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"Ask the Experts" Wellness Blog

Wake Up To Breakfast

September 2nd, 2012

It is appropriate that the first article of the semester is about quick breakfast ideas.  Thanks to Dr. Michelle May’s website: Am I Hungry? ( for the following recipes.

Wake Up Call

Simple Fruit and Yogurt Parfait

Serves 1

1 – 6 or 8 ounce container of low fat, lite fruit flavored yogurt
1/2 cup of bran cereal
1/2 cup of fresh fruit; strawberries, peaches, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and bananas all work well

Layer the ingredients in an attractive glass; tall or martini style look great. Garnish with a strawberry or mint leaves and serve.

Nutritional analysis Per Serving: Depends on type of yogurt, fruit and cereal you select.

Fruit Smoothie

Serves 1

1 – 6 or 8 ounce container of low fat, lite fruit flavored yogurt OR 1 cup of skim milk
1/2 cup of fresh or frozen fruit; strawberries, peaches, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and bananas all work well

Blend the ingredients in a blender then pour into a tall glass.

Nutritional analysis Per Serving: Depends on type of yogurt and fruit you select.

“Get Your Plate in Shape”

March 22nd, 2012

March is National Nutrition Month as promoted by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association).  The theme this year is “Get Your Plate in Shape.”  What does that mean you might ask?

As a registered dietitian, the concept is easy to “Get Your Plate in Shape.”  The new food guidance system developed by the United States Department of Agriculture and promoted by first lady Michelle Obama is the “ChooseMyPlate.”

“ChooseMyPlate” suggests a healthful plate of food will contain half the plate of fruits and vegetables, ¼ plate of grains (preferably whole grains) and ¼ plate lean protein and one serving of lowfat/fat free dairy.  Easy, right?  Follow those easy steps and you too can “get your plate in shape.”

For more information on “ChooseMyPlate” you can go to:

To personalize the MyPlate information for your personal height, weight, age, gender, physical activity level go to:

Good nutrition doesn’t have to be difficult, just go back to the basics: 1/2 your plate fruits and vegetables, 1/4 of your plate grains (mostly whole grains: 1/4 of your plate lean protein and a lowfat/fat free dairy serving.  Make your plate colorful and bring joy and ease back to eating.

Why all the Hype About Sodium

March 22nd, 2012

Sodium and salt intake has been in the headlines a lot in recent months.  Read the article below by UNL Dietetic Intern Melissa Wallinga.

We’ve all heard, “lower your sodium intake to lower your chances of getting high blood pressure” but why is this? And how do we lower sodium intake? What we don’t hear about is that sodium is actually necessary for proper body function; the key is not consuming too much sodium.

Sodium is a mineral that plays an important role in nerve impulses and muscle contraction. Sodium also plays a role in water balance around your organs. Because of this, sodium and water need to be in good balance in the body. When an excess of sodium is present, kidneys retain the sodium, and then the body retains water; this can cause swelling. So, next time you eat more high sodium food than normal, take a mental note of how your body feels; rings may feel a little tight, or your ankles may be a little swollen.

So, how does too much sodium intake lead to higher blood pressure? When the kidneys can’t remove enough sodium, it stays in the blood, which causes extra water to stay in the blood. This increases the volume of the blood, leading to the high blood pressure. This can also put strain on the kidneys when they work to remove the too much sodium. High blood pressure increases your chances of developing heart disease and stroke. To decrease your chances of developing these chronic conditions, follow these recommendations:

  • For a healthy American, 2,300 milligrams or less of sodium each day.
  • For some people, such as African Americans, those over 51, and those with high blood pressure, the recommendation is to consume less than 1,500 milligrams each day.

The majority of the sodium in our diets comes from adding salt (which is actually sodium chloride) during the preparation of food. Some items commonly high in sodium include:

  • Cured food (ham, pickles)
  • Processed foods (frozen meals, boxed foods, canned food, fast foods)
  • Cheeses
  • Salty snacks (chips, crackers)
  • Condiments (ketchup, mayonnaise)
  • Non-fat items (to keep the flavor when fat is removed, salt is added)
  • Beverages (soda, sports drinks, energy drinks).

Instead of focusing on what we should eat less of, let’s focus on what we should eat more of. Eat more fruits and vegetables; try substituting vegetables for salty snacks and fruits for desserts. Cook meals from scratch instead of using pre-packaged meals and ingredients. Use herbs and spices to flavor food instead of salt. Drink water instead of soda, energy drinks, and sports drinks.

