March is National Nutrition Month®. This recognition, created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, promotes food and nutrition related education and information. Each year the Academy establishes a theme, and for this year it is “Go Further with Food,” a reminder to consumers to make healthy eating choices.

March 14 is National Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day. Why should you choose a registered dietitian nutritionist for help with your food choices and dietary needs? They are the experts in human nutrition and appropriate dietary guidelines for a healthy lifestyle. Their specialized training includes a Bachelor’s Degree in the sciences and arts of food and nutrition plus advanced training in approved internships or the equivalent. At least half hold advanced degrees.

  • Clinical dietitian nutritionist may work in health care settings such as hospitals, extended care facilities, and other health related services. They work in specialized areas such as tube feedings or total parental nutrition and are often teammates with other specialists for optimum care of patients and clients.
  • Community dietitians often work in public health, home care agencies, varied health maintenance organizations, or wellness programs such as industry, business, or others. They may also work in schools and universities in varied areas of food and nutrition teaching.
  • Food Service dietitians are specifically trained in the overall operation of large-scale feeding facilities. They are responsible for the planning and execution in every phase of food preparation including safety and sanitation.
  • Gerontological, neonatal, and pediatric dietitians have special training and work with specific age groups to more readily meet age-appropriate needs.
  • Business dietitians often work in industry, especially foods or drugs, and serve as food and nutrition resource people in areas of business, marketing, and communications.

Whatever their role, their expertise in food and nutrition is vital for the well-being of individuals and the community they serve. As is often pointed out, every registered dietitian nutritionist is a nutritionist, but not everyone who claims to be a nutritionist is a registered dietitian. Make sure when you need the services of someone knowledgeable and credentialed in nutrition, foods, diets, or any related areas for healthy eating, you make the right choice. A registered dietitian nutritionist can help you “Go Further with Food.”

Nutrition Pictures



While heart disease, at slightly more than 23 percent, remains the number one cause of death in the United States, cancer with 22.5 percent of deaths, leads the way in mortality we can help prevent by behavior. According to the American Institute on Cancer Research (AICR), nearly 50 percent of the most common cancers can be prevented. February is “Cancer Prevention Month.” What are we doing to help thwart one of these cancers?

Image result for free clip art cancer preventionUp to 90,000 cases of cancer per year are thought to relate to obesity. Those most prevalent include colorectal, breast, endometrial, esophageal, gallbladder, kidney, liver, lung, pancreatic, prostate, stomach, and ovarian. Diet in general affects our risk. If this is an area we need to address, the AICR recommends several steps for cancer prevention.

  • Avoid underweight. While many facts are known regarding the problems of too much weight, underweight is not the answer. The wise will remain within a recommended weight range.
  • Avoid components in foods that can hamper weight loss or a healthy diet. Some of these include too much added sugar, especially sugary drinks and high calorie foods, excessive salt/sodium in the diet, and processed foods.
  • Avoid too much red meats and choose fish or white meats such as chicken.
  • Do exercise or remain physically active for a minimum of 30 minutes per day.
  • Do eat a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes. Several of these foods are high in antioxidants that are known to fight cancer. A few of those include the following:
    • Apple antioxidants come from several phytochemicals, namely quercetin, epicatechin, and anthocyanins. The peels have additional antioxidants.
    • Blueberries, one of the highest fruits in antioxidants, also contribute high levels of vitamins C and K, manganese, and dietary fiber.
    • Legumes, in addition to antioxidants, contain lignans (plant-based substances that may act like human estrogen) and saponins (health-promoting complex compounds) and other substances that may protect against cancer.
    • Dark green vegetables such as spinach, kale, romaine, mustard greens, collard greens and others provide excellent sources of carotenoids including lutein and zeaxanthin plus saponins and flavonoids. These chemicals may possibly protect against cancers of the mouth, pharynx, and larynx, plus slow growth of certain cell types associated with breast, skin, lung, and stomach cancers.

No one can guarantee you will not get cancer, but how you treat your body can make a difference. Think about the foods in your diet that may contribute to your susceptibility to cancer. Then consider ways you can add or remove foods that may protect you from this dreaded disease. It’s no guarantee, but isn’t it worth a try?

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February brings to mind Valentine hearts of love, but when it comes to the human heart, the month is so much more. In 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson declared February as American Heart Month. At the time, nearly half of deaths in America resulted from cardiovascular disease (CVD). Although today that number has decreased to about one in four, CVD claims 17.9 million lives worldwide each year. About 2,300 Americans die of CVD each day for an average of one death every 38 seconds.

