Healthy Halloween Habits


Halloween is a great opportunity to teach your kids about healthy habits and moderation. Based on the nutrition labels on popular candy, the average child accumulates 3,500 to 7,000 calories worth of treats on Halloween. That doesn’t mean that the holiday can’t be any fun, however. Think of this as a learning opportunity for your children. If your child generally follows a healthy diet, it is perfectly fine to let them indulge in a little candy on Halloween. Sheltering kids from sweets and treats doesn’t teach them how to manage and regular their eating. Follow these tips to help your children to enjoy Halloween treats without overindulging.

  • Eat a healthy meal before trick-or-treating. If your kids are full before heading out, they will be less hungry to overeat candy during the evening.
  • Incorporate exercise into trick-or-treating. Encourage your kids to walk from house to house instead of driving them. You can even give your kids a pedometer to wear to so they can see how far they walk on Halloween night.
  • Let your kids indulge a bit on Halloween, but teach them how to incorporate candy into their diets by following appropriate portion sizes in the days afterwards. After Halloween, let your kids have 1-3 pieces of candy per day so that they learn that unhealthy foods can be incorporated into a healthy diet in moderation. Offer candy at lunch, as part of an after school snack, or as a dessert after dinner.
  • Teach your kids that there are “everyday” foods and “special occasion” foods. Wholesome foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and dairy are important to incorporate into your diet every day. Candy is a “special occasion” food can be incorporated into a healthy diet once in a while.
  • Use this opportunity to teach your kids about mindful eating and help them learn to be in tune with the signals their body sends them when they are full. Encourage them to stop eating before they feel full or sick. Teach them to savor and enjoy small amounts of treats as a part of a healthy diet.
  • Be a role model by eating Halloween candy in moderation yourself. To avoid temptation, buy Halloween candy at the last minute and be sure to give it all away to trick or treaters. Show your kids that you can follow a balanced diet and eat treats in moderation.
  • Out of sight, out of mind. Keep candy in the kitchen hidden in a cupboard rather than letting your kids store candy in their bedrooms. When it is out of sight, your children will be less likely to grab and eat mindlessly.
  • If you are looking for healthier treats to hand out on Halloween, animal crackers, granola bars, whole grain cheddar cheese crackers, sugar free hot chocolate, popcorn, pretzels, and raisins are good options.
  • Consider handing out non-food treats, such as spider rings, stickers, temporary tattoos, pencils, erasers, Play-Doh, sugar-free gum, glow sticks or little bottles of bubbles.

Remember that Halloween is one day of the year. If your family follows a sensible diet during the remainder of the year, one day of indulgence is okay. Use this opportunity to teach your kids how to incorporate treats into a healthy diet.


World Vegan Day


November 1st is World Vegan Day. Worldwide, many people celebrate by attending festivals, potlucks, and advocating for veganism.


A vegan diet is entirely plant-based – no animal products or byproducts are eaten. Some vegans eat honey, while others do not. Vegans also avoid purchasing products made with real feathers and leather. Many vegans follow a plant based diet because they value animal rights and the environment, and wish to align their morals with their purchasing power. Some reasons vegans cite for their choices:

  • Animals raised for meat, dairy, and eggs often live in conditions that restrict access to sunlight or having living in extremely close quarters, resulting in stress to the animal.
  • Cutting down on animal product consumption can help to save large quantities of water used to raise livestock and their feed.
  • Deforestation of the Amazon rainforest is occurring at an ever-increasing rate. Wood-related production contributes to this trend, but the World Bank found that animal agriculture is responsible for “91 percent of Amazon destruction, with one to two acres of rainforest being cleared every second.”
  • Approximately 75% of the world’s fisheries are either exploited or depleted due to fishing, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

Vegetarianism, pescatarian, & flexitarian diets

Vegetarianism, on the other hand, is mostly plant-based but also includes dairy and eggs. Pescatarians do not eat meat, but they do eat fish.

Sometimes people use the term “flexitarian” if they are trying to eat a mostly plant-based diet, but sometimes include animal products. For example, they might aim to purchase mostly plant-based foods at the grocery store, but will have animal products if they are out to eat or on special occasions.