Another strategy to reducing sodium intake is to plan meals ahead of time so you have everything ready and won’t be as tempted to choose the quick option. Before you do your grocery shopping, plan your meals for the week and make your shopping list based on those meals. When you’re at the grocery store follow these tips:

  • Avoid shopping when you’re tired or hungry, you’ll be less likely to buy things not on your list
  • Once your list is made, stick to it
  • Buy produce in season for the best price and quality
  • Choose dairy and protein foods that are lower in sodium
  • Read the nutrition facts label; pay close attention to the sodium amount in each serving
  • Look for foods labeled “low sodium,” “reduced sodium,” or “no salt added.”

Next week, try focusing on increasing foods low in sodium, like fruits and vegetables, and decreasing foods high in sodium, like chips and fast foods. Try increasing the amount of water you drink each day, even if it’s just by one glass at the start. Plan a few of your meals ahead of time so you can cook from scratch. These are all ways you can decrease your sodium intake and at the same time increase the quality of your diet.

“Dash” to the Diet

March 18th, 2012

The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) has been proven to help in lowering blood pressure without a sodium restriction or medication.  The DASH diet is rich in low-fat dairy products, fruits and vegetables.  In order to implement the DASH diet a few changes need to be made in the typical American Diet.  It’s based on consuming 2-3 low-fat dairy products; 4-5 fruit servings and 4-5 vegetable servings per day.  The research indicated that a person with a diet with a combination of fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy showed the greatest reduction in blood pressure.

If you find it difficult to consume that amount of fruits, vegetables and dairy products, below are a few tips:

  • Include a fruit and vegetable serving at each meal.
  • Make snacks count, dried fruit, low-fat yogurt, frozen grapes.
  • If you’re a coffee drinker, try a “skinny latte.”
  • Low-fat yogurt with berries mixed in.
  • Crisp cold fresh veggies.
  • Fruit and yogurt smoothies.
  • Start your day with whole grain cereal, berries on top and milk.
  • Instead of a soda, reach for one of the new low fat bottled milk products.

When modifying your diet, try to think about what to add to your diet instead of what to eliminate.  As you make healthier choices, less healthy choices will diminish because you won’t want them.  Think of a “diet” of plenty as opposed to a “diet” of deprivation.

Three Questions To Make the Perfect Food Choice Everytime

February 11th, 2012

Valentines day can strike terror in the hearts of many with endless chocolates and big meals.  Read Dr. Michelle’s may excellent advice to making the perfect food choice regardless of food that is available around you.

By Michelle May, M.D.

You’ve seen the headlines:

Ten Power Foods You Should Eat to Live Longer and Healthier
Low Carb Diet Secrets for Dropping 15 Pounds Before Summer
Indulge Yourself with the Most Decadent Chocolate Cake Recipe Ever! 

We are bombarded with conflicting messages-often side by side on the same magazine cover. These conflicting messages can create internal conflict when we decide what to eat – what I want to eat must face off with what I should eat according to the latest diet.

People often struggle with “being good” when there are so many “bad foods” to choose from. Ironically, we’re supposed to define ourselves by what we put in our mouths despite the fact that the definition of “good” and “bad” foods changes every few years or so. Many people feel confused and overwhelmed by all the conflicting and often arbitrary messages about what they are “supposed” to eat.

But it is possible to find that balance between eating for health and eating for pleasure. In fact, one of the keys to optimal health and lifelong weight management is to nourish your body and your soul with the foods you eat.

So how do you drown out all the noise and find that balance when you decide what to eat? Start by asking yourself three simple questions when you’re hungry: “What do I want to eat?” “What do I need to eat?” “What do I have to eat?”

What Do I Want to Eat?

The first question, “What do I want to eat?” often comes as a surprise. But what happens when you try to avoid food you really want-like those Girl Scout Cookies that were delivered after you started your new low-carb diet?

First you check the label and confirm that they’re off limits so you put them in the freezer. Two days later they whisper to you from their hiding place, “Pssst. We’re in here!” You manage to resist them, instead munching on some olives, four cubes of cheese, a hunk of leftover meatloaf with a side of celery sticks, two pieces of low-carb toast-and yet you still don’t feel satisfied.

