Northeastern University Dining Services Blog

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Calories On the Menu

Thursday, June 1, 2017 | 12:00 PM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , , , No comments

You may have noticed that restaurant menus have a new look. Along with price and description, you’ll now see calories listed on menus at restaurants, coffee shops, movie theaters and bakeries, among others.

Why put calories on menus?
Most of us eat about a third of our meals away from home. With that in mind, legislation was passed as part of the Affordable Care Act requiring calorie-posting on restaurant menus. The goal of the legislation was to make it easier for us to make informed choices about what and how much we eat while we are out.

Where you will and won’t see calories:
In general, we can expect to see calories on food and drinks that are served regularly at 20 or more locations under the same brand. This includes just about anywhere that serves food ready to eat, such as sports stadiums, coffee shops and restaurants. Chefs’ specials, seasonal dishes or items offered only for a limited time, however, will not be required to have calories listed. Independent restaurants with one or only a few locations and those that move from place to place (trains, planes and food trucks) will not be required to post calories for any of their menu items.

How to use calories on a menu:
Understanding how many calories we take in compared to how many we burn can be valuable in maintaining a healthy weight and an active lifestyle. For example, if your day will be very physically active, you will need more calories to keep your energy levels where you need them. On the other hand, if you are going to be sitting most of the day or are trying to lose weight, you will want to eat fewer calories. Comparing calorie levels for foods and drinks can help you make choices that most closely match your needs.

RESOURCES: 1. https://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/LabelingNutrition/ucm515020.html

Written by Jennifer M. Roberts, MS, RD.
June 2017

Monday, May 1, 2017

Be a Food Allergy Friend

Monday, May 1, 2017 | 12:00 PM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , , , , , No comments

Do you know someone who has food allergies? With as many as 15 million people living with food allergies (or 1 in 25 Americans), chances are you do. Have you ever wondered what you could do when eating with someone who has food allergies to help them stay safe?

Dining Out
The key to dining out with friends is to plan ahead. Ask them if they have preferred restaurants. Most restaurants now regularly accommodate customers with food allergies. If you are eating at a buffet-style facility, consider people with food allergies who may come after you. Don’t use the same serving utensils for multiple food items. If you see someone else making a mess, say something to your server.

Dining at Your Home
If you are inviting someone to your house, ask if they have any food allergies or dietary preferences. Your guest with food allergies will know their condition better than you, so when in doubt just ask them for help. Be sure to check ingredient labels carefully for the allergen(s) and confirm with your friend how foods are being cooked. If you are hosting a child with food allergies, don’t feel offended if their parents decide to bring their own food. If you are reheating anything, be sure the food is reheated in its own sealed container or according to the parent’s instructions.

Dining at Their House
Have you been invited to dine with someone who has food allergies at their home? Plan ahead and ask about what you can bring over. Let them know how you are preparing foods and the exact ingredients and brands used. A small gift or flowers are always a great alternative if your host politely declines your offer.

RESOURCES:
1. Food Allergy Facts and Statistics for the U.S.: https://www.foodallergy.org/file/facts-stats.pdf
2. FARE Dining Out Guide: https://www.foodallergy.org/managing-food-allergies/dining-out
3. Be a PAL: https://www.foodallergy.org/be-a-pal

Written by Lily Leung, MPH, RDN
May 2017

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Tips to Consider as you Study for Finals

Wednesday, April 19, 2017 | 12:09 PM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , , , , , No comments

Keep in mind that during finals, it is so very important to get enough sleep, fit in some form of physical activity, and make healthy food choices most of the time.

Many people find that when they are stressed they eat more than planned. Well there might be a reason for that- based on a study from the University of Michigan- when levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) increase, people tend to eat more snack foods (specifically carbohydrate based foods).

Something to consider: A healthy lifestyle can improve your focus and concentration, which can help you to be more efficient and can actually result in you completing your work in less time.

Take breaks when you think you need them
Too much stress can disrupt your efforts of being organized. Take a break when you think you need one! Even if it is taking a 10-minute walk or making a quick phone call to a friend.

Avoid too much caffeine
Caffeine may give you a quick boost- but don’t overdo it! If you drink too many caffeinated beverages it may increase dehydration as these beverages may end up taking the place of water or other hydrating beverages.  Avoid caffeinated beverages in the late afternoon as this could disrupt your sleep at night.

