Working Healthy

by Brooke on September 16, 2014

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Dreading going into the office on Monday isn’t always about work.  For those individuals trying to watch their waistline and/or eat healthy, trying to avoid all of the donuts, cookies, birthday cakes, and other treats that are constantly starring you in the face can be quite a challenge.  Deadlines, co-workers, and long hours can also play a role in the desire to reach for unhealthy choices at work.  Follow these tips and learn how to eat healthy at work.


The basic fluid recommendation according to the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI) for men and women is 3.7 liters per day and 2.7 liters per day, respectively.  Drinking a glass of water every 30-60 minutes at work can help keep you feeling full and less likely to grab those unhealthy food choices around the office.  It can also be a great way to figure out if you are actually hunger or just thirsty.  Our body’s signal for thirst can often get misinterpreted for hunger.  So, if you feel hungry at work drink 8-16 ounces of water first.


Everyone has heard the old saying that, ”breakfast is the most important meal of the day.”  Yet, many working Americans still miss it!  Skipping breakfast is going to slow down your metabolism and may lead to overindulging in the break room later.


Packing a lunch for work everyday can be a challenge, when trying to balance work and home life.  However, bringing a lunch to work gives you control and allows you to make healthier choices.  Most individuals do eat healthier when they bring their lunch to work.  Want to start simple?  Start green.  Fill most of your lunch bag, brown bag, or cooler with vegetables.  If half of your meal is vegetables, not only will you be reaping the benefits from all those vitamins and minerals but you will also be consuming a ton of fiber.  Consuming fiber from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains during lunch is a great way to fill you up and keep you full!


Stop.  There are way too many parties at work to “always” have a piece of cake at and all those sweets can be detrimental to your healthy eating goals.  Try celebrating with your co-workers without out grabbing a treat at every occasion.


Consuming small, frequent meals and snacks throughout the day will keep you alert and energized. The KEY to eating healthy snacks is to PLAN AHEAD!  Pack them the night before, have an extra supply at your desk, and pack any food that needs to stay cold in a travel cooler or lunch bag.  It is also important to have a water bottle at hand throughout the day to stay hydrated!

Snacks on-the-go:

  • 1 low-fat or skim string cheese stick
  • 1 mini whole wheat bagel with 1 Tbs. of peanut butter
  • Homemade trail mix: ¼ cup unsalted nuts, ¼ cup dried fruit, 1 cup dry cereal
  • Plastic bag filled with carrot sticks and sugar snap peas
  • Dried vegetables (ie kale chips, green beans)
  • Granola bar – Look for a bar that is:
    • Between 100-140 calories
    • Less that 6 grams of sugar
    • BONUS:  Equal to or greater than 2 grams of fiber 

At your desk:

  • 6 oz. light, fat free yogurt
  • ½ cup celery sticks with 1 Tbs. of peanut butter
  • 1 whole fruit (size of your fist)
  • Plastic bag filled with carrot sticks and cherry tomatoes
  • Snack bag filled with ¼ cup dry unsalted walnuts or almonds


(Cartoon source)


“Childhood Obesity: Is Mom to Blame?”

by Brooke on September 9, 2014

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There has been a controversial PSA called, “Childhood Obesity: Is Mom to Blame” circulating around social media.  This PSA indicates that parents are to blame for the childhood obesity epidemic.  Haven’t seen the PSA yet?  Click here.

There are numerous factors affecting childhood overweight and obesity!  However, it is not in left field to say that parents play a crucial role in establishing their child’s health and lifestyle behaviors.   Research has shown that there is a strong correlation between parental and childhood obesity.  One study observing 4,788 child-mother-father trios showed that two of the strongest indicators for a child to be overweight was the weight of their parents before their birth (pre-pregnancy) and the weight of their parents when they reached 16-years-old.  Another study conducted by Whitaker et al. concluded that, “parental obesity more than doubles the risk of adult obesity among both obese and nonobese children under 10 years of age.”

It is also interesting that a few studies examining childhood obesity and mother-child feeding patterns showed that by offering only a few food choices their children were more likely to have a lower BMI.  This outcome can also be applied to adults too.  Most children, teens, and adults when presented with multiple food choices may have a hard time choosing only one option and limiting their calorie intake.  It is the parents role to offer healthy options at each meal; however, it is the child’s role to determine how much he/she wants to consume.

The bottom line is that parents need to be role models for their children, because they do effect their child’s short- and long-term health and lifestyle behaviors.



Endevelt et al. An intensive family intervention clinic for reducing childhood obesity. J Am Board Fam Med. 2014 May-Jun;27(3):321-8.

