The FDA is Reforming their Role in Dietary Supplement Oversight.. Finally!

Last week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it plans to overhaul regulations for the $50 billion a year dietary supplement industry. The FDA is planning much needed updates to the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) which passed in 1994. Alongside this announcement, the FDA sent advisory and warning letters to supplement companies that were selling products with illegal claims or that contained unapproved drugs. Some companies that received the advisory and warning letters were claiming that their products prevented, treated or cured Alzheimer’s disease and a number of other serious diseases and health conditions. According to the press release, “three out of every four American consumers take a dietary supplement on a regular basis”. The overhaul of the 25-year-old Act is music to this public health dietitian’s ears!

If you’re not familiar with the regulations surrounding the giant supplement industry, let me give you a quick introduction. Unlike medications or drugs, supplements are not required to undergo pre-market approval before being sold. The FDA leaves it up to supplement manufacturers to evaluate their own labeling and safeness of their products to make sure they meet regulations. It isn’t until AFTER the supplements have hit the market that the FDA steps in and then can take action against any “adulterated or misbranded dietary supplement”. Essentially the FDA’s current role for supplements, is to remove unsafe supplements from the market but this could occur years after the supplement was sold to an unknown number of consumers and could have caused adverse effects. Seems a little backwards, right?!

The FDA is finally stepping in and Commissioner Scott Gottlieb outlined three priorities as part of his statement. The first priority he outlines is safety and ensuring consumers are protected from harmful products. The second is product integrity and ensuring they contain only the ingredients listed and that they are “manufactured according to quality standards”. The third priority is informed decision-making among consumers and health care professionals.

I look forward to seeing more details unfold around this announcement and I truly hope that this will deter supplement companies from making false or misleading claims. I assume that the FDA’s Office of Dietary Supplement Programs, which was only created three years ago, will be integral throughout this process. In the press release and statement, the FDA has made it clear that they do not want to hinder innovation but they also are very aware of the problems that exist within the supplement industry. In a perfect world (ha!), supplements would go through the same approval as medications or drugs, and would not be allowed to be sold to consumers without some type of approval process but I’m not sure these regulatory changes will go that far. It would also be ideal to address the source of information and ensure that individuals or companies selling supplements are qualified to do so. I hope that the FDA will closely look at multi-level marketing companies selling supplements and products as well. Until we learn more about what this update/overhaul entails, I’ll continue to push back on supplements that claim to help someone lose 10 pounds in 2 days or promote “fat burning” keto coffee.

Self-Care During the Holidays

The holidays- the time of year that is supposed to be full of joy, love, and time spent with friends and family. What we don’t talk or think about when it comes to the holidays are all the ways that we forget about self-care, and the stress that we put ourselves through. The past couple of years I have started really focusing on self-care this time of year and I want to share some of my recommendations for self-care with you.

Stay active this time of year. Exercise is one of the best ways to destress. It doesn’t have to be an hour-long gym workout or a group exercise class, it can be as simple as a 30-minute walk or a bike ride around the neighborhood. You’ll feel refreshed and reenergized!

Attend fun events that you enjoy! How do you decide which events to go to when you have 15 different holiday party invitations?! Pick the ones that you will enjoy most and pass on the ones that you weren’t exactly thrilled about. It’s okay to say no, thanks! This goes for family events too. Surround yourself with people you enjoy spending time with! This advice goes beyond the holidays too.

Spend time planning for 2019. If you’re like me, you like planning and organization. Spend this time of year setting goals for yourself, personally and professionally, for next year. Reflect on what positive things happened and what things you’d like to leave behind in 2018. Doing this ahead of 2019 will allow you to bring in the new year feeling prepared.

Keep healthier foods front and center. You’ve likely noticed that you feel better when you are eating healthier foods, so the holidays are no time to leave your fruits and vegetables behind. Incorporate these into holiday dishes you may be making as well. Remember to stay hydrated too!

Get some sleep! Are you sleeping the recommended amount each night- 8 hours? If not, now is the time to start so that you can ring in 2019 with good sleeping habits. Remove distractions and allow your body to tell you when it’s time to rest. Getting enough sleep benefits your mental, physical, and emotional health!

So take a deep breath and take advantage all of the things this time of year has to offer! Take some time for yourself and practice self-care so that on the evening of December 31st you feel refreshed and happy, and not burnt out and grumpy.

Romaine Calm: Responding to Food Recalls

It seems as though every week we are learning about a new food recall. Most recently, we were alerted to an E. coli contamination in romaine lettuce and salmonella in ground beef. Due to these recalls, TONS of romaine lettuce and ground beef will be tossed in the trash. Most recently, it was reported that more than 12 MILLION pounds of ground beef are being recalled. So, what can we as consumers do to ensure we are eating food that won’t make us sick, without contributing to our already astounding food waste problem and continuing to support farmers?