Eat small frequent meals throughout the day
Avoid long stretches between meals and snacks. If you go longer than 4 hours without eating you will begin to feel fatigued, which may result in decreased concentration.

Pre-plan meals and snacks
When you plan ahead it can help you cut down on making impulsive less healthy choices.

Limit consumption of high-fat and high sugar snacks
These foods can zap your energy level. It is important to keep your energy level up by choosing healthy snacks as often as possible.

High-energy snack options
  • Peanut butter and jelly sandwich
  • Apple or banana with peanut butter
  • Low-fat yogurt with fruit or whole grain crackers
  • Carrots and hummus
  • Low-fat pudding
  • Vegetable soup
  • A handful of trail mix 
  • A handful of nuts
  • A bowl of cereal
  • Oatmeal made with milk
  • A piece of fruit and a cheese stick
  • Tortilla chips and guacamole
Resources:
  1. Stress Management: Stress Basics. Accessed April 18, 2017. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/basics/stress-basics/hlv-20049495
  2. Learn to Manage Stress.  Accessed April 18, 2017 https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/001942.htm
  3. Emotional vs. Mindful Eating. Accessed April 17, 2017. https://helpguide.org/articles/diet-weight-loss/emotional-eating.htm#hunger
  4. Cortisol: The Stress Hormone. Accessed April 17, 2017
  5. http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/cortisol_the_stress_hormone


Monday, April 10, 2017

Limiting Your Sugar Intake

Monday, April 10, 2017 | 10:00 AM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , , , No comments


Choosing beverages that contain lots of added sugar are not the best choice! Sugar-sweetened beverages contain a lot of extra calories and almost no nutrients. If you are consuming high-sugar drinks (e.g. soda, juice, etc.) regularly, over time it can lead to weight gain, which in turn will increases your risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease as well as other medical issues.

As of now, there are no federal guidelines regarding the amount of sugar you should consume. However, the American Heart Association recommends that we consume less sugar- no more than 6 teaspoons (tsp.) or 100 calories a day of sugar for most women and no more than 9 teaspoons or 150 calories a day for most men.

There is no nutritional need or benefit that comes from sugar that is added to beverages. Something to consider: a can of regular soda contains about 9-10 tsp. of sugar and a 12 oz. bottle of apple or cranberry juice contains about 10-11 tsp. of sugar, which provides about 150 calories (~40 gm. of sugar). Something to keep in mind is that you do not need to cut out all sugar, but limiting your intake is the key.
  • Try to limit your intake of flavored coffee. The calories from sugar added to these beverages will add up quickly.
  • Read food labels. Sometimes a bottled beverage will contain more than one serving
  • Choose a diet or low-calorie beverage, but take in to consideration that these beverages contain artificial sweeteners
Choose water for hydration
  • Water does not contain nutrients or calories
  • If you don’t like plain water try adding a very small amount of juice for flavor or add fruit to infuse the water with flavor
Choose milk as a nutrient dense option.
  • Low-fat milk (skim milk, 1% low-fat milk)
  • Milk provides important nutrients: protein, calcium and vitamin D
  • Choose a low-fat version to supply fewer calories and less fat
  • Flavored milk will provide about 5-6 tsp. of added sugar (per 8 oz. serving)
Choose beverages (and foods) that contain natural sugars:
  • Low-fat milk (skim or 1%)
  • Fresh and/or frozen fruits
  • Fresh and/or frozen vegetables
Note: you do not need to count the naturally occurring sugars found in fruits and milk toward your daily intake of added sugar!

For more information on this topic check out the resources (listed below) that were also used as references for this blog.
  1. Harvard T.H. Chan, School of Public Health Newsletter, Healthy Drinks. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-drinks. Accessed April 4, 2017.
  2. Sugar 101. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/Nutrition/Sugar-101_UCM_306024_Article.jsp#.WOY94CMrLUQ. Accessed April 5, 2017.
  3. Water: How much should you drink every day? http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/water/art-20044256. Accessed April 4, 2017.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Fun with Food

Thursday, April 6, 2017 | 10:00 AM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , , , No comments


with campus executive chef Tom Barton

Have you been to Xhibition Kitchen lately? Or have you ever been? Whenever I ask I am always amazed that there are many students who still do not know about the amazing Xhibition Kitchen, or "XK" as we like to call it. The XK is located at 11 Speare Place inside Stetson West Eatery and is a state of the art demonstration kitchen - which is currently in full swing!