Faith et al. Maternal-Child Feeding Patterns and Child Body Weight:  Findings From a Population-Based Sample. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2003;157(9):926-932.

Faith et al. Relation between mothers’ child-feeding practices and children’s adiposity. Am J Clin Nutr. 2002;75581- 586.

Jääskeläinen et al. Intergenerational transmission of overweight among Finnish adolescents and their parents: a 16-year follow-up study. Int Jour Obes (Lond). 2011; 35:1289-1294.

Whitaker et al. Predicting obesity in young adulthood from childhood and parental obesity. N Engl J Med. 1997;337869- 873.




Testing Your Intestines

by Brooke on September 2, 2014

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By:  Erica Meador MS, RDN, LDN

I’m happy to be writing for all of you again this week and giving you more information on how to navigate testing and diagnoses for food allergies and intolerances involving wheat and gluten.

Let’s start with wheat allergy.  There are three ways to test for wheat allergy: a skin test, a blood test, or a challenge test.  The blood testing (RAST test) is the most expensive, but carries least risk of allergic reaction.  Blood is drawn and tested in a lab for IgE antibodies (or allergy) to wheat.  Skin testing is most commonly used and can be done as a scratch test where plastic prongs are scraped along the skin (often the arm) and the allergen in liquid form is put onto the small area of scratched skin.  Another form of skin testing involves actually injecting a very small amount of the allergenic protein under the skin (often on arms or back).  In skin testing, someone that is wheat-allergic will get a welt like a bug bite on their skin where the wheat protein was placed.  

Celiac disease can be diagnosed by either a combination of blood tests and intestinal biopsy OR by skin biopsy if the patient has a skin rash that looks like dermatitis herpetiformes (specific to celiac).  The blood tests for celiac should include the following: Total IgA (because 2-5% of those with celiac and 0.5-1% of general population are IgA deficient), IgA-tTG, and sometimes DGLDN-IgA.  If the total IgA comes back low (meaning someone may have celiac but it won’t show up with the IgA blood tests, then tTG-IgG, and DGLDN-IgG are run, and sometimes an EMA blood test.  If blood tests come back positive then an intestinal biopsy is completed to confirm diagnosis since celiac disease results in the surface of the intestine looking mashed down and inflamed under a microscope. This involves going under anesthesia, getting an endoscopy (tube with camera down the throat) and several extremely small pieces of intestine are taken from the first section of the intestine past the stomach.  Genetic testing can also be completed, but that can’t confirm diagnosis because 40% percent of people have one of the genes for celiac, but only 1 in 133 actually has celiac!  One of the most crucial things to remember with celiac testing is that if you go gluten-free, you won’t have elevated antibodies anymore.  You MUST keep gluten in your diet for test results to be accurate.  The recommended time frame of chowing down on gluten before testing is two months, while consuming  at least two slices of bread daily.  This recommendation varies, but the 2/2 rule shows great results!

Irritable bowel syndrome is a diagnosis of exclusion.  For example, your doctor may say “well, you don’t have any other intestinal disease, so it must be irritable bowel.” In many cases, it is confirmed through resolution of symptoms with the removal of offending foods and the return of symptoms with reintroduction of those foods.  However, this can only happen if you have a doctor and medical team that understand IBS, food triggers, and how to conduct an elimination diet.  A correctly followed FODMAP diet results in resolution for 75% of people with suspected IBS, eliminating the following food components: fructans, galactans, lactose, excess fructose, and polyols.   Lactose and fructose malabsorption can actually be tested by your gastroenterologist via hydrogen and methane breath tests (drink a glass of lactose or fructose and huff into a machine every 15 minutes for 2 hours).  An elevation means that the bacteria in your intestines are eating the lactose or fructose and releasing methane and hydrogen rather than YOU digesting and absorbing lactose or fructose.

Non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) is poorly understood, and is at this time also a diagnosis of exclusion.  Many doctors do believe it exists, but they think the numbers are much lower than once thought.  The mechanism in the body is unknown and there are unfortunately no tests to determine if you have it!

The bottom line is that testing is very important.  Different foods are involved in each of these conditions (see table below).  Therefore, many of individuals may still be having symptoms because they need a correct diagnosis so they can pull the correct foods from their diets’.  Need more help?  Make an appointment with your gastroenterologist AND dietitian.  Good luck!


Wheat Allergy


Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity

Substance Causing Reaction: 




(Fructans are common)


Foods Implicated


Wheat, Barley, Rye, Oats

Fructans include:

Wheat, Barley, Rye, Onions, Garlic (as main offenders)

Wheat, Barley, Rye, Oats





Unknown, suspected to be low