The increasing use of technology can greatly improve how we handle food recalls. In October, I attended a conference where the then Vice President of Food Safety at Walmart, Frank Yiannis, now Deputy Commissioner of Food Policy and Response at the Food and Drug Administration, spoke about how Walmart is working with IBM to implement blockchain technology to track the source of food. This was fascinating to me as he described the process that usually takes days and often weeks to determine the source of recalled food, now only took seconds or minutes. This is not only a win for consumers but also for farmers and stores like Walmart. In the recent romaine recall, consumers were told to throw away ALL romaine lettuce and to not purchase or consume it. Shortly after that, we then learned that the contaminated lettuce was from certain areas in California. If we would have had this information sooner, we could have avoided throwing away tons of perfectly good produce!

As consumers, we also have the buying power to choose where we purchase our food, including produce and meats like ground beef. If we are purchasing directly from local farmers, we have more confidence in knowing where the food was grown, their growing practices, and whether it is safe. We also need to be more mindful in sharing information about food recalls on social media. Often, I will see an article shared about a food recall that isn’t recent. Spreading this misinformation is harmful to both producers and consumers.

Food recalls happen, but hopefully with the use of technology, we can continue to more quickly and effectively identify the region or area of contaminated food. By purchasing locally, directly from the farmers, we can also be more confident in knowing their growing practices and whether the food we purchased is part of a food recall. 

Beyond the Headline: Does Eating Organic Really Reduce Your Cancer Risk?

The latest nutrition headline to catch on with the media is how eating organic can reduce your risk of developing cancer by 25%. So let’s unpack this- does eating organic REALLY reduce your risk of developing cancer?

Years of research between organic and conventional foods have shown that the nutritional value is similar. Purchasing organic is a personal preference just as purchasing conventional is. Often, organic items are not affordable for consumers so headlines like this may unnecessarily make shoppers who purchase conventional feel as though they are increasing their, and their families, cancer risk by not purchasing organic. No consumer should be shamed for purchasing fruits and vegetables for their families whether they are conventional or organic.

So now let’s break down the study. The actual absolute reduction risk reported in the study is a mere 0.6%. The author of the study herself stated that the study does not prove an organic diet causes a reduction in cancer but suggests that an organic based diet COULD contribute to reducing cancer risk. The results also discuss how a higher frequency of consumption of organic foods only led to a decreased risk of developing Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and breast cancer while there was no association detected for other types of cancer. Confounding factors must also be considered with this study like the fact that those who purchase organic tend to be wealthier, eat more fruits and vegetables in general, and consume less processed meat and alcohol- all which play a part in reducing cancer risk.

The issue isn’t with the study, it’s the reporting of it. An important aspect of reporting on this type of research is accurately interpreting scientific research. The American Cancer Society provides guidance on how to see beyond the headline of “scientists find link between X and cancer” or in the case of this study “X can reduce your risk of cancer by (insert insane percentage here)”. Their guidance goes beyond cancer related research and provides great advice on how to interpret any type of nutrition or health study that you might come across in the media- what’s the source, what did the research actually find, who funded the research, what about other evidence and what is the bigger picture, and who are the experts?

As a public health dietitian, I still encourage the consumption of fruits and vegetables. It is a matter of personal preference to purchase organic and consumers should feel empowered to make the best choice for them and their families. While studies, and headlines, like these seem incredibly groundbreaking and hopeful, let’s all be good stewards of nutrition science and read beyond the headline to ensure consumers receive factual information without fear.

Celebrating National Farm to School Month

October brings so much fall joy- cooler temperatures, pumpkin flavored everything, beautiful foliage, and my absolute favorite- National Farm to School Month! Farm to School Month was designated in 2010 by Congress and occurs in October which is the perfect month to highlight local and seasonal foods. In addition to Farm to School Month, many states have passed resolutions creating a Farm to School week for the state as well! Of all the school nutrition focused months or weeks, Farm to School is my favorite because it brings together local producers and connects them with schools to provide local, nutritious foods to students. To truly celebrate Farm to School month I am rounding up five of my favorite Farm to School activities here on the blog!

1.  Plan a “crunch” event! A crunch event is typically statewide and occurs on a certain day and time to increase the awareness of farm to school programs. For example, in Virginia the “Crunch Heard ‘Round the Commonwealth” will be held during Farm to School week on Friday, October 5, 2018 at 10:00 AM when children across Virginia will simultaneously take a bite out of a local, Virginia apple. Visit the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services site to learn more about Virginia’s Farm to School Program and their “crunch” event.

2.  Connect with farmers! It’s great to serve local food but it’s even better to connect students with the farmer who grew their food! Have a farmer visit the school, bring some of their products, and talk to individual classrooms or the entire school through an assembly about the agricultural products they produce. You could even coordinate a tour to the farm so that the students can see the farm itself! Need to locate farmers in your areas? Check with your state’s Department of Agriculture. In South Carolina, they have a fantastic Certified South Carolina program that lists out all members (farmers) of that program.

