Northeastern University Dining Services Blog

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Drink Healthy

Tuesday, April 17, 2018 | 10:13 AM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , , , , , No comments

With assistance from Northeastern graduate student Crystal (Sopher) Richardson

You are what you… DRINK?
The Healthier Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010 included the addition of the USDA Smart Snacks in Schools which prescribed limitations on beverages offered for sale to students during the school day.1  These guidelines eliminated the sale of sodas, caffeinated beverages in some states, and restricted the size of non-caloric beverages, milk and juice for all grade levels.  Many would agree that this was a courageous and much needed step to ensure that children developed healthy eating and DRINKING habits. School systems across the United States must have portable water available, free of charge and available to all students. Many school districts encourage the consumption of plain water by allowing students to have water bottles in class. Great steps, great idea, only one problem… what about the adults?

In 2006, a group of researchers from Across the US gathered together to collaborate and develop beverage guidelines as the Beverage Guidance Council. Although, over a decade has passed since they were developed, their advice still rings true. The Panel developed a six-level pitcher (see below), much like the food pyramid of the time, offering recommendations for healthy beverage consumption.

Level 1: Water
Water provides everything that the body needs.  Although, individual needs for water will differ as to the amount needed each day based on diet, weather, and activity level- the Institute of Medicine (IOM) does recommend 125 ounces a day for women and 91 ounces per day for men.3

Level 2: Unsweetened Tea or Coffee
When consumed plain, they are calorie-free and contain antioxidants, flavonoids and other biologically active substances that are good for your health

Level 3: Low-Fat and Skim Milk and Soy Beverages
Adults should limit milk to 1-2 cups per day, less being fine due to calories, but be sure that you are choosing other calcium-rich foods or you may need to consider a supplement to meet your calcium needs.

Level 4: Non-calorically Sweetened Beverages
This level encompasses artificially sweetened sports drinks and diet sodas.  Remember, these are a reduced calorie alternative, but should be consumed as a “treat” and not a replacement for water.

Level 5: Calorically Sweetened Beverages
The Beverage Guidance Panel gives this level its “least recommended” designation.  They are not recommended as a daily beverages due to their high calorie content and the fact that they provide little to no nutritional value.

Level 6: Alcoholic Beverages
The Panel does not offer guidance regarding alcoholic beverages; however the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines recommends consuming alcohol in moderation and should be considered as part of your daily recommended calorie intake.4 The Guidelines also offer drink equivalents for all alcoholic beverages that should be considered as well ( And of course... only for those of the legal drinking age.

  1. Tools for Schools: Focusing on Smart Snacks.  USDA website. .  Accessed March 24, 2018.
  2. Healthy Beverage Guidelines.  The Nutrition Source: Harvard School of Public Health. . Published 2006. Accessed March 13, 2018.
  3. Dietary Reference Intakes: Water, Potassium, Sodium, Chloride, and Sulfate. Accessed April 11, 2018
  4. Appendix 9. Alcohol. Dietary Guidelines 2015-2020. Published 2015.  Accessed March 12, 2018.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Good for you, Good for the Earth

As we prepare to celebrate Earth Month in April and Stop Food Waste Day on April 27th, many of us will focus on making choices that improve the health of our planet. An added bonus is that several of the strategies that shrink our carbon footprint can also help improve our health.

Shrink (or Share) Your Portions Starting with smaller portions has been shown to decrease the amount we eat – saving us important calories. Smaller portions also tend to decrease the amount of food we end up throwing away. This strategy is a win-win for the planet that both reduces waste and reduces the demands of producing more food than we really need. When eating out, if smaller portions aren’t available, share dishes with friends. You’ll get to taste a variety of foods without the added calories or waste.

Choose More Plants
Plant foods like fruits, vegetables and grains require substantially less energy, land and water to produce than do animal foods like beef and eggs. Reducing how often you eat resource demanding animal products is a great way to contribute to a more sustainable food system. Replacing some of the animal foods in your diet with plant choices is also a great way to improve your health by increasing health promoting nutrients like fiber and reducing those associated with disease risk such as saturated fat.

Plan Ahead
Last minute food decisions often lead to the “my eyes were bigger than my stomach” result. Planning ahead can help ensure better choices for your well-being, and that of the planet. Meal planning for the week prevents waste and keeps your nutrition goals in check. Create a meal plan for the week, have a grocery list ready and only shop for the things you need. Some stores have apps with built in lists that automatically sort by area of the store.

Small changes add up to make a big difference in the fight against food waste! Ready to commit?
Take the pledge to make every day stop food waste day – visit

1. Freedman MR, Brochado C. Reducing portion size reduces food intake and plate waste. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2010 Sep;18(9):1864-6.

Written by Jennifer M. Roberts, MS, RD.
April 2018