“Hey! We’re in here and we taste great frozen!” You finally give in to your urge and have two Thin Mints®. Blew it again! Might as well eat a few more-and a bowl of ice cream-and start over tomorrow. Sound familiar? Thinking about what you really want to eat without judging yourself will keep you from feeling deprived and out of control when you choose to eat certain foods.

You might be worried that if you ask yourself what you’re really hungry for, you’ll always choose foods you “shouldn’t.” At first this might seem true, since cravings tend to get stronger when you try to ignore them for too long. But once you let go of the guilt about eating certain foods, you’ll find that you want to eat a variety of foods to feel healthy and satisfied.

What Do I Need to Eat?

The next question to ask yourself is, “What do I need to eat?” While food decisions aren’t “good” or “bad,” clearly some foods offer more nutritional benefits than others.

As you consider what food to choose, ask yourself, “What does my body need?” Keep in mind the principles of variety, balance and moderation when deciding what to eat. Consider nutritional information, your personal health issues, your family history, what else you are eating that day and how your body responds to certain foods.

Enjoy your healthy choices by focusing on fresh foods, appealing combinations, new flavors and interesting recipes.

What Do I Have to Eat?

The key to the final question, “What do I have to eat?” is planning. If you feel hungry and the only thing available is a vending machine, you’re likely to choose a snack food that may not be very healthy, may not taste very good and may not really be what you were hungry for anyway.

Instead, strive to have a variety of foods available that are healthful and appealing but not overly tempting. These are foods that you enjoy when you’re hungry but won’t be calling out to you from their storage place saying, “Come eat me!” 

Of course, you’re not always in control of which foods are available. At a restaurant, office potluck, or friend’s house, simply see what is available and ask yourself “Is there a healthy choice that will meet my needs without feeling deprived?” For example, could you be happy with frozen yogurt instead of ice cream this time?  

Matching the food you choose to what you’re really hungry for and what your body needs leads to greater satisfaction and more enjoyment-with less food. Remember that small changes really do make a difference and that balanced eating is simply the result of all of the individual positive decisions you make. Eating food that you truly enjoy while taking good care of your body is the best way to make long term changes that you can live with.
Michelle May, M.D. is a recovered yoyo dieter and the award winning author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: How to Break Your Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle (download the first chapter free). She conducts corporate workshops and speaks throughout the country on mindful eating and vibrant living. Learn to eat without deprivation and guilt with Dr. May’s complimentary mini e-course at

February is Heart Month

February 4th, 2012


My Heart…Why it’s important noW! 

By: Kaitlin Nelson (Campus Recreation Wellness Intern) 

You might be thinking why would I write an article about heart health for college students? Most of the time you may feel like you have more important things on your mind like, “What time should I take a nap today, when should I start playing video games, or how many hours can I spend on YouTube today?” Your heart health might be the last thing you are thinking about, but having a healthy heart NOW is important. 

February is heart month. So, take some time to celebrate a healthy heart today! 

Heart health is more than the food you eat. Exercise, stress management, healthy sleep are also important. Here’s to your heart health!  

Two of your best weapons to keep a healthy heart are nutrition and exercise. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that a healthy diet includes a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, poultry and fish, low-fat diary, and nuts and seeds. The American College of Sports Medicine physical activity guidelines include: accumulating a minimum of 2 hours and 30 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity, or about 1 hour and 15 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity. Aerobic activity can be performed in episodes of at least 10 minutes, preferably spread throughout the week. In addition, you should strength train all major muscle groups 2 or more days a week. Many people make these recommendations harder than they really are. It is important to remember that it is the overall pattern of the choices you make that counts!

Heart tip of the month

When is the best time to eat? 

The best time to eat is when you are hungry, and remember to quit when you are satisfied. We are designed to have a fast (8-12 hours usually when we are sleeping), be hungry within an hour of waking (break the fast) and hungry every 3-5 hours during the day if you’re eating about the right amount. If you are going long periods (more than five hours) without feeling hungry, you may be missing your hunger signals or the previous meal was too large. If you’re feeling hungry in less than three hours, your previous meal may not have been adequate or you could be eating for reasons other than hunger. Next time you reach for food, ask yourself: Am I hungry? If you are hungry, it is a good time to eat.  






Check out what’s new from Alice Henneman

January 28th, 2012

If you haven’t already checked out Alice Hennemans information, now is the perfect time. 

