nutrition major at Saint Louis University
Approved by Connie Diekman, M.Ed., RD, CSSD, FADA

Nutrition Communications Consultant

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Coming to Food Labels - Added Sugars

The Food and Drug Administration has been working to update the Nutrition Facts panel that appears on packaged  foods. The new proposal includes many changes to help make choosing more healthful foods easier but one big change is the proposed addition of "Added Sugars."

The addition of the line "Added Sugars" will help consumers see the difference between naturally occurring sugars and those that are added to the food. While the body might not recognize any difference in natural or added sugars the amount of added sugar that we are consuming is much higher than the recommended amount.

Colleagues at Appetite for Health have created a useful infographic that shows amounts of added sugars we consume, common names of added sugars and some of the foods that contribute the largest amounts of added sugars to our diets. This infographic can be a useful tool to guide you as you read food labels, plan menus and work to balance your nutrition.

Checkout the infographic at -

Connie Diekman, M.Ed., RD, CSSD, LD, FADA
Nutrition Communications Consultant

Friday, October 24, 2014

Immune Health starts with a Health GI Track!

It might come as a surprise that your gastrointestinal (GI) track plays a role in the health of your immune system but in fact, it plays a rather sizable role. Our intestines are filled with healthy bacteria, antibodies and a variety of immune cells that all work to keep us healthy. The next time you get a cold, don't just think about who got you sick, think about - your diet.

While the research in gut immune health is still underway what seems to be especially important is the consumption of plenty of plant foods.   The variety of bacteria in plant foods, along with the variety of phytonutrients makes plant foods - grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds - good choices to fuel a healthy immune system.

If your diet is still a bit animal food heavy, take sometime to look for ways to sneak in more plant foods - try a few of these ideas.

  • Add shredded carrots and squash to chili or try 2 -3 different beans
  • Try dried fruit, nuts and shredded veggies in your next batch of muffins
  • Stretch your omelet veggies to squash, broccoli, green peas and carrots
  • Add diced beets to a beef casserole - they look like meat
  • Cut the amount of beef you use in a dish but adding chopped mushrooms
  • Fruit salsa flavors meat nicely and cranberry sauce on salmon is a nice twist
  • Chopped dried fruit and throw it into yogurt with some nuts or seeds
  • Combine brown rice and veggies for a colorful side
You can make these changes slowly if you need some time to adjust to the new look and different flavors.

Connie Diekman, M.Ed., RD, CSSD
Nutrition Communications Consultant

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Hip Fracture and Soda Intake?

According to a recent study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition soda consumption has seen a small decline in the past 10 years but adults consume close to 100 Kcalories of sweetened soda per day in 2010. Diet soft drink has gone up with 28.3% of women 40 to 59 years and 23.1% of women over the age of 60 consuming diet soda on any given day.

At the same time the study looked at the incidence of hip fractures, especially in post-menopausal women. What the researchers found was that there seems to be a slightly increased risk of hip fracture with the consumption of larger amounts of soda, whether it is sweetened or not.

While the cause of this increased risk was not clear, what the researchers did report was that failure to consume enough calcium, while consuming more phosphorus from the soda, could be a factor. The researchers also noted that women who consumed more soda tended to have higher body mass indexes (BMI) so weight could be a factor.

So what does this mean if you are a soda drinker?

  • If you are drinking soda in place of calcium rich dairy - take time now to make that switch
  • Work to include at least 3 servings of dairy each day - - provides good ideas
  • Assess your body weight and develop a plan to achieve a healthier weight if you need to - a Registered Dietitian can help you do that
  • Make physical activity a part of your day - a good goal is 30 minutes, most days of the week
Connie Diekman, M.Ed., RD, CSSD, LD, FADA
Nutrition Communications Consultant

Friday, October 3, 2014

Whole Grains – Health Benefits and Tips

You’ve probably heard of grains and whole grains but do you know what makes them different? Grains, which include wheat, barley, oats, cornmeal, rice, and other cereal grains are further divided into 2 groups: whole grain (e.g., whole wheat bread, oatmeal) and refined grains (e.g., white bread, pretzels). Whole grains contain the bran, germ, and endosperm of the grain kernel, whereas the bran and germ are removed in refined grains.

Whole Grain Nutrition
Whole grains are rich in dietary fiber, which may help prevent heart disease, obesity, type II diabetes and bowel dysfunction.  In addition, fiber can also help provide a sense of fullness with fewer calories. Whole grains also contain some iron, which carries oxygen to the blood. If iron intake is inadequate, anemia may occur, which is common in young women. The type of iron in whole grains is better absorbed with vitamin C, so try pairing whole grains with foods high in vitamin C. Whole grains also are full of B vitamins that help your body get the energy it needs from food that you eat.