Reasons that vegetarians and pescatarians cite for their diet choices include some of the same points noted above, but may also include:

  • Health issues, such as heart conditions, may be benefited from a decrease in saturated fat found in animal meat.
  • Reducing their overall food bill by reducing or eliminating the purchase of meat.
  • They simply don’t like the taste of meat.

Common Questions

I don’t want to stop eating meat, but I love animals and care about the environment. What do I do?

  • Support local farmers! Buy local, from farmers you know and trust to have humane agricultural practices.
    • We are fortunate to live in an area with access to fresh, local meat from cows that graze in pasture and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine.
  • Eat meat, but eat less. Stick to 3-4 oz portion sizes. Try to eat meatless meals several times a week to cut down on your environmental impact.

Are there any risks to eating a plant-based diet?

  • Vegans may need to supplement B12 in their diet, because this vitamin is primarily found in animal sources. Some cereals, soy products, and plant-based milks are fortified with B12.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, are only found in fish, fish oils, and some specialty egg/dairy products. ALA is a plant source of omega-3’s, found in flaxseed, canola oil, and walnuts. Our bodies can make EPA and DHA from ALA, but this process is very limited; research suggests that only 10% of ALA consumed is converted to EPA & DHA.
    • This is important to consider if transitioning to a completely plant-based diet. Including fatty fish like salmon or mackerel 2-3 times per week or taking a supplement will help you to get enough of these essential fatty acids in your diet.

How will I get enough protein?

  • A well-rounded vegan diet is high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, beans/legumes, nuts, and seeds.
    • This type of diet may require more planning and cooking than an omnivorous diet, in order to get enough protein and calories
  • Plant protein sources include beans, legumes, nuts and nut butters, seeds, soy (soy beans/edamame, tofu, tempeh, TVP), & seitan.
  • Most healthy adults need 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. A 40-year-old, 150 lb person would need approximately 55 g of protein per day.
    • The NHANES survey from 2007-2008 found that the average American male eats 102 g protein per day, and the average female eats about 70 g. Many people are consuming more protein than they actually need.

What are the health benefits of a plant-based diet?

  • Saturated fat comes from animal products and tropical oils such as palm or coconut oil. A plant-based diet is generally low in saturated fat.
  • A plant-based diet is high in fiber & naturally occurring vitamins and minerals.
  • If you are preparing more meals from whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, you are likely eating far less sodium than you would if you were eating pre-packaged foods or processed meats and cheeses.

Try this (surprisingly) vegan ramen recipe for an easy & cozy weeknight meal:


Link to watch Earthlings documentary:

How Can a Dietitian Help You?


A Registered Dietitian is a food and nutrition expert who is qualified to help you to improve your nutritional status. A dietitian has met academic and professional requirements including:

  • Earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Dietetics with course work approved by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetic’s Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics. This includes food and nutrition sciences, foodservice systems management, business, economics, computer science, sociology, biochemistry, physiology, microbiology and chemistry.
  • Completed at least 1200 hours of an accredited, supervised practice program.
  • Passed a national examination administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration.
  • Maintains registration by completing at least 75 continuing professional education hours every five years.

Over half of Registered Dietitians hold advanced degrees, such as Master’s degrees, MBAs, or PhDs.  Many hold additional certifications in specialized areas of practice, such as pediatric, renal, oncology, sports, gerontological, diabetes or nutrition support.

A Registered Dietitian is uniquely qualified to provide you with evidence-based, easy to understand nutrition advice. Here are a few benefits of working with a Registered Dietitian:

  • The highest level of nutrition counseling. Anybody can call themselves a nutritionist, but only a Registered Dietitian has completed extensive education and training established by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics.
  • Individualized care. When you meet with a dietitian, you will not get one-size-fits-all advice. After learning about your health history and eating and exercise habits, a Registered Dietitian will help you to set realistic goals. The dietitian will help you to maintain your progress over the long run.
  • Help to manage chronic diseases. A Registered Dietitian can help you to learn what to eat to manage high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes. The dietitian can review your labs with you, help you to understand your chronic condition, and provide education about the impact of what you eat. The dietitian can help you develop an eating plan that can better manage your health condition.
  • Navigate food allergies, sensitivities and intolerances. When you suffer from food allergies or celiac disease, it is easy to be overwhelmed by what you cannot eat. The dietitian can teach you to read food labels so you will have a better understanding of how to maintain a balanced diet that includes all of the important nutrients.
  • Maintain an appropriate weight. A Registered Dietitian can help you to develop a healthy eating and exercise plan to maintain a healthy weight. Fad diets are a quick and easy way to lose weight, but not sustainable long term. The dietitian can help you to learn lifestyle habits that are safe and effective, such as meal planning, grocery shopping, food journaling, and mindful eating.