We host many cookbook authors, and local and nationally acclaimed chefs. Sometimes our guests stop by because they are in the area and they have heard about what an amazing space it is. Inside the kitchen itself we can seat approximately 60 people with additional seating in the outside room. How cool is it to be watching a demonstration up close and personal to many of the areas most recognized chefs?

One of the best parts of my job is that I get to meet these chefs and authors as we prepare their mise en place (all their prep). I cannot even begin to tell you how many wonderful people I have been able to meet and not to mention the education I have received by seeing all of their demonstrations. Many cool tips and tricks.

I particularly enjoy the planning process of these event. It is very interesting to learn how each guest like their mise en place organized. Often times the planning process begins months in advance. Our marketing team is responsible for programming the space and then from there the entire team meets to discuss all of the details. I almost forgot to mention that we also prepare samples of what is being demonstrated so you can not only watch but taste as well! I am also lucky enough to conduct some demonstrations in the XK myself. No two events are the same so it is always fun to see what will be next. None of these events would be possible without the help and expertise of our Marketing team and team at Stetson Dining.

I encourage you all of you to stop by to catch an event or two before the end of the semester. We all really enjoy bringing these events to you and look forward to seeing you there!
    
Tom

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Eating Right on a Budget

Getting the most nutrition for your food budget starts with a little extra planning before you shop. There are many ways to save money on the foods that you eat. Here are some budget-friendly tips for eating right.


Plan what you’re going to eat
Before you head for the grocery store, plan your meals and snacks for the week. Review recipes for what ingredients are needed. Check to see what foods you already have and make a list of what you need to buy. When you shop with a list, you will be less likely to buy extra items that are not on it.

Decide how much to make
Making a large batch by doubling a recipe will save time in the kitchen later on. Extra portions can be used for lunches or meals later in the week, or freeze leftovers in individual containers for future use. Plus, foods purchased in bulk are almost always cheaper.

Determine where to shop
Check the local newspaper, online and at the store for sales and coupons, especially when it comes to more expensive ingredients, such as meat and seafood. While at the store, compare prices of different brands and different sizes of the same brand to see which has a lower unit price. The unit price is usually located on the shelf directly below the product.

Shop for foods that are in season
Fresh fruits and vegetables that are in season are usually easier to get and may be a lot less expensive. Your local farmer’s market is also a great source of seasonal produce. Just remember that some fresh fruits and vegetables don’t last long. Buy small amounts at a time to avoid having to throw away spoiled produce.

Try canned or frozen produce
At certain times of the year, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables may be less expensive than fresh. For canned items, choose fruit canned in 100% fruit juice and vegetables with “low sodium” or “no salt added” on the label.

Focus on nutritious, low-cost foods
Certain foods tend to be less expensive, so you can make the most of your food dollars by finding recipes that use the following ingredients: beans, peas, and lentils; sweet or white potatoes; eggs; peanut butter; canned salmon, tuna or crabmeat; grains such as oats, brown rice, barley or quinoa; and frozen or canned fruits and vegetables.

Watch portion sizes
Eating too much of even lower cost foods and beverages can add up to extra dollars and calories. Use smaller plates, bowls and glasses to help keep portions under control. Fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables and the other half with whole grains and lean meat, poultry, seafood or beans. This is an easy way to eat a balanced meal while controlling portions and cost. To complete the meal, add a glass of fat-free or low-fat milk or a serving of fat-free yogurt for dessert.

Make your own healthy snacks
Convenience costs money, so many snacks, even healthy ones, usually cost more when sold individually. Make your own snacks by purchasing large tubs of low-fat yogurt or cottage cheese and dividing them into one-cup containers. For trail mix, combine nuts, dried fruit and whole grain pretzels or cereal; store small portions in airtight containers. Air-popped popcorn and whole fresh fruits in season also tend to cost less compared to pre-packaged items.

Cook more, eat out less
Many foods prepared at home are cheaper and more nutritious. Also, convenience foods like frozen dinners, pre-cut vegetables and instant rice or oatmeal will cost you more than if you make them from scratch. Go back to basics and find a few simple and healthy recipes that your family enjoys.

