Childhood Obesity: “5, 2, 1, 0” & Staying Fit in Monongalia County

The Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program has been promoting the “5, 2, 1, 0” message to prevent childhood obesity. The message “5, 2, 1, 0” message consists four major components:

  • Eat 5 fruits and vegetables a day
  • Limit screen time to 2 hours or less per day
  • Get 1 hour or more of physical activity every day
  • Drink fewer or 0 sugar-sweetened drinks


In honor of this healthy message, staff from local West Virginia WIC offices comprised a list of inexpensive places for young children to participate in daily physical activity in Monongalia County, WV. The list is below:

If you have any other ideas to add to the list, please leave a comment below!


Community Nutrition Rotation at WIC

For the past two weeks, I have been on a community nutrition rotation at WIC. The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides Federal grants to States for supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women, and to infants and children up to age five who are found to be at nutritional risk.

Each county in the state of West Virginia has it’s own WIC office. I have had the opportunity to shadow a registered dietitian at the Monongalia County WIC office located in Morgantown, WV.


WIC provides the following services for eligible participants:

  • Free vouchers for specific, nutritious foods
  • Nutrition education in the form of one-on-one counseling with a dietitian, group classes, or grocery store tours
  • Free immunizations for children
  • Breastfeeding services in the form of one-on-one counseling with a lactation consultant. Breastfeeding pumps are also available for lactating mothers in a limited supply
  • Screening and referrals to other health, welfare and social services

Who is eligible to receive WIC benefits?

Participants must meet all three of the following requirements:

1.  Category

  • Pregnant women
  • Postpartum women (up to 6 months after pregnancy)
  • Infants (up to the infant’s 1st birthday)
  • Children (up to age 5)

2.  Income Level

  • Applicant must meet USDA income standards which are revised each year. Any applicant that has a current medical card, proof of food stamps or TANF eligibility is automatically income eligible for WIC benefits.

3.  Nutritional Risk

  • A nutrition and health assessment includes: height & weight measurements, anemia (low hemoglobin levels), health history & diet assessment.

Food Vouchers

WIC participants receive food vouchers that can be used at local grocery stores (and Wal-Mart).  A new offer from WIC is that participants can now receive a special $20 farmer’s market voucher to spend at local farmer’s markets on fresh fruits and vegetables!

The quantities of foods depend on the type of participant. For example, breastfeeding mothers require more food than mother’s who are not breastfeeding.  The types of foods that participants can receive with their vouchers include:

  • 4 cans of beans, 1 package of dried beans, OR a jar of peanut butter
  • 16 oz of sliced, cheddar, or blocked cheese
  • Eggs
  • Bread
  • Milk (whole, 2%, 1%, or skim)
  • Cereal (only certain brands)
  • 100% juices
  • $10 or $6 voucher for fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Infant baby foods and formula

For a full list of WIC approved foods starting February 1, 2013, click here.

The Final Two Weeks of Clinical Nutrition


For the past two weeks, I have had the opportunity to complete my clinical nutrition hours at a small, 80-bed hospital in Morgantown, WV. HealthSouth Mountain View Regional Rehabilitation Hospital specializes in rehabilitating patients who may have had a variety of different conditions.


HealthSouth treats patients with disease states such as:

  • Stroke
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Amputations
  • Spinal Cord Injury
  • Burns
  • Hip Fractures
  • Arthritis
  • Neurological Disorder
  • Various Injuries/Multiple Trauma

The responsibilities of a dietitian at a rehabilitation hospital is similar to that of a dietitian in an acute care hospital. The overall goal is to evaluate the patient’s nutritional status and determine an intervention to improve their condition in terms of their food. I have really enjoyed working at a rehab hospital because the average length of stay for a patient is 10-14 days, which is much longer than the acute care setting. For this reason, you get to know the patients much better and also have the chance to watch their condition improve.

The other interesting aspect of working at a rehab hospital is participating in a collaboration with many different medical disciplines. The medical team works together to improve the patient’s condition to a point where they can function with minimal assistance in their own home. The dietitian works closely with the speech therapist, physicians, nurses, physical therapists, and occupational therapists.

The DASH Diet ranked #1 Best Overall

As a future dietitian, the number one health question I get asked by friends, family, and patients is: “What is the best diet?”.

“The answer is not so simple”, I tell them, “You have to do what works best for you”.

fad diet

Luckily, health professionals at U.S. News & World Report ranked 29 of the “Best Overall Diets”. The overarching winner?…(drum roll please)…The DASH diet.

The DASH diet recieved a total score of 4.1 out of 5 possible points. The diets were judged based on the following categories: short-term weight loss, long-term weight loss, easiness to follow, nutrition, safety, best for diabetes, and best for heart health. However, not all categories were weighted equally. For example, long-term weight loss was weighted twice as much as short-term weight loss…which I completely agree with (because I believe long-term weight loss is the most imporant factor in determining the success of a diet).

Also known as the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, the DASH diet was developed by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole-grains, and low-fat dairy and limits foods with added sugar, red meat, and added fats.  Originally, the DASH diet was designed with the purpose of lowering blood pressure and, after several randomized control trials in the 1990’s, it has proved successful at this. In more recent years, the DASH diet is supported by the USDA in promoting overall health and weight loss for the general public.

If you are thinking about following the DASH diet, daily serving suggestions and a sample menu are available below. For more information, the NIH has published a very informative document with complete details about the DASH diet.


The “Best Overall Diets” according to the U.S. News & World report are ranked as follows:

#1.  DASH Diet

2.     TLC Diet

3.     Mayo Clinic Diet

3.     Mediterranean Diet

3.     Weight Watchers

6.     The Flexitarian Diet

6.     Volumetrics Diet

8.     Jenny Craig

8.     The Biggest Loser Diet

9.    The Dean Ornish Diet



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

What is a “Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics”?

For the past couple of weeks, I have been on a rotation with WVU’s Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD).  Many individuals do not realize what this certification means and the requirements to obtain this certification.

“The CSSD is offered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) for registered dietitians (RDs) who have specialized experience in sports  dietetics. Being Board Certified as a Specialist in Sports Dietetics designates specific knowledge, skills, and expertise for competency in sports dietetics practice.”

The requirements to become a CSSD are as follows:

    • Current Registered Dietitian (RD) status by the Commission on Dietetic Registration.
    • Maintenance of the RD status, for a minimum of two years from the original examination date (by the date of the specialty examination).
    • Initial Certification: Documentation of 1,500 hours of specialty practice experience as an RD within the past five years (by the date the application is due).
    • Recertification: Documentation of 1,000 hours of specialty practice experience as an RD within the past five years by the date the application is due (effective until 2014).


What are the “Top 10 Reasons to Consult a CSSD?” Find out here!


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!