10 Holiday Party Survival Tips

With the holidays just around the corner, this means lots of holiday get-togethers with friends and family that center around one thing—lots and lots of food. Here are some helpful tips to help you stay healthy and keep you on track during the holidays.

1. Think first, “Do I really like this? Is it one of my favorites?” If you try it, ask yourself, “Does this really taste that good?”

2. Eat a small meal before the party.

3. Remember to stay active and keep exercising during the holidays. Turn up the music and try dancing as a workout!

4. Set realistic goals—strive for weight maintenance rather than weight loss.

5. Remember that alcohol is full of empty calories and increases appetite.

6. Practice moderation, not deprivation.

7. Position yourself away from the buffet table, enjoy the conversation instead!

8. Bring a go-to healthy dish to share—try a salad, fruit & veggie platter, or vegetable soup.

9. Be 100% mindful of everything you’re eating and enjoy it. Research shows that eating in groups can cause us to overeat.

10. Don’t wait until January 1st to start your “healthy” New Years Resolution!



10 Tips to Stay Healthy This Holiday Season

The holiday season can leave many people feeling run-down, fatigued, and stressed out. Here are some helpful tips to make sure you stay feeling healthy and strong during those cold winter months.

1. Get adequate sleep. Aim for 7-8 hours per night. Cut down on the caffeine and get on a regular schedule to ensure a restful night’s sleep.

2. Eat healthy, nutrient-dense foods. Load up on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

3. Watch your dessert and sweet intake. It’s okay to enjoy your favorite holiday desserts, but moderation is key! (Try our healthy oatmeal cookie recipe!)

4. Make a to-do list and prioritize the five most important things. Taking on too much will only add to holiday stress.

5. Stay active and keep on an exercise regimen.

6. Avoid excessive alcohol consumption. This can lead to dehydration, decreased sleep, added calories, and more fatigue.

7. Make time to relax, read, take a bath—this will decrease your stress and leave you feeling rejuvenated.

8. Stay hydrated and drink plenty of water—aim for 8 eight-ounce glasses per day.

9. Get active outside, research shows that sunlight and exercise can be great mood lifters.





What is Celiac Disease?

Celiac Disease is the exacerbation of the body’s intolerance to the protein, gluten, which is found in wheat, rye, and barley. The disease is known as an autoimmune disorder because the body’s immune system reacts to gluten by damaging the lining of the small intestine, which leads to the malabsorption of nutrients. In the U.S., about 1 in 133 adults are affected by Celiac Disease, the cause of which is still unknown in the medical profession.

There is a broad spectrum of this disease, meaning the severity of the symptoms varies from person to person. In general, the symptoms of Celiac Disease include:

  • Abdominal pain, bloating, gas, or indigestion
  • Constipation
  • Decreased appetite (may also be increased or unchanged)
  • Diarrhea, either constant or off and on
  • Lactose intolerance (common when the person is diagnosed, usually goes away after treatment)
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stools that float, are foul smelling, bloody, or “fatty”
  • Unexplained weight loss (although people can be overweight or of normal weight)

Because the intestines do not absorb many important vitamins, minerals, and other parts of food, the following symptoms may start over time:

  • Bruising easily
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Growth delay in children
  • Hair loss
  • Itchy skin (dermatitis herpetiformis) or eczema
  • Missed menstrual periods
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Muscle cramps and joint pain
  • Nosebleeds
  • Seizures
  • Tingling or numbness in the hands or feet
  • Unexplained short height

Diagnosis of Celiac Disease

  • Your doctor can test for certain antibodies in your blood called endomysial (EMA-IgA) and anti-tissue transglutaminase (tTG – IgA and IgG) antibodies. High levels of these antibodies can indicate Celiac Disease.
  • Small intestine endoscopy, medically known as esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD).

Gluten-Free Diet

After a person is diagnosed with Celiac Disease, lifelong diet and lifestyle change can help relieve their symptoms. A gluten-free diet requires eliminating all sources of gluten (which is in wheat, rye, and barley).

However, there are still many other grains that do not contain gluten and thus can be included in the diet. These are:

  • Rice
  • Corn
  • Amaranth
  • Quinoa
  • Teff (or Tef)
  • Millet
  • Finger Millet (Ragi)
  • Sorghum
  • Indian Rice Grass (Montina)
  • Arrowroot
  • Buckwheat
  • Flax
  • Job’s Tears
  • Sago
  • Potato
  • Soy
  • Legumes
  • Mesquite
  • Tapioca
  • Wild rice
  • Cassava (Manioc)
  • Yucca
  • Nuts
  • Seeds

Example 1-Day Meal Plan of a Gluten-Free Diet

Breakfast Egg omelet made with low-fat natural cheese, such as cheddar or Monterey jack, and fresh vegetables
Rice cake (check the ingredient list to make sure it is gluten-free) topped with jam, jelly, or preserves
Orange juice
Lunch   Black bean tacos made with corn tortillas, black beans, fresh vegetables, low-fat natural cheese, and topped with fruit salsa (diced tropical fruit, lime juice, cilantro)
Seltzer water with lime
Evening Meal Chicken and fresh vegetables stir-fried in oil and spices
Plain brown rice or plain enriched white rice
Sorbet topped with fresh fruit
Cranberry juice mixed with seltzer water
Snack All natural yogurt mixed with blueberries or another fruit

Approximate Nutrition Analysis

Calories: 1,615
Protein: 67g (17% of calories)
Carbohydrate: 272g (68% of calories)
Fat: 26g (15% of calories)
Cholesterol: 273mg
Sodium: 2,890mg
Fiber: 21g

WVU On-Campus Catering Services

For the past two days I have had the opportunity to work with the Executive Chef of WVU’s Catering Services. While working with him, I got to observe the kitchen, the food safety standards, daily production,standardized recipes, and catering schedules.