Authored by Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics staff registered dietitian nutritionists.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Eating on the Move


The end of the semester is approaching.  Which means more time studying and the need for quick food options.  Here are some easy convenient meal and snack ideas to ensure you are continuing to eat healthy while you finish out the semester. Some of these can be made in your dorm room- so there is no need for a full kitchen.  All you need is a refrigerator and maybe a microwave! 

Meal and Snack Ideas

Grains: Great source of B vitamins, fiber and important minerals (iron, magnesium..)
  • Hot oatmeal – Microwave ½ c. oats, 2/3 c. water (or with milk to add protein, calcium and vitamin D) for 2 minutes. Top with granola and some blueberries or raisins. You can also add a scoop of Greek Yogurt for added protein. 
  • Overnight oats – Mix oats, milk, fruit, chia seeds and nut butter. Let sit overnight. Grab & go in the morning.
  • Whole grain bread – Make sandwiches with sliced turkey or tuna salad or toast (try topped with peanut butter & banana).
  • Whole grain wraps/pitas – Use these to make hummus & veggie wraps or burritos.
  • Whole grain cereal – Enjoy with milk for breakfast and snacks.
Protein: Important for muscle repair, immune function as well as increasing feelings of fullness during meals and snacks
  • Hummus – Flavored or plain- your choice! Enjoy with veggies, crackers, or add it to a sandwich.
  • Nut butter – Add them to a smoothie with yogurt and banana or you can add to crackers, toast, or for dipping with apples…
  • Tuna/chicken salad – Use low-sodium canned tuna or chicken packed in water. Mix in a small bowl with mashed avocado, hummus, or Greek yogurt instead of mayo. Add your favorite spices (try curry powder or cayenne pepper) and some chopped vegetables- onions and peppers, to bulk it up!
  • Deli meat/rotisserie chicken/pre-baked tofu – These are easy to add to wraps and sandwiches.
  • Scrambled eggs – In the microwave, cook for 2 minutes, stir, and cook another 2 minutes.
Veggies: Contain lots of great vitamins and minerals.  Choose a variety everyday to be sure you are getting all the important nutrients each day. The more colorful you meals and snacks the better!
  • Salad in a jar – Portion out enough lettuce/spinach/mixed greens, complete with chopped veggies and a protein source, for the week and store them in mason jars or Tupperware. Add the dressing to the bottom first to keep everything else from getting soggy (or on the side if you rather). When you’re ready to eat, just shake it up and dig in!
  • Microwave a potato or sweet potato – Poke the potato with a fork or knife all over, microwave for 5-6 minutes- top with shredded cheese, beans and veggies and turn it into a meal.
  • Raw veggies – Try dipping in hummus, guacamole or low-fat dressing!
Fruit: Great for taking on-the-go to class or in between classes.  Choose a variety each day!
  • Bananas – Buy in a variety of stages of ripeness to enjoy throughout the week.
  • Apples & oranges – These make easy grab & go snacks.
  • Berries – Top your oatmeal bowls with them or mix them into Greek yogurt for some natural sweetness.  Buy them frozen to add to smoothies
Dairy: Great source of vitamin D and calcium as well as protein.  
  • Milk – Choose dairy or non-dairy substitutes.
  • Greek yogurt – Enjoy with fruit & granola. 
  • Cheese – Put on top of salads and sandwiches or eat plain with crackers or veggies. Cheese sticks are a great grab and go food item.
Fats: Important  for absorption of fat soluble vitamins.
  • Salad Dressing – Make your own dressings with oil, vinegar, and spices to add flavor and healthy fats.
  • Nuts – These are full of protein and healthy fats! Enjoy a handful each day at snack time.
  • Avocado – This makes a great topping for salads and sandwiches. Also, mix it into smoothies for added creaminess.
  • Snacks: Don’t forget to carry snacks in your bag so you don’t go too long without eating during the day.  Small snacks during the day can help avoid overeating at a meals.
  • Nuts & seeds – Use these for added flavor, nutrition, and texture in granola bars and trail mix.
  • Flax seeds and chia seeds – Sprinkle these on oatmeal or yogurt for added omega 3’s and protein.
  • Store bought bars – KIND bars, Luna bars, Lara bars are some good options.
  • Homemade fruit & nut bars – Make your own at home!
Information gathered from Lindsay Livingston http://www.theleangreenbean.com/how-to-eat-healthy-in-college/ Accessed March 20, 2017.