3.  Taste test local products! If you are unable to incorporate large quantities of local products into the cafeteria, taste tests are a great way for each child to get to try a local product. This is also a great way to try out new items prior to putting them on a permanent menu. This could be done at breakfast, lunch, or throughout the day. Be sure to highlight the farm the items came from!

4.   Pop up farmers market! Plan a farmers market at school for a weekend or after school on a weekday. This allows children and families to connect with local farmers in their area. You could also have your local extension office come and set up cooking demonstrations with the foods that are being sold.

5.   Utilize the school garden! Incorporate items grown in the school garden in the breakfast or lunch menus or use the items for taste tests. Encourage teachers to use the school garden as an outdoor classroom and provide farm to school lessons for them. The school garden can be used to teach reading, science, math, social studies, and so much more!  

Still in need of ideas? Check out this fantastic National Farm to School Celebration Toolkit created by the National Farm to School network!

Seven Ways Schools Can Support Health & Wellness

It’s that time of year again where we blinked and summer is officially over. School buses are out and about and the school supplies aisles at Target are picked clean. In the back to school spirit, I have put together seven ways schools can support health and wellness:

1. Active lessons. Kids need to get up and move! As adults we can’t sit at our desk for hours on end and we shouldn’t expect kids to either. There are so many ways teachers can take a non-active assignment like a worksheet and turn it into an active lesson. Instead of a worksheet to learn subtraction, why not play a game of subtraction tag?! Sound like something you want to implement? Check out this fantastic resource of active lessons from Greater Richmond Fit4Kids.

2. Healthy fundraisers.  The school bake sale is becoming a thing of the past. Schools can implement physical activity-based fundraisers such as color runs, 5ks, or fun runs. Schools can also implement healthy food fundraisers such as an annual citrus fruit sale like the Future Farmers of America (FFA). Selling items with a school logo such as t-shirts, water bottles, or even socks can also be successful!

3. Adequate time for meals. Meal times at school seem a lot more like a sprint than a marathon. Allowing children enough time to consume school meals is important in ensuring children are well nourished and ready to learn.  Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health found that kids who had less than 20 minutes to eat lunch, consumed less food and threw away more food than their peers who had 25 minutes or more to eat.

4. Encourage water consumption! Constipation in children is a common problem. It can lead to discomfort and even more severe complications such as fever, vomiting, abdominal swelling, and weight loss just to name a few. One of the best ways to avoid constipation is to increase the amount of liquids consumed. Dehydration can also impair focus. Ensure each child has access to water either through a water fountain or their own reusable water bottle!

5. Don’t use physical activity as a punishment.  Physical activity such as running, walking, etc. should never be used as a punishment. We want to encourage children to be active and to move their bodies so making students walk or run laps as punishment is sending the opposite message that physical activity is fun and good for us!

6. Promote Positive Body Image. We’ve all heard our colleague talk about the diet they just started or the weight they are trying to lose. Students hear and see everything! School staff can promote body positivity by not discussing weight around students and by leading by example.

7. A safe environment for all. Because of food allergies, many schools have implemented policies that do not allow outside food or drink or limit what can be brought in. Check with your school on what foods may not be allowed due to food allergies in the school. Keep in mind if a policy does exist it is in the best interest of the students and every student deserves a safe place to learn!

Tulum Restaurant Round Up

My husband and I recently spent a week in Tulum, Mexico celebrating our second wedding anniversary. It was our first trip to the area and we had a phenomenal time! One thing I did not expect was that Tulum is SUCH a foodie town. Restaurants lined the road and everywhere we went used fresh, local, and in-season ingredients. Today, I will be sharing all of our favorite restaurants in Tulum from our visit!  I may or may not be planning our return trip already 😉

1.    Cenzontle
This was our FAVORITE restaurant in Tulum. We were greeted by a fantastic host who had reserved us a table within a couple of minutes of our hotel calling and telling them we were headed their way. Since we visited in the off season, we didn’t make reservations at any of the restaurants but, our hotel wanted to ensure we had a table so they called ahead for us. Cenzontle is cash only (like most of the restaurants in Tulum)!

My husband chose the pork ribs that were to die for! They were cooked with vanilla rub and the flavor was amazing! I chose the duck and asparagus. Both dishes were incredibly fresh tasting and full of flavor. 

Cenzontle: Pork Ribs

Cenzontle: Pork Ribs

Cenzontle: Duck & Asparagus

Cenzontle: Duck & Asparagus

2.    Mur Mur
We visited Mur Mur after a recommendation from a couple staying at our hotel. I read a little about it online and knew we had to give it a try! My favorite thing about Mur Mur was the outdoor kitchen where everything was cooked. You could see the meals being prepared and all of the fresh ingredients that were incorporated in every dish!

