Main Nutritious Intent Website

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Bring Back Family Dinner

September is National Family Meal Month and if you don’t have a solid family meal routine set, here are a few benefits that may help motivate you to get a regular family meal routine in place.  

family eating at the table

For younger families, family mealtime means new parents feel more satisfaction with their marriages. Young children develop larger vocabularies and that helps with reading performance.  Also starting young kids out with family dinner means better eating patterns lower risk of weight problems later in life.


people sitting on chairs in front of tableFor families with school-age kids, there is a strong link between academic performance and family dinner. Family dinner means that kids feel a stronger connection to parents and siblings and stronger self-esteem. Plus, they have higher intakes of fruits and veggies and better nutrient balance.

group of person eating indoors 

For families with teens, benefits include higher grades, lower incidence of high-risk behaviors like substance abuse, eating disorders, and teen pregnancy.  Teens that regulary eat family dinner have lower risk depression and anxiety and better cardiovascular health. Plus, family dinner is a great chance to check in with kids and have some valuable face-to-face communication.


But family dinner isn’t just a benefit for kiddos, adults benefit as well.  Better nutrition with more fruits and veggies and less fast food, less dieting, lower risk of depression and increased self-esteem make family dinner a personal priority.  Even if you are an empty nester or live alone, making sit-down meals and inviting friends over regularly can provide similar benefits.

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Diet Dangers

 Scary symptoms:

Want loss of muscle strength, endurance and coordination?  How about thinning hair, electrolyte imbalances, fainting and weakness?  And let’s add in slower reaction times, reduced ability to concentrate, stress, anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, poor body image and higher risk of eating disorders. Oh, and on top of that don’t forget slower metabolism, weight gain and a damaged relationship with food.   Millions of Americans are spending $71 billion dollars each year for exactly that.  Dieting is becoming a major national pastime for women, men and distressingly, children. Buying into a new weight-loss or diet scheme is so much more than the temporary weight loss.  It is the most consistent predictor of weight gain and brings a whole host of nasty side effects that impair your physical, mental and emotional health.


Scarier numbers:

95% of diets fail long term.  Wow.  $71 billion dollars a year for ultimate failure 95 times out of 100.  

Around 50% of American women are trying to lose weight at any given time.

40-60% of Adolescent girls are engaging in serious diet behaviors.

And close to 25% of elementary students diet regularly.


What you can do:

Eat family meals together as much as possible and focus more on enjoying mealtime together than what is on their plate.

Respect the feeding relationship. A parent’s job is to choose the what, when and where of food.  Your child’s job is to decide if and how much they will eat. 

Model balanced, enjoyable eating.

Don’t use the “just one more bite” approach.

Don’t categorize foods as good or bad.

Focus on positive self-care habits that create happiness and health.

Don’t link food choice with body size.

Don’t speak about your own or other’s bodies in a negative way.

Ask your pediatrician to never discuss your child’s weight in front of them.


Take home message – don’t diet ever.



Thursday, March 11, 2021

Personalize your plate or your charcuterie

 March is National Nutrition Month and this year the theme is Personalize Your Plate. With a year of staying at home, mealtimes – especially lunch – has looked different and had its own set of challenges. A new study of 2,000 Americans working from home found that 7/10 people say they find themselves stumped on what to make for lunch.  64% admit that their nutrition takes a backseat when they work from home.  3/10 employees don’t take a lunch break when working from home and 6/10 feel guilty for taking any kind of break during work hours.

However, I’ve got a few ideas to help you and your family members personalize their plate without the added stress of making multiple entrees for the same meal.   March is also National Deli Meat Month and today I’m sponsored by Beef check-off and the National Pork Board to help not only simplify family mealtime but diversify it as well.  Deli meats are a very diverse category that offers choices to meet a variety of nutritional, budget and taste preferences.  Because deli meats are pre-cooked, they make an easy, on-the-go nutrient dense source of protein, and the iron and zinc found in meats are more bioavailable than vegetarian protein sources. Plus, you can always find low sodium, low-fat options in the deli case to build your own lunch.


Charcuterie boards, boxes and even “jar-cuteries” have been on our radar for a while, and as a parent, I love their convenience and the flexibility for everyone to choose their own lunch combo.  However, to keep from feeling boxed in by the charcuterie board, here are some tips to conveniently personalize your plate while keeping your options open.  