Recipes

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Bars (no bake)
Ingredients:
  • 1 cup peanut butter (crunchy or smooth) or sun nut butter
  • 1 cup honey 
  • 2 1/2 cups rolled oats 
  • 3/4 cups chocolate chips. craisins, or raisins
Directions:
  1. Mix ingredients together and then press into a pan to set. Cut into bars. 
Blueberry and Honey Overnight Oats
Ingredients:
  • 1/2 Cup(s) Oats 
  • 1/2 Cup(s) Low-fat milk 
  • 1/4 Cup(s) Greek yogurt 
  • 1/4 Cup(s) Blueberries 
  • 1 Tablespoon(s) Honey
Directions:
  1. Add Oats to your container, pour in milk, and add in Greek yogurt and blueberries. 
  2. Top with honey before refrigerating.
Salad in a Jar
  • Choose the ingredients you like!
It is really convenient if you are packing a lunch to take with you to co-op or to class. 

Friday, March 24, 2017

3 Things We're Cooking Up for the End of the Semester



with campus executive chef Tom Barton

Hi all! It’s quite busy around here and I wanted to let you know about a few of the things we have going on around campus.

In January, we started doing Foodie Tours of each of our dining locations. These are in depth tours with our nutritionist Christine Clark and me. We select a dining location and go station-by-station talking about the back stories of how are menus are created, where we source many of our products from, and, in some cases, the science behind some of the things we do. We have received great feedback from the tours we have done and anticipate continuing this initiative next semester. They are open to all students, faculty, and staff and are – of course – free!

We have also been busy planning for our upcoming Lobstah Night. We are happy to say that we will be working with Red's Best to obtain the 1,000 lobsters needed for this event. It is certainly one of the highlights of the school year so be sure to get to Stetson West early on Tuesday night!

Our last event of the semester will be our 16th(!) annual Educate Your Palate. I wish I could tell you more about the theme of this year's event but then you wouldn't be surprised! Seeing how International Village has been transformed when you walk in on the night of the event is definitely a "wow" — if you have been to EYP in the past you know what I mean. This is a can't-miss event so please put Thursday, April 20 on your calendar. As chefs, we love this event because – as sort of a culmination of a year's worth of culinary trends – we get to create a menu that is unlike anything you've seen all year. Additionally important to us is that even though the event is held at International Village it is a collaborative effort with our culinary teams from International Village, Stetson, and Curry. Working together as one large team is always very exciting for us.

I hope to see you at these extraordinary upcoming events!
Tom

Thursday, March 23, 2017

National Nutrition Month 2017: Plant Power

If you follow food trends, you’ve surely noticed that plant-based foods, recipes and restaurants have been getting a larger share of the spotlight lately. Does this mean that more of us are becoming vegetarians? Should we be?

Why more plants?
Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, peas, nuts and seeds are key features of some of the healthiest diets in the world. Plant based foods are a common theme in the Mediterranean Diet, the DASH Diet and most dietary guidelines. The balance of health promoting nutrients with moderate calories and less of the stuff we should be limiting make plant based foods an easy fit for most people. Looking beyond personal health, to the health of our planet, plant based foods tend to more sustainable and less taxing on the environment.

What is a flexitarian? Or a pescatarian?
With the expansion of plant foods on our plates has come an expansion of how we refer to the way we eat. Vegetarian still refers to people who don’t eat meat, fish or poultry, but there are many other variations as well. Vegans are vegetarians who don’t eat any animal products at all, so they skip dairy, eggs and honey too. Pescatarians are typically vegetarians who include fish and seafood occasionally. Flexitarian has become a term associated with people who skip meat meals in favor of vegetarian ones periodically.

Bottom Line
If plant foods are so good for us, does this mean we should all become vegan? Not necessarily. We could, however, all benefit from incorporating more plant foods into our daily menus. Try to avoid seeing “meat eater” and “vegetarian” as the only two options. Plant foods can and should be a big part of all of our diets, with or without meat. Vegetarian meals have moved far beyond just a plate of steamed vegetables. Grilled cauliflower steaks, chick pea stews, mushroom Bolognese and other plant based dishes appeal to both vegetarians and meat eaters alike.

