Friday, August 22, 2014

Freshman Fifteen Isn't Inevitable

As summer winds down and high school seniors head off to college many of them might be thinking about the dreaded "Freshman 15!" Fortunately not only is that weight gain not inevitable some studies say it really is a myth and few college students gain that much.

If you're headed to Wash U or any college for the first time this fall there are some things you can do to keep your weight in a healthy range. Staying at a healthy weight not only is good for you but it helps you feel more energetic and it makes it easier for you to do the things you'd like to do at college.

Here are a few tips to help you maintain a healthy weight.
* Don't feel compelled to sample everything on the menu in the first month
* Do keep physical activity in your schedule
* Don't skip meals
* Do establish a meal and snack pattern - every 3 - 4 hours is a good meal spacing
* Don't skimp on sleep - fatigue leads to overeating
* Do learn about proper portions sizes
* Don't snack right from bags or boxes of food - you will overeat
* Do take time to sit down and eat your meals and snacks

In addition to these tips, make sure you check the dining services website to learn more about nutrition. Many universities have Registered Dietitians on campus, and Washington University is one that does, so find out if you can make an appointment to talk - healthy dining?

Have a great first year!

Connie Diekman, M.Ed. RD, CSSD

Friday, August 15, 2014

Carbs Aren't Bad For You!

Current diet trends continue to focus on eating fewer or totally eliminating carbohydrates, especially grain foods, but are these diets simply one more fad diet?

As celebrities and athletes talk about their new attempts are going "carb free" or choosing the "keto" diet it can make these new diets tempting options but if you look at what you need for health, you might want to look at the reality of why we eat carbohydrates. Carbohydrates, which are found in grains, fruit, vegetables, dairy foods, beans, nuts, seeds and sugary foods are all built around molecules of glucose. Some carbohydrates are very short chains of glucose molecules so they provide fast, short-term energy - fruits, dairy and sugary foods are in this category. While others provide much longer chains and therefore energy that lasts longer - grains, vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds are in this category.

Glucose is the fuel that propels the body, allows you to participate in physical activities and it keeps your brain thinking. Glucose is needed for a healthy body! If you consume the amount of energy from carbohydrates that your body needs, All of that energy will be used and None will be stored as body fat. Carbohydrates only become a problem when we eat more than we burn.

Improve your health by trying the following:
* Choose whole grains all the time or most of the time
* Limit your intake of sugary foods
* Consume the amount of fruit and vegetable you need each day
* Learn about proper portion sizes 

Visit to learn more about carbohydrates, proper portions and exactly how much you need each day.

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

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Foods and Inflammation

The role of foods in health is very clear - foods provide the calories we need to "make it through the day", the nutrients we need to be healthy and some might help us fight diseases like osteoporosis or hypertension. Now researchers are looking at how some foods might promote disease prevention through the role they play in inflammation.

Most people know inflammation as the redness that happens around a cut but inflammation also occurs inside the body. This internal inflammation appears to be connected to the development of some types of cancer, heart disease, arthritis, diabetes and Alzheimer's. While the exact mechanism on how inflammation triggers disease isn't totally clear - and likely is different for each disease - what is clear is that diet can help fight inflammation.

Consider adding the following foods to your meal plan to provide an anti-inflammation boost.

* Tomatoes, red peppers, beets
* Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, cherries, cranberries
* Soybeans, fatty fish and nuts - especially almonds and walnuts
* Garlic and onions
* Spinach, kale, broccoli and other dark greens
* Olive oil

If you see a theme here, you are correct - consume more plant foods to maximize health, increase enjoyment and possibly prevent disease.

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