Hi Everyone,

If you’re not already a subscriber to our free Cook It Quick e-Newsletter, you might enjoy checking out our latest newsletter.

Each month we feature tips, resources, and recipes that help people follow MyPyramid/MyPlate guidelines. And that we also feel are helpful to other food & nutrition educators in their work.

This month, we included ideas from Extension sources throughout the nation that will lead you to even more ideas!

Visit us at:

Please share with others who might be interested. Thank you!


Alice Henneman, MS, RD, Extension Educator
University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension in Lancaster County
444 Cherrycreek Rd., Ste. A, Lincoln, NE 68528 USA  402/441-7180  Fax: 402/441-7148
-  Website: Connecting you to information, resources &
     food experts from farm to fork at
-  Youtube:
-  Slideshare:
-  Twitter:
-  Pinterest:
-  Flickr:
-  Linkedin:
- MyPlate pptx:

Beat the Winter Blues

January 20th, 2012

Beat the Winter Blues

Did you know that there is a “most depressing day of the year?”  This year it is January 23, 2012.  Read more about it at:

I know, I know, you might be wondering why “the dietitian” is talking about the “winter blues.”  Well, I am not really going to talk about the “winter blues” I am going to upload a couple of links for you.

There is a relationship between “the blues” and food.  Sometimes if you feel a “low” mood, you might turn to food to feel better.  Usually the food does not help for longer than the time it takes you to eat it.  But, there are ways to help feel better.  Please follow the following links to find out how.

10 Ways to Beat the Holiday Blues (

Laugh Your Way to Health and Happiness (

If your depression seems to be lingering or friends express concern or it’s interfering with your quality of life, it might be time to talk to a professional.  Here is a bit about depression from the National Institutes of Mental Health.  Most importantly don’t wait too long to get help.  Depression is treatable.

If you have depression, you may feel exhausted, helpless, and hopeless. It may be extremely difficult to take any action to help yourself. But as you begin to recognize your depression and begin treatment, you will start to feel better.

To Help Yourself

  • Do not wait too long to get evaluated or treated. There is research showing the longer one waits, the greater the impairment can be down the road. Try to see a professional as soon as possible.
  • Try to be active and exercise. Go to a movie, a ballgame, or another event or activity that you once enjoyed.
  • Set realistic goals for yourself.
  • Break up large tasks into small ones, set some priorities and do what you can as you can.
  • Try to spend time with other people and confide in a trusted friend or relative. Try not to isolate yourself, and let others help you.
  • Expect your mood to improve gradually, not immediately. Do not expect to suddenly “snap out of” your depression. Often during treatment for depression, sleep and appetite will begin to improve before your depressed mood lifts.
  • Postpone important decisions, such as getting married or divorced or changing jobs, until you feel better. Discuss decisions with others who know you well and have a more objective view of your situation.
  • Remember that positive thinking will replace negative thoughts as your depression responds to treatment.
  • Continue to educate yourself about depression.

National Institute of Mental Health—Depression

New Years Resolutions or Results

January 9th, 2012

More wisdom from Dr. Michelle May.

By Michelle May, M.D.

On January 1st, millions of people set their hopes high with a resolution to lose weight. I hope you weren’t one of them.

You may be thinking, “What?!!! Of course I was – it’s a tradition. I resolve to lose weight every year!”

Let me clarify. Losing weight is NOT a resolution, it is a RESULT. It is the result of specific changes in the way you eat, move, and live. So this year, instead of setting a goal to lose an arbitrary number of pounds, inches, or clothing sizes, resolve to think differently about eating, physical activity, and living.

Let me give you an example. Leah said she just HAD to lose weight because she didn’t like the way she looked or felt. She admitted that she had tried many times in the past to lose weight but she always reverted back to her old habits as soon as her resolve wore thin.

She was a busy mom with two kids and a successful career. She typically skipped breakfast or grabbed a donut at work. She was starving by lunch time so she would pick up fast food to eat at her desk while doing paperwork. Dinner was either fast food again between her kids’ soccer practice and dance classes or a quick-to-fix meal like mac ‘n cheese before homework. After the kids were in bed and the house was finally picked up, she would snack until she went to bed.