REFERENCES:
1. Rizzo, Nico S. et al. Nutrient Profiles of Vegetarian and Nonvegetarian Dietary Patterns. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics , Volume 113 , Issue 12 , 1610 - 1619

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

National Nutrition Month 2017: Are Half Of Your Grains Whole?

Recent studies focus on the benefits of whole grains in lowering risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and other chronic conditions. But what types of carbohydrates should you choose for workouts and for keeping your energy high throughout the day?

Incorporating grains into a healthy lifestyle
Carbohydrates act as the primary fuel for your brain and muscles. Remember those pasta nights before the big game? The reason for the “carb load” was to increase your glycogen, or your stored carbohydrates, to be available as energy while you exercise. Fast-acting energy sources, such as refined grains, can provide quick energy before, during and after a game or workout. But what about energy over the course of the day, while you are at work or taking care of the kids? Throughout the day, active men and women should consume 6-8 ounces or servings of grains.

What kind of grains should I look for?
According to the Dietary Guidelines, at least half of your grains should be whole grains. Whole grains contain the entire kernel and provide dietary fiber, iron, B vitamins and phytochemicals. When shopping, look for whole grains as the first ingredient on the package. When eating out, look for menu items with whole grain pasta, brown rice, quinoa, oatmeal, whole wheat wraps, tortillas and other whole grains.

Bottom Line:
The health benefits of whole grains are more pronounced within the context of a healthy lifestyle. If you lead an active lifestyle, consider limiting refined grains to periods before, during or after a workout. The rest of your servings of carbohydrates should be focused on complex, whole grains.

REFERENCES:
1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2015 – 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 8th Edition. December 2015. Available at http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/. www.choosemyplate.gov
2. Cho SS, Fahey GC, Klurfeld DM. Consumption of cereal fiber, mixtures of whole grains and bran, and whole grains and risk reduction in type 2 diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease. Am J Clin Nutr. 2013 Aug;98(2):594-619.
3. Zhang G, Hamaker BR. The Nutritional Property of Endosperm Starch and Its Contribution to the Health Benefits of Whole Grains. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2016 Feb 6.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

National Nutrition Month 2017: Save the Food

Up to 40% of the food in the US is wasted and never eaten. Considering how many people don’t have enough to eat, the idea of so much food ending up in landfills is startling. Here are some tips on how you can do your part to reduce food waste:


Plan Ahead
There are two rules of shopping that can help you reduce food waste, save money and improve how well you eat – don’t shop when hungry and bring a list. A good shopping list is based on what you plan to eat for the next week or so. Remember though, that meal planning doesn’t mean you have to cook from scratch every night. Map out days for quick meals, new recipes and no-cook nights of leftovers or eating out. If your shopping includes the local famers’ market, go there first and then make any adjustments to your meal plan and shopping list to include any great finds you weren’t expecting.

Choose Wisely
Buy what you need. While bulk discounts can seem like too good a deal to pass up, if you end up buying more than you need, the deal may not actually be that good. Bulk bins, on the other hand, can be a way to purchase smaller amounts than what is typically found on the shelves to better match what you need. Embrace imperfection. When shopping for produce, look for fruits and vegetables that aren’t bruised, damaged or overripe. Do, however, give ugly produce a chance. Fruits and vegetables don’t always grow in the exact shape or size that we expect.

Use It:
Too often, we end up tossing food that could have been saved. Don’t be fooled by dates. Dates on foods are not always expiration dates. Sometimes they aren’t even dates, but codes used by the manufacturer. Unless the date specifically says “expiration” or “use by” it is most likely safe to use the food past that date if it has been stored properly. If you won’t use something before it goes bad, consider freezing it. Many foods can be frozen safely for use later. For more information on reducing food waste and food safety, check out savethefood.com and homefoodsafety.org

REFERENCES:1. Gunders, Dana. Wasted: How America Is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill. NRDC Issue Paper. August 2012. Available at: https://www.nrdc.org/sites/default/files/wasted-food-IP.pdf.2. Home Food Safety. Available at homefoodsafety.org.3. Save the Food. Available at savethefood.org.