Medical Nutrition Therapy provided by a Registered Dietitian is covered by a variety of insurance plans, including commercial insurance and Medicare Part B. Under the Medicare Part B Program, you are eligible to receive nutrition services for diabetes and kidney disease. You may be eligible for at least three hours of Medical Nutrition Therapy services in the first year of care and two hours each additional year. Individuals with Medicare Part B are also eligible to receive 10 hours of diabetes self-management education taught by a Certified Diabetes Educator, who could also be a Registered Dietitian, during the first year and two hours each subsequent year.  If you have commercial insurance, check with your carrier for specific medical nutrition therapy coverage details. Many plans cover nutrition counseling for a wide variety of chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity.

Ask your doctor if a referral to a Registered Dietitian is right for you. With your physician’s referral, you can make an appointment to work with a dietitian to set nutrition goals and improve your health.

Incorporating Yoga into Nutrition Practice


Over the last several years, dietitians have been increasingly recommending that their patients incorporate yoga and mindfulness into daily practice to improve overall wellness.  Yoga has been around for more than 5,000 years, but has been steadily gaining popularity in the United States more recently. Since 2012, the number of Americans who practice yoga has increased by 50% to over 36 million. It is a popular mind-body practice that combines physical poses, controlled breathing, and meditation and has been shown to provide several health benefits.

Yoga incorporates three core components:

·        Poses. Yoga poses are a series of movements that increase strength and flexibility.

·        Breathing. Controlling your breathing can help to control your body and quiet your

·        Meditation. This helps you to learn to be more mindful and aware of the present moment.

The practice of yoga provides several health benefits.

·        Stress reduction and reduced anxiety.

·        Improved mood and overall sense of well-being.

·        Lower blood pressure and lower heart rate.

·        Improved fitness, balance, flexibility, range of motion, muscle tone and strength.

·        Improve respiration, energy, and vitality.

·        Help to alleviate depression, migraines, pain, and insomnia.

·        Boost immunity and increase overall health.

·        Increased self-confidence and body acceptance without judgement.

Dietitians often recommend yoga because it is associated with mindful eating, an awareness of physical and emotional factors associated with eating. Regular yoga practice strengthens the mind-body connection and creates a greater cognizance of emotions involved with food cravings. Breathing exercises and relaxation help you to slow down and to make better food choices when cravings arise. An increased sense of mindfulness regarding the circumstances around food consumption and food choices results in a reduction in overeating and stress eating. Yoga practice creates mental clarity and calmness and helps people to develop effective coping skills to relieve stress. People who routinely practice yoga have an increased awareness of the effects of certain foods on their bodies and overall increased self-esteem and self-acceptance. Many people have food issues around stress, anxiety and emotions and yoga helps to create a healthier relationship with food.

Yoga is a safe form of exercise for almost everyone, but be sure to check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program. It is especially important to receive medical clearance from your doctor if you have a herniated disk, risk of blood clots, glaucoma, pregnancy, balance problems, osteoporosis, or uncontrolled blood pressure. Yoga is a great choice of exercise if you are interested in a holistic approach to mind, body and nutrition. People of all ages and fitness levels can participate.

There are several ways to get started with yoga if you have never tried it before. You can check out books or videos from your local library. Download an app on your smartphone, such as Down Dog or Headspace. You could also sign up for a class with a certified yoga instructor. Many people enjoy yoga in a group setting, which also helps to build new friendships.