If you’re craving a hot meal, simply load up a couple slices of whole grain bread with your deli meats, cheeses and veggies and either place it under the broiler, toaster oven or counter-top grill and you’ve got a delicious charcuterie-built panini.  


If you’re looking to add more greens and veggies into your lunch, simply grab a generous handful of greens or shredded cabbage, coarsely chop or tear by hand the charcuterie board items and you’ve got a great satisfying main dish salad.  


Charcuterie boards lend themselves to wraps and even creative tossed pasta dishes so that you can continue to enjoy the charcuterie board all sorts of different ways without ever resorting to the idea of less-appetizing leftovers.  

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Tune Up Your Nutrition Routine

 Keeping nutrition simple and balanced is a much more sustainable and effective approach this time of year rather than jumping on diet that is bound to fail long-term. Three realistic areas to consider when tuning up your nutrition routine include: what you drink, where you eat, and what you say.

 Ball mason jar on table

What you drink – work on making plain water your go-to beverage.  There is a definite place for sport hydration drinks and other flavored beverages, but the ability to drink plain, unflavored water goes well beyond hydration.  Most of us walk around partially dehydrated and so working on drinking more water is a worthy endeavor.  More and more we are drinking exclusively flavored beverages and that constant flow of sweetness or flavor serves to grow our sweet tooth and shrink our attention span for simple, unflavored water which is the best, most inexpensive, readily available source of hydration.  

 white wooden dining table set during daytime

Where you eat – instead of going into the nitty-gritty details of what to eat, I chose “where” as a more effective change in eating behavior.  Swapping a brown-bag lunch for an eat-out or order-in lunch once a week saves hundreds of dollars per year and thousands of empty calories.  Cooking dinner family dinner at home leads to greater intake of fruits and vegetable higher intake of folate, iron, calcium, vitamins A & C and fiber.  Plus, you get loads of psychological benefits as well as physical benefits.  Even planning one extra “at-home” meal improves physical, mental and emotional health.  

 everything has Beauty wall graffiti

What you say - clean up your vocabulary when it comes to speaking about yours and others bodies and speaking about food.  Speaking positively about your body as well as your relationship with food isn’t just about improving your own body image and all of the subsequent health benefits that follow, but it models appropriate, positive health patterns for others around you.  We don’t need to just watch what we say around our teenagers.  Body image problems, chronic dieting and disordered eating is beginning at younger ages – creeping into younger elementary school-aged kids.  So watch what you say.  Health has a feel not a look, size or shape.  Here is a great video to teach this to the whole family.


Thursday, October 15, 2020

Healthy Fall Craves

 Fall means a new set of seasonal cravings – and there are plenty of nutritional benefits found in our favorite fall flavors.  


·      Apples – from reducing risk of cancers, diabetes, digestive problems, cholesterol levels, and cardiovascular disease, an apple a day really may be a health habit that appeals to us this time of year.  Apples contain pectin – a soluble fiber that helps reduce cholesterol levels and lowers your risk of many diseases.  They also contain quercitin – a flavanol that has anti-inflammatory and immune function benefits.  

·      Cinnamon/spices – as with most spices, cinnamon and it’s culinary companions are known for their anti-inflammatory properties.  But it also helps lower blood sugar levels and improve digestion.  

·      Pumpkin – Aside from the fabulous but somewhat obvious source of vitamin A, pumpkin also provides a decent amount of vitamin C and potassium.  Plus, the high fiber to calorie ratio means it keeps us fuller and healthier. 


Traditions are often the biggest triggers for our seasonal food cravings and the big one this time of year is Halloween.  Here are a few tips for keeping the candy crave under control without cutting it out completely and feeling deprived.  

·      Don’t buy to early.  Bags of Halloween candy can call to us fairly loudly from the pantry.  

·      If you buy early, store in the freezer.

·      Save your favorites and donate the rest.

·      Keep your stash in the freezer or out of sight in a pantry or cupboard so that it requires some deliberate choice to enjoy it – preferably in 100 calorie or less portions. 

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

National Family Meals Month

 If there was one message I could give that would benefit everyone, it would be to eat together as a family.  Regular family meals are linked to higher grades and self-esteem.  Adolescents who have regular family meals are less likely to show symptoms of violence, depression and suicide, less likely to use or abuse drugs or run away, and less likely to engage in risky behaviors.  Plus, you get the benefits of less obesity, better health and money savings as you commit to cooking family meals.  