Monday, March 20, 2017

National Nutrition Month 2017: Mindful Eating

Monday, March 20, 2017 | 12:00 PM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , No comments

In our busy lives, we often rush through our meals sometimes not even pausing to sit while we eat. This hurried way of eating certainly deprives us of the pleasure of the meal, but could it also be impacting our health? Could all of the distractions be causing us to eat more than we need? Or causing us to make less healthful choices?


The philosophy of Mindful Eating seeks to reverse this habit and transform our relationship with food. Eating is one of the few activities that allow us to engage all of our senses. Mindful eating encourages you to take time to explore your food through sight, touch, smell and sound in addition to taste. Your responses to each aspect of your food, whether positive or negative, should be acknowledged, but not judged according to the principles of Mindful Eating. Learning to be aware of physical hunger and satiety cues to decide when to start and stop eating is also a key aspect of Mindful Eating.

How do you know if you are eating mindfully? For starters, if you are eating while reading this, you are probably not eating mindfully. Eating mindfully means believing that there is no right or wrong way to eat but varying degrees of awareness surrounding the experience of food; eating experiences are unique; and that awareness should be directed to all aspects of food and eating on a moment-by-moment basis. Mindful eating also includes an awareness of the interconnection of earth, living beings, and cultural practices and the impact food choices have on those systems.

Eating more mindfully can start with something as simple as sitting down at a table for your meals. Eliminate distractions by removing your phone, television, computer or anything else that may compete for your attention. With typical distractions removed, you will be forced to focus on what is in front of you…your food. Enjoy how it looks, smells, feels and tastes. You can even listen to how it sounds when you chew it. You may notice something new about a food you have been eating for years. Then, when you are satisfied, stop eating.

Source: Principles of Mindful Eating. The Center for Mindful Eating.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Mindful Eating: Be in the moment!



Mindfulness is about paying attention. Mindfulness promotes balance, choice, wisdom and acceptance.1 Mindful eating has benefits that will enhance health and well-being. Mindful eating also allows you to be more aware of physical hunger and fullness (satiety) cues to help determine when to begin and when to stop eating. 

Although the trend these days is to eat while working, watching TV, playing video games, or even texting. This type of behavior may result in eating carelessly and more often you may not be aware of feelings fullness, which could result in taking in extra calories that may contribute to future weight gain. Health and proper nutrition may be forgotten while this type of convenience is practiced. 

Some tips to help guide you to more mindful eating:
  1. Prepare meals or at the very least think about meals ahead of time. Take time to think about and/or prepare the following day’s meals. When you are busy this can take extra time, but it is worth it.  
  2. Allow 15-20 minutes or even longer for meal times.  Eat while sitting down and start to concentrate on the flavor, texture, chewing, and finally swallowing of foods. This might sound like a lot to do, but it will help you become more aware and result in enjoying your food- as food should be enjoyed! 
  3. Avoid reading, watching T.V., or driving while eating. These activities while eating will distract you from being mindful at a meal or snack.
  4. Try taking a deep breath before and after meals, this can help you to focus on the meal in front of you.
  5. Choose portions/serving sizes adequate for your individual needs. Wait about 10-20 minutes for food to begin to digest and the feeling of fullness to set in, before going for seconds or reaching for something else.
Mindfulness begins with focusing on one task at a time such as eating a meal. The best way to stay mindful is to focus on the current task (eating a meal).  Mindfulness can have a direct positive effect on your overall health and well-being!

Check out this handout from the Center of Mindfulness to learn other strategies. http://thecenterformindfuleating.org/resources/Documents/FFTHandout2017Winter_Starting.pdf 

Resources:
  1. Principles of Mindful Eating. Retrieved March 7, 2017 from: http://thecenterformindfuleating.org/Principles-Mindful-Eating

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Best Diets: As Ranked by Experts

With no shortage of diets to choose from, picking the best one can be difficult. US News and World Reports recently released their list of top diets as rated by health experts. The results may surprise you.


How did they choose?
US News consulted a panel of experts in the fields of diet, nutrition, obesity, food psychology, diabetes and heart disease and asked them what they thought of the most popular eating plans. The experts ranked each diet on a variety of factors including overall healthfulness, likelihood of helping you lose weight, how easy they are to follow and how beneficial they are for certain diseases like diabetes or heart disease.