Upland Hills Registered Dietitian, Valerie Koschnick, is a certified yoga instructor and teaches yoga classes at High Barre in Mineral Point:

Foods to Boost Mood

mental health

Today is World Mental Health Day, a day recognized by the World Health Organization in order to spread awareness about mental health. Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. experiences mental illness in a given year. Fortunately, there foods that you can incorporate into your diet to help you to feel your best.

  • Everyone loves chocolate, and eating 1.4 ounces of dark chocolate per day has been found to reduce stress hormones, including cortisol. It can also help to increase endorphins, which are feel good chemicals.
  • Eat more whole foods and less processed foods. People with diets high in desserts, fried foods, processed meats, refined carbohydrates and high-fat dairy products report feeling more depressed than those who follow a more healthy diet.
  • About 45-65% of your calories should come from carbohydrates, preferably from high fiber and whole grain sources. Carbohydrates can actually help to boost your mood because they promote the production of serotonin, a feel good brain chemical. Include lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes in your diet.
  • Limit saturated fats, which have been associated with a higher incidence of depression. Choose leaner meats, low-fat dairy products, and more plant based foods.
  • Include fatty fish in your diet, such as salmon, herring, tuna, sardines, and rainbow trout, at least twice per week. Diets high in omega-3 fatty acids results in increased dopamine and serotonin production, which help you to feel good.
  • Eat foods high in vitamins B-12 and folate, including beans, citrus, and dark greens. These vitamins have been shown to positively impact mood and reduce depressive symptoms.
  • Fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables. These foods are packed with antioxidants, which help you to feel better by reducing oxidative stress in your brain.
  • Get your daily dose of vitamin D, which has been associated with a lower incidence of PMS, seasonal affective disorder, and depression. Vitamin D can be found in fortified milk, egg yolks, and in fatty fish.
  • Limit alcohol intake because it is a depressant. Women should consume no more than one serving of alcohol per day, and men should consume no more than two servings per day.
  • Be aware of your caffeine intake. It can disrupt your sleep at night, which can make you more irritable during the day.
  • Remember to exercise, which helps to reduce depression and anxiety by releasing feel-good endorphins. Exercise also helps to take your mind off your worries. Aim for 30 minutes or more per day for three to five days per week.

On this World Mental Health Day, think about ways you can be healthier in order to feel better. Improve your mental health by following a balanced diet and by incorporating exercise into your routine.

Breast Cancer + Nutrition

Vector of  foods that fight breast cancer.

No food or diet will fully prevent you from getting breast cancer. Some risk factors are out of your control, such as heredity.

A varied and colorful diet, full of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes (beans), and omega-3 fatty acids is a great place to start, to give your body the best nourishment it can get.

The women’s Health Initiative Trial (2010) suggested that a diet very low in fat, specifically saturated fat, may reduce the risk of breast cancer, but more research is needed in this area. Nutrition is a young science, and studies published in the media may only be aiming to answer one small, specific question. Be wary of sources that claim a cancer-curing diet.

For now, this is what we suggest:

  • Maintain a healthy weight. Body mass index is not a perfect gauge of health, but it can be helpful in estimating your healthy weight.
  • Eat 5+ cups of fruits and vegetables per day. See the info-graphic below for a breakdown on why eating the rainbow is key.
  • Limit saturated fats to 10% of total calories per day.
  • Eat foods high in omega-3 fatty acids. Think salmon, mackerel, flaxseed, walnuts…
  • Stay physically active – 3 to 4 hours per week of walking is a good place to start
  • Breastfeed your babies if possible
  • AVOID trans fats, processed meats (deli meats, hot dogs, breakfast sausage patties/links…), and charred or smoked foods.


Increase the chance of finding breast cancer early, when it is easier to treat:

  • know how your breasts normally look and feel
  • talk to your doctor right away if you notice changes in your breasts
  • talk to your doctor if you have a higher risk, including a family history of cancer

October 18th is Pink Day to honor breast cancer awareness month at Upland Hills Health.

Stop by UHH’s Center Cafe for lunch on October 18th for a ‘cancer prevention meal‘, starring foods discussed here such as salmon, pomegranate, broccoli, garlic, walnuts, berries…

Hope to see you there!

What Weight Loss Program is Right for You?

