Nutrition Unscrambled

USDA Launches New Online “Super Tracker” –Track and Record Your Health in 2012

By Anna Shlachter, MS, RD, LDN
December 29th, 2011

Enjoy your food, but eat less.  This was a statement that is rather confusing and created a lot of buzz in the nutrition world.  Eat less of what, how much less?  The USDA new “Super Tracker” may help the public with this.  You can see based on your specific profile how much you should be eating and eating for optimal health from all the food groups.  Perhaps you can consider a SMART goal or two related to using the “Super Tracker”. Today, I’ll give you some guidance that has worked for my clients in the past and even in my own household

So step one is start to record and track your progress.  The Super Tracker has some great tips and tools including food-a-pedia, activity tracker, and more.  It even has a place for your top 5 goals, once you personalize your plan.  I think it is a pretty user friendly website-much easier than previous versions.  Personally, for me, it is motivating to see everything tracked right in front of me.  Used appropriately, the tracker can be a great tool.  If this tool does not work for you, search for one that will! There are plenty of trackers-even on smartphones. 

One thing that I suggest that you try is measuring your food (measuring cups and a food scale can be very affordable). It can be challenging when decipher a food label or even the tracker to eyeball what the portion should look like on the plate. However seeing what exactly you eat vs what is a serving is quite interesting!  I’ve tried it with my husband lately (shh don’t tell him I am talking about him).  He was surprised at what he saw and has started to make an effort to think about the amount of food he put on his plate (even without the measuring cup).    Are going to measure forever-no eventually you will be able to it without measuring cups or scales.  Also you probably won’t pull out your cups at a restaurant or party, so it is good to learn at home and then you can visualize the portions when you are out.  Ultimately, if you see your portions creeping up go ahead and start to measure your food again to get you back on track.  You can also use household items for portion sizes, although this only works well for some people.

Remember that it a lifestyle change you are looking to achieve and new habits must be formed.  It can take some time to get used to something new.  Some say 21 days is the time it takes to create a sound habit.  So will you feel hungry at first?  Perhaps-you may be used to overeating and will need to learn how it feels to be satiated without being stuffed.  Will there be struggles-yes!  It is part of the experience, but move on to the next meal or snack- it is a mind game that you can win.

There are awesome tools to help you achieve your year (and lifetime) of health!  You do not have to do it alone.

Healthy Ways to Help Achieve New Year’s Goals in January and Throughout the Year

By Anna Shlachter, MS, RD, LDN
December 21st, 2011

This time of year many people start to think of New Year’s Resolutions. We have the best intentions, but many of these resolutions are not kept for more than a few days or even a month. Why not think of this year as the year of health and instead of resolutions, consider making achievable goals. Encourage your clients/patients to do the same. Suggest and make goals that can be built upon throughout the year and are lifestyle changes, not “quick fixes”. Keep record of these goals and when choosing goals consider overall health-nutrition, well-being, physical activity and even goals such as financial ones. It is best to include the whole family and have family goals as well.

The best goal is a SMART Goal.

An example:
Resolution: I will start exercising.
SMART Goal: I will exercise on the treadmill for 30 minutes 5 days a week.

So while you or your clients are considering you SMART goals, think of making eggs a healthy part of your lifestyle. With all the benefits an egg has to offer, it is an easily achievable goal. Remember eggs are not just for breakfast! We recently released a press release that discussed some of the reasons eggs are a great choice in a healthy lifestyle. Registered Dietitian Mary Donkersloot also provided a few suggestions that can fit in any lifestyle. Take these and make them your own SMART Goals.

Lead yourself in to good health in 2012!

Choose MyPlate

By Marcia Greenblum, MS, RD
December 19th, 2011

Planning to repent and reduce after the holidays? Thinking about what’s a healthy way to eat for the rest of your life? Well, look to to provide the answers. The simple messages that accompany the MyPlate icon can be your solution to slow and steady progress toward a new and slimmer you.

The first message that the MyPlate program asked its strategic and community partners to communicate was: “Make half your plate fruit and vegetables”. This advice alone, when adopted, leads to greater nutrient intake as well as lower calorie meals. If your plate had previously been filled with starches and sweetened foods substitute deep colored fruits and vegetable and you’ll gain more vitamins, minerals and fiber and lose calories at the same time. This message is especially helpful during the holiday season when so many of our calories come from excess sugar and fats. The hope is that if one chooses more fruits and vegetables in the face of so much excess, they will have less to repent and reduce in the New Year.

With the New Year comes a new message from Beginning 2012, the message to be communicated is a simple “Enjoy your food, but eat less”. This advice is centers around thoughtfulness about what you eat. Food should be enjoyed rather than eaten unconsciously, just because it’s nearby or convenient. This message articulates the concept of appreciating food for its sensory qualities of taste, smell and visual appearance. Too often, we shovel food not really taking the time to appreciate its virtues. Once one takes time and effort to appreciate and enjoy their food, eating less is easier to accomplish. Research has shown that we get the maximal effect from the first few bites of a food and reduced sensation after that. Smaller portions can give the same pleasure if we take time to pay attention to the qualities of the food. It is probably no coincidence that the Japanese haven’t experienced the obesity epidemic that Western cultures have, since they make an art out of their food preparation and enjoy small portions with gusto.