While medical advances improve quality of life, heart disease continues to be a threat. For 2018 the focus is on younger adults ages 35 to 64. In many areas, deaths rates from heart disease in this age range are increasing, perhaps as a result of soaring risk factors. Lifestyle changes can alter these statistics. Several situations, both medical and environmental, influence the risk of CVD including:

  • Obesity: More than two-thirds of the American population are overweight with at least half of those considered as obese. Extra weight puts stress on the heart.
  • Diabetes: Sugar (glucose) build up in the blood can damage blood vessels and nerves that help control the heart.
  • Physical Exercise: Sufficient activity keeps heart and blood vessels healthy. Physical exercise is a natural mood lifter and enhances body fitness. It helps to lower blood pressure, boost HDL (good) cholesterol, improve circulation, keep weight under control, and prevent bone loss (osteoporosis). Only about 20 percent of Americans meet recommended guidelines of 150 minutes of exercise per week.
  • Healthier eating habits: Not only do Americans eat too much resulting in weight problems, most continue to make poor choices in their selection of foods. Foods high in sugar, salt, and trans and saturated fats can contribute to CVD.
  • Smoking: While a known culprit for lung disease, smoking directly damages blood vessels and impacts conditions contributing to CVD. While progress has been made in helping to reduce smoking among Americans, more than 37 million U. S. adults continue to use this unhealthy substance. Even worse, thousands of young people each day take up the habit.
  • Blood pressure: Uncontrolled blood pressure is one of the biggest risk factors for CVD. Because nearly three-fourths of individuals are unaware they have hypertension, it is often referred to as the silent killer. Approximately half the people with diagnosed hypertension fail to sustain a normal blood pressure. Adhering to heart medications prescribed by your physician more readily assures a healthy heart.

Many deaths from CVD could be prevented through education and action. Make the 2018 American Heart Month the time to change to a healthier lifestyle and prevent becoming the next CVD statistic.

The U. S. News & World Report recently released their pick for “best overall” diet. The DASH diet ranked number one again for the eighth consecutive year. The diet also ranked at the top in the categories “best diets for healthy eating” and “best heart-healthy” diet. “Best diets” are chosen based on how readily most people can adopt them into their diets, how easily they manage purchase and preparation, and how well users can sustain the dietary plan.

The DASH diet isn’t a fad. It emphasizes long-term lifestyle changes. Initially designed as an appropriate way to lower blood pressure, the DASH plan has been well received and accepted by the public as well as health professionals. It is easy to follow using common foods offered in the grocery store. The use of readily available foods that don’t require special preparation saves time and money. Inclusion of daily servings of foods from different food groups provides variety and the opportunity to choose many foods without becoming bored. What foods makes this diet the best?

The DASH diet emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fat-free or low-fat dairy products, and meat, fish, and poultry plus nuts and beans (legumes). It limits sugar-sweetened foods and beverages, foods high in salt/sodium, fatty meats high in saturated fat, and less-healthy fats such as the tropical coconut, palm kernel, and palm oils. Fruits and vegetable provide antioxidants and are low in sodium, factors known to constitute healthy eating.

If you follow this diet, please share your experiences of benefits you have found. For those who choose to make healthy eating a priority for 2018, check out a shopping guide, copy a list of foods included, and place on your refrigerator door as a reminder. Take along a copy when you shop. Avoid those less healthy foods you often buy, and become mindful of better choices.

It’s your life. It’s your health. Be healthier this year by choosing wisely the foods you eat.

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As we close the chapter on 2017, many of us think of plans we made for the past year and failed to accomplish. This blog, as a part of my theme “To Nourish Body and Spirit,” emphasizes good nutrition. We make resolutions or goals at the beginning of each year to lose weight or improve eating choices. Sometimes we chastise ourselves mentally because we failed to achieve those goals. Instead, why not focus on things we did right? We can’t undo the past, but we can forge ahead on positives.

Here are points to consider.

  1. Remember the positive choices you made throughout the year to choose healthy foods.
  2. Reflect on your greatest accomplishments in making wise food choices.
  3. Ponder constructive decisions about relationships and foods that made you feel good.
  4. Recall walks or exercise you attempted.
  5. Think about the times you abided by safety rules to keep foods safe.
  6. Likewise, meditate on the way you nourished your spirit. Hints. More prayer, Bible study, sharing with the less fortunate. You finish the list.
  7. Identify five things from 2017 that gave you joy and contentment, and consider how you can expand those experiences in the future.