If you are like most people, you probably are or have been on a diet. An estimated 45 million Americans go on a diet each year and spend $33 billion annually on weight loss products. Nearly two-thirds of Americans, however, are obese or overweight. If you plan to start a weight-loss program, it is important to make sure it is safe and effective. Follow these suggestions to find a weight-loss program that’s right for you:

  • Involve your doctor. He or she can review your medical problems and medications and provide guidance regarding exercise and healthy nutrition. Your physician can also refer you to a Registered Dietitian for additional counseling.
  • Slow and steady weight loss is the key. It’s tempting to start a program that promises rapid weight loss, but studies have shown that slow and steady weight loss is easier to maintain in the long run. Aim for weight loss of no more than 1-2 pounds per week.
  • Eat real food. Look for a plan that includes a variety of foods from all of the food groups. Beware of diets that forbid certain foods. Be sure to include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, and lean protein.
  • Focus on portion sizes. The key to healthy weight loss is to stick to the appropriate portion sizes in order to stay within your calorie goals. There are no foods that need to be eliminated from your diet as long as you do not over-indulge.
  • Think about sustainability. Ask yourself if this is a diet you will be able to maintain for the rest of your life. A diet should include foods that you enjoy eating. If a diet is overly restrictive or boring, you most likely will not stick with it.
  • You should not feel hungry or deprived. This may result in irresistible cravings and overeating. A balanced diet rich in fiber and lean protein should keep you feeling full all day.
  • Don’t forget to exercise. The best way to lose weight and to keep it off is to focus both on healthy nutrition and physical activity. Exercise helps to burn calories, boost your metabolism, build bean body mass, improve your mood, and strengthen your cardiovascular system.
  • A healthy diet should fit in your budget. A diet plan that requires you to buy special meals or supplements can be expensive. It is possible to follow a healthy diet while sticking to a budget by consuming real food.
  • A weight loss program should address behavioral change. It is important to learn how to select healthy foods, read food labels, stick to appropriate portions, eat mindfully, and incorporate exercise.
  • Enlist support. To be successful, it is best to have support from family and friends. Some programs also offer support groups, either online or in person, which help to keep participants motivated.

Successful weight loss requires permanent changes to your eating habits and exercise patterns. This means that in order to maintain weight loss, you should find an approach that you can embrace for life.

Chia Seeds


Remember that old ch-ch-ch-chia pet you used to have?

Turns out, chia is an edible seed that is packed with fiber, omega-3 fatty acids and calcium, to name a few. Chia seeds are digestible in their whole form, unlike flax seeds, which need to be ground. Chia comes from the desert plant Salvia hispanica, grown in Mexico, dating back to Mayan and Aztec cultures.

One ounce (golf ball size) of chia seeds provides:

  • 138 calories
  • 5 g protein
  • 12 g carbohydrate
  • 10 g fiber (39% daily target)
  • 5.1 g ALA (alpha-linoleic acid)
  • 18% daily calcium needs
  • 12% daily iron needs
  • Also a good source (more than 10% of daily needs) of copper, magnesium, phosphorus, selenium, zinc, thiamin and niacin.

ALA is a plant source of omega-3 fatty acids — 5.1 g of ALA provides 460% of your daily needs.

Chia seeds are outstanding sources of fiber and calcium. As a comparison, 1 cup of low fat milk contains 30% of your daily calcium needs, while 1 ounce of chia contains 18%.

Fiber is key to a healthy diet; it helps keep your bowel movements regular and helps regulate cholesterol levels. Fiber is found in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. It helps to keep you feeling fuller longer, which may help you to control portion sizes better. Fiber needs are as follows:

  • Men 50 years and younger: 38 grams (g) fiber per day
  • Men 51 years and older: 30 g fiber per day
  • Women 50 years and younger: 25 g fiber per day
  • Women 51 years and older: 21 g fiber per day

Chia seeds are easy to add to foods you already eat:

  • Sprinkle on oats or cereal, yogurt, or add to baked goods
  • Mix 1 tablespoon ground chia seeds with 3 tablespoons water and let sit for 10 min to make an egg substitute for baking  – great for vegans or those with an egg allergy

Contrary to internet claims, chia is not a weight loss miracle, but it is a healthy addition to your daily routine and may help you feel fuller due to its high fiber content.