The Egg Nutrition Center is pleased to be a strategic partner of the communication program. To learn more about the MyPlate messages and see how eggs can be a part of several attractive low calorie nutrient rich meals, download the recipe booklet and posters located on website in the resources tab.

Interesting Headlines: Cereal? Cookies? Oh,What’s the Diff and What’s in Your Kitchen

By Anna Shlachter, MS, RD, LDN
December 16th, 2011

Two headlines in the past week are great reminders to include eggs to start your day!

Bittman’s cereal article states “Every parent of a child born in the US since 1950 knows the difficulty of getting that kid to eat a breakfast of real food.” I sadly concur that there is truth to this statement, especially the part about real food.

The article references a recent document from the Environmental Working Group. One of the sections basically shows the comparison that many children’s cereals have higher sugar content than “junk food desserts”. My recent blog highlighted the 3rd International Forum on Food and Nutrition with the theme “The Importance of a healthy Diet During Childhood” where the issues of high sugar and food advertising were discussed-refer to Dr. Lustig and Dr. Nestle’s presentations and my blog post for more information, if you haven’t checked it out.

We do know that consumption of sugar is higher than recommended in the US. The Executive Summary for the Dietary Guidelines reports that sugars contribute an average of 16 percent of the total calories in American diets. Kids and adults alike consume much more than this average. It is also recommended that for most people, no more than about 5 to 15 percent of calories from solid fats and added sugars can be reasonably accommodated in the USDA Food Patterns, which are designed to meet nutrient needs within calorie limits. The AHA Scientific statement on Dietary Sugars Intake and Cardiovascular Health lists the following health concerns with high sugar intake: insulin resistance, higher caloric intake, high blood pressure, high triglycerides and cholesterol, chronic hyperinsulinemia and low intake of vitamins, minerals, and fiber:

On the other hand the blog titled “What’s in Your Kitchen” reports that 9 out of 10 houses have eggs in their refrigerators. So what’s is the link? People already have a great breakfast food at their fingertips. Eggs are an inexpensive, convenient, quick, and healthy breakfast food (with varying amounts of naturally occurring essential vitamins and minerals). Another perk-they don’t have sugar. With the sugar concerns, why not consider encouraging eggs as a great breakfast food. For that matter, they can be a great anytime food! They don’t have to be difficult or time consuming to make. Remember to check the American Egg Board website for recipes. Here are some 3 minute breakfast recipes (maybe slightly longer than pouring a bowl of sugary cereal, but with great benefits).

Tis the Season to Healthy Giving

By Anna Shlachter, MS, RD, LDN
December 12th, 2011

Today’s post is about donating food to food pantries. We decided to continue the annual tradition of doing a food drive around the holidays at work. Many of us donate to pantries, but this season as health professionals I encourage you to give and collect “healthier items” to give to the pantries. Consider donating whole wheat items instead of white for grains, avoid giving fruits in syrup, avoid giving sugar-filled cereals, etc. Some food pantries are actually refusing candies and cookies as donations.

Also, check to see if your food pantry takes perishable items. Remember eggs are an affordable and great source of protein, if you are able to donate them!!! Monetary donations are also often accepted and pantries may prefer this because they can buy in bulk and get items they need at the time.

Here are some great donation options noted in a recent article. Your food pantry may have a “wish list”, so be sure to check it out as well.

Good options:
• low-sugar cereal such as Cheerios or Chex;
• peanut butter
• cans or plastic containers of juice (make sure it’s 100 percent juice)
• canned vegetables, any variety, marked lite or low-sodium;
• bags of pinto or black beans;
• rice
• canned tuna fish (packed in water)
• powdered milk fortified with vitamin D.

Avoid donating:
• foods high in sodium, fat, oils or sugar
• chips, candy, cookies and crackers
• sugary beverages
• items in glass bottles
• items that are expired or in damaged packaging.

For our Registered Dietitian readers: offer the food pantry copies of healthy and simple recipes. Many food pantries are delighted to be able to give this information out along with food to help people learn how to use the different foods.

These are just a few ways you can give back to your community as a group or individually. I hope you’ll consider this during the holiday season and beyond. Many people do say they would like to volunteer but do not know how to get started. Look to your local communities for guidance!

Tis the Season to Offer Your Time

By Anna Shlachter, MS, RD, LDN
December 9th, 2011

The next two blog posts are going to about projects that American Egg Board and Egg Nutrition Center are doing during the holiday season to give to those in need

Tis the Season for giving the gift of volunteering.One project that the American Egg Board and the Egg Nutrition Center decided to do was through the Salvation Army.