Which diets ranked highest?
The DASH diet took the top spot for best overall diet followed by the Mediterranean Diet and the relatively new MIND diet. The MIND diet focuses on brain health and combines aspects of the Mediterranean and DASH diets. Plant-based diets scored well overall with the Flexitarian Diet taking the #4 spot overall and the Vegan Diet landing at #2 for diabetes. US News also ranked diets in specific categories with Weight Watchers ranking as the best weight loss diet while DASH took the top spot for diabetes and tied with the Ornish diet for best for heart-health.

How do you pick the one that is best for you?
Even with these expert rankings, one thing remains true – diet is not something that is one size fits all. To find what works best for you, it is important to consider your overall health, your short and long term goals and your overall lifestyle. A conversation with your doctor or dietitian can help you get started.

REFERENCES:
1. US New s and World Reports Ranking: Best Diets 2017. Available at http://health.usnews.com/best-diet. Accessed January 9, 2017. 

Written by: Jennifer M. Roberts, MS, RD.
March 2017

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Desktop Dining

Wednesday, February 1, 2017 | 12:00 PM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , , , , , No comments

Do you eat at your desk? If so, you are not alone. 83% of us eat both meals and snacks at our desks. While common, this may not be the best way to enjoy a meal.


Is it safe to eat at your desk?
Our desks are full of things that we touch often, but probably don’t clean often – keyboard, phone and mouse, among others. Germs that make us sick can live on these surfaces. The flu virus, for example, can survive on your desk for up to 48 hours! Eating at your desk gives these germs a quick and easy ride into your body on your food and hands, increasing your chances of getting sick. Crumbs left on your desk can also introduce new germs and possibly unwanted pests.

Is it healthy to eat at your desk?
Limiting distractions and avoiding screens during meal time are good strategies for mindful eating. Not only do distractions take away from the enjoyment of the meal, but they also keep us from listening to our internal signals that let us know we are full, making it easier to overeat. The time saved by multi-tasking at lunch may cost your health in the long run.

Tips for a better meal
Invite a co-worker to lunch. Research suggests that eating together can improve productivity and cooperation. Take advantage of your onsite cafeteria or other common space. The change of scenery as well as the movement it takes to get there will both offer benefits. If your desk is your only option for eating, make sure you clean it regularly and wash your hands often. Give yourself a technology break while you eat to allow your focus to be on enjoying your food and recognizing your hunger cues.

References: 1. Desktop Dining Survey. Available at homefoodsafety.org. Accessed December 1, 2016. 2. KM Kniffin, et.al. Eating Together at the Firehouse: How Workplace Commensality Relates to the Performance of Firefighters. Human Performance Vol. 28, Iss. 4,2015.

Written by Jennifer M. Roberts, MS, RD.
February 2017

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Be Active Your Way!

Sunday, January 1, 2017 | 12:00 PM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , , , , , , No comments

Staying active is a key way to stay healthy and energized. But what if going to the gym isn’t your thing? Sitting too long is said to be as bad for you as smoking. What if your job requires you to sit? The good news is you can be active your way and still be healthy.


Move a little, more often
Do you have some flexibility in what you do during the day? A good approach to moving more could be to add a little activity throughout your day. Take short walks a few times each day. Get up and do some quick exercises every hour. The key is to avoid sitting for long periods of time. If you need a reminder, consider setting an alarm or a pop up on your computer.

Move a lot, less often
Sitting is bad, but your job doesn’t allow enough flexibility to avoid it – what do you do? A recent review suggests that you can reverse the down side of all that sitting with an hour or more of moderate exercise each day. Moderate means it will be an actual workout with sweat. Think of a jog instead of a leisurely walk. The only exception is for TV watching. If you spend a lot of time sitting in front of a TV (more than 5 hours a day), exercise won’t help enough to see health benefits.

Bottom Line
Don’t worry if the latest recommendation around exercise doesn’t work for you. The key is to move more. If the gym works for you, great! If a treadmill desk is your thing, go for it. Not sure if you are moving enough? Consider tracking it with an app, wearable or both.

RESOURCE:1. Ek elund, Ulf et al. Does physical activity attenuate, or even eliminate, the detrimental association of sitting time with mortality? A harmonised meta-analysis of data from more than 1 million men and women. The Lancet , Volume 388 , Issue 10051 , 1302 – 1310 

Written by Jennifer M. Roberts, MS, RD.
January 2017