September is National Family Meals Month and one way to help affordably stretch your dishes and your food dollars to feed your family is cooking with powerful pairings such as pork and pulses. Pulses include legumes, dry peas, beans, lentils and chickpeas.  They are full of fiber, protein, iron and so much more and when you pair it with the lean, tender, protein-rich source found in pork – it becomes a m
atch made in culinary heaven.  
I have found a great spin on a favorite recipe that brings pork and pulse together for a delicious family meal in pulled pork and beans sandwich.  Never underestimate the value of cooking for and especially with your kids.  Reading, math, science and key life-skills are just a few of the take away lessons you can add to that list of family meal benefits. Strengthening every member of the family has never been more important - and the dinner table is a great place to start. 
Recipe source:

Pulled Pork and Beans Sandwich 

Makes 6 servings
2 pounds porkshoulder or butt, sliced into 1-inch slabs
1 onion, scrubbed with vegetable brush under running water and sliced thinly
3 cloves garliccrushed
1 ¼ cups apple cider vinegar
½ cup barbecue sauce
½ cup brown sugar
tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons hot sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 can (15 ounces) kidney beansrinsed and drained
6 bunsbrioche or sweet Hawaiian (Hamburger size)
Preheat oven to 325 F.
Place pork pieces in a layer in a deep saucepan. Wash hands after handling raw pork. Add onions, garlic, vinegar, barbecue sauce, brown sugar, salt, paprika, cumin, hot sauce and tomato paste to pot. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook 2 -3 minutes. Remove pot from stove and cover pot with aluminum foil and a tight-fitting lid. Place pork in preheated oven and cook slowly for 2 hours, or until internal temperature measures 145 F when measured by food thermometer. 
Remove cooked pork from pot and place on clean cutting board. Cool. Using two forks, shred meat; add back to sauce. Stir in kidney beans. Reheat when ready to serve.
To assemble sandwiches, lightly toast buns. Divide pork filling evenly between buns. 

Monday, November 18, 2019

Holiday Eating: Give Up the Guilt

During the holidays, we eat some of not only the most delicious, but most nourishing foods of the year.  Loads of veggie side dishes, high-quality, lean protein from turkey, all sorts of vitamin A are in your pumpkin and sweet potatoes and even the desserts have fruit.  From a nutritional standpoint, Thanksgiving dinner is one of the most nutrient-packed meals of the year.  And yet, the majority of American’s start the holiday season out with eating-based guilt.  Unfortunately, I think the hype around holiday over-eating is damaging in a couple of ways:

1.    It almost becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Like Frasier trying to ride a bike, but due to his focusing on not hitting the mailbox, he was drawn to crash into it every time, our obsession with talking about how unhealthy and binge-filled the holidays are, simply reinforces that damaging behavior.
2.    All the negative hype around holiday eating increases our stress levels by introducing more fear around food, increasing our body dissatisfaction and raising our cortisol levels which can lead to all sorts of health problems from headaches to digestive issues to weight gain.  

The more negative media about holiday eating hasn’t seemed to improve our overall health, so why not try something radically different? Combat the guilt, shame and resulting health problems with an intentionally positive spin on your holiday eating this year.  

·      Speak only positively about holiday meals.  Celebrate the variety, the flavors, the traditions and how the food not only nourishes you physically, but culturally as well.  
·      Eat joyfully.  Enjoy that food.  Food is not good or bad – it does not have moral power over you to turn you into a good or bad person.  Physiologically, digestion works best when stress is low, and appetite, anticipation and enjoyment of eating are high.  And since the majority of serotonin – the hormone that mediates mood and well-being – is produced in the gut, a happy digestion means an over-all happier you.  
·      Pay attention to your body.  Listen to and respect your body’s hunger and fullness cues.  Don’t spoil the party by inducing that painfully full, food coma.  Good food can and will happen again – it’s not now or never, all or nothing.  Savor favorite foods and decadent desserts, but don’t do so to the extreme of discomfort or pain. 
·      Invite happy hormones to the party.  Want to endear yourself to your host and produce some mood-bosting endorphins at the same time?  Help clean up or play with the kids.  Exercise is a fabulous way to produce those endorphins, but not the only way.  Altruistic behavior such as giving or helping others also produces that happy hormone.  And the more endorphins and serotonin, the less likely you are to have constantly high, damaging levels of cortisol circulating in your system.  

This year, instead of focusing on stressful restriction, guilt and shame, make "happy holidays" more than a glib response, make it a verbally, intentional goal and see how your health responds.