This week the American Egg Board and Egg Nutrition Center staff spent a day hosting a site for the Salvation Army Red Kettle.These funds collection will help needy families in our area. I also noticed that they have an online red kettle where you can start or join a team or even start a kettle yourself.

“The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention.” ~Oscar Wilde

Chew on This-Are We Responsible for the Actions of Others in the Obesity Story?

By Anna Shlachter, MS, RD, LDN
December 8th, 2011

Last week I was able to attend a seminar that reviewed part of the 3rd International Forum on Food and Nutrition with the theme “The Importance of a healthy Diet During Childhood” with other health professionals in the Chicago area. We were able to listen to recorded sessions from Aviva Must, Robert Lustig and Marion Nestle. Lisa Sutherland moderated the day and led us to discuss ideas, implications and more.

I’ve summarized some key points from the seminar:

Dr. Aviva Must, Tufts, gave us insight to the stability of fruits and vegetable intake. There was an interesting slide showing with the Double Pyramid “how to feed children, selves and the environment.” Childhood obesity is known to be “tracked” through adulthood and is associated with the consumption of sugar sweetened beverages, reduced fruits/vegetables, increased portion sizes and meals away from home. Another key discussion was how fruit and vegetable intake in childhood correlates to intake as an adult. The evidence in this area remains overall weak regarding stability of fruit and vegetable intake. Fruit and vegetable intake does tend to decline from childhood to adolescents and then increase, but overall absolute fruit and vegetable intake is low.

Dr. Robert Lustig, University of California at San Francisco, gave us startling statistics – 165 million Americans will be obese by 2020 and 100 million Americans will have diabetes by 2050 (CDC Division of Diabetes Translation, 2011). A key point of this discussion was that obesity is not the problem; the problem is actually metabolic syndrome (for people of all sizes).He also mentions chronic fructose exposure promotes metabolic syndrome and hepatic functions were discussed as it related to this issue. It was noted that we ingest much more sugar than necessary and recognized the AHA Scientific Statement to reduce sugar intake from 22 tsp/day to 9 tsp/day (males) and 6 tsp (females). It was tied together by referring to the Maillard reaction- “instead of roasting 1 hour at 375 degrees, we slow cook at 98.6 degrees for 75 years”.

Dr. Marion Nestle, New York University, discussed food system issues and marketing came out loud and clear and the impact it has on choices for children. In addition, she spent some time discussing influential initiatives like Let’s Move and other programs including Jamie Oliver, Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Taxes and yes there was mention of pizza as a vegetable in the school lunch program. There also have been recent movements of Occupy Big Food and Occupy the Food System.

Three speakers with different viewpoints, but it is clear that the main outcome was to not point the finger and one “reason” for obesity and continue to think of it as a comprehensive solution to fight the battle. We did foster some great conversations and ideas from the day. Check out the video archive of the event for more information.

The question of the day was “Are we responsible for the actions of others?” Lisa Sutherland started us with the question and I think it gives us something to “chew on”.

ENC Enhances the Education of Future Registered Dietitians

By Anna Shlachter, MS, RD, LDN
December 1st, 2011

Last month ENC hosted its first dietetic intern, Kasia Ciaston, from Loyola University. She completed two blog posts last month, so if you did not get a chance to read them check them out! Kasia let us know that this was her first exposure to this area of dietetics, so it was a unique and helpful rotation.

Having interns will benefit ENC, as well showing our commitment and dedication for helping educate future health professionals. The students complete multiple competencies during their time at ENC through projects such as creating and updating materials, writing blog posts, reviewing research articles and other activities. It is a valuable rotation because many rotations are geared towards educating consumers, while we focus on educating health professionals.

If you are able to precept interns, it is a rewarding experience. Yes, it does take time but it is worth it! They often get projects completed that may otherwise sit on your desk and you’ll also be helping your profession.


Nutrition Unscrambled  is written by nutrition experts with the Egg Nutrition Center, which is funded by the American Egg Board. It is monitored and maintained by the public relations agency of record. The mission of the Egg Nutrition Center is to be a credible source of nutrition and health science information and the acknowledged leader in research and education related to eggs. For more information, click here.

About the Bloggers

Mitch Kanter, Ph.D. is the Executive Director of the Egg Nutrition Center. For more information about
Mitch, click here.
Marcia Greenblum, MS, RD is the Senior Director, Nutrition Education at the Egg Nutrition Center. For more information about Marcia, click here.
Anna Shlachter, MS, RD, LDN is the Program Manager, Nutrition Research and Communications at the Egg Nutrition Center. For more information about Anna, click here.

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All information provided within this blog is for informational and educational purposes only and it is not to be construed as medical advice or instruction. Please consult your physician or a qualified health professional on any matters regarding your health or before making changes to your diet or health behaviors.