Many throughout our nation and worldwide experienced devastating natural phenomena or mass shootings during 2017. Yet, several expressed thanks in the midst of hurricanes, floods, fires, and senseless carnal disasters. You, too, can find joy and blessings in many seemingly negative situations. When you do, hold onto them, nurture them. God bless you as you strive to improve your attitude and live your life to the fullest in the year ahead. Contemplate the positives, especially in your eating habits, and make joyfulness and thankfulness your companions throughout 2018.

Pf, Pf2018, Pf 2018, New Year

Happy New Year to all my readers  

As a preschooler, I loved to traipse behind my Daddy as he strolled our small farm. One of my many favorite places in the early fall was to walk down the hill to the farmer next to us who grew and processed sorghum.

I watched, mesmerized, as the small homemade mill thrashed and transformed sorghum stalks into thick goofy syrup. Most haven’t had the privilege of watching this process of turning healthy molasses into a mainstay at the dinner table. In our family, homemade hot biscuits dripped with the tantalizing tart flavored syrup. As years passed, the old farm mill nearby vanished, but not my acquired taste for its product.

I’m surprised when people outside the south are unfamiliar with our cultural treasure. Grocery stores do not carry the type of sorghum southerners eat. It’s found in select locations, without added ingredients or preservatives. A few places in several states are noted for their production. The true southern cook checks the origin of the product and uses only pure sorghum. At a food trade show in the fall of 2017, I became excited when I saw a booth promoting sorghum. Yes, it was made in one of those acceptable places for southern cooks, but that was all. A closer look revealed it was a sweet sugar cane syrup with slight flavoring of sorghum. Unfortunately, the man at the booth knew zilch about sorghum.

What is so good about this delicacy? The flavor is unique. Don’t mistake this product for syrups made from sugar cane. This tasty sweetness contains a host of nutrients from vitamins to minerals. It has a significant amount of vitamin B6 plus potassium, magnesium, and iron with lesser amounts of riboflavin, pantothenic acid, and zinc. One tablespoon of syrup supplies about 60 calories.

A google search revealed that others, like me, refer to this delectable syrup as sorghum molasses. I wondered why our modern era calls it sorghum syrup. According to varied google responses, the sugar cane industry hijacked the term molasses to use in conjunction with their sweetener―sugar.

I found few internet sources for real sorghum, most with exorbitant prices. When you acquire this “can’t-do-without” product, try these cookies. The recipe is online. Rest assured, coming from my kitchen, the sorghum I used was the real thing. Use this delightful healthy, tangy golden brown syrup in your fall cooking.

Molasses cookies uncookedGinger cookies cookedhttps://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/big-soft-ginger-cookies

Will eating a bedtime snack affect your weight? It may. Researchers in Boston recruited college students to determine if biological clocks had any effect on gaining weight. Researchers hospitalized participants for one night to determine when their melatonin, the hormone that signals a person’s biological night, began to rise. Levels of melatonin elevate when the body shifts to the night phase of our circadian rhythm.

In the study, both lean and heavier participants had similar times for the onset of melatonin. Those with higher percentages of fat tended to eat closer to the time for melatonin to begin rising than participants who were leaner. Those with excessive weight consumed most of their calories about an hour before the rise of melatonin.

We can’t determine the exact times when night begins for our bodies because it requires specific measurements. However, melatonin levels tend to climb about two hours prior to our normal sleep-time pattern. With that as our guide, food eaten about two hours or less before normal bedtime may make a difference in weight. In the Boston study, actual clock time, exercise or activity, number of calories eaten, or amount of sleep did not affect the difference in the amount of weight between lean and less lean participants. Food eaten prior to the rise of an individual’s melatonin did make a difference.

What does this study mean to us, especially if we want to lose weight? Will eating well before bedtime improve our weight? Maybe. Eating late-night meals or snacks as well as in the middle of the night may influence weight gain more than if we ate the same number of calories earlier in the day. This is not a license to eat more calories during the day, but wouldn’t it be great if we weren’t as likely to gain as much weight as eating the same number of calories at bedtime?

Several factors may influence weight and sleep time. Eating later in the day causes a rise in blood glucose levels. Those who consume most of their calories earlier in the day are more likely to be successful at losing weight and keeping it off. Here are a few suggestions to help you get started.

  • Eat heavier meals with high protein for breakfast and lunch.
  • Eat smaller portions at dinner.
  • Avoid alcohol at bedtime.

Especially as we approach extended holidays, try to limit higher calorie foods in the late afternoon and evening. What do we have to lose except weight?