It would have been easy to focus on what she should or shouldn’t be eating but we both knew that her weight was really just a result of the choices she made at the many decision points throughout her busy days. So we created a strategic plan to get her where she wanted to be. The outline we used, called New You Resolutions in 10 Strategic Steps to can be found at Use this template for creating reasonable yet powerful goals any time of the year.

Back to Leah. We reviewed her starting point – what was working for her and what wasn’t. Once she really understood what she was doing, she then focused on what was most meaningful to her: spending time with her family and having the energy to be successful at her job. With this focus, we laid out a plan for her to make one change at a time.

First, she started getting up 10 minutes earlier for a bowl of cereal and some quiet time before anyone else was up. She quickly found that she felt calmer and had more energy throughout the morning. Her next step was to start bringing her lunch at least several times a week and give herself at least 20 minutes to eat without working. She enjoyed her meals more and felt more recharged by taking a break.

With these positive experiences to fuel her along, she took her next step: walking for 10 minutes twice during her work day. She wasn’t perfect but it felt great so she did the best she could to be consistent.

Next, she asked her husband to help their family plan ahead for dinner by throwing beans or chicken into the crock pot or having the ingredients on hand for a main dish salad. On the occasions they still went out for fast food, she tried to make healthier choices and stopped up-sizing her meal. Not only were they spending less money, but the kids were eating healthier too.

She then turned to her night time snack habit. She realized that most of the time she wasn’t hungry but was rewarding herself for getting through the day. She promised herself that she could eat her favorite foods without feeling guilty but she wanted to try rewarding herself in more nurturing ways. Her favorites became hot baths, reading, and scrap booking. She was feeling so much better that started a dance class while her daughter was in ballet twice a week.

Looking back, Leah realized that if she had just started another diet or joined a gym like every other year, she might have had some quick but temporary results. This time she knew that weight loss was only one of many great results she got from the small changes she made.

Curl up in a comfortable chair and create your plan. When you focus on the small stuff instead of those overwhelming monster goals, you will make one sustainable change at a time and achieve the results you want for a lifetime of good health.

Michelle May, M.D. is a recovered yoyo dieter and the award winning author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: How to Break Your Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle

Happy New Year (Resolutions)

January 3rd, 2012

It’s January, a new year and time for new goals and resolutions.  Assistant Director for Wellness at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln Campus Recreation, Kimberly Barrett provides great insight below for writing your new years resolutions and goals.  Enjoy!

It’s a NEW YEAR! And it is going to bring the BEST “ME” EVER!!!!

Goal Setting for Your Health 

Do these words look familiar?

I will workout for an hour a day every day!
I will only eat healthy food!

Like many, you may be gearing up to begin the ritual New Year’s resolution (NYR) to be the “BEST” person you can be this year. So, how do you make it last more than the typical 6-8 weeks of gradual attrition?

We’ve gotta get SMART about it. Do you REALLY want to make “it” (whatever “it” is) happen?

Ask yourself, is my NYR…

SPECIFIC- behaviorally?


I will control my stress- my stress will not control me!
I will lose 10 pounds before Spring Break




Let’s put this into practice…

NYR: I will workout for an hour a day every day!

SMART NYR: Ok, listen…if this was easy to do, we would all be there with you. Consider how much time you currently workout. Guidelines for health state a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity per week. Are you there now? If not, find your average baseline and improve that by 10-20% each week that you are successful.

The SMART NYR might read: I will work out for a combined total of 150 minutes January 1-7. 

NYR: I will only eat healthy food.

SMART NYR: What is “healthy” food? Remember, health is about balancing of your mind, body, and soul. Do you really mean you are going to cut down on eating fried foods, or want to add more unprocessed foods and fruits and veggies. The SMART NYR might read: I will add an apple to my breakfast meal 5 days/week.

NYR: I will lose 10 lbs before Spring Break.

SMART NYR: Isn’t this a pretty specific goal? Well…not for a NYR. You don’t just naturally “lose” weight, correct? You have to actually change a behavior…or two…or three to get this  end result. So, let’s tweak this sentence to be more “actionable”. Ready? The SMART goal might read: I will walk 30 minutes/day 5 days per week January 1-January 14; then will evaluate my progress and establish a new activity goal.

Kimberly has provided great guidelines to get you started.  And remember if you need additional help, there are qualified professional available to help you with your goal setting.  Contact us through Campus Recreation.  And have a Happy, Helathful 2012.