WVU Catering Services does everything it possible can to make your event a success.

For small meetings and receptions, make reservations 1 week prior. For luncheons and dinners requiring a menu selection, make reservations at least 2 weeks prior. And for unusually large events, make reservations up 1 month prior.

Do you have an upcoming event on-campus that you would like catered? Click herefor more information!

West Virginia University’s “HealthyU” Program

One of the biggest fears many students have when they embark on their journey through college and dorm life is gaining the dreaded “Freshmen 15”. Luckily, WVU has created a program, called “HealthyU”, to help combat the freshmen 15 and encourage a healthier college campus.  The “HealthyU” program has four main components: (1) one-on-one counseling with a Registered Dietitian, (2) group nutritional meetings, (3) access to wellness and exercise centers, and (4) healthier options available at the dining halls on campus that are advertised as “HealthyU” foods.

There are specific nutritional requirements a food item must meet in order to be considered a “HealthyU” option. These nutritional requirements are:

  • Must contain <20% or LESS of the DV for fat, saturated fat, sodium and cholesterol
  • Must contain 20% or MORE of the DV for vitamins and minerals such as fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Calcium and Iron
  • It also meets the FDA recommendations for:  <65g total fat, <20g saturated fat, <300mg cholesterol, <2,400mg sodium, fiber greater than or equal to 25g, and total carbohydrates of 300g

Check out the video below to learn more about how to eat healthy in the dining halls at WVU.  Nettie Freshour, MS RD LD CSSD, is the Registered Dietitian for WVU Dining Services.

Mon General “Mommy Meals”

One of the ways Mon General’s food service department goes above and beyond, is the inclusion of unique “Mommy Meals”.  “Mommy Meals” are provided for new mothers who recently gave birth at the Hazel Ruby McQuain Family Birth Center.  These meals are meant to be a special dining experience as a congratulations for the new mother and father.  The NY Strip Steak is one of the most popular items on the menu (even though it must be cooked well-done for health standard reasons).

“Mommy Meal” Menu

Mommy Meal Menu


A “Mommy Meal” Cart

A “Mommy Meal” includes a table-clothed cart, a cute stuffed animal, a take-home coffee mug, and a specialty menu to choose gourmet meals.

New mothers get to take home a fun stuffed animal and a coffee mug!  🙂


Although the RD exam seems like a far away goal, I thought I’d reblog this for (sooner rather than) later.

Mission: Dietitian

I was determined to take the RD exam ONE time in my life and then move on with my career.  When I googled “RD Exam Study Tips” I got horror stories on forums where certain people had taken the exam multiple times and couldn’t pass.  It was a little unsettling, yet motivating- this is a test you have to take seriously.
Disclaimer: this is just what worked for me! I offer no guarantees! 🙂

I used Jean Inman’s review – not the seminar, just the CDs and written course – as well as RD-in-a-Flash Flashcards.  I studied passively for a few weeks (just every now and then, scanning over things) then set up a schedule to get through the Inman CDs and the corresponding notes, domain by domain.  The Inman materials were definitely most helpful in reviewing everything that could be on the test.  Having the audio helped keep…

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Low-Sodium Diet In-Service

This week during my patient services rotation at Mon General Hospital, one of my assignments was to create an in-service presentation for the food service employees.  In-Services are a form of continuing professional education provided by the hospital or employer during working hours in order to improve worker knowledge, education, and attitudes.  Typical in-services are in a sit-down, classroom setting and last anywhere from 15-30 minutes.  Employees are educated on a variety of topics relating to their respective field and are given a quiz at the end to assess what they have learned.

For my in-service presentation, I chose to do low-sodium diets. Low-sodium diets are ordered for patients who have heart failure, cardiovascular disease, heart surgery, high blood pressure, and kidney failure.

What do you think of my Low-Sodium handout??

A day as a Nutrition Services Hostess

Today I had the opportunity to shadow a Nutrition Services Hostess at Monongalia General Hospital.  A Nutrition Services Hostess is responsible for “the preparation, service, and/or clean up of meals including, but not limited to, simple food preparation, tray assembly, cafeteria service and dishwashing”.

A Nutrition Services Hostess taking a patient’s menu preferences onto a handheld computer.

One of the most important roles as a hostess is assisting patients in selecting menu items based on personal preferences while still staying in accordance with therapeutic dietary guidelines. I realized that hostesses not only need to have a vast knowledge about the hospital’s menu items, but they also need to be knowledgeable about what foods are allowed to be substituted according to a patient’s special dietary restrictions (ie. low sodium, low fat, carbohydrate counting, fluid restriction, pureed, clear liquids, etc).  Each hostess is equipped with a small handheld electronic computer where they can edit a patient’s menu instantly and quickly.

A hostess is also responsible for the final assembly of patient trays.  A meal ticket is printed out for each patient tray with specific food items, condiments, drinks, desserts, silverware, garnishes, and the exact quantity of each.  Once 10-15 trays are fully assembled, the hostess is responsible for placing the trays onto a cart and wheeling it up to the appropriate floor.  Before a tray can be delivered, the hostess has to ask the patient for two patient identifiers: “What is your name?” and “What is your birthday?”  This is to ensure tray delivery to the correct patient. A hostess also has to be sure to either wash hands or use hand sanitizer in between rooms to prevent spreading germs or bacteria.

Once the patient correctly identifies themself, the hostess can then serve the patient courteously and provide any assistance the patient may need (adjusting the table placement/height, opening food packages or containers, etc).  The hostess then asks if there is anything else the patient may need.  If there is a problem, it is essential that the hostess follows up in regards to any meal service requests.

Overall, I learned a lot about the food service system of a hospital and how it operates so efficiently.