I picked the oven baked squash with pennyroyal infusion while my husband chose the grilled lamb chops. The presentation and taste were delicious! 

Mur Mur: Grilled Lamb Chops

Mur Mur: Grilled Lamb Chops

Mur Mur: Oven Baked Squash

Mur Mur: Oven Baked Squash

3.    Safari
We visited Safari after a recommendation from another couple we met on a snorkeling excursion. The coolest thing about Safari was the old Airstream camper which housed the kitchen. I loved the vibe here and found the environment to be laid back and very inviting! 

We had the yuca truffle fries to start and I STILL think about how AMAZING these fries were! For our main entrees, my husband and I both had the pork pastor taco and I also had the fire roasted octopus taco. These were some of the best tacos we had while we were in Tulum! (Safari is also cash only)

Safari: Fire Roasted Octopus Taco & Pork Pastor Taco

Safari: Fire Roasted Octopus Taco & Pork Pastor Taco

Safari: Yuca Truffle Fries

Safari: Yuca Truffle Fries

4.    Fresco’s
Fresco’s was one the hotel restaurants where we stayed and offered a complimentary breakfast as part of our accommodations, so we ate  breakfast here a couple of mornings and lunch here most days because of its convenience. My favorite thing about Fresco’s were their healthy options. The menu included a ton of smoothies and juices made from fresh ingredients! 

I LOVED the apple and bacon toast on coconut flour bread with cream cheese. My husband got the French toast which was so good! We tried several different smoothies and juices and all were great! My favorite thing about Fresco’s was the shrimp al pastor tacos- I may or may not have ate these almost every day for lunch. 

Fresco's: French Toast

Fresco's: French Toast

Fresco's: Apple & Bacon Toast

Fresco's: Apple & Bacon Toast

Fresco's: Shrimp Al Pastor Tacos

Fresco's: Shrimp Al Pastor Tacos

5.    Ziggy’s
Ziggy’s was the other restaurant associated with our hotel. Ziggy’s is right on the beach and it made for a great start to our days having breakfast with our feet in the sand and an ocean breeze in our face. They also offered a variety of fresh smoothies and juices that we indulged in each of the mornings we had breakfast here.
For breakfast, I got a blackberry, goat cheese and banana croissant and my husband got the agave honey and bacon hotcakes. A couple of mornings we also got the fried eggs on avocado toast. Everything we ordered from Ziggy’s was great and the service was top notch! For lunch, the tuna nachos are a must!
 

Ziggy's: Tuna Nachos (without the Avocado)

Ziggy's: Tuna Nachos (without the Avocado)

Ziggy's

Ziggy's

Balance

There are numerous ways to approach a healthy lifestyle when it comes to nourishment. Food is our fuel and without it, our body cannot function. As a dietitian, I've learned about so many eating patterns- yes, including those bizarre fad diets like the cabbage soup diet or the baby food diet (cringing as I type those), and what they really do to your body.  I’m constantly asked the question of “what do YOU eat” or when someone sees me enjoying a baked good I get asked “aren’t you a dietitian?!”. My response is always "balance."

I became a dietitian because I LOVE food and I enjoy sharing my passion for food with others-- not because I want to be the food police (seriously, please don’t use that phrase) or because I think everyone should lose weight. I truly believe in balance- meaning that you can enjoy the foods you love and still lead a healthy life. Does this mean that I consume a dozen cookies a day? No, but if I am out with friends or family and we pass by a delicious, local, ice cream shop, I will likely be the first one to suggest we go inside.

So much of our life involves food- birthday parties, office celebrations, weddings, summer cookouts, vacations, etc. Those celebrations or events allow us to indulge in the foods that we love with the people we care about. Yes, we can still make healthy choices during these occasions but we can also make them outside of these events and those daily, recurring decisions that we make allow us to practice balance. As we go through life’s journey, I encourage you to enjoy all of the delicious food along the way. 

Welcome to The Nourished Principles!

Hello and welcome to The Nourished Principles! A few months ago, as I was scrolling through Instagram, I came across a post that said “it only takes five seconds and insane courage to make your dreams come true”. Starting my own consulting business has been in the back of my mind since I passed the exam to become a Registered Dietitian but instead I took the “easy” route and accepted a full-time job with a non-profit.  After some pretty incredible support from my friends, family, and amazing husband and yes, an insane amount of courage (and a LOT more than five seconds), I bought the domain for The Nourished Principles and have been building out my site, and consulting dream, over the past few months. I’m thrilled to share my passions with you and look forward to the immense opportunities that lie ahead.

So take a look around, explore the principles behind The Nourished Principles, enjoy the recipes I’ve created just for y’all,  and let me know how we can work together to meet you or your organization’s public health and nutrition goals.

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