The removal of the bran and germ in refined grains removes the dietary fiber, iron, and B vitamins. Although, some B vitamins and iron are added back in “enriched” refined grain products. MyPlate recommends that at least half of your grains are whole grains, and when choosing refined grain products, look for “enriched.”

Try the following tips to increase your whole grain intake:
·       Substitute whole grain breads and pastas for white, and substitute brown rice for white.
·       When baking, substitute whole wheat flour for 1/3 of the portion of white flour. This will add whole grain without compromising the texture of the product.
·       Snack on 100% whole grain crackers instead of refined grain crackers or chips.
·       Choose whole grain cereals, like oatmeal, instead of sugary, more refined cereals. Add an orange or a glass of orange juice for vitamin C.
·       Look for food products that are high in fiber. 10-19% of the daily value (DV) is good, while 20% or more is excellent.
·       Add barley or brown rice to soups and stews.
·       Pair broccoli or other vegetables high in vitamin C with brown rice.

For more information about whole grains, visit MyPlate (

For more whole grain recipes, visit the Whole Grains Council (

Written by Danica Pelzel, Dietetic Intern Fontbonne University
Reviewed by Connie Diekman, M.Ed., RD, CSSD, LD, FADA
Nutrition Communications Consultant

Friday, September 26, 2014

Fall Vegetables - Nutrition and Recipes

Fall is in the air as leaves are falling and cooler days are encouraging you to pull sweaters out of the back of the closet. We tend to crave heartier meals during cooler months, so to ensure that you're meeting your daily vegetable needs, try these hearty fall vegetables:

Pumpkin is full of fiber, which can help keep you full throughout the day, and vitamin A, which helps with vision. Autumn's that time of year when everyone's ordering pumpkin spice lattes, which are often high in calories and fat and offer no fiber. Instead, try a pumpkin cheesecake smoothie  or pumpkin bread  to get your pumpkin fix.

Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are rich in fiber, vitamin A, and vitamin C. Vitamin C plays a role in tissue repair and growth. For an easy snack, try sweet potato crisps. They're a great alternative to regular fries.

Brussels Sprouts
Brussels sprouts provide fiber, vitamin C, and folate, but they often get a bad rap, and I'll admit that I disliked them up until a year ago. Before then, I had always had them prepared in a way in which their bitter taste remained. If you're a newbie to Brussels sprouts, I recommend roasting them, which will reduce their bitterness. Toss Brussels sprouts with canola oil, salt, and pepper, and roast at 400 degrees F for 35-40 minutes (time may vary depending on size of the Brussels sprouts).

Cauliflower contains vitamin C, folate, and vitamin K. Folate promotes healthy pregnancies, and vitamin K helps with blood clotting. Try cauliflower popcorn  for a warm, tasty treat as the days get colder.

For more recipes, visit 

Written by: Danica Pelzel, Fontbonne University Dietetic Intern
Reviewed by: Connie Diekman, M.Ed., RD, CSSD, LD, FADA, Director of University Nutrition at Washington University in St Louis

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Oh No Another Low-Carb versus Low Fat Diet Study!

Last week, sorry the start of a semester can be crazy, another study came out looking at which diet yields more weight loss. The results pointed to the benefits of the low-carb diet But there are some question marks.

The study, which appeared in the Annals of Internal Medicine, was a 12 month randomized, parallel design study, meaning that two different groups followed similar study trial plans with the only difference being the type of diet they followed. At the end of the 12 months the results showed about an 11 pound weight loss for those on the low-carb diet and a 4 pound loss for those on the low-fat diet.

The study did have some limitations so the outcome may not be generalizable to the everyday "real" world. The limitations were 1) diet information came from recall of food consumed, which is of course very subject to memory lapses. 2) the dietitians who collected the recall information knew which subjects were on which diet and even though they followed a standard method, this could impact data collection. Finally, 3) the study also looked at heart health parameters but did not go long enough to see if the diets had any impact on heart health.

So what does all this mean.
1 - we still don't know if or what the "perfect" weight loss diet might be
2 - both diets averaged close to 1500 calories at the end but during the study the low-fat diet often was at a higher calorie level - so was it the calories
3 - weight loss should be a lifestyle focus, not a diet focus

If you need help finding the right diet for health - and a healthy weight - contact a Registered Dietitian (RD). If you are a WUSTL student you can meet with a Registered Dietitian in Student Health. If you are not a student you can find an RD at

Connie Diekman, M.Ed